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Karzai Says Coalition Forces Should Return to Bases; Biden Speaks in Toledo; A Visit to Old Town Alexandria, Virginia; Romney's Delegate Math vs. Santorum's Substance; Kids In Peril At Camps; Weary Republicans
Aired March 15, 2012 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips. It's 11:00 a.m. on the East coast, 8:00 on the West. We've got a pretty busy hour ahead. Let's go ahead and get straight to the news.
President Obama and our soaring gas prices, it's become political and it's devastated our pocketbooks, no doubt. He's about to start speaking on that exact topic right now at Prince George's Community College in Maryland just outside D.C.
The president yet, again, pushing his all-of-the-above energy strategy, says the U.S. must develop every resource it can to hopefully get control of its energy future.
Meanwhile, AAA says that gas prices jumped another 1 cent overnight, pushing the national average of a gallon to $3.82.
All right, get ready for blunt Biden. Location? Toledo, Ohio, as we just mentioned. This is the vice president's first campaign foray in front of a key, support group, autoworkers in Toledo.
Now, we're never sure what the raw and outspoken Joe Biden will say, but you can pretty much guarantee he'll defend the president's auto industry bailout and go after Mitt Romney's opposition to it.
The White House says the president's actions saved 1.4 million U.S. jobs.
Well, if the burning of the Korans by U.S. soldiers and the shooting rampage allegedly carried out by one of our own hasn't carried enough shock in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai says that he wants all NATO and U.S. forces out of Afghan villages and back to their military bases.
That's the message that he gave today when he met with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. A live report from the Pentagon coming up in just about eight minutes.
And in Syria, the revolt against Bashar al-Assad hits one year and the killing of innocent civilians by Assad's military continues.
Opposition fighters say at least 46 people have been killed so far today. The U.N. says more than 8,000 people have died in that conflict.
Meantime, check out this video that was just posted to YouTube. Details are scant, but according to "The Post," this shows Hama citadel building in Syria just as it was hit with an RPG.
CNN is working on gathering information from activists on the ground.
Well, smokers, what is it going to take to make you quit? How about this? Images of amputation, paralysis, cancer, ailments all caused by smoking. Part of a new Centers for Disease Control ad campaign to convince you to quit.
The $54 million ad campaign called "Tips from Former Smokers" is also aimed at keeping non-smokers, especially kids, from getting started.
CDC says that more than 8 million Americans live with a smoking- related illness.
Ex-Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich, on his way to a Colorado prison this hour, but just before he boarded that plane, of course, in Blago style, he worked the crowd.
But there will be no cameras once he's in prison as he begins life as inmate number 40892-424. Blagojevich is sentenced to 14 years for corruption for trying to profit from appointing someone to fill Barack Obama's open Senate seat.
Arizona is moving towards a brand new religious exemption for insurance coverage for birth control. It's a bill that has already passed the Arizona House and one Senate committee. It would let employers opt out of contraceptive coverage unless employees prove they need it for other medical conditions.
Supporters say it's a simple case of religious freedom, but critics see it as a huge invasion of privacy. CNN legal contributor, Paul Callan, joins me with more on that in just a few minutes.
Well, if you're 75 or older, getting through airport security may be less of a hassle pretty soon. The TSA is testing out some changes for screening seniors. Starting Monday, seniors will be allowed to keep their shoes on, along with their jackets and light outerwear.
But it's only going to be at Chicago's O'Hare, Denver, Portland, and Orlando International Airports for now. If things go smoothly, though, the new protocol could be standard at all checkpoints nationwide.
Meanwhile, a Florida airport is trying to opt out of TSA screenings in favor of private screeners like 16 other U.S. airports.
The Orlando Sanford International Airport is trying to get approval to join the TSA's screening partnership program which allows airports hire private companies who then enforce the security protocols set and overseen by the TSA. The HBO series of horseracing has run out of luck. The cable TV network has canceled the show, ironically called "Luck," after a third horse died during filming.
The show stars Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte and looks at the seedy side of the sport. HBO will air the last two episodes of the season, but won't return for a second run.
Now, the Taliban say, forget it. The group suspends diplomatic talks in its fallout from the alleged shooting of an American soldier in Afghanistan.
Plus, CNN is getting new details about that solider. Barbara Starr tells us what's she's learning, coming up next.
But first, one of the world's best archers, Jeff Fabry and it's how he aims for perfection that's so extraordinary. Jeff uses his teeth.
He developed the technique after losing an arm and a leg in a motorcycle accident. Now, he's a five-time Special Games champ, three time Paralympic medalist, and he's going for the gold at this year's summer Olympics in London.
But what's more, in between all of his training and his competing, Jeff coaches members of the Wounded Warrior project to compete, too.
Jeff Fabry, you are today's rock star.
PHILLIPS: Well, a potentially major setback for President Obama in the war in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai calling on all U.S. and NATO troops to pull out of posts in Afghan villages and return to their major bases.
Apparently, he told that to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today. This comes after an American soldier allegedly went on a rampage killing 16 Afghan men, women and children. He's now been moved to Kuwait.
There are around 90,000 troops in Afghanistan based at or near the cities that you see right there on the map.
In another blow to the U.S., the Taliban today say they're suspending peace talks in Qatar with the U.S. and Afghan government.
Barbara Starr's at the Pentagon, so let's start with Karzai and his statement on U.S. and NATO troops.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Kyra, this all apparently happened some hours ago in Kabul and still no official reaction from the Obama administration or the Pentagon.
But the statement from the presidential palace in Kabul says their position quite clearly. President Karzai saying he wants U.S. and NATO troops out of the villages across the country. He wants them back in the main bases and wants to see security transition wrapped up next year instead of 2014 which is what NATO had agreed to with the Afghans.
Look, U.S. troops aren't going to stay in Afghanistan if they are not wanted by the government there, but, clearly, this is a response to what has happened.
Karzai is under a lot of pressure inside his own country to demonstrate that he can provide security, that after ten years, he still doesn't have to rely on foreign forces.
But whether the Afghans really can take it on full-blown themselves, I think a lot remains to be seen. But it's just an indicator of the really sour feelings, quite understandably, after this latest incident, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: And this latest incident with the U.S. soldier allegedly going on this killing rampage, he has been moved to Qatar. Why? Is it a safety issue?
STARR: Let me just -- I think you obviously meant Kuwait there.
PHILLIPS: Kuwait, yes, thank you. Thank you, Barbara, yes.
He's been moved to Kuwait because the U.S. military has the facilities there for long-term detention that they don't have in the war zone and they are continuing the investigation, obviously.
Everyone we've talked to, Kyra, says they don't know the motivation, what happened here, in the words of one official familiar with some of the investigation, what made him snap.
Rumors, you know, people have marital problems, they have other issues. Nobody can really put a finger on it yet what made him snap.
Did he see a buddy die? Was there some combat situation he was involved in? We do know that he had three combat tours in Iraq. He had two badges awarded for being in combat.
But, still, all these days later, no indication of what really happened here, what made this man go on a killing rampage.
PHILLIPS: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Barbara, thanks.
PHILLIPS: Critics call it outrageous. We're talking about a bill that would require women who have contraceptive coverage to prove to their employers they're taking it only for medical conditions.
Is something like this even legal? We're going to talk about it, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
PHILLIPS: Well, you know about the backlash to federally- mandated coverage for birth control, but Arizona's answer may actually surprise you.
A bill in the works there would let any employer, religious or secular, refuse to cover birth control unless it's used for non-birth control purposes. Women who use it for medical conditions would have to pay for it out of pocket and be reimbursed later if they can prove they're not trying to prevent pregnancy.
And that's not all. The measure would eliminate a clause that says, quote -- and I quote -- "a religious employer shall not discriminate against an employee who obtains insurance coverage or prescriptions for contraceptives from another source."
Opponents take that to mean women who buy their own contraceptives could legally be fired or demoted. This part might surprise you, too. The bill was written by a woman, Republican state lawmaker, Debbie Lesko.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. DEBBIE LESKO (R), ARIZONA HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP: What my bill does is basically says that Arizona employers can opt-out of the contraceptive mandate if they have a religious objection.
And that's really all my bill does. It's really about religious liberty and our protection of our First Amendment rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Well, we invited Congresswoman Lesko to join once, but she couldn't make it work.
But CNN legal contributor, Paul Callan, does join me from New York.
So, Paul, it's not as simple as the congresswoman says. Religious liberty? End of story?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: No. It's really gotten very, very complicated here, Kyra, because, I mean, this thing starts when the government creates a mandate that you have to cover contraceptives within insurance policies.
And then the religious groups say, well, we want an out on that. And, so, the government kind of crafts a careful thing that says under limited circumstances, you don't have to pay for it if you are a religious organization, but coverage has to be provided independently by the insurance carrier.
Then Arizona goes off the reservation and says, basically, if you submit an application for contraceptives, even to cover something like an ovarian cyst which sometimes women would use contraceptives for, you've got to submit a letter to your employer telling them why you're using contraceptives or you don't get the coverage.
PHILLIPS: That's very personal information.
CALLAN: You know, critics of this law are saying that it's an invasion of privacy and, you know, ironically, the Supreme Court of the United States first recognized privacy rights in contraceptive area in a case called "Griswold Versus Connecticut" many, many years ago involving an 1879 law in Connecticut that banned dispensing of contraceptives.
And the court said that's a privacy right of married people and it's unconstitutional to restrict it.
And, now, we seem to come full circle with Arizona enacting this law. I think you're going to see some very serious challenges to this, a constitutional challenge.
PHILLIPS: Well, and there are other freedoms at stake here, if you want to take it a step further.
CALLAN: Well, there are a large number of freedoms involved here because, if you get into a situation where the employer can not only exclude coverage for certain things, but also can ask you specific questions about the type of medications you're getting and why you're getting those medications.
PHILLIPS: So, what do you make, then, of the other part of this, the attempted repeal of the "no discrimination" clause for employees who buy their own contraception as we pointed out at the beginning?
CALLAN: Well, I would say, Kyra, from a political standpoint, it was very, very foolish of Arizona to throw this into the hopper because it's illegal. That is clearly illegal.
And, by the way, there are federal laws that would protect women if they were fired for getting contraceptives. Federal law clearly protects that right and it doesn't matter what the states say, women will remain protected.
So, it's very, very foolish for them to eliminate the provision. I think it creates a controversy and it essentially creates a totally unenforceable law.
PHILLPS: So, if it's illegal, then, really, why are we talking about this?
CALLAN: Well, they threw it into the hopper because they said, basically, our other laws don't make reference to the fact that it's illegal to discriminate if you don't allow this type of drug, so why should we mention pregnant women?
So, they kind of just said, we're throwing it out, but, of course, it creates the impression that women, if they choose to get contraceptives in Arizona, independently, that they could be fired from their jobs. So, it really creates fear, I think, or has the potential to create fear among women who are exercising this constitutional right to use contraceptives if they wish to.
PHILLIPS: Final thought, you brought up the federal issue. Will this be a model for states that oppose federal mandates or is this just a court fight waiting to happen?
CALLAN: Well, I think for some states which have political groups that really conscientiously believe that contraception should not be covered or not be mandated by the government, this Arizona law will set a precedent.
And what they're really looking to do is to set up a lawsuit that will eventually be decided by the courts.
Of course, the Obama administration is trying to deal with the situation with a less restrictive kind of clause, but even Obama's approach to this has sort of incorporated and tried to accommodate the views of certain religions who oppose contraception.
So, this is all setting up for a big lawsuit that we're going to see coming down the line on ObamaCare and on mandates by the federal government regarding insurance coverage.
PHILLIPS: Paul Callan, thanks so much.
CALLAN: Nice being with you, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: A pleasure.
We'll take you to Toledo, Ohio, Vice President Joe Biden.
(BEGIN LIVE FEED)
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Look, that's what I want to talk to you about today. This is the first of four speeches I'll be making on behalf of the president and me in the coming weeks, laying out what we believe are clear, stark differences between us and our opponents and what's at stake for the middle class because it is the middle class that is at stake in this election.
Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich, these guys have a fundamentally different economic philosophy than we do. Our philosophy is one that values the workers and the success of a business. It values the middle class and the success of our economy. Simply stated, we're about promoting the private sector.
They're about protecting the privileged sector. We are for a fair shot and a fair shake. They're about no rules, no risks, and no accountability.
Look, there's no clearer example of these two different views of the economy than how we reacted to the crisis in the automobile industry. It's sort of a cautionary tale of how they would run the government again and the economy again if given a chance. Remember and you do remember and, Shelly, you captured it all, remember what the headlines were saying when you woke up a couple years ago. Quote, "It's bankruptcy time for GM."
Another headline, "Crunch time looms for Chrysler."
Another headline, "Government must act quickly to prevent the collapse of suppliers."
You guys know for every one of you on the line, there's four people on another job supplying those parts.
Folks, a million jobs at stake, a million good jobs were at stake, on the assembly line, at the parts factories, at the automobile dealerships, right down to the diners outside each of those facilities.
Our friends on the other side, our Republican friends, had started a mantra. They started the mantra that said we would make auto companies, quote, "wards of the state" was their phrase.
Governor Romney was more direct. Let Detroit go bankrupt. He said that. He said that what we propose, and I quote, "is even worse than bankruptcy," end of quote. He said it would make GM, quote, "the living dead."
Newt Gingrich said, quote, "a mistake," but the guy I work with every day, the president, he didn't flinch. This is a man with steel in his spine.
He knew that resurrecting the industry wasn't going to be popular. It was absolutely clear in every bit of polling data and he knew he was taking a chance.
But he believed. He wasn't going to give up on a million jobs and on the iconic industry America invented. At least he wasn't going to give it up without a real fight.
(END LIVE FEED)
PHILLIPS: The blunt Biden there, live in Toledo, Ohio. His first campaign foray there in this run for the re-election. His key support group there? Autoworkers in Toledo and, as expected, he defended the president's auto industry bailout, going after Mitt Romney, the man that opposed it.
Once again, emphasizing the 1.4-plus million jobs saved because of the president's stance on that. We'll follow the live event.
Also, summer is just around the corner and, if you're thinking about sending your kids to camp, you'd better listen up. If you live in certain states, sex offenders and felons could be working at those camps. We'll tell you about an explosive new investigation.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: Well, covering politics and the White House can be a pretty grueling 24/7 job. You've got to have a break every now and then.
So, in today's "Travel Insider," White House correspondent Brianna Keilar shows us where she goes to unwind when she's not following the president.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Brianna Keilar and I cover the White House for CNN and one of my favorite place in the D.C.-area is Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia. It's about seven-and-a- half miles south of the White House.
This is a place where you can come and get a great meal, do a little shopping, and even get a history lesson.
This is, after all, the hometown of George Washington and, here at the Old Presbyterian Meeting House, you can find the gravesite of his personal physician, James Craik. It's a little spooky. It's one of the stops on the ghost tour here in town, but I say we get out of here and go find some other spirits.
This is one of my favorite places in Old Town to end the evening. This is the PX Speakeasy. It's completely unmarked and the blue light means that they're open, so you can just knock on the door and come on in.
When you get upstairs at PX, you might be lucky enough to show up on a night where Todd Thrasher, the owner and bartender here -- thanks, Todd -- is here to mix you a drink.
So, what are we having tonight?
TODD THRASHER, OWNER, PX SPEAKEASY: I don't know. What are you in the mood for? Rum, vodka, gin?
KEILAR: Let's try gin.
THRASHER: Gin tonight? OK.
So, this is the Le Blanc. It's a fortified wine from France. Purple basil. Put a little dash of gin just to give it a backbone. Three drops of citric acid in there. Orange flower water. A little bit of ice to start. Stir 30 more times, not that I'm counting. You smack it, wave it to the cocktail gods. Then sweet basil.
KEILAR: That's amazing.
THRASHER: Thank you very much.
KEILAR: Cheers from Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.
(END VIDEOTAPE) PHILLIPS: With all the talk of that delegate math in the GOP race, well, you would think we were back in school, right? Romney has this many, Santorum has that many.
So, here is some more math for you. Could one candidate's delegates, plus another candidate's delegates outnumber the frontrunner's delegates?
Are you confused yet?
We'll clear it up for you next in "Fair Game."
PHILLIPS: Puerto Rico and presidential politics are always "Fair Game." Let's talk about it with Maria Cardona, CNN contributor and Democratic strategist in D.C. And here in Atlanta, entrepreneur and best selling author, Tom Blair.
All right, guys. Mitt Romney. He keeps racking up delegates. But Rick Santorum tells CNN's Jim Acosta that the math isn't what matters. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's pretty sad when all you have to do is do math instead of trying to - you know, trying to go out there and win it on substance and win it on what Americans want to hear about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: All right. So is Santorum right? Can he and Newt Gingrich still deny Mitt Romney the delegates he needs, or has this race really come down to Mitt Romney's vote for me, the mass is on my side? Maria?
MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think at the end of the day, it is about the delegates because whoever is the nominee has to get to the magic number of 1,144.
But Rick Santorum has an incredibly important point in that where Romney has really gone wrong here is that he has absolutely zero message for the voters that he needs to get in order to gain the delegates at the end of the day. Mitt Romney's message is completely void of any optimism of any vision where he wants to take the party, where he wants to take the country. And if he thinks that that is what is going to win him delegates, then Santorum is right because Mitt Romney said recently that he thinks Rick Santorum's attacks on him are because his campaign is at a desperate end. Well, really? Rick Santorum just won two of the major contests.
If Mitt Romney is going to continue on this line, at the end of the day, his delegate math may not be in his best interests.
PHILLIPS: Tom, is this really what it's come down to, is the math is on my side? Not a subject matter, not the people?
TOM BLAIR, BEST-SELLING AUTHOR: Well, we have moved off of contraception into math, so I feel we're going in the right direction.
BLAIR: What I would argue is the statement was ill advised by the Romney camp for a couple of reasons. It's not math. It's probabilities. If you just have a column of numbers and you add them up, he either has 1,114 or he doesn't. But it's the probabilities of states.
And there's some pretty big states out there with unknown probabilities. Texas being one with 150 delegates. And last time I looked, there are probably more people there with two pickup trucks than two Cadillacs. So you get into a situation where you apply the probabilities, and it's more than a jump ball.
And I think another reality is for Santorum to win, he doesn't need 1,144. Romney needs 1,144 to take Santorum out of it. But if it becomes a jump ball, Santorum is going to argue that he has the momentum.
And finally, Americans really don't do well in math. So, when somebody challenges Americans by saying "It's in the math," well let me show you. Here's what happens when you give me a D in high school in math. I'm going to go to the polls and I'm going to vote against math.
PHILLIPS: You know, all three of us are journalists, so we know, we never did very well at math.
All right. So let me take the numbers and the colors. I've got something to look at here. This is the delegate numbers, according to the latest CNN estimate, OK? And it's how the primary map looks so far. It's going to come up in just a second. There's our numbers, and now we're going to see the colors on the map.
Now, this is -- there we go. The thing is, I guess, turning into a new reality show. We've decided to name it Republican Survivors. So, who do you think is going to get voted off the island first, Marie?
CARDONA: I love that. That is exactly what this whole process has been, Kyra. Well, again, it is up to the voters. And this is where I think, to Tom's point, Mitt Romney is not getting it. He shouldn't be talking about delegate maps. He should be talking about a message that resonates. And that's where Rick Santorum, I think, has really been able to come up strong and why he has been able to, now, be the one who challenging Mitt Romney.
Six months ago, Kyra, who would have thought that we would be here talking about Rick Santorum being the one that could possibly be the survivor of this Republican reality show? So who knows? That's the beauty of politics. Anything can happen.
PHILLIPS: Do you want to talk about the survivor or who is going to get voted off first, Tom?
BLAIR: I'm not sure anybody gets voted off. I think maybe one or two people might just run out of money and decide to leave the island in a row boat.
But to everybody's point here, it is a very surreal situation that we're in right now. And I must say, I think the various Democrats must take a great deal of satisfaction in looking at the rubble that is behind this campaign on the Republican side.
PHILLIPS: Maria Cardona, Tom Blair, thanks, guys. That's "Fair Game."
CARDONA: Thanks, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: You bet.
Straight ahead today, an explosive new report that you need to hear about. I'm talking about sex offenders and felons possibly working at the summer camps where you send your kids. Up next, the reporter who broke the story, along with child safety advocate Mark Klaas.
PHILLIPS: Well, maybe you probably went to camp and you're now sending your kids and your grandkids to camp, right? But you've thought about -- have you ever thought actually about who is being hired to staff those camps? It's a really important question. And here is why we want to go a little more in-depth.
"The Palm Beach Post" did a six-month long investigation into this very topic. And the findings are pretty disturbing. It turns out that Florida is one of six states that does not license camps. North Carolina, Missouri, New Mexico, South Dakota and Washington are the others.
So, while this may not raise alarm bells at first, "The Palm Beach Post" actually found the absence of that license has made it relatively easy for sex offenders and other violent criminals to work at those camps around your children. And this is a small part of what was uncovered by "The Palm Beach Post" investigative reporter Michael LaForgia. He joins us now along with Mark Klaas, who's a child safety advocate and started a nonprofit, Klaaskids Foundation for Children. And that was after his 12-year-old daughter, Polly, was kidnapped and murdered in 1993.
Guys, thanks so much for joining me. And Michael, let's go ahead and start with you and talk about your investigation. You say that because of these laws, that children -- and it's in your piece, quote, "have suffered profound harm."
That's a powerful statement. Can you give me some examples of what you're talking about?
MICHAEL LAFORGIA, STAFF WRITER, "THE PALM BEACH POST": Sure. We focused on four examples. One on the east coast of Florida, about an hour north of West Palm Beach. In that case, a convicted child molester got a job at a church summer camp without undergoing a background check and then went on to molest a 14-year-old boy during a camp sleepover.
In the other cases, on the west coast of Florida, an individual who was facing child sex abuse charges in another state was actually hired by a camp organization there. And he went on to molest at least three other kids.
PHILLIPS: Would you - I mean, are you a father?
LAFORGIA: No, I'm not.
PHILLIPS: No. So how did this -- when you started to find these examples and find these loopholes, I can just imagine the reaction there at the paper where there are a lot of parents. Were you surprised to find such large gaps? And were you surprised to find not only instances of sexual assaults, but even murder?
LAFORGIA: I wasn't surprised, actually. We, back in 2010, did a story focusing mostly on Palm Beach County, and we found some pretty unsettling stuff when we did that. We found a case of a convicted child molester who was actually being paid by Palm Beach County to run a summer camp for homeless and foster kids.
Since then, we have been looking at this issue and the cases have just been kind of bubbling to the surface one after the other. So, to answer your question, no, I wasn't.
PHILLIPS: Wow. And, Mark, I know after everything you've been through and you've been an advocate for so many years, you're not surprised by this, either. But I want to get you to respond -- the Florida Department of Children and families did issue a statement to this. I want to read part of it. "Currently all directors, employees, and volunteers who work more than ten hours per week at a summer camp are mandated to pass a level two background screening, which includes both state and national criminal checks."
And, Mark, here is what I want to ask you. Obviously, it's not enough because we're hearing about what is happening. And number two, you know, how do you keep up with that and policing thousands of camps?
MARK KLAAS, FATHER OF POLLY KLAAS: Well, listen, Kyra. First of all, this is an amazing piece of investigative journalism that really peels the scab off of a lack of accountability and deferred responsibility. This has been allowed to go on because everybody is turning their back on the problem. There is absolutely no regulation. There's no licensing of these camps. So anybody can work in them or found them.
Now, what can parents do? Probably the best thing they can do is send their kids to Georgia or Alabama to camp. Notwithstanding that, they can run their own background checks. They can talk to their children. They can check in with their children if they do decide to send them to camp. And I think probably the most important thing that a family can do is to contact their state legislators because, if there's one thing that a politician can do, it's count votes. They need to call them, visit them, write them, email them, text them and fax them. If every parent were to do that, there would be immediate response.
PHILLIPS: But here's what's interesting. Michael, I'm looking at this from -- directly from your investigation. You've got in here, "since the mid 1980s, legislators have been warned repeatedly of dangers in camps. Even so, they've taken virtually no steps to protect kids."
LAFORGIA: Right. That's absolutely true. At least half a dozen times, probably more than a half a dozen times, this issue has been brought to the attention of Florida lawmakers. In some cases, they promised to do something about the problem. In all cases, they failed to act.
PHILLIPS: So, Marc, tell me why you shake your head and you took kind of a deep breath there.
KLAAS: Well, because that's their job, isn't it? I mean, public safety is what we elect these people to do, to protect us from the evils out there. And they're absolutely falling down on the job. It extends from the governor, to the legislature, to city governments, as the reporter has pointed out. It's institutional, it's secular, it's faith-based, it's absolutely everybody turning their backs on the children. And the politicians are the one that are in a position to actually do something about it and they continually turn away. It's disgraceful.
PHILLIPS: So, Mike -- you brought up that the governor, Marc -- Michael, we reached out to the governor, Rick Scott. We haven't heard back from him. What did you get from him?
LAFORGIA: I spoke to him very briefly in West Palm Beach in November and he was surprised. He, like most parents who I've talked to, thought that Florida did something to regulate summer camps. And he was astonished when I told him that anybody, even a convicted child molester, could find work at a Florida summer camp. He asked me, how can that happen? And so he is pretty much in the same boat as other Florida parents. He was in the dark.
PHILLIPS: You know what, Marc, this is taking me back to when you and I first met in the '90s. And remember the investigation I did on how sex offenders could get their hands on personal information of kids, these databases that exist? And it seems like we are talking about the exact same thing here. This is -- this is like such simple, easy access to our children because so many of them go to summer camp and you would just think that of all things a kid's summer camp would be well protected.
KLAAS: Well, Kyra, I will always be beholden to you for what you did. That was also an amazing piece of investigative journalism. The excuse right now is that there's no money to be able to fund these kinds of programs. So these guys are great with budget cutting and bottom lines, but they're forgetting that they're really there not to work on budgets, but to protect people and they're failing to do it.
PHILLIPS: Yes. And, Michael, we do, Marc and I both lift you up for this because 20 years ago Marc and I worked on an investigation together around his daughter. It triggered national legislation and it went nowhere. So we salute you for trying to stay on this subject and we can't understand why our kids cannot be protected, especially in places like summer camp.
Michael, Marc, thanks, guys, so much.
KLAAS: Thank you.
LAFORGIA: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: Well, straight ahead, vets in Florida are fuming over this flag showing an image of President Obama. Hear what they say -- it's illegal. That's next.
PHILLIPS: Time now to go to stories making news at street level. In New Brunswick, New Jersey, we're keeping an eye on the Rutgers trial for you. The jury is still deliberating. Dharun Ravi committed a hate crime when publicizing his gay roommate's encounter with another man. Tyler Clementi died by suicide after he realized Ravi had recorded the encounter on his webcam and then tweeted it to his friends. We'll bring you the verdict as soon as we get word.
And a street in Memphis, Tennessee, is getting a new name. A one mile stretch, Linden Avenue, will be named after Martin Luther King Jr. Although over 900 cities in the country have named roads after that leader, the place where he was assassinated has not been one of them. The ceremony will be held on April 4th, on the 44th anniversary of MLK's death.
In Lake County, Florida, a modified version of the American flag is making some waves. Vets are furious a flag with President Obama's picture on it was seeing flying outside Democratic headquarters. They say that's illegal. The party chairwoman of the area has taken it down. She says she's responsible for the incident.
In Louisville, Kentucky, a story of unemployment troubles. GE put out an ad for 230 manufacturing ads, but the company's website crashed after it was flooded with applications. It hit the limit of 10,000 submissions in a matter of just a few hours. GE says they will select the candidates and have them at work by May.
Now to Maryland Heights, Missouri. The video that will make you want to take another look. The man gets a little more than he bargained for when he tries to shoo away a goose just outside his office. A pair of Canada geese nesting near the building. It seems they are very protective parents and will fight off anybody, anybody that they see as a threat. Does he look like a threat?
Well, if you're a regular CNN viewer, by now you probably are pretty well versed in the Republican primary process. After all, they've been going strong since January. So, are Republican voters themselves getting tired of the process already? You might be surprised by what we found.
But first, you can take the man out of the politics, but you can't take the politics out of the man. Not when the man is Rod Blagojevich. Not only is Blago out of prison -- or out of politics, rather -- that was a slip -- he's out of circulation for 14 years. The former Illinois governor has just arrived in Colorado to begin his prison stretch for, among other things, trying to sell Barack Obama's old Senate seat. He couldn't help working the crowd on his way out of Chicago this morning. And we're sure in his new digs, well, if they've got a prison council, he'll definitely be a candidate. Still, Rod, you probably can't hear me because there you are live being driven to the prison, but you really should know your 15 minutes are up.
PHILLIPS: A quick update now on the delegate count in the republican race for the White House. According to the latest CNN estimates, 498 delegates for Mitt Romney, 239 for Santorum. Newt Gingrich, 139. Ron Paul, 69. As you know, 1,144 are needed to win the nomination.
All right, Paul Steinhauser joins me now for "Political Ticker."
A few minutes ago we compared the Republican presidential race to an episode of "Survivor." Don't know if you saw that, with our "Fair Game." And you've got new poll numbers that show the Republicans are actually starting to get a little concerned.
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, I think more and more Republicans, according to this poll, are saying enough already. Let's get this over with. These primaries are starting to hurt us.
Look at this. Pew Research Center, Kyra, and they asked the question, you know, is this ongoing primary and caucus process, is it good for the party or bad for the party? Well, look what they say now. They're kind of divided. Forty-seven percent say good, 43 percent say bad. Look what it was a month ago. A lot more people said good than bad.
You know what's interesting as well, Romney supporters, more of them say it's bad for the party. More Santorum and Gingrich supporters, who, of course, want this to go all the way to the end of the process in the end of June, say it's good.
Well, yes, it's probably going to go on for a while, no doubt about it. Take a look at this. Here's just the next couple of weeks. We've got a busy calendar coming up. We've got the Missouri caucuses on Saturday. Sunday, the primary in Puerto Rico. Next Tuesday, a crucial primary in Illinois. Next Saturday, Louisiana gets it turn. And then you've got three contests the following Tuesday -- Wisconsin, Maryland, District of Columbia. Kyra, stay tuned. This thing is not over any time soon.
PHILLIPS: Oh, we know for sure.
All right. So, once again, we've got Missouri, then Puerto Rico, Illinois, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Maryland and D.C. primaries. All right, we got the list.
Paul Steinhauser, thank you so much.
STEINHAUSER: Thanks, Kyra.
And thanks for watching, everyone. You can continue the conversation with me, of course, on Twitter @kyracnn or on FaceBook.
And CNN NEWSROOM continues now with Suzanne Malveaux.