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Obama: My Son Would Look Like Trayvon Martin; Santorum: Obama May be Better than Romney; Initial Coroner's Report Out on Whitney Houston's Death; Obama Announces Pick for World Bank Head; Alleged Afghanistan Killer to Face Charges

Aired March 23, 2012 - 11:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm Kyra Phillips. It's 11:00 on the east coast, 8:00 out west. We have a pretty busy hour ahead. Let's get straight to the news.

It's a national movement that has not only exploded around the country, but now it has made its way to the White House. Take a listen to what the president just said a short time ago.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son he would look like Trayvon and, you know, I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and that we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.


PHILLIPS: Talk about seriousness, thousands of people across the country still protesting the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Hundreds of students at several Miami high schools just walked out of class. This was the scene just an hour ago.

The unarmed teen was dead at the hands of a neighborhood watchman who still claims self-defense. Now, in ten minutes we'll take you live to Sanford, Florida, for all the latest.

And President Obama was in the Rose Garden just last hour to introduce his pick to head the World Bank. Jim Yong Kim is president of Dartmouth College and a physician. He's also an anthropologist, an expert on global health.

The president said that the World Bank is one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce poverty and raise standards of living in some of the poorest countries on the planet.

And anytime now, we expect to see formal charges against the Army staff sergeant accused of gunning down Afghan civilians. A senior U.S. official says Robert Bales will face 17 counsels of murder, 6 counts of attempted murder and assault from that middle of the night massacre in Kandahar Province March 11th.

Now, Bales' lawyer has said, quote, "You couldn't imagine a more difficult case." But it's no slam dunk for the prosecutors either.

We're going to talk more about that with the head of the National Institute of Military Justice at quarter past the hour.

And health care is in the spotlight today, exactly a year after Congress passed President Obama's controversial reform bill. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court begins a long process of deciding whether the Affordable Care Act is legal.

Here is what you think about it. Nearly half of you approve it. 45 percent don't like it. More importantly, here is what you think should be done to it.

A third of you say expand the bill. Twenty percent, leave it as is. But more than a third say repeal it.

As for the nation's top court, 26 percent say uphold the entire law. About a fourth want the individual mandate killed while 42 percent want it thrown out entirely.

All four Republican presidential candidates hot on the campaign trail in Louisiana this hour. Mitt Romney, hoping to pad his considerable lead in the delegate count in tomorrow's primary. Right now, he's got 562. That's nearly half of the 1,144 needed to clinch the nomination.

Rick Santorum trailing in second with 249 followed by Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

Santorum is speaking right now actually in Monroe. And, if you didn't hear it yesterday, he's saying it again. If it comes down to Romney, he would rather see President Obama running the White House.

And Gingrich is at a rally in Port Fouchon still vowing to stay in the race, no matter what.

Five more bodies were pulled from the wreckage of this Italian cruise ship that capsized off the Italian coast. That brings the death count to 30 people with two still missing. Forty-two hundred people were on board when the Costa Concordia hit some rocks and the captain brought that ship too close to shore.

We now know what caused Whitney Houston's death. The singer died of accidental drowning. That's according to the initial autopsy results from the L.A. coroner's office. Toxicology results show Houston's cocaine use and heart disease also contributed to her death.


CRAIG HARVEY, CHIEF CORONER, L.A. COUNTY: And it appeared that the cocaine had been used in the time period just probably immediately prior to her collapse in the bathtub at the hotel.


PHILLIPS: Houston's family issued this statement, saying, quote, "We are saddened to learn of the toxicology result, although we are glad to now have closure.

And that former Rutgers student convicted of spying on and intimidating his gay roommate is speaking out. Dharun Ravi appeared on ABC his first public comments since a jury found him guilty.

Ravi's roommate, Tyler Clementi, died by suicide after Ravi used a webcam to spy on him during an intimate encounter with a man in his dorm room. Ravi says he doesn't hate gay people and that Clementi knew he wasn't trying to intimidate him because he was gay.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you hate gay people?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you fear gay people?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you not want to be around gay people?

RAVI: I don't. I don't. It doesn't matter to me at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe Tyler Clementi was intimidated by you and your actions?

RAVI: He knew that I wasn't trying to like intimidate him because he was gay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You feel confident in that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I feel confident of that.


PHILLIPS: Ravi is to be sentenced in May.

The pope is en route to Mexico for a visit with that country's 100 million Catholics. All right, he won't see all of them, but at an outdoor mass on Sunday might seem like it.

This is Benedict the Sixteenth's first trip to Mexico as pope and, while security is super tight whenever popes go anywhere, in Mexico even the drug gangs are promising to keep the peace. The pontiff also will set foot in Cuba where says communism no longer works.

Trayvon Martin's death has now made it to the White House. President Obama says if he had a son he would look like Trayvon. Point made.

Meanwhile, under immense scrutiny, the Sanford, Florida, police chief has stepped down as the police department has taken heat for its handling of Trayvon Martin's case. The shooter, George Zimmerman, hasn't been charged. As the rallying cry for justice continues to explode, we're on the ground in Sanford, next.


PHILLIPS: Well, without a doubt, the rallying cry for Trayvon Martin has exploded.


PROTESTERS: No justice, no peace.

PROTESTERS: We want justice. We want justice.


PHILLIPS: This is national outrage we haven't seen in years. It has even caught the attention of the president now.


OBAMA: My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son he would look like Trayvon and, you know, I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and that we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.


PHILLIPS: Still so much anger and here's why. Trayvon Martin was unarmed, carrying Skittles and an iced tea when he was shot dead.

A neighborhood watchman claims self defense and is protected by the Florida's "stand your ground" law.

Then there's the police's investigation. All of this at the center of an unfolding controversy.

And now, under intense pressure, Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee is stepping down temporarily. The Florida governor has appointed a new prosecutor to Trayvon Martin's case.

Clearly, there is a lot to update you on.

George Howell, on the ground for us. Still there in Sanford, Florida.

So, George, let's start first with the Sanford police chief. He's stepping down, but only temporarily. What does that mean?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in his wording, temporarily removing himself from office, not really wording that people like, people that I spoke to here at the rally. They say that he should resign altogether or be fired from that position. But as far as a timeline, we don't know if he would be able to come back into that position later, if he would come back into it. Right after he made that announcement, he left not really taking any questions on that. So still to be determined what happens with that.

PHILLIPS: This independent review, the city manager is calling for on the police department, where does that stand?

HOWELL: At this point the independent review is happening from what we understood yesterday. Members of the Department of Justice actually showed up at the police department to start that process of looking through the case, first of all, and also to start looking through the police department to determine if there are things that could be corrected or changed to improve the relationship with the community here.

PHILLIPS: And Governor Rick Scott also appointed a new prosecutor to this case?

HOWELL: Yes, he did, Kyra, and that new prosecutor takes over from the prosecutor whose district includes the city Sanford. Norm Wolfinger stepped aside, saying that he didn't want to have any conflicts of interest.

So this new prosecutor steps in and she says that she will have a very thorough investigation, looking through all the facts to get to the bottom of this.

And before I let you go, George, the Department of Justice met with Trayvon's parents. We were talking about a possible civil rights investigation. Do you have any idea where that stands?

HOWELL: We were given broad strokes on that meeting. We were told that this was an introductory meeting for the family, the first time really for them to meet and talk about this situation.

And the main word from the meeting was patience, Kyra, that the family should have patience as the process begins, an investigative process, first of all, looking into the case, but also looking in this city's police department.

So we are just starting to see this kick off, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, George Howell, thanks so much.

Army Staff Sergeant Bales faces 17 counts of murder. Could he face execution? That's next.


PHILLIPS: Back now to that murder case against the U.S. Army's Robert Bales. As we mentioned, formal charges are due to be read today at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas where he's being held for the March 11th massacre of apparently 17 Afghan men, women and children. He's going to face a U.S. trial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And his lawyer promises to make the other side prove every claim. That could be really difficult. The victims were buried quickly without autopsies and Afghan witnesses can't be forced to testify.

Ron Meister is a New York trial lawyer, a former military judge, and chairman of the National Institute of Military Justice.

Ron, I'll make the point you're not involved in this case in any way, but you know what both sides are up against here. What do you think? Might Sergeant Bales be acquitted?

RONALD MEISTER, TRIAL ATTORNEY: Absolutely, Kyra. This is one of the most challenging cases before the military justice system in many years. Both sides have challenges that they face.

The prosecution apparently has no forensic evidence, apparently has no eyewitness testimony, and they are relying from what we understand now on statements of the accused. And I suspect before the case is over there well may be evidence of cover-up because there is very often a cover-up in circumstances like this.

For the defense, they have the challenge of being faced with a case in the extraordinarily bad timing of the aftermath of the Haditha cases in Iraq where there were no severe sentences for any of the Marines who were charged and involved in those killings.

PHILLIPS: OK, you just said something that caught my attention and that was the word "cover-up." From your experience, could you go into this a little bit more? You think that other members of the military because there could be obviously a lot of shame within this case would want to cover this up?

MEISTER: I think that is a real possibility. I have no specific knowledge as to any involvement of any other personnel, but we know that ...

PHILLIPS: Is that common practice?

MEISTER: To cover up?


MEISTER: Well, it's human nature for people who are afraid of being accused of crimes to do what they can to prevent the evidence coming to light.

We saw that in the case of the spying at the college in New Jersey where the e-mails were changed and the record was changed.

And it not at all unlikely that in this case some people try to prevent this information from coming to light.

PHILLIPS: You mentioned also the Haditha incident and that's where the Marines were acquitted. I believe it was 24 Iraqis were killed, right, men, women, children? Tell me how that plays into this. We also remember what happened after that, too, the protests and that violence that occurred after that and so many questions about the war in Iraq and there was so much pressure put on all sides of that war.

Are you concerned that if indeed Bales is acquitted, this might be even worse than what we saw out of Haditha?

MEISTER: Well, we have the president and secretary of defense already on record saying that Sergeant Bales should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and we know that in the difficult state of relations between the U.S. and Afghanistan, this is inflammable issue.

Actually, Sergeant Wuterich, the last of the Haditha defendants, was not acquitted. He was convicted under a plea bargain, but his sentence was extraordinarily light.

PHILLIPS: So do you see a possibility of a plea bargain?

MEISTER: Absolutely. I think the pressure will be on both sides here. I think the government may have difficulties of proof. There are always problems in proving confessions.

I think the defense will have difficulties in the reaction to this crime. And I think that as we go down the road and as the case develops on both sides, there will be enormous pressure to reach a negotiated resolution.

PHILLIPS: We'll follow it and I know you will, too. We'll talk again. Ron Meister, thank you for your time and input.

MEISTER: Thank you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: You bet.

She was just doing her job. So, why did this man pull a gun on a reporter and camera crew? That's next.

Plus, cocaine and heart disease, that is what contributed to Whitney Houston's death. We've got more details later this hour.


PHILLIPS: Working as a reporter, you never know who or what you might run into. Just ask April Thompson from CNN affiliate, WREG. While covering the story of a local man's death, one of the neighbors was not too pleased with all the attention.


APRIL THOMPSON: We were just trying to find out what was going on. That's all. I mean ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, everybody's lying. My best friend's saying he don't - man, look. Get your camera away from me, dog.

THOMPSON: You don't - now, you can't touch the camera, now.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're leaving. We're leaving.


PHILLIPS: Well, the gun-wielding man has since turned himself in to police.

And remember those mysterious boom sounds we have been telling you about in Wisconsin? Well, it appears the mystery has been solved.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a 1.5 magnitude quake hit the area of Clintonville, Wisconsin, on Tuesday. That quake was so small equipment from the USGS didn't even pick it up, prompting a closer look at the seismic activity in the area.

All right, now it's time for "Travel Insider." As CNN reporters and producers, we often have the inside scoop on pretty great places to go. So our Reynolds Wolf traveled about an hour just north of Atlanta to check out one of the oldest gold mines in the country.


REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's go. First stop, Dahlonega, Georgia, at the Consolidated Gold Mine and, first impression, you see this beautiful building here in the parking lot, but it's what is below ground that really captures the imagination.

You know, this wasn't dug just yesterday. It's been around since 1898.

And this is "D" Harbert, the general manager of the mine. "D," how long have people been digging for gold in this part of the world?

DATHAN "D" HARBERT, MANAGER, CONSOLIDATED GOLD MINE: Well, gold was first discovered in 1828 and in just one year over 15,000 people showed up, all looking for gold. It became the first major U.S. gold rush.

WOLF: Now, what type of mining is this?

HARBERT: This right here is hard rock gold mining.

WOLF: But there are other types, too?

HARBERT: Oh, absolutely. We can grab a gold pan and head out to the rivers and streams.

WOLF: All right, "D", show me how this is done.

HARBERT: Fill it up with water and your heavy gold is falling to the bottom. If you do your job right, you should find, right there ...

WOLF: Gold. Check it out.

And I've got sand.

HARBERT: You'd better keep your day job.

WOLF: Unbelievable. "D", thanks for your time.

HARBERT: Thanks for coming. Come back to Dahlonega.

WOLF: All right, we've got to hit the road.


PHILLIPS: Thanks, Reynolds Wolf. You catch "Travel Insider" each week right here on CNN.

Well, Rick Santorum is in it to win it, but if he bows out, he says Mitt Romney is no better than President Obama. Well, he's kind of backtracking on that now. At least the campaign is. That's "Fair Game," next.

But first, four Illinois fifth graders started their own business. Fifth graders. All because their teacher mentioned that her daughter needed a therapy dog.

The girls did a little homework and found out that a therapy dog could cost about $15,000. So what did they do? They launched a dog- walking business to earn money the good, old-fashioned way.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The best part of the business is knowing we're doing a good cause.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't know what they are going through, but you know that if you help them they will probably go through their life being confident.


PHILLIPS: Well, the girls are $400 closer to getting their teacher's daughter her therapy dog. And, girls, that gets you an "A- plus" in our classroom. It and also makes you today's rock stars.


PHILLIPS: All right, looking to tomorrow's primary in Louisiana, by no means is Rick Santorum saying he's going to pull out of the presidential race, but if he did, his pick is Obama?


FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If they're going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch-A-Sketch candidate for the future.


PHILLIPS: President Obama over Romney? Now a Santorum spokesperson came out this morning and said, hold on, Santorum will support the GOP nominee. That question is "Fair Game."

This morning joining me, Republican strategist, Ana Navarro, from Washington; and contributor, LZ Granderson, from Michigan.

LZ, he outed himself. What is it about Obama that Santorum likes? There is something.


LZ GRANDERSON, CNN.COM CONTRIBUTOR: No. clearly, it's another attempt by him to tear down Mitt Romney to his base and to the conservative base. Make it seem as if Romney is a White version of President Obama, he may be able to do that. I think that is what he was trying to do. I don't think Rick Santorum likes Obama like that as a president at all. He's just trying down Mitt Romney.

PHILLIPS: Ana, what do you think?

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I'm sure Santorum likes Obama, the family man, like his wife, his daughters, his dog. I'm not sure there is much else policy-wise Santorum likes about Obama.

This is one of those word games we're seeing played in this campaign where any little gaffe, any little statement that can be misconstrued and taken out of context is used by the opposing campaigns. It's part of the new 24/7 news cycle. There is no doubt -- I take Santorum at his word that he will support whomever the Republican nominee is. And the other three would say absolutely the same thing.

This is something that I think -- what he was trying to say, what I heard him say is, look -- and it's part of his campaign message. He's trying to say Mitt Romney does not offer a clear contrast, a marked difference between him and Barack Obama and voters want to see that clear contract. That is what he was trying to say. He could have said it better. But he's not endorsing Barack Obama.

PHILLIPS: South Carolina's Jim DeMint, not endorsing Romney, but definitely supporting him, saying the party needs to rally around the eventual nominee. He also hinted the others in the race should pull out. Take a listen.


SEN. JIM DEMINT, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: At some point, these candidates have to determine for themselves is there a chance to win or could they do more by getting out. And I can't tell them when that is. And I can't tell them who they are. But the sooner we can come around a nominee, the better we are as a party. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: LZ, what do you think of what DeMint had to say? And also, at what point does Santorum or Newt Gingrich or both of them make a move?

GRANDERSON: First -- my first reaction, what a coward. If you go to say people need to come out and drop out of the race and rally behind someone, endorse the person and name names. Stop doing this little toe dance. Jeb Bush comes out and endorses Mitt Romney after the Florida primary. Come on, dude. If you believe this is the best person for the job, say that and stop playing politic and waiting to see who has the most delegates. That is the thing that irritates me the most.

PHILLIPS: Ana, why doesn't DeMint say Romney is the guy, Santorum, Newt, get out of the race, let's go?

NAVARRO: I have no idea why he didn't say that. For me, it is a conundrum. It was a bit puzzling. Jim DeMint is not known to mince words or not take risks. Four years ago, he strongly endorsed Mitt Romney. I think he's no fan of John McCain's and I think the feeling was quite mutual, so that might have had something to do with his strong endorsement four years ago.

It is something -- a strong full- throated endorsement is something that Mitt Romney needs from Jim DeMint because DeMint is very strong with the base, ultra conservatives, Tea Partiers, precisely the groups that Mitt Romney most needs help with. I can't tell you why he didn't say -- he's not one for interpretive poetry. this puzzles me, frankly.

PHILLIPS: I have to ask you one guys --


GRANDERSON: I don't agree --

PHILLIPS: Real quickly, LZ, because I've got to ask one more question.

GRANDERSON: OK. I was going to say I don't agree DeMint's endorsement matters that much to Tea Partiers. I think they'll vote for whoever the GOP nominee is. I just think it was cowardly of him not to do so then.

PHILLIPS: Point made.

I have to ask you guys, I know both of you, how you feel about this. Trayvon Martin, this has turned in a national movement. Now the president has said something this morning, take a quick listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us, as Americans, are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves. And we will get to the bottom of what happened.


PHILLIPS: On CNN when asked about Trayvon, Newt Gingrich said he was confident in the justice system. He made a comment when asked.

Both of you, we have about 25 seconds or so, should every candidate speak out on this or will they have to at some point if they don't?

NAVARRO: I think Newt Gingrich did exactly the right thing, which is to respond when asked. I don't think this should become political fodder. It has captured the national attention that has us all outraged. It's a serious matter. It involves a Department of Justice investigation. It might involve hate crimes. It needs to be dealt with with great seriousness. And politics inserted into it, I don't think helps. Certainly, if they are asked, and I think they will be, they should opine, do so forcefully and frankly.


GRANDERSON: I don't think they needed to be asked. You're going around in front cameras and crowds to say you have a vision for this country. I don't think, in a case like this, someone needs to ask you about something that has hurt the country as deeply as it has. I think that is a flaw in the character of the man running, to be waiting to be asked about something to do with Trayvon Martin.

It has been more than a week since the nation has been talking about it, why are you still silent? When they did the Etch-a-Sketch comment on "Starting Point," they had Etch-a-Sketches in their hand within the hour. They were talking about his speeches the same day. You still don't have anything about Trayvon Martin. I don't think it's political to speak about it. I think it's human. And I think if you want to represent everyone in the country, you would have already spoken about it.

NAVARRO: Any time a presidential candidate says anything, it becomes political.

PHILLIPS: Ana, LZ, thank you, guys.

That is "Fair Game."

We're getting down to the elite eight in March Madness. I don't want toot my own horn but look at this, my bracket's number one. Full cred to my team. We did it together. What needs to happen to keep us all in the game? Get your brackets ready. We break down the madness, next.


PHILLIPS: I don't want to brag but my team's bracket is number one. Chad Myers, did I say that humbly enough?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you did. Because of the way Brooke tooted her horn, that was OK for to you do that.


PHILLIPS: I'd like to make the point, Brooke is in number four. We have moved up to the number-one spot. We're doing well, picking well.

We have a lot of March Madness at CNN.


PHILLIPS: We have a big competition among the viewers and among our group, as you can see.

Chad, we'll get to you at number nine in a second.


Now I have to admit our whole team came together and we all are a bunch of basketball fans, where did we do well, how are we looking going forward?

MYERS: You are so good in the east. It seems like everybody did well in the east. We have Syracuse, Ohio State coming together with Syracuse going. Also good, you have all the teams still in, Kansas and UNC. Everybody, including me, did terrible in the west. I have Murray State. You picked Michigan State. You didn't have them going farther.

PHILLIPS: You mentioned Michigan State.


PHILLIPS: Is this where we should bring in our friend, Ed Weiland?

MYERS: Sparty didn't do well.

PHILLIPS: Ed, I'm sorry, my friend. For the viewers that don't know Ed, he became famous. He's the FedEx guy that said Jeremy Lin would be a star. That happened.

But Ed, Ed, you're a wreck.


PHILLIPS: What happened to your bracket?

ED WEILAND, FEDEX EMPLOYEE: Can we talk about Jeremy Lin, maybe?


MYERS: Sure.

PHILLIPS: Yes, go ahead.

MYERS: What have you done for me lately? That is what TV is.

WEILAND: This was a bad year for me, yes.


I'd liked it going in but things didn't work out. As far as Michigan State, they ran into a very good defensive team. Georgie James (ph) played a heck of a game. And he just had them all messed up.

WEILAND: Do you feel confident going forward maybe possibly giving me some sort of prediction, because you're still the man for picking Jeremy Lin? We have to give you cred for that. One more chance. Even though your bracket has tanked, do you want to make a call here live on CNN we can follow?

WEILAND: Yes, how much worse can it get, right?


MYERS: Start all over, go ahead.

WEILAND: I think Kentucky now, because they are sort of the last real good team standing. North Carolina has injury problems with Marshall. And I think they will be joined by Ohio State, Florida and Kansas in the final four now.


MYERS: I had Florida going too.

PHILLIPS: Do you want to put your bracket up next to mine. I have Kentucky.

MYERS: I'm happy with your Kentucky.


MYERS: I'm part of your team. I'm on your show.


My bracket has UNC, Kentucky. My happy day, when Syracuse pulled things out. All the brackets can fall down. You have teams down here --


MYERS: -- if they make it in for everything can go to heck in a hand basket. NC State, they're big upsets.

PHILLIPS: UNC, any comments before I let you go, Ed? WEILAND: UNC, they have to get Marshall back, they don't have much -- they don't have much behind them as a back-up plan, probably have enough to get by Ohio but after that, I think they will struggle without Kendall Marshall.

MYERS: He hurt his right hand, put pins in his right hand? Right, Ed?

WEILAND: I'm not sure which hand it.


WEILAND: It's his non-shooting hand. But he also may not play. That is up to him and the doctors, last I heard. You would know more about that than me. He's vital. The back-up, Stillman White, hasn't played much and hasn't been effective when he has, so --


PHILLIPS: Ed, my friend, don't give up your day job as a FedEx man, OK? We will stay in touch.

WEILAND: I'm need here.


PHILLIPS: Yes, you are, especially for the pools with the basketball -- maybe not this time.

Ed, we'll check in with you because you have made great calls. You still have Jeremy Lin. we will stay in contact.



WEILAND: Congratulations on doing so well.

PHILLIPS: Thank you, Ed.

MYERS: For one month out of the year, it doesn't matter if you're only a golf fan, you love basketball. It's so awesome.

PHILLIPS: Makes it fun.

MYERS: It's good fun.

PHILLIPS: Whether you like it or not.

Chad, thank you so much.

MYERS: Good luck.

PHILLIPS: We're going to take a serious turn. And we have been talking about Whitney Houston all morning. We found out it was marijuana and cocaine found in her system, but what caused her to drown? Take a listen to this.


CRAIG HARVEY, CHIEF CORONER, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: The finding of atherosclerotic heart disease suggests a cardiac event complicated by the cocaine use.


PHILLIPS: We'll talk to a cardiologist about Whitney's death, next.


PHILLIPS: We now know what killed Whitney Houston. She accidently drowned in her hotel bathtub. The L.A. coroner released the results. That initial report is giving us a glimpse into Houston's long battle with drugs and addiction. The details of the toxicology report are revealing, especially this part where it says, quote, "heart disease and cocaine use are so-called associated causes."

Which is why we wanted to bring in Dr. Gina Lundberg, a cardiologist at St. Joseph's Hospital right here in Atlanta.

So let's start with the L.A. coroner saying she died by accidental drowning, but also added this. And I want to ask you.


HARVEY: The cocaine use indicated an acute use, and it appeared that the cocaine had been used in the time period probably just immediately prior to her collapse in the bathtub at the hotel.


PHILLIPS: As a doctor, did cocaine cause that drowning?

GINA LUNDBERG, CARDIOLOGIST, ST. JOSEPHS HOSPITAL: I think the most you can say, it contributed to it. She was clearly alive when she went in the water and she took water in her lungs and died by drowning. Contributing factors can be to a small degree or to a larger degree. The report does not say heart attack or any medical term that would mean heart attack.

PHILLIPS: We should point out, this is a preliminary report, not the full-blown report, right?


PHILLIPS: So there could be bombshells when we get the main report, is that right?

LUNDBERG: Well, the full report will tell you many things about the heart, if it was enlarged, thickened, it there were tiny heart attacks in the blood vessels, if there was a full heart attack. The full coroner's report will be out in two weeks and will have more details about this.

PHILLIPS: What we know, cocaine -- she had ingested cocaine. Also, xanax, Benadryl, marijuana, Flexoril (ph), all combined with the cocaine. Would that -- when you hear all of that, what are your initial thoughts as cardiologist? Is it the entire mixture could have caused a heart attack, which is because she drowned? What are the various scenarios you're thinking about?

LUNDBERG: Cocaine can cause one initially. It can cause one initially. It can cause small ones over time. And it certainly accelerates atherosclerotic blockages which they clearly say she had.

PHILLIPS: Explain what that means that to me.

LUNDBERG: Atherosclerotic blockage, or plaque, is what develops over time in our arteries all over our body, and it's associated with genetic factors, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, clotting factors and inflammatory factors. Clearly, the coroner says that was there, but he doesn't say she had an immediate heart attack. Cocaine can accelerate the atherosclerosis. And Whitney was 48, which is fairly young for heart disease, so that probably paid a part in this. But cocaine can cause you to have a heart attack right away through what we call coronary spasm where the artery clamps down and limits blood flow, and it can cause arrhythmia. But it sounds more like marijuana and the Benadryl. Those are sedatives that will make you sleepy.


LUNDBERG: All of those together are sedatives. But the cocaine is a stimulant, so it's really hard to know what was the predominant one. From the report we have it sounds like the cocaine was a contributor and the sedatives were not contributors.

PHILLIPS: Final question. Just cocaine itself, I mean, put aside all of these other drugs that was found in her body, when you're a chronic cocaine user, how does that cause your heart to deteriorate?

LUNDBERG: Well, in several ways. One is it can cause these basal spasms that cause tiny heart attacks or large ones. It causes the atherosclerosis to develop more quickly and the arrhythmias. It's a stimulant that contributes to ventricular tachycardia, the type of rhythm where you would have to be shocked or you would die. A sudden cardiac death from an arrhythmia is usually a diagnosis of exclusion. The coroner would say, we couldn't find anything else so maybe it's an arrhythmia. The coroner doesn't say that in this report that's out.

PHILLIPS: Such a shame. 48 years old, so much talent.

LUNDBERG: It's tragic.

PHILLIPS: You learn about everything she was putting in her body, it really is sad.

Let's talk about it again when the final report is out.

LUNDBERG: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Appreciate it.

Dr. Gina Lundberg.

Jon Huntsman is no longer in the race for president, but his dad, Jon Huntsman Sr., is still in the race to cure cancer. The four-time cancer survivor and billionaire is a big philanthropist. His story is this week's "Human Factor."



PHILLIPS: The 46 GOP delegates are up for grabs tomorrow in Louisiana. And CNN Joe Johns is there -- Metairie to be exact.

Hey, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Hey, how are you doing, Kyra? This --


PHILLIPS: All right. Tell us about this new poll.

JOHNS: Yes. All right, new poll, this is American Research Group poll, just came out. It shows Rick Santorum ahead by double digits, Mitt Romney trailing, something like 43 percent to 27 percent. So this is not good news, of course, in Louisiana for Mitt Romney, who could have gotten a southern state under his belt, but he hasn't at least so far. That's just one problem, of course, for Mitt Romney.

The other one is all about health care, Kyra, quite frankly. The problem is that today is the two-year anniversary of the Obama health care plan. Mitt Romney has been trying to attack that health care plan, saying it ought to be repealed, it ought to be replaced. But when he was governor of Massachusetts, as so many people have noted, he actually put in a very similar plan, which had an individual mandate requiring individual citizens, of course, to buy insurance. So it's very difficult, sort of a difficult row to hoe for him to try to attack a plan that a lot of people say he was pretty much in favor of back when he was governor of Massachusetts -- Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Joe Johns, Louisiana, following all the live events with the candidates.

Joe, thanks so much.

That does it for us. Have a fabulous weekend. Don Lemon takes it from here. And then he's going to have a fabulous weekend, too.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And speaking of fabulous, Don Lemon -- kidding.

PHILLIPS: Oh, my gosh.

LEMON: I was talking about you, Kyra. I was talking about you.

PHILLIPS: What an intro. Take it away, fabulous.

LEMON: We always cause trouble when we're in the same room. Thank you, Kyra. Have a great weekend.