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THE SITUATION ROOM

Palin on Campaign Rumors; Obama Holds News Conference

Aired November 7, 2008 - 18:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Barack Obama went before reporters today for the first time as president-elect, knowing expectations are high and his challenges enormous. He talked for less than 20 minutes. He tried to make at least one thing perfectly clear: The economy will be his most urgent priority.
Now listen to the Obama news conference for yourself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: This morning, we woke up to more sobering news about the state of our economy. The 240,000 jobs lost in October marks the 10th consecutive month that our economy has shed jobs. In total, we've lost nearly 1. 2 million jobs this year, and more than 10 million Americans are now unemployed.

Tens of millions of families are struggling to figure out how to pay the bills and stay in their homes. Their stories are an urgent reminder that we are facing the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime, and we're going to have to act swiftly to resolve it.

Now, the United States has only one government and one president at a time. And until January 20th of next year, that government is the current administration.

I have spoken to President Bush. I appreciate his commitment to ensuring that his economic policy team keeps us fully informed as developments unfold. And I'm also thankful for his invitation to the White House.

Immediately after I become president, I'm going to confront this economic crisis head on by taking all necessary steps to ease the credit crisis, help hardworking families, and restore growth and prosperity.

And this morning, I met with members of my Transition Economic Advisory Board, who are standing behind me, alongside my vice president-elect, Joe Biden.

They will help to guide the work of my transition team, working with Rahm Emanuel, my chief of staff, in developing a strong set of policies to respond to this crisis. We discussed in the earlier meeting several of the most immediate challenges facing our economy and key priorities on which to focus on in the days and weeks ahead.

First of all, we need a rescue plan for the middle class that invests in immediate efforts to create jobs and provide relief to families that are watching their paychecks shrink and their life savings disappear.

A particularly urgent priority is a further extension of unemployment insurance benefits for workers who cannot find work in the increasingly weak economy.

A fiscal stimulus plan that will jump-start economic growth is long overdue. I have talked about it throughout this -- the last few months of the campaign. We should get it done.

Second, we have to address the spreading impact of the financial crisis on the other sectors of our economy: small businesses that are struggling to meet their payrolls and finance their holiday inventories; and state and municipal governments facing devastating budget cuts and tax increases.

We must also remember that the financial crisis is increasingly global and requires a global response.

The news coming out of the auto industry this week reminds us of the hardship it faces, hardship that goes far beyond individual auto companies to the countless suppliers, small businesses and communities throughout our nation who depend on a vibrant American auto industry.

The auto industry is the backbone of American manufacturing and a critical part of our attempt to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

I would like to see the administration do everything it can to accelerate the retooling assistance that Congress has already enacted. In addition, I have made it a high priority for my transition team to work on additional policy options to help the auto industry adjust, weather the financial crisis, and succeed in producing fuel-efficient cars here in the United States of America.

And I was glad to be joined today by Governor Jennifer Granholm, who obviously has great knowledge and great interest on this issue.

I have asked my team to explore what we can do under current law and whether additional legislation will be needed for this purpose.

Third, we will review the implementation of this administration's financial program to ensure that the government's efforts are achieving their central goal of stabilizing financial markets while protecting taxpayers, helping homeowners, and not unduly rewarding the management of financial firms that are receiving government assistance.

It is absolutely critical that the Treasury work closely with the FDIC, HUD, and other government agencies to use the substantial authority that they already have to help families avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes.

Finally, as we monitor and address these immediate economic challenges, we will be moving forward in laying out a set of policies that will grow our middle class and strengthen our economy in the long term. We cannot afford to wait on moving forward on the key priorities that I identified during the campaign, including clean energy, health care, education, and tax relief for middle-class families.

My transition team will be working on each of these priorities in the weeks ahead, and I intend to reconvene this advisory board to discuss the best ideas for responding to these immediate problems.

Let me close by saying this. I do not underestimate the enormity of the task that lies ahead. We have taken some major action to date, and we will need further action during this transition and subsequent months.

Some of the choices that we make are going to be difficult. And I have said before and I will repeat again: It is not going to be quick, and it is not going to be easy for us to dig ourselves out of the hole that we are in.

But America is a strong and resilient country. And I know we will succeed, if we put aside partisanship and politics and work together as one nation. That's what I intend to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: The rest of that news conference is straight ahead. Obama answers reporters' questions about a wide range of topics, from his Cabinet appointments, to the puppy he is going to get for his daughters.

Jack Cafferty joins us with "The Cafferty File" now -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: This week began with a message of hope. It ended, at least on the economic front, with a pretty good- sized dose of bad news.

The Labor Department announced this morning 240,000 jobs lost in the month of October. That brings the total for the year to 1.2 million jobs gone -- 650,000 of them evaporated in the last three months alone. It is scary stuff. And things could get a lot worse into the first half of 2009, the automobile industry teetering on the brink of disaster.

Collectively, they are among the biggest employers in the country. Recent retail sales reports are likely to accelerate the closings of stores, more jobs gone. And there is nothing on the horizon, nothing, to make us think at this point things are going to going to get any better anytime soon.

President-elect Obama has promised to create jobs, but he does not take over the White House until January. And we could lose up to half-a-million additional jobs between now and then.

Here is the question: How can the new administration begin to slow the loss of jobs in the United States?

Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile, and you can post a comment on my blog -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Jack, thank you. You just heard president-elect Obama do the talking. Next, tough questions you want answered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: With the country facing two wars and a financial crisis, do you think it's important for you to move especially quickly to fill key cabinet posts, such as treasury secretary and secretary of state?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Obama answers that and other tough questions in the rest of his news conference.

Also, our CNN reporters have clues to who Obama might choose for key Cabinet posts. You might be surprised at some of the names.

And a network exclusive -- CNN speaks to Sarah Palin about the rumors coming from the McCain campaign. You will hear what she said straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: It was a dry run, of sorts, for the future grillings he might face in the White House.

The president-elect took questions from reporters for the first time in his new role.

Let's pick up with the rest of his news conference in Chicago today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Let me open it up for some questions. And I'm going to start right here with you.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President-elect. I wonder what you think any president can accomplish during their first 100 days in office to turn the economy around? How far can you go? And what will be your priorities on day one?

OBAMA: Well, I think that a new president can do an enormous amount to restore confidence, to move an agenda forward that speaks to the needs of the economy and the needs of middle-class families all across the country.

I have outlined during the course of the campaign some critical issues that I intend to work on.

We have a current financial crisis that is spilling out into rest of the economy, and we have taken some action so far. More action is undoubtedly going to be needed. My transition team is going to be monitoring very closely what happens over the course of the next several months. The one thing I can say with certainty is that we are going to need to see a stimulus package passed either before or after inauguration.

We are going to have to focus on jobs, because the hemorrhaging of jobs has an impact, obviously, on consumer confidence and the ability of people to -- to buy goods and services and can have enormous spillover effects.

And I think it's going to be very important for us to provide the kinds of assistance to state and local governments to make sure that they don't compound some of the problems that are already out there by having to initiate major layoffs or initiate tax increases.

So there are some things that we know we're going to have to do, but I'm confident that a new president can have an enormous impact. That's why I ran for president.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) from House Democrats that the stimulus package may be in trouble, that it's going to be a hard time getting out of a lame-duck session. Are you still confident that you would be able to get something done before you actually take office?

OBAMA: I want to see a stimulus package sooner rather than later. If it does not get done in the lame-duck session, it will be the first thing I get done as president of the United States.

QUESTION: Senator, for the first time since the Iranian revolution, the president of Iran sent a congratulations note to a new U.S. president. I'm wondering if, first of all, if you responded to President Ahmadinejad's note of congratulations and, second of all, and more importantly, how soon do you plan on sending low-level envoys to countries such as Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, to see if a presidential-level talk would be productive?

OBAMA: I am aware that the letter was sent. Let me state -- repeat what I stated during the course of the campaign.

Iran's development of a nuclear weapon I believe is unacceptable. And we have to mount a international effort to prevent that from happening.

Iran's support of terrorist organizations I think is something that has to cease.

I will be reviewing the letter from President Ahmadinejad, and we will respond appropriately. It's only been three days since the election. Obviously, how we approach and deal with a country like Iran is not something that we should, you know, simply do in a knee- jerk fashion. I think we've got to think it through.

But I have to reiterate once again that we only have one president at a time. And I want to be very careful that we are sending the right signals to the world as a whole that I am not the president and I won't be until January 20th. QUESTION: Picking up what we were just talking about, your meeting with President Bush on Monday. When -- he is still the decider, obviously, stating the obvious. When you disagree with decisions he makes, will you defer? Will you challenge? Will you confront? And if it becomes confrontational, could that rattle the markets even more?

OBAMA: Well, President Bush graciously invited Michelle and I to -- to meet with him and First Lady Laura Bush. We are gratified by the invitation. I'm sure that, in addition to taking a tour of the White House, there's going to be a substantive conversation between myself and the president.

I'm not going to anticipate problems. I'm going to go in there with a spirit of bipartisanship and a sense that both the president and various leaders in Congress all recognize the severity of the situation right now and want to get stuff done.

And, you know, undoubtedly there may end up being differences between not just members of different parties, but between people within the same party.

The critical point and I think the critical tone that has to be struck by all of us involved right now is the American people need help. This economy is in bad shape. And we have just completed one of the longest election cycles in recorded history.

Now is a good time for us to set politics aside for a while and think practically about what will actually work to move the economy forward. And it's in that spirit that I will have the conversation with the president.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President-elect. With the country facing two wars and a financial crisis, do you think it's important for you to move especially quickly to fill key cabinet posts, such as treasury secretary and secretary of state?

OBAMA: When we have an announcement about cabinet appointments, we will make them. There is no doubt that I think people want to know who's going to make up our team.

And I want to move with all deliberate haste, but I want to emphasize "deliberate" as well as "haste." I'm proud of the choice I made of vice president, partly because we did it right. I'm proud of the choice of chief of staff, because we thought it through.

And I think it's very important, in all these key positions, both in the economic team and the national security team, to -- to get it right and not to be so rushed that you end up making mistakes.

I'm confident that we're going to have an outstanding team, and we will be rolling that out in subsequent weeks.

QUESTION: Yes, sir. To what extent -- to what extent are you planning to use your probably pretty great influence in determining the successor for your Senate seat? And what sort of criteria should the governor be looking at in filling that position?

OBAMA: This is the governor's decision; it is not my decision.

And I think that the criteria that I would have for my successor would be the same criteria that I would have if I were a voter: somebody who is capable; somebody who is passionate about helping working families in Illinois meet their -- meet their dreams.

And I think there are going to be a lot of good choices out there, but it is the governor's decision to make, not mine. Lynn Sweet?

QUESTION: Mr. President-elect...

OBAMA: What happened to your arm, Lynn?

QUESTION: I cracked my shoulder running to your speech on election night.

OBAMA: Oh, no.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: I think that was the only major incident during the -- the entire Grant Park celebration.

QUESTION: Thank you for asking. Here's my question. I'm wondering what you're doing to get ready. Have you spoke to any living ex-presidents, what books you might be reading?

Everyone wants to know, what kind of dog are you going to buy for your girls? Have you decided on a private or public school for your daughters?

OBAMA: Let -- let me list those off.

In terms of speaking to former presidents, I have spoken to all of them that are living. Obviously, President Clinton -- I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances.

I have re-read some of Lincoln's writings, who's always an extraordinary inspiration.

And, by the way, President Carter, President Bush Sr., as well as the current president have all been very gracious and offered to provide any help that they can in this transition process.

With respect to the dog, this is a major issue. I think it's generated more interest on our Web site than just about anything.

We have -- we have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypoallergenic.

On the other hand, our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but, obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me. So -- so whether we're going to be able to balance those two things I think is a pressing issue on the Obama household.

And with respect to schools, Michelle will be -- will be scouting out some schools. We'll be making a decision about that in the future.

QUESTION: You are now privy to a lot of intelligence that you haven't had access to before, in fact, much of what the president sees, I'm sure all of it.

First of all, do you -- what do you think about the state of U.S. intelligence, whether you think it needs beefing up, whether you think there's enough interaction between the various agencies?

And, second of all, has anything that you've heard given you pause about anything you've talked about on the campaign trail?

OBAMA: Well, as you know, if -- if there was something I had heard, I couldn't tell you. But...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

OBAMA: I have received intelligence briefings. And I will make just a general statement.

Our intelligence process can always improve. I think it has gotten better. And, you know, beyond that, I don't think I should comment on the nature of the intelligence briefings.

OBAMA: That was a two-parter. Was there another aspect to that?

QUESTION: Well, just whether -- you know, absent what you've heard...

OBAMA: OK, I get you.

QUESTION: ... whether anything has given you pause.

OBAMA: I'm going to skip that.

QUESTION: Mr. President-elect, do you still intend to seek income tax increases for upper-income Americans? And if so, should these Americans expect to pay higher taxes in 2009?

OBAMA: The -- my tax plan represented a net tax cut. It provided for substantial middle-class tax cuts; 95 percent of working Americans would receive them.

It also provided for cuts in capital gains for small businesses, additional tax credits. All of it is designed for job growth.

My priority is going to be, how do we grow the economy? How do we create more jobs?

I think that the plan that we've put forward is the right one, but, obviously, over the next several weeks and months, we're going to be continuing to take a look at the data and see what's taking place in the economy as a whole.

But, understand, the goal of my plan is to provide tax relief to families that are struggling, but also to boost the capacity of the economy to grow from the bottom up.

All right. Thank you very much, guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Little bit of a look at the press conference there.

CNN's Gary Tuchman just interviewed Governor Sarah Palin. She is firing back at criticism coming from former McCain campaign staffers. We will tell you what she said, and you will get to hear it in her own words.

President-elect Obama ran against President Bush's policies, but should he reject advice from him?

How will Michelle Obama be in her historic role? The incoming first lady is offering clues on where her passions will lie.

And Joe the plumber apparently is not happy with just 15 minutes of fame. We will tell you what he is reportedly doing now. Obama might want to beware.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: We have got this just in. Sarah Palin is back in the governor's office in Anchorage for the first time.

And she talked to CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman, answering questions about those rumors that McCain campaign sources have been spreading. Gary Tuchman joins us by phone for more on our network exclusive. Gary, what did she say?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Soledad, the governor of Alaska just came back to her office within the last hour, first time back in the office since this presidential campaign began.

She was in good spirits, but she also told us that she was victimized during this campaign by liars and sexists. For example, these anonymous charges about her knowledge, we have been reporting that anonymous people have told us that she didn't know what countries were in NAFTA and that she did not know Africa was a continent.

Well, she strongly denies that is true. And here is what she just said to us minutes ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN: There's is no question that people did not put their names forward. And most -- I think a lot of Americans consider that cowardly. There's no question about that. GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: Yes. I do. I consider it cowardly.

TUCHMAN: So -- but, regarding these allegations, which I don't think -- my colleagues didn't make it up. They heard it from people who said, "You can't use our name" regarding these geography things about Africa and about NAFTA. Are they not true? Were they misinterpreted?

(CROSSTALK)

PALIN: No, it is not true.

And I do remember having a discussion about NAFTA, as we talked about Alaska's relationship with Canada and how we -- heaven forbid we go in and just unilaterally think that we're going to renegotiate NAFTA, as it has appeared that Barack Obama, his position was, yes, he wanted to go renegotiate.

I remember having a discussion with a couple of debate preppers. So, if it came from one of those debate preppers, that is curious, but having a discussion about NAFTA, not, oh, my goodness, I don't know who is a part of NAFTA.

So, no, I think that if there are allegations based on questions or comments that I made in debate prep about NAFTA and about the continent vs. the country when we talk about Africa there, then those were taken out of context.

And that is -- that is cruel. It's mean-spirited. It's immature. It's unprofessional. And those guys are jerks if they came away with it, taking things out of context, and then tried to spread something on national news. It is not fair and not right.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN: Well, Sarah Palin told us she talked on the telephone today with John McCain, who agrees with her about this. She says she still admires him greatly.

As a matter of fact, she tells us she loves him.

She also says these allegations that she was very demanding with clothes and with materiel out on the campaign trail, she says that's sexist. She says about the only thing she has asked for on the campaign trail is a Diet Dr. Pepper -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Gary, did she talk about motivation at all, I mean, what she thought might be behind some of these -- these -- these rumors?

TUCHMAN: I think she has learned a lot.

I think there are a lot of us who have covered a lot of campaigns over the years, and we have seen a lot of this stuff from the losing side after it's over. And you don't necessarily see that in the state of Alaska, population 680,000. It's an important job, the governor, but it is still a small state. So, I think she has learned a lot.

And, as far as motivation, she says she has absolutely no idea but she does think it's cruel and mean-spirited.

O'BRIEN: All right, Gary. Thanks.

We're going to have more of Gary's interview with Governor Sarah Palin ahead. Also, you can hear more of the interview tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, on Campbell Brown "NO BIAS, NO BULL." She'll be running another clip.

It's going to be an interesting meeting coming up on Monday. During the campaign, President Bush surely preferred Barack Obama to lose, while Barack Obama openly campaigned against the president's policies. But now that the campaign is over, the two men be coming together.

CNN White House correspondent, Elaine Quijano, joins us. She's taking a look ahead and as past meetings like this, aren't you -- Elaine?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. And, you know, Soledad, after months of partisan rancor on the campaign trail, Monday's meeting will likely be decidedly nonpartisan and certainly historic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

QUIJANO (voice-over): Democrat Barack Obama and Republican George Bush will come together Monday for the start of a time-honored tradition of American democracy -- the transfer of presidential power. This year, it is steeped in history -- the first transition post 9-11, the first African-American president-elect.

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will be a stirring sight to watch President Obama, his wife Michelle and their beautiful girls, step through the doors of the White House. I know millions of Americans will be overcome with pride at this inspiring moment that so many have waited so long.

QUIJANO: Just as George Bush did with Bill Clinton in December of 2000.

BUSH: I'm humbled and honored. And I can't thank the president enough for his hospitality. And he didn't need to do this.

QUIJANO: The incoming president will have a chance to seek advice from his predecessor.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Get a good team and do what he thinks is right.

QUIJANO: This time, as President Bush sits down with President- Elect Obama in the Oval Office, the two will have a full agenda.

BUSH: We face economic challenges that will not pause to let a new president settle in. We're in a struggle against violent extremists determined to attack us and they would like nothing more than to exploit this period of change to harm the American people.

QUIJANO: The two leaders will also have the delicate task of balancing decision-making and consultation in the coming weeks, as President-Elect Obama's views come into sharper focus.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: And it's more complicated this time than ever before because we have an economic crisis on our hands and he may be called upon to decisions about priorities and about policies during the transition.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUIJANO: Monday's meeting will also allow the current and future first ladies to meet. As their spouses confer in the Oval Office Monday afternoon, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama will meet and tour the private residence of the White House. It will be a chance for Mrs. Obama to get a closer look at the place that will become home for the Obama family -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Elaine Quijano for us at the White House. Thank you, Elaine.

It's one of the most high profile positions in the country. So what kind of first lady will Michelle Obama be? We're getting some new clues about what we can expect from this Ivy League-educated lawyer.

Also, with the election over, when will John McCain return to Washington? New details on what's next for the former presidential candidate.

And more on the interview that we're just getting into THE SITUATION ROOM with Governor Sarah Palin. She's speaking out about the rumors being spread against her.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back. We have this just in to CNN.

Gary Tuchman had a chance to sit down with Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. She is angry and lashing back at some of those anonymous critics from the McCain staffers who are criticizing her.

We're going to talk about that with our CNN senior political analyst, Gloria Borger, is with us; CNN political contributor, Stephen Hayes, the senior writer for "The Weekly Standard"; and CNN's senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley -- all part of the best political team on TV. I love throwing that in.

Let's get right to it. Let me play a little clip, if we have it, of Sarah Palin. She was just interviewed by Gary Tuchman in Alaska -- angry and hurt-sounding --Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PALIN: If there are allegations based on questions or comments that I made in debate prep about NAFTA and about the continent versus the country, when we talk about Africa there, then those were taken out of context. And that is -- that's cruel, it's mean-spirited, it's immature, it's unprofessional and those guys are jerks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: "Those guys are jerks," she says.

Gloria, let's start with you. You've covered a few of these campaigns and end of campaigns and leaks from campaigns that have passed unsuccessfully. Surprised by this at all?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, not really. You know, it's funny, because today I just spoke with somebody formerly of the McCain campaign who was trying to let me know very directly that he was not bad-mouthing Sarah Palin. Look, she was not a great candidate and they didn't handle her well. Both are true. She made mistakes and they made mistakes. And they lost.

And so now, you know, she -- you know, they're really throwing her under the bus. And I think it looks unprofessional, from their point of view. And I think that for her to call them a bunch of jerks doesn't really make her look great, either.

O'BRIEN: Well, Stephen Hayes, give me a little insight into motivation. Some people have said well, if you can damage her enough for 2012, that clears the way for other candidates. Do you think that's over thinking it?

STEPHEN HAYES, SENIOR WRITER AT "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Yes, I think it is over thinking it. Look, I think it's much simpler, actually. I think what's going on here is, you know, you have, I think, McCain campaign officials clearly telling people these things in an effort to explain away the loss, basically. They think they can point to the economy and with some justification say, look, if it weren't for these things, we might have done better.

But I think they're looking at somebody else and I think they're looking at Sarah Palin as something of a scapegoat. But what's interesting is I talked to several McCain sources. And John McCain has gotten quite upset at this sniping...

BORGER: Right.

HAYES: ...this anonymous sniping back and forth, and put out word today that he wants it to end. So I think we will see at least a lot of this -- or maybe some of this behind-the-scenes taking shots at her come to a close pretty soon.

O'BRIEN: Is there any effectiveness for the party, for the Republican Party, Candy, in taking shots at the woman who was the vice presidential nominee and now has gone back to Alaska?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. There's no plus in this for anybody that I can see. It's another one of those examples when the candidate seems to be bigger than his campaign, at this point. You can't blame her for hitting back, because this is really sort of below the belt stuff. You know, I mean can they damage this woman?

You know, the fact of the matter is that 2012 is a long way away. This all goes away probably in a week. I, too, heard that John McCain put out the word that, in fact, that he wanted this to stop. I think it goes away and, you know, she lets it go away. But at this point, she obviously is pretty angry about it.

HAYES: Yes, Soledad, I agree with Candy. And I don't think she could have sat by idly as people these made claims about her. I mean, she does have a political future, I think, or certainly wants a political future. And, you know, we've learned, I think, through the experience of the Bush administration that charges that are left unresponded to often stick and can stick in quite damaging ways.

BORGER: But you know, all of this reflects on John McCain. And whether he made a good choice or a bad choice in his vice presidential running mate or whatever, the fact that this is going on now among the people who are all working for him makes him look bad. And that's why he's angry about it. And that's why people formerly of the McCain campaign are trying to tamp it down right now, because they know that they're making John McCain look bad.

O'BRIEN: Well, she's clearly angry about it, too.

BORGER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: We'll have a little bit more of her interview straight ahead.

We don't have a lot of time, but I want to take a look forward to Monday's meeting. Steven, you obviously have spent a lot of time covering the Bush administration. They talked about -- the president- elect talked about he'd have a sort of tour of the White House but then also a substantive meeting. What happens at that meeting?

HAYES: You know, it's...

O'BRIEN: What kind of information is going to pass?

HAYES: It's so funny. What I find most interesting about these meetings is personal level, you know, what happens on the personal level. And in one of the interviews I conducted with Vice President Cheney, I asked him about these meetings that he had with Bill Clinton and Al Gore. I said just isn't it weird? I mean, you spend a whole campaign trashing these guys and then you sit down and shake hands and pretend like none of that happened. And he said basically, look, it's all politics. We all understand that it's politics and we're making big arguments. We don't know them personally, so it's not personal. And you sort of move beyond it. And I guess I expect that's what will be the most likely outcome of this meeting on Monday.

O'BRIEN: What do you think, Gloria? BORGER: Well, you know, I think it's really -- it's going to be really hard because, of course, George Bush was kind of kept a prisoner inside the White House. Nobody wanted him to campaign for them. And Barack Obama made him into public enemy number one.

And so I think it's -- I'd like to be there. I think it's going to be an interesting meeting and I bet they're going to talk about what it's like to have a dog and little kids in the White House.

O'BRIEN: I'm shocked to hear you say -- a reporter say I'd like to be there.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Candy, I bet you'd like to be there, too?

CROWLEY: Yes. Absolutely. Listen, I think, you know, some of this is really symbolic and it's about two men sort of doing one of those great things in a democracy. And that's the transfer of power -- the peaceful transfer of power. So it is as much important for the picture of it as it is to find out like how you can go down this elevator and get this way.

But I also think that it's less about, you know, leaning or pushing someone, saying -- you know, trying to sell whatever George Bush has been doing to Barack Obama as to say, listen, what I found to be the most difficult thing to get done is this or that or the other thing. I doubt it's like a policy substantive discussion about well, I think you ought to leave my tax cuts alone. There's not going to be any of that. I think they...

O'BRIEN: Right.

CROWLEY: I think they've discussed that issue long distance.

O'BRIEN: Yes. Yes, I think they have. And it will be a tour of the White House, too. Gloria and Stephen and Candy, thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

BORGER: Sure.

O'BRIEN: We're going to bring you much more of Gary Tuchman's interview with Governor Sarah Palin. We've got some new tape in.

Plus, before the campaign, he was just Samuel Wurzelbacher. What's "Joe the Plumber" to do now? We're going to see if he wants to run for Congress or if he has other plans. We'll look at that straight ahead.

And the economy is bleeding jobs. Jack has a look at your e-mails about what the Obama administration must do to put Americans back to work again.

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O'BRIEN: She is an Ivy League-trained lawyer and an accomplished professional in her own right. But what kind of first lady will Michelle Obama be? CNN's Susan Roesgen has been looking into that. She joins us from Chicago -- there's one role, Susan, she says she's really going to relish playing.

SUSAN ROESGEN, GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Soledad.

You know, as Barack Obama starts defining his new presidency, Michelle Obama is defining her new role as first mother.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROESGEN (voice-over): There's something reassuringly normal in seeing the future first lady in a ball cap and sweatsuit with the future president leaving a parent-teacher meeting at their kids' school. But the truth is, Mrs. Obama is every bit as high-powered as her husband.

Michelle Obama is a Princeton graduate and a Harvard Law School graduate, just like her husband. In fact, they met at the same corporate law firm. So why is it, then, that her goal for the next four years seems so much more modest than his?

MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: I come here as a mom, as a mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world.

ROESGEN: Is Michelle Obama's number one ambition as first lady to be first mom? That's what she writes in this op-ed piece reprinted this week from an earlier "U.S. News & World Report." If that's true, she will be a first lady more akin to Laura Bush than Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and made tea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROESGEN: Michelle Obama's press office declined to say how she would pursue her role as first mom, and her press office points out that she has said she will try to help working mothers and military families. How exactly she will do that, informally or in some official capacity, hasn't been revealed yet. But her daughters are number one.

M. OBAMA: One day they and your sons and daughters will tell their own children about what we did together in this election.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROESGEN: And, Soledad, it is a very smart man who listens to his wife. So remember, Mr. President, you may be the leader of the free world, but she will rule the roost.

O'BRIEN: No truer words were ever spoken. Susie Roesgen for us. Thanks, Susie. We appreciate it. We've got this just in -- more of Gary Tuchman's interview with Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. She is angry and hurt about the way McCain staffers have been leaking rumors about her. And she took a swipe at the media, too. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: Are you sad?

PALIN: I'm not sad at all. In fact, I'm energized. I think certainly feeling like it's a little bit of a different level, because of the perspective now that I have about what national politics are all about. Not sad. Again, disappointed in the change that I've seen in the national media compared to, you know, a couple of decades ago, when I received my journalism degree and how things seemed to work then.

But I'm not sad. And also be willing to try to help there, also, to make sure that there is credibility in our media, that there is objectivity there, so that Americans can trust what is being reported. We don't have to second-guess, we don't have to be so, I guess, paranoid of what comes over the airwaves or what we see written. I want to be able to help, also, Americans to know that they can trust their media.

QUESTION: Governor...

TUCHMAN: But you can't doubt, Governor, that most of us have been fair during this campaign -- the national media.

PALIN: Oh, absolutely.

TUCHMAN: Yes.

PALIN: Yes. So why don't...

TUCHMAN: I mean there's been some exceptions, but overall it's been pretty good, right?

PALIN: See, and that's the problem, is the exceptions. You know, one bad apple sometimes does kind of spoil the whole bunch. So, here again -- and this gives me the opportunity to start helping. And how I can start helping is to reiterate exactly what you just said, is, for the most part, absolutely. Media persons, reporters have been absolutely right on. And there has been that fairness and objectivity.

There have been some stinkers, though, that have kind of made the whole basket full of apples there once in a while smell kind of bad. I want to help (INAUDIBLE).

TUCHMAN: Governor, the...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin sitting down with Gary Tuchman. You can see more of her interview -- that interview with the governor of Alaska -- on Campbell Brown "NO BIAS, NO BULL" a little bit later tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Lou Dobbs, though, is getting ready for his show, which begins right at the top of the hour -- Lou, what are you working on?

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Soledad.

Much more tonight on the president-elect's first news conference, his promise to tackle the economic crisis and our soaring unemployment rate head-on. Nobel Prize-winning economist and "New York Times" columnist Paul Krugman joins me and three of the best political analysts also here to give us their assessment.

Also, our automobile industry struggling to survive -- literally -- suffering from crippling losses and running out of money. We'll have that report.

And startling new evidence that communist Chinese hackers have penetrated White House computer systems. We'll have more on that national security threat that no one in the Bush administration wants to talk about. We'll be talking about it on our broadcast tonight.

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

O'BRIEN: All right, Lou. Thank you. We'll see you then.

Jobs disappearing by the day -- what can be done to jump-start the economy and stop all those pink slips? Your e-mail with Jack Cafferty coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: On our "Political Ticker," "Joe the Plumber" apparently wants more than his 15 minutes of political fame. Samuel Wurzelbacher reportedly is launching a government watchdog group to keep President- Elect Obama and other politicians accountable. The "Boston Globe" reports Wurzelbacher is spelling out his next move, even as he throws cold water on the speculation that he's going to run for Congress.

And remember, for the latest political news any time, you can check out CNNPolitics.com.

Jack Cafferty joins us once again -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour, Soledad, is: How can the new administration begin to slow the loss of jobs in the United States?

Greg in Cabot, Arkansas says: "To slow the job loss in the U.S. Congress needs to impose severe tax penalties on companies that ship jobs offshore, eliminate tax breaks for companies that already outsource jobs and offer tax cuts to companies that bring jobs back here." R.M. in Gainesville, Florida: "President-Elect Obama needs to put a cap on interest rates charged by credit card companies. Only then will people be able to start spending money again, rather than simply slaving to pay off debt. Greater purchasing power, along with middle class tax cuts, will help get the majority of us spending again. And that creates jobs."

Kim in Dodge City, Kansas: "How about an immediate revamping of our trade policies so that American-made products and jobs are protected? I'm talking about an increase in tariffs large enough to send a message that the State Department is no longer going to be making trade policy. The lack of any common sense in our trade policies has led us to this point. And for heaven sake, get NAFTA repealed as soon as possible."

John in Colorado: "Barack Obama must take a page from FDR by quickly creating new jobs. In today's world, that would be in the areas of alternative energy, transportation and the rebuilding of inner cities and other areas of decayed infrastructure. Each new job created results in additional consumer spending. That helps to save existing jobs."

And Jim in Vancouver, Washington: "My father worked in the CCC Camps. What an opportunity for a program now modeled after that concept. Make sure that the money to bail out U.S. automakers goes toward plug-in cars and trucks -- things that are utilitarian, not just a lot of gas guzzling art. Bring back regulations to keep the hogs from raiding our financial gardens -- you know, the basic skills for balancing a budget, like they teach in the fifth and sixth grade, could come into play here, as well."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can to my blog at CNN.com/caffertyfile and look for yours there. There are hundreds of e-mails posted every hour -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Jack. Thank you.

We've got a great guest lineup planned on "LATE EDITION" this weekend. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "LATE EDITION" is at Sunday, 11:00 a.m. Eastern time.

I'm Soledad O'Brien in for Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Coming up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- That's just ahead.

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