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THE SITUATION ROOM

Exit Polls From the Michigan Primary

Aired January 15, 2008 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, it's the first exit poll from the Michigan primary. It will be out right here in THE SITUATION ROOM shortly -- voters sharing with you what's on their minds as they make chair choices.
A crucial milestone for Republicans today. We'll tell you what's at stake.

Meat and milk from cloned animals will soon be on your table and you won't even know it. The government give the go-ahead, but it's not even requiring such food to be labeled. Critics worry about health risks.

And President Bush asks his Saudi hosts if they can do something about the high price of oil.

Are they giving him more than a song and a dance?

I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The Michigan primaries officially end four hours from now. But literally momentarily, we're going to bring you a first look at exit polls, which will show what's on the mind of voters. We're going to share those exit polls with you as soon as they come in. Bill Schneider getting ready with that.

First, though, a look at what some of the Republican candidates are saying today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You saw where Osama bin Laden was able to get out a couple of messages to recruit, instruct and motivate radical Islamic extremists over the Internet. Well, I just want to look you in the eye, my dear friends, and tell you, if I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I'll get Osama bin Laden and I'll bring him to justice. And I want to assure you I will do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've been living in the real world while some of these guys have been living in that insular bubble called Washington, D.C. . And if you want somebody who believes the status quo is just fine, there are plenty of choices. But if you think we need to bring some true differences and changes in this country that work for the working people of this country, then we do have a Republican solution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "LARRY KING LIVE")

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There will be some people who -- who will make their decision based upon where someone goes to church when they think about their elected officials. But I think, in the final analysis, you're not going to find my party do what the Constitution and the founders forbade. They said in the Constitution that no religious test should ever be applied for qualification for office in these United States. And I know there will be some people who may do that. But I think the great majority of people know they're electing a secular leader.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Democrats won't get delegates in the Michigan primary because the Party has been penalized -- the Democratic Party of Michigan --because the state moved up its primary.

Let's go to, Candy Crowley.

She's watching all of this for us.

She's our senior political correspondent -- first of all, the stakes, Candy, for the Republicans tonight.

Set the scene.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, just to sort state the obvious from the beginning, it is that, in fact, these Republicans won't settle anything tonight. And they might not change anything tonight.

If it is Mitt Romney emerging as the winner, what we're going to have here is at least a notch on his belt. He moves into South Carolina, which may be tough for him, at least with a win that he can show.

If John McCain wins, he has now proved himself not just a creature of New Hampshire. He may, in fact, be labeled the frontrunner -- and what a comeback that would be.

Mike Huckabee -- if he should win, it will prove that he is not just a quirk out of Iowa.

So there's a lot going on here.

Rudy Giuliani also may be affected by this, because if, in fact, Mitt Romney comes out of this the winner, this really leaves the state of the Republican race pretty much in chaos -- which is what Rudy Giuliani mostly would like to see, because that gives him some hope that his late strategy, as we call it -- going to those February 5th primaries as well as to Florida -- might, in fact, work out -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Candy.

Thanks very much.

Candy is going to be with us throughout the night for our special coverage.

Much more coming up on this Michigan contest shortly.

But there's other important news we're following right now with serious ramifications. A day after promising Saudi Arabia $20 billion in an advanced weapons package, President Bush today gently asked his hosts if they could do anything about the sky high price of oil which is causing Americans a lot of economic pain.

Our White House correspondent, Ed Henry, has the latest from Saudi Arabia -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, for the first time on this trip through the Mideast, where the U.S. gets so much of its oil, the president publicly turned his attentions to concerns that those soaring oil prices may cause an economic shock.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY (voice-over): Trying to slash gas prices back in the United States was on President Bush's mind, as he was given the royal treatment in oil-rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a second straight day.

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I talked to the ambassador and will again talk to his majesty tonight about the fact that, you know, oil prices are very high, which is tough on our economy.

HENRY: With oil recently hitting $100 a barrel, the president on Tuesday gently pushed OPEC to increase production as a way of easing pressure on the U.S. economy.

BUSH: I would hope, as OPEC considers different reduction levels, that they understand that if their -- one of their biggest consumer's economy suffers, it will mean less purchases, less oil and gas sold.

HENRY: But the president, who is close to the royal family, did not publicly press King Abdullah too hard.

BUSH: So, well, we've got a lot of things to talk about. But I want to assure you, it's from the spirit of friendship. And the hospitality last night was warm and the conversation was excellent.

HENRY: The response from Saudi's oil minister was noncommittal, saying his country will only raise production when the market justifies it.

BUSH: Yes, that's a famous horse, yes.

HENRY: The president is spending the night at the king's lavish 2,000-acre farm, where he sipped tea and marveled over his majesty's Arabian and thoroughbred stallions.

One reason oil prices are so high is jitters over Iran, especially after a recent incident in which their speedboats confronted U.S. Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz. And Mr. Bush is not cooling the tension issuing another warning, telling reporters off-camera the Iranians better be careful, saying if they hit U.S. ships, there will be serious consequences.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

HENRY: What's significant is the president's eight-day trip, which ends Wednesday in Egypt, was supposed to be focused on brokering peace. But it also featured concerns about further conflict because of all the tough talk on Iran -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Henry in Riyadh for us.

Thanks, Ed, very much.

A car bomb struck a U.S. Embassy vehicle in Lebanon today on a highway just north of Beirut. Three Lebanese civilian bystanders were killed. A private American citizen -- also a bystander -- was wounded. U.S. officials say the two occupants of the car were Lebanese officials working for the U.S. Embassy. One was hurt. The embassy says the vehicle was the apparent target, but the State Department says that remains to be determined.

Let's go back to Jack.

He's got The Cafferty File here in New York -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Wolf, the saying goes be careful what you ask for because you just might get it. And that's the position Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich could find himself in tonight at the Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada.

See, the debate organizers don't want Kucinich to participate. But a judge ordered MSNBC to include Kucinich or he said he'll issue an injunction preventing the debate from happening at all.

Now, MSNBC has appealed the judge's decision and we understand that that appeal hearing is going on right now. It started about 40 minutes ago. So if we get a decision on whether or not Kucinich will be included tonight, of course, we'll update the story.

Kucinich was originally scheduled to be part of the debate with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. Then he failed to make much of a showing in either Iowa or New Hampshire. And so he was told that he was being uninvited. Kucinich went to court. He's a feisty little dude. And a judge decided it would be unfair to exclude him. MSNBC said, as I mentioned, it's appealing. The appeal is being heard now. But as things stand, if the judge upholds the lower court decision, Kucinich will be there tonight -- whether anybody wants him to be or not.

The question is this -- a judge ordered MSNBC to include Dennis Kucinich in tonight's debate.

Should the courts be involved in this sort of thing?

You can go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog. Go write on my blog.

BLITZER: You love saying that, don't you?

CAFFERTY: I do.

BLITZER: You've got a blog. I've got a blog, too. We've both got blogs. Everybody is going to have blogs pretty soon.

CAFFERTY: My blog is bigger than yours.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: That's the amazing thing about the Internet.

Jack, stand by.

Coming up, a look at what's on the minds of Michigan voters as they make their primary picks.

We're going to bring you, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the first exit polls, as voters essentially tell us why they are turning out today.

Also, his own life-threatening experience in a hospital is shaping the way he views health care in this presidential campaign. I'll speak live with the talk show host and author Glenn Beck. He's standing by.

And just in tape of a dramatic 911 call from that -- involving that tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo. You can hear the victims pleading for help. We'll share that with you, as well, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the Republican candidates on the campaign trail. Take a look at these still photos that have just come in. I want to remind our viewers, we're only a few hours away from the first results of the Michigan primary. The polls there close for the Republicans 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Stay with CNN throughout the night tonight for all of our coverage. Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are trying to move on from that battle that erupted between their campaigns over race. But the issue confronted Obama in a different way today on the campaign trail in Carson City, Nevada.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you want me to win?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's get Democrats (INAUDIBLE) here. We have never elected a black man in our country.

OBAMA: Yes, that's a good point.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

OBAMA: I've noticed that.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what have we -- what are we going (INAUDIBLE)?

You know, how is it that you're going to address that issue and overcome that (INAUDIBLE)?

OBAMA: Well, look, I think it is a wonderful question and I'm glad you asked it. People said oh, you know, he's (INAUDIBLE). He could do a great job as a senator, but they will never elect a black guy named Barack Obama. You can't even pronounce his name.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: And you know what I was convinced of was, is the American people right now they're interested in who's going to solve their problems and who can they trust.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

OBAMA: And they are willing to look past the racist...

(END VIDEO TAPE)

BLITZER: Hillary Clinton talked about the dustup with Obama over race on "The Tyra Banks Show," saying the controversy hurt her personally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE TYRA BANKS SHOW," COURTESY TELEPICTURES)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm very pained by what is being said because it's baseless and it's divisive. And, you know, it is something that is personally hurtful to me because, you know, I've been on the forefront of pushing for civil rights and women's rights and human rights for many years. And I think that there's been, you know, both some misunderstanding and some deliberate misinterpretation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And amid all of this, there's been another brutal day today on Wall Street. Recession fears dropped the Dow some 277 points -- more than 2 percent. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 each fell close to 2.5 percent, as well.

As Americans lose jobs and homes, as the price of oil hovers near all time highs, there is no doubt what's on the minds of voters during this presidential campaign.

Here's CNN's Joe Johns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the economy. And, yes, you'd be more than stupid to ignore it. The stock market -- ice cold in '08. The housing market -- soft as quicksand -- sucking homeowners and loan companies under. Consumer confidence half of what it was a year ago. Job growth down, energy costs up.

OK, enough already. The economy took the top spot on the issues Americans care most about back in November, edging out the war by a single percentage point. That gap has now grown to 10 points. In our latest poll, a clear warning to the candidates -- you'd better have good ideas.

Even among Democrats, the economy is 6 points higher on the list than the war. And for Republicans, it's a convincing 16 points.

And the candidates -- they're convinced.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY FOX NEWS)

ROMNEY: Let's get the record straight. Could we be headed for recession? Absolutely. Do we have to be headed for recession? Absolutely not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: Here's an idea -- cut taxes, cut spending.

Heard that before?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY FOX NEWS)

MCCAIN: And we cut taxes, but Ronald Reagan knew we had to cut spending at the same time. And that was our great failure as a party, is we cut taxes and then we let spending get out of control.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: All the Republicans want to do it. They differ on the details.

Mike Huckabee wants to get rid of the IRS, the federal income tax and put a sales tax in its place.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY FOX NEWS)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So the first thing is not raise taxes, cut the marginal tax rates, if anything, and eventually go to a fair tax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES (on camera): But they all share that central philosophy that you boost the economy by putting money back into the pockets of the people. They say you shouldn't punish the rich because they're the locomotives that drive the economy train. And all are supporters are of free trade.

(voice-over): The Democrats come at it from a different perspective. It's more about jobs and job training and government programs.

CLINTON: In the future, we will build together. There will be no more invisible Americans.

JONES: They all want to invest -- that means spend -- on education, infrastructure, healthcare -- the pillars of a healthy workforce and a healthy economy. And they all want to give tax breaks to the middle class, but not to the rich.

OBAMA: I'll be a president who ends those tax breaks for corporations that are shipping jobs overseas and puts those tax breaks to work here in the United States and puts them in the pockets of working Americans who deserve them.

(APPLAUSE)

JONES: In this world view, big corporations, lobbyists, so-called special interests, are viewed more as the problem and not the solution.

JOHN EDWARDS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The bigger underdog in America, you know, are the middle class, who are struggling, working people in this country who are struggling every single day, low income families.

JONES: So, if change is the buzzword of Campaign 2008, the economy may be the buzz saw.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

BLITZER: Coming soon to a grocery store near you -- food products made from cloned animals. You're going to find out why you may be buying them and not even realize it.

Plus, the desperate 911 call from the victims of that zoo tiger attack. The tape has just been released. We're going to be playing it for you.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Carol, what's going on?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, CNN has learned the Army is investing whether three soldiers were killed by friendly fire last week in Iraq. The three men were from the 101st Airborne Division. They died during a firefight south of Samarra on January 8th. But officials emphasize they're not yet certain how the men died, but confirm their families have been told that friendly fire is a possibility.

How bad is the mortgage crisis?

So bad that Citigroup just posted the worst quarterly loss in its 196-year history -- nearly $10 billion in the last quarter of 2007. Citi also cut its dividend, announced the elimination of 4,200 jobs and set aside $4 billion to cover anticipated losses from consumer credit defaults.

More fancy new gadgets and services from the folks who make the iPods and Apple Computers. At today's Macworld Expo in San Francisco, CEO Steve Jobs announced iTunes will start downloading movie rentals for about $3 or $4 a movie. You'll need a high speed Internet connection. Jobs also showed off an improved iPhone that can pinpoint where you're standing on a Web-generated map and a laptop that's less than an inch thick.

One of the art world's greatest mysteries seems to have been cleared up. The woman who posed for Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting, The Mona Lisa, actually was actually named Lisa. Lisa del Giocondo was the wife of a Florentine cloth merchant. Her identity was confirmed by a manuscript expert who -- get this -- found a note written by one of Da Vinci's friends in the margin of a book while the artist was painting masterpiece in the 1500s. Now, that is something to smile about. Now we know.

We don't know what she was smiling about, though.

BLITZER: But, you know, who knew Mona Lisa was really Lisa?

COSTELLO: Who knew?

BLITZER: Who knew?

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Great information.

All right, thanks, Carol, for that.

It could be a make or break primary for Republican presidential hopefuls and we're about to get the first results from our buried new exit polls that have been taken over the past few hours in Michigan.

What do they tell us about the crucial contest, about the issues on the minds of voters?

Also, why you could wind up buying cloned food whether you think it's safe or not. There are new developments in a growing controversy.

Plus, badly wounded by an escaped tiger, a young man makes a desperate 911 call. The dramatic tape has just been released. You're going to hear it right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, tighter border controls -- starting at the end of the month, people crossing into the United States from Canada must show proof citizenship and a government issued I.D. . You can also use a passport or a new border card that's now being developed. We're watching this story.

Also, a House committee opens hearings on steroids use in major league baseball. One lawmaker is warning if the league doesn't fix the problem, Congress will.

And a truck belonging to a wanted Marine has been found near North Carolina's Raleigh-Durham Airport. Corporal Cesar Laurean is a suspect in the death of Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach, who was eight months pregnant and who had accused Laurean of rape.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Just in now, we're getting the first results from the exit polls in Michigan. Voters telling us what's on their minds as they make their primary picks.

Let's go to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

He's been going through all of these exit polls.

First of all, among Republicans -- and the key contest in Michigan involves Republicans, Bill -- the most important issues they say are affecting their lives right now.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Remember, the economy, stupid?

It's back, as it was 16 years ago. A solid majority of voters in today's Michigan Republican primary -- 55 percent, you see here -- said the economy is the top issue on their minds. Iraq, illegal immigration, terrorism -- all much lower in importance. The economy is more important than all the other issues put together.

BLITZER: The issue of the national economy right now, what are they saying?

SCHNEIDER: Not good. These are Republican primary voters, remember. They are normally cheerleaders. They think things -- they're supposed to think things are going pretty well.

But look, two-thirds of them say the economy is in not good or poor condition. Only 30 percent say the economy is doing well. This is the state with the highest unemployment rate in the country. They may be cheerleaders because they are Republican voters, but they are not very cheery.

BLITZER: What are these Republicans who showed up today in Michigan to vote, what are they saying about President Bush?

Good news for him or bad news?

SCHNEIDER: Not so good. Just a bare majority -- 52 percent of Republican primary voters -- expressed a positive opinion of the Bush administration. Again, that's really not very good news. Almost half say they have a negative opinion of the Bush administration.

What does that suggest?

It suggests that even among Republican primary voters, Wolf, there's a desire -- a widespread desire for change.

BLITZER: Bill, stand by, because I know you're going through a lot of other numbers from these exit polls, as well, and you'll share them with our viewers.

Thank you very much.

On the Republican side, all eyes are on Michigan right now.

Let's talk about that with CNN's Glenn Beck.

His show on CNN "HEADLINE NEWS" is very popular. He's also get a huge best-seller called "An Inconvenient Book". It's been a "New York Times" best-seller for weeks and weeks and weeks.

GLENN BECK: Thank you.

BLITZER: I suspect you're even surprised at how well that book...

BECK: Well, if I can do it, anybody can do it.

BLITZER: Well, this is a great country. BECK: Yes. It is.

BLITZER: You can do it.

BECK: It's the best.

BLITZER: Let's talk about these numbers that Bill just shared with us.

BECK: Yes.

BLITZER: What do you make of them?

BECK: I'm not surprised at the economy. I mean I've been beating on this economy now for a while, as a conservative, saying we are in real trouble. I mean we -- we are just spending so much money. And anybody who has ever balanced a checkbook in their own home knows that you can't do it this way. We're in real deep trouble on our economy. And I think the average Joe gets that, as witnessed by their spending habits over the last quarter, right around Christmas.

The only thing that I find interesting is I found it shocking that 52 percent of Republicans are still on the George Bush bandwagon. He has betrayed conservatives.

BLITZER: You think so?

BECK: Oh, yes, every step of the way, that man has betrayed conservatives. So, as a conservative...

BLITZER: What's the biggest betrayal that...

BECK: Wolf...

BLITZER: ...that you see?

BECK: One of the worst things that's ever happened to us that is going to absolutely sink our country unless we really do something about it is the prescription drug. That is -- I mean it is -- it's the biggest federal program...

BLITZER: The spending that's (INAUDIBLE)...

BECK: The spending that's out of control. The fact that he would now veto spending because it's a Democratic Congress that he wasn't vetoing because it was a Republican Congress is just a slap in our face. And also immigration. I mean, the guy is, I mean, today, Wolf, I saw the video of him in Saudi Arabia giving Saudi Arabia, an enemy of ours, I don't care what anybody says, weapons, and then saying, please, please, please can you open the spigot for oil? And they said no. It was the first time I witnessed the president of the United States acting like a slave.

BLITZER: Well, he has to sell $20 billion.

BECK: Right. Sure. Sure. Sell with the money that they're going to take. The money that we've just taken as a society given to them because of the oil and giving it back to us.

BLITZER: They're coming in right now and buying all these financial services.

BECK: Wolf, we have been sold down the river by the republicans and the democrats. Both of them sold down the river. Our country is being eaten from the inside. Our financial institutions are going to the Chinese. The Chinese said no to this Citibank. They said no to Citibank.

BLITZER: Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait said yes.

BECK: Does this sound like a good idea to anybody? And if anybody will tell you that these are the last write downs, they're lying to you.

BLITZER: What's at stake in Michigan tonight for the republicans? The democrats don't have much of a contest.

BECK: I think that what is at stake for the republicans may be good for the independents if John McCain wins. But real conservatives. They always say what is the weather going to be like. Is there going to be a big snowstorm on Election Day? Is there going to be a big rain storm? I know a lot of people who are conservatives that won't go out on a foggy day to vote for John McCain because of McCain Lieberman, McCain Feingold, McCain Kennedy. He is great at knowing what he believes and going for it and bucking the system. I admire that. I want a guy like that. I hate the elephant. And I hate the donkey. Just do the right thing for the country.

BLITZER: This race is wide open for the republicans.

BECK: Oh, yeah. If this guy wins.

BLITZER: McCain.

BECK: McCain wins.

BLITZER: You're not a big fan?

BECK: No, I'm a big fan in his ability to know what he believes and stick to it. But he's usually wrong on some really big issues for conservatives. So I don't know how anybody as a conservative is going to vote for him.

BLITZER: Tell us about - I don't want to go through all the details. You had a horror story when you went to the hospital for a routine procedure but it's been a life changing event for you because it's opened your eyes to a certain degree on healthcare in our country.

BECK: I asked if we could be seated because I'm still so dizzy from everything. My life is still not back.

BLITZER: It was just a normal type of routine operation.

BECK: It was outpatient surgery. It has been two and a half weeks now and I'm still ...

BLITZER: Still suffering.

BECK: I'm still just out of breath and everything else. What has happened to me is it is cemented to me the last thing we need is government. The people who give us the driver's license bureau running a hospital. Because I was treated -- I really expected a new driver's license at the end of the ordeal in the hospital. We need to put compassion. Forget about money. All they're doing right now is jamming you out the door. Just get out of the hospital as fast as you can. We need --

BLITZER: Who can do that?

BECK: I'm torn in six different directions as a conservative on who I would want. On this particular issue, I think Rudy Giuliani is the best at saying privatize. Let's make sure we unleash the private sector to be able to do that. But I like the compassion of Romney that I think he understands the private sector as well.

BLITZER: What about the compassion of the democrats who want universal health care?

BECK: That will work for about three weeks. I think universal health care is the wrong direction for a couple of reasons. Again, if you like the experience that you have at the DMV, you're going to get that experience now at the hospitals. It will be run by the government. They're not going to give you, for instance, this surgery that I had used to be a three-day hospital stay. It's now an outpatient. It was money that dictated it. Not anything else. The government will do the same thing and even worse on that. That's the worst.

BLITZER: The argument is the HMOs do that. The private health providers, they want them in and out.

BECK: Look at England, Canada, anywhere else and see how this works. It doesn't work. Most importantly we are not looking at a $90 trillion deficit. We're looking at a $56 trillion deficit. If you talk to David Walker from the GAO, that's the real number. You cannot add more money to this deficit. Talk to the friends at Citibank. Talk to the people who are in the banking community today. We are crumbling from within. The last thing we need to do is heap more onto our government.

BLITZER: Glenn Beck. He's on headline prime, 7 to 9 p.m. eastern. His best seller is called "An Inconvenient Book." Congratulations on that.

BECK: Thank you so much.

BLITZER: Thanks for coming in.

BECK: You bet.

BLITZER: Results for the Michigan primary will be changing minute by minute, county by county tonight. You can track them yourself. You can stay up to the second at CNNpolitics.com. That's your online destination for the Michigan primary. We'll be covering it obviously right here from the CNN Election Center as well.

Coming up, do you want to know if you're buying cloned meat? You won't if the government gets its way. We have new details coming out on this controversy involving labeling and safety. You're going to want to know what's going on.

Plus, one young man nearly dying. Two others badly injured by an escaped tiger. You'll hear the frantic call to 911 for help.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The government is clearing the way for food products from cloned animals to hit your grocery store shelves but you may not even what you're buying. Let's go to Brian Todd. He's watching this story for us. The government says they're convinced that cloned food is safe. This is causing, Brian, a huge controversy. What's going on?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, the government is saying testing is all in and they're saying with certainty that food from mature cloned cattle is safe. The questions is will the producers and the public buy it?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: You likely won't know you're eating it because it won't be labeled. Here's what the U.S. government now says about food from cloned animals.

STEPHEN SUNDLOF, FDA FOOD SAFETY & NUTRITION DIRECTOR: The Food and Drug Administration has concluded that meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine and goats and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals.

TODD: With that declaration, the FDA removes the last official hurdle from putting beef from cloned cows on the market. They say they still need more data on whether products from cloned sheep are safe, and they say food from newborn cattle clones may pose some limited health risks.

But some consumer groups say the FDA rushed to judgment about full grown cattle clones. What are the health risks from those?

JAYDEE HANSON, CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY: We don't actually know. But we know the studies that the FDA has relied on so far can't tell you that. I suspect it will probably taste quite similar but that doesn't mean they are no changes in the milk and no changes in the meat that we need to be worried about.

TODD: FDA officials say they've done years of peer review testing endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences but why not at least label the food?

SUNDLOF: We don't require labeling if there's no material difference in the food processed by one technique. In this case it would be through the cloning process, versus conventionally processed food.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Not every consumer group is against this. The Center for Science and the Public Interest says the FDA answered the safety question to its satisfaction. That group points out most consumers will never eat a cloned animal. They may eventually eat or drink products from their offspring, but experts say even that's three to five years away. And while the FDA cleaned the cloned animals, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is asking for a voluntary moratorium on their consumption until everyone can study all the information, Wolf.

BLITZER: This controversy not going away, Brian. Thanks very much for that.

They were supposed to provide added strength but may have resulted in a deadly disaster instead. Government investigators now say the deadly collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis last August started with fractured steel plates. CNN's Susan Roesgen has details. Susan?

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's a scary thing for drivers to think that apparently something that was just a half inch too thin was the weak link in the catastrophic collapse of the Minneapolis bridge back in August. Today, the head of the National Transportation Safety board held a news conference to let people know that although the investigation is far from over, the team feels it's very important to point out that they're focusing on what they call the gusset plates. Gusset plates are the steel plates that hold the steel beams of a bridge together. On the Minneapolis Bridge, there were at least four of those plates that were a half inch too thin and could not sustain the weight of the traffic and possibly the construction that was going on that bridge as well. The head of the National Transportation Safety board said he wanted the information out because he is now asking the Federal Highway Department to make sure that other bridges, perhaps more than 400 all across the country are also inspected to see if they have the same design flaw that could possibly lead to another bridge collapse. Wolf?

BLITZER: Susan, thanks very much; Susan Roesgen with that story.

And this is just coming in, that tape of a dramatic 911 call. A wounded victim pleading for help during that deadly tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo.

Also coming up, why the Michigan primary may be do or die for Mitt Romney and what's at stake for his republican rivals.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Their supporters have recently been slaughtering one another in the streets. But Kenya's political faction sat down together in Parliament today for the first time since last month's disputed presidential elections. It was tense, but today at least the democratic process seemed to be working. CNN's Zain Verjee is in Nairobi. Zain?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Kenyans are nervous about tomorrow. There could be more violence as both sides continue to fight over who is the real president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: The pump outside parliament was followed by angry accusations and heckling inside as ballots were counted one and again and again for the influential speaker position. The opposition's man won. Many feared a loss would trigger violent protests across the country as it did right after Mwai Kibaki was re-elected president weeks ago in what many feel was a rigged election. Security forces braced themselves. As we drove in to parliament, what we saw was a significant amount of security forces, the police and the GSU power military security services were flocked out all around the city. They are barriers to all major roads leading up here.

These are images Kenyans are likely to see for the next three days, as the opposition that still challenges Kibaki's re-election for president calls for countrywide demonstrations that could take an ugly ethnic tone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mass action is not a good idea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Me, personally, I'm afraid.

VERJEE: More than 600 have been killed and up to a quarter of a million displaced in a normally stable country, one the U.S. depends on to fight terror. Flames engulfed this slum house, an electrical fault but it was enough to put residents on edge. Some packing up and leaving afraid that politicians are exploiting tribal differences for political gain.

Both sides still fighting over who is really president have hardened their positions publicly. Compromise seems remote, especially as former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has been hit with the flu and has delayed his mediation visit by a few days, time Kenya may not have.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: Hundreds of security forces are likely to be deployed to the outskirts of Nairobi where all the slums are to prevent the demonstrators from leaving. Wolf?

BLITZER: Zain Verjee on the scene for us in Nairobi. Thank you very much.

We're getting some insight into Kenya. You know, we don't really do a lot of reporting from Africa. Zain is there right now so we're taking full advantage.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She's doing a good job.

BLITZER: Yes, excellent job.

CAFFERTY: Yes, nice work.

We have a story ongoing. A judge has ordered CNBC to include Dennis Kucinich in a debate this evening. The network is appealing. That appeal is being heard right this minute. We don't know the outcome but our question this hour is should the courts be involved in this kind of thing?

We get this from Steve in Kansas. "Yes, the airwaves belong to the American people and besides, with Kucinich there, the democrats may even talk about something important."

Pete writes, "Of course Kucinich should be included. Although the moderators will fail to ask, Dennis will find a way to address some of the Constitutional issues such as the loss of the right to Habeas Corpus, military commissions act, warrantless wire tapping, problems with patriot act and torture. All of these are steps on the road to a fascist state."

Tim writes, "I don't think so Jack. This is the type of thing that boils my blood. The courts ought to stay away from politics and stick to creating "justice" for all. As for Kucinich, I think that he should give up, pack up, and go home."

Mike writes, "Dennis Kucinich reflects the majority of Americans who want to end the senseless slaughter of our soldiers in Iraq. GE owns NBC, MSNBC as well. GE profits from the war. That doesn't give war profiteers GE and NBC the right to break their contract with Dennis Kucinich. Kudos to Judge Thompson for standing firm on the law."

Anthony writes, "Yes, if it will stop the media from anointing future candidates through the limited coverage of a select few. There are other very worthwhile candidates out there whose views are swept away by the coverage of the few media darlings."

And Tony writes, "Why not? There is precedence, you know. Remember December of 2000? The courts effectively selected the president of the United States." Yes, they did.

BLITZER: See you in a few moments, Jack. Thanks very much.

Coming up, we'll get the 911 tape on the tiger attack in the San Francisco Zoo. That's coming up. Also, Lou Dobbs is standing by with his take on the Michigan primary. He'll be joining us right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. And we'll take you live to Michigan where the polls will close in just over three hours.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Get back to the presidential campaign in a moment, but there's another dramatic story we're following. Tape of a 911 call from that tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo has just been released. On the 7-minute recording, you can hear the mauling victims pleading for help. One fearing his brother is about to die. CNN's Thelma Gutierrez is joining us now live. Thelma, what else is on the recording?

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I can tell you that those tapes are absolutely chilling. You can hear one of the two brothers frantically screaming at the 911 dispatcher telling her brother is bleeding and is about to die after being attacked by a Siberian tiger. The caller repeatedly asks why it's taking paramedics so long to reach them. The operator tells them the area is not secure because the tiger is still on the loose.

(BEGIN AUDIO TAPE)

OPERATOR: If the paramedics get hurt they cannot help your brother. You need to calm down. You are going to be the best help for your brother right now. You need to calm down and help him until we can get there, sir. All right? So I'm going to stay on the line with you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a fatality. This person needs help now. One of the tigers got loose. What! It's a dangerous situation. You are going to have to leave now, quickly.

(END AUDIO TAPE)

GUTIERREZ: Now the two brothers, Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal both suffered bite and claw wounds in the attack. While they waited for paramedics to arrive on the scene, officials raced to evacuate the San Francisco Zoo. And the brothers' friend, 17-year-old Carlos Sousa, Jr. was killed near the tiger enclosure and authorities are still investigating what may have provoked the animal to attack. It isn't clear which of the two brothers made the 911 call. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thelma, so what happens now? Where does all this go from here?

GUTIERREZ: Well, the brothers are talking to an attorney right now. The zoo is in the process of fixing the enclosure. They had acknowledged that the enclosure, the fence actually separating the tiger from the people at the zoo was a little bit short. They're in the process of fixing that enclosure. And the Sousa family is also in the process of contacting an attorney.

BLITZER: Thanks, Thelma, for that update; Thelma Gutierrez reporting.

Let's check in with Lou Dobbs. He's got an interesting two-hour show that you're working on starting at 7 p.m. tonight, 7 to 9 p.m. Let's talk about Michigan, the stakes for the middle class, as you like to say. Where do you see the stakes right now unfolding? LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, for me personally the reality is that the people of Michigan who have suffered more than anyone, any other state in the country have been just really set aside, discarded by both political parties. It's an exact representative of what's wrong with partisan politics in the country, both the Democrat and the Republican Party. Whether Mitt Romney prevails or John McCain, what we're watching is partisan politics and the same hack kneed platitudes in a state that ...

BLITZER: Do you believe the republican candidates when they promise the people of Michigan we're going to fix it, we're going to get it right. Just elect me.

DOBBS: Wolf, if I may say this gently; any American who bereaves any candidate promising anything after the experience of the last decade, 25 years, you could perhaps go back even farther, you know, the suggestion that you should believe them on any of it is ridiculous. We've got a congress you can't believe. We have a president you can't believe. And these are the leading candidates from --

BLITZER: Is there anyone out there that people out there can believe with any of these politicians?

DOBBS: I would be glad to entertain some suggestions if you have any. I can't see any difference in these candidates than the previous candidates, Kerry and Bush in 2004.

What in the world are we getting in the way of leadership in this country? In Michigan itself, we know that the free trade practices as followed by this administration are the reason for the automobile industry in the country being destroyed. The manufacturing jobs lost across the country, education systems in absolute decline, public schools, a great equalizer by our society. And these candidates aren't talking about a crisis in public education, which is what we have. They're not taking about the failure of leadership in this country. Whether you choose Romney or McCain, you name it or Obama or Clinton if they can break away from race based petty politics for a day. You tell me. Are you proud of the candidates?

BLITZER: Does Florida GM, do they share some of the blame for what's happened to the American automobile industry?

DOBBS: So do the United Auto Workers Union. So do you and me because we haven't focused on the issues for a decade, the issues that have been tearing this country apart. But for us to continue to let these political candidates avoid issues, whether it's on the Iraq war or free trade or freedom of duty to American kids and our public school system, you know, we all have plenty of blame to go around. But these are the people looking for the job. They're the ones who need to be held accountable.

BLITZER: What do you make of this move by the Kuwaitis, the Saudis, Singapore to come in and invest billions of dollars in Citicorp? DOBBS: Thank god. You know we've sent all this money over there so we can get some of it back. You know the idiots like Henry Paulson and all the geniuses down the road here on Manhattan Island on Wall Street who've made billions of dollars in bonuses following policies that have bankrupted American manufacturing and to have the Chamber of Commerce sitting there talking about what brilliant geniuses they are and how many bonuses meanwhile without that Kuwaiti money, without that Saudi money, we wouldn't have a balance sheet for Citigroup, the country's largest bank. That's how much trouble we're in and people have got to start focusing on it, even if the candidates don't but we're going to focus on it tonight and what's happening with the middle class.

BLITZER: Coming up in one hour, 7 p.m. eastern, two hours of Lou tonight from 7 to 9.

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