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THE SITUATION ROOM

Interview With California Senator Barbara Boxer; Obama and McCain Spar Over Economy; Clinton's Red Ink; McCain Town Hall Challenge; Cindy McCain Says She'd Be A Different Type of First Lady; Paparazzi Starr Struck

Aired June 10, 2008 - 18:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, Barack Obama tries to show working women he feels their pain, and he's sounding a lot like Hillary Clinton along the way.

Also this hour, John McCain says Obama would be bad for business. He's putting new twists on familiar Republican charges of tax and spend.

And Obama may be suffering from what's being called debate fatigue. He doesn't seem to be in any rush to respond to McCain's town hall meeting challenge -- all that, plus the best political team on television.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Women and blue- collar workers, whatever their race, have the most to gain by the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States, and the most to lose by the election of John McCain.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Well, there you heard it, the House speaker making the case for Hillary Clinton supporters to rally behind Barack Obama and against John McCain.

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

Senator Obama is trying to do his best to do his part to win over those Clinton supporters. And that explains why he tagged along with a working woman in a very huge swing state.

Let's bring in CNN's Jessica Yellin. She's here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

He's trying to sound populist and he's trying to feel the pain of a lot of women out there.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He really is, Wolf.

Today, Barack Obama made it clear that he's trying to win over working women in particular.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN (voice-over): Barack Obama spent the morning touring a Missouri hospital with a hardworking nurse. Remind you of something? Maybe Hillary Clinton's tour with a hardworking nurse? Or Hillary's ad about hardworking women?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: You work the night shift at the local hospital. You're often overworked, underpaid, and sometimes overlooked.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: Obama's message is familiar, too.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time to stop saying that you are on your own to uninsured Americans and struggling families and small businesses. It's time to reclaim the idea that we all have mutual obligations to one another.

YELLIN: It sounds a bit like the populist themes Clinton adopted late in her campaign.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Or we can elect somebody who's going to fight for you. That is the choice in this election.

YELLIN: Which sounds a bit like John Edwards' promise to be this...

JOHN EDWARDS (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... for somebody who speaks from here, who truly believes in this cause, who will stand up and fight for the middle class.

YELLIN: Clinton's overt appeal to working Americans helped her win over the blue collar vote. Her outreach to working women helped her lock up the female vote. Both are constituencies Barack Obama is now trying to woo, so he's honing in on health care, with a proposal that would guarantee every American access to health insurance at lower costs. And he's picking a fight with John McCain.

OBAMA: He's offering a tax cut that won't insure that health care is affordable for hardworking families who need help the most.

YELLIN: McCain says Obama's plan is just more big government.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe the best way to help small businesses and employers afford health care is not to increase government control of health care, but to bring the rising costs of care under control.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN: Now, as Obama adopts these populist themes, it is worth recalling that he took some heat from his fellow Democrats over his health plan. Both Clinton and Edwards were very critical of Obama's plan, because it's voluntary insurance, not mandatory, and they have said, Wolf, that that's not true universal health coverage.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Jessica, for that.

A top Senate Democrat says Barack Obama's considering former military leaders in his search for a running mate. That would be Kent Conrad of North Dakota, who met with Obama's vice presidential search team today. Conrad says the team came in with a list of about 20 names that they discussed, including current and former lawmakers, and ex-military leaders. We are going to watch this story closely for you.

John McCain, meanwhile, is firing right back at Barack Obama on the economy, this a day after his Democratic rival took issue with him on issue number one. That would be the economy.

Let's go to Dana Bash. She's covering the McCain campaign for us.

All right, what happened today, Dana? Because McCain came out with a detailed economic plan.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He did, Wolf.

And it's interesting in that this is the plan that McCain first talked about back in April. But the difference between then and now is that now John McCain has an opponent. And in that -- what was the key for him today was to draw sharp differences between himself and Barack Obama, because it sounds pretty fundamental at first, but, if you really think about it, talk to anybody in politics, they say the name of the game in terms of winning an election is presenting voters with a clear choice.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): A new twist on the time-tested Republican attack line. John McCain declared Barack Obama's economic policies change that voters can't afford.

MCCAIN: Under Senator Obama's tax plan, Americans of every background would see their taxes rise -- seniors, parents, small business owners, and just about every one who has even a modest investment in the market.

BASH: A day after suggesting Obama's presidency would be like Jimmy Carter's, McCain conjured up memories of that era's economic anxiety...

MCCAIN: Will we go back to the policies of the '60s and '70s that failed, or will we go forward?

BASH: ... and slammed Obama for wanting to repeal tax cuts for upper-income Americans, tax cuts McCain initially opposed.

MCCAIN: Will we enact the largest single tax increase since the Second World War, as my opponent proposes, or will we keep taxes low, low for families and employers?

BASH: McCain may be selling himself as a different kind of Republican, but not on the economy. Advisers want him to stick to what they insist is winning conservative credo: free trade, low regulation and low taxes. In fact, McCain in the past has sparred with fellow Republicans over repealing the estate tax. Now he's hitting Obama for wanting to raise it.

MCCAIN: The estate tax is one of the most unfair tax laws on the books.

BASH: From Obama, rapid response, calling McCain misleading.

OBAMA: Let me be clear: my tax reform plan would cut taxes for 95 percent of workers.

BASH: McCain's speech to small business owners was interrupted three times by anti war protesters.

MCCAIN: You know, one of the...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (OFF-MIKE)

BASH: He wove the heckles into his pitch for joint town hall meetings with Obama.

MCCAIN: We need the town hall meeting. You just saw the example. Let's stop -- let's stop yelling at each other. Let's stop having sound bites and processed questions and those things.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: McCain said today he and Obama should travel to these town hall meetings together in the same plane, and promised that he would fly it himself. It's a self-deprecating joke referring to the fact that, while flying in Vietnam, he of course got shot down. But, in all seriousness, Wolf, McCain advisers say they haven't heard much from the Obama camp on this joint town hall idea since proposing it last week.

BLITZER: We will see where it goes next, if it goes at all.

Thanks, Dana, very much.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty right now. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack. JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the American dream is becoming a bit of a mirage these days. Fifty-four percent of Americans say their standard of living is no better today than it was five years ago. According to a new "USA Today"/Gallup poll, only 45 percent say they expect their kids to live better than they do, less than half. That's not the way it used to be in this country.

Today, more and more Americans are struggling thanks to the housing crisis and the credit crisis and gasoline at $4 and above and rising food prices and unsettled financial markets. From the end of the 2001 recession through last year, average household income actually declined almost every year.

It's the first time since World War II that the typical family was worse off at the end of an economic expansion than it was at the beginning. And that's an ominous sign. Economists say there are lots of reasons for the financial headaches, including weaker unions that cannot fight lower wages and more global competition.

There's also a growing demand for skilled workers at a time when the typical American worker has fewer years of education. The term American dream was actually born during the Great Depression. Economists now refer to the period between 1945 and 1973 as the golden age, when both the rich and poor prospered.

But that's changed. These days, it's almost always been the rich who benefit from economic growth. One expert says the top 1 percent of American families, those earning more than $382,000 a year, received about three-quarters of the nation's overall growth between 2002 and 2006.

That suggests that the other 99 percent of the country may no longer be able to count on the idea of better times ahead. And, if that's the case, we are in big, big trouble.

Here's the question: Is the American dream dead or just wounded?

Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. You can post a common on my blog -- Wolf.

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

Democrats say their party is like a family, one that's ended its family feud and now come together around a table of unity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: The table is set for a Democratic victory, and I do believe that we Democrats, the independent voters and many Republicans really want change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Senator Barbara Boxer is here. Wait until you hear what she says women who supported Hillary Clinton will do. Will they flock to Barack Obama? You are going to hear what she has to say. Plus, for anyone who thinks John McCain can win California, one Democrat has a message: Dream on.

And Obama lets Republicans know he's going after evangelical voters. We are going to tell you what he's doing even today.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: They came together to illustrate their message: It's time for Democrats to come together.

Today, here in Washington, top Democratic leaders stood side by side to show their party stands with Barack Obama and against John McCain. In attendance at the Democrats' headquarters were the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Party chairman, Howard Dean, among others.

But despite this show of unity, there remains one question of whether or not Obama can count on one key constituency.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And joining us now, Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California.

Senator, thanks very much for joining us.

BOXER: Thanks for having me on the show.

BLITZER: How angry are some of those Hillary Clinton supporters, especially women who worked so passionately for her and feel she was the victim of sexism, dirty tricks and a lot of other bad things over the course of these many months?

BOXER: I think there are some Hillary Clinton supporters who said that she was not treated fairly by the press. And, of course, they can show us some instances of that.

There are many Barack Obama supporters who feel that he was certainly not treated well by the press. So, you know, frankly, this is what you're going to deal with in such a spirited, unbelievably close race.

BLITZER: But the question is, can you bring those Hillary Clinton supporters around to actually support Barack Obama? Because you have seen the exit poll numbers. A nice chunk of them say they're not going to vote for him. Some of them even say they are going to vote for John McCain.

BOXER: As much as people in the media love to bring about bad news, let me tell you what I think. I think, as soon as everyone takes a hard, cold look at these two candidates and what they represent and what they believe in, particularly the women will flock to Barack Obama's side, not only because of his life story, the fact that he is married to a working woman who has had to balance all these demands, the fact that he was raised by a single mom and a lot by a grandma. I think they will gravitate toward him for that, but also when they look at the records of the two men.

And I would just say, I double-checked John McCain's record. He is a zero on a woman's right to choose. Now, you have to be a pretty far right to be a zero on a woman's right to choose.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: He opposes abortion rights, and Obama supports abortion rights. That's important issue, obviously, for a lot of women, a lot of men out there as well. But go ahead and make your point.

BOXER: Well, let me make my point.

He wants to criminalize the right to choose. He wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. That will take us back to before the '70s. He has a zero record on funding the victims of domestic violence. He has a zero record on equal pay for equal work. He didn't even show up for the last vote we had on equal pay for equal work.

So, the fact is, yes, there are people who are hurt and they feel bad, and I get it. Look, I have been in tough campaigns myself where I have had to support someone who won a primary and I was sad about it. But you have got to look at where we are. This isn't about me. It's not about the angry voter.

(CROSSTALK)

BOXER: And, by the way, as far as the women are concerned, the women shouldn't be angry. They should be proud, because that glass ceiling has been shattered. Hillary said it herself. It's been shattered by her and it's been shattered by Barack.

BLITZER: Well, let me ask you this, because there was a Democratic unity event up on Capitol Hill today. The leadership all got together.

How difficult, though, is it going to be to take these various wings of the Democratic Party and really unify them going forward?

BOXER: Well, I'm telling you, I think things are so bad in this country right now, whether you look at gas prices, food prices, the war in Iraq, you know, the foreclosure situation. People can't afford tuition.

We have all of these terrible domestic problems, and we have a war with no end in sight. And our -- you know, the way people view us in the world has never been lower. The table is set for a Democratic victory. And I do believe that we Democrats, the independent voters and many Republicans, really want change.

BLITZER: One final question about California. Some are suggesting, given Arnold Schwarzenegger's popularity out there, twice- elected Republican, moderate Republican, working now hard for John McCain, he can maybe help that state go Republican this time around.

Is that a dream that the Republicans have, or is there any seriousness to it?

BOXER: Well, of course, it's a dream that they have, but I would like to shatter it at this very moment by saying that Arnold has -- I really like Arnold as a person, but his ratings now are way down in the 30s, about 34, maybe low 40s, but certainly I think more like upper 30s.

The Republicans are very unpopular at home. George Bush is unpopular. People in my state are very sophisticated. They're not going to vote for someone because I tell them to or Arnold does or Maria Shriver does or my husband does. Here's the point. They know the state of the nation today.

California is suffering mightily from many of the problems, a recession, housing problems, the war in Iraq. We have lost more than any other state. So, we want change. So, of course, the Republicans will try. I would never take California for granted for 30 seconds. But I think, at the end of the day, we will be bluer than ever, because we have a great candidate. They have a candidate who would take us back to the past, who doesn't represent the future. And that's what I think.

BLITZER: Senator Boxer, thanks for coming in.

BOXER: Thanks for having me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And the McCain campaign is immediately responding to something we just heard Senator Boxer say.

Regarding the senator's claiming that McCain gets a zero on women's issue, the McCain campaign sent CNN this statement. And let me read it to you.

"Senator Barbara Boxer is misguided. Not only is she off base in many of her charges about John McCain's record; Senator Boxer ignores the fact that Barack Obama opposes school choice for families, flexible health care for women, but supports unconditional meetings with rogue leaders and higher taxes on family budgets. All of those are key issues for women" -- an immediate response from the McCain campaign.

Hillary Clinton ran an historic campaign of her own, but she also ran up an historic campaign debt. You are going to find out just what it is and what options she might have to repay those millions and millions of dollars.

And every traveler's nightmare -- a plane tries to land in bad weather, overshoots the runway, crashes and catches fire. We are going to update you on what happened today.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

BLITZER: John McCain is challenging Barack Obama to hold a series of 10 joint town hall meetings. But Obama doesn't sound ready to give an all-out yes. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I think that it's not realistic probably to do 10, given all the campaigning that has to -- that I have to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Does Barack Obama have a good reason to be wary about having lots of forums with John McCain? The best political team on television is standing by for that and more.

We will also talk about both candidates' new efforts to get religious leaders on their side. Is one making more progress than the other right now?

And Hillary Clinton's campaign debt could wind up haunting Obama. We're looking at the options for wiping her slate clean.

Stay with us. Lots of stuff going on today -- right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Happening now, John McCain's town hall challenge. Will Barack Obama take him up on it? Is there even enough time for 10 debates involving John McCain and Barack Obama?

Also, a snapshot of the two -- of the new two-man race. You are going to find out who is leading in our brand-new poll of polls.

Plus, he went after Bill Clinton. Now the former special prosecutor Ken Starr is poised to take on Hollywood's paparazzi -- all of this coming up, plus the best political team on television.

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

Now that she's bowed out of a very costly presidential race, Hillary Clinton finds herself swimming in an ocean of red ink.

Let's go to Mary Snow right away. She's watching this story for us.

So, how bad is it for the former first lady?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, bad enough to stand out as the largest campaign debt in presidential history. That's according to election law experts, who also say Clinton doesn't have too many options in how to pay it back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): Among Senator Hillary Clinton's IOU list, there's the $11.4 million she owes herself and the $9.5 million in bills. How to repay it? One option, getting help from her former rival.

OBAMA: We have not had detailed discussions about, you know, you know her debt and, you know, I think that what she's really interested in, as she said on Saturday, is figuring out how are we going to move forward to make sure we win the White House.

SNOW: The Obama campaign can't simply give money to Clinton to pay off the debt. But it can help with fundraising from their own contributors. Still, one campaign election law attorney points out Obama also has to raise money for the Democratic Party.

KENNETH GROSS, ELECTION LAW EXPERT: He can be helpful, but I wouldn't be banking on anything too significant.

SNOW: Attorney Ken Gross says Clinton does have roughly $20 million collected just for the general election. But she can't use it without getting permission from donors.

GROSS: She can ask them to redesignate those funds for her Senate campaign for the year 2012. And it might at least free up other money to pay her campaign debt from her presidential campaign.

SNOW: Clinton only has until the convention to repay the $11 million loan to herself. She has more time to pay bills, like the $4.8 million she owes to the firm of her former strategist, Mark Penn.

One watchdog group says some of Clinton's bills provide a glimpse into the differences of how the campaign spent money.

SHEILA KRUMHOLZ, CENTER FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS: Hillary Clinton's campaign was much more bloated in the administrative costs, in particular. The Barack Obama campaign was invested very heavily in volunteers. And that's a much more cost-effective way to run a campaign.

SNOW: As for being frugal, "Time" magazine recently reported Obama staffers are expected to double up in hotel rooms when they are on the road and are reimbursed if they take the subway from O'Hare Airport to the Chicago headquarters, but are not reimbursed if they take a cab.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

SNOW: Now, the Clinton campaign is still tallying the debt. It has to submit its update to the Federal Election Commission by June 20th -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Mary, for that. John McCain, meanwhile, is renewing his challenge to Barack Obama to face-off in 10 town hall style debates. Obama says he'll think about doing more than the three forums that are scheduled after the conventions, but 10 may be too many.

Let's discuss this and more with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger. Also joining us, Jack Cafferty, and our senior political analyst, Jeff Toobin. They're all part of the best political team on television.

Here's the challenge, in part, and how he renewed it even today.

Listen to this, Jack. This is John McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So we need the town hall meeting. You just saw the example. Let's stop -- let's stop yelling at each other. Let's stop having sound bites and processed questions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What do you think about the challenge he's made to Barack Obama to have these 10 open-ended town hall style debates?

CAFFERTY: Well, his campaign has made no secret of the fact that John McCain is much more comfortable in an off the cuff ad-lib situation. Today, he was giving a speech where he vowed to veto every beer. He does these kinds of things and it was a slip of the tongue. But he's more comfortable in a town hall type setting, as opposed to giving speeches behind the podium. Barack Obama possesses oratory skills that are breathtaking. He has got some real talent when it comes to standing at a microphone and delivering a speech.

If I was Barack Obama, why would I want to make John McCain more comfortable?

BLITZER: Gloria, what's the answer to that?

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the answer is that's why he's stalling, because he doesn't want to make John McCain more comfortable. He knows this isn't just a disinterested offer to restore the glory days of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. He knows that McCain wants to do this not only because McCain is good at it, as you point out, Jack, but also because it's a cheap way to get a lot of publicity for McCain, who doesn't have as much money. So they're holding back. But at a certain point, Obama is going to have to say yes. Because he's already said he thinks it's a good idea. So it's not like shying away from debates with Hillary Clinton at the end of the primaries. He's got to start doing some of these.

BLITZER: What do you think, Jeff?

TOOBIN: Well, it is a good idea simply on the merits. It is better to have the two candidates out there talking without prepared text and letting people size them up.

I think, actually, Obama would be smart politically to say yes, too, just because of what Jack was just saying. Everybody's saying oh, well, you know, McCain is so good at these town hall meetings. Well, maybe Barack Obama will turn out to be awfully good at it, too. He'll go in there with less expectations that he'll succeed. People think he's too young and inexperienced. If he goes to toe with McCain, it's a win for him.

BLITZER: He did about 20 debates against Hillary Clinton and about eight or nine other Democrats and he managed to do just fine, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Well, he has great verbal skills, there's no question about it. And if you can fill up a hall with 20,000 people and bring them to their feet and make them cry, then you can probably sit down in a more intimate setting and be just as effective in a town hall type situation.

As far as him having to do this, I'd watch the polls. He's agreed to three. If he opens up a lead in the polls, he doesn't have to do a whole lot of anything.

BORGER: Well, you know...

BLITZER: Well, speaking of the polls, Gloria, our latest poll of polls, the average of the most recent polls right now, shows Obama at 47 percent, McCain at 43 percent, 10 percent unsure. Now, some of these polls were taken before Hillary Clinton dropped out, so we're going to be getting new numbers in the coming days.

But normally the underdog wants the debates. The person on top says not so fast.

BORGER: Sure. Right. Exactly. And I think what you may see in the coming days is that Obama gets a little bit of a bounce post-Hillary Clinton pulling out of the race.

But what I know is that there have been conversations at the top staff levels between McCain people and Obama people, talking in theory about these town halls -- the Obama people saying yes, yes, they're a good idea. We may not want to do as many as you want to do, but at least in theory saying, you know, they think it would be a good idea and they -- and they ought to go for it. I don't think they're going to go for 10 because it will...

TOOBIN: Ten?

BORGER: ...they don't need 10. But I think they'll do -- what, Jeff, you want ten?

(LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: I don't care...

TOOBIN: No, I just. CAFFERTY: I don't care how good they are, I couldn't sit through 10 of anything that involved politicians.

TOOBIN: Yes.

BORGER: Oh, yes. I could. Oh, I could.

TOOBIN: I think that if there are 10, they should make the prisoners in Guantanamo watch.

(LAUGHTER)

TOOBIN: I mean that's just too much.

CAFFERTY: They'll confess to anything then.

TOOBIN: My goodness.

BORGER: Well, but we haven't seen Obama. We've seen Obama one-on- one against Hillary Clinton. But we haven't seen McCain and Obama. I mean that could get old. But if you -- if you did it on the issues, you know, I think it would be interesting and great television.

BLITZER: I think it...

TOOBIN: Four.

(LAUGHTER)

TOOBIN: Four tops.

CAFFERTY: Yes, four is good.

BLITZER: Stand...

CAFFERTY: Five, no more.

BLITZER: Stand by. We'll see what they decide.

BORGER: I'm for 10.

BLITZER: He almost brought down the Clinton White House. But now the former special prosecutor, Ken Starr, is going to bat for Britney Spears and other Hollywood celebrities. We're going to discuss what's going on.

Plus, John McCain's wife, Cindy McCain -- she's talking about what she'd do if her husband wins the White House. We have details of what she's saying right now. I think you'll be interested.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: John McCain and Barack Obama, they're courting one of the most important voting blocs out there. That would be religious voters.

Let's get back to the best political team on television -- Jeff, do you really believe that Barack Obama has a chance of making major inroads among Evangelical Christians out there?

TOOBIN: Well, one of the big changes in the Evangelical movement over the last few years has been at least part of it is moving away from the old social issues -- abortion and guy rights -- and toward issues like poverty, like global warming. There is a possibility for some inroads there. But by and large, I think that's pretty much a lost constituency for all Democrats.

BLITZER: He met today in private, Gloria, with some religious leaders in Chicago. So he's certainly making an effort.

BORGER: Yes, he's really making an effort. Obviously, the Reverend Wright problem still lurks and will no doubt rise again. But, look, the Democrats understood that one of the reasons that John Kerry lost is because he didn't get those regular churchgoers. And that was a real problem for him. George Bush won 78 percent of the Evangelical voters. The Democratic Party understands that it can't be the secular party in this country.

You know, the good news for the Democrats is that John McCain is not so popular with Evangelicals. They don't trust him.

BLITZER: He's got a problem with some of those conservative Christians, doesn't he, Jack?

CAFFERTY: Well, yes. His own mother said that the only way they'll vote for him, at the end of the day, is by holding their nose, which was still the best line of the entire political season.

Look, if you believe the polls, 82 percent of the people in this country think we're on the wrong track. It seems reasonable to assume that you will find some of those in virtually any part of the country, any demographic, any constituency, including Evangelicals and the religious community. Eighty-two percent is a huge number of disaffected voters if the polls are right.

So, yes, you go looking for them everywhere, you're going to find some.

BLITZER: And let me bring up the issue -- Jeff, and I'll start with you -- with Ken Starr, the former Whitewater prosecutor, the nemesis of Bill Clinton. He teaches at Pepperdine Law School right now. In Malibu, they have a problem with the paparazzi going after the movie stars, the Britney Spears and all of them. He's been asked by the local authorities to come up with some way to control these photographers.

You've looked into this.

What do you think?

TOOBIN: Well, you know, he's the local lawyer...

BORGER: Right.

TOOBIN: ...because Pepperdine is in Malibu. You know, Ken Starr is one of the mostly accomplished Supreme Court advocates of his day. And he has a kind of specialty in this area. He is a first amendment lawyer on the side, generally, of restricting speech. So the police were right and the authorities were right to call him in this case.

Just last year, you probably remember the case where a school district in Alaska disciplined a kid for holding a sign that said "Bong Hits for Jesus." Well, Starr successfully represented the school district in that case. So this is actually right up his alley.

BORGER: I just love the idea of seeing Ken Starr on the same side as Britney Spears, right?

I mean that's so wonderful.

CAFFERTY: Right.

BORGER: All of Hollywood on the side with Ken Starr, who can defend them.

CAFFERTY: You know, Bill Bradley...

BORGER: And I...

CAFFERTY: I'm sorry.

BORGER: Go ahead.

CAFFERTY: No, Bill Bratton is the chief of police of Los Angeles. He was Rudy Giuliani's police chief here in New York during Giuliani's first term as mayor, as well as the Los Angeles County sheriff's office have both said there's no need for any new ordinance, that there are plenty of laws on the books that are adequate to control the paparazzi, they just need to be enforced. You're allowed to harass people, you're not allowed to assault people, you're not allowed block public rights of way etc. etc. etc.

I just think it's interesting that we're sitting here on television, with all of the things going on in the world, talking about what the poor folks in Malibu, California are going to do about the paparazzi. My lord.

TOOBIN: Well, what about poor old Ed McMahon?

His house -- he can't sell his house. They're going to foreclosure on it because the paparazzi are always harassing Britney Spears, who lives next door.

CAFFERTY: You know, there are two words...

TOOBIN: See, it's all related. It's all related.

CAFFERTY: There are two words in the dictionary between which you will find the word sympathy, but they're not words that I can say here on THE SITUATION ROOM.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: You'd better...

BORGER: We care about everything at CNN.

BLITZER: We'd better leave it alone right now.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: All right, Jack, stand by. We've got The Cafferty File coming up.

She could be the next first lady of the United States. Now Cindy McCain is speaking out for the first time about what kind of presidential spouse she'd actually be. You're going to find out what she's saying. Stand by for that.

Plus, John McCain may have had his wife on his mind when he made a little slip of the tongue. We're going to show you what he meant, what actually came out of his mouth.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's check in with Lou to see what's coming up right at the top of the hour.

What are you working on -- Lou?

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

We're reporting tonight on the crisis over those deadly tomatoes. At least one person has died now. Nearly 200 others are sick and in 17 states. We'll tell you why powerful lobbyists and their friends in Congress have made it far more difficult to find the source of this outbreak of salmonella.

Also tonight, the drought emergency in California is worsening after the driest spring in nearly a century.

Is water rationing inevitable across California and other states?

Why aren't these states trying to control population growth?

And "The New York Times" attacking me again after I criticized a foreign hedge fund's efforts to take control of one of our biggest and most important national security assets and a very successful national strategic asset. We'll have that story.

But "The Times" forgot to tell its readers that Japan refused to allow that very same hedge fund to buy a stake in one of its utilities. And "The Times" forgot to say that sovereign wealth funds also owned part of that hedge fund. Perhaps "The New York Times" -- well, perhaps, they should look into that, as well. We're going to help them out tonight. Join us for that, 7:00 Eastern, the top of the hour, right here on CNN -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: We'll see you in a few moments, Lou.

Thank you.

Let's check in with Jack right now.

He's got The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour, Wolf, is the American dream dead or is it just wounded?

Ben in Chicago writes: "Dreams never die, Jack. The American dream is in a deep coma, however. Due to the enormous amount of public debt and public obligations, either taxes will need to be raised across the board or the government will inflate the money supply enough to take care of the debt. Either way, the middle and lower classes will be hit the hardest. As long as public spending continues to grow, the middle and lower classes will pay for it the most, as the politicians always, always find a way to help their friends."

Bob in North Carolina: "I just returned to the U.S. after living five years in a Third World country. The American dream is not dead and anyone who thinks it is should go live in another country for a while. It will certainly help everyone appreciate what they have here a whole lot more."

Chuck in Missouri: "Put a fork in it. The Senate Republicans blocking the measures against excessive big oil profits and to provide more regulation on speculators today, just another demonstration that Republicans will do whatever they can to keep us on this disastrous course that we've been on for some time. Anything more than a two class system -- the have-nots and the have lots -- is just unacceptable to them."

Dan in Virginia writes: "The point of the American dream was that you could make a decent living. There have never been any guarantees. Besides, the only dream that has died so far is the 'I can live well beyond my means and never worry about repercussions dream.' If you work hard, get an education and manage your money, you can still do well in this economy. The trick is to forgo the luxuries every now and then."

And Dick writes: "Define the American dream. Look, if money was everything, Jack wouldn't be so crabby."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at CNN.com/caffertyfile. Look for yours there among hundreds of others. Wolf, you don't think I'm crabby, do you?

BLITZER: I don't think you're -- you're very pleasant.

CAFFERTY: And handsome too, right?

BLITZER: Absolutely.

See you tomorrow.

CAFFERTY: Goodbye.

BLITZER: Bye.

On our Political Ticker right now, while Hillary Clinton played a very active role in her husband's administration, Cindy McCain says she'd be a different type of first lady.

Let's go back to Carol.

She's looking at this story.

What do we know?

What's the latest?

COSTELLO: Well, you know, Wolf, the voters don't know Cindy McCain very well. She isn't out front like Michelle Obama is sometimes. She's much more reserved, often standing beside John McCain and not really saying very much. But recently she's opened up. She posed in "Vogue," she talked about her charity work, which is extensive. And today she gave us a glimpse of what she would be like as first lady.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CINDY MCCAIN, WIFE OF JOHN MCCAIN: I do a lot of international charitable work. And I would continue to do that and some more of that. And education being my other issue. I would like to take an active role in just being an advocate. And I do not ever envision myself as being, you know, involved in the McCain administration, as it's been put, at all. But my husband and do I talk. And I certainly want to be a part -- a party to listening to what his ideas are, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: So, Mrs. McCain, if her husband wins, will fill the role in a traditional way, although she is very much a professional woman in her own right. She's chairman of her father's beer distribution empire -- back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for that, Carol.

Let's get some more now on our Political Ticker.

John McCain says his vice presidential search is easier than you might think. At a fundraiser in Virginia, the Republican was asked about his vetting process and that he joked that all he needed to do was Google his prospective V.P.s. Obviously, there's more to it than that. But McCain went on to say it's remarkable what you can find these days out on the Internet.

The priest who mocked Hillary Clinton at Barack Obama's former church will be back in his own pulpit starting Monday. Reverend Michael Pfleger was put on leave after a video of a controversial sermon hit the Internet. In it, Pfleger accuses Clinton of feeling entitled to the presidential nomination because she's white. The ensuing uproar prompted Obama to leave his church.

Remember, for the latest political news any time, you can always check out CNNPolitics.com. The Ticker, by the way, is now the number one political news blog on the Web. That's also where you can read my latest blog post. I posted one just before the show on the very serious differences between John McCain and Barack Obama.

John McCain gives a big speech against a very green backdrop. You remember that. It leaves some critics feeling a bit green around the gills. Jeanne Moos finds it all Moost Unusual. You'll see why, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here's a look at some of this hour's Hot Shots.

In Southern Illinois, a levee breaks near the Indiana line. That forced evacuations.

In Baghdad, a young street vendor walks past an American patrol.

In China, a panda looks out from her cage. She was rescued from the aftermath of that devastating earthquake, which took place almost a month ago.

Some of this hour's Hot Shots -- pictures often worth a thousand words.

The world may little note nor long remember what he said, but critics certainly can't forget the setting for this particular John McCain speech. It had some of them feeling a little green around the gills.

CNN's Jeanne Moos finds it all Moost Unusual.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a backdrop that left nobody green with envy.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... And that's not change we can believe in.

(APPLAUSE) MOOS: Change you can believe in is that that backdrop is being dropped. Never has a color been so maligned, called the "lime green monster" by the left, and "dumb green puke" background even by the right. All on a night when McCain's speech was being compared to Obama's.

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": In a room ten times as green.

MOOS: But it was fake pundit, Stephen Colbert, who colored the whole debate...

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Jimmy, let's spice him up.

There is he. Let's see what we can do here.

Look out, senator! There's a lion right behind you. Get out of there!

Ole, ole...

MOOS: Then Colbert invited his fans to go to his Web site and make their own alterations.

COLBERT: The footage will be there tomorrow waiting for your imagination.

MOOS: And imagine, they did. Highlighting the age issue by showing McCain with a horseless carriage backdrop.

Showing him with puppet strings...

MCCAIN: ... And your government often acts as if it is completely ...

MOOS: ... pulled by President Bush portrayed as Dr. Evil.

Showing McCain with "Mission Accomplished" behind him, even the Macarena (ph).

Watch your backs, candidates.

(on camera): Geez, you practically have to have eyes in the back of your head to run for president these days.

(voice-over): There was nothing balanced balanced by this exercise. One critic showed McCain saying nice things about Hillary with a backdrop of the infamous moment when a McCain supporter called Hillary a word that rhymes with witch.

MCCAIN: ... Her tenacity and courage ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do we beat the (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

MOOS: Another backdrop featured Steven Colbert showering and shampooing with a cup of coffee.

How about some guy doing the polka in his undies?

A senior McCain adviser says the green screen will not be returning. The campaign realizes it was a horrible visual. And look what the senator stood in front of Tuesday.

MCCAIN: I will veto every single beer -- bill --

MOOS: Now if only they could get him to read the teleprompter better. Perhaps the ultimate insult about the white-haired candidate with green background -- it will make you look like the "cottage cheese in lime Jell-O salad."

(on camera): That's not a very nice thing to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: J-E-L-L-O.

MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: As I said, a Moost Unusual look.

Thanks very much for joining us. See you back here tomorrow.

I'm wolf blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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