Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
New Video of Daring Hostage Rescue; McCain Vs. Obama on Iraq; Bill Clinton's Primary Season Anger Catches Up With Him
Aired July 4, 2008 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news, the first video of a daring hostage rescue. The raw emotion on tape as captives escape their nightmare in the Colombian jungle.
Plus, John McCain's new campaign to define Barack Obama on Iraq. Obama is firing back and seeing red, making a bold play for the states that usually vote Republican.
Bill Clinton's primary season anger catches up with him. We have a new measure of voters' views of the former president.
Wolf Blitzer's off, I'm Suzanne Malveaux and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. We are following breaking news. Brand new video of that dramatic and daring Colombian hostage rescue. It has just been released and it is thrilling to watch.
Just to listen to former hostage Ingrid Betancourt as she learns that she is free.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INGRID BETANCOURT, FORMER HOSTAGE (through translator): Oh my God. Thank you so much, God. Thank you so much.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: CNN's senior pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre joins us live. Jamie, tell us what else is in this video.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The video pretty much substantiates the Colombian version of events that they were able to fool the FARC on the ground into believing that the Colombian intelligence officers were in fact both humanitarian workers and fellow FARC workers.
You can see how dejected the captives are because they believe they're just going to be moved to another location. It's palpable, the disappointment on their faces, which of course all changes very shortly.
MALVEAUX: There is one thing that we don't see on this tape and that is the capture of the guerilla leaders. Why is that? MCINTYRE: When we switch to the video that's inside and we see the elation of the captives as they're told that the Colombian army is setting them free, the one thing we don't see is the capture of those two leaders. Including one who went by the alias Cesar. That's because the people who are posing as a journalist and a cameraman had to actually put down their cameras to jump on and overpower those guerillas.
MALVEAUX: Is there anything else that stands out in your mind when you take a look at that tape?
MCINTYRE: Well you know one thing is interesting is we discovered that the mission was conducted with the intelligence operatives unarmed. That was to build confidence among the FARC on the ground. They also left about 60 members of the FARC on the ground unaware of what happened. They could have launched a military strike against them. They didn't because they said they wanted it to be a bloodless rescue.
MALVEAUX: That's a fascinating story. Thank you very much Jamie.
Exactly four months from today, voters will choose between John McCain and Barack Obama. McCain plains to spend the time between now and then defining Obama on Iraq and other issues.
Let's bring in our own CNN's Dana Bash. Dana, the McCain camp seems to be settling in on a theme to use against Obama.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're trying at least, Suzanne. When you talk to Republicans who have been very worried actually very worried about the direction of the McCain campaign, they'll tell you they've been slow to come up with a clear argument against Obama.
This week, one slowly started to develop with the help of something McCain aides constantly complained has been lacking when it comes to Obama. Scrutiny from the press.
BASH (voice-over): When Barack Obama scrambled to clean up comments he made just four hours earlier about his Iraq position, he blamed the McCain campaign.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The McCain campaign primed the pump with the press to suggest that somehow we were changing our policy when we hadn't.
BASH: McCain aids were just fine with that because they've been struggling to show worried Republicans they can put Obama on the defensive. Find a theme against him. Minutes after Obama spoke, the McCain campaign released a statement, saying, "Barack Obama has changed course and proven his past positions to be just empty words." Painting Obama as just another politician who will say what it takes to win is exactly how McCain's new top gun, Steve Schmidt, helped George Bush beat John Kerry four years ago. Seizing on this.
SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.
BASH: But McCain advisers tell CNN they know labeling Obama a flip-flopper won't work. They hope to shatter Obama's above it all persona and redefine him as politically expedient. Like taking this from Obama.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I go to Iraq, I have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground. I'm sure I'll have more information and will continue to refine my policies.
BASH: And matching it against this McCain mantra.
MCCAIN: But I did say a year ago as you know, that I would much rather lose a political campaign than lose the war.
BASH: The McCain campaign is sarcastically praising Obama saying it's about time he acknowledges a president can't have a withdrawal deadline that ignores realities on the ground in Iraq. But Suzanne, they are also seizing on any subtle shift in Obama's position when it comes to Iraq. Because as you've heard, they want to try to bolster their argument that Obama doesn't have the experience or the judgment to be the commander in chief, especially in war time.
MALVEAUX: All right, we'll see if the strategy works. Thank you very much, Dana.
On this holiday, Barack Obama is seeing red. This week he has worked his way through the yellow toss-up states, Missouri, Ohio and Colorado into crimson country, the traditionally Republican states of North Dakota and as well as Montana.
CNN's Jessica Yellin is covering the Obama campaign.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, they are essential to his plan for victory. In the past, Democratic presidential candidates have written off states like Montana where Barack Obama is today. But he has 12 in staff there. He is up on the air with ads already. He is fighting for Bush country.
YELLIN (voice-over): Freedom fest in Butte, Montana. It's the kind of red state celebration where you wouldn't expect to find a Democratic candidate for president. But Barack Obama thinks this could be his turf.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm a firm believer that 90 percent of success is showing up. And Democrats haven't been showing up in these places.
YELLIN: His strategy for November depends on picking up voters who have felt alienated from the Democratic Party.
OBAMA: There are more and more independents who aren't tied to a political party. I want to make sure that we are reaching out to them.
YELLIN: Obama campaign manager David Plumb identifies six battleground states he believes can be turned blue this November. They are Virginia, where in 2004 Bush won by eight points. Missouri, he won by seven. Colorado by five, Ohio, Iowa and New Mexico where Bush barrel shaved off victories.
YELLIN: Investing in red states has a second advantage for Barack Obama. It forces John McCain to spend time and money in states he'd otherwise consider safe instead of spending it in battleground states -- Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Thanks, Jessica.
It's anyone's guess how Barack Obama or John McCain will do come Election Day. Where they are now in polls is not necessarily a prediction. We looked back at what other polls said in early July during other presidential races. In 2004, John Kerry led President Bush by seven points. Of course Kerry lost the election.
In 2000, polls showed George Bush and Vice President Al Gore locked in an extremely tight race. The extremely tight election results including the Florida vote debacle bore that out. Around this time in 1988, Michael Dukakis led Vice President George Bush by six points but then he lost the election.
There are some black pastors who are not so wild about the first African-American to poised to win a major party nomination. Find out why.
Also, making up is hard to do. Bill Clinton may be talking nice about Obama now, but his anger during the primary has hurt him.
A CNN exclusive. CNN covers another case of desperately needed supplies diverted from hurricane victims. There is clear outrage.
MALVEAUX: In Mississippi right now, groups helping thousands of Katrina victims still rebuilding their lives are outraged. That is because tens of millions of dollars of stockpiled hurricane supplies meant for storm victims never made it to the needy. Instead they were given to states and federal agencies.
"SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT" correspondent Abbie Boudreau just got back from the Mississippi coast. She is joining us now from Atlanta with this CNN exclusive -- Abbie?
ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, last month we reported what happened in Louisiana. How FEMA stored $85 million worth of household supplies. Some of it donated to the federal government. Then giving the supplies away instead of providing them to the states for nonprofit groups to use.
The story in Mississippi gets even more complicated because the state took the supplies but it never gave them to the people still who needed them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is bigger than what we think. This is gigantic.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): Complete disbelief.
GLENDA PERRYMAN, UNITED HEARTS COMMUNITY ACTION: We work so hard to help people in our community. When the government is holding stuff back that we can use to give to people that don't have.
BOUDREAU: We assembled leaders of eight Mississippi nonprofits still doing all they can to help Katrina victims, nearly three years after the storm.
CASS WOODS, COASTAL WOMEN FOR CHANGE: You have to be living under a rock not to know that there is still a need.
BOUDREAU: Each expressed outrage about what CNN's investigation uncovered. None of them knew that FEMA had stored these supplies for the last two years. They all say the need for those items is still there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even more now than right after the storm.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's scary to know that there are supplies that they are harboring and people in need right now as we speak today.
BOUDREAU: Instead of the supplies going to Katrina victims, FEMA declared them surplus and in February gave them all a way to federal agencies and 16 states. Louisiana's surplus agency said, no thanks to FEMA's offer, because it said it hadn't been notified there was still a need.
It wasn't until U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu learned of CNN's investigation that she was able to retrieve some supplies for victims in New Orleans. What do you think when you're watching all these items coming off this truck?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I'm going to get a new pot set.
BOUDREAU: But no one is celebrating in Mississippi.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn't think it was going to be this way.
BOUDREAU: Howard and Gloria Griffith's home was swept away by the storm. They've been living in this FEMA trailer ever since. These are pictures of brand-new household items that FEMA had stockpiled in warehouses for the last two years that were meant for you guys, meant for hurricane Katrina victims.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've never seen none of it.
BOUDREAU: Struggling to make it, the Griffiths say they still need the basics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Especially cleaning supplies and stuff like that.
BOUDREAU: Cleaning supplies, kitchen supplies.
HOWARD GRIFFITH, KATRINA VICTIM: Very expensive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bath towels, wash clothes.
BOUDREAU: Both have full-time jobs and they've spent every penny they earned to rebuild. But now they say they're broke and there's little chance they'll be finishing their home any time soon. That's the reality for many Katrina survivors on the coast. But when Mississippi had a chance to help people like the Griffiths rebuild their lives, just listen to what happened. Unlike Louisiana, Mississippi surplus agency told FEMA it wanted the supplies.
But it didn't hand them to groups helping Katrina victims. Instead, it gave dinnerware sets, pillow cases, men's underwear and coffee makers to state prisons. Other agencies like the Department of Wildlife became the proud owners of more coffee makers, cleaning supplies and other items. And the state even kept plastic buckets for itself. State officials did not return our repeated calls and refused to our interview requests to try to find out how this could have happened.
But we did talk to a spokesperson from Mississippi surplus agencies, Kym Wiggins, who told us there may be a need but we were not notified that there was a great need for this particular property."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These families don't have anything, or very little of what they need to have.
BOUDREAU: Bill Stallworth is the director of a nonprofit group that helps re house Katrina victims. He's also a Biloxi city councilman. He says he cannot believe so many state and federal officials are this out of touch.
BILL STALLWORTH, HOPE COORDINATION CENTER: When I hear people stand up and just beat their chest. We've got everything under control, that's when I just want to walk up and slap them upside the head and say, get a grip, get a life.
BOUDREAU: Stallworth and other community groups maintained if they had only known about these items, they would have begged for them.
STALLWORTH: When somebody comes up and says, oh well you know, we've got it all together. Everybody is taken care of. Hey, have you been down here? Have you looked? Have you seen?
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
BOUDREAU: So why didn't these community leaders get any of these supplies? It turns out they aren't registered with the state's surplus agency. Most of them say they never even knew it existed. But now they are getting signed up. Also, I talked to a FEMA official who tells us now they are launching an internal investigation to find out why these supplies were never used and to make sure this never happens again -- Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Abbie, are all the supplies gone now?
BOUDREAU: We've been told all the supplies have been distributed. But if you remember, Louisiana was able to find some of those unused supplies and get them back to victims in New Orleans. And so now Mississippi people are saying, we sure hope the same thing can happen here. But we don't know. It may be too late.
MALVEAUX: Abbie Boudreau, thank you so much for a very important report. Thank you Abbie.
He was unapologetically conservative and unabashedly outspoken.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If people want to go in a men's room and write dirty words on the wall, let them furnish their own crayons. Let them furnish their own wall.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Now the voice of a controversial senator is silenced.
President Bush's holiday spirit is interrupted by hecklers. You'll hear what they called him and how the president responded.
New developments regarding the man who went on that deadly rampage with a massive construction vehicle in Jerusalem two days ago. Anti-Israeli extremism may not have been his motive.
MALVEAUX: Carol Costello is off today. Mary Snow is monitoring the stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Mary, what are you following?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, Iran has responded to an offer from the European Union and agreed to enter preliminary talks about its nuclear program. Tehran will be allowed to continue enriching uranium during that stage of the talks. The White House says it is still studying Iran's response to the EU before it issues a statement.
Reports say the Palestinian man who went on a deadly rampage in Jerusalem this week was engaged to an Israeli Jew before her family took her away. The woman told an Israeli newspaper that the man fathered her son, who is now 7 years old. She says she does not think he was motivated by extremism. He crushed three people to death with an earth moving vehicle and wounded dozens more -- Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Thank you, Mary.
Now to the passing of a conservative icon. Former Senator Jesse Helms died today in his home state of North Carolina. He was 86 years old. He stirred political passions on both sides of the aisle during his 30 years in congress.
Our White House correspondent Ed Henry used to cover Helms in congress. The president and many others couldn't help but remark on the timing of Helms' death. Ed?
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right Suzanne, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams as you know both died on the Fourth of July, now Jesse Helms has too. President Bush is saluting him as a true patriot. But let's face it, his critics also have another phrase, lightning rod.
HENRY (voice-over): He was crusty but courtly and always controversial.
JESSE HELMS: The president of the United States has crossed that line and has nominated a lesbian.
HENRY: More than anything, Jesse Helms was conservative. A vehement opponent of communism and an ardent supporter of states rights.
BOB DOLE, (R) FORMER REPUBLICAN LEADER: When he sent out a fundraising letter, he got money all across the country. I mean, he was Mr. Conservative for 30 years. And he had a following everywhere.
HENRY: It wasn't just liberals who called Helms Senator No. Former Senate Republican Leader Bob Dole remembers trying to pass various pieces of legislation only to get a visit from Helms revealing his latest move to block something.
DOLE: He would say, Bob, you know, I know you want to do this today, but it's not going to happen.
HENRY: No to abortion. No to homosexual rights. And a big no to federal funding for what he deemed obscene art in his distinctive Southern drawl.
HELMS: If artists want to go in a men's room and write dirty words on the wall, let them furnish their own crayons and let them furnish their own wall.
HENRY: No also to affirmative action, the focus of a bitterly divisive TV ad known simply as hands, which Democrats labeled a racist attack on Helms' African American opponent Harvey Gant (ph). UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: That's because of a racial quota.
HENRY: The 1990 Helms ad showed a set of white hands crumpling up a rejection letter after the guy lost out on a job to a minority. Given the North Carolina Republican's struggles with civil rights, friends find it ironic that he died during a campaign where Democrat Barack Obama is poised to become the first African-American nominee for president.
DOLE: Jesse didn't move as quickly. Other Democrats in the South didn't move as quickly.
HELMS: Were these Southerners racist? I don't know. I don't know how you define racist.
HENRY: In the twilight of his career, Helms did reach across the aisle forging unlikely bonds with Democrats like then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and even the rock star Bono to fight poverty and AIDS in Africa.
BONO, MUSICIAN/ACTIVIST: It is extraordinary thing I will admit to have Jesse Helms throw a lunch for you.
HENRY: As someone who covered Jesse Helms a long time, I can tell you people in the Senate either loved him or hated him. That's the same now in death. You're hearing Reverend Al Sharpton saying that he practiced archaic politics, regressive politics.
Meanwhile, you have John McCain hailing his long service to the nation. The bottom line is there really wasn't very many people in between. It was either you loved him or hated him -- Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Clearly a controversial figure. Thank you, Ed.
HENRY: Thank you.
MALVEAUX: The Iraq War, a target of protests but also a source of pride. So says the secretary of state. Plus, new evidence that Bill Clinton's primary season performance is bringing him down in the eyes of Americans.
Why opponents of same-sex marriage are boycotting McDonald's.
MALVEAUX: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, the secretary of state speaks out on a top campaign issue. Why does Condoleezza Rice feel proud about a war that has turned so many against Washington?
Black pastors have their say on the presidential race. Why Barack Obama cannot count on support from every pulpit.
A boycott of McDonald's. Conservatives say it's about the agenda, not the menu.
Wolf Blitzer is off today, I'm Suzanne Malveaux and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is also speaking out about the war, but with a very different position. She calls it a point of pride. CNN's state department correspondent Zain Verjee has the details. Zain?
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: The secretary of state is hosting diplomats for a traditional Fourth of July dinner, then a look at fireworks after food. Ahead of the holiday, Secretary Rice reflected on the Iraq war and its consequences.
VERJEE (voice-over): Condoleezza Rice says she's proud of the Iraq invasion.
CONDOLEEZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I am proud of the decision of this administration to overthrow Saddam Hussein. I am proud of the liberation of 25 million Iraqis.
VERJEE: In an interview with Bloomberg TV, the secretary of state talked about the war admitting --
RICE: Iraq has been very tough. It's been tougher than any of us really dreamed. We can never replace the people who have been lost.
VERJEE: More than 4,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq since 2003. Secretary Rice insists there has been progress in Iraq. There's been less violence in the past few months.
RICE: Al Qaeda is really on its heels.
VERJEE: Administration critics say the Iraq war has made the world more dangerous. Galvanizing Islamic militants to fight a holy war against U.S. troops.
RICE: I simply don't see it. A more dangerous place than the world that produced the al Qaeda that did 9/11?
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
VERJEE: Rice added that there are fewer people that want to be suicide bombers and more people that question Osama bin Laden -- Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Thanks, Zain.
A voice of opposition to the Iraq War is conceding improvement. CNN's Brian Todd joins us with Congressman John Murtha's comments.
Brian, exactly what is Murtha saying now? BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, after saying at one point there is no way the troop surge would work, Murtha is now giving a nod to the operation.
TODD (voice-over): From one of the most brutal critics of the president's conduct in Iraq, a more upbeat take on how the war is going. Interviewed by Pittsburgh TV station KBKA, Democratic Congressman and Vietnam veteran John Murtha is now giving a nod to how the surge is going. He was asked, did the surge in Iraq work?
REP. JOHN MURTHA, (D) PA: I think in the short term, it certainly reduced incidents. I'm not sure whether it was because the Iraqis were just worn out. But certainly the way they're doing it today makes a big difference.
TODD: Murtha said that before and he is still not backing off his overall position to Iraq. A stand he took two and a half years ago in a dramatic rebuke of the administration.
MURTHA: The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It's time to bring the troops home.
TODD: An aide tells CNN Murtha still believes all U.S. forces should be withdrawn and favors leaving a small strike force somewhere in the region. Murtha says more resources need to be committed to Afghanistan but his aides said he won't go to the point of favoring a surge there.
TODD: So does this mean Democrats are splintering over Iraq? Analysts don't think so. They say the Democrats are still united for the most part in the belief that U.S. troops should be withdrawn. Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Brian, thank you.
Joining us to talk about Iraq, Secretary Rice's remarks and more, Arianna Huffington of the liberal blog, huffingtonpost.com, CNN's Dana Bash and Davidy Brody, senior national correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Arianna, I want to start off with you.
Obviously Secretary Rice coming out and she is not apologizing for anything about Iraq. Your initial response?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Well, remember, Suzanne, it's the same secretary of state who when she was advising the president in 2002 told the American people if we did not invade Iraq, smoking guns would turn into mushroom clouds. It's the same Condi Rice who told us that we were going to Iraq because there were ties between Iraq and 9/11. Who told us that the Iraqi Army was doing better and better. Who told us that we would remake the Middle East. So unfortunately she has no credibility. And so when she says that she's proud, it's just one more delusional statement.
MALVEAUX: Well, David, does this pose a problem for Senator John McCain? Obviously it's been central to his campaign. The Iraq War strategy. The Bush administration coming out very forcefully saying they don't have anything to apologize for invading the country.
DAVID BRODY, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: Well, Suzanne, I think we've seen the first debate question come the fall. I can see a moderator asking Senator John McCain, are you proud of invading Iraq? And obviously he's going to have to answer that.
But it also gives McCain an opportunity to say, listen, I'm not proud of troop size. He's been on record of that. He's not proud of some of the things that have gone down in Guantanamo Bay. And of course some of the decisions on the ground.
So it actually could be an opportunity for John McCain to distance himself from the Bush administration. It will be interesting to see what he does there.
MALVEAUX: Dana, what do you think he will do? You talk to these people all the time. You cover him very intimately. What does he need to do or say to even respond to that question that David's posed?
BASH: I think using the word proud, if John McCain had more than a second to think about is probably a word he would stay as far away from as he possibly can. What he tries to do very carefully, Suzanne is say, going to war that was OK. That was the right thing to do. What he says over and over again was execution, the way it was actually done on the ground and the poor planning, that was the mistake.
And he tries to remind voters, especially as the issue of Iraq still is a big issue in this campaign, tries to remind voters more and more that back during the beginning of the war, at least when it was pretty clear that the war was not going the way it should have, that he was one who challenged the Bush administration and challenged Donald Rumsfeld and made a lot of Republicans angry at him.
MALVEAUX: Arianna, we have heard Barack Obama over the last couple of days talking about refining his Iraq policy here. Does he -- is he entering an area where he's starting to sound more like John McCain where it's a little bit more nuanced here?
HUFFINGTON: Well, not at all sounding like John McCain. I don't think there is any comparison. But clearly he wasn't happy with his own use of the word refining, which is why as you know, Suzanne, he held a second news conference yesterday to clarify his position and reassert that he is determined to bring the troops home within the 16- month period that he's been talking about for months now.
MALVEAUX: Do the people that go to your blog, to your Post, satisfied with what he is saying? Some seem to be worried or maybe even frustrated he is backing off a little. HUFFINGTON: I think the reason for that, Suzanne, is it is coming on the heels of nuancing many other positions. On FISA, on guns, on NAFTA. I think the concern here certainly in the writing I've done over last week is that Barack Obama has inspired the American people because they want fundamental change. It's not a good, winning strategy for him to now try to appeal to the fence sitters, to the swing voters who are not sure which way they're going to go instead of appealing to the large numbers of American people who did not vote in the last election. You know, there were 83 million eligible voters who did not vote. He can appeal to them.
MALVEAUX: We'll have more of our panel in just a minute. We'll be back with the political panel ahead.
Possibly new pastor problems for Barack Obama. Why some black religious leaders may now be keeping their distance from him.
And a burger boycott. Why one group says McDonald's is too close to gays.
MALVEAUX: All right. Some black pastors now wary of Barack Obama. We are back with our political panel.
A conservative group that has boycotted -- let's go back to the panel here. We have David Brody, Arianna Huffington and Dana Bash. We'll start out with you, David. The "Washington Times" reports there are some black pastors that feel his agenda, the issues that he talks about, does not ring true, perhaps with the parishioners, but black leaders in the church. Abortion and gay rights. You talk to a lot of these Catholic parishioners. These Christians. What are they saying to you?
BRODY: There is no doubt this is a huge concern within the evangelical conservative community when it comes to abortion. Going forward, you're going to see Barack Obama attacked a lot on his abortion record. They believe, these conservative evangelicals believe, that it does not comport with some of the Christian faith talk we hear from Barack Obama. That's coming soon to a campaign stop near you.
I just recently, a few weeks ago, sat down with Barack Obama and I actually asked him this question about conservative blacks in this country. And I said listen, what is your message to them? Because many are thinking about voting for you because of the historic opportunity here but may need to check some of those values. Abortion and others, at the door.
He said, listen, I don't want anybody voting against their values and I certainly don't want anyone voting against their values and voting for me because I'm black. But there is obviously going to be some of that.
MALVEAUX: I want all three of you to listen to this. This is the mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin. He was faced with a very difficult question earlier today. Three years after Hurricane Katrina. Still a lot of areas we don't see any changes. I want you to take a listen real quick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS: Hang in there. The red tape is real because the federal government and state government and local government for that matter, has never gone through anything like this. Most of the systems that were set up were for minor events. This is a catastrophic event and requires billions and billions of dollars. And those dollars are just starting to flow almost three years later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Arianna, I want to talk about the red tape for a moment here. He is clearly putting it on federal officials. He says they're not responsible here. We saw John Edwards start his campaign in New Orleans and ended his campaign in New Orleans. Is there somebody here addressing the concerns of New Orleans, a candidate that stands out besides kind of lip service and visits to that area?
HUFFINGTON: Suzanne, you're absolutely right. There has been a lot of lip service. And that is a very troubling statement. All the excuses about red tape and catastrophic events. There is no doubt that both the media and our political leaders have not done a good job. Have failed really, New Orleans. The media has moved on and the spotlight, which was so helpful at the beginning, is no longer there to galvanize action.
MALVEAUX: Dana, the spotlight was obviously on John McCain. He was there in New Orleans. Do you think he has an agenda competitive when it comes to his plan and Barack Obama's?
BASH: Well, he certainly is hoping so. One of the things that John McCain is trying to do to separate himself from President Bush is to say, look, this was something that should not have happened. I will make sure this doesn't happen. But when you talk about the question of lip service, you know, the big question for him on this issue or Barack Obama on this issue or any issue, is if they're going to follow through on it. That's obviously a wait and see thing.
I just want to add one thing that I think is noteworthy to what we were talking about with regard to black pastors and Barack Obama. Suzanne, you remember in covering President Bush in his re-election campaign. The Republicans realized there could be an opening with the Democrats, no matter who the Democratic candidate was to pull some of the black votes away, especially some conservative religious black votes. They didn't really -- weren't that successful in doing that.
It is going to be very interesting to see if John McCain can do that, given the fact that he actually is somebody who is a Republican but doesn't talk much about his faith, doesn't talk much about these social issues. If Barack Obama has a chance to keep socially conservative black voters with him, perhaps that's the reason why.
MALVEAUX: We're going to have to leave it there. Thank you so much. Dana Bash, Arianna Huffington and David Brody. Thanks again.
BRODY: Thanks, Suzanne.
HUFFINGTON: Thank you.
MALVEAUX: A conservative group that has boycotted Ford, Target and Disney in the past is taking on the world's largest fast food chain. The American Family Association have accused McDonald's of promoting what it calls the gay agenda.
CNN's Mary Snow joins us live. And Mary, what are both sides saying about the controversy?
SNOW: Well, Suzanne, for McDonald's part, it says it's promoting diversity. But one conservative group says it really amounts to supporting same-sex marriage.
SNOW (voice-over): Cheeseburgers in the middle of the culture wars? McDonald's fast food is the target of a boycott by the American Family Association. The group opposes same-sex marriage and its founder says he's protesting against McDonald's because it became a member of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and has an executive on the chamber's board.
DONALD WILDMON, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOCIATION: We asked McDonald's to remain neutral. In the cultural war pertaining to homosexuality. And they let us know they did not intend to do that.
SNOW: On its Web site, AFA shows a link to a McDonald's ad highlighting its support of the gay community.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: McDonald's is proud of our commitment to a diverse workforce and our recognition by the Human Rights Campaign as a company that actively demonstrates its commitment to the gay and lesbian community.
SNOW: In reaction to the boycott a McDonald's spokesman told CNN this is about diversity and inclusion, which is the fabric of the company and the nation, saying, quote, "hatred has no place in our culture. That includes McDonald's, and we stand by and support our people to live and work in a society free of discrimination and harassment."
McDonald's is the latest multimillion dollar giant targeted by the AFA. The group which claims to have 2 million members online, has called for boycotts of Ford and Disney in the past citing a homosexual agenda. Eric Dezenhall at Kreitz's (ph) Management Consultants says boycotts can have different kinds of effects.
ERIC DEZENHALL, CEO, DEZENHALL RESOURCES: My experience has been boycotts from the right, while certainly are inconvenient and cause heartache, they tend not to really affect sales and change policy. Whereas boycotts from the gay community, from the environmental movement, not only can have a tangible impact on sales, but impact corporate reputation and corporate policy.
SNOW: So why do boycotts coming from the left and right have different effects? Dezenhall says the kind of media coverage for one is different. And he says familiar the money. Progress movements get a lot more corporate money than conservative groups which shows what companies are afraid of and not afraid of -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Thank you, Mary.
And Bill Clinton's primary season anger catches up with him. We have a new measure of voters' views of the former president.
And a high profile bachelor gets engaged. Could it play into the '08 race?
MALVEAUX: Carol Costello is off today. Mary Snow is monitoring the stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM. Mary, what do you have?
SNOW: We'll start in California, Suzanne. The ferocious wildfire burning towards California's Big Sur has put a damper on Independence Day. Resorts were empty when they normally would be full. Some owners are defying evacuation orders in an effort to save their businesses from the flames. The Big Sur fire is only five percent contained at this point. And it has already destroyed 20 homes.
Dozens of people suffered shrapnel wounds when a bomb exploded at an Independence Day concert in the former Soviet Republic of Belarus. Three people are in serious condition. Police say a second bomb that did not go off was found nearby. The country's president was at the concert in Minsk but was not injured. Belarus gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
And lost scenes from Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" have been shown for the first time in decades. The Museum of Cinema in Buenos Aires recently discovered it had the original cut of the 1927 silent film classic. Most people have only seen 90 minutes of the three and a half hour masterpiece. The movie portrays a 21st consistent world divided between workers and the people who control them.
And Suzanne, there is about 25 minutes or so of film that's never been seen.
MALVEAUX: Wow. Incredible stuff. Thank you.
Democrats want you to know that all's well that ends well within their party. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton project a unified front after their bitter rivalry. But even though they say there's no lingering resentment, do voters feel the same way? CNN's senior political analyst Bill Schneider joins me.
Are Hillary Clinton supporters, are they getting onboard here with Obama?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, according to our polls, Suzanne, more of them are holding out.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Has Hillary Clinton's reputation been helped or hurt by her campaign for president? Actually neither.
Opinion of Senator Clinton is about the same now as it was a year ago, just over half of voters hold a favorable opinion of her, while 44 percent remain unfavorable. Her husband is a different story. Everyone expected Bill Clinton to support his wife. But not to criticize her opponent's campaign.
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen.
SCHNEIDER: A year ago, 60 percent had a favorable opinion of Bill Clinton. That's dropped almost ten points. What about Hillary Clinton's supporters, how are they coping with her loss?
More or less in line with what psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (ph) identified as the five stages of grief. First, denial. We heard that from one of her top advisers on the final primary night.
TERRY MCAULIFFE, CLINTON ADVISOR: Are you ready for her? Are you ready to elect her president of the United States of America!
SCHNEIDER: Second, anger.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will not vote for any Democrat that threw their support behind him.
SCHNEIDER: We may now be at the third stage, bargaining.
ROBERT JOHNSON, CLINTON SUPPORTER: We have the best chance of winning with Senator Obama at the top of the ticket, Senator Clinton as his vice president.
SCHNEIDER: Just after the final primaries, 60 percent of Clinton supporters said they would vote for Barack Obama. Seventeen percent said they would vote for John McCain. And 22 percent said they wouldn't vote at all. And now? Only 10 percent say they will vote for McCain. But fewer say they will vote for Obama. Nearly a third of Clinton supporters now say they won't vote. Could they be holding out to see if Obama chooses Senator Clinton as his running mate?
SCHNEIDER: If he doesn't put her on the ticket, Clinton supporters may get to the fourth stage of grief, depression. But there's a fifth stage, acceptance. From the signals Senator Clinton has been sending, she's already there. Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you, Bill Schneider. In our political ticker fireworks at the Fourth of July event featuring President Bush. Anti-war protestors interrupted his remarks at a naturalization ceremony for new U.S. citizens held at Thomas Jefferson's famous home in Monticello.
Listen to the way Mr. Bush dealt with the hecklers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am thrilled to be here at Monticello. I've never been here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: End this war!
BUSH: To my fellow citizens to be -- we believe in free speech in the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Even if he wanted to, Florida's governor is no longer eligible to go on "The Bachelor." Charlie Crist is officially off the market after getting engaged to his girlfriend of nine months yesterday. The couple met in New York last September. The Republican Crist is often mentioned as a possible running mate for John McCain. And remember, for the very latest political news anytime, check out CNNPolitics.com.
Presidential candidate and soccer dad, it's a side of Barack Obama you probably haven't seen before. Plus, the pictures of the day. Hot shots from around the world.
MALVEAUX: Here's a look at some of this hour's "Hot Shots." In Nepal, police detain Tibetan exiles as they protest in front of the Chinese embassy.
In Iraq, a displaced man sits in front of his home made of tin cans.
In Florida, a group of manatees swim in V formation.
And Israel, kicking off summer vacation by taking part in a water gun fight. That's this hour's "Hot Shots."
Barack Obama may have pioneered a new voting bloc, soccer dads. Here is CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's hard to seem presidential when you're wandering around, looking for a spot to set up your portable seats to watch your kids' soccer game.
On a warm night in Chicago, full of summer sound. And bugs that don't care if it's Barack Obama they're buzzing. Occasionally someone tapped his shoulder, looking to shake his hand. But for the most part, daddy Obama was just a guy with his wife rooting for their daughter. But even the thrill of the game couldn't overcome the sleep deficit.
Someone who has been going, going, going, for months.
(on camera): Watching a candidate's every month almost has a whiff of spying to it, but there's a name for this. It's called the protective pool report. Also known as body watch.
(voice-over): A single reporter acts as the eyes and ears for the rest of the press, following the candidate everywhere, from the barbershop for a haircut to an upscale restaurant, they file a written pool report with a decidedly informal tone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michelle looks slamming in a black cocktail dress with a severe slit down the back.
MOOS: Actually, a woman wrote that pool report. Once in a while a pool reporter gets it wrong. The other day, it was reported that a kid put out his hand for a fist pound and Obama refused. Turns out the kid asked Obama to sign his hand, not fist pound it.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Plus mom may not be happy when she comes home. What's the dirt on your hands?
MOOS: Much of what's in a pool report is useless but fun trivia. For instance, back at the soccer game when husband and wife had a mock fight. Pool report used Michelle and Barack Obama's initials to say ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 8:32 p.m., M.O. and B.O. flirt. M.O. hits B.O. playfully multiple times in a row.
MOOS: During a break in the game, parents high five their daughter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Obama stood up and demonstrated proper kicking form.
MOOS: When it was time for the candidate to go back to work, he gave his youngest daughter a kiss as she hung on his leg. One of our favorite moments the pool report missed, is when dad started reading his Blackberry. And mom gave him a sharp nudge. Back the Blackberry went into its holster. Bury that Blackberry.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
MALVEAUX: And this Sunday, LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER celebrates his 10-year anniversary. Among Wolf's guests, Al Gore, Nelson Mandela and Michael Jordan.
I'm Suzanne Malveaux in THE SITUATION ROOM. Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT."