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THE SITUATION ROOM
Obama Names Chief of Staff; Obama's Top Security Briefing; Foreign Hackers Hit Campaigns; Protest Against Gay Marriage Ban; Journalists Emotions Show
Aired November 6, 2008 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Also, sources are now telling CNN that computers at the headquarters of both the Obama and McCain campaigns were hacked by foreign entities.
What were they after? What did they find? Stay with us.
And why one prominent member of the Bush administration may possibly be asked to stay on in the Obama administration. Would that be the Defense secretary, Robert Gates?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But we begin this hour with the breaking news -- the Obama administration taking shape right now. The elect naming Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel to the critically important position of White House chief of staff.
Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is joining us now -- Candy, what is the president-elect saying about this very important appointment?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The president-elect himself is not saying much. They are very aware here, as one aide put it, that there is only one president at a time. And even though many things are going on, including the staff appointments, much of it is being done on paper at this point. Of course, we do expect a news conference tomorrow from the president- elect. But for now, so much is being done behind closed doors.
CROWLEY (voice-over): Old routines -- the daily trip to the gym, now mixed with new ones -- the first top level intelligence briefing. The administration in waiting is starting to come together in one of the hallmarks of American governance -- the peaceful transfer of power.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will ask administration officials to brief the Obama team on ongoing policy issues ranging from the financial markets to the war in Iraq. I look forward to discussing those issues with the president-elect early next week.
CROWLEY: The incoming and outgoing presidents and their wives will meet Monday at the White House. In Chicago, the new team is coming together with old team names. In what is described as I a deal in the works, Obama's senior White House adviser is likely to be his close friend and one of the main architects of the campaign, David Axelrod.
DAVID AXELROD, CHIEF OBAMA STRATEGIST: (INAUDIBLE) he's been fighting this fight for change for a long time.
CROWLEY: As low key as he is fiercely loyal, Axelrod is said to be the last person Obama calls at night and one of the few singled out election night.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: To my chief strategist, David Axelrod --
OBAMA: Who has been a partner with me every step of the way. To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics, you made this happen.
CROWLEY: Also on board, a Washington insider, Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel, who will serve as White House chief of staff. An alumnus of the Clinton White House, Emanuel, nicknamed Rahmbo for his blunt, hard-charging style, was anything but talking about the job.
REP. RAHM EMANUEL, (D), ILLINOIS: My parents are alive to see their middle son have a choice in his career between being a Congressman with one good chance, one opportunity down the road of maybe rising into leadership and being the chief of staff to a historic presidency.
CROWLEY: Emanuel's reputation as a fierce partisan prompted John Boehner, the House Republican leader, to call his appointment "an ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington."
In discussions for perhaps the most visible White House job, Robert Gibbs, also a top campaign adviser, is expected to become White House press secretary.
CROWLEY: Probably the biggest surprise among these appointments -- or almost appointments, if you want to call them that, Wolf -- is David Axelrod, someone who at this point, at least publicly, had shown little interest in going to Washington. Again, an aide saying that it's a deal in the works, but not yet a done deal -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much. Candy is in Chicago.
The president-elect also got his first major top secret intelligence briefing today. Our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena, is joining us live right now -- Kelli, they had to do it at the FBI's field office out of the understandable security concerns. KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. This briefing involves the most sensitive top secret information the intelligence community has to offer. And the FBI office is equipped to handle just that. It has special rooms that are known as skiffs, which have been designed to make sure that information can't be overheard or computers hacked. It is completely secure -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What do we know about these things -- the things that he was told -- Kelli?
ARENA: Well, Wolf, the briefing, I'm told, lasted a little more than an hour. It's the mother of all intelligence briefings -- the most up to date information that the intelligence community has to offer. And this briefing, Wolf, was probably broader than it usually is. That's because Obama hasn't been getting daily briefings. And because it's top secret, we have to basically make assumptions. It likely included information on the terrorism threat, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, maybe Iran. But definitely a very broad array of subjects.
BLITZER: Yes, he's not going to have any input in terms of policy during this transition, is that right?
ARENA: That's right. You know, and this briefing is not a policy paper. It's purely intelligence -- what the U.S. knows about what's going on in other parts of the world. President Bush, obviously, remains commander-in-chief and the policy maker until he leaves office. And, you know, Barack Obama cannot even speak about what he's been briefed on. It is top secret classified. The only person that has the -- that is allowed to declassify that information is the president himself -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Were other people briefed today, as well, Kelli?
ARENA: Well, Senator Joe Biden was also supposed to be briefed today with the same information that the president-elect received. And you know, they can also designate staffers, with the proper security clearances, to be included in those briefings as well -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. We'll see what's going on. And a fascinating little detail of this entire transition to power. Kelli, thank you.
We're also learning other details of some disturbing incidents this past summer in which foreign hackers accessed computers at the headquarters of both the Obama and McCain campaigns. Brian Todd is working this story for us -- wow, Brian, what happened? What do we know?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we now know that someone from another country sought and may well have an acquired important information to potentially use against the future president of the United States.
TODD (voice-over): In the midst of what was shaping up as a tight race, a major security breach of both presidential campaigns. In midsummer, computers at the headquarters of both the Obama and McCain campaigns were hacked by a foreign government or organization. That's according to a source with knowledge of the incidents, who told CNN the intrusions were sophisticated and appeared aimed at gaining information about policy in order to have leverage in future dealings with whoever was elected. We asked an Internet security expert how would this foreign entity get into the campaign systems.
RAY DICKENSON, INTERNET SECURITY EXPERT: If I want to penetrate an organization, I'm going to send e-mails to members of that organization. It will be no problem at all for me to find somebody who's gullible enough to click on a link. Once they do that, I know the computer that I've gotten onto. I know that I'm inside that organization. And now I can start to spread within that organization.
TODD: The story was first reported by "Newsweek," whose reporter, Darren Briscoe, was embedded with the Obama campaign. Briscoe found out about the breaches not long after they occurred. But under an agreement with the Obama team reached before the campaign started, he was not able to report any information until after the election.
Briscoe reports technology staff at the Obama campaign had detected what they first thought was a virus put in place to steal passwords or credit card numbers. Then...
DARREN BRISCOE, "NEWSWEEK": The FBI and the Secret Service show up at campaign headquarters and announced to them that they have a much bigger problem than they -- than they actually understand. The following day, the campaign gets a call from Josh Bolten at the White House. And he says pretty much the same thing, look, you all have a serious problem and you need to deal with it.
TODD: Neither the FBI nor the Secret Service would comment on the story. It's believed both campaigns headquarters were hacked into at about the same time last summer.
TODD: We are told by a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation that when both campaigns were approached by federal authorities with the information on this hacking, they both hired private company who were able to mitigate the situation -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, do we know -- do U.S. authorities, that is, know who these hackers might be?
TODD: Well, one source tell us -- tells us, excuse me -- that U.S. officials believe they do know who the foreign entity is, but they're refusing to identify it at the moment, including the particular country. Everything is very sensitive right now.
BLITZER: Why? Did they say why they're refusing to tell us where their suspicion is?
TODD: I think the -- when the investigation is ongoing, you'll get drips and drabs of information. And, of course, there are diplomatic concerns to maybe think about, if this is another country or a government involved, if this is the case. So they're going to be very, very careful with divulging that, at least for the moment. We hope to get more later.
BLITZER: All right. If you do, let us know. A very worrisome development. Brian Todd, thank you.
Let's go to Jack, once again. He has "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Barack Obama made history Tuesday night when voters came out in record numbers to support him, many of them voting for the first time. It was a stunning rise to the presidency for this 47-year-old freshman Senator from Illinois -- let alone one who was African-American.
Along the way, he beat a handful of familiar powerful Washington names for the top spot on the Democratic ticket -- former vice presidential candidate John Edwards, Senator Chris Dodd, Senator Joe Biden, who eventually then became his running mate, and, of course, most notably, Senator Hillary Clinton. Her star power and powerful ties were just not enough to beat Obama. But was there something else more going on at play, perhaps, in this?
Women, who make up more than half the U.S. population, earned the right to vote in 1920. And while African-Americans were granted that right about 50 years earlier, for about a hundred years, voting was easier said than done for blacks. So what does Obama's victory say about us as voters?
Here's the question this hour: What does it mean that the United States elected an African-American president before it elected a woman? Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and you can post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Jack.
Outrage in the streets of California -- thousands of people protesting the passage of a measure banning same-sex marriage. And now it appears the battle isn't over.
And we're also hearing a lot about him, but who is the man Barack Obama has named as his White House chief of staff? We're taking a closer look at Congressman Rahm Emanuel, including which popular TV character is perhaps based on him.
Plus, growing talk of the defense secretary possibly staying on in the Obama administration. We asked Robert Gates about it point blank.
Stay with us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: These are live pictures you're seeing from Los Angeles. A lot of people have gathered there to protest passage of a ballot initiative out in California that bans same-sex marriage. They're taking to the streets to protest Proposition 8, as it was called, as I say, banning gay marriage.
Let's go out to Los Angeles. Chris Lawrence is standing by -- Chris, I take it there's great disappointment among those who support gay marriage. And they're saying the final word has not yet been heard.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. We're standing outside the headquarters of the Mormon Church, where a lot of the protesters -- hundreds of them literally are protesting the separation of church and state -- specifically, why the Mormon Church exerted so much muscle here in the State of California.
The Mormon Church urged its followers to not only financially support the amendment that would ban gay marriage, but it also urged them to go out and campaign for it, even though the church since issued a statement sort of hoping to heal some of those wounds, trying to tell people here -- trying to tell some of the people here that it was more about protecting traditional marriage, not so much against gay and lesbians. A lot of people here are not happy about the church's involvement and are promising to take their fight to repeal Proposition 8 all the way to the state supreme court.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): Stunned by the passage of Proposition 8, gay marriage supporters staged a massive march through West Hollywood.
ROBIN TYLER, AGAINST PROPOSITION 8: We're not going away. We're not taking this lying down.
LAWRENCE: Robin Tyler and Diane Olson have just filed a lawsuit with the state supreme court, along with the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santa Clara County. In June, Tyler and Olson became the first lesbian couple married in Los Angeles. Now, they're seeking orders to block enforcement of the gay marriage ban.
TYLER: We need to establish the precedent that a majority cannot take away rights from a minority.
LAWRENCE: They argue that Prop 8 is so far-reaching, it is not just an amendment, but a complete revision to California's constitution. A revision requires two-thirds of the state legislature to reach the ballot. Prop 8 did not have that and would be invalid.
SONJA EDDINGS BROWN, PROJECT MARRIAGE COALITION: At some point, I think the taxpayers are going to tire of this. LAWRENCE: The Protect Marriage Coalition says voters approved a statute similar to Prop 8 in 2000. But this spring, the Supreme Court ruled that on the grounds of equal protection, same-sex couples had the right to marry. Prop 8 supporters say these legal challenges are insulting the voters' decision.
BROWN: We want traditional marriage to be in the laws of California. And so I think we have to respect that.
LAWRENCE: And you can see now, hundreds of people now blocking half of Santa Monica Boulevard here in Los Angeles. But one of the big questions will be what will happen to the marriages that were performed? Will this be a retrograde application of the law that will be fought all the way through the courts -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Chris. We'll watch this story develop out there in California.
The -- they're unforgettable images. You saw a lot of that right here on CNN -- people across the country cheering and weeping at that moment it was announced that Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States. It was also a very emotional moment for some journalists.
Let's go to CNN's Howard Kurtz. He's the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" and he writes for "The Washington Post," as well -- Howie, were you surprised by how some of these journalists reacted?
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST-CNN'S "RELIABLE SOURCES": Well, Wolf, it was quite a night. And some journalists -- most journalists are trained, of course, to keep their personal opinions out of their coverage. But for some folks on election night, that proved all but impossible.
KURTZ (voice-over): When the networks projected that Barack Obama would, indeed, win the White House, it was more than a political story for many African-American journalists. It was unavoidably personal for those who once doubted they could succeed in the media because of the color of their skin.
JUAN WILLIAMS, NPR/FOX POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is truly an incredible moment of American history. I can't think of another country in the world where you would have a significant minority that was once so maligned and so oppressed finally have one of its sons rise to this level.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, NATIONAL TALK RADIO HOST: Obama got his start in politics in Springfield, Illinois. It was a race riot in Springfield, Illinois that led to the creation of the NAACP.
KURTZ: But it wasn't just black reporters and commentators who were moved by the moment. White journalists, too, recalled the country's legacy of slavery and discrimination.
BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS: I went to segregated schools in the segregated South. When I graduated from high school, no black student had ever attended any school that I attended. Now that was in my lifetime. Look, where we have come in just less than my lifetime. It's a remarkable evening.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: This is an historic election about race and about diversity in this country.
HILARY ROSEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: For my biracial kids, this is very much the change we seek.
KURTZ: Some conservatives say the media narrative unfairly suggested that a vote for John McCain was a vote against racial progress. And studies show that Obama drew far more positive coverage than McCain. But whether or not some journalists went overboard on election night, one central fact about Obama could not be challenged.
MEREDITH VIEIRA, NBC: Forty-five years ago, Martin Luther King told the nation, "I Have A Dream." And last night, that dream came through true for many Americans.
KURTZ: Once the euphoria wears off, we in the news business will have a new administration to deal with. And the challenge will be to put aside any personal feelings and cover President Obama fairly and aggressive -- Wolf.
BLITZER: But, as you know, Howie, there are journalist out there who no longer go by the so-called old school rules. They want to show their opinions out there openly, not only on television, but in the print media, as well.
KURTZ: Well, for columnists and commentators who want to either identify with President Obama or take him down a few pegs, I think that's fine. But I am somewhat old school in saying that reporters, people who aim, at least, to be fair and balanced and objective, they, I think, are going to be in a very different role after Obama takes office than they were during the campaign. The traditional adversarial l relationship will kick in when he starts to make controversial decisions. People forget, Wolf, that there were very tense relations between President Clinton and the press, even though he was a Democrat.
BLITZER: Yes. I don't forget because I covered that transition.
KURTZ: Right. You remember that, as well.
BLITZER: And I covered the Clinton administration. Howie Kurtz, thanks very much.
Dozens of civilians killed -- is the U.S. military to blame? There are details of an investigation into new air strikes in Afghanistan. Stand by.
Plus, he's coming in on the heels of the most powerful vice president in American history, but what kind of vice president will Joe Biden be? Roland Martin and Leslie Sanchez, they're standing by live to weigh in.
BLITZER: Our Gary Tuchman has caught up with Governor Sarah Palin in Alaska. And we're going to go to Alaska and speak with Gary. He's got some sound bites of what she's saying right now. Stick around. Stay with us for that.
In the meantime, let's check in with Deborah Feyerick. She's monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Deb, what's going on?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the U.S. military is investigating two separate air strikes that Afghan officials say killed dozens of civilians. And they say the most recent happened this morning in Northwestern Afghanistan. The other is said to have occurred Monday in the Southern Kandahar region. The U.S. and NATO have run air assaults in their battles with the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.
And she hasn't come out and said it, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is all but conceding that an Israeli/Palestinian peace deal by year's end is not possible. She told reporters in Tel Aviv that political uncertainty in Israel is largely to blame. Rice's acknowledgement came as she kicked off a Mideast trip to secure the progress that was made during U.S.-sponsored talks over the past year.
And the Department of Homeland Security says more than a million people became U.S. citizens in fiscal 2008. That's the most ever to take the oath of allegiance in the 100 years that they've been keeping records. The Department used the announcement today to tout its success in bringing down a backlog in citizenship applications. And he'll be what -- and, Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: All right, Deb. Thanks very much.
He's certainly going to be one of the most important people in the Obama White House. But who exactly is Rahm Emanuel? Details about his power in the party and the TV character apparently modeled after him.
Plus, this --
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're here in Pentagon room 3E971. It looks like a nondescript government office. But soon, it will be transition central. We'll give you a sneak peek, coming up in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, a key figure in the Obama White House may already be in place. Barack Obama is tapping top House Democrat Rahm Emanuel to be his right hand man. We're taking a closer look at why he could play a bad cop to Obama's good cop. Stay tuned for that.
And we could soon learn a lot more who else will be making up Obama's White House team. The president-elect getting ready to hold a news conference tomorrow. We expect he'll be revealing more names.
And her vice presidential hopes were dashed, so what's next for the Alaska governor, Sarah Palin? We're speaking to her right now.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
President-Elect Barack Obama says no one is better at getting things done than fellow Illinois lawmaker Rahm Emanuel. He's picked the top House Democrat to become his White House chief of staff.
But just who is this Illinois Congressman? Let's go to CNN's Susan Roesgen. She's in Chicago -- Susan, a top Republican has already criticized Congressman Emanuel for being too partisan. What do we know about him?
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know, Wolf, that he's a very interesting guy. He is feared, he is loved. But this is a man who trained to be a ballet dancer and now wields more force than grace.
EMANUEL: I'm very fortunate that my parents are alive to see that whatever choice I make --
ROESGEN (voice-over): It's not a side of Rahm Emanuel most people see. This is a guy who's at the top of his game as a Washington power player -- someone who knows how to throw an elbow to get ahead. Here he is in the Clinton White House, defending his boss during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
EMANUEL: The president of the United States is doing his job focusing on the American people and their future. And that's where his energy and time is going.
ROESGEN: Described affectionately as an attack dog --
EMANUEL: I know that the president has failed to lead --
ROESGEN: Emanuel started as a political fundraiser, first for Mayor Richard Daley here in Chicago, then for Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, running for president. That led to Emanuel's role as a senior advisor in the Clinton White House. And the legendary stories that may or may not be true, like the one about his getting so angry he stabbed a dinner table with a steak knife. And then there's the one about his sending an enemy a dead fish. The kinds of stories Hollywood couldn't resist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got to narrow it down to the guy we want.
ROESGEN: The deputy White House chief of staff in the "West Wing" series is said to be based on Emanuel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop flapping your gums and put him through.
ROESGEN: In the HBO series Entourage, the characteristic of the Hollywood agent, Ari Gold, is said to be based on Ari Emanuel, Rahm's powerful brother. What is Rahm Emanuel really like? We asked his rabbi.
RABBI ASHER LOPATIN, ANSHE SHOLOM B'NAI ISRAEL: He is committed to America, committed to his Judaism and committed to the people around him and very popular in the synagogue. People like him. He's really a good man, good man.
ROESGEN: In 2002, Rahm Emanuel ran for office himself and became an Illinois congressman. Now so powerful, that he could be in position to succeed Nancy Pelosi. But the pull of something greater will take him back to the White House the legend continues.
ROESGEN: And we mentioned Rahm Emanuel, Ari his brother. There's a third brother, as you know Wolf, Ezekiel Emanuel. He is a top bioethicist at the National Institute of Health. Three brilliant brothers and a couple of brilliant parents as well.
BLITZER: He's the middle child. And tough, tough competition there between Rahm Emanuel, Ari Emanuel and Ezekiel Emanuel. His parents must be very, very proud indeed. Thanks very much for.
Barack Obama's first news conference since winning the election is now scheduled for tomorrow setting the tone for his presidency. Of course, you'll see it live right here on CNN. But what can we expect? Let's talk about that and more with our CNN political contributors, Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez and our political analyst Roland Martin.
Roland, what do you think? What's he going to tell us tomorrow? This is getting down to meat and potatoes right now. It can't be a flowery speech about important goals.
MARTIN: First and foremost, what he is going to do is project confidence in terms of what he wants to do with his incoming administration, but also making it plainly clear that you're going to see a smooth transition between President Bush to a President Obama because he understands that right now, there's a crisis of confidence in this country and it comes with the stock market it, comes from the direction this country is flowing in. So he wants to project that level of confidence in that news conference tomorrow.
BLITZER: He's got to really try to reassure the markets out there that he knows what he's doing. What do you think, Leslie, he should be doing tomorrow? LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think he has to continue the unifying theme he started with and not the bear knuckles legislative approach that Rahm Emanuel has. I think people will sensitive to how his approach is in terms of reaching across the aisle being effective. It would be really beneficial if he named his economic team or had some kind of indication what he wants to do to sure up the markets and continue to grow.
BLITZER: How important is that, Roland to, get lets say his new secretary of the treasury, his chief economic advisers in place?
MARTIN: Again, everybody is studying every move that he makes. Right now, have you Republicans taking pot shots at Rahm Emanuel saying he's not a bipartisan guy. Let's just be honest. He needs somebody who understands how the White House runs, how Congress runs in order to get his policies through.
As relates to an economic team, it's important because again, everybody's watching every move. You see people dissect who his choice will be for treasury secretary, who will be his economic advisors. Again, every move builds up the confidence in him as an individual. By the time we move to January 20th, people will feel very comfortable with who he puts into place in order to make his policies a reality.
BLITZER: Go ahead, Leslie.
SANCHEZ: Interestingly enough, a lot of the focus groups surveys that came out of 2004 was this vulnerability, this time of transition between teams. Roland is right. People are hyper sensitive to U.S. vulnerabilities during a transition. Between now and may when you see the bulk of a lot of those agencies if I would, people are very sensitive.
BLITZER: We know the most important decision he had to make during the effort to become president of the United States was his selection of his vice presidential running mate. Senator Joe Biden is going to be the vice president. He's vice president-elect. Roland, what kind of vice president do you see him becoming?
MARTIN: Frankly, I hope that president-elect Obama uses VP elect if you will Joe Biden in a way that John F. Kennedy did not use Lyndon Johnson. Joe Biden understands how the Senate runs. He needs somebody who can shepherd legislation through, who can operate the back channels to make sure you don't have any road bumps, any ego issues when it comes to legislation.
I think that is his biggest asset in that particular area. With foreign policy, he has relationships, as well he can lean on those to sort of offer the kind of analysis as well as advice to president- elect Obama that would be fleas to make sure you don't have any drama on the international front.
SANCHEZ: I think the days of overreaching a lot of power in a vice presidential, in a vice president are long gone and over in this new administration. He will go to more coronations and weddings than anybody.
MARTIN: Dick Cheney messing up everybody.
SANCHEZ: I can always say two things. Senator Biden has a tremendous amount of experience on the hill. He's very respected. He has a lot of respect for his senior colleagues which people understand makes him more effective. He also was in the process of overseeing a lot of the judicial nominations and appointments to the Supreme Court. He has experience there but also known to run his mouth inappropriately. That's the one thing that has to be cautioned.
MARTIN: I think you can get past that. The bottom line is, he is in a different position now as opposed to being a member of the U.S. Senate and chairing committees. He understands in his position, it's about advice and counsel privately as opposed to public pronouncements.
SANCHEZ: I think it's going to be a shock for him. I don't think that's something he's done before. It's interesting to see how he --
MARTIN: You can teach an old dog new tricks.
BLITZER: We'll see how fascinating it is. I want to change to proposition 8 which passed out in California, banning same-sex marriage. I want to put numbers on the screen. If you take a look at these numbers among white voters in California, the ban was slight majority said no, 51-59 percent. Among African-Americans, 70 percent, 70 percent said yes. There should be a ban on gay marriage among Latino voters, 53 percent said yes, Asian 49 percent. Roland, why African-Americans voted overwhelmingly to ban same sex marriage?
MARTIN: Because every time we talk about evangelicals we talk about white Americans without understanding that African-Americans are religious. They strongly believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. That's the simple reality. Not only that, you also must study look what happened in Arkansas. That was a gay adoption amendment on the ballot. Guess what, Wolf? Fifty-four percent of African- Americans who were against that, 48 percent were for it. You can compare gay adoption and gay marriage.
Secondly, the people who supported this initiative who did not want gay marriage, they used Senator Obama's own voice pronouncing the same issue in global calls to African-Americans. They were smart to use him. He did not publicly come out against this measure in a definitive way that people waned.
BLITZER: All right. Unfortunately, we've got to leave it right there. We'll have plenty of opportunities to discuss this and a lot more. Guys, thanks very much.
CNN, as you know, is covering every aspect of president-elect Obama's transition to power. Up next, behind the scenes at the Pentagon. Just who will the president-elect of the United States tap to be in charge of America's defense? And Sarah Palin speaking to CNN. We're going to tell you what she's saying right now about Senator McCain and who she says disappointed her.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Let's continue our coverage of this transition to power. A lot of people expect president-elect Obama to give at least a few positions in his administration to Republicans. And the current defense secretary possibly could be among them. Our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre has spoken to the defense secretary about this -- Jamie?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, right now, this Pentagon transition office is just a collection of empty cubicles, but soon, there won't be a clear desk in the place. One thing, however, you won't find in the Pentagon's transition manual is an answer to the question, will Bob Gates stay or go?
MCINTYRE: When I asked Robert Gates back in the summer if he would consider serving in another administration, he gave meet answer that would become his mantra for the next five months.
ROBERT GATES, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I learned a long time ago never to say never. So my answer is the circumstances under which I would do that are inconceivable to me.
MCINTYRE: That never say never caveat, according to sources close to gates means he could be persuaded to stay for a short time to ease the transition.
GATES: Well, let me just say that I'm getting a lot more career advice and counseling than I might have anticipated.
MCINTYRE: But aides quickly add he has not been asked and he's literally counting the days. Carrying around one of those countdown clocks that tickets off the days, hours and minutes until inauguration day when he can head home.
GATES: I'm still planning on heading to Washington State.
MCINTYRE: Before the election, Congressional Quarterly's internet cabinet maker had Gates on both party's list right there between Jack Reed and Richard Danzig. Danzig, a senior adviser to Barack Obama who's also mentioned as a possible pick, said recently Gates has been a good secretary of defense and offered I think he'd be an even better one in an Obama administration. How did Gates get so darn popular? By acting like Donald Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, CEO TRUMP CASINOS AND RESORTS: You're fired.
MCINTYRE: Gates is the firingest defense secretary ever. Scandal at Walter Read, good-bye Army secretary and surgeon general. Loose nukes? So long Air Force chief and secretary. Congress loves it when people are fired. They call it accountability.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Not once but twice when I doubted whether or not you would be willing to fire a top commander based on issues within their command, you exceeded my expectations.
MCINTYRE: So while keeping Secretary Gates would provide continuity, he would also be a lame duck and that could undercut his effectiveness. It's something that president-elect Barack Obama will have to consider as his transition team, would here in this office just down the hall from where secretary gates has his office. Back to you in THE SITUATION ROOM -- Wolf?
BLITZER: All right. Jamie, thank you.
President-elect Obama just launched a new website laying out all the details of his transition into office online. Let's go to our internet reporter Abbi Tatton. She is working the story -- So what's on the site, Abbi?
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, this is the site Change.gov that launched just this afternoon. A place it states to make the transition process more transparent. When you can get on it at least, it seems so many people are trying to look at it this afternoon, sometimes it can be operating a little bit slowly.
What's interesting to look at how this Barack Obama team is now communicating with their online supporters that played such a big role during this campaign. So that there's a blog already launched. Nowhere there to talk to people or post a comment but they are pushing a section on the website that invites people to state your vision for president-elect Obama. Put your -- submit your input right here online, your stories about the campaign. Input vision for the direction the country should go. That's not all the things you can submit here online.
Look at this section. This is a section which will no doubt be very popular. Apply for a job it says. You can right here express your interest in working for the new Barack Obama administration. Although it does warn applicants that some of the positions will be subject to Senate confirmation -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Abbi, thank you looking at the situation online.
An intimate look at the Obama campaign. Some stunning photos take us up close and personal with the president elect, his wife Michelle and their two beautiful little daughters. The photographer who took them tells us what they reveal about America's next first family.
Everyone's talking about our election night holograms, even Jay Leno.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Today's just in time. The "Time" magazine photographer Callie Shell had some exclusive access to Barack Obama during the he White House. Obama even picked up the camera himself at one point. Shell tells us her impressions of the president-elect, his wife Michelle and their two daughters out there on the campaign trail. Take a look at this and listen.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years, the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady, Michelle Obama.
CALLIE SHELL, TIME PHOTOGRAPHER: She is, you can tell, his best friend, his biggest supporter. But at the same time, she's the one who's him on or gives him a hard time. Just kind of makes him laugh. They would actually come together at an event backstage for just a minute, and that is all they would see each other in a week, and they would just kind of lock arms around each other and just close the world out for two seconds.
OBAMA: Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that is coming with to us the White House.
SHELL: And when his daughters and Michelle showed up this weekend, he was energized, ready to go. I think that the girls handle the stage really well. I think that it is obvious that they know it is important to their dad. But I find his children, they have got to have done something right, because those kids are so gracious.
OBAMA: It has been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.
KELLY: This man would speak at rallies and would start crying and teenagers and college kids are jumping up and screaming and it is not a concert and it is not Kid Rock. And he empowered people. As the rallies kept growing and the numbers didn't go down, you realized that this is different and finally, maybe, in our country, we might vote for a black president.
It is not to make the whole election about that, you know. It wasn't. It is more than he is black. It was his words, and it is what people believed in. I mean, there were tons of people I think at these rallies that didn't see black or white, but felt empowered by the words.
BLITZER: Amazing pictures in the sister publication, "Time" magazine, in the new issue. They debuts here on election night and since then they have been a hit on a lot of places including YouTube. But it seems that so many people are talking about the holograms and even the "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno, only he has an added twist. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY LENO, TALK SHOW HOST: How many of you saw the hologram? Did you see it? OK. It was a great idea and apparently still haven't worked out all of the kinks, but they had some sort of intergalactic glitch earlier in the day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Intergalactic?
LENO: Yes, show them what happened with the hologram the first time.
BLITZER: Right now I want you to watch what we are about to show you something that has never been seen on television.
LENO: The entrance. Intergalactic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, all right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Intergalactic visitor by the hologram.
Now, let's check back with Jack Cafferty. He's got "The Cafferty File." That punch he gave me hurt a little.
CAFFERTY: That is our own Rick Sanchez dressed up in a Halloween costume.
Our question tonight is: What does it mean that the U.S. elected an African-American president before it elected a woman?
Patrick in Maryland: "The only thing it means is that Barack Obama ran a better campaign than Hillary Clinton and John McCain. I don't think race or gender had as much to do it with as the message of change. Americans are hungry for a new direction after eight years of insanity under possibly the worst administration in our history."
Cody in Arizona writes: "Somebody had to get there first. If a woman did it, the U.S. is racist, and when Obama did it, the country is sexist. Glad that this appears to be a win-win situation."
Val in South Carolina: "As an African-American and a woman I can honestly say that it was the candidate who determined who got my vote. When I first learned that Hillary was running, she automatically got my support and then I decided to explore my options and went to the Obama rally in Columbia, South Carolina in December of last year. After listening to him and witnessing how he carried himself, I had to change my mind."
Hylan from Chicago, Illinois: "It doesn't mean a thing." Jason in Orlando, Florida: "Wasn't an African-American man allowed to vote in 1870 which is before women could vote in 1920? Maybe that is how the country changes. Most importantly though, Obama has the ability to heal and unify people and no other candidate exemplified that quality."
Ginger in West Melbourne, Florida: "It shows how afraid men are. Be afraid then, be very afraid, because one day a woman will show how you it should have been done all along."
And Steve in Allen, Texas says: "It means we don't want to elect someone who spends so much money on clothes."
If you didn't see yours there, you can go to my blog at CNN.com/Caffertyfile and look for yours there among hundreds of others -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Jack, thank you.
After eight years in the political wilderness, the Democrats are lining up the hopefuls in the jobs for the new Obama administration. So who is being considered for the most important jobs?
Plus, Sarah Palin is back home in Alaska and we check up with all of the wild allegations about her and including a meltdown in the McCain campaign and allegations she didn't know what she was talking about. We will have latest and including her reaction coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: So is a bailout in store for the beleaguered automotive industry. Let's check in with Lou to see what he thinks about this. The federal government helped bail out financial industry, but what about the auto industry, Lou? What do you think?
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: I think there's no doubt they are going to have some help from Washington, D.C. I think that the help is only beginning broadly across the so-called real economy, Wolf. We need to be investing in infrastructure and targeted stimulus. Simply throwing money into the economy and watching it waft away is not satisfactory.
We need to be building manufacturing jobs in the country, restoring independence and reliance, self-reliance and rather than dependency, and a lot of talk on dependency on foreign oil and obviously one of the ways to reduce the dependency is through more fuel efficient automobiles and that investment needs to take place immediately across the board. We need to start focusing on a strategy and economic development strategy in the country immediately.
BLITZER: How much money are we talking about in the immediate term, Lou? What do you think?
DOBBS: In terms of the automobile industry, we are talking about somewhere double the $25 billion that is already relegated to the automobile industry for the purpose of creating more fuel-efficient automobiles and for that conversion and retooling that is necessary. Doubling that and the number of jobs, the national security importance of the automobile industry, itself, certainly part of the equation.
But as I say, we are going to see far more investment on the part of the federal government in the private economy to stimulate, I hope, manufacturing, because it is a critical part of the equation. And we have to deal with the issue of these massive trade deficits and the outsourcing of middle-class American job, because it does no good to throw money in one direction and then shovel it out the other while destroying jobs and reducing the quality of life in the standard of living for literally millions of Americans.
BLITZER: Lou, thank you. Lou will have more on this story coming up an hour from now on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT."
For the viewers, you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
One job filled and lots and lots to go. The Barack Obama White House is taking shape at this moment. And we have new information