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More Information on the Man with Tuberculosis; President Bush Meets with Iraqi President; Louis Freeh's Endorses Giuliani
Aired May 31, 2007 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: We now know his name and how he's being treated. We're learning new developments about the man with that rare and potentially deadly form of tuberculosis, including his father-in- law -- the fact that he worked on tuberculosis research over at the CDC.
The men known as crime fighters now unite. The man who fought terrorism at the FBI is backing the man closely associated with the terror attacks of 9/11.
But will Louis Freeh's endorsement of Rudy Giuliani for president help?
Louis Freeh will be here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll ask him why he decided to back Rudy Giuliani and not Hillary Clinton, even though he worked for her husband.
And both are famous movie stars. Both are conservative Republicans. So some suggest that Fred Thompson is Ronald Reagan's political heir.
But how similar are they?
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
He's isolated in a room. A special air system stops the air he's breathing from circulating back into the hospital and anyone who visits him must wear a mask.
We're now learning new details about the man with that rare and potentially deadly form of tuberculosis. Among them, a surprise development regarding the man's father-in-law.
Joining us now, our medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen -- Elizabeth, we're learning a lot of information and some of it is amazing, the fact that his father-in-law worked in tuberculosis research over at the CDC.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right.
Who would have thought, Wolf, this man's own father-in-law was a tuberculosis researcher at the CDC here in Atlanta?
Now, of course, that made many people think gosh, he's doing research in tuberculosis, perhaps he had the disease and he passed it on to his son-in-law.
But Robert Cooksey has now come out and made a statement saying no, that is absolutely not the case. He has said that he is negative for T.B. He was tested.
And he issued a statement, also, sort of separating himself a bit from his son's -- son-in-law's travel. He says: "I wasn't involved in any decisions my son-in-law made regarding his travel nor did I ever act as a CDC official or in any official CDC capacity with respect to any of the events of the past weeks. As a parent, frequent traveler and biologist, I well appreciate the potential harm that can be caused by diseases like T.B. I would never knowingly put my daughter, friends or anyone else at risk from such a disease."
Again, that is from Andrew Speaker's father-in-law -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And the notion that the father-in-law worked in tuberculosis research and he knew he had tuberculosis, yet he decided to make that flight from Atlanta to Paris for his wedding that was going to take place in Greece. Presumably the father-in-law would be attending the wedding as well.
Wouldn't the father-in-law have said maybe this is not such a good idea?
COHEN: Well, one would think that he said that. We don't know if he was in attendance at the wedding. We don't know at all. He says that he was not involved in any decisions that his son-in-law made regarding travel.
We know from Fulton County officials that this man's pri -- Andrew speaker's private doctor and Fulton County officials advised him against traveling. That has been very clear, that this man traveled against the advice of doctors.
He traveled even when he knew he had extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis.
BLITZER: And Andrew Speaker now in Denver.
He's getting ready for more antibiotics and maybe even surgery, right?
COHEN: That's right. He's going to go through a line of antibiotics that, Wolf, hopefully you and I never have to take. These are antibiotics that are not usually given to people because they can cause kidney and liver damage. These are second and third line antibiotics.
Now, if these also don't work, or if they don't work well enough, then Andrew Speaker would undergo surgery. He would be the first person with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis to undergo this surgery at National Jewish. They would take out a section of his lung that has become infected.
According to what we've been told, it would be the first time anyone in the U.S. with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis has had this surgery.
BLITZER: We're going to be having a lot more on this story coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Elizabeth, thanks very much.
Also, later, we'll be speak with two fellow passengers who were on that flight from Atlanta to Paris. They've now been tested. They're going through the process. We'll hear what they have to say. We'll continue to watch this story.
There's other important news we're watching, as well, including the president of Iraq visiting President Bush. Today Jalal Talabani talked with the president about several key issues affecting both countries.
Let's go to our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. What kind of specific issues came up during that meeting -- Suzanne?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, not surprisingly, there was a lot of praise that these two leaders exchanged. We heard President Bush talking about how much he admired Jalal Talabani. We also heard Talabani calling President Bush a hero.
Now, it is in both of these leaders' interests to really kind of project this positive image about Iraq's future. But they also acknowledged here that -- they used that magic word benchmarks many, many times.
There's a lot of work that has to be done that has not been done. We've been talking about benchmarks for months, perhaps even years at this point. Both of them saying that they needed to work on coming up with a provincial elections agreement, a deal to share with the oil revenue, as well a process of de-Baathification, essentially allowing Saddam's loyalists back into the government in some kind of form.
And then what was also notable, Wolf, here is an announcement that the president made. He is actually sending back a top aide in his administration to help the Iraqis fulfill those benchmarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've asked one of my top aides, Megan O'Sullivan, to return to Baghdad. Megan has been an integral part of our team here at the White House. She has been in Iraq before. She's going back to serve with Ambassador Crocker to help the Iraqis and to help the embassy help the Iraqis meet the benchmarks that the Congress and the president expect to get passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: And, Wolf, what's extraordinary about this is that Megan O'Sullivan, you may recall back in April, the White House announced she was leaving, that she was going after six years of service, that she was moving on to do other things, bigger and better things. Well, now the president has asked her to stay, to return, essentially, and take on this very, very tough task -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jalal Talabani is the president of Iraq. He's a Kurdish leader. He's very pro-U.S. He's also not a well man. He spent some time at the Cleveland Clinic. He's got some health issues.
What did he say about living up to these pledges of what the Iraqis themselves are supposed to do?
MALVEAUX: Well, he said that they were committed, of course. And he also admitted there were some difficulties.
But I noticed he kept talking about the drafts -- the draft legislation that, yes, that they were working on these.
But they are simply drafts, Wolf. We don't know -- he did not get into any specific date or deadline or timeline in terms of when these drafts become real documents, when they are going to be implemented, where we're going to see real changes there.
And that was really quite notable, because the administration is under an incredible amount of pressure to see some progress by September -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux at the White House following an important story, U.S./Iraqi relations. A lot on the line right now.
Suzanne, thanks very much.
Let's go to Jack Cafferty.
He's in New York.
He's got The Cafferty File -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this stuff will probably all happen, you know, like when the Iraqis stand up, we can stand down. You know, probably on the same timetable that that's been on.
Campaigning in Las Vegas, Nevada, yesterday, Senator Hillary Clinton spoke at a town hall meeting about the growing gap between the paychecks of corporate CEOs and average American workers. The timing was a bit off.
Consider this. A long time benefactor of the Clintons, a guy named Vinod Gupta, the CEO of a data company, Info USA, is being sued by his shareholders -- of his company -- for excessive spending.
Among other things, it's been reported that since 2002, Gupta has spent $900,000 flying both Senator Clinton and her husband, the former president, on campaign, business and personal trips aboard the private corporate jet.
Now, when she was asked about this yesterday, Senator Clinton said that she was following the Senate rules at the time and her campaign has said she reimbursed Gupta for her trips.
How much is that, you might ask?
Nothing more than the cost of a first class ticket. And that doesn't come anywhere close to covering the cost of operating a private corporate jet.
So here's the question -- does Senator Clinton's use of private corporate jets for travel undermine her stance on corporate greed and executive pay?
E-mail email@example.com or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile.
They don't admit they're doing anything wrong or stupid. They say well, I was following the rules at the time. Of course, they make the rules -- Wolf -- under which they can do this kind of stuff...
CAFFERTY: ... there at the Senate.
BLITZER: That's what comes with the job, I guess. You make the rules.
BLITZER: Jack, thanks.
We'll check with you shortly.
Coming up, he worked for Hillary Clinton's husband. But he's endorsing her political opponent right now. The former FBI director, Louis Freeh, backing Rudy Giuliani. I'll ask him why. He'll be here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And the White House going green -- at least greener. President Bush taking action on global warming. We're going to tell you what he did today and why it matters.
And why does a small New England state play such a big role in who gets to be president?
We'll take a closer look at why New Hampshire gets so much attention from all the candidates.
Stay with us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: He wasn't called America's mayor until after 9/11. Rudy Giuliani's command in the days after that, it seared him in many people's mind as a no nonsense law and order leader.
Now he's won the endorsement of another person with a strong law and order image.
Let's go to CNN's Mary Snow.
She's in New York.
She's going to tell us about an endorsement for Rudy Giuliani today -- Mary.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, today's endorsement could be a mixed bag for Rudy Giuliani.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
LOUIS FREEH, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: New York City is now not just a great city, as it's always been, but a safe city.
SNOW (voice-over): Another notch in Rudy Giuliani's crime fighting belt. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh endorsing the former New York City mayor for president.
RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, having his support and his advice in this campaign, which largely is going to focus on what we have to do about terrorism, is invaluable.
SNOW: For a candidate running on a record of law and order as well as his 9/11 image, today's endorsement helps.
Rich Galen is a non-aligned Republican strategist.
RICH GALEN, NON-ALIGNED REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: This is the kind of thing that helps reinforce in the minds of Republican voters that if it's a national security election, Rudy Giuliani may well be their best choice.
SNOW: And the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation polls show that among Republican voters, terrorism is the most important issue.
But Giuliani's 9/11 political armors come under attack. He recently got into a very public fight with the head of the nation's largest firefighter's union, who accused Giuliani of prematurely ending the search for remains at ground zero. And just this week, his record was questioned again, by a young woman who claimed to be the relative of a firefighter killed when the Twin Towers collapsed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You reported to Peter Jennings that on 9/11 that the World Trade -- that the towers were going to collapse (COUGHING)...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me.
No steel structure in history has ever collapsed due to a fire.
How come the people in the buildings weren't notified and who else knew about this... GIULIANI: Right. Well...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And how do you sleep at night?
GIULIANI: Ma'am, I didn't know that the towers were going to collapse.
SNOW: Giuliani went on to explain that the implosion was a complete surprise.
GALEN: The heckling at City Island the other day actually showed us something that we weren't sure of before, and that was how well he handled that.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SNOW: Now, as for today's endorsement, Louis Freeh has his own baggage. His record at the FBI in fighting terrorism in the months and years leading up to the September 11th terror attacks has come under question by the 9/11 Commission. Their report says the FBI didn't dedicate sufficient efforts to battling terrorism.
As for today's endorsement by Freeh, we'll have to wait to judge the political benefits for Rudy Giuliani -- Wolf.
Thanks very much.
Mary Snow reporting.
At the same time, there's the issue of who Louis Freeh is not supporting. His former association with former President Bill Clinton will likely have some people wondering.
And joining us now, the former director of the FBI, Louis Freeh.
Director Freeh, thanks very much for coming in.
FREEH: Wolf, good afternoon.
Good to talk to you again.
BLITZER: All right, let's talk about Rudy Giuliani.
A big decision on your part to endorse him. I know you've known him for many years.
But why Rudy Giuliani as opposed, shall we say, to Hillary Clinton, whose husband you worked for, who nominated you to be the director of the FBI?
FREEH: Well, you know, I've worked for Republican presidents and Democratic presidents, as you know. But I've always made it my point to really support quality leaders who I think will make a great difference for the country. And I think Rudy will make a tremendous president and a great leader for the country.
I've never publicly campaigned for anyone for any office. And I'm very pleased and privileged to do so for Rudy.
As you said, I've know him 25 years. I worked with him when he was U.S. attorney. I have very strong affection for him, but I also tremendous professional respect. And I think given his experience and his leadership and the time that we here face and the challenges that we face, that he's the best and the brightest. And I'm very, very pleased to support him.
BLITZER: What kind of boss was he?
FREEH: Well, he was a great boss. I mean he ran the U.S. Attorney's office in the Southern District of New York. And although I couldn't say this when I was FBI director, it is the premier U.S. attorney's office in the United States. I served there 10 years. He was a lawyer, not just the U.S. attorney. You could go with -- go to him with a practical problem or a trial problem.
He tried cases. He tried a major public corruption case here in New York City. He read briefs. He edited them. He sent them back to us. He let us work and innovate.
At the time I was there, in the organized crime unit, there were four major organized crime cases going on -- the Commission case, the Bonano case. I had the Pizza Connection case. Rudy was managing them but, also, letting good people lead and make decisions, which we very much appreciated.
BLITZER: You know, this decision for you, it's a major decision for you to get involved in politics, something you've tried to avoid all these years as a professional, whether at the Justice Department, with the U.S. attorney, when you were the FBI director.
It's going to raise speculation that maybe Louis Freeh should be -- if Rudy Giuliani were elected president -- might want to be the attorney general or get some other job in a Giuliani administration.
What do you say to those questions that are certainly going to be coming your way?
FREEH: Well, you know, I served, Wolf, 28 years in the federal government. It was a very great privilege to do that. Any return to public service would have to be approved by my wife and six kids. So I need a slip from her to go back into public service.
So I don't rule anything out. I'm very, very happy and content with what I'm doing now.
I want to help him get elected because I think he'd be a great president, a necessary and important president for us. And, you know, what the future holds, I don't know.
BLITZER: Are you comfortable with his views on some of the social issues? He's had a problem with some conservative Republicans, whether on gay rights or abortion rights or gun control.
Are you comfortable with his stance on those issues? FREEH: Yes, I'm comfortable with his stance on those issues. I think that, you know, in the public discussion of these ideas, certainly in the political discussion of these ideas, people are going to have to make up their own minds. I think what I respect is his sincerity, his honesty and his integrity with some of these issues. They're difficult issues and I am very comfortable with them.
BLITZER: I know you're a religious Catholic. For example, when he says he supports federally funded abortions for poor women, do you go along with him on that? Do you agree with him on that?
FREEH: Well, I don't think I would support that, no. I think I have my own view of that. But I think it's a team, and certainly under his leadership, one that is very amenable to diversity and discussion. And I don't think anybody is going to be unanimous on every issue.
But I think, overall, and for the most important things that I can think of -- for the country and the people here, he is the best and strongest candidate. And he's got my complete support.
BLITZER: I'll come back to my first question -- Hillary Clinton.
Do you think she would make a good president?
FREEH: You know, I have tremendous respect for Senator Clinton. I didn't actually work with her because I left before she really got into the Senate there. I think she's competent. I think she has a very good staff and good people advising her.
But, again, as I said, I picked who I think is going to be the best president. It's really a coincidence that he's a Democrat -- that he's a Republican. I've supported Democrats, even in the last election, both in Delaware and here in New York City. But I think he is the best person for the job and that's why he's got my support.
BLITZER: Louis Freeh is the former FBI director.
He's also a supporter of Rudy Giuliani for president of the United States.
Director Freeh, thanks for coming in.
FREEH: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And still ahead, is he the next Ronald Reagan?
Many people believe Fred Thompson's the political heir to the Reagan mantle. But beside the fact that both are actors, conservative, how similar are they really?
Also, you probably don't know who he is, but you've gotten tons of annoying e-mail from him. A so-called spam king who is one of the best in the world at sending junk mail has been caught. We'll tell you what's going on. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Our Carol Costello is monitoring the wires. She's keeping an eye on all the video feeds coming into THE SITUATION ROOM from around the world.
She's joining us now from New York with a closer look at some other important stories -- hi, Carol.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
Hello to all of you.
An economic breakthrough for Northwest Airlines. Today it emerged from 20 months of bankruptcy protection. The airline says it will now update its fleet over the next two years. It will be the first North American airline to take Boeing's new 787 Dream Liner. Northwest also plans to add 72 regional jets that include a first class section. The airline says the new 76-seat jets will make it possible to fly routes that weren't busy enough for its larger planes.
It is the latest indication of a slowdown in the once sizzling housing market. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight says home prices edged up just .5 percent during the first quarter of this year. That is the slowest growth rate in 10 years. During the first quarter of last year, the growth rate was 2.2 percent.
New Hampshire now the latest of a handful of states to legalize civil unions for gay couples. Governor John Lynch signed the bill today. It takes effect next January. Couples entering civil unions will have the same rights, responsibilities and obligations as married couples. Under the law, same-sex unions from other states will be recognized in New Hampshire if they were legal in the state where they were performed.
And a high-ranking lawyer who's fighting her demotion is suing General Electric. Lorraine Schaeffer accuses the company of gender discrimination. The lawsuit also seeks to represent about 1,500 other female employees. It charges that G.E. pays female lawyers and women in entry level executive jobs less than men and it says G.E. fails to promote its female entry level executives at the same rate it promotes men in the same jobs.
General Electric strongly denies the allegations.
Back to you -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, thanks, Carol, very much.
Up ahead, it's a small state geographically, but a major one politically. The road to the White House leads straight through New Hampshire.
But why does the Granite State play such a big role in who gets to be president of the United States?
And just before he heads to the summit of the G-8, President Bush confronts a pressing problem. It involves global warming. We'll discuss that in our Strategy Session and a lot more.
Stay with us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Happening now here in THE SITUATION ROOM, New Hampshire -- it has a long history of being a major player in presidential politics. But questions are being raised right now once again about whether or not that should continue.
CNN's Dana Bash is in New Hampshire. She's watching this story. She's got more -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, every four years there's a debate about whether tiny New Hampshire deserves so much influence in presidential politics. But if you just step inside this Manchester landmark, you'll see history and why this state so fiercely defends its lead-off primary.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
BASH (voice-over): The Merrimack Restaurant walls offer a history lesson -- snapshots of presidential ambition.
CONNIE FARR, RESTAURANT OWNER: This is Gary Hart when he first -- in 1982.
BASH: Owner Connie Farr relishes her part in a proud tradition.
FARR: We've been very privileged. I mean it's not every day that you get to shake hands or sit down and have a bowl of soup or a cheeseburger with the president of the United States.
BASH: New Hampshire can be the gateway to the presidency, but is known just as much for derailing campaigns.
In 1968, a disappearing finish here convinced President Lyndon Johnson not to seek reelection.
Another career ender in 1972. Democratic frontrunner Ed Muskie teared up in the snow, attacking a newspaper publisher for criticizing his wife.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED MUSKIE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He has proved himself to be a gutless coward.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MUSKIE: It's fortunate for him he's not on this platform beside me. A good woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Granite State voters expect lots of candidate face time...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Usually, we have done a little homework on their records, and, so, we can ask them questions and challenge them and so on. But I think it makes a good training ground for the candidates.
BASH: ... and can elevate unknowns to contenders.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A friend of mine had a coffee for Jimmy Carter in her living room. And we all said, who is Jimmy Carter? The peanut farmer. And we went into her living room, and Jimmy Carter was there. And I thought, wow, this guy is really impressive.
BASH: Some of its lore comes from memorable public events.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you turn that microphone off, please?
RONALD REAGAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... for me if you would -- I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: New Hampshire made Bill Clinton the comeback kid, helping him survive accusations of draft-dodging and philandering with a second-place finish.
Yet, it doesn't always propel winners. In 2000, John McCain beat George W. Bush in a landslide, and still lost the nomination.
BASH: But, to borrow a phrase from Ronald Reagan, here we go again. Its record on picking winners may be mixed, but its place at the head of the presidential primary calendar guarantees New Hampshire and its legendary stops like this gets another chance at adding to its storied tradition -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Dana, thank you. Dana is on the streets of New Hampshire for us.
Let's bring in our chief national correspondent, John King. He's also joining us from Manchester, New Hampshire, right now.
John, if we take a look at this mixed track record of New Hampshire, sometimes, it does have a huge impact, other times, not necessarily. What are the candidates and their campaigns saying to you right now, especially looking ahead to the debate Sunday night and Tuesday night?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the debates air chance for the candidates to make their message and to get out their key points.
They obviously, with the crowded fields, both the Democratic and Republican, they say it's very difficult to score any kind of a knockout blow.
But why does New Hampshire matter so much? If you ask the two past presidents, the recent and the -- the current and the most recent past president, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, they both took a bit of a thumping here in New Hampshire.
But they will tell you, they learned important lessons. I have spoken to both of them about this. George W. Bush in 2000, as Dana just noted, was swept out by John McCain here in New Hampshire. He says he was relying too much on his establishment support, not keeping in touch with his grassroots supporters. He says he learned a lesson and was a better candidate as he moved on from New Hampshire.
Bill Clinton, you remember, Wolf, in '92, was the early boy wonder here. And then the trap door opened up beneath him because of all the character attacks. But he rebounded here, got a second-place finish. And he said he learned how to deal with those issues, the draft issue, the philandering issue. And that helped him in the general election, in the later primary seasons, as well.
So, you don't always have to win New Hampshire to learn very important lessons here.
BLITZER: And one thing we know is that there -- there are a lot of independent voters in New Hampshire.
You have got a Democratic governor. You have got two Republican senators. People split their -- their ballots, as we all know. But these independent voters in New Hampshire will have a key role, a key voice in both the Democratic and Republican primaries.
KING: And it's a fascinating question as to how that works out this time, Wolf. And maybe we will learn a bit from the intensity after these debates, when we do the polling and take a look at who is watching these debates and what they think in the next week, because independents can make a difference.
Back in 2000, again, the independents, early on in the polling, looked like they were going to flood the Democratic primary to support former Senator Bill Bradley. Then his campaign stumbled a bit, and most of the independents ended up voting in the Republican primary. And that is what gave John McCain that big margin over George W. Bush.
What will happen this time? Some Democrats think that Barack Obama will have great appeal to independents, especially younger voters. But many Republicans think many could go back to McCain, but Rudy Giuliani could make inroads. And Fred Thompson is now the wild card. He could have independent appeal. So, when you have such big fields in these races, some Republicans lining up with so many different candidates, the same on the Democratic side, the question is, the only swing bloc is those independents. Will they all go one way Democrat or Republican? No one can answer that right now, Wolf. It's what makes New Hampshire so fascinating.
BLITZER: We will be watching it coming up in a couple days. John, thanks very much.
Don't forget, we are going to have two debates. We're gearing up for those debates in New Hampshire. CNN, WMUR and "The New Hampshire Union Leader" are sponsoring back-to-back debates beginning this weekend.
The Democratic candidates square off Sunday, June 3. That's this Sunday, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, for two hours, without commercial interruption. The same thing happens Tuesday, June 5, next Tuesday, for the Republicans, two hours, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, without commercial interruption.
You are going to want to check out both.
Coming up: He certainly is similar to him, but is Fred Thompson really the next Ronald Reagan, as some of his supporters believe? We will take a closer look at what they have in common and what they don't.
And the so-called spam king has been caught. But does that mean less junk e-mail in all of our in-boxes? Our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner, is standing by.
We will be right back.
BLITZER: The comparisons are plenty, both famous movies stars, both conservative Republicans. Some are suggesting one is the other's political heir.
Joining us now, our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.
What do Republicans actually see in Fred Thompson that reminds them so much, at least a lot of them say, of Ronald Reagan?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, some of them do see the answer to their prayers, another Ronald Reagan.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Republicans want another Ronald Reagan, a conservative and a winner. Could it be this guy?
FRED THOMPSON, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: You ever wonder why, when our problems seem to be getting larger, that so many of our politicians seem to be getting smaller? SCHNEIDER: Fred Thompson is not small, literally. He's 6'6''. But he seems big in other ways, too.
BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Stature. Everybody knows who he is. He's famous. He has a Reaganite -- Reaganesque quality, including movie star, tremendous voice and presence.
SCHNEIDER: Is Thompson a reliable conservative? He supported campaign finance reform, which conservatives hate. But, on big issues like Iraq, Thompson's conservatism seems staunch.
THOMPSON: I don't think that the American people are going to turn the keys to this country over to a party who invest their political capital in defeat.
SCHNEIDER: How do you get conservative juices flowing? Take on filmmaker Michael Moore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMPSON: You know, He next time you are down in Cuba visiting your buddy Castro, you might ask him about another documentary filmmaker. Name is Nicolas Guillen. He did something Castro didn't like, and they put him in a mental institution for several years, giving him devastating electroshock treatments.
Mental institution, Michael. Might be something you ought to think about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: Ronald Reagan conveyed strength. And Thompson?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When people are concerned about security, somebody told me, he's the ultimate papa bear.
SCHNEIDER: What clinches the sale to many conservatives is that Thompson looks like a winner, like Reagan.
JOHN HAWKINS (R), SOUTH CAROLINA STATE SENATOR: This is the guy we need to beat the ultimate Democratic nominee. And, if we're going to be able to beat that person, the person to do it is going to be Fred Thompson.
SCHNEIDER: Reagan was anti-Washington. He used to talk about puzzle palaces on the Potomac. And Thompson is anti-Washington, too, which could get tricky for him, because, in 2008, unlike 1980, the man in the White House is a Republican -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Very tricky, indeed. Thanks very much for that, Bill Schneider, taking a closer look at Fred Thompson.
Let's move on to some other important news. You might not necessarily have ever heard the name Robert Soloway. But chances are, he's sent you an e-mail. Soloway is one of the world's top spammers. And now he's under arrest.
Let's bring in Jacki Schechner.
Jacki, will the arrest actually reduce the amount of spam we all get in our inbox?
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Unfortunately, not necessarily, Wolf.
Experts say that Soloway's arrest is just a drop in the bucket. And you personally are not likely to see less spam as a result. But it is still a big arrest. Soloway allegedly used spam to run a number of scams over the course of about three-and-a-half years, and made at least $750,000 from his home in Washington State.
He has been arrested in Seattle, and has pled not guilty to 35 counts of fraud, identity theft, and money-laundering. The indictment against Soloway alleges that he hijacked vulnerable home and work computers and used them to send out spam that could not be traced back to him.
He also allegedly sold spamming services and products that e- mailed customers that he said wanted to be contacted. The indictment alleges that, when his customers complained, Soloway then threatened them.
And, although Soloway has already got two civil complaints against him for millions of dollars, they are actually civil judgments. This will be the first federal criminal trial. And it is scheduled for August 6 -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We have these spam filters here at CNN, fortunately, because sometimes I look at that junk e-mail that I get, and there's hundreds and thousands of them, sometimes. Thank God for that. All right -- for the filters, that is.
Jacki, thank you.
Up next: in the run-up to the G8 economic summit in Germany, President Bush going green.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want to reduce our gasoline consumption by 20 percent over the next 10 years, which will not only help our national security; it will make us better stewards of the environment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is he following in the footsteps of Governor Schwarzenegger and New York Mayor Bloomberg? Will it help the GOP at the polls?
Also: President Bush enlisting the help of his brother Jeb in his push to sell his immigration reform plan. But is he doing enough to allay the concerns of conservatives?
All that coming up in our "Strategy Session." Donna Brazile and J.C. Watts, they're standing by. We will be right back.
BLITZER: President Bush is pushing for a new international agreement to reduce greenhouse gases. And the former Florida governor, his brother Jeb Bush, and former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman are praising the immigration reform bill.
Let's discuss both those issues in our "Strategy Session." Democratic strategist Donna Brazile is joining us and former Republican Congressman J.c. Watts, both CNN analysts, contributors.
Thanks very much, guys, for coming in.
Let's start off with the president making a push today to deal with global warming, greenhouse gases. I'm going to play a little clip of what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The United States will work with other nations to establish a new framework on greenhouse gas emissions for when the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012.
So, my proposal is this: By the end of next year, America and other nations will set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now, he's making this announcement on the eve of his departure for Germany, where he's going to meet with the G8 Summit leaders, the leaders of the major industrialized nations, where a lot of them believe this is a huge, huge issue.
What do you think?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, we're behind the curve.
As you well know, the E.U. has already established its own climate change policy. We don't have a policy. It's -- I'm -- I welcome the president in the debate, but, unfortunately, as many environmentalists said today, this is full of hot air. It's -- it's a charade. And it's not a real serious proposal.
BLITZER: Some people think he's taking a play from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's playbook, who has made global warming, the environment, these issues, a huge issue, to his -- to his benefit out in California. Michael Bloomberg wants the cabs in New York City to be hybrids over the next five years. This is a big issue for him.
Is the president taking that political step, using other Republicans' success in this area, to try to score some points himself?
J.C. WATTS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, I think you should always be open to try to -- to take a look at the data that's before you, and come up with logical conclusions or rational conclusions as to what might be going on.
You know, you have got many different people on both sides of this issue, and I think who are honest, and they try to be objective. But, you know, to say that we should just go and just do a topsy-turvy with environmental policy for -- for political reasons, as opposed to, you know, sound science, I think any president needs to be open to looking at things.
But I don't think the president is drawing conclusions that Michael Moore or Al Gore is right in terms of global warming. We should always be concerned about conservation...
WATTS: ... and trying to conserve energy and turn our lights off and, you know...
BRAZILE: Yes, well, that's why the president should announce more than, well, we plan to hold a bunch of meetings, and we're going to set goals when the current Kyoto protocols expire in 2012.
It's time that we cut back our emissions, we lower...
BLITZER: But, J.C., you know he unilaterally rejected...
BLITZER: ... the Kyoto agreement early in his first term. Colin Powell was upset about that, as you remember, at the time, because he didn't like the fact that China and India and other developing countries were not really bound by the same kinds of restrictions that the industrialized countries were bound by.
WATTS: And, if they're not, I mean...
BLITZER: But now he's invoking Kyoto.
WATTS: Well, but I'm -- that's the point.
Again, is the president using political science or -- or sound science? And it doesn't matter who is doing it. It doesn't matter if it's Republican or Democrats. Give us sound science. Don't me give me political...
BLITZER: But it's a smart political strategy?
WATTS: Well, but, you know... (CROSSTALK)
BRAZILE: And there's a consensus now by the scientists that it is sound.
WATTS: But, you know, you can find scientists on the other side that...
BRAZILE: Especially those on the payroll of some of the oil companies, of course.
WATTS: Or some on the payroll of the political companies as well, you know, the left think tanks and those who are afraid to stand up ...
BRAZILE: This is sound science.
WATTS: ... and give sound science, as opposed to giving political science.
BRAZILE: All you have got to do is stand outside today to know that there's a problem. And we need to cut back on our emissions.
WATTS: But -- but you know what? You can -- you know, Donna, you know, try -- trying to say that we can -- we can establish what the weather is going to be 20 years from now, when we have weathermen that can't determine what the weather is going to be two days from now.
BLITZER: All right.
WATTS: So -- so, it is just -- again, I think we need to use sound science.
BLITZER: Let's -- let's talk about immigration, an interesting article today in "The Wall Street Journal" by Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, the president's brother, Ken Mehlman, the former chairman of the Republican Party.
"We support the immigration reform compromise worked out in the Senate, for a few simple reasons. It strengthens our national defense. It makes our economy more competitive and flexible. It does not grant amnesty to the 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country, and nor does it give a free pass to others who want to enter the country illegally."
This is -- this is going to help the president, you think?
WATTS: Well, no, Wolf, I don't think it's going to help the president.
And the reason that I don't think it's going to help is because this issue has become so emotional on both sides of the aisle, that thinking, rational people aren't going to be able to, I think...
BLITZER: Largely on the conservative Republican side, they hate it.
WATTS: Well, you know, they -- they think that it's amnesty. And I think they have the right to think that.
But you just can't say, let's secure the borders and stop there. I think you need a comprehensive immigration plan. You need some kind of way once you have secured the border. How do you deal with the 12 to 15 million illegals that might be here?
And, by the way, those 12 to 15 million...
BLITZER: All right.
WATTS: ... illegals aren't necessarily Hispanic.
BRAZILE: Well, first of all...
WATTS: There's a whole lot of illegals here.
BRAZILE: First of all, what we have now is amnesty.
This bill is a tough bill. It's a tough bill for those who are here illegally, because, not only will they have to pay a fine, keep a clean background record. They also have to apply, go back home, and stand in line. So, this is a very tough bill.
It's not an easy pathway to citizenship. I look at it as, you know, a pathway with a lot of, you know, speed bumps along the way.
BLITZER: Very quickly...
WATTS: Then, why do you have Democrats opposing it, though?
BLITZER: ... between both of you, you believe it's going to pass?
BLITZER: You believe it's going to pass?
WATTS: I think it's going to be tough, Wolf. I think it's going to be tough.
BLITZER: All right. We will see.
Thanks very much, Donna and J.C. Always good to have you guys in the "Strategy Session."
BRAZILE: Thank you.
BLITZER: Still to come: the father-in-law of the quarantined T.B. patient is now speaking out. And, in a twist -- get this -- he's a CDC researcher on tuberculosis himself.
And Ohio's governor wants answers. The governor, Ted Strickland, has written desperate letters to President Bush, pleading that Ohio National Guards men and women have the equipment they need to keep them safe in Iraq.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: In our "Political Radar" today: Three former presidents pay tribute to a legend today. Presidents Carter, Clinton and George H.W. Bush were in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the formal dedication of the Billy Graham Library. They were among 1,500 well- wishers on hand for the private dedication.
Controversial Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney is eying the presidential race. But, if she enters the campaign, it would be as a Green Party candidate. In an interview with a New York radio station, she says she's displeased with the current crop of Democratic candidates, because they support going to war with Iran and none of them supports impeaching President Bush.
And, a few days back, we told you about Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards' claim on some $500 million in gold and silver found at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean -- not so fast -- the Associated Press now reporting that the Spanish government has filed claims in U.S. federal court over the booty. The suit argues that the Spanish government -- quote -- "has not abandoned its sunken ships or sunken property."
We're going to keep you posted on the outcome.
One read -- one is like a tale of -- one reads a tale of money, murder and revenge, another, a story with a congressman who punches the national security adviser in the face, certainly very interesting reading for the presidential campaigns.
Look at this. The Associated Press asked them their latest choices in fiction.
For Republicans, we will start with Rudy Giuliani. Rudy Giuliani read James Patterson's "The Beach House." It opens with a murder in the Hamptons on Memorial Day weekend.
John McCain, we will take a closer look at him. He read Ernest Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms," the story of an American serviceman who falls in love with a British nurse during World War I.
Mitt Romney next -- let's take a closer look. He read Vince Flynn's book "Term Limits." It includes members of Congress being killed and that fictional congressman who punches the national security adviser.
What about Congressman Tom Tancredo? He was asked his last work of fiction. He says it was Al Gore's global warming tome "An Inconvenient Truth" -- Tom Tancredo with a little sense of humor.
In the next hour, we are going to tell you what the Democrats are reading right now.
Jack Cafferty is reading something in "The Cafferty File." He's always reading.
I think it's your e-mail.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Cynthia McKinney couldn't even get reelected to a congressional seat; isn't that right?
BLITZER: That's correct. In Georgia, she got defeated.
CAFFERTY: Now she's thinking about running for president?
CAFFERTY: Our question this hour, Dr. Blitzer, is: Does Senator Hillary Clinton's use of a private jet, a corporate one, undermine her stance on corporate greed and executive pay?
J.M. in Atlanta writes: "Ms. Clinton is a poster child of corporate greed and executive pay. She hasn't worked for a normal salary since before Bill's governor days. She will ride in Secret Service-protected style for life, no matter how any future election goes. The fact is, those in power in government take benefits for themselves, while the bureaucracy cheats the citizenry out of nickels. It's easy to point an accusing finger when your jowls are full of pork, Ms. "It Takes a Village." Ride the bus for a while. Then maybe we will talk credibility."
Rick in Pennsylvania: "No. If Hillary were to take a stance on public officials taking corporate perks, or perhaps speak against lobbyists purchasing our government, then should she criticized for flitting about on someone else's private corporate jet. This criticism she's receiving is just a vast left-wing conspiracy."
Brad in Florida: "Not only does that undermine her stance on corporate executive compensation; it goes to show that Hillary is like every other politician. She is two-faced. It reinforces a comment Fred Thompson made -- quoting now -- 'There's a large gap between what the American people want and what really goes on in Washington.'"
Paul in Virginia: "Hillary Clinton's use of a corporate jet is necessary. She has lots of things to do, rather than wasting her time in airports. Anyone running for president is usually beholden to some corporation or another and must get from one end of the country to the other nowadays without airport delays."
Can't be serious.
Dave in Tucson: "Only time will tell whether voters will see this excessive cleverness as hypocrisy. Using a corporate jet for campaign travel for the price of first-class tickets exploits a loophole in the rules, a typical Clintonian maneuver of the same kind that earned Bill his nickname, Slick Willie."
Dave in New York: "Aw, come on, Jack. The poor thing is used to flying high on Air Force One. I'm sure she thinks she's roughing it while flapping around on one of those tiny little jets, like, where's the chef?"
And Ken in New Hampshire: "Professor Cafferty, executive jet use sure makes $400 haircuts seems like chump change."
Pretty funny stuff -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you.
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