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THE SITUATION ROOM

New Hampshire Primary Voters Get Set to Vote; Iran Confronts U.S. Navy; Interview With New York Senator Hillary Clinton

Aired January 7, 2008 - 18:00   ET

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


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And then there are the reports coming out of India that local protocol officials are in a quandary over how to deal with the first girlfriend when Sarkozy travels there for an upcoming state visit.
In any case, it all should become clear during a presidential news conference tomorrow, when, even in nonchalant France, the romantic rumors will no doubt come up.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And happening now: Hillary Clinton choking up on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. What does her show of emotion say about her state at this part of the campaign? We will ask her in an interview with Hillary Clinton coming up.

Plus, Barack Obama's message of change. Even the Republican presidential candidates are jumping on the bandwagon.

And confrontation with Iran. How the U.S. Navy almost got caught in a very dangerous shoot-out.

I'm Wolf Blitzer Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It's not the Hillary Clinton voters usually see. The normally very much in control Democrat had an emotional moment on the campaign trail out in New Hampshire earlier today.

And on this, the primary eve, Clinton watchers are wondering was it stress or was it part of a new campaign strategy?

Let's turn to our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley. She's covering the Clinton campaign for us.

Certainly, the pressures on the former first lady, the U.S. senator, enormous right now, Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely.

You figure this campaign began almost a year ago. It has been very intense for the past couple of weeks. She is in a very rough spot and once in awhile you add that up, and it shows.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton!

CROWLEY (voice-over): The wear and tear takes a toll not often seen, much less heard. The question was, how does she do it?

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I couldn't do it if I just didn't, you know, passionately believe it was the right thing to do. I have so many opportunities from this country. I just don't want to see us fall backwards.

(APPLAUSE)

CROWLEY: It's a roller coaster ride. And Hillary Clinton's campaign as the candidate most ready to be president has been turned on its head.

CLINTON: And I don't think my experience disqualifies me. I think actually my experience qualifies me.

CROWLEY: She has a message problem. Her experience, her 16 years on the national scene and her famous name strike some voters as same old, same old. It does weigh on the mind of undecided Democrat Jan Collier.

JAN COLLIER, UNDECIDED DEMOCRAT: Her whole message early on was experience, which is great, too. I'm just not sure that it will be the kind of change I'm looking for, which is like throw the bums out and start over.

CROWLEY: Clinton actually picked up on the change thing this summer, when her ready to lead campaign turned into ready for change, ready to lead. But Iowa voters overwhelmingly saw Barack Obama as the agent of change. Now, with her loss in Iowa and discouraging polls in New Hampshire, Clinton is going after him.

CLINTON: And when you give a speech and say you will not vote to fund the war in Iraq and then you vote for $300 billion of funding, that is not change.

CROWLEY: She's no underdog, but overnight the roller coaster went down. Hillary Clinton went from front-runner to injured candidate.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Now, the good news for Clinton at this point is if she can pull out New Hampshire, she will be even stronger than she was before Iowa -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Candy Crowley out in New Hampshire for us, thanks very much.

And, only moments ago, our John Roberts spoke, spoke with Hillary Clinton. He's standing by live. We are going to go to him momentarily. He's going to share that interview with Hillary Clinton. She reacts to that emotional moment we have all seen now. That's coming up shortly.

Now to the Republican showdown in New Hampshire -- polls suggest John McCain is the man to beat tomorrow. He has a history of winning in the Granite State, but his rival Mitt Romney can't afford to let history repeat itself, especially after his loss to Mike Huckabee in Iowa.

Dana Bash is covering the McCain story for us and the Republican race.

McCain probably pretty confident right now, based on the latest polls including our own, which has just come out.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure, he's confident, Wolf, but he's hardly complacent. He is now getting to the last of seven stops across New Hampshire today. John McCain, of course, was considered an absolute goner just a few months ago. So he more than anybody understands how unpredictable the Republican race is.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's nice to see you. Thanks for being here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good to see you again.

BASH (voice-over): When you're feeling good, there's time for a little nostalgia.

MCCAIN: We have had a great time. This has been a wonderful experience again.

BASH: But for all his hope of a comeback, John McCain knows it's do or die in his beloved Granite State.

MCCAIN: I believe that I have the experience and the knowledge and the judgment.

BASH: So, along his final Straight Talk Express tour here, a few last whacks at chief rival Mitt Romney.

MCCAIN: One of my opponents not long ago said you don't need foreign policy experience. My friends, look at the world.

BASH: And off to the next stop, urgency an understatement, perhaps even more so for Romney.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How you doing?

BASH: A second-place finish for the second time could wound him beyond repair.

ROMNEY: Please go out and vote multiple times tomorrow.

(LAUGHTER) ROMNEY: That is if you're for me.

BASH: So, the former governor from New Hampshire's neighboring Massachusetts touted his outside Washington experience with his favorite new word.

ROMNEY: And I can bring the change that America needs.

BASH: And poked McCain in his soft spots.

ROMNEY: His view with regards to illegal immigration, which is that there would be a form of amnesty, was again something which I think people in New Hampshire will find very troubling.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Anyone who eats this will lose weight, will vote for Mike Huckabee, and will live forever.

BASH: Mike Huckabee is hoping for more than a burger bearing his name, perhaps third place, to show appeal beyond Iowa's evangelical base.

And Rudy Giuliani?

RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're a multifront operation.

BASH: He has slipped in the polls and faces increasing skepticism his focus on later contests will work.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Now, if John McCain wins here in New Hampshire, he and Mitt Romney are going to going mano a mano in the next state of Michigan. That is Mitt Romney's home state. So, he should do well there, but it is also a place that is very welcoming to John McCain. Like New Hampshire, he won there in the year 2000.

So, I think, if we have learned any lesson here, Wolf, it is to take each state, each contest one at a time -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Dana, thanks very much.

Let's check in with Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" here in THE SITUATION ROOM -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: It's time for Congress to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney, so says George McGovern, the Democratic Party's 1972 candidate for president.

He wrote an editorial in yesterday's "Washington Post." He wrote that: "Although the chances of impeachment are unlikely, the facts most definitely point in that direction" -- quoting McGovern here -- "Bush and Cheney are clearly guilty of numerous impeachable offenses. They have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of people around the world. These are truly high crimes and misdemeanors, to use the constitutional standard" -- unquote.

McGovern points to specific instances, like Iraq. He calls that a murderous, illegal, nonsensical war, the administration's strategy to encourage a climate of fear here at home, denying prisoners of war habeas corpus, shipping them off to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other foreign lands, and the administration's dismal response to Hurricane Katrina.

In fact, McGovern says that the case against impeaching the current president and vice president is far stronger than was the case for impeaching President Nixon. He goes so far as to say the U.S. would be much more secure and productive under a Nixon presidency than under what we have today.

But of course we all know that Speaker Nancy Pelosi a long time ago took impeachment off the table, and even though there are some in the House who are calling for an immediate start to hearings, don't bet on it happening. Probably won't.

But the question is this: Why won't Congress impeach President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney?

You can go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my new blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Jack Cafferty. Stand by, because we have got our discussion coming up at the half-hour as well.

So, who's afraid of Barack Obama? Apparently his Democratic rivals, also, though, some of the Republicans. You're going to see exactly how Obama's rise is posing some real problems for the Republican Party.

Also, after Hillary Clinton fought back tears just a little while ago, she spoke with our own John Roberts. You're going to hear how she explained her emotional moment. That's coming up next.

And ratcheting up tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Some Iranian boats are said to have harassed and provoked three U.S. Navy warships in the Persian Gulf. Officials say those ships manned their guns and were, repeat were, ready to fire.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: This has been a tough day for Hillary Clinton. She's out on the campaign trail. She's on the verge of this critical test in New Hampshire. She showed some real emotion out there. It was emotion of the moment on the campaign trail today.

Just a little while ago, she spoke with CNN's John Roberts, the co-anchor of CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING."

John is joining from us now Manchester in New Hampshire.

All right, John, how did that conversation with the senator go?

JOHN ROBERTS, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": Well, it went well, Wolf.

We spent about eight or 10 minutes together. She seemed to be in a fairly good mood, though there's no question that her campaign is a little bit concerned about the position that they're in, according to the latest polls. She was the front-runner. She was the person to beat here in New Hampshire. And, suddenly, she finds herself in the second position.

She's been doing some hard campaigning, a lot of aggressive comparing and contrasting with her chief rival, Barack Obama.

And this morning, you were talking about just a few a little while ago, a few minutes ago, that incident in Portsmouth, where she was meeting with a number of people who were asking her some questions, and she got a little bit emotional about.

It in the interview that's going to air tomorrow morning on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING," I had the opportunity to ask her about that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, at an event on Monday, you teared up a little bit when you were asked about the rigors of the road.

We have some videotape of that that we can show. I know what some people have said to you. Was this is an Edmund Muskie moment?

(LAUGHTER)

ROBERTS: I won't ask you that.

Was it fatigue? Was it the nature of the question? What was it?

CLINTON: You know what?

ROBERTS: We don't normally see that display of emotion from you.

CLINTON: Well, I actually have emotions. I know that there are some people who doubt that. But, you know, I really am so touched by what I hear from people.

It's usually about their problems. It's usually a mother who throws her arms around me and says, thanks you for the children's health insurance program, or a man who drove all the way here from New York to tell people that I had saved jobs in New York. And, I mean, that's really moving to me, because that's how I judge the job I'm doing.

And, so, when this woman, this really kind woman, said to me, "Well, how are you doing?" it was so touching to me, because I am so other-oriented. I'm not good about talking about myself. I don't get up and think about how I'm going to present myself.

I think about, OK, what am I going to do today to actually make a difference in somebody's life? And I think there's been a lot of misunderstanding perhaps, because, you know, I am reserved. I am somebody who says, you know, let's have a little bit of distance here, because I want to be judged by my work. I want to be judged by what I have done for people.

So, it was -- I get very passionate about my country and about what I want to do. And I have this woman who is a supporter, apparently, as she said later, say, well, you know, but I want you to, you know, be able to go the distance. I want you to be OK.

It was very touching to me.

ROBERTS: Not unusual for a presidential candidate or a president to tear up. Your husband did it on occasion.

CLINTON: Oh, a lot of the time. George W. Bush has. Everybody does.

ROBERTS: This President Bush has done it. Ronald Reagan used to do it.

CLINTON: Right.

ROBERTS: Right.

CLINTON: Well, but part of it is, John, is that, as hard as this work is, it is such a privilege. You know, I don't take anybody for granted. I'm not entitled to anything.

I feel like I have been given the greatest gift to be able to travel around our country, meet with people, understand what's going on in their lives, try to help wherever I can, think about changing laws to help more. And that's what keeps me going. It's so moving. Our country is so good. And we just need a president again who's going to lift our sights and give us our pride back. Then we can start making progress again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Obviously, been a long road for the senator from New York, a little show of emotion this morning. Often, when sleep deprivation sets in, the emotions tend to be a little bit exaggerated. Perhaps that played into it as well.

And, Wolf, she also shot down any idea that she would drop out after New Hampshire if she finishes second to Barack Obama. She obviously has the money and the organization to go a long way. We talked about a whole lot of other issues as well. I asked her the George Bush question. What would be the principles that she would stand on in good times and bad? What would be the underpinnings of her administration?

She has a very good answer about that. I also asked her about this aggressive compare and contrast with Barack Obama, the fact that, when she did it back in November, it actually hurt her a little bit -- her poll numbers went down -- and why she felt that she had to go back down that road again, Wolf.

So, all that coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING" beginning at 6:00. We will be live here in Manchester.

BLITZER: "AMERICAN MORNING," we watch it every single morning with John Roberts and Kiran Chetry.

We will see you tomorrow morning, 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

John, good work. Thanks for sharing that with us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Barack Obama is telling New Hampshire voters today that they are the wave and he's riding it. Democrats aren't the only ones though responding to Obama's message after his big win in Iowa. Even Republican presidential candidates are getting in on the act.

Let's go out to our chief national correspondent, John King. He's in New Hampshire on this primary eve as well.

The Obama effect, it's having an effect on a lot of people out there, John.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It sure is, Wolf.

You have been at this a while. You know how it works. When there's a big dynamic at play in one political party, there's always a big impact on the other.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING (voice-over): Change is this campaign's sudden slogan, and this is a pretty big one.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's no way that our party would be successful in the fall if we put forward a long-serving senator to stand up against Barack Obama's message of change.

KING: Rewind just a few weeks and this was the defining challenge of the Republican race.

ROMNEY: I can't wait to debate health care with Senator Clinton. That will be fun.

KING: Now months of planning for what was considered inevitable is giving way to a change most Republicans find worrisome.

NEIL NEWHOUSE, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: This is not the campaign we thought it was going to be. This is not the campaign where all you need to do is raise Hillary Clinton's negatives by another four or five points and we make this a one-or two-point national race. Barack Obama poses some very significant challenges for the Republican Party.

KING: The Obama effect is both urgent and obvious -- Republicans recalibrating to suggest they can compete in the change debate.

ROMNEY: It's going to take a person who is himself an innovator, like myself, who has the experience to bring change to Washington.

KING: While reminding crowds they for years have pushed to change Washington.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I'm president, we're going to fix Social Security.

KING: And, for months, have been stressing issues critical to the younger voters Obama is attracting in droves.

John McCain's resurgence in New Hampshire is particularly intriguing. At first glance, a 71-year-old senator is no match in a change debate with a 47-year-old with remarkable political skills.

MCCAIN: I think that Senator Obama has shown that he's a very, very excellent campaigner and is a very persuasive person.

KING: Very different men, but both appeal to the voters who settle presidential elections. Among independents in New Hampshire, Obama has a 74 percent favorability rating, McCain 71 percent.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: In that conversation I had with Senator McCain today, Wolf, he said he would look forward to a matchup with Senator Obama. He said he would paint him as a traditional liberal. He says that's not to disparage him. He says Obama is a liberal.

And McCain said he is a conservative. He said he believes that could be a very polite campaign, but, Wolf, he also said first things first. He's worried about winning here in New Hampshire and getting the Republican nomination, but he did say he likes Senator Obama, knows him well, and would very much enjoy campaigning against him -- Wolf.

BLITZER: John King, out in New Hampshire for us, thank you very much.

Right now, by the way, you can be part of the best political team on television. If you're in New Hampshire, we want to know what it's like. Send us your videos, your pictures, the final hours before the primary, to CNNPolitics.com. We will feature some of your I-Reports in our election coverage tomorrow night.

He says he was exposed to shame, public humiliation, and harassment. So, baseball great Roger Clemens, whose name is linked to steroids, says he's now filing a lawsuit. We're going to tell you the target.

And standoff at sea, a very dangerous one, the U.S. Navy about to fire on Iranian boats. Who started it? How did it end?

That and a lot more -- coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

BLITZER: Coming up: new tensions between Iran and the United States after threats to an American Naval convoy. We're going to take you through the confrontation that could have been deadly.

Plus, we will meet Barack Obama's grandmother in a remote village in Kenya. Even there, she gets a question about Hillary Clinton.

And, speaking of Hillary Clinton, how will her emotional moment on the campaign trail play out with New Hampshire voters? The best political team on television is standing by right now.

We're live at the CNN Election Center, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now: two U.S. Navy fighter jets in a midair collision in the Northern Arabian Gulf. The three people aboard were all rescued and are said to be in good condition. No word yet on what caused the crash.

Security being ramped up ahead of President Bush's eight-day visit to the Middle East. He kicks off Wednesday in Israel, where 30,000 police will be on duty to ensure the president's safety as he visits Jerusalem -- all of this coming up, plus the best political team on television.

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

It was dangerous and it could have been very deadly. The U.S. Navy says five small vessels from Iran's Revolutionary Guard rushed three U.S. warships at high speed. The Navy says the Iranians harassed the Americans and made a very ominous threat.

Let's go live to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. She's standing by.

It looks like it could have been extremely dangerous. What are you hearing, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has just spoken about all of this. He says all of this is quite troubling to him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): A potentially deadly military confrontation with an old enemy, Iran, that all came close to becoming a shoot-out. It all happened Sunday morning in the Persian Gulf, when three U.S. Navy warships were routinely sailing through the Strait of Hormuz. It was 7:40. Suddenly, five boats from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard approached at high speed. The Iranians' actions had the U.S. Navy ready to open fire.

VICE ADMIRAL KEVIN COSGRIFF, 5TH FLEET COMMANDER, U.S. NAVY: These are, in my mind, unnecessarily provocative.

STARR: According to a time line provided by the military to CNN, at 7:45, the Iranians swarmed around the U.S. ships. Two Iranian boats made a direct run at the USS Hopper, the lead ship -- coming within 200 yards.

7:47 -- a threatening radio transmission is received saying, "I am coming at you. You will explode in a couple of minutes."

7:49 -- the Iranians dropped white boxes in the water. The U.S. doesn't know if they contained explosives.

7:50 -- the Hopper's captain ordered a machine gun to be trained on the Iranians. At that point, the Iranians turned around and left.

The senior U.S. admiral in the region says there have been encounters with the Iranians in the past...

KEVIN: I take this incredibly seriously and I expect that commanding officers will -- will successfully defend their ships and their crews at all times in this theater.

STARR: According to Iranian news agencies, the Revolutionary Guard denied any aggression against the U.S. But experts have long warned these tense waters can quickly spiral out of control.

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: This is the most dangerous possibility of all -- that a war starts by accident, by a miscalculation by -- by the Revolutionary Guard going a little too far and the U.S. firing back.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

STARR: , Wolf, this incident was exceptionally provocative, according to the U.S. Navy. They were, indeed, within minutes of blasting that Iranian boat out of the water right before the Iranians turned around and left -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very scary stuff, Barbara.

Thanks very much.

So which of the presidential candidates might get a boost -- might not get a boost -- from this showdown at sea?

Let's talk about that.

Our senior analyst, Jeff Toobin, is here; Jack Cafferty; also, our senior analyst, Gloria Borger -- all part of the best political team on television. What do you make of this?

This is -- this is scary stuff when you -- because you don't know the what the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is up to.

CAFFERTY: This reminds me of the days during the cold war when the Russian MIGs would tail our B-52s and our jet fighters would fly along next to the Russian Backfire bombers. It's -- there's -- it's an old game and it's been played before.

The Straits of Hormuz, obviously, where a great deal of the world's oil moves.

But our Russian warships -- I mean our American warships have been in those waters for a long time. And this table is bigger than those little dinghies that those guys sail around over there. I mean maybe knock a couple of them out of the water real quick when they get within 200 yards and you call Tehran and say look, you don't have but eight boats in your navy, and now you only have six and stop it.

BLITZER: But it's the type of story, Jeff, that could have a political resonance out on the campaign trail right now, if Americans are saying well, who is poised -- who should be commander-in-chief during a tense moment like this.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Fortunately, it seems like this incident was defused at such an early stage that I don't think it's -- it will achieve any sort of critical mass. It's not going to dominate the news. The candidates aren't being forced to respond to it and I think that's the real issue. They're not talking about it. It's not going to make much of a difference.

BLITZER: Do you think so?

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, but, you know, in any election, there's always the unknown -- just like Pakistan became a factor in the Iowa caucuses, to a certain degree. Anything can occur. I don't think this will -- this will be an issue like that, but you never know.

BLITZER: All right, let's talk about our so-called poll of polls.

Jack, these are all the recent polls, not just our own CNN poll, but all of the recent polls. We averaged them together to get a sense of what's going on.

And if you take a look at this, you see, going back to September and October, in the poll of polls, Hillary Clinton was at 39 percent in New Hampshire; Obama 20 percent, Edwards 13.

You flash forward to now post-Iowa in our poll of polls, the average, Hillary Clinton has gone down from 39 to 29 percent; Obama has gone from 20 percent to 36 percent; Edwards has gone from 13 to 19 percent.

These polls, historically, with primaries, are a lot more accurate than they are with caucuses.

CAFFERTY: The big wildcard in New Hampshire tomorrow, of course, is the Independent vote. They -- 40 to 45 percent of the electorate in New Hampshire is Independent and they can vote either Republican or Democrat. I mean I don't know if the poll of polls measured this, but a couple of the polls I looked at, about 60 percent are leaning toward voting Democrat, 40 percent voting Republican.

If that moves, it could cost McCain. It could -- you know, it could be a huge factor. So I think you watch the Independent voters tomorrow.

But I mean ever since Iowa, Obama is trending up -- sharply up. And I don't know if you -- I don't know if you can stop him.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: In 2000, those Independents helped McCain dramatically...

BORGER: Absolutely.

BLITZER: ...beat Bush in the New Hampshire primary.

BORGER: He would -- he would like that to happen again. But, again, those Independent voters will -- a majority of them will go for Obama. That's Mitt Romney's hope, because when you just pit Mitt Romney against McCain among Republican voters it's -- you know, Romney up by a couple points. And...

BLITZER: If you throw in the Independents, he goes...

BORGER: When you throw in the Independents, then it moves -- then it moves differently.

BLITZER: And that's a wildcard tomorrow, isn't it?

TOOBIN: Well, it is. But one of the mysteries about this compressed schedule -- they only have five days between Iowa and New Hampshire -- was well, will it increase the bounce or decrease it?

And I think, at least on the Democratic side, it definitely seems -- at least if the polls are accurate -- to have increased the bounce. I mean Obama has definitely gone up in the polls in New Hampshire. It has not worked for Huckabee, it seems, except a little bit because it just seems like that's not very fertile territory for him.

CAFFERTY: Yes, I was going to say, it's not Huckabee country.

TOOBIN: No.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: No, not at all.

BLITZER: New Hampshire is a little bit different than Iowa. (CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Yes.

BLITZER: All right, guys, stand by. We have a lot more to talk about.

The first voting in New Hampshire only a few hours away -- five hours or so from now.

Will it make or break the state for Republican Mitt Romney?

Also, we'll talk about Hillary Clinton.

And Barack Obama -- a fascinating journey to Kenya and the home of Barack Obama's father. The candidate's grandmother still lives there. You're going to find out what she makes of the presidential campaign right here in the United States.

We're also watching what's happening right now out on the campaign trail. John McCain is, in fact, speaking to his supporters out in New Hampshire right now. We're watching this.

We're watching Barack Obama. He's about to speak.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A couple of days ago, I preferred climate change.

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN: When we got back from Iowa and it was one degree, that global warming didn't sell very well. But my friends...

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN: But my friends, let me just remind you -- and I'll be brief -- do we want -- do we believe that climate change is real or not?

Let's suppose -- let's suppose that...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're back with the best political team on television.

Jack, earlier today -- we've played this clip -- but for viewers who just may be tuning in, a little clip of Hillary Clinton. An emotional moment for her earlier today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I have so many opportunities from this country. I just don't want to see us fall backwards.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What do you think?

CAFFERTY: I think if there had been a little more of that and a little less orchestration of the Hillary campaign for the last couple of months, she'd probably be doing a lot better. I mean that's what people respond to -- not speeches and postulations and I've had this many years of doing that. That's humanity. People -- that touches me and you and the people here. And if her campaign was smart enough to just let her be herself, who knows?

BLITZER: Good advice.

What do you think?

BORGER: Yes. You know, I was talking to somebody in her campaign today, actually, who said, you know, that's the real Hillary Clinton that I know. That's the warm, emotional human Hillary Clinton -- which, of course, as Jack points out, we did not see in this campaign. We saw a robo-candidate who was attuned to every segment of the voter population that she was trying to attract in order to win.

CAFFERTY: And every poll that comes out, she's trying to adjust.

TOOBIN: But I was struck by something else -- the reaction to it -- you know, among a lot of conservatives, certainly people on the Web...

BORGER: A weak...

TOOBIN: ...that it's -- that they thought it was fake.

BORGER: Fake?

TOOBIN: I mean, I've been covering the Clintons since the '90s. They -- people do not believe the Clintons are human beings.

(LAUGHTER)

TOOBIN: I mean they are -- the hatred of them...

BLITZER: The Clinton haters...

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: The Clinton haters believe that every -- that they are not human beings. And I -- that's kind of a disturbing, scary thought.

BORGER: But I thought they would think she was weak. John Edwards kind of alluded to that...

TOOBIN: No, no. They thought it was fake (INAUDIBLE).

BORGER: ...you know, a woman who cries...

TOOBIN: Fake.

BORGER: Are we over that, guys?

Do you think we're...

CAFFERTY: Well, men cry.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: Yes.

TOOBIN: Absolutely.

CAFFERTY: I mean, you know, Bush cries. Reagan cries. Clinton cries.

TOOBIN: Clinton cries, yes.

BORGER: It's good to cry.

CAFFERTY: You know who's crying?

The voters.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Yes, but she's got a tough fight against -- that she's -- and, certainly, even if she comes in second -- and the polls show she'll come in second in New Hampshire -- she's not going anywhere. She's got -- looking down the road -- she's got other...

BORGER: She's not.

BLITZER: ...South Carolina. And she's got other races...

BORGER: (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: ...that are, you know, coming right up quickly.

BORGER: Well, here's an interesting thing also, Wolf, that's sort of out there in the ether. I was talking to some Democrats today who are saying that maybe Hillary Clinton will actually skip South Carolina, because Barack Obama -- if he wins in New Hampshire -- could win with African-Americans. John Edwards, a hometown boy. And that maybe she would go on to some of those Super Tuesday states to really try and wrap up those states and not spend so much time in a state that she knows she's not going to do very well in.

TOOBIN: I don't see how, if you are Hillary Clinton -- the most famous woman in America -- you can start skipping primaries. You know, I mean...

CAFFERTY: Especially with a large black population.

BORGER: I'm not saying (INAUDIBLE)...

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: ...you just skip it. You just say I'm not going to really spend an awful lot of time there. Remember...

BLITZER: But that's skipping it. That's skipping it.

TOOBIN: I mean that...

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: But Rudy Giuliani...

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: ...a distinction without a difference.

BORGER: Rudy Giuliani...

TOOBIN: Yes, Rudy -- look how his campaign is going.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: But I wouldn't cite that as a very positive example.

BORGER: We are having the argument that's going on in her campaign right now.

BLITZER: But if she's saying -- if she is about to say, you know what, I can't compete with South Carolina Democrats and I'm giving up in South Carolina, that would be a horrible...

BORGER: Well, you never say you're giving up.

BLITZER: Yes. But that would be a horrible -- a horrible mark on her campaign.

TOOBIN: One of the things you notice, if you look back in the last 20 years, is that the candidates who skip primaries, who strategize about which primaries to go in, never win.

BORGER: Rudy Giuliani?

TOOBIN: Well, we'll see.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: So far. So far. I mean, you know, if you're running for president, you can't say, well, I'm going to be president -- just not of Iowa and New Hampshire.

BORGER: All I can say is there are those...

TOOBIN: You've got to be president of all 50 states.

BORGER: ...people making that case and there are others making -- making the case you're making.

BLITZER: That's the final word.

BORGER: Make the final case.

CAFFERTY: Well, I just read something kind of funny over the weekend. Hillary has built a large part of her campaign saying I spent eight years in the White House, therefore I'm qualified to run the country. Some comments said so is the White House pastry chef, based on that kind of thinking.

This country is up to its eyeballs in the status quo. A lot of Hillary's problem is she's identified with establishment politics. And thanks to George Bush, that's like being identified with strychnine.

So, you know, I just don't think that saying I was in the White House for eight years gets you a ride on the subway.

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty, don't leave.

We've got the Cafferty File coming up.

Gloria, Jeff, both of you don't leave either, because at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, an hour or so from now, we have a special coming up, as well, looking ahead to Iowa.

CAFFERTY: I have to go home now.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: We've got a lot of stuff coming up.

CAFFERTY: I'm tired.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg we're going to tell you what he's doing that has some people wondering if he'll make a third party bid for the White House.

Plus, your e-mail -- Jack's question this hour -- why won't Congress impeach President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney?

That's Jack's question. We'll hear what you have to say.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Lou Dobbs is getting ready for his show that begins right at the top of the hour. Lou is standing by to give us a little preview -- hi, Lou.

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Hi, Wolf.

Coming up at 7:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, much more on the New Hampshire primary. We'll have the latest polls. We'll be examining the critical role of Independent voters in the most wide open presidential contest in eight decades. Pollster John Zogby is among our guests here tonight.

We'll have a special report from a bipartisan summit meeting out in Oklahoma that reads: "Independent presidential momentum for whom?"

We'll be talking about that and charges that the mortgage crisis is a white collar crime wave that could destroy the American dream for millions of our working men and women and their families. We'll have that story and we'll tell you what's not being done about it.

We'll also be reporting on an issue virtually none of the presidential candidates will talk about -- the surge of drug-related violence in Mexico. The Mexican government unable or unwilling to stop the violence -- violence that's spilling across our border.

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

BLITZER: Lou, see you shortly.

Thank you.

In Kenya, meanwhile, there's death and political disputes over a contested presidential election. But while Kenyans closely watch those tensions -- understandably so -- they're also watching another tense situation -- a very, very different one. That would be the U.S. presidential election -- especially with Kenya being home to Barack Obama's family.

CNN's Paula Newton went to -- went there to find members of his family -- Paula.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is a long way from New Hampshire, but the Obama clan here says they're following this campaign every step of the way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): To get to the Obama family farm, we traveled across the equator, through some of Kenya's most remote villages, left at the gravel road -- the turn for the Senator Obama School and right onto the Obama homestead.

(on camera): Hello. Hello.

I'm Paula Newton with CNN. (voice-over): This is Mama Sarah -- Barack Obama's granny, as he calls her. This is where his father was born and grew up, and where 83-year-old Mama Sarah still lives.

(on camera): We interrupted your work today.

SARAH ONYANGO OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA'S GRANDMOTHER: Yes.

NEWTON (voice-over): As her grandson is busy bringing in the votes, she's bringing in the crops -- preparing feed for the livestock. But it doesn't keep her from campaigning.

(on camera): What could you tell the American people about Barack, you know, to convince them to vote for him?

(voice-over): In her native language, she says...

SARAH OBAMA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): He's a good listener and if he's given a chance, he will work hard for America.

NEWTON (on camera): What do you think of Hillary Clinton?

"This is a contest," she says diplomatically. "Let the best man or woman win."

(on camera): When was this picture taken?

SAID OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA'S UNCLE: This was taken in 1987.

NEWTON (voice-over): Said Obama is Barack's uncle. He shows us a photo of his nephew's first visit to his Kenyan ancestral home, just after his father died.

Barack Hussein Obama is buried here. Mama Sarah says he'd heartbroken to see Kenya now.

The Obamas say they don't recognize the Kenya of the past few days -- the bloodshed, despair and desperate need triggered by the disputed election. The Obama School hasn't even been able to open this year because of the clashes.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

NEWTON: As involved as the Obamas are in the American campaign right now, they are very worried about the situation in Kenya and they hope that Barack Obama, right now, is working with the State Department to try and find a way out of this Kenyan crisis -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Paula Newton in Kenya for us.

Thank you very much.

Let's check our political ticker.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg does something that's stirring talk he might run for president. In Oklahoma today, the Independent attended a summit whose goal is to reduce partisan politics. Also attending were moderate Republicans and Democrats. Bloomberg slapping down speculation that he'll run for president. But today attendees warned major party candidates to stop with all the bickering or they'll back a third party candidate. And one name obviously being floated is Michael Bloomberg.

Remember, for the latest political news any time, go to CNNPolitics.com.

Let's bring back Jack.

He's got the Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Eighty-five-year-old George McGovern, who ran for president in 1972, wrote a piece in "The Washington Post" over the weekend suggesting that George Bush and Vice President Cheney are more deserving of impeachment than Richard Nixon was.

And so we asked why won't Congress impeach President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney?

And we got the following.

Chris in Ithaca writes: "The Democratic Congress will not move on impeachment because we have nothing but crowds in Washington. The Congress changed because the American people wanted change. Instead, we've gotten Republican light. There is no change in Washington -- only slaves to big business, oil and imperialism. Washington stinks."

Eric in Moss Beach, California: "The collaborators who gave Bush everything that he wanted won't condemn themselves now by impeaching him. They have no principles. They have no morals. They are politicians to their slimy cores they all deserve defeat in the next election -- Democrat, Republican -- it makes no difference. They have betrayed their oath, they have betrayed their country. They are scum."

Scott: "Why won't we impeach Bush and Cheney? Because the country is over, that's why. We're done. The crooks, the special interests and the corporations have won."

Dell in Colorado Springs: "The Democratic Congress won't impeach the president or vice president simply because they're more concerned with winning back the White House. It would be too timely, too costly. Bush has destroyed our reputation abroad, done nothing domestically. The Democrats believe the damage is done and the administration will ultimately go into the books as one of the worst in history."

Roy writes: "It's not going to happen. Everybody knows you need corporate sponsors to get anything done in Washington."

And Sally in Alexandria, Virginia: "Because all they did was cause death, destruction, torture, defiling of the constitution and decimation of the nation's finances. Thank goodness they didn't have sex with an intern."

BLITZER: A lot of angry people out there, Jack. CAFFERTY: I guaran -- and I hear from them every single day. And I think that's one of the reasons, quite frankly, that there's so much interest in a guy like Barack Obama. The country is saying how much worse can it be -- give me anything that's different -- something fresh and new.

BLITZER: Jack, don't go anywhere.

We've got a special report coming up at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, in one hour, right after "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT".

We both have to work hard. But that's -- it's fun.

Stay with us.

Don't go anywhere.

Jack Cafferty, The Cafferty File. So what's that buzzing sound out on the campaign trail?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The time for change has come.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For a change.

CLINTON: We're going to have change and that change...

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Change in Washington because America recognizes that we're not going to change the nation.

JOHN EDWARDS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Change won.

OBAMA: The time for change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: It's the constant hum of all the candidates -- repeating this year's political buzzword -- change.

Jeanne Moos is standing by to take a closer look and listen.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Change is good except when it's a slogan uttered by every presidential candidate at every stop along the campaign trail.

CNN's Jeanne Moos can't help but notice -- and she finds it Moost Unusual.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If there's one thing that's unchanging it's that word.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Change is good, right?

CLINTON: Change is hard.

ROMNEY: I love change.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Top to bottom change.

OBAMA: We are happy warriors for change.

MOOS: They may be happy, but I could use a change of pace.

In an eight second sound bite...

EDWARDS: We're both change agents. We both believe deeply in change.

MOOS: ...John Edwards uttered the word change four times.

John McCain used it 14 times in one answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY FOX NEWS)

MCCAIN: ...and the change...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: Remember when the change used to refer to menopause?

If only the candidates would pause.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY FOX NEWS)

MCCAIN: That I have been an agent of change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Because I've been an agent of change.

ROMNEY: I have changed things...

MOOS: Mitt Romney got dissed by John McCain, who used change to call Mitt a flip-flopper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY ABC NEWS/FACEBOOK/WMUR)

MCCAIN: But I agree, you are the candidate of change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: Blame all this change on Barack Obama. He started it.

OBAMA: Change is coming to America.

MOOS (on camera): If this keeps up, I'm going to have three words for the candidates -- keep the change.

CLINTON: I want to make change, but I've already made change.

OBAMA: This change thing is catching on, because you notice everybody's talking about change now.

MOOS: Just about the only people who don't want to talk about change are incumbents, says linguist Geoffrey Nunberg.

GEOFFREY NUNBERG, PROFESSOR, U.C.-BERKELEY: Well, you think of Lincoln in 1864 -- "Don't change horses in mid-stream."

MOOS: A couple of candidates are holding their horses when it comes to change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY FOX NEWS)

GIULIANI: Change is a slogan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY ABC NEWS/FACEBOOK/WMUR:

RICHARDSON: Whatever happened to experience?

Is experience kind of a leper?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: Compared to change it is. The American Dialect Society may have just crowned subprime the word of the year for 2007. But change is the word of the campaign.

MCCAIN: Have I been an agent of change.

MOOS (on camera): It's enough to make you change the channel.

(voice-over): The only guy who says the word change at a higher velocity than the candidates is David Bowie.

(VIDEO CLIP OF DAVID BOWIE SINGING "CHANGES," COURTESY SAVAGE RECORDS)

MOOS (on camera): American candidates aren't alone in their love of change. On YouTube, you hear it with a British accent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM YOUTUBE.COM/IMPROPAGANDA.ORG.UK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Change, change, change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Changing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Changing. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Changing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Changing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Change is marching on again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's got to change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: Someone even put Blair to Bowie.

(VIDEO CLIP FROM YOUTUBE.COM/IMPROPAGANDA.ORG.UK)

MOOS: Now if you talk about change this much...

OBAMA: And our time for change has come.

MOOS: ...you're almost bound to slip up.

OBAMA: This morning I said the time for come has changed.

MOOS: Actually, he said...

OBAMA: The time has changed for come.

MOOS: Now that's a political slogan that'll knock your socks off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator -- oh.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

BLITZER: Now you can take the best political team with you any time, anywhere. Download the best political pod cast at CNNPolitics.com.

And please remember, join us in one hour, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, for our special election eve coverage, as we look ahead to New Hampshire.

I'll be anchoring a one hour special right after "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT".

Until then, thanks very much for joining us.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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

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