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Decision Time For Romney; Tornado Warning In New York; Live From Mission Control; U.S. Sanctions Syria's Backer Hezbollah; Bin Laden Style Raid on Dotcom Mansion; Boy Dies Before Meeting His Hero; Gunmen On Motorbikes Attack Police Station; Drought Shrinks The Mississippi; Spike Lee One-On-One; Gunman Kills Three U.S. Troops
Aired August 10, 2012 - 13:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Don Lemon. Brooke is off. Developing right now, Attorney General Eric Holder calls the shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin domestic terrorism. And he said it in front of hundreds of people saying goodbye to the victims.
Plus we're getting reports the Syrian regime has thwarted an attack by the rebels at the airport in the country's biggest city. All that coming up.
But first, this, you lose. You do if you were betting that Mitt Romney would name his running mate this week. That's unless something happens real quick. Romney's shoving off on a four-state bus tour. And a lot of pundits figured he'd have his V.P. choice in tow.
Well, as it is, potential running mates reside in three of the states that he's going to visit. I'm talking about Virginia's Bob McDonald, Ohio's Rob Portman and Florida's Marco Rubio.
Whatever Romney is thinking, he is keeping it really close to his vest. So joining me now from Washington is our guy who has been in the middle of some of these VP searches, CNN's senior political analyst Mr. Dave Gergen. Of course he's been a top advisor to a number of presidents and presidential candidates, Republican, Democrats alike. There you see him there.
So, Mr. Gergen, what are the chances that Romney knows who his running mate is right now and what are the chances that it's House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan? A name that seems to be gaining a whole lot of momentum right now.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that Mitt Romney does know who he'd like to have on there. Many times, Don, right in the closing days of something like this, you hit a snag. Something you weren't quite sure about and you pause and you get an uh-oh, let's wait and see until the last minute. So we don't know what's happening behind the scenes. They've buttoned this up very, very well.
My own hunch is that, while he's under a lot of pressure on Paul Ryan, Paul Ryan is certainly a rising star within the Republican Party, I doubt that's where Mitt Romney is going to go. LEMON: Really? I -- why do you -- all my -- everyone has been saying, if you've been reading the articles and if you have been watching television, listening to the radio, and all the political pundits, everyone has been saying that the momentum is building towards Ryan just over the last couple of weeks or so.
GERGEN: Well, it certainly has been building and there have been a number of conservative commentators who have bilked that fire and I think done it extraordinarily well. But you've got to ask what's in Mitt Romney's best interest in the long term. And he, by nature, is a cautious player. And I think he's either going to go for extremely cautious or he may go for what I would call a cautious, bold choice or a bold, cautious choice.
And that is, he may go in the bolder direction, and Ryan would certainly be that, but he may not want to buy into the Medicare fight that would be ahead if he embraces Ryan as his running mate. He may prefer to go with someone else who's -- you know, like Marco Rubio, who shows up very wells in the polls. A poll of Republicans today say he'd be the number one choice.
Or I think he might well go with Chris Christie, who would be a bold choice but more vetted, has executive experience and may not carry the kind of danger that Romney may feel if he just -- if he makes the future of this campaign revolve heavily around Medicare.
LEMON: OK, more on Marco Rubio specifically and the like in just a minute.
But, David, I want to bring in this new poll that shows that by a very large margin Republicans want Romney to choose a running mate who could step right into the presidency. And to your thinking, who among the possible candidates fits the bill the best here?
GERGEN: Well, I think that's a clear choice or a clear answer, and that's Rob Portman of Ohio. He's by far and away the best prepared. Many would argue he's the best prepared person to become president since George Bush Sr. was on the Reagan ticket back in 1980. You know, Portman's had executive office experience. He's been a budget director for a while under George W. That's a plus and a minus. But he was also a trade representative. He served in the Congress. He's now in the Senate from -- and he's just -- he's a man of enormous -- he's got a good temperament for this job. He's thoughtful. He's laid back. And I think, frankly, if the choice had been made a month ago or six weeks ago, I think it would have been Portman.
GERGEN: But the Romney campaign is in a little trouble right now and there may -- I think there's a push to him to liven up the ticket. Rob Portman brings (ph) a, you know, a moderate -- I mean a -- let's put it this way, a more laid back and a solid personality. He's not a firebrand.
LEMON: You're hedging -- you're hedging there, because I have heard him address Rob Portman. I've heard conservative commentators address it. And basically they're addressing the -- another boring white guy question. He's been asked that directly and he responds. I've -- I heard a commentator say, you know, I've made my career on being, you know, pretty dull and boring, but that's what critics are saying about you. That -- is that necessarily a bad thing for him?
GERGEN: I think -- look, I think Rob Portman would be an excellent vice president. I think he would be -- the country would be in safe hands should something happen to a president, Mitt Romney, if that were -- if he's elected.
GERGEN: But the question becomes now, what does Romney need at this stage in his campaign. And he's in some danger now that President Obama is starting to open this up a little bit. The Obama lead has widened here in the last two weeks in a way that ought to be sending alarm signals through Republican ranks. And Romney may need to shake this up a little bit and that's why I think there's a -- there is a push now across the board to get him to go bolder. I'm just not sure he wants to go as bold as Ryan. I think he would -- he probably would feel more comfortable with Christie. They fit very well together and Christie, as you know, is a stem-winder (ph) of a speaker and can really take the fight to the opponent.
LEMON: Yes. I don't understand why Ryan is so bold, because, I mean, the man is experienced. He's been around. At least he has an idea, whether you agree with it or not, on how the budget should be handled, how the debt should be handled.
But more on -- but more to the point. When you were talking about Marco Rubio and someone who can step into the presidency on the first day --
LEMON: I'm wondering if, the last go around, that experience with Sarah Palin in 2008, did it dim the prospect for some of the first termers out there? People like Marco Rubio, maybe Nikki Haley, Susana Martinez of New Mexico?
GERGEN: I think it dims the prospects for Nikki Haley and Susana Martinez. I think that's right, Don. But Marco Rubio's no Sarah Palin. He's not -- you know, he is in the Senate and he's actively serving out a term and he's seen -- widely seen as a rising star within Republican ranks, just like Ryan is. And the issue for Rubio is whether he's ready or not. And that's something that Romney would need to sit down and really have some conversation with him. They'd need to vet that. And they need to look at his -- are there anything -- is there anything else in his background -- there are, you know, all sorts of rumors that fly around. I don't see anything that seems to be disqualifying, but you need to know if somebody's going to blow up the day after you name somebody. So -- because these people get enormous scrutiny as soon as they get named, of course --
GERGEN: As we saw with Dan Quayle, for example.
GERGEN: And it's really, really important that that launch -- and Romney now has so much hinging on this. I think he's done a really, really good job keeping his button up and having a lot of tease (ph) and building up expectation.
LEMON: And not --
GERGEN: And now he's got to follow through with somebody that people are going to say, whoa, that's pretty interesting.
LEMON: Well, David --
GERGEN: You know, if he comes through and everybody says well that's pretty -- yeah, what was that all about? That's not helpful to his campaign.
LEMON: Well, David, we have to run because we have some breaking news.
LEMON: But I think the Ryan thing, the Paul Ryan, he suffers from what some people, like me, suffer from. Everyone thinks you're like 20 years younger than you are. He has a lot more experience I think than people know. He's been in Congress since -- you know, since the '90s.
GERGEN: Yes. He does have experience.
LEMON: So, yes, I --
GERGEN: No, there's no question about it. It's his ideas that I think become controversial.
LEMON: I've got to run, though, David.
GERGEN: But, Don, it's great to talk to you.
LEMON: All right, thank you, David Gergen, appreciate it.
So we had to rush a little bit with David because we have some breaking news.
Chad Myers, what do you have for us, a tornado warning?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, for Suffolk County. And this is on Long Island. So this is New York. And Bohemia, this storm just went over the top of you. Toward Oakdale. Now we're at the top of you. But I'm just going to go with Lake Grove and Port Jefferson. You need to be taking cover. If you know where these areas here, just off of the east. Here's New York City. So well east of New York City. Not quite out to the Hamptons. But really eastern and central part of Suffolk County. It will eventually get into Long Island Sound and maybe even make a run at Connecticut. If it keeps on the area, if it keeps rotating, and maybe even gets on the ground, we'll certainly break back in. But if you're on eastern parts of Long Island here, right around eastern Islip (ph), maybe central Islip (ph), you need to be taking cover with this storm right now.
LEMON: All right, Chad's going to keep an eye on that. Thank you very much, Chad Myers.
More news unfolding right now.
Heartbreaking moments in Wisconsin as a community says good-bye to the victims of the Sikh temple shootings. You'll see what happened.
Plus this. A bin Laden style raid on a mansion. Find out who was inside and how it ended.
LEMON: Curiosity living up to its name as it prepares to explore the surface of Mars. Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are watching the rover's every move as it sends back remarkable images and information. And controllers are saying the rover has performed flawlessly so far.
John Zarrella at JPL in Pasadena, California, I love talking to you every day. I've never -- I haven't seen you this excited ever.
So, John, controllers are holding a briefing right now to give updates about Curiosity's performance. What are they saying today?
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, you're absolutely right. And you may have to try to help me with an analogy here. Imagine this. The rover traveled 350 million miles, going about halfway around the sun. And they actually missed the entry point where they hoped to enter by less than one mile. To me, that's like a quarterback, if he could throw it, 10 football fields and putting it in the center of a tire moving, you know, at about 60 miles an hour down the end of that -- the other end of that (INAUDIBLE) football field.
LEMON: It's almost a hole in one, I would say.
ZARRELLA: It's phenomenal.
ZARRELLA: Yes, a hole in one like across the United States from one end to the other. It's phenomenal. And what we had today was the entry, descent and landing team. They're still talking. Talking about this remarkable success and how not only did they hit within, you know, a mile of exactly where they wanted the entry point. At every point during that so-called seven minutes of terror, every event happened right within the parameters where they expected them to happen. The parachute deployed right in the center line of when they thought it would deploy. It slowed Curiosity to just about exactly the speed they thought it would slow Curiosity. The heat shield came off at just about exactly the time they expected it to come off. And every one of these sequences that we know had to work and work nearly perfectly or the mission would have been lost, did exactly that. In fact, the landing site, at the end of the day, Don, they landed within a mile and a half of the exact landing point. And they used some Google Mars maps to pinpoint exactly where they had landed. So they're all ecstatic and just the entire entry, descent and landing team getting their kudos and their glory today for that spectacular job that they pulled off five days ago getting Curiosity on the ground.
LEMON: And you have been just as excited as well as if you're on the team for this. And, you know what, that's great. It's catching. You're excitement is catching. I'm sure the audience loves it. I love it.
This Curiosity, though, sending back panoramic images straight from the surface of Mars. Yes, it's fascinating to look at. What are these scientists hoping to gain from panoramic views?
ZARRELLA: OK. Well, we still haven't seen the fuel resolution panorama that we thought might come out today. So the audience is going to have to wait for that. We're all going to have to wait for that. But what they are doing, when they look at these images, the science team is already going, oh, look, I like that rock over there. Oh, look, let's get to that rock over there. Let's get to the base of Mount Sharp. Let's get over here.
They're already seeing all these targets of interest out there because what they are hoping for is to find the kinds of rocks that would indicate that water once flowed at the base of the crater. And they do believe that water flowed at the base of this crater at one point in time. And this is a spot, Gale Crater, where they believe that life very well could have existed at some point in Mars past, which was the prime reason why they went to this site.
So the course of the next two years, the length of this mission, they'll be looking for the water. They'll be looking for the carbon. They'll be looking for rocks that have signs of iron in them or sedimentary rock that would be formed by water. So those are the things they're going to be looking for, Don, and it's going to be an interesting two years ahead for all of them here and for us.
LEMON: Captain John Kirk Zarrella, thank you, sir. We appreciate it.
ZARRELLA: Yes. Certainly.
LEMON: All right.
LEMON: Hundreds of mourners pay tribute to the victims gunned down in a Wisconsin Sikh temple. People sobbed as they passed six wooden caskets containing the five men and one woman killed in Sunday's rampage. Today's public memorial took place in a high school gym. Sikh musicians played a slow drum beat as people walked in. Victims' friends and family talked about the tragedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like -- I'll request -- I'll plead (INAUDIBLE) in India that they should not be angry. Do not give the temptation of revenge. Remember, this tragedy was caused by one misguided individual. The action don't represent the view of any group. We are all children of God no matter what color or religion. Please don't burn the American flags. America is not one person. It's -- America is not one race, people of one color. And I make this country great. I'm American Sikh and I'm very proud.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The American flag hung in the gym. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wore an orange head covering in keeping with Sikh tradition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: No matter what country your ancestors came from, no matter where you worship, no matter what your background, as Americans, we are one. And when you attack one of us, you attack all of us. This week our friends and neighbors in the Sikh community have shown us the best way to respond is with love. Let me be one of the many here in Wisconsin, across America, and around the world to reflect that love to each of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: (INAUDIBLE) police officers and Sikh's hugged each other. Remember, an officer was wounded in a fire fight with the gunman. And earlier CNN got an exclusive look inside that damaged temple. See a bullet hole there. A lone bullet hole remains in a metal door frame. Members say they won't repair the bullet hole.
To Syria now. And as the U.S. slaps sanctions on one of the world's most infamous terror groups for its support of Bashar al Assad, we're getting reports the Syrian regime has thwarted an attack by the rebels at the airport in Syria's biggest city.
LEMON: The U.S. government took a tentative step today toward further punishing Syria. The State Department announced undisclosed sanctions against Hezbollah, the Iran supported terrorist group accused of aiding Syria's brutal military crackdown. CNN's Ivan Watson has the latest on the crisis in Syria from his post in Syria's neighbor Turkey.
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, Aleppo is still the scene of intense street battles. And this week, the rebels have been forced to back out of one key neighborhood called Salahuddin (ph). That was one of the first that they'd taken over when they pushed into Aleppo more than two weeks ago. They said they made a tactical withdrawal under intense aerial and artillery bombardment.
We've talked to aid workers in Aleppo. They say that hundreds of families are taking shelter in schools and that many of these families have previously fled from other cities and towns across the country that were previously devastated by the fighting. Here in Turkey, we have seen more than 1,700 people in the last 24 hours along. Refugees fleeing across the border. More than 52,000 here in Turkey now. Those numbers have jumped in the last couple days. The Turks are building refugee camps. And this is likely to be the topic of discussion -- one of the topics of discussion between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and senior members of the Turkish government when they hold meetings here in Istanbul on Saturday.
LEMON: All right, Ivan Watson, thank you very much.
A bin Laden style raid caught on video. The target, a kingpin inside a mansion. And we'll tell you who the big guy is and we'll see the drama play out.
LEMON: I'm going to miss that music when the Olympics are over. The U.S. men, 4x400 relay team goes for gold today because of one heck of an effort by one of its runners. Take a look at this. Manteo Mitchell broke his leg while running in the semifinal, but he still finished. He ran 200 meters, a half of a lap around the track, in excruciating pain. This is how we know he was in pain. He said it felt like somebody snapped his leg in half. He actually snapped his fibula. Well, he's going to be replaced for this afternoon's final. And we have another quick check on our metal count right now. Team USA cleaning up with 90 metals so far. Just a couple more days of competition to go.
Other news now. A bin Laden style raid goes down at a mansion of a sought after Internet kingpin and it's all caught on video that I'm going to show you. The target of this raid is this man, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom. The FBI accuses him of orchestrating the biggest copyright infringement in U.S. history. Accusations that he denies as U.S. authorities shut his site down. But as far as the raid is concerned, a high court is listening to arguments today on whether New Zealand police went too far when they used a special tactic force. I want you to watch this now from Donna-Marie Lever of One News.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ground units (BEEP), gates are open.
DONNA-MARIE LEVER, ONE NEWS REPORTER (voice-over): For the first time we can show you the police assault from the air. And moments later, how they closed in on the mansion from the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Dotcom has been shown the warrant to search the property.
LEVER: The (INAUDIBLE) and special tactics group, backed by dog handlers and armed with firearms and Tazers, made their way inside. You hear the moment they found their target, Kim Dotcom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Located target. Safe room. (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you seem (ph) located target?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
LEVER: But today police were pushed on whether the decision to use the top police response teams was appropriate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had concerns about security staff and the motivation to resist the police executing the warrant in motivation to protect Mr. Dotcom and then in addition it is the (INAUDIBLE).
LEVER (on camera): The court has heard when Kim Dotcom was eventually found in the mansion. Police asked him to show his hands, but that he didn't. They say it took several officers to push him to the ground, but they deny he was kicked and punched as he claims.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did one of the officers in your presence strike him in the face?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not to my knowledge. There was no time for that to happen.
LEVER: Police say one officer wearing boots did stand on Dotcom's hand once they hand him on the ground, but said it wasn't intentional. More police officers are expected to give evidence.
Donna-Marie Lever, One News.
LEMON: All right. Thanks very much. And in that raid, police seized computers, hard drives, phones. Nearly everything that can store digital information. Also note here that the high court rules the search warrants in the raid were invalid.
But take a look at this video from John Campbell of News Three New Zealand. That's a panic button that Dotcom used when he realized someone was barge into his home. That button opens a door to this hideout that he calls the "red room."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN CAMPBELL, NEWS THREE NEW ZEALAND: Being locked. It still took 13 minutes for the police to find Dotcom here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: As you heard, it took just under 15 minutes -- about 13 minutes to find him there. And on the day of the raid, Dotcom's pregnant wife was inside the home, along with their three children and other guests. News Three is reporting that the commotion caused her to have contractions, which sent her to the hospital.
A 12-year-old boy's dying wish was so close to coming true. Lee Eddins wanted to meet his hero, NBA super star Roy Hibbert, before he passed way from stage four leukemia. Well, Hibbert was all in -- all in. and the Indiana Pacers' center was in the car yesterday headed to the airport to fly out to meet the boy. You saw it all unfold here on CNN. Then he got a heartbreaking call that the boy had passed away while his hero was traveling to meet him. He talked to us just hours later. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY HIBBERT, INDIANA PACERS: I sit here -- like, I'm holding back tears. I'm not afraid to say that, but, you know, he's -- he's somebody that touched me without meeting him. He lived all the way across the country. I'm heartbroken that I wasn't able to meet him. His strength and I think I dedicate my season to Lee and his cause.
People register and become a bone marrow donor that can help. You can really make a difference. Anybody can help. All my other NBA athletes to go get swabbed. I want to meet his family.
I want to hear stories. I want to hear everything. I want to hear funny stuff about him and what he did. I want to know the kid. He touched my heart. He's affected me. I want to keep his memories.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He flew to Sacramento to be with his family.
You know, it's just happened again. Men wearing masks attacking a police station as the violence flairs up in Egypt, the attack lasting hours. We're going live to the ground. That's next.
LEMON: I want to give you an idea of exactly what we're talking about when we focus on Sinai where gunmen pulled off another brazen attack early yesterday raising fears Egypt is losing control of a volatile area.
Let's take a look right here. This right here is a map so you can see exactly what we're talking and why there is so much concern. Sinai sits between Israel and Egypt. The recent attack s occurred in this tiny spot that is along the Israeli and then right here is Rafah -- this is the Rafah borderhere, the crossing.
It's where masked gunmen on motorcycles fired on a police station today. It is the second attack here in less than a week. Now we go to El Arish. In El Arish, there was a huge attack yesterday with Egyptian helicopters firing rockets. A number of people were killed.
We're going to go there live because CNN's Ian Lee is there. So Ian, these attacks they are new. Is this a test of Egypt's resolve to keep the peace with Israel? Are there any arrests?
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, there has been a few arrests. We're hearing from the government that there were six people arrested and in particular, one high valued target.
We went to the house where the raid took place. The people there said that these were just merchants and the government had -- these weren't the people involved in any of the attacks.
What happened last Sunday when militants killed the 16 Egyptian soldiers was extremely embarrassing for the Egyptian government especially since one of their army personnel carriers was taken into Israel and used by the militants to attack Israel.
Israel was able to take out that APC. But this is a very embarrassing moment. So Egypt is trying to show a tough face and they're doing with a huge military build up in Sinai right now.
Yesterday, we saw APC's and desert fighting vehicles. Today, we were seeing tanks come in. So there's strong military build up. There are also security forces who are going to different areas trying to find people who are suspected of being militants to try to stop this as well as you showed earlier the Rafah border crossing.
Well, there are tunnels of the whole area that go between Gaza and Egypt. Well, Egyptian military is in the process of trying to shutdown those tunnels. So nobody can go in between the two areas.
LEMON: I want you to listen to Egypt's new president who had some tough words for the attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT MOHAMED MURSI, EGYPT (through translator): This incident will not pass lightly. The armed forces will assume complete control over these areas at Sinai to secure them. Those who carried out the attack will pay a high price.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So those are tough words, but he's in a tough spot, links with Muslim Brotherhood. It's a power base.
LEE: Well, definitely. He draws his power from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Muslim Brotherhood's ally in the Gaza strip is Hamaz. So this is a fine line. But he does have to show a strong face because the Egyptian people demand that he show, he hold someone accountable.
There be retaliation for the strike and actually right now, today, he actually visiting the border crossing. He's having dinner with troops trying to show his support towards the military. President Mohamed Mursi and the military haven't always had the best relationship. So he's trying to bring the two together.
He's trying to force a better, closer relationship so that they can defeat these militants, but he definitely -- this is the time, this is first crisis in his presidency and he's going to need to score some political capital and came out very strong in this.
LEMON: Ian Lee, thank you very much. We appreciate your reporting.
Up next here in CNN, CNN shows you a proof just how bad the drought is all across the country. Wait until you see what it is doing to the Mississippi River.
LEMON: In New York state, more than 10,000 children grow up with their mothers locked up behind bar bars. But this week's "CNN Hero" is helping those mothers keep their families and start new lives. She says giving them lots of love and hope is the key.
I want you to meet Sister Tesa Fitzgerald.
SISTER TESA FITZGERALD, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: Across our nation there are thousands of mothers behind bars. I've never met a woman inside that said I'm going to go out and really mess up again. What's the lesson you learned here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not to come back.
FITZGERALD: The debt of her guilt what she's done to this child is unbelievable. They want to do everything to make it right. But they're always unsure whether it's really going to work.
I'm Sister Tesa Fitzgerald and I happy work with incarcerated mothers to keep their families together and to rebuild their lives. When women come out of prison they're so vulnerable.
What's the hardest part?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not having money and a job. It feels like there's no way out.
FITZGERALD: A home is the heart of what's going to make their life possible.
So good to see you. How are you? You're back home. We give them a lot of love and a lot of support. Around her is a community who have seen growth and change.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once you forgive yourself, it's going to be all right.
FITZGERALD: Over time broken bonds have been mended and there can now be a wholeness to their life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, it's Kelly from the mentoring program. I was a crack head. I gave birth while I was still incarcerated. I didn't know how I was going to change my life. Sister Tesa didn't just save me, she saved my entire family.
FITZGERALD: When I start seeing that take place in the women that I've worked with. Very proud of you. That makes it all worthwhile.
LEMON: Go to cnn.com to vote for your hero.
Summer, it sure is hot. Summers are always hot, but this one is particularly steamy. We just suffered through the hottest month on record. Good riddance July. Get out of here.
Now Martin Savidge traveled to the banks of the Mississippi River to get an idea of how all this hot-dry weather is affecting this important waterway.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We're on the bridge of the (inaudible) as Captain Gene Waller threads a string of barges nearly four football fields long up the shrunken Mississippi River.
CAPTAIN GENE WALLER, CANAL BARGE COMPANY: It's a little shallow.
SAVIDGE: In his 28 years of piloting tow boats for the Canal Barge Company, he's never seen the Mississippi drop so far, so fast.
(on camera): What's the biggest thing that worries you?
WALLER: Not expect to hit the swallow spot.
SAVIDGE: Running into the bottom.
(voice-over): Just ahead he heard the river is always nine feet deep. He sits nine feet three inches to the water.
(on camera): You're deeper than that the water than that water is deep. How often do you find yourself looking at that depth gauge?
WALLER: All the time.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): He's got reason to be nervous. Over the last two weeks boats and barges have been running aground nearly every day.
COMMANDER DAVID BURNS, U.S. COAST GUARD: We had on the water probably 15 to 20 different small incidents or groundings.
SAVIDGE (on camera): How does that compare to a normal time?
BURNS: I would that's probably -- it's certainly an increase from what we normally see.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): And there are other problems. The giant American queen has to let passengers off on a levee because the water is too shallow where it normally docks.
Huge areas of river beds been exposed looking like desert causing one lawmaker to quit that Mississippi has more beaches than Florida, which would be funny if it wasn't about to cost us all.
You see the Mississippi moves all sorts of things we use a lot of like grain, oil, coal and steel.
DARYL WHEELER, ASSISTANT PORT CAPTAIN, CANAL BARGE COMPANY: Everybody's having to lighten the loads up.
SAVIDGE: So here is the math.
(on camera): If you want to raise the average barge one inch in the water, you have to take 17 tons of cargo. To raise it a foot, you're talking 200 tons.
(voice-over): And since according to the American waterways operators moving cargo by river is $11 a ton cheaper by train or truck. The more that now has to be moved on land, well, the more the cost go up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eventually the consumers are going to pay that price somewhere along the line.
SAVIDGE: That's Steven Barry with the Army Corps of Engineers. I asked him the question that's on many people's minds.
(on camera): They're worried the river could close. What would you say?
STEVEN BARRY, ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: Well, I don't -- I think with the pro-active (inaudible) I don't see the river actually closing.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): That proactive stance includes building thousands of rock dikes like these. That jut into the water all along the river.
(on camera): And this is what they do. The water comes downstream. During the drought it's redirected, deflected into the center of the river. It makes the channel deeper and it scours out the silt.
(voice-over): But engineering can only do so much. The rest is up to nature. Just how much rain would it take to make the river right?
BARRY: Twenty inches. Right and that would be on a regular and recurring basis.
SAVIDGE: That's not in the forecast. Long range predictions actually show the river dropping another two or three feet, which is why Captain Waller and others on the Mississippi fear life would be about to hit bottom.
WALLER: It just keeps until she quits moving.
LEMON: Great reporting there. Martin Savidge, there he is in Memphis. Is this the lowest the river has ever been?
SAVIDGE: You know, you'd think that, but actually it's not, Don, 1988 is the lowest the river has been at least in the city of Memphis.
However, we're about two to three feet away from that point right now. But we're going into fall. Fall is traditionally even drier than the summer months when it comes to rain and the river.
So it looks like the projections are saying we're going to break the record here for the low. So I would say '88 is in big jeopardy.
And I should point out, in '88, they had to close the river. They're hoping that won't be the case this time.
LEMON: All right, stand by, Marty. I want to bring in Chad Myers now. Chad, I remember, lived there in '88, grew up on the Mississippi. The river coming to a halt because of this drought, that's serious stuff.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Something else that I've talked to some of the river captains about. If you remember last spring there was a tremendous flood. The casinos were literally under water.
That flooding moved the sand barges into different places. So the dredge channels were also filled in. So everything they thought was OK is not OK. They are re-dredging the places that were already dredged.
LEMON: So they have to do that in order to get them in and out.
MYERS: To get any boats in and out. Obviously the drought has been everywhere. It was flash drought. It wasn't a drought really in April or May. It started then. It just didn't rain at all.
When it didn't rain during the growing season, things got really, really bad out there. The corn stopped growing, 50 percent of the corn is poor to very poor.
That means we're losing yield. We're losing crops that we could sell to other countries as an export. That's not good for farmers either.
In Illinois, 74 percent of the fields are in poor to very poor conditions. That means they get less than half probably of what they would get.
LEMON: All right, thank you, Chad. Of course, thanks to Martin Savidge out there in Memphis, Tennessee as well.
OK, grab your popcorn. You want to watch this. Spike Lee known for ruffling feathers and his new movie no exception. You'll hear what the director told me not about his movie, but about Mitt Romney, his view of President Obama and whether the president deserves a second chance in office. It's a must see conversation.
LEMON: So movie director Spike Lee's new movie "Red Hook Summer" premiers in New York tonight. Let me tell you about it. It's a coming of age story about a boy who goes to New York to spend the summer with his bible thumping grandfather.
And then the movie takes a twist into a chilling subject into chilling territory that we shouldn't give away. We don't want to ruin it by telling you what it is.
So you have to see it for yourself, but you also have to see this for yourself. Filmmaker Spike Lee, also a critic as well and an unapologetic supporter of Barack Obama talking to me about the president, what the world expected from him and what he thinks of Mitt Romney.
LEMON: Do you think the expectations were too high?
SPIKE LEE, FILMMAKER: On President Obama? Yes. He was the savior, black Jesus. I don't care who it was, I mean, expectations were way too high. What somebody can deliver knowing how politics works and knowing that you have to deal with the Congress.
In my opinion, a Congress that's solidifies whatever you do we're blocking it. We're blocking. Every breath we take we're going to do what we can that you don't get a second term. Bottom line, if it hurts America in the process, tough business.
LEMON: Do you think he's lived up to the promises?
LEE: Look, the man's not perfect. Who's perfect? My wife and I had fundraiser at our house. We raised over a billion dollars for him. He has my full support and I'm going to do what I can to help that he gets a second term in office.
LEMON: You just took my question. I was going to say does he deserve and you answered it. Do you want to talk at all about the other side? What do you think of the competition?
LEE: I don't think I have to do that. Number one, it's very obvious. You got this and you got that. It's plain as day. Americans are going to have to make a choice. You can go this way or that way. There's no in between.
(END VIDEOTAPE) LEMON: We're just beginning here, the entire interview, tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN, 10 p.m. Eastern on Saturday night. You don't want to miss that.
But first in our next hour right here on the CNN NEWSROOM, I asked Spike Lee if black people are too sensitive when it comes to race and quite frankly, if he is a racist himself and a race baiter.
Gunman disguised as Afghan security open fire on U.S. troops. It is the latest violence against NATO soldiers. A live report on the fallout, next.
LEMON: A gunman wearing an Afghan security uniform shot and killed three U.S. troops today. The soldiers were part of a Special Operations mission to stabilize a village in the volatile Helman Province.
The White House says it's too soon to know whether today's attack might be linked to a recent series of attacks on NATO soldiers in Afghanistan.
Chris Lawrence live now from the Pentagon. Chris, have they caught the gunman linked to today's attack and what else do you know about this?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, we know that the gunman escaped, but where he is now is really part of the whole mystery surrounding this. Our U.S. sources are only saying that these three Marines were part of a special operation's mission to stabilize a village and they had gone out to meet a local Afghan contact.
The Taliban is claiming the man they went to meet is an Afghan police commander who lured them in and was playing them in, who all along was playing them and planned to kill them and after they got there and had a meal, the Taliban claims he shot and killed all three and then escaped and joins the insurgency.
Whatever way it happened, you know, this is not an isolated incident. While it's not widespread when you consider tens of thousands of Americans and Afghans work together every day, still this is the third green on blue attack just this week.
And of all the NATO troops that have been killed so far this year, Don, one out of three were killed by someone in an Afghan uniform.
LEMON: And you're talking about the one in Kunar Province there was one recently a bombing. How are these attacks affecting troops' morale? What is the U.S. military doing about it as well?
LAWRENCE: Well, even commanders will admit that even though these don't occur all the time and they're small numbers, they have sort of an exponential effect on morale, that they really hurt troops' morale when they think about the people that they are partnering may be a threat to them.
In some cases, U.S. commanders have assigned so-called guardian angels whose only job really is to look out for American troops while they're working with the Afghans. Also, Afghan intelligence services have put undercover agents in some of the recruiting depots to try to feel out some of the recruits to see if they have any extremist views.
LEMON: Chris Lawrence, appreciate it very much.