Return to Transcripts main page


President Bush Talks Iraq War; Air Travel Nightmare; Why Indiana Suddenly Matters for Democratic Candidates; Obama Continues Closing Gap in Pennsylvania

Aired April 10, 2008 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, President Bush talks war, and the Democrats take aim -- Hillary Clinton demanding he answer a key question, and Barack Obama saying the president's announcement proves the time for change is now.

Political courtship -- John McCain knows what he needs to win in the election, and he's going after one key group. He goes on a program widely watched by them. That would be the TV show "The View." Will that help?

And lawmakers join in your anger at the airlines. Amid frustrating flight cancellations, they grill the agency responsible for plane safety. What rights do you have or should you have as a passenger?

All that coming up -- plus, the best political team on television.

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

Two people who want President Bush's job tick away at something he is something.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Today, President Bush said the so-called Iraq surge has been successful, but Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama wasted no time suggesting the president is flat wrong.

First, listen to what the president said this morning.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The immediate goal of the surge was to bring down the sectarian violence that threatened to overwhelm the government in Baghdad, restore basic security to Iraqi communities, and drive the terrorists out of their safe havens. As General Petraeus told Congress, American and Iraqi forces have made significant progress in all these areas.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Meanwhile, regarding those objectives, Hillary Clinton describes them in a starkly different way.

Let's go to CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. She's in Pittsburgh. She's watching this story for us.

The senator sort of hitting the president pretty hard on this issue of the war in Iraq, Suzanne.


And a particular point that we brought up here, President Bush said that General Petraeus, he could give him all the time that he wanted essentially to figure out the situation, the conditions on the ground in Iraq before pulling out more U.S. troops.

Well, I put that question to Senator Clinton, whether or not as commander in chief there would be kind of an open-ended assessment period. She did not answer that, but she did say, as the president, she would set the policy, bringing the troops home as quickly and as responsibly as possible.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): In an effort to convince voters she's the anti-war candidate, Senator Clinton blasted President Bush, who earlier in the day ordered to halt withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq after July so his top commander could assess conditions on the ground.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do want to commend President Bush for cutting the length of deployments from 15 to 12 months.

MALVEAUX: Clinton praised Mr. Bush's decision to reduce soldiers' combat tours by three months, but portrayed the change as too little, too late.

CLINTON: In the wake of the failed objectives that were laid out to be met by the surge, what is the exit strategy in Iraq?

MALVEAUX: Wednesday night, Senator Clinton asserted, it's not too little or too late for her to still win the Democratic nomination. At a fund-raising concert with Elton John, she borrowed a line from one of his greatest hits, declaring:

CLINTON: I'm still standing.

MALVEAUX: Leaving New York City, $2.5 million richer from the event, she was back on the trail in Pennsylvania. Her encore here in Pittsburgh is aimed at wooing women, the working class, and those worried over the war. But her job is getting tougher.

A new survey of three polls compiled by CNN shows Barack Obama is closing in on her lead, now just a four percent gap between the two, 46 percent supporting Clinton, 42 percent for Obama, and 12 percent undecided.


MALVEAUX: And, not surprisingly, Wolf, the campaign really emphasizing the positive assets of what's happening. They say that she has gotten three superdelegates within the last 36 hours. She's also increasing offices in Indiana, Oregon and North Carolina, clearly, Wolf, trying to look past, if you will, Pennsylvania -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Suzanne, thank you.

Meanwhile, one of the few things that Senators Clinton and Obama are not fighting over these days is their dislike for the administration's handling of the war.

This is what Senator Obama said today after the president announced his next steps for Iraq.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is no end in sight under the Bush policy. And if that isn't enough for you to want change, I don't know what is, because it is time to bring in war in Iraq to a close. That's part of the urgency of now.


BLITZER: Coming up, you're going to hear more from Senator Obama. Candy Crowley is covering that part of the story. That's coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Senators Clinton and Obama have only a few more contests to fight over, Pennsylvania offering the biggest delegate treasure, 158 delegates. In our latest average of polls there, Clinton's lead over Obama is down, as we just reported, to four points, after rapidly shrinking these past several days.

The next two biggest primaries are on May 6, Indiana offering 72 delegates. A recent Research 2000 poll, by the way, there in Indiana shows Clinton and Obama running neck and neck.

In North Carolina, a very different story. Obama leads Clinton by huge margins, at least in recent polls, for that state's 115 delegates.

Republican presidential hopeful John McCain is setting out to win over a key voting bloc. That would be women.

Dana Bash is in New York, where the senator from Arizona took his White House pitch to daytime TV earlier today.

What did he have to say? How did he do, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he held his own, Wolf, but the issue here really is that for nearly three decades, women have voted at a higher rate than men, and most of those women voted Democrat. So, John McCain came here to a New York studio this morning to do a little outreach.






BASH (voice-over): He got a warm welcome, yet offered a business-like greeting, handshakes for the ladies of The View.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama gave us a hug.




BASH: But he was coaxed into some hugs. A subtle but telling lesson for the Republican candidate here to embrace a giant challenge -- the gender gap.

A recent poll showed John McCain trailing Hillary Clinton among women by 14 points, 13 points to Barack Obama. McCain adviser and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina says women do need a connection.

CARLY FIORINA, MCCAIN ADVISER: I think for us the challenge really is to put John McCain out there where women can really get to know him, get to see him, get to understand him.

BASH: So nestled on the couch at The View, softened his approach in explaining his position on Iraq.


MCCAIN: If we did what many want, which is to set a date for withdrawal and pull out, and I think we would pay a very heavy price.


BASH: In 2004, George W. Bush narrowed the gender gap, losing the female vote by just three points by warning women Democrats will risk their security.

BUSH: Senator Kerry has chosen the position of weakness and inaction.

BASH: That would be a harder sell now. Yet, McCain advisers insist his military experience helps. FIORINA: As a woman, I truly believe that it takes a soldier to bring us home with victory and honor in Iraq.

BASH: But groups like Planned Parenthood are working to defeat McCain for another reason -- his opposition to abortion. They commissioned a study showing more than half of women in key states don't know his position and are starting a grassroots effort to tell them.

SAMANTHA SMOOT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: When women voters find out that John McCain opposes Roe versus Wade and sex education and affordable birth control, then they stop supporting him.


BASH: Now, 52 percent of female voters call themselves pro- choice. And McCain advisers insist, they don't just vote on that one issue. What McCain advisers hope that his support for things like embryonic stem cell research and even climate change will draw women in -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Dana, thank you for that -- Dana Bash reporting.

Jack Cafferty is joining us now with "The Cafferty File" once again -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Once again. Time flies when you're having this much fun.

A crisis is how the president of the International Olympic Committee describes the protests that have surrounded the Olympic torch relay.

Jacques Rogge insists the torch relay will go on, despite protests in London, Paris and yesterday in San Francisco, which have focused on China's human rights record, its crackdown on Tibet, and its close relationship with Sudan. He says the IOC has weathered many bigger storms, like the murder of the Israeli athletes in Munich 1972, and the Olympic boycotts of 1976, 1980, 1984.

However, Rogge says the committee will reconsider holding this kind of international relay for future Olympic Games.

He also called on China to honor its pledges to improve human rights and give foreign journalists unfettered access, a rare critique of the communist country coming from the IOC. China shot right back, saying the IOC ought to keep its nose out of China's internal politics.

The Olympic torch has now arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There will be a relay there tomorrow. It then moves on to 14 more cities, Africa and Asia, before returning to China in August.

One IOC member suggested the P.R. nightmare that has followed the flame this year may make it the last time for an international relay. Here's our question, then: In light of what's happened in London, Paris and San Francisco, how should officials handle the remainder of the Olympic torch tour?

Go to, where you can post a comment on my blog.

I wish they bet they had never started this deal.

BLITZER: Yes. We will see what happened in Buenos Aires tomorrow. It's supposed to run through the streets of Buenos Aires tomorrow in Argentina.

All right, Jack, thanks very much.

An ongoing nightmare for air travelers.


SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The U.S. economy can't afford to have one of its major airlines just shut down for days.


BLITZER: With tens of thousands of travelers stranded, angry lawmakers are looking around for someone to blame. The latest on all those canceled flights and stranded passengers -- coming up.

Plus, he brokered is the first Israeli-Arab peace deal, but has recently been raising lots of controversy over his views involving the Middle East. And now the former President Jimmy Carter is planning to do something pretty controversial. We will tell you what's going on.

And secret marriage beds inside a polygamy compound -- a Texas sheriff says he's investigated the place for years and was surprised by what authorities are turning up. We will update you on the latest -- right here on THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: (AUDIO GAP) Five hundred flights grounded over the past three days, tens of thousands of passengers stranded. The boss of American Airlines taking the blame, but he's not the only one.

Let's go to our chief technology correspondent, Miles O'Brien. He's watching this story for us.

Congress is asking very important questions, Miles, but, so far, I don't know how many answers we have received. What are you picking up?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CHIEF TECHNOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT: I would say more questions than answers so far, Wolf.

American mechanics right now are trying for the third time to fix some wiring bundles that could become frayed. And they could pose an explosion risk. About a third of their fleet of 330 or so MD-80 series aircraft now back in service, but the airline canceled more than 900 flights today and predicts more of the same through Saturday.


O'BRIEN (voice-over): It's a bundle of problems for American Airlines and a warren of woes for thousands of its grounded and increasingly grouchy customers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somebody needs to help us, so that we can get out of here.

O'BRIEN: American mechanics have their heads buried in those MD- 80 wheel wells for the second time now, trying to comply to the letter of the law with a federal mandate to straighten out potential problems with some high-voltage wires that oh so near to a fuel tank.

GERARD J. ARPEY, CEO, AMERICAN AIRLINES: We obviously failed to complete this airworthiness directive to the precise standards set by the FAA. And I take full personal responsibility for that.

O'BRIEN: American CEO Gerard Arpey told reporters it's all his fault, and he regrets the inconvenience it has caused his customers. But that was not the end of the mea culpas on this day of chaos and cancellations.

On Capitol Hill, senators focused their ire on the FAA's safety boss.

SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA: You're responsible, but you don't have to take responsibility.


ROCKEFELLER: You don't have to be accountable. You are responsible, but you don't have to be accountable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am accountable, sir.

ROCKEFELLER: Well, if you are accountable, you should have been howling in my office and Kay Bailey Hutchison's office some time ago.

O'BRIEN: Lawmakers are angry the FAA lowered the boom on American only after a House committee brought to light serious inspection lapses at Southwest Airlines. The inspection and maintenance brouhaha and the ensuing travel horror stories are rekindling calls for an airline passenger bill of rights.

SEN. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D), NEW JERSEY: The bottom line is this. Passengers have rights, and airlines have obligations. And we have an obligation to make sure that we have an FAA that functions effectively.


O'BRIEN: Now, American says there is still a lot of uncertainty about how quickly they can get all those MD-80s back in the air. The fixes take anywhere from two to six hours. But then the airline must wait for the FAA to inspect the fixes, hopefully, once and for all -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I think the basic question most travelers, airline travelers, want to know, Miles, is, should they be concerned right now about their safety when they get on board a plane?

O'BRIEN: Well, here's the thing that is important to remember through all of this. American Airlines, through all of these inspections, through all the misfire attempts to fix it, has not found a single frayed wire.

And that was the original concern, that the wires would be frayed, cause a spark. It's near the fuel tank. That could be a very bad day. Through all this time, all those wires are just fine. So, while the airline says it's not a big safety issue, they do concede you have to follow the letter of the law, and you have to make sure that the ties are exactly one inch apart, which was one of the issues that they failed to do properly.

So, not an issue that a passenger should get too worried about. The largest issue, though, about inspections, how the FAA is handling the airlines, and whether the airlines are hard-pressed and may be cutting corners, that's an issue we still have to be focused on.

BLITZER: It's a cliche, but it's one we all believe in. Better to be safe than sorry.


BLITZER: Miles, thanks very much -- Miles O'Brien reporting.

He brokered the first Israeli-Arab peace agreement three decades ago at Camp David, but his more recent Middle East efforts have raised lots of controversy. Now the former President Jimmy Carter may be planning to meet with a group that the United States government has branded a terrorist organization.

Let's go to Brian Todd. He's been watching this story for us. He's got the latest -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is all about Jimmy Carter again taking a tack that makes the current president and those who want to succeed him very uncomfortable.


TODD (voice-over): Again, he's pushing the boundaries of convention in the Middle East and again he's taking heat for it. Former President Jimmy Carter plans to meet soon in Syria with Khaled Meshaal, leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

That's according to a Hamas representative in Lebanon. A spokeswoman for the former president would not confirm the meeting. But, in a statement, Mr. Carter said his purpose in going to the Middle East next week is not to negotiate, but to spur momentum for peace.

Still, the State Department has called Carter and made its position clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was worth repeating in this particular case where we stand and the fact that we counseled against it.

TODD: Hamas is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. It's called for Israel's destruction. And for decades, Hamas and the Israelis have waged lethal campaigns against each other. Hamas did win Palestinian parliamentary elections two years ago and controls Gaza.

But in the United States, those who want Jimmy Carter's old job are not willing to follow his path. John McCain's campaign calls Carter's plan a dangerous mistake. Hillary Clinton disagrees with Carter, as does Barack Obama, even though he's willing to meet with governments like Iran, accused by the U.S. of supporting terrorism.

SUSAN RICE, OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: There's a great difference between a terrorist organization and a nation state. Hamas is a terrorist organization that is, as we speak, attacking Israel and its population on a daily basis.

TODD: But despite Obama's stated support of Israel, he could find himself in a political squeeze here. President Carter has hinted strongly he supports Obama's candidacy, and Carter has a contentious relationship with the Jewish community because of his book comparing Israel's policies to apartheid.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: There's a cocktail here of Carter having an antagonistic relationship with the Jews right now, being close to Obama, Obama trying to win in Pennsylvania, and win in a party where American Jewish vote and voices are very important. That makes this a very volatile mix for Barack Obama.


TODD: But it's not like Jimmy Carter is all alone on an island. This letter to President Bush last fall says it is better to talk to Hamas than to isolate it, that if Hamas is ostracized, violence could escalate, and any gains toward peace could be wiped out.

The letter was sent by among others former National Security Advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Thomas Pickering, and former Congressman Lee Hamilton, a member of the Iraq Study Group and the 9/11 Commission.

One other important note here, Wolf: A group of world leaders, including former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former South African President Nelson Mandela, had planned on going on this trip with Jimmy Carter next week. They are now canceling that or at least postponing it. They did not say why, but the statement that they are canceling or postponing this trip came after Condoleezza Rice spoke with Kofi Annan -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thank you -- Brian giving a good comprehensive report.

Fighter jet parts and combat uniforms, just some of the sensitive and stolen U.S. military items being sold right now online. Could they be used against U.S. troops? Very worrisome story.

And are you worried you can't keep your own home or are you fearful you will never be able to sell it? The presidential candidates tell us what they do to try to help fight the housing crisis.

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



BLITZER: Barack Obama talks tough. He goes after the president and John McCain. You're going to hear what he said about both and how he compared the two.

Also, would John McCain attend the opening ceremonies of China's Olympic Games? Or would he refuse to take part? We're going to find out the answer. That's coming up.

And, amid the mortgage crisis, Congress says help is on the way. But struggling homeowners want to know when. Lawmakers did do something about it today, but some are complaining it doesn't do enough to help the actual homeowners.

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


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

Happening now, the next Democratic primary is in Pennsylvania in 12 days, but Barack Obama is spending the next few days in Indiana. Indiana holds it primary in May.

Republican John McCain says he supports a boycott of the opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics in August, unless China changes its behavior quickly. In an appearance earlier today on ABC's "The View," Senator McCain said China must end its crackdown in Tibet and open talks with the Dalai Lama.

And the three remaining presidential candidates, Obama, McCain, and Hillary Clinton, solidified their plans for the housing and mortgage crisis. McCain calls for government intervention, with a bailout as a last resort. Obama calls for a multibillion-dollar infusion. And Clinton wants to freeze interest rates. Details on their respective plans, plus the best political team on television -- all that coming up.

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

As the Democratic race drags on, states that have rarely had a say in presidential nominations are suddenly finding themselves in the spotlight, being courted very aggressively by the candidates, one of those states, Indiana.

Barack Obama is there right now. So is our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley.

All right, Candy, tell our viewers what's going on. We see another Obama rally behind you, and a huge crowd.


Here, as in other states, he does draw big crowds. We're in the middle of a town hall meeting here. But, frankly, there usually are two questions -- at least all the questions fit under two general categories. And that is the economy and the war.


CROWLEY (voice-over): Pennsylvania is the next word, not the last.

OBAMA: Hello, South Bend.

CROWLEY: Iraq and the economy, or the economy and Iraqi, is the drumbeat as Barack Obama opens up a four-day sweep through Indiana.

OBAMA: If a bank is in danger of going belly up, they bail them out, but nobody is bailing out the folks here in Gary, Indiana.

CROWLEY: The day's news offered ample opportunity for Barack to bypass Hillary Clinton, as he went after George Bush for announcing a pause in troop withdrawal from Iraq.

OBAMA: In other words, there is no end in sight under the Bush policy. And if that isn't enough for you to want change, I don't know what is, because it is time to bring this war in Iraq to a close.

CROWLEY: And in this state where foreclosures have nearly tripled in a year, Obama also went after John McCain and his new plan to help some subprime mortgage holders.

OBAMA: Senator McCain's solution to the housing crisis seems like a lot like George Bush's solution to the housing crisis, which is to sit by and hope it passes by.

CROWLEY: The McCain camp says McCain's plan targets true victims of sub prime loans while Obama's proposal is a $10 billion blanket bailout which will force taxpayers to rescue speculators and shady lenders.

Indiana is generally an asterisk in presidential contests, but this year, if Hillary Clinton takes Pennsylvania -- she leads there -- and Obama later wins North Carolina, where he leads, then Indiana is the place to watch. With just about a month to go, Indiana shapes up like this -- Clinton, 49 percent; Obama, 46; unsure five percent. With the margin of error, that's a dead heat.

Indiana hasn't voted for a Democratic president in more than 40 years and it probably won't this year, either. What it will do is give definitive shape to the Democratic primary season. And the Hoosiers are enjoying their place in history.


CROWLEY: And it will not surprise you, Wolf, as you look at this picture behind me, that even though right now Barack Obama pretty much has Indiana to himself, Hillary Clinton will return here tomorrow. Her husband and her daughter have already made visits -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Candy, don't go anywhere. We're going to continue this conversation not only with you, but Jack Cafferty. He's joining us from New York. Gloria is here in Washington, Gloria Borger.

And, Jack, I want to show you these poll numbers. Candy had some poll numbers in Indiana. But in Pennsylvania poll of polls, the average that we've seen over these past few days, it was 14 points, the margin, back in mid-March, 52 to 38 percent. Then it went down to 11 points, 51-40 percent in Hillary Clinton's favor. Yesterday, it was a six point spread. Now it's only a four point spread in Pennsylvania.

As I've been saying, those trends not necessarily all that good for Hillary Clinton right now in Pennsylvania. And if she were to lose -- that's not expected -- but if she were to lose in Pennsylvania, Indiana and North Carolina, which are scheduled for May 6, might not even happen.

CAFFERTY: Well, that's true. And even if she wins in Pennsylvania -- and at this point, with 12 days to go, we certainly -- it's too early to call that she will, and she might, it's not going to be a big win. And Barack Obama has a double digit lead in North Carolina. And as Candy just reported, the polls in Indiana show a toss-up.

Remember a few weeks ago when everybody said Hillary Clinton must run the table, she must win the remaining primaries by a substantial margin in order to have any chance of closing the gap with pledged delegates or perhaps -- perhaps coming out of this thing with the most popular votes?

Based on where Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Indiana sit right this minute, it doesn't look very good for her.

BLITZER: Gloria, how does it look to you?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, obviously, Obama is outspending her tremendously in Pennsylvania. He's also got a lot of new registered voters there, which is going to help him. And I was talking to a Democratic pollster today who's unaffiliated in this race.

And he said what may be happening in Pennsylvania could be the opposite of what happened in New Hampshire. In New Hampshire, after Obama won Iowa, the voters said wait a minute, this isn't over yet. We want this race to continue. And Hillary Clinton won New Hampshire.

This could be the bookend of that, where perhaps, he suggested, the voters are saying you know what, it's time to end this race. And maybe they'll do it in Pennsylvania.

BLITZER: Candy, you're --

BORGER: You just don't know.

BLITZER: -- Candy, you're talking to a lot of voters. In all of these polls, there's usually nine percent or 10 percent who say they're still undecided, they're not sure who they want to vote for.

What are they looking for at this late stage? I mean, God knows, we've been covering it about as thoroughly as anyone can.


CROWLEY: Right. Well, you know, I just think you're looking at conflict here. I think that, in fact, when you start to look at these undecideds, they're probably leaning one way or the other. But we went into this campaign -- at least when it got down to the two of them -- knowing that at that point, anyway, most Democrats thought either one of them would be fine. I think when you look at these undecideds, that's still who you're seeing. It's not so much what these candidates say, it's just those sort of final decisions.

As you know, Wolf, a lot of voters, regardless of when the race is or what the race is, do walk into those voting booths saying, I'm not really sure what I'm going to do and some of them don't know until they punch the button.

BLITZER: Candy is over there at that -- that rally or town hall meeting for Barack Obama. She's not getting the applause, he is, obviously.



CAFFERTY: How do you know?

BLITZER: Though they should be applauding you, Candy.


BLITZER: I have no doubt about that.

Stand by.

Coming up, John McCain -- he's courting women voters. And we're going to show you what he's been doing and why this particular voting bloc could be critically important for him.

Plus this...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why put down cookies then offer up a recipe for cookies?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I thought you didn't care about baking cookies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which is it, huh? Huh?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why the double standard?


BLITZER: Kiddy humor and political satire colliding. Only our Jeanne Moos will show us this Moost unusual story.

Stick around. You're going to want to see that.

All that coming up in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: John McCain courting women voters today, including an appearance on the TV program "The View".

Lets continue our discussion with the best political team on television.

What do you think about this? All of the candidates, Gloria, have made their appearance on "The View" in recent days and weeks. I guess it's become a mandatory stop.

BORGER: Yes, probing political interviews on "The View," which -- actually, you know, on "The View," Barack Obama first said that if Reverend Wright were still the pastor of the church, that her would have left the church. And today John McCain made some news on "The View" when he said that he would boycott the opening ceremonies if the Chinese did not change their ways.

So I think you're courting women voters, but they're actually asking some very serious questions to him -- some very tough questions to him about the war, about the Olympics, about his positions on policy. I think it's great. Court all the women you want.

BLITZER: What do you think, Candy?

CROWLEY: Well, I think it does a couple of things for these candidates. First of all, why do they do it? Because more women vote than men.

Second of all, it's not just "The View". It's "Ellen". It's "Tyra Banks". And they generally tend to use these formats to kind of show the more human side. Voters like to feel that they know the candidates. This gives them a chance on these shows that have largely women viewers to show kind of the softer side of the candidate.

BLITZER: And there's no doubt, Jack, that women do vote in larger percentages than men do.

CAFFERTY: Well, and I think "The View" -- I was a guest on that show when my book came out. "The View" has evolved into kind of the broadcast of record for the women who are home watching television in the middle of the day. They run a sophisticated, intelligent program.


CAFFERTY: My appearance notwithstanding. But they ask some tough questions. And they're politically savvy and they know what's going on. And they can get at a John McCain on issues that matter to women. So it's more than an "Ellen" or the what's her face that Candy mentioned. I think it's a little more a serious program than that. And it's probably a little better venue for these guys.

BLITZER: "Tyra Banks" is the other show she mentioned.

CAFFERTY: Tyra -- yes, that. Yes, I forgot.

What do you want from me?


Candy, I want to pick your brain for a second. You're at this town hall meeting with Barack Obama and we see these huge crowds.

Has it been like this every single event that he has, people are lining up in huge numbers the way, apparently, they did in Lafayette, Indiana, where you are?

CROWLEY: Pretty much. I mean it has been today. He tends to draw big crowds. He goes to schools. That obviously brings in the people who go here as well parents, that kind of thing. But, yes, he gets big crowds. I have to add, so does she. But, you know, Barack Obama has always been a big draw.

You could go through this crowd, I imagine, and find people who, A, might support Hillary, or, B, haven't made up their minds. But people are drawn to the history of it, as very often in Hillary Clinton's crowds. They also are drawn to the history of it.

CAFFERTY: Well, look at the -- look where he is, too. Look at the crowd in Lafayette, Indiana. This isn't Birmingham, Alabama or North Carolina or Mississippi. This is very close to Illinois and Iowa and the predominantly white voting bloc that gave him his big kick start in Iowa.

I mean that place is jammed to the rafters where Candy is. I don't know how many people are in there, but that's no little tiny town hall meeting. All of Lafayette looks like they're there.

BORGER: Well, Wolf -- and Candy can speak to this more, really, than I can. But I know that they've made an effort, particularly in Pennsylvania, to kind of limit the size of their crowds, because there was this sense that the Obama campaign was becoming the Obama cult for a while, with all these huge crowds and people fainting in the aisles. And so he's tried to campaign a little bit more personally in the State of Pennsylvania, to get some more one-on-one time with the voters there.


BLITZER: All right, guys.

Thanks very much.

Candy, go back to the audience over there.

And, Gloria, thanks to you.


BLITZER: We'll see you back here tomorrow.

Jack, stand by. We've got "The Cafferty File" coming up.

I'm going to go right back to Carol Costello. Some news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM involving American Airlines.

What are we learning -- Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, we're learning that the headaches will continue for passengers taking American Airlines flights. We just got word that tomorrow the airline will cancel 570 flights. Now, that's on top of the 900 some flights they canceled today. And, of course, the day before yesterday, they canceled more than a thousand flights.

But tomorrow 570 flights. Nights. So if you're flying American Airlines, please call ahead because there will be delays. And, of course, they're checking that wire bundling in the wheel wells -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks, Carol, very much.

What a nightmare out there right now.

All right, let's check in with Lou to see what's coming up right at the top of the hour -- Lou, what are you working on?


You won't believe what presidential candidates are doing to sell themselves as populists these days. We'll have complete coverage.

Also, a victory for gun owners and our constitutional rights. Florida the latest state to allow employees to carry guns to work. We'll have that special report.

And the mayor of Los Angeles is demanding that the federal government stop enforcing U.S. immigration laws. And the mayor's justification for that? Well, he says a crackdown is bad for business and his economy. How about that, a mayor with his priorities just straight as they can be?

And thousands of criminal illegal aliens released from prison are on our streets because their home countries refuse to take them back. Even worse, perhaps, the United States government is absolutely powerless to deal with the crisis -- or perhaps they lack the political will to do so. We'll be exploring that.

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

BLITZER: See you in a few moments, Lou. Thank you.

Chaos in London, Paris and San Francisco. So how should officials handle the remainder of the Olympic torch tour?

Jack Cafferty will be back with your e-mail.

Plus, Mike Huckabee off the campaign trail and into Hollywood?

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


BLITZER: On today's political ticker, it appears a former presidential candidate may have Hollywood dreams. According to his daughter, Mike Huckabee has signed a contract with a top talent agency in L.A. . She says there are no firm deals for her father yet, but that Huckabee is exploring options for various projects.

A bill aimed at preventing foreclosures has cleared the Senate. The bipartisan package includes large tax cuts for home builders and a $7,000 tax credit for people who buy foreclosed properties. But even the bill's supporters acknowledge that it's tilted too much in favor of businesses and does little to help borrowers at risk of losing their homes.

The candidates realize the economy is issue number one for so many Americans.

If elected, John McCain says he would consider more government intervention in the mortgage crisis, but says a bailout is the last resort.

Today, McCain explained the logic behind his housing plan.


MCCAIN: It's built on the reality that homeowners should have an equity capital stake in their own home. Homeowners would end up with a 30-year mortgage and an equity stake in their home. The new lender would receive a federal guarantee of the mortgage and the taxpayer gets a benefit if the sale value ever recovers.


BLITZER: Barack Obama wants $10 billion to help stop foreclosures and to kill some taxes and fees for those who must sell their homes. He'd give tax credits to 10 million struggling homeowners. And he has this to say about Senator McCain's plan.


OBAMA: I'm glad he finally offered a plan. Better late than never. But don't expect any real answers. Don't expect this to actually help struggling families, because Senator McCain's solution to the housing crisis seems like a lot like George Bush's solution to the housing crisis, which is to sit by and hope it passes by while families are facing foreclosure and watching their home values decline.


BLITZER: Senator Hillary Clinton wants to temporarily freeze the monthly rate on subprime adjustable mortgages and wants status reports from the industry on the mortgages it's modifying.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have been saying for more than a year, we've got to help people stay in their homes, not foreclosure on their homes, if we're going to work our way out of this economic crisis.


BLITZER: All right.

Let's go back to Jack Cafferty. He's got "The Cafferty File."

Three positions, three different solutions. We'll see what's going on.

CAFFERTY: Well, and it's worth remembering that none of them will be in a position to do anything at all about this until at least January 20 of next year so...

BLITZER: Well, they could vote on the legislation, although I don't think any of them voted on the legislation...

CAFFERTY: They don't vote. They don't...


CAFFERTY: They don't even go to their office. The only time they were in the Senate in the last three months was to question Petraeus. The rest of the time they're out running around in Lafayette, Indiana.

BLITZER: They weren't in Washington today.


They weren't in Washington today?

BLITZER: No, they were not.

CAFFERTY: No. They haven't been there for months.

The question this hour is: In light of what's happened in London, Paris and San Francisco, how should officials handle the remainder of the Olympic Torch tour?

Jim writes: "They ought to continue as they've been doing. Footage of police battling protesters is a completely appropriate image of China."

Linda writes: "Get rid of the Torch tour, get rid of the Torch, get rid of the Olympics. It's all become too political anyway."

Jason in New York: "They should remind protesters this is just a Torch. Everyone knows what's going on in Tibet and trying to extinguish a flame on a giant metal stick will not solve anything."

Ryan in Illinois: "The Olympic Committee should take the flame directly to Tibet and protect it and the Tibetan people."

Dan in Arizona's suggestion for the IOC: "Instead of recording whether or not it will Torch Relays in the future, why don't they reconsider awarding the Olympic Games to communist countries with long histories of human rights abuses? It seems like a pretty easy decision to me."

Bianca writes: "The Olympics is probably the biggest P.R. event China could ever hope to have. The international relay is a great idea because it shows how frustrated the world is at how China is handling its internal affairs. This could be the pressure many have hoped for to make China give more freedoms."

Don't bet on that.

And Chris in Swansea, Massachusetts: "I'll give you 10 to one that all the protesters are wearing clothing or shoes made in China."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at, where you might find yourself among hundreds of e-mails. It's there for your reading pleasure. There's a lot of stuff to look at -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's very excellent, Jack.

Thank you very much. See you back here tomorrow.

If you thought four years ago that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were tough, check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His name is very difficult to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we want a president with a name like that?


BLITZER: They're the so-called Swift Kids for Truth and they leave no stone, name or pantsuit unturned. Jeanne Moos most shares a Moost Unusual political parody, when we come back. I think you're going to want to see this.


BLITZER: Please be sure to watch CNN this Sunday night. We're the exclusive broadcasters of a presidential candidate forum of faith and values issues. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both will be there. It airs Sunday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

When you think Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, it calls to mind the drubbing they gave John Kerry's war record in the 2004 presidential race. Now there are the so-called Swift Kids for Truth, who give Moost unusual drubbings to anyone and everyone in this year's race.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.



JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth did to John Kerry's war record...

VAN ODELL, SWIFT BOAT VETERAN: John Kerry lied to get his Bronze Star.

MOOS: what Kids for Truth did to Hillary's pantsuit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Weren't you on the board of Wal-Mart?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you get your pantsuit at Wal-Mart?

MOOS: War record...

BOB ELDER, SWIFT BOAT VETERAN: John Kerry is no war hero.

MOOS: Pantsuit.



MOOS (on-camera): Logan, you looked really cute in that pink pantsuit.


MOOS (voice-over): From attacking Hillary's pantsuit to Barack's name. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barack Obama.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His name is very difficult to say.

MOOS: These five child actors will say pretty much whatever they're told to.

LILY SCHNEIDER, SWIFT KID: John gives us the line and we just repeat it back to him.

MOOS: The parodies John Benjamin posts to the Web site 23/6 have just been nominated for a Webby Award for online comedy.


MOOS: It takes a brave kid to give up his stuffed Chihuahua to do an interview, so we gave it back.

(on-camera): What do you want to be when you grow up, Logan?


MOOS (voice-over): But what he's cooking up now are parodies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary Clinton disparaged the act of baking cookies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why put down cookies then offer up a recipe for cookies? Which is it, huh?

MOOS: Their most controversial parody is titled "Snow Job," a pretend attack ad on Senator Obama's admission he used a little cocaine as a teen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Feels good, doesn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad Barack.

MOOS: Bad, bad, bad Swift Kid creators. "Psychological child abuse," posted one critic.


MOOS (on-camera): Logan, what's that all about?


MOOS (voice-over): Well, how could he, he's five.

(on-camera): It's just weird to have it coming out of the mouths of babes.


MOOS: Or is it into the noses of babes?

BENJAMIN: Well, say heroin. Say that.


BENJAMIN: See, it's like not -- it's nothing.

MOOS (voice-over): But when Logan's parents belatedly found out about the cocaine parody...

JAMES KULICK, FATHER OF "SWIFT KID": I think that one does stoop a little low, because kids and drugs, they really don't mix.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cocaine, isn't that a gateway drug?

MOOS: These days when you're the target of distorted attacks, they say you've been swift-boated.

LARRY THURLOW, SWIFT BOAT VETERAN: When the chips were down, you could not count on John Kerry.

MOOS: The chips Logan counts on are chocolate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mother baked me this cookie.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.



BLITZER: Leave it to Jeanne Moos to find those stores. New elements in this campaign happening all the time.

That's it for us. Thanks very much for joining.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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