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THE SITUATION ROOM

Hillary Clinton Losing Momentum?; Interview With John Edwards

Aired November 5, 2007 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, though, President Bush sending mixed messages about an ally in crisis, and Democrats accusing Mr. Bush of enabling a blow to democracy. We're following the breaking news, a state of emergency in Pakistan.
Plus, one year before America votes, our new poll shows Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign losing some momentum. A dicey debate performance may -- may be to blame.

And John Edwards on the attack against Hillary Clinton and the Bush administration over Iran. Does Edwards think Clinton is up to the job of becoming the nation's commander in chief? My interview with John Edwards, that's coming up this hour.

Plus an amazing roundtable starring, of course, our own Jack Cafferty.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

President Bush is playing both good cop and bad cop today as a nuclear armed ally Pakistan spirals deeper and deeper into crisis and violence. The breaking news this hour, the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf saying he's still committed to democracy even after declaring a state of emergency. He's also suspended the constitution and indefinitely postponed parliamentary elections.

The Pakistani police today fired tear gas and clubbed thousands of people protesting the crackdown, including many lawyers and many journalists. Most news media in Pakistani have now been blacked out, except for the state-run television and radio channels.

Let's go to our White House correspondent, Ed Henry. He is watching this story for us.

How far is President Bush willing to go to try to put a lid on what's happening in Pakistan?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, that may be one of the problems. Mr. Bush seems to be offering a lot of carrots to Musharraf in the form of U.S. aid, but little if any sticks to push the Pakistani president along.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY (voice-over): After meeting with the Turkish prime minister about one crisis, PKK terrorists in northern Iraq, President Bush turned to the chaos in Pakistan, revealing he told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to call Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and press him about the political crackdown.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We expect there to be elections as soon as possible, and that the president should remove his military uniform.

HENRY: But more significant is what the president said next. Rather than pressing Musharraf, he gave him a vote of confidence.

BUSH: Having said that, I did remind the prime minister that President Musharraf has been a strong fighter against extremists and radicals.

HENRY: Equally important is what Mr. Bush did not say, failing to threaten to cut off America's billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan, so there are no apparent consequences if Musharraf ignores the White House.

BUSH: I certainly hope he does take my advice and the advice of the prime minister of Turkey and the advice of a lot of other figures.

HENRY: In a stinging rebuke, Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi charged the problem is the Bush administration has -- quote -- "enabled Musharraf's delusion by ignoring his undemocratic acts in exchange for his assistance in efforts against terrorism."

Mr. Bush has often praised Musharraf's leadership, last year in Islamabad:

BUSH: I thank you for your extensive briefing today on your plans to spread freedom throughout your country.

HENRY: Democrats charge Mr. Bush has stuck with Musharraf too long.

WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT ADVISER: The president is neither moving towards, nor moving towards stability in Pakistan. The Pakistani people and the world at large are facing an explosive situation of a country that has more than 30 nuclear weapons in a very dangerous part of the world.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: Now, U.S. officials privately say that's one of the major reasons why they continue to support Musharraf, the possibility of those nuclear weapons getting in the hand of extremists, but the question is whether or not Mr. Bush has misjudged Musharraf.

I shouted that question at the president today. He did not answer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Henry at the White House, thank you.

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, today echoing the House speaker's concerns that the Bush administration is clinging too tightly to President Musharraf. Reed used more diplomatic language but LOTT: took a jab at the White House and the Pakistani leader. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: My personal feeling is that it's very important that we focus on countries rather than individuals in those countries. And I think we had too much focus on General Musharraf.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Senator Reid is calling for a review of U.S. aid to Pakistan, but he's stopping short of asking for funding to be cut off.

Let's turn to the race for the White House right now. It's just a year until the presidential election, and the top candidates are gearing up for the long haul. But, first, they have to make it out of the bruising primary battles. And those are less -- repeat, less -- than two months away. It's a sprint to Iowa.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is joining us from New Hampshire right now with some new poll numbers that are coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. Does our survey, Bill, show some damage to Senator Clinton's front-running status?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I would say she suffered blow to her momentum, Wolf.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Hillary Clinton got a lot of criticism for her performance in the debate last week.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are you asking me, did I hear things last night that would raise questions for voters? I did.

SCHNEIDER: Is there any evidence of damage among Democratic voters?

Clinton is still leading the Democratic field, but her lead over Barack Obama has slipped a bit, from 30 points in October to 19 points now. Clinton's momentum had been building steadily month by month since the spring. Last month it reached 51 percent. Now, her forward momentum has halted.

Rudy Giuliani continues to lead among Republicans nationally, though at 28 percent, Giuliani still doesn't get as much support from his party as Clinton does from hers.

The only noticeable change in the Republican race is that Mike Huckabee, the fifth place contender, has reached double digits.

Whatever damage Clinton suffered among Democrats, she still has a slight lead over Giuliani, six points, among all voters.

If Republicans nominate Giuliani, some conservatives are threatening to put up a third-party candidate who believes abortion should be outlawed. Is Giuliani concerned?

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My analysis of it is that that is more an attempt to try to keep the nomination from me, as a -- you know, as a tactic. It's an illegitimate one. People have to think about that and consider it.

SCHNEIDER: Here's something they might consider: 18 percent of voters say they would support an antiabortion third-party candidate against Clinton and Giuliani. Almost all of those votes would come from Giuliani.

In that three-way race, Clinton's margin over Giuliani would jump from six points to 16 points.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Conservatives can say to Giuliani -- or, rather, to the Republicans, you nominate Giuliani and we can bring him down. But Republicans can say to conservatives, you do that, and look who you will be putting in the White House -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Bill Schneider, thank you -- Bill Schneider reporting from New Hampshire.

Let's go to Jack. He's in New York with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.

From the file labeled it's about time, record numbers of illegal aliens are being detained around the country. "The Los Angeles Times" reports the detainee population has jumped to almost 28,000 nationwide in the fiscal year that ended in September. That is up from about 19,700 the year before and a couple weeks ago the number of detainees actually topped 30,000.

The main reason for the increase is the government's decision to end its practice of catching immigrants and then immediately releasing them. Officials say detention is the only way to make sure these illegal aliens actually leave the country when their deportation is ordered. And the increase has in turn led the federal government to speed up deportations.

The number of illegal aliens deported topped 261,000 last year, up from about 177,000 two years ago. Supporters praise the government for locking up and deporting more of these illegal aliens. Critics say the higher number of people being detained has led to crowded conditions in some of the jails and limited some illegal aliens' access to medical care.

Forgive me if I don't break out the violin. The immigration officials say there's been no effective overcrowding as a result of their stepped-up enforcement.

The question this hour is this, how serious is our government becoming about enforcing our immigration laws? E-mail your thoughts to CaffertyFile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/Cafferty file. Only 12,850,000 to go, Lou -- I mean Wolf.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Lou is coming up in one hour, less than one hour now, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Jack, thanks very much. We're on the air now during the 6:00 p.m. hour.

Just ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM: John Edwards on what you should know before you pick a presidential candidate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Is Hillary Clinton qualified to be commander in chief?

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it depends on your definition of "qualified."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The man who some accused of piling on Senator Clinton will be joining us to talk about his race for the White House.

Also, a man who Fred Thompson counts as a close friend was apparently keeping a very dark secret, a criminal past that includes a record for drug dealing. Now he's paying what he calls an embarrassment. He's paying a price for that.

And only 25 percent of you say you're Republican. Does GOP stand for a brand name that is decline right now?

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards today is accusing his rival Hillary Clinton of having a two-faced approach to foreign policy on Iraq and Iran, even as another nation is exploding in crisis, Pakistan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And joining us now from Iowa City, Iowa, the Democratic presidential candidate, the former senator, John Edwards.

Senator, thanks for coming in.

Let's talk about Pakistan. Right now a huge crisis unfolding with enormous ramifications for the United States. This is a Muslim country that already has a nuclear arsenal.

If you were president right now, would you cut off military aid? The U.S. providing billions of dollars in military assistance to Pakistan since 9/11.

EDWARDS: Well, what I would do is use the great leverage that we have with Musharraf and the Pakistani government, which is aid. They rely on us for billions of dollars of aid.

And I think we need to use that leverage to push Musharraf and the government to move toward open, free elections, democratic reform, transparent operation of the government, transparent operation of the economy -- I mean, all the things that need to be happening in Pakistan.

BLITZER: But what if he doesn't do it?

EDWARDS: But particularly...

BLITZER: What if he doesn't do it? What do you do?

EDWARDS: Well, then we use the leverage we have got and we start cutting off money. I mean, that's the leverage we have. We should use it first as a tool to force them to do what they should be doing and to try to provide some level of stability in an extraordinarily unstable situation, as you just pointed out.

And if that doesn't work, then we need to start taking money away.

BLITZER: Because there are some who are concerned that, he's not perfect by any means, Musharraf, but he has been cooperative since 9/11 with the U.S. and if he goes down, it could be a whole lot worse, if the Taliban or al Qaeda or Muslim fundamentalists take charge of a country that already has a nuclear arsenal. It could get a whole lot worse even more quickly.

It's a delicate balance you have to walk.

EDWARDS: I completely agree with that. I think the balance here is hard. I think what we want to do is push Musharraf, push the Pakistani government.

But given the potential down the road that a very radical element could take over the government in Pakistan and have access to a nuclear weapon, control of a nuclear weapon and be able to use it, you know, they're in constant conflict with India over Kashmir, be able to turn such a weapon over to a terrorist organization.

I mean, those are the things that we have to be constantly cognizant of, but they shouldn't keep us from putting pressure on him, which is what we should be doing now.

BLITZER: You have really gone after Senator Clinton for her vote on that resolution, that Lieberman-Kyl resolution that declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. It passed 76- 22.

But among the Democratic senators who voted along the same lines she did, Dick Durbin, Diane Feinstein, Carl Levin, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer. These are anything but neocons. She's in pretty good company from your former Senate colleagues, isn't she?

EDWARDS: I think it's wrong. I mean, I don't know any other way to say it. I think what that resolution did is it paved the way for Bush and Cheney to do what they did a few weeks later, which was to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization and a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction.

I mean, this is unprecedented. This is a state-sponsored militia.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: So all these other senators, all these other Democratic senators are wrong as well, just as she was wrong?

EDWARDS: I believe this is the wrong thing to do and I think it's particularly wrong to do when you're running for president of the United States and you're saying that you're going to stop Bush from taking military action in Iraq.

If you're going to stop Bush from taking military -- in Iran, excuse me -- if you're going to stop Bush from taking military action in Iran, then when this opportunity presents itself, you have to stand up and make clear that you're going to stand your ground.

You know, the lesson I have learned, unfortunately, the hard way on Iraq is, if you give this president an inch, he will take a mile. And he has to be stopped.

BLITZER: All right.

EDWARDS: And you can't say when you're out on the campaign trail that you're going to stand up to him and when the real test comes, you vote with Bush and Cheney.

BLITZER: Is Hillary Clinton qualified to be commander in chief?

EDWARDS: Well, it depends on your definition of "qualified." I mean, I think that's what's going to be determined in this election.

I mean, my own view is that if you -- what we desperately need in the next president of the United States is somebody who recognizes that we have a system in Washington that's become broken. It doesn't work for most Americans. It's become -- corruption has crept into it, and we have to tell the truth about that. And if you defend that system, I don't believe you can bring about the change that America needs.

So in terms of what America needs at this crucial point in our country's history is we actually need a president who understands what's wrong and can bring about the change as a result.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: John Edwards speaking with me earlier.

Tomorrow, by the way, in Iowa, our Candy Crowley will be interviewing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. That will be here in THE SITUATION ROOM. One of Fred Thompson's very close friends is now stepping down from his role as the Republican -- for the Republican presidential campaign now that his criminal past has been revealed. And that past includes a record for drug dealing.

Mary Snow is watching the story for us from New York.

It appears that Senator Thompson was unaware of this criminal past.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was, Wolf.

Thompson indicated he only learned Phil Martin's past over the weekend. He said he wouldn't throw his friend under the bus, that they would talk and figure out the right thing to do. Today, Martin quit the campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): On the campaign trail today, Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson didn't mention his friend and fund- raiser Phil Martin. Martin quietly resigned from the campaign one day after "The Washington Post" reported over the weekend that he had a criminal record dating back more than 20 years.

That caught Thompson off guard.

FRED THOMPSON, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He thought it was over and done with and forgotten about, I'm sure, but, of course, nothing is ever over and done with and forgotten about in this business.

SNOW: State records in Florida show Martin pled guilty to marijuana charges in 1979 and no contest to cocaine trafficking and bookmaking charges in 1983. He got probation both times.

Messages left by CNN for Martin and his attorney went unanswered, but the Thompson campaign released a statement from Martin announcing his resignation, stating: "The focus of this campaign should be on Fred Thompson's positions on the issues and his outstanding leadership ability, not on mistakes I made some 24 years ago. I deeply regret any embarrassment this has caused."

One political analyst says, damage control is key in revelations like this.

STUART ROTHENBERG, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "THE ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": What you want to do is, you want to try to act as quickly as you can, so that a story doesn't fester, doesn't grow, doesn't become bigger than it starts out.

SNOW: Thompson's campaign isn't the only one to have ties associates with problematic pasts. The Clinton campaign gave back thousands of dollars after it was revealed that fund-raiser Norman Hsu had a criminal record. Like Hsu, Martin was a fund-raiser. "The Post" also reported, Thompson's campaign paid Martin more than $100,000 for use of his private jet. The campaign says Thompson didn't use the plane Sunday or today.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Now, Martin resigned as the chair of the First-Day Founders of the Friends of Fred Thompson. The campaign couldn't say exactly how much money Martin raised, but he was considered a key fund-raiser -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary Snow in New York, thank you.

Remember, Lou Dobbs is coming up at the top of the hour, his show now airing at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Still ahead this hour: Key Democrats lay blame for instability in Pakistan at President Bush's feet. We're going to talk about it with Jack Cafferty and our roundtable.

And does cash translate into votes? If so, one presidential long shot might be about to see a huge jump in the polls. We are going to tell you who just raised a surprisingly large amount of money.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring some other important stories incoming in to THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Carol, what's going on?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A couple of things, Wolf.

An urgent warning for Britain's head of intelligence services. MI5 chief Jonathan Evans says at least 2,000 young people living in Britain could pose a threat to the country's security. He says al Qaeda is targeting people as young as 15 years old to carry out attacks on British soil. But some terrorism experts accuse Evans of fear-mongering.

A major step today in a long-running international effort to get North Korea to scale back its nuclear program. A U.S. team has arrived at Yongbyon nuclear complex and has begun disabling the facility. Earlier this year North Korea agreed to shut down the facility in return for energy assistance and political concessions.

PetroChina First has become the world's first company valued at $1 trillion, at least on paper. That's more than Russia's entire stock market. Shares of the Chinese state-owned oil and gas giant nearly tripled on the company's trading debut in Shanghai today. Investors say it's a sign of China coming of age, but the buying frenzy didn't cross over to Wall Street, where the company's U.S. shares skidded.

That's a look at the headlines right now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Carol, very much.

The Republican presidential underdog Ron Paul, candidate who barely registers in the polls, is getting a massive online fund- raising push from his supporters today.

Let's go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton. She's following this story for us.

All right. Give us the background. Tell us what happened.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, we have seen all kind of fund-raising gimmicks this cycle, but this is a new one.

From the online grassroots supporters of Ron Paul, their fund- raising focus is a date, today's date, November the 5th. And it's been touted all over the Internet by these grassroots supporters as the day for a massive fund-raising drive.

Now, if you don't know your English history, November the 5th was the date in 1605 that Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the houses of Parliament. It was also the focus of this recent film, "V For Vendetta."

We spoke to the creator of this grassroots Web site, thisnovember5.com, who said their message is not violent. This is just a fund-raising idea that spread virally online.

The Ron Paul campaign says that they're not behind it, but they have been tracking the donations coming in all day. A campaign spokesman says that, since midnight, more than $2.7 million has come in through their Web site. Those are numbers that CNN cannot independently confirm. We will have to wait until those FEC filings come in at the end of the year -- Wolf.

BLITZER: If he gets all that money, he is going to be in a lot better shape.

All right, thanks very much, Abbi, for that.

If you think all Democratic presidential candidates are secretly running to be Hillary Clinton's running mate, listen to what Senator Joe Biden has to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: if I don't win the nomination, the likely nominee is going to be Hillary. And I love Bill Clinton. But can you imagine being vice president?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Senator Biden takes a shot at the idea of a two-for-one Clinton White House. He's on a roll about his rival's shortcomings aboard the CNN Election Express. Plus, does being a Republican mean what it used to mean? Some influential party members say no. And they suggest the current presidential race may be ruining the GOP brand name.

Plus, a couple of American gangsters weighing in on the presidential race. You're going to find out why they're now backing Rudy Giuliani.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: Better weather conditions are getting more flights off the ground on time. The Transportation Department says, on-time arrivals improved 5.5 percent in September. But the airlines still have some catching up to do. Delays are still the worst they have been in 13 years.

And, over at the White House, there was a ceremony today. President Bush presented the nation's highest civilian award. The eight recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom include the former NAACP leader Benjamin Hooks, "To Kill a Mockingbird" author Harper Lee, and Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

Congratulations to all.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Any operation that hopes to last must be sure it protect its brand name, but right now some are asking if the Republican Party's image is tarnished, and, if so, whether it can be repaired by the 2008 election.

Our chief national correspondent, John King, is joining us from New York.

You have been talking to influential Republicans, and a lot of them, John, are worried.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They sure are, Wolf, an unpopular president, an unpopular war. More than 75 percent of Americans say the country is on the wrong track, hardly the best of times for the GOP.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING (voice-over): One year to election day and the Republican Party is looking for much more than a new leader.

GOV. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It takes time to damage a brand. It takes even longer to rebuild it.

KING: A good brand builds trust. The consumer knows what to expect. It's critical in the marketplace and in politics.

SANFORD: The Republican Party, I think, has really been hurt with regard to its brand, on the degree to which it will walk the walk on government spending and government taxes.

KING: South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford sees a party that has lost its way on pocketbook issues. Others see a threat to the GOP's social conservative branding.

RICHARD VIGUERIE, CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST: I see more anger, more frustration, more of a sense of betrayal by the Republican leaders in Washington now than I have in the 45 years I've been involved at the national level.

KING: Whatever the reason, the brand is in decline. Only 25 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republican -- 36 percent when Independents are asked which party they lean toward. By comparison, 33 percent identify as Democrats. And that climbs to 50 percent when Independents are asked their leanings -- the largest gap in 20 years of Pew Research Center polling.

ANDREW KOHUT, PRESIDENT, PEW RESEARCH CENTER: It's the war. I think it's the way Bush has run the -- views about the way Bush has run the country and discontent with the status quo.

KING: All this on the watch of a president whose bold ambition was to build a lasting Republican majority.

SANFORD: He's not the only one to blame. I don't want to suggest that. As much as the presidency, if you're the party in power, is that sort of titular head of the Republican Party, certainly some of the buck stops there.

KING: Picking a new leader is just one step in the rebuilding process.

WHIT AYERS, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: The real challenge for the Republican Party is figuring out how to keep the base happy while at the same time reaching out to the Independents who voted Democrat in 2006.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: But that outreach to Independents, while critical, Wolf, is for not on the back burner, with the Republican nomination race so wide open, almost all of the candidates' time is going to courting the conservative base -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, John.

Thank you.

President Bush says the state emergency in Pakistan is undermining democracy and he's urging President Pervez Musharraf to hold the elections he's postponed and hold those elections as soon as possible.

But with General Musharraf playing a critical role in the anti- terror effort since 9/11 and growing concern about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, does the U.S. have any good options for dealing with this crisis right now?

Joining us for tonight's roundtable, our CNN senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. He's in New York together with Jack Cafferty. Here in Washington, our CNN senior political analyst, Gloria Borger -- Jack, the stakes really are enormous in Pakistan right now, given the fact that you've Al Qaeda gaining strength, the Taliban gaining strength and you have a nuclear arsenal already in place.

CAFFERTY: Well, and President Bush's reference to democracy there is -- is a little disingenuous. There is no democracy. Pervez Musharraf seized power in a military coup in 1999. He's been talking about elections, hasn't held any, probably isn't going it hold any. And we're in bed with a dictator.

Granted, he was the only game in town after 9/11, and supposedly he was going to help up us in those primitive tribal areas along the Afghan/Pakistani border.

But it turns out, the reading I've been doing, most of the billions of dollars that we've been given to Musharraf have been used to buy heavy weapons that can be used in a ground war against India. And the paramilitary force in the tribal regions is walking around wearing sandals and carrying bolt action rifles. This is according to a Western military official in Islamabad.

So I don't think there's anything the United States can do, except kind of sit on our hands and hope this thing turns out the right way.

BLITZER: Jeffrey, there don't seem to be a lot of good options for the U.S. right now other than, as Jack says, maybe just wait this thing out.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Wait it out and urge elections. But there haven't been elections yet. And it's yet another problem. I mean, remember, we're always talking about Iran. The Republican candidates and President Bush and Vice President Cheney have been talking about the peril of Iran, which may have a nuclear weapon some day.

This is an Islamic country that has it today. And we don't know who's going to control those. We're just hoping that -- for stability. But we have very little influence, it seems, over the outcome.

BLITZER: Not surprisingly, Gloria, we're seeing a lot of the Democrats, whether in Congress or among the Democratic presidential candidates -- they're laying a lot of the blame right now at the feet of George W. Bush.

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: What a shock, Wolf, right?

I mean they say we don't have a policy for Pakistan, so much as a relationship with President Musharraf. And they say that he's a fellow that you can't trust right now. And I was talking to sources very close to the White House and they've got some options on the table. For example, if Musharraf doesn't heed what President Bush told him to do today, there are possibilities that they could gradually start withdrawing some economic aid and then possibly even some military aid.

But, of course, we need Musharraf.

BLITZER: Is this a situation, Jack -- and I know you and I are old enough to remember the shah of Iran back in the '70s. He was not necessarily perfect and there were a lot of complaints about what he was doing to his own people. He eventually went down and we got the ayatollah to come in instead, and he's been in charge ever since.

Is that a nightmare scenario that you see happening, potentially, in Pakistan?

CAFFERTY: Well, and the other parallel that comes to mind is Saddam Hussein in Iraq. He wasn't a nice guy, either, but he had that place tied up and under control.

And, you know, I don't know about this idea of elections in Pakistan. The excuse that Musharraf used for this crackdown was the growing Islamic extremist movement in his country. And while they're still small in numbers, let's remember how some of these efforts at democracy and these elections have turned out in other places in the Middle East -- places like, for example, Palestine.

So I'm not so sure that taking off his military uniform and printing up a bunch of ballots is going to solve the kinds of problems we're talking about.

Osama bin Laden is more popular in Pakistan than Pervez Musharraf. And they hate Americans in the pale. I mean they really can't stand us.

BLITZER: All right, guys...

CAFFERTY: More specifically, George Bush.

BLITZER: Stand by for a moment, because we've got to take a quick break.

Some of Hillary Clinton's rivals say he's not just her husband -- they're talking about Bill Clinton. Effectively, some are suggesting, he would be her vice presidential running mate, whoever gets that title.

But does that help or hurt her campaign?

Also, one year before the election, a poll says Americans aren't happy.

Which candidate is most likely to turn that into votes and which one is most likely to lose votes?

More of our roundtable right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: He's 41 points behind Hillary Clinton in the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. But Senator Joe Biden says if he doesn't win the Democratic presidential nomination, he says she probably -- she probably will, if he doesn't. Biden is ruling out the possibility of being the vice president on her ticket because, he says, of her husband.

We're back with tonight's roundtable.

Our CNN senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin. Also in New York, our own Jack Cafferty. He's the author of the best-selling book, by the way, "It's Getting Ugly Out There."

And here in Washington, our own senior political analyst, Gloria Borger.

Jeff, who also has a best-selling book entitled "The Nine" out there. We've got some great authors on this panel.

Let's talk a little bit about what Biden is saying.

Listen specifically to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I don't win the nomination, the likely nominee is going it be Hillary. And I love Bill Clinton.

But can you imagine being vice president?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, you got a nice smile from Biden as a result.

Would he, in fact, be the vice president, sort of hovering over a second Clinton administration?

TOOBIN: I think Hillary Clinton hopes the voters think so because Bill Clinton is more popular than ever. He means peace and prosperity. And I think the fact that he is there in an unofficial, but obvious capacity, keeping an eye on things, is a tremendous asset for her. And I think Biden just made -- made clear what a lot of people assume. And it helps her.

BLITZER: It's an asset, certainly, going into the Democratic primaries, Gloria.

But would it be an asset in a general election?

BORGER: Probably not so much. But I don't think Bill Clinton would be so much a vice president, Wolf, as he really would almost be a co-president. I mean he once said that if he's making an important decision, the person he wants in the room with him is Hillary Clinton. And I think she feels exactly the same way about him. And I think in a general election, people are going to ask the question, gee, do we want the Clintons -- that's plural -- back in the White House together again?

And I think that doesn't help with a lot of Independent voters.

BLITZER: You get two for the price of one, they used to say, when he was running for office. I guess you could say the same thing right now.

What do you think -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Well, I'm not sure two for the price of one is necessarily a good deal. I mean, number one, he's more popular than she is and probably will continue to be, whether she's ever elected or not. Number two, let's remember what happened with Howard Dean. Number three, let's remember that 40 percent of the American population was not alive the last time there wasn't a Bush or a Clinton in the White House. So enough of these two families.

Let's get somebody -- you know, Ron Paul -- I mean I have no particular horse in the race. Ron Paul raised $2.5 million in one day on the Internet today, putting the lie to the idea that you can't be competitive -- he's not yet, but if he keeps this up, he might be -- that you can't be competitive unless you're welded to the political machinery and big corporate aristocracy and money press in this country.

I've had enough of the Bushes and Clintons.

BLITZER: Yes, he's got an incredible following out there, Ron Paul -- Gloria, you know, he's a libertarian and a lot of those libertarians simply love him.

BORGER: Well, a lot of people like him because, as Jack was saying, he's not just more of the same. He's a different kind of candidate. He's a candidate that sort of says get the government out of your life. And people think the government is doing such a terrible job that the best thing they can think of is to have the government removed from their lives. And that's essentially what he's running on.

BLITZER: Jeff, look at this...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Before you speak, look at these poll numbers in our new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll.

How are things going in the country today?

Forty-two percent of the respondents said well. Fifty-eight percent said badly. I think a lot of viewers might be surprised that as many as 42 percent think things are going well. I don't know if you're surprised by that.

TOOBIN: That number seemed low to me, the 58. I mean this, you know, now you have the Musharraf situation in Pakistan. I don't think people follow Pakistani politics intimately in the United States, but it is yet another example of how things are not going according to plan for the Bush administration.

That makes it that much harder to run as a Republican in November of next year, because things just aren't going well. Bill Clinton likes to say elections are always about change versus more of the same.

What are most people going to vote for in November?

BLITZER: Jack, 42 percent say things are going well in the country now.

CAFFERTY: Yes, they're great.

Let's look at the Middle East. You've got that civil war going on in Iraq. You've got Iran working on getting some nuclear weapons. You've got Pakistan in a civil and political meltdown -- and they have political weapons. You've got Turkey thinking about invading Northern Iraq to beat up on the Kurds. You've the Taliban making a comeback in Afghanistan -- and their opium poppy crop is the best it's ever been.

How is that working out for you, President Bush, that Middle East policy?

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Gloria, I'll give you 10 seconds.

BORGER: Well, you know, Wolf, this election is going it be about change, but it's also going to be about risk. People say they want a change, but they're not quite decided yet about how much of a risk they want to take with their new president. And that is, essentially -- Hillary Clinton is offering you experience, she says. The other Democratic candidates are a risk.

We're just going to have to wait and see.

BLITZER: Gloria, thanks very much.

Jeff, thanks to you.

Jack, don't go anywhere. You've still got to work. We've got The Cafferty File coming up.

CAFFERTY: OK.

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty coming up on that.

Let's go to Lou Dobbs, though. He's getting ready for his show.

But guess what?

It begins that top of the hour -- an hour later than usual.

Update our viewers what we can expect -- Lou. LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": A very familiar hour, right, Wolf?

Coming up at the top of the hour here on CNN, tonight, we're reporting on a new example of the situation in Washington not working out quite so well. The good governor of New York also having a few problems giving away those driver's licenses. That's worked out badly for him. It's also working out badly for Democratic presidential candidates. We'll have that story.

And startling new evidence that one of the biggest holes in our border security are incredibly the security checkpoints themselves. Oh, yes, your government is at work and this administration showering itself with glory.

And religious conservatives are frustrated and angry with Republican presidential candidates. I'll be talking with the leader of one of the country's most influential conservative groups, Tony Perkins. He's president of the Family Research Council. He's among our guests here tonight.

Join us for all of that, all the day's news and a lot more, straight ahead at the top of the hour right here on CNN -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" coming up at a new time, in a few moments.

Lou, thanks very much.

Remember, we're on the air in THE SITUATION ROOM now three straight hours -- from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

House Democrats threatening to hold of two of President Bush's team in contempt of Congress.

Will the pressure work?

Plus, how serious is the government becoming about enforcing immigration laws?

Jack Cafferty's question this hour. He's standing by with your e- mail.

And the endorsement Rudy Giuliani probably doesn't want. You're going to find out why it's being called an "undorsement."

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK

BLITZER: Let's go back to Jack. He's got The Cafferty File in New York -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Some higher numbers in terms of immigration enforcement this year versus last.

The question is how serious is our government becoming about enforcing our immigration laws?

They have a long way to go, but they've taken a step in the right direction.

Michael writes from Florida: "Raids on a few meatpacking plants and Laundromats in a few small towns don't rise to the level of a comprehensive, federally enforced state-supported crackdown that needs to occur in all 50 states."

Patrick in North Carolina: "As long as the corporations that need cheap labor are the same guys funding our political candidates, the government will not get serious about dealing with illegal immigration. Just follow the money, as always."

An anonymous waiter in New Jersey writes this: "I work at a steakhouse, Jack, where the plates sizzle. News flash -- the back of house staff have musical Social Security numbers that they change with their name tags. I think we need some workers from abroad, but let's do this out in the open, with legal systems that can handle the load."

Greg in Texas writes: "Current enforcement efforts amount little more to election year posturing. If the federal government was really serious, they'd be jailing employers and arresting illegals on sight."

Steve in Vermont: "Enforcement is still a joke, especially here next to the Quebec border -- as our Border Patrol drive right by a very large dairy farm that employs illegal aliens every day on their way to patrol the border."

And Jack in Pennsylvania: "The government's serious about enforcing immigration law, as we insist they be. If we don't protest, call our representatives and let our views be known, nothing will change. Wake up America."

If you didn't see your e-mail here go to CNN.com/caffertyfile, where we post more of them online, along with video clips of The Cafferty File.

I'm exhausted.

Can I have the rest of the night off?

BLITZER: Yes, you can.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: You're done, Jack.

CAFFERTY: OK.

All right.

BLITZER: Go home an hour earlier. Thanks.

CAFFERTY: All right.

BLITZER: See you tomorrow.

On our political ticker this Monday, House Democrats are threatening to hold two of President Bush's confidants in contempt of Congress -- the White House chief of staff, Josh Bolten, and the former White House spokesman counsel, Harriet Miers, are being pressured to comply with subpoenas and turn over information on the firing of those federal prosecutors last winter. The White House is shrugging off the ultimatum, citing executive privilege and claiming Bolten and Miers are immune from prosecution.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is touting a new and coveted endorsement meant to bolster his standing with conservatives. He got the backing today of Paul Weyrich, considered one of the top leaders of the conservative movement. Romney is trying to position himself as a conservative alternative to the more socially moderate Rudy Giuliani, though Romney once supported abortion rights himself. He no longer does.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is taking a pro- labor stand that may not sit well with some disgruntled TV viewers. Obama says he's supporting the strike by television writers, saying they deserve a fair share of the wealth their work creates. This comes just two days after Obama had a close encounter with TV writers himself during a brief cameo appearance on "Saturday Night Live". He was pretty good.

Remember, for the latest political news at any time, you can always check out our political ticker, at CNN.com/ticker.

A plug from a convicted drug dealer -- just what a presidential candidate doesn't want. Details of Rudy Giuliani's so-called "undorsement" are coming up.

And remember, Lou Dobbs coming up at the top of the hour with his show at a new time -- 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK

BLITZER: Here's a look at some of this hour's hot shots coming in from the Associated Press.

In Mexico, a newborn gets a bath in a shelter for flood victims.

In Rome, a Kurdistan supporter with a tattoo of Che Guevara on his hand gives a sign of victory during a protest.

In the West Bank, a Palestinian security officer fires his weapon, as a family takes cover.

And in Bulgaria, girls perform a bonfire dance in a park in the capital.

Some of this hour's hot shots -- pictures worth the thousand words.

There are endorsements and there are undorsements, as Republican presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani, is finding out.

CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a most unusual look.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Giuliani campaign may be gunning for endorsements, but maybe not from a pair of American gangsters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY BACKSPACE.COM)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More power to Mr. Giuliani.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: Frank Lucas was a major drug lord in the '70s. Now, he's larger than life -- played by Denzel Washington in the current number one movie in America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "AMERICAN GANGSTER," COUNTRY UNIVERSAL PICTURES)

DENZEL WASHINGTON, ACTOR: I need somebody or there ain't nobody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be right back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man, what you going to do?

WASHINGTON: So what was I saying?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: What the real Frank Lucas is saying amounts to what one blog called best endorsement ever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY BACKSPACE.COM)

FRANK LUCAS: Giuliani's got a word. If he tell you something, you believe him. Giuliani is a -- he's a hell of -- he's got a hell of a word.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: And Lucas was seconded by Nicky "Superfly" Barnes...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "MR. UNTOUCHABLE," COURTESY MAGNOLIA PICTURES) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ooh, Superfly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: ...the subject of a new documentary, "Mr. Untouchable," who also touched on Rudy's quest for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY BACKSPACE.COM)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First of all, he's a principal guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: That from a convicted dope dealer not known for principles. The Web site Radar coined a new term. Instead, of endorsements they're the undorsements -- Junkies for Giuliani. It remind us of when O.J. Threw his support to...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "MARKET NEWS FIRST, COUNTRY MN1.COM)

O.J. SIMPSON: Hillary Clinton. (LAUGHTER). Yes, she's got my vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's ahead...

SIMPSON: I don't know if I helped you, Hillary. You probably have no chance of winning now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: The two drug Lords, by the way, support Rudy, but don't expect him to win.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY BACKSPACE.COM)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Hillary Clinton win this thing hands down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: Just the other day, we were hearing how two of New York's five crime families once voted to whack Rudy. Rudy -- the tough guy prosecutor -- who dressed up to go undercover with then Senator Al D'Amato and bought vials of crack on the street.

(on camera): That's apparently a Hell's Angel's leather vest that Rudy is wearing.

And speaking of politicians in disguise, did you happen to see who showed up in a Bagram Obama mask on "Saturday Night Live?"

(voice-over): It was supposed to be Hillary's Halloween party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE," COURTESY SNL STUDIOS/BROADWAY VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is that under there?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: So far, Obama has no gangsters publicly pulling for him. That's the kind of endorsement you need like a hole in the head.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And tomorrow here in THE SITUATION ROOM, our Candy Crowley will be speaking with Hillary Clinton out on the campaign trail.

Remember, we're on now week day afternoons from 4:00 p.m. Eastern to 7:00 p.m. Eastern -- three hours nonstop straight SITUATION ROOM.

It's our new time slot.

Thanks very much for joining us.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- Lou.

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