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Ten People Attacked Off Carolina Coast This Year; Why The Uptick In Shark Attacks?; Republicans Descend On New Hampshire July 4th; CNN Poll: Trump Trails Only Bush In GOP Field; Sanders Surges In Polls, Closes Gap With Clinton; Rocket Failures Create New Setbacks For U.S. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 3, 2015 - 16:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN GUEST HOST: Welcome back. I'm Jim Scuitto. In our National Lead, for many people, the 4th of July means sun, sand, surf, and now sadly if you're in the Carolinas sharks. Multiple attacks up and down the coast of North and South Carolina over the past two months have injured ten people, but the beaches there remain open this weekend despite scenes like this.

In Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, this morning, a fisherman caught this shark, but threw it back because he said it was too small to keep, only 6 1/2 feet. The sharks and the swimmers do not seem to be going anywhere, though.

Meteorologist, Jennifer Gray, is in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Jennifer, I know it's raining now. That's finally chased some swimmers away, but you've been there a few days. People are still going in the water.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, absolutely. Earlier this beach was packed. The thunderstorms definitely drove the people away, as it could, but you're right. The sharks aren't going anywhere. This is their home.

In fact more sharks than normal around this area because they're feeding on particular small fish and even turtles that are in this area this time of year. But officials say just be aware and swim at your own risk.


GRAY (voice-over): New video out of Florida shows a kayaker fishing for grouper and getting a bigger bite than he bargained for, a bull shark. They are frantically swimming for safety as he says other circled nearby. Close encounters with sharks have holiday beach-goers on alert this weekend especially on the east coast.

[16:35:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saw about a five-foot sand shark and it was within 8 feet of me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are around us more closer and moving around. GRAY: At least ten attacks in the Carolinas since June, seven in North Carolina alone. That's one more than the yearly average for both states in just the past month.

CHRISTIAN PANKO, MARINE CONSERVATION LABORATORY, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI: A lot of people utilizing the beach. This time of year we also have the migration of a lot of coastal species.

GRAY: Experts say that along with shark migration, a buffet of nesting sea turtles, and warmer, saltier water could attract more sharks to the beach. In South Carolina, fishermen are now reeling in sharks from the pier in Myrtle Beach. Babies (inaudible), but moms not far off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've seen some of the bigger sharks out here, it's kind of scary.

GRAY: The victims of the ten recent bites range in age from 8 to 68, with two teenagers losing limbs after their encounters.

PANKO: Any shark bite is a rare occurrence. To have all these occurring recently is very unusual.

GRAY: Unusual and unintentional. Experts say humans are not targets for sharks, and that these attacks are unfortunate accidents.

PANKO: When your hands and feet are splashing, this looks like fish bellies to them. They realize they made a mistake and spit us back out again.

GRAY: Still those looking to soak up the sun here have mixed feelings about sharing the water.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I was trying to put the shark thing off my mind, and I just tried to enjoy it, but I did also be careful.

GRAY: The beaches will remain open, lifeguards on duty here saying sharks aren't the biggest danger this weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would be more concerned about driving down to the beach and getting in a car wreck on the way down here than having an incident with a shark.


GRAY: Yes. A lot of people -- there have been more than normal bites around this are, but they say, you know, they're very, very rare, one in 11 million, you're more likely to get struck by lightning just as we have a lot of lightning here just moments ago.

And also more likely to become the president of the United States, but with all of that said, there are things you can do. Don't swim in the ocean during dawn or dusk when sharks are more likely to be feeding.

Also don't swim around people fishing. The surf fishermen, a lot of them, are targeting sharks, trying to catch them. They are also using bait that would attract sharks. So you don't want to be swimming around them and don't swim around those fishing piers, either -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: As odds seem to be going up at least in Carolina. Jennifer Gray at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, thanks very much.

For more what is driving these attacks, George Burges is joining me now from Gainesville, Florida. He is the director of the program for shark research at the University of Florida.

George, I have to ask you, you know, you always see these statistics about how rare shark attacks are. We had a graphic the other day that said only seven people killed per year than the other animals more likely.

But here you have North Carolina, ten attacks in such a short span of time. Is this unprecedented? Have you ever seen anything like this in your experience?

GEORGE BURGESS, DIRECTOR, FLORIDA PROGRAM FOR SHARK RESEARCH: You know, we see clubbed attacks where you have several in a row on occasion, but this is certainly a novel situation for North Carolina, which historically has not had the same number of attacks, say, as Florida.

SCIUTTO: What are the conditions that are driving this? Is it water temperature? Is it other fish in the area? Why so many sharks now?

BURGESS: Jim, you know, it's a complex situation. It's kind of a perfect storm right now with series of things going on. We know some things that might be driving it. There are higher water temperatures, higher salinities.

There's lot of bait fishes near shore. Sea turtles are nesting and of course, there are lots of people in the water. That doesn't absolutely explain why we've had seven incidents in three weeks in North Carolina.

So undoubtedly there are some other factors coming into play. You know, we probably won't discover those for a long time, for months afterwards.

SCIUTTO: The things you describe there, though, higher salt content, the water, water temperature, are those long term things? Does this kind of risk last?

BURGESS: No. You know, of course, we're dealing with Mother Nature and she's fickle. Things happen for a while and then they disappeared. This too shall pass.

SCIUTTO: So let me ask you, would you tell people to stay out of the water? Particularly in this area where we've seen so many attacks?

BURGESS: You know, going into the water or not is a personal decision and it's a community decision, it's not a biological one. People have to weigh the risks themselves. You know, that said, perhaps in the areas where the three most is recent attacks occur, one might consider being extra special careful for the next day or two. SCIUTTO: Just one more final thought, knowing these conditions there in the Carolinas, is there any chance that those conditions spread up or down the coast so that the risk goes beyond the Carolinas?

BURGESS: There certainly is. If it's a general environmental characteristic that, say, water temperature is the key, of course, the waters are going to continue warming northwards from North Carolina up as far as Southern New England before the summer is out.

[16:40:05] So it's possible that those conditions could spread a little farther north, but that's not to say that we could expect this to happen.

SCIUTTO: Right. It's so hard to predict. George Burgess, thanks very much for joining us.

Coming up, is it a sign that Republicans are getting worried about the man moving up the polls? Why one candidate is telling his competition, it is time to stand up to Donald Trump. That's next.

Plus concerns that Americans living on the International Space Station are running out of food and water. Now after three failed missions to take them supplies, Russia finally succeeds. That's ahead.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jim Scuitto. Crank of "God Bless the USA" and unfurl your American flags. That's probably what every political consultant told their candidates to do this weekend, but more important, maybe they told them to go to New Hampshire, where the first in the nation primary voters are living.

[16:45:11] Joe Johns is here with more. So Joe, all the attention has been on Donald Trump, of course, but you have Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, Rick Perry, all celebrating July 4th conveniently, what a surprise in New Hampshire.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Every four years it's almost a ritual. Donald Trump is running strong in the polls, especially in the early voting states even as the headlines this week have just gotten worse and worse for him.

The Trump campaign says the controversy surrounding his business deals and his politics are two different things. What's true either way is that Trump spent another week on center stage in the presidential campaign, taking the spotlight off virtually everybody else in the race.


JOHNS (voice-over): The Trump campaign is stuck in a tough spot between entertainment, business and politics.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. JOHNS: Corporate partners including Macy's and NBC Universal dumping him this week over his controversial comments about Mexican immigrants joined by former beauty pageant contestants.

MARYBEL GONZALEZ, MISS COLORADO USA 2012: I think that it's extremely dangerous to generalize a population, and attribute such hateful comments to them.

JOHNS: Even the network that picked up this year's Miss USA pageant after NBC and Univision dumped Trump, dissed the Donald over his remarks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree with everybody that NBC, Univision and Macy's are saying. I think those comments are ridiculous.

JOHNS: Still defiant, Trump isn't backing down.

TRUMP: So all I'm doing is telling the truth.

JOHNS: Trump's fellow GOP competitors are also weighing in. Former New York Governor George Pataki at the bottom of the polls launched an online petition urging Americans to stand up to Trump and called on his Republican competitors to denounce Trump's words. Some have already done so.

RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think Donald Trump's remarks reflect the Republican Party.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The comments were inappropriate. They have no place in the race.

JOHNS: Despite the PR troubles, Trump's high flying the status in the polls could mean more pushback from fellow candidates.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Now you have to do something to make the madness stop. If you're a candidate, you've got to get your headlines back out there, and Donald Trump taking the news cycle every day of the GOP primary is bad for every other candidate.

JOHNS: Trump has no public campaign events scheduled this holiday weekend, unlike many others running for the White House. They include New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who will be overnighting with former Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, in New Hampshire.

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I suspect there might be a little politics discussed tonight with Mitt.

JOHNS: Democrats are also hitting the trail, Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire today at an organizing event.

HILLARY CLINTON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I take a back seat to no one when you look at my record at standing up and fighting for progressive values.

(END VIDEOTAPE) JOHNS: Just to give you an idea of how really busy it is on the campaign trail in New Hampshire for the holiday weekend, Bobby Jindal, Martin O'Malley, Bernie Sanders are out there tomorrow. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham and Hillary Clinton are all hitting the parade. So we're going to have quite a show in New Hampshire and Ohio.

SCIUTTO: We're about 16 months away.

JOHNS: A long way to go.

SCIUTTO: Joe Johns, thanks very much. To chew over Trump's surge and everything else in 2016, I want to bring in CNN senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.

So Jeff, you have Trump shooting up in the GOP standings. He is trailing Jeb Bush, the son of a president, former Florida governor, by you know, only a little bit. But to remind our viewers, if you look back to 2011, he led then as well, even in first place.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He was. I mean, the difference is now he's actually running and he's actually out there campaigning. It's been a tease for so many presidential cycles. This time he is actually going forward with it, at least, for now.

But another different thing is he's really diminished himself as the week wore along here. We've seen all these businesses sort of drop his lines from Macy's to mattresses, but Republicans across the country, governors senators are worried about the comments that he's making, hurting the Republican brand.

The number that sticks in their minds is 40 percent. George W. Bush won 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. Mitt Romney got about half that. So they know that Republicans to win the White House need to have about the same amount of Hispanic vote, and this they fear eats away at that, all these negative comments.

SCIUTTO: Now I'm going out on a limb. We have a short attention span, voters do have a short attention span, is this a lasting phenomenon that Trump at or near the top of the polls?

ZELENY: I think it's probably not. At this point, it's sort of an entertainment factor. It's a none of the above factor. You know, he is not a politician. Once it becomes time to pick a president, let's say, I do not think that Donald Trump will be scoring quite this high.

We have not seen policy positions from him. You know, some Republicans actually think he's a bit of a Democrat in disguise and how conservative is he really. So --

[16:50:05] SCIUTTO: Gave a lot of money to the Democrats, at Hillary Clinton's -- so tell me about the Democrats? How much are they loving seeing this kind of disarray on the Republican side?

ZELENY: Well, Democrats are being silent about this, because they're smiling. They have nothing to say to this? Why would you sort of insert yourself if you're a Democrat on this?

But, look, I think that, you know, they know that this could be good for them long term if the Latino vote sort of goes away from the Republican Party, but I think this fades. This is one of those summer storms that comes up and moves along pretty quickly.

SCIUTTO: Another surprise candidate -- not candidate, but someone who is in the polls, Bernie Sanders, on the Democratic side. He's drawing big crowds where he goes. How much of this shake up the field and does it threaten Hillary Clinton?

ZELENY: I'll tell you. The Brooklyn campaign headquarters for Hillary Clinton is watching Bernie Sanders more carefully than they were before for a couple of reasons, a couple of numbers in mind, 10,000 people, as we're seeing here, actually this is a rally in Colorado a couple weeks ago, thousands, but just on a couple days ago in Wisconsin, 10,000 people.

Why are they doing these rallies in these non-early voting states? I asked one of the advisers, they said, look, it's drawing media attention and helping him raise money.

That's a key number, $15 million Bernie Sanders raised. You say it's about a third as much as Hillary Clinton, but it's actually as important because his average donation, $33.51. That means you can give again and again and again and again.

So Bernie Sanders is out there organically raising money. Hillary Clinton is getting it by big checks. They're not panicked over this at all, but they're watching Bernie Sanders and the liberal wing very closely.

SCIUTTO: I'm sure he is building up his voter list. How many people were at Hillary Clinton's announcement anything close to 10,000?

ZELENY: No, around 3,000 to 4,000, and she had about 800 today just this afternoon in New Hampshire.

SCIUTTO: Interesting. Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much, as always.

Coming up, Russia to the rescue, Americans watched Moscow successfully launch a rocket just days after a failed mission here in the U.S. Didn't the U.S. win the space race? That's next.


SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jim Scuitto in for Jake Tapper. And the Money Lead, today Russia is proving once again that America is struggling to remain the leader in space.

As we speak, a Russian rocket is headed to the International Space Station. It launched this morning, filled with supplies and on track for a Sunday delivery.

The mission comes after a series of failed launches here in the U.S. Multibillion dollar operations exploding like this one in spectacular fashion, coming nowhere close to delivers the delivery duties. That's raising questions about the role of the U.S. in space.

CNN's Tom Foreman joins me now. So Tom, those in the space program will always repeat space is hard. It's always been that way, but is it harder now?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's only harder now in the sense that it's a transitional time. We're putting a lot of rockets up right now. Think about this, this Russian rocket, if everything goes well, will arrive on Sunday morning.

That will put at ease a lot of concerns about these astronauts in the space station running out of supplies including two Americans who are up there right now. But every failure has the space community especially here in the U.S. asking hard questions.


ANNOUNCER: Maximum thrust and liftoff.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The launch from Kazakhstan brought a worldwide sigh of relief less than a week after groans of disappointment. As a rocket from the American space company, Spacex, disintegrated. It was the third spectacular failure to resupply the ISS in the past year.

Two by U.S. firms yet many space analysts suggest these are simply the growing pains of an industry in transition. Astrophysicist, Charles Liu --

CHARLES LIU, CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK: It's an exciting time, but as always, it's new and interesting, and we're always crossing our fingers with every launch.

FOREMAN: Back in the 1960s, NASA was unquestionably winning the worldwide space race. But over the decades political pressure grew to find cheaper ways to get America into orbit so private companies started developing rockets, capsules, and some insist it is all making space less expensive.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AEROSPACE ANALYST: But as you drive the cost down and try to cup up with new ways of building rockets in a way that hopefully is cheaper, you're ultimately going to find the outer edges of the envelope, as we say. They're pushing the envelope right now.

FOREMAN: Against the backdrop of those charges, Spacex and Boeing have been given government contracts to build the next system to take Americans into space so U.S. astronauts won't have to hitch rides with the Russians anymore. NASA says the setbacks will not upset that plan.

MIKE SUFFREDINI, ISS PROGRAM MANAGER, NASA: We've always assumed that we would lose a vehicle every so often. Space flight is very hard.

FOREMAN: And they say amid all the rockets' red glares, the U.S. remains a leader in space exploration.

LIU: At the same time, we should feel very happy and very grateful to the fact there are so many nations in the world, so many entities, international collaboration that are producing results that no single nation can achieve alone.


FOREMAN: We should note early on in there we had pictures inverted. They were not supposed to be -- that night time explosion was not Spacex, which was the second one.

But Jim, I think to focus on all of this is truly the difficulty, and there have been a lot of successes here both with private firms like Spacex and others, and in just a few days, we're going to have a space probe passing by Pluto. That's a long ways ahead and a big success story.

SCIUTTO: Thanks very much. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jim Scuitto in today for Jake Tapper. Have a great 4th of July. I'm going to turn you over now to the steady hands of Brianna Keilar who is filling in for Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."