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Pat Robertson Endorses Rudy Giuliani; Bill Defends Hillary

Aired November 7, 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: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: the United States and France standing together on a crisis in Pakistan. President's Bush and Sarkozy sealing their new cozy relationship with talk of war and peace.

Also this hour, Bill Clinton opening his wife up to attack with a remark Hillary Clinton's rivals are simply calling stunning. Is Senator Clinton's campaigner in chief the help many Democrats thought he would be?

And preaching for Giuliani. Some Christian conservatives' jaws are dropping over Pat Robertson's endorsement. Jack Cafferty and our panelists take on the question, does Robertson's backing of Giuliani really matter?

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

President Bush is sending a strong message about two key allies. He's embracing the new French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, as a partner in peace and he's signaling to Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, that emergency rule has to end. Mr. Bush says he told General Musharraf, plain and simple, that he needs to hold elections soon and to step down from the Pakistani military.

Let's turn to our White House correspondent, Ed Henry. He's watching all of this unfold.

A crisis in Pakistan, clearly dominating a lot of the activity here in Washington, Ed, today.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

And a relationship that was downright frosty has become cozy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY (voice-over): Appearing together at Mount Vernon, it was a love fest between George Bush and Nicolas Sarkozy.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a partner in peace, somebody who has clear vision, basic values, who is willing to take tough positions to achieve peace.

HENRY: After bitter division between Mr. Bush and Jacques Chirac over Iraq, the U.S. and France now stand united on stopping Iran's nuclear ambitions.

NICOLAS SARKOZY, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): Your openmindedness, and the fact that we can address any and every subject.

HENRY: But the message of unity was overshadowed a bit by the crisis in Pakistan, Mr. Bush revealing that after days of resisting he called President Pervez Musharraf to push him to hold free elections and take off his military uniform, though he was pressed on why he seems to have been softer on Musharraf than on the military dictatorship in Burma, now known as Myanmar.

BUSH: Pakistan has been on the path to democracy. Burma hadn't been on the path to democracy. And it requires different tactics to achieve the common objective.

HENRY: Sarkozy has been the toast of Washington, starting with the formal arrival at the White House, a black-tie dinner with candlelit tables, no freedom fries on this menu, and a cake honoring Lafayette's birthday. The atmosphere so warm Mr. Bush went as far as to speak a little French.

BUSH: (SPEAKING FRENCH)

(LAUGHTER)

HENRY: And Sarkozy delivered a rousing speech to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, evoking Normandy and the sacrifice of so many American soldiers who gave their lives to liberate France.

SARKOZY (through translator): That is why we love America.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: Now, Sarkozy also had a direct message for General Musharraf saying you can't beat extremism with extremist tactics yourself, a sharper construct than we heard from Mr. Bush -- Wolf.

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

In Pakistan today, protesters face club-swinging police as clouds of tear gas fill the streets. Already facing a surge of Islamic extremism, this key ally is now caught up in a political power play. President Musharraf's crackdown has some opponents on the run.

One of them, Imran Khan, is the leader of an opposition party. He's now in hiding. He's a world-class former cricket player as well, well-known around the world. We spoke by phone. He didn't want to say where he was because he is on the run, trying to avoid arrest. And I asked what message he has for the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IMRAN KHAN, PAKISTANI OPPOSITION LEADER: Well, what I want the U.S. to do is to learn from the experience with the shah of Iran. They kept backing a dictator right to the end. And the pro-democratic movement in the end not only turned anti-American, but because the democratic forces were crushed by the dictator, in the end, the militants took over. Now, this is exactly where Pakistan is heading.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Imran Khan calls President Musharraf -- and I'm quoting now -- "an absolute dictator," holding, in his words, "absolute power."

Closer to home here in Washington, there's another important story we're following right now. Soon, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and their supporters could be cheering. The House of Representatives appears likely to pass a bill that will protect them from workplace discrimination.

Let's get the latest.

Our congressional correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is on Capitol Hill watching all of this unfold. How close to a vote are they? I take it they're voting on this right now.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, they were supposed to have voted by now, but the vote still has not happened. And that's because the House has gotten caught up in debate over whether this bill could indirectly let some states make gay marriage legal. And that underscores just what a political headache this bill could be for some Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN (voice over): Supporters call it a question of basic civil rights for gays and lesbians and insist it sends an important message.

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: To tell millions of Americans who are gay and lesbian that they are not bad people, that it is not legitimate to fire them simply because of who they are.

YELLIN: The Employment Nondiscrimination Act would make it illegal to hire, fire or determine pay and promotions based on an employee's sexual orientation. Thirty states do not have laws banning employment discrimination against gays and lesbians. And supporters say, that's why a federal law is essential.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: To discriminate against someone because they are gay is wrong. It is wrong. It is not right.

YELLIN: But angry critics claim the bill will force some religious businesses to employ gays and lesbians.

REP. HOWARD BUCK MCKEON (R), CALIFORNIA: I think it's a disaster for Christian bookstores, at least 85 percent of whom would fall under this, all sorts of Christian colleges.

YELLIN: And, they claim, it opens the door to gay marriage. REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: I believe this legislation has the real potential to undermine the importance of families in our culture and in our society and in our country.

REP. JOSEPH PITTS (R), PENNSYLVANIA: ENDA is merely a building block for efforts to overturn traditional marriage laws and to impose same-sex marriage on states.

YELLIN: Backers say those claims are misleading. They say the bill makes clear it would not legalize gay marriage and that religious organizations are exempt.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN: The kicker, Wolf, is that Democrats are taking some heat, also, from gay and lesbian groups that say the bill doesn't go far enough. Some of those groups say they wanted the bill to also extend employment protections to transgendered people. And it doesn't do that -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So, this delay in the voting, could it endanger the entire bill?

YELLIN: It could. It could. Right now, they're voting on a Republican procedural measure that would say -- about gay marriage. And if this measure succeeds, it could kill the bill, effectively.

BLITZER: All right, Jessica, we will watch it. Let us know as soon as you know what's going on.

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

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Quick question. President Bush talked to General Musharraf on the phone today. Somebody said that he told the general that he couldn't be the head of the military and the president at the same time. Is that true?

BLITZER: That is correct. He asked him to take off his uniform and just be a civilian leader, as opposed to the military leader.

CAFFERTY: Isn't the president of the United States also the commander in chief of the military?

BLITZER: But he doesn't wear a uniform, though.

CAFFERTY: Well...

BLITZER: He said take -- he specifically used the words, take off the uniform. I know where you're going. It's sort of if President Bush, in addition to being the commander in chief, were also the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

CAFFERTY: But he tells the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff what he wants done.

BLITZER: That's correct. He is the commander in chief.

CAFFERTY: Yes. So, he controls the military.

BLITZER: Yes.

CAFFERTY: I just was curious.

BLITZER: OK. Good point, though.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: More than 15,000 people would like to get off the government's terror watch list. "USA Today" says these disgruntled travelers have appealed to the Department of Homeland Security -- there they are again -- since February to try and get their names removed.

The terror watch list has 750,000 names on it. Those flagged at security checkpoints include babies, senior citizens with the same names as suspected terrorists. Homeland Security says it gets about 2,000 requests a month from people who would like to have their names cleared. Imagine that. That's such a high number that they have been unable to meet their goal of resolving cases in 30 days.

Instead, it takes 44 days to process a complaint. Now, some members of Congress want a faster appeal system to help innocent people get their names cleared.

Democratic Congresswoman Yvette Clarke says -- quote -- "To leave individuals in this purgatory is un-American."

And the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee says he's going to question Homeland Security officials at a hearing tomorrow about why it takes so long to get off the list.

I wonder how long it takes to get on the list? I will bet not 44 days.

Here's the question. How effective is the government's terror watch list if it includes more than 750,000 names? E-mail us at CaffertyFile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/caffertyfile.

You know, this Homeland Security operation is starting to really get on my nerves, Wolf.

BLITZER: They have got a few problems going on over there.

CAFFERTY: Yes, they do.

BLITZER: I don't know if you have noticed lately.

CAFFERTY: I have.

BLITZER: Jack, stand by, because you are going to be coming back shortly, not only for "The Cafferty File" but also for our roundtable. That's coming up later this hour.

Lou Dobbs, by the way, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," that program starts at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, at the top of the hour, its new time slot.

Just ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, comparing Bill Clinton to a superhero who leaps to the forefront in a single bound.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNY BACKUS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He has been sort of Superman. He's been untouchable in terms of anyone in the party criticizing him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Not any more, though. He and his wife are now both targets of criticism, but guess where it's coming from? Other Democrats.

And democrats ignoring an issue Westerners deeply care about, immigration, specifically illegal immigration. If so, could that cost them the White House? I will ask a Democratic governor from an important Western state what's going on.

And Barack Obama lost in Iowa, not his campaign hopes, but his campaign plane. You will want to hear what happened.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A new shout of outrage in the border wars over New York State's plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Governors across the United States are now grappling with immigration reform of their own, particularly those governors out West.

And joining us now here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the Democratic governor of Arizona, Governor Janet Napolitano.

Governor, thanks for coming in.

GOV. JANET NAPOLITANO (D), ARIZONA: You're welcome.

BLITZER: Did your colleague in New York State, Governor Eliot Spitzer, make a mistake when he decided it was a good idea to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants?

NAPOLITANO: Well, Governor Spitzer has to make his own decision with respect to his state. But it's unfortunate that driver's license now has become the issue vis-a-vis immigration, because that's not really the central part of immigration. We need fundamental comprehension immigration reform. We need more support at the border.

BLITZER: But that's not happening, the comprehensive...

NAPOLITANO: That's right. BLITZER: We -- the president tried it. He had support from McCain. He had support from Ted Kennedy. But it collapsed.

NAPOLITANO: That's right.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: It looks like that's dead for the time being.

NAPOLITANO: For the time being, it is.

Let me tell you what we have done in Arizona. We are not going to be issuing driver's licenses to those in the country and our state illegally, but we are going to issue a basic driver's license to anyone who currently qualifies, and then we are going to have a second license, assuming my legislature approves when they reconvene in January, that would satisfy the requirements of REAL I.D., the new federal law governing licensure, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, and our own state employers sanctions law.

BLITZER: Because he also has this three-tiered system, Governor Spitzer, that, you know, citizens can get either the REAL I.D. or a normal driver's license, but there would be a third level of a driver's license that illegal immigrants could get that couldn't be used, for example, for federal I.D. purposes.

NAPOLITANO: Yes, that's not our intent in Arizona.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Just to be clear, in Arizona, illegal immigrants don't get any kind of driver's license?

NAPOLITANO: They do not qualify for a driver's license.

BLITZER: All right.

Here's what the Democratic presidential front-runner, Senator Hillary Clinton, told our Candy Crowley this week on the CNN Election Express.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It depends upon what state they're in. It depends upon what they think the risks are. You know, a governor of New York that has a lot of immigrants, many of whom we know are not there legally, has to worry about security. A governor of another state where that's not a problem doesn't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. Is she trying to have it both ways? Do you understand what her position is? NAPOLITANO: Well, I think the senator is -- what she's really saying when you back up and say is that the states are all going to do different things. Why?

Because of the failure of the administration and the Congress to come to grips with immigration reform. Really, I hope the next statement is, as president of the United States, I am going to re- address immigration; we are going to get a law that is enforced, enforceable and my budgets are going to contain the resources to sustain it.

BLITZER: Are you satisfied with any, any of the Democratic presidential candidates in the way they're dealing with the issues of particular concern to states out West?

NAPOLITANO: I'm not saying I'm dissatisfied. I think it's early enough that they haven't yet begun to address those. The first debate in my region of the country won't be until the 15th of November.

And, so, as they get out there, I think immigration for one, perhaps water as well, will become issues that we will first hear their articulation of their opinions.

BLITZER: Because there's been some criticism they're really ignoring some of those issues that are of keen interest to Westerners.

NAPOLITANO: Oh, I don't think they're ignoring. I think there's only so much time in any particular debate. And the formats really haven't permitted of a lot of -- addressing a lot of different issues. So, there are, obviously, going to be regional differences. Now they're moving to the West.

BLITZER: Because, next Thursday, we are going to be out in Las Vegas, Nevada, for this Democratic presidential debate. What would you like to hear from these seven Democratic presidential candidates?

NAPOLITANO: I would like to hear what they're going to do about immigration and how they're going to address the federal failure to have a comprehensive reform of our existing law, which, quite frankly, doesn't work. So, we have to have reform.

BLITZER: Do you want this fence along the border between Arizona and Mexico?

NAPOLITANO: Well, I want some fencing. But I want manpower. I want radar. I want radar ground sensors. And I want interior enforcement for those who get through the border.

BLITZER: Is it your sense that Hillary Clinton, who is the Democratic front-runner, obviously, in all of the national polls, may be too polarizing for people out West?

NAPOLITANO: No, no. I think -- I think she is someone that Westerners will listen to. If she becomes the nominee, they will have an open mind about her, because they will be thinking about her in a different role. Should she be the president of the United States? (END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Janet Napolitano, the governor of Arizona, speaking with me in THE SITUATION ROOM.

This important programming note. On November 15, a week from tomorrow, I will be in Las Vegas, Nevada, to moderate a debate in that key Western state among the Democratic presidential candidates. Vegas, next Thursday.

Since Hillary Clinton began her White House bid, her rivals and other Democrats have largely stayed away from criticizing her husband, but not anymore. It now appears Bill Clinton is also becoming a target.

Let's go to Mary Snow. She's watching this from New York.

It began after the former president lashed out, in effect, against her rivals.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Wolf, he was defending her, and now this is the backlash. It's a sign of just how heated this race is becoming. And it follows stepped-up criticism of Senator Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): He's considered the golden boy of the Democratic Party, but some Democrats are now targeting former President Bill Clinton.

JENNY BACKUS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He has been sort of Superman. He's been untouchable in terms of anyone in the party criticizing him.

SNOW: That changed when the former president defended his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, on Monday, and talked about elections in recent years being decided on trivial matters.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When that scandalous Swift Boat ad was run against Senator Kerry, when there was an ad that defeated Max Cleland in Georgia, a man that left half his body in Vietnam...

SNOW: Clinton then went on to talk about last week's Democratic debate, where his wife came under attack by rivals.

B. CLINTON: I had the feeling, at the end of that last debate, we were about to get into cutesy land again. You all raise your hands if you're for illegal immigrants getting a driver's license. So, we will then let the Republicans run an ad saying, all the Democrats are against the rule of law.

SNOW: Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama told the Associated Press he was -- quote -- "stunned" by President Clinton's comparison of the Kerry and Cleland ads to last week's debate, saying -- quote -- "How you would then draw an analogy to distorting somebody's military record is a reach."

Senator Christopher Dodd echoed that criticism. A spokesman for the Clinton campaign said some Democrats are intentionally distorting Bill Clinton's words. "What he said was that the Republicans are trying to use immigration as a wedge issue to divide the country and all Democrats, that we cannot let them do this."

Some Democratic strategists say, while Clinton is viewed as an asset, he also comes with minuses.

BACKUS: I would say he's 85 percent an asset. The last 15 is the danger that I think we saw a little bit this week.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Now, in this case, some Democratic strategists say, because Bill Clinton gets so much attention, he's kept the attacks on Hillary Clinton in the news.

And, regardless. a spokesman for the Clinton campaign said -- and these are their words -- "There is no better surrogate in the world than President Clinton, bar none" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Mary, thank you.

Dose of luck or is it a kiss of death? Pat Robertson endorsing Rudy Giuliani today. Will support from the religious broadcaster who has made many controversial statements in the past help or hurt the Giuliani campaign?

And it's something we should all be worried about -- get this -- people with shady backgrounds working in secure areas at major U.S. airports. That's now happened in one city -- get this -- allegedly by illegal immigrants with fake I.D.s.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Carol, what is going on?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, 23 illegal immigrants allegedly used fake I.D.s to get jobs in secure areas at Chicago's O'Hare airport. The government announced the arrests today, along with the arrest of two officials at a temp agency that allegedly gave fake I.D.s to more than 100 of its workers. Police say the O'Hare employees had security badges issued in other people's names, which allowed them to bypass screening.

These pictures aren't from Pakistan but the story sounds very familiar. In the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, riot police used their gas and water cannons today to break up anti-war government demonstrators. Georgia's president placed the entire country in a state of emergency. He accuses the Russians of backing the demonstrators.

And Finland is coping with a school massacre. It happened about 30 miles north of Helsinki today. Police say an 18-year-old student shot and killed eight people, including the school's principal, before turning his .22-caliber pistol on himself. He was alive when they brought him to the hospital but he died later.

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

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Carol, for that.

Coming up: abortion vs. homeland security, the televangelist Pat Robertson now making a choice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT ROBERTSON, HOST, "THE 700 CLUB": To me, the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT ROBERTSON, HOST, "THE 700 CLUB": To me, the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the bloodlust of Islamic terrorists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Will Pat Robertson's surprise endorsement of Rudy Giuliani influence the presidential race or will it get Robertson pegged as a sellout?

Plus, will voters look in their wallets and check their 401(k)s before choosing the next president?

Jack Cafferty and our panelists, they are ready to take on the issues that matter most to you.

And he's suddenly single and doing some serious wooing right here in Washington. Is the president of France finding his passion?

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Happening now: Eyebrows are raised within the religious right and within the GOP, Rudy Giuliani picking up an endorsement from the TV evangelist Pat Robertson. Will that help him or will it hurt him?

Also, with oil prices soaring and the U.S. dollar sinking, our poll shows American voters are saying, it's the economy, stupid. We have heard that before.

And Iran's president boasts of a nuclear milestone. Does Iran now have enough devices to make the fuel for a nuclear weapon? How do voters rank that concern? Jack Cafferty and our panelists taking on these and other questions, all that coming up in our roundtable.

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

A new political alliance is sending shockwaves throughout the religious right, right now, the televangelist Pat Robertson today announcing his support for Rudy Giuliani, the pro-abortion-rights, pro-gay-rights Republican presidential front-runner.

Giuliani rival John McCain says Robertson's decision left him -- and I'm quoting McCain now -- "speechless.

Let's go to John King, our chief national correspondent. He's in South Carolina watching all of this unfold.

All right, give us the bottom line. What is -- what is going on right now, John?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, already some harsh reaction from at least one of Giuliani's rivals.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in South Carolina tonight saying he does not believe most evangelicals will follow Pat Robertson's lead, saying this -- quote -- "I don't think the Republican Party will choose a pro-choice, pro-gay-civil-union candidate to lead our party."

So, safe to say, this endorsement is already shaking up the Republican race.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAT ROBERTSON, TELEVANGELIST: We're both prostate cancer survivors.

KING (voice over): Two men with a personal bond, and now a surprising political alliance.

ROBERTSON: In my opinion, as what would be considered a leader of the Evangelicals, that Rudy Giuliani is without question an acceptable candidate.

KING: It is a striking statement from a legendary and controversial religious broadcaster who calls abortion evil and homosexuality an abomination. But Robertson says he is convinced Giuliani would appoint conservative judges and also convinced there is a bigger test for the next president.

ROBERTSON: To me, the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the blood lust of Islamic terrorists.

KING: Giuliani backed taxpayer-funded abortions as mayor and also signed a sweeping civil unions policy. So Robertson's blessing is a boost for a candidate whose biggest weakness is the Christian right.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope it sends the message that we have the same goals, all of us in the Republican Party.

GREG MUELLER, GOP STRATEGIST: It's a symbolic and very important symbol for Giuliani to say give me a chance to talk to you.

KING: In Iowa, more evidence of the fierce competition. John McCain welcomed the endorsement of anti-abortion Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, who dropped out of the Republican contest three weeks ago.

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS), FORMER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm here today to endorse the best pro-life candidate to beat Hillary Clinton.

KING: White Evangelicals are critical in two of the early nominating contests -- Iowa and South Carolina -- but have yet to coalesce around one candidate. The competition takes many forms. This is Fred Thompson's first TV ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM FRED THOMPSON CAMPAIGN AD)

FRED THOMPSON (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: And I'm proud to have had a 100 percent pro-life voting record.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: In the span of an hour in South Carolina, Mitt Romney holds this public event at a Christian public adoption agency.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think "Roe v. Wade" should be overturned and allow the states to develop their own pro- life legislation if they'd like to do so.

KING: And then, a no cameras allowed private briefing for students and leaders of the ultra-conservative Bob Jones University.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

KING: Hours after receiving that endorsement in Washington, Giuliani was here in South Carolina. He said he was very, very pleased to get it. He sees only an upside, Wolf. But with the benefits could come some baggage. Giuliani was asked about one of many controversial Robertson comments in recent years -- that 9/11 was caused by God's wrath over abortion and pornography. Giuliani said Robertson had long ago explained away those remarks and that all leaders from time to time make statements they later regret -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, John, thank you.

While the value of Pat Robertson's endorsement is clearly debatable, he has tended to hitch his wagon to winners in the Republican primary. In 1988, he endorsed George Herbert Walker Bush -- but only after conceding his own presidential bid had no chance against the then vice president.

In the next open GOP primary in 1996, Robertson stopped short of formally endorsing the eventual nominee, Bob Dole. But he publicly declared that Dole was an acceptable choice for religious conservatives.

And in 2000, Robertson did endorse George W. Bush in the Republican primary.

Let's bring in our roundtable right now for more on this story.

Our CNN senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin, is joining us in New York. He's the author of "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court". That's a " "New York Times" best-seller. It's been there for weeks.

Also, in New York, Jack Cafferty. He's the author, also, of another best-seller, "It's Getting Ugly Out There" -- "The New York Times" best-seller.

And joining us here in Washington, our CNN senior political analyst, Gloria Borger. We're waiting for her best-seller. It should be out pretty soon.

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Me, too.

BLITZER: Gloria, thanks very much.

Pat Robertson, Jack, endorsing Rudy Giuliani -- what do you make of it?

CAFFERTY: Well, he characterized himself as a leader of the Christian right. He's a member of the lunatic fringe -- if he's even a member of that community anymore. Pat Robertson has become a joke. He also said that hurricanes would descend on Orlando, Florida because gays and lesbians attended Gay Day at Disney World. The man is -- as far as I'm concerned, he has no business in the national political debate.

But even more troubling, why would you accept the endorsement of this guy?

And why are we not talking about getting the hell out of Iraq?

I mean we're talking the same old stuff -- talk about abortion, talk about gay rights. These are wedge issues. They have nothing to do with the overriding problems that confront this country. And this whole dialogue between these two guys, as far as I'm concerned, is absolutely irrelevant.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I don't think it's irrelevant at all. I mean Rudy Giuliani has promised to appoint Supreme Court justices like John Roberts and Samuel Alito. That's good enough for Pat Robertson. That's why he got the nomin -- that's why he got the endorsement. I think it's a big deal. I think it's very good news for Giuliani. And, you know, it just shows how much Giuliani has changed from guy who used to live...

BLITZER: But, Gloria...

TOOBIN: ...with a gay couple here in New York. BLITZER: Gloria, some would suggest it's not necessarily good news for Rudy Giuliani because he has appealed to Republicans and Independents and moderates who do support abortion rights, do support gay rights. And this endorsement by Pat Robertson could turn them off, especially in a state like New Hampshire, where those Independents and moderates play a very important role.

BORGER: Well, first of all, this is something that Giuliani wasn't just offered. This is something that Giuliani went after. Other Republicans were going after Pat Robertson.

And he went after it because he wanted to say, look, how can you Evangelical Christians have any doubts about me when Pat Robertson thinks I'm OK on the issues, particularly in the war on terror?

So this -- you know, this is -- this is really something that Giuliani decided to do as a primary election strategy.

Wolf, in the general election is where I think it could really backfire. Not only will he have to continue to explain away future mistakes that Pat Robertson may make somewhere along the campaign trail, but when the question of authenticity comes up in a general election -- which it will -- what do you believe, what do you stand for, what do you care about, how is he going to answer questions about abortions and -- abortion and gay rights?

BLITZER: Jack (INAUDIBLE)...

CAFFERTY: But the overwhelming majority of the Evangelicals that have any street cred in this country have already said and made it very clear they're not interested in Rudolph Giuliani. They've made it so clear that some of them are threatening to -- to float a third party candidacy if Giuliani looks like he's going it be the nominee.

Pat Robertson lining up behind Giuliani doesn't change anything.

TOOBIN: Well...

BLITZER: You know, Jeff -- I know Jeff wants to weigh in, but before you weigh in, I want to play a couple of clips of what Pat Robertson has said in the past about Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan leader, and Ariel Sharon, who's still in coma, the Israeli -- the former Israeli prime minister.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY CBN)

ROBERTSON: You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's ABC's whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop.

Now, Ariel Sharon who is, again, a very likable person -- a delightful person to be with -- you know, I've prayed with him personally. But here he's at the point of death. He was dividing God's land. And I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Now, he apologized for both of those comments later.

But, Jeff Toobin, are those the kind of statements that Rudy Giuliani really wants to be associated with, even indirectly like this?

TOOBIN: He doesn't have to defend Pat Robertson. What he has to do is keep the Evangelicals divided -- as they've been divided among the other candidates -- among Thompson, among Romney, and even McCain. He's -- he is the only candidate who is remotely close to the center. But the thing is, there's no one who is going to push him on that side. There is no one closer to the center. That's -- the party is so conservative at this point, as long as he can be the left-most candidate, keeping the rest of the race scrambled is good for him.

BORGER: Wolf, you know, this is also about Robertson really wanting to stay in the game. He wants to be out there. He wants to have a winner. You pointed out earlier in the show that he has a tendency to endorse winners. Maybe he wants to be the preacher to the president.

You know, who knows?

This is about Pat Robertson preserving his place in the political arena.

BLITZER: All right, guys, stand by, because we've got a lot more to talk about, including this.

What are Americans most concerned about as they line up behind the White House hopefuls?

We have a brand new poll that's just out showing what factors are influencing voters right now as they make their presidential picks.

Plus, Barack Obama's plane losing its way. We're going to tell you what happened in Iowa. He's OK. Don't worry.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're less than two months away from the first big presidential contest in Iowa.

So what do voters care about most as they think about picking a candidate?

We're back with our roundtable. Our senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin, Jack Cafferty in New York, Gloria Borger here in Washington.

Jack, this new poll, this CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll that came out today, look what tops the agenda as far as extremely or very important to your vote for president. The economy, 82 percent; Iraq, 80 percent; health care, 76; terrorism, 76; and Iran, 73 percent.

Is it any wonder that the market is going down another 360 points today, oil getting really close to $100 a barrel?

The middle class is clearly concerned out there about the economy -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Well, they say all elections are local and people tend to vote their pocketbook. When George Bush was inaugurated, crude oil was $28 a barrel. It crossed $98 a barrel today. However, adjusted for inflation, it's still below the all time high, which was $101 a barrel, I think, in 1980. We're going to pay above $3 a gallon, probably, for gasoline. That's still cheaper than a lot of the industrialized countries in the world, but, you know, it's a -- it's a tough deal.

The other big factor in oil is the depreciation of the dollar. Oil is bought and sold in dollars. When the value of the dollar goes down, you've got to get more dollars to buy the oil. So that's part of the reason it's about $98, as well.

BLITZER: It's a good economic discussion.

But, Jeff, how does it translate into politics right now?

TOOBIN: If you are a Republican running for any office in 2008 and you look at that list, the only rational reaction is pure panic, because the Republicans are on the wrong side -- that is, the politically wrong side -- of all of those top issues -- health care, the economy and especially the war in Iraq. I don't see how they run for president -- or any of the other big offices -- with the public so completely against them.

BLITZER: But you know, Gloria, with the Republicans, any of the Republican candidates will say is what they've said for years now -- the Democrats will raise your taxes. Get ready to pay more to the U.S. government. And they'll spend a lot more money, as well. That will be the Republican case against whoever the Democratic nominee is -- Gloria.

BORGER: Right. And the Republicans are also trying to make the case on the campaign trail, Wolf, that they are now the party of change, as opposed to the Democrats. That's a pretty difficult case for them to make. But...

CAFFERTY: Yes.

TOOBIN: Good luck with that.

BORGER: Right. Exactly. But, you know what's striking to me about these numbers is that -- that 82 percent number, that's usually the kind of numbers you see from the public in the middle of a recession. It's -- it's...

CAFFERTY: Yes.

BORGER: ...I can't remember when it was that high when people were anticipating more bad news.

BLITZER: And, you know, the job growth and the GNP relatively good -- pretty good these last few quarters. But Americans are nervous and I think it really reflects the nervousness, Jack, of the middle class.

CAFFERTY: They're very nervous. As far as the threat that Democrats are going to, you know, spend more money, it's impossible. You can't spend more money than George Bush and the boys in Washington have spent. And it's -- and it's all been deficit spending You know, China is holding the tab for all of this stuff. The national debt has doubled almost $9.8 trillion, from $5.3 trillion when George Bush became president. So that's just a hollow bunch of nonsense.

BLITZER: It's -- go ahead, make the last point, Jeff.

TOOBIN: Well, I was just going to say, you know, there has been relatively good news out of Iraq, too. And that's made absolutely no difference. So relatively good news on the economy, relatively good news on Iraq and the public is not buying anything the administration is selling.

BORGER: And, Wolf, this election -- what these numbers show is that this election is going to be about anxiety and about fear and about who they're willing to trust to change the institutions the voters don't trust to fix things.

CAFFERTY: Very quickly, isn't it ironic that for the last seven years, they've been telling us to be afraid?

That fear is going to come back and bite them right in the situation.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Jeff Toobin, Jack Cafferty, Gloria -- all of you, thanks very much.

Jack, you can't leave.

You've got The Cafferty File coming up.

Lou Dobbs is getting ready for his show. That begins right at the top of the hour -- Lou.

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Thank you, Wolf.

Coming up at the top of the hour here on CNN, tonight, we're reporting on a new CNN opinion poll that shows the war on the middle class is now the number one issue for voters. But our political leaders, of course, are failing to think about working men and women and their families. They're too busy selling themselves to corporate elites and socio-ethnic centric interests. We'll have complete coverage.

And disturbing new evidence that one of our biggest Internet companies has refused to support human rights and freedom of speech in -- guess where -- communist China, all in the name of commerce. We'll have that report.

And Republican and Democratic lawmakers together are launching a counteroffensive against corporate America and those socio-ethnic centric interests and their allies. Those members of Congress demanding border security first before any kind of change to immigration policy. The lawmakers leading those demands -- Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray, Democrat Congressman Heath Shuler. They're among our guests.

I'll be talking with Congressman John Culberson, who says he's sick and tired of the blather from the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff.

He's sure not alone, is he?

Please join us at the top of the hour for that and all the day's news -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Lou, thank you.

Lou Dobbs coming up.

How effective is the government's terror watch list -- get this -- if it includes more than 750,000 names?

Jack Cafferty with your e-mail.

Also, France's bachelor president launching a love affair with America.

And a victory for Lance Armstrong at the ballot box.

Stick around.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: On our political ticker this Wednesday, a victory for cycling star and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. He pushed for and won passage yesterday of a $3 billion plan to beef up cancer research and prevention in Texas. Republican Governor Rick Perry also supported the ballot measure, saying it will make Texas a global leader in finding a cancer cure.

Let's hope it does. In New Jersey, a loss for Democratic Governor John Corzine. State voters yesterday rejected a plan to borrow $450 million over 10 years to finance stem cell research. Corzine spent $200,000 of his own money -- and he's got a lot of it -- on ads promoting the measure.

And in the 2008 presidential race, Barack Obama's campaign loses its way. When the Democrat's charter plane touched down in Iowa last night for a campaign stop in Cedar Rapids, aides were surprised that no one was there to greet him. No wonder. It turns out they had landed a that wrong airport and they were in Des Moines instead. A big mistake.

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

Let's go back to Jack in New York for The Cafferty File.

I don't make this stuff up -- Jack.

This is...

CAFFERTY: No, you can't.

BLITZER: No.

CAFFERTY: You know, but that's embarrassing. I mean Des Moines is halfway across the state from Cedar Rapids. It's not like, you know, you come into JFK and you make a mistake and go to La Guardia. We're talking a couple of hundred miles in between.

Anyway, glad everybody is all right.

How effective the government's terror watch list?

It includes more than 750,000 names.

T. Writes: "If the watch list is really that big, you can be certain that you and I are both on it. Keep in mind, I'm 80-years-old, handicapped visually and physically, and have difficulty remembering simple things. It's a very effective list."

Chris in New Jersey: "Imagine throwing a rope around South Dakota, telling everybody in the state, you're a terrorist. At 750,000 names, that's about how big the list is. And like most lists, once it gets started, it's almost impossible to stop it."

Daniel in Washington: "The Department of Homeland Security's terror watch list is so inefficient that Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, a high-ranking member of the House panel that overseas the Department of Homeland Security, was herself, on the list."

Mark writes: "The Department of Homeland Security has been a joke since Tom Ridge gave the American public the terror traffic signals. Ron Paul has it right when he says get rid of it."

Louis in Saugerties, New York: "The Department of Homeland Security proving to be as incompetent as the rest of our government. They have 750,000 names on a terror watch list while at the same time they have done nothing about the 20 million people who have illegally walked across our borders unimpeded."

Lamar in Austin, Texas: "The terror watch list is about as effective as the war on terror has been. Enough said."

And Kathryn in Indiana: "How effective is the watch list? Well, if two grandmothers from Indiana like my friend and me can be on it, it certainly can't be too darned effective."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. We post more of them online, along with video clips of The Cafferty File. It's a festival of information -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's a great piece of information.

Jack, thanks very much.

Ron Paul, by the way, will be here in THE SITUATION ROOM with us tomorrow.

CAFFERTY: Oh, terrific.

BLITZER: He just raised four (INAUDIBLE)...

CAFFERTY: Tell him to bring some of that money he raised.

BLITZER: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: He's going to spend it in Iowa and New Hampshire and places like that.

All right, coming up, Congress considering spending big bucks to teach teens about abstinence.

But do abstinence-only programs really work?

The results of a new report.

Then, a most unusual look at a most unusual eligible bachelor, that is. Jeanne Moos' piece on France's single president and his visit to Washington.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's go back to Carol.

She's monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

What's going on -- Carol? COSTELLO: Yes, we've been telling you about this. The House has just passed the first federal ban on job discrimination based on sexual orientation. The bill would make it illegal for employers to make decisions about hiring, firing, promoting or paying employees based on whether they're gay, lesbian or bisexual. The final vote was 235-184. That's not a veto-proof margin and passage by the Senate is not a sure bet, either. But, of course, we'll keep you posted.

When it comes to preventing teenage pregnancy, a new study says programs that focus exclusively on abstinence do not work. The survey says teens in programs that promote both abstinence and the use of condoms or contraception are more likely to want to have sex than have sex less often with fewer partners and use birth control. The report comes as Congress considers spending $141 million on abstinence-only programs.

Back to you -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Carol.

Thank you.

France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy, held talks with President Bush at the White House today. Sarkozy is recently divorced, but he seems to be engaged in a love affair with everything American.

CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a most unusual look at the state visit of this bachelor president.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): L'amore was in the air -- boy, was it ever.

PRES. NICOLAS SARKOZY, FRANCE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We loved America.

The America that we love.

That is why we love America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: Love so crazy even George Bush was speaking French.

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Or should I say Bienvenue a la Maison Blanche?

MOOS: France's president arrived at the Maison Blanche all alone. Nicolas Sarkozy -- he may be the most eligible bachelor president on the planet, but the only canoodling he did was air kissing Mrs. Bush's hand -- and who knows how many cheeks. The last time there was a bachelor in the White House was probably when Michael Douglas wooed Annette Bening in "The American President."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT," COURTESY CASTLE ROCK ENTERTAINMENT)

MICHAEL DOUGLAS, ACTOR: And how are we doing so far?

ANNETTE BENING, ACTOR: It's hard to say at this point. So far, it's just your typical first date stuff.

DOUGLAS: And I don't want to be different from the other guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: What's different about the French president is he just got divorced. As he arrived in Washington, his ex-wife Cecilia was arriving on the gossip page of the "New York Post". She was just on the cover of French "Elle" with the headline: "I Want To Live My Life Without Lying."

(on camera): Now, I realize that President Sarkozy was talking about French-American relations. But, boy, some of what the bachelor president said would make a great Craigslist personal ad.

SARKOZY (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): An impassioned relation which is not simple, but it is always beautiful.

MOOS (voice-over): The love really started to flow when Sarkozy addressed Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the Republic of France.

MOOS: That "bravo!" launched the first of 11 -- count them, 11 -- standing ovations. And to think not so long ago, lawmakers banned the French in French fry in their cafeteria.

(on camera): Would you like a Freedom Fry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm a vegetarian.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let Freedom Fries reign.

MOOS (voice-over): Now it's the French president who has his freedom and the fry is back to being French. Sure, Sarkozy critics ridicule him, depict him waving a wand to turn the Eiffel Tower into McDonald's Golden Arches.

(VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: That doesn't stop Presidents Bush and Sarkozy from exchanging back pats and love taps.

BUSH: I understand.

MOOS: It's enough to touch your heart. And above all, let's hear it for the restored to its former glory French fry.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEO TAPE) BLITZER: That's it for us.

Thanks very much for joining us.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

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

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