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How Obama Will Work with McCain; Battling Over an Auto Bailout; Interview With Senator Richard Shelby

Aired November 17, 2008 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, Obama and McCain face to face. After a nasty campaign, the former rivals, they're talking. Talking about football, they're also talking about how to fix the country. Can they make good on a pledge to help Washington change its bad habits?
Congress is back for a special session this week. Democrats want to jump-start struggling automakers, but will lame-duck gridlock leave those bailout efforts stalled?

Plus, inauguration tickets are supposed to be free for a quarter million of you. And one U.S. senator wants to pass a law to keep scalpers and counterfeiters from spoiling America's celebration of democracy.

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

But we begin with developing news right now on what actually happened inside that meeting between Barack Obama and John McCain in Chicago.

Let's go to our White House Correspondent Ed Henry. He's looking into the story.

Ed, you're learning from sources what these two men actually discussed once the cameras left, the reporters were escorted out of that room, and they had that private chat.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Just learning from a senior Obama official that they didn't just talk about the broad reform issues that they put out in a written statement. In fact, they talked about some concrete ways that John McCain may try and help Barack Obama in the new year.

Specifically, first of all, closing down the military prison at Gitmo. I'm told that came up. And they have a broad agreement that they want to shut it down. They both talked about that in the campaign, but said they've got to go through the tough details about how to make it happen.

Secondly, they also talked about immigration reform. A very difficult issue, split the Republican Party. It will be tough to revive that reform issue next year. But John McCain said at least that he wants to try and find a way to help Barack Obama.

All of this coming on a day when these two former rivals finally met face to face.


BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Hey, guys. What's up?

HENRY (voice-over): This moment had awkward written all over it. So Barack Obama and John McCain did what guys do, talked football.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I noticed that yesterday's football...

OBAMA: Oh. See there.

MCCAIN: ... game was not greeted with...

OBAMA: They brought up the Bears.

HENRY: The loser relishing the chance to tweak the winner about how his Chicago Bears lost by 34 points on Sunday, though the president-elect deflected it with a compliment about the quarterback on McCain's favorite team.

OBAMA: Arizona's, they've got a real -- Warner has turned out to be unbelievable.

MCCAIN: Turned out to be quite a performer.

HENRY: If this performance seems forced, let's not forget it was their first face to face since that final debate in New York when McCain got aggressive about Obama's ties to Bill Ayers.

MCCAIN: And you launched your political campaign in Mr. Ayers' living room.

OBAMA: That's absolutely not true.

HENRY: What is true? Both need to bury the hatchet. McCain can't return to the Senate a sore loser. Obama wants to show his talk about bipartisanship is for real.

OBAMA: Just going to have a good conversation about how we can do some work together to fix up the country, and also to offer thanks to Senator McCain for the outstanding service he's already rendered.

HENRY: Asked if he's willing to help the incoming president, McCain said obviously, though people close to both men insist that will not include an actual cabinet post. There are limits apparently to the concept of a team of rivals, just as there are limits to the incoming president's patience when the reporters shouted questions about auto bailouts and such.



OBAMA: You're incorrigible. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: Now, a senior Obama official also said half jokingly there were no fistfights in this meeting, saying that they at least had some broad agreement, saying they'll have some cooperation on issues like climate change, but also earmark reform, something that was very important to John McCain back in the presidential campaign. So what we're seeing is both men trying to turn the page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I suspect they're going to be working closely together.

Thanks very much, Ed Henry.

Other White House rivals, by the way, have tried to patch things up after their rough and tumble races. Following their nasty 2004 campaign, Massachusetts's Senator John Kerry didn't meet with President Bush until March of 2005. After his 2000 victory, George W. Bush briefly visited Vice President Al Gore in December 2001, when a U.S. Supreme Court ruling led to Gore's concession.

The former president, Bill Clinton, awarded his 1996 opponent, former Senator Robert Dole, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That was in January, only three days before the inauguration. Dole drew laughs, by the away, and many of you remember, when he started his speech by saying, "I, Robert J. Dole, do solemnly swear..." and then he deadpanned, "Sorry wrong speech." It was funny, very funny at the time.

With the country in the grip of an economic meltdown, Congress is back for a special session beginning today. Democrats have a bailout for automakers on their agenda, but that may be more than lame-duck lawmakers can handle right now.

Let's go to our congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.

Dana, do Democrats have the muscle to get what they want?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At this point, it does not look like that at all, Wolf.

You know, President-elect Obama, President Bush, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, they all agree that what will happen in Detroit if there is a problem, a big problem in Detroit, that that will have disastrous effects across the country. So they all say that they want to help, but there is absolutely no agreement on how to do that.


BASH (voice-over): On the steps of the Capitol, some 50 newly elected lawmakers pose for a class photo...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ready? One, two, three.

BASH: ... one the first signs of big change coming to Washington. But inside the halls of Congress, business as usual, gridlock...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate will come to order.

BASH: ... as the old Congress gathers for a post-election session.

Calls for emergency assistance to the struggling U.S. auto industry are colliding with a partisan divide over where the money should come from.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: The Federal Reserve, Chairman Bernanke has authority to provide funds to the automobile industry. Now, thus far, neither the Treasury Department or the Federal Reserve has done so.

BASH: Democrats are pushing a measure to give auto companies $25 billion taken from the $700 billion bailout Congress approved for the financial industry. But most Republicans and the Bush White House still oppose helping the big three automakers in Detroit with funds intended for a rescue of Wall Street.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's not an appetite in Congress or in the administration to open up the TARP funding for individual industries, because once you start down that road, it's a slippery slope.

BASH: The White House and Republicans insist they want to help the troubled auto industry, but instead use money from a previously approved fund for developing fuel-efficient vehicles, which most Democrats call non-negotiable. The result? Stalemate and palpable frustration among some rank and file veterans.

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: This session of the Senate should not be called a lame duck. We should neither be lame nor should we duck the big issue facing our country.

BASH: And newly elected senators like Oregon's Jeff Merkley here for orientation.

JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON SENATOR-ELECT: I hope that we will have the ability to end the paralysis that has afflicted the Senate.


BASH: But for right now, paralysis does seem to reign here in Congress, Wolf. We talked to Republican and Democratic sources just before talking to you, and basically they all agree that the prospects for passing a bailout for the industry are very dim, at least doing that this particular week -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. This is the week they've got to either do it, because next week they're going on Thanksgiving break, so they're not going to be here.

All right, Dana. Thanks very much.

Let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, President-elect Barack Obama has been warned of a "huge threat" from al Qaeda by intelligence leaders in the United States and abroad. He told 60 Minutes' Steve Kroft last night that since terrorists could try to attack the U.S. during his White House transition, putting together his national security team is a top priority. And it should be. The presidential transition period has proved to be primetime for terrorists.

In 1993, a little more than a month after President Bill Clinton took office, there was the first attack by al Qaeda on the World Trade Center here in New York City. In 2001, less than a year into his first term, we had 9/11.

The director of the CIA, Michael Hayden, said last week that al Qaeda is strengthening its hub in the Pakistani mountains and building ties with militant groups both in Europe and in Africa. President- elect Obama told "60 Minutes" that stamping out al Qaeda is one of the things at the top of his to-do list, and that capturing or killing Osama bin Laden is a critical part of that plan.

So here's the question -- we haven't asked this for a while -- how concerned are you about another terrorist attack?

Go to You can post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jack. Thanks very much.

The big trouble for the big three. Now GM is using the Internet to make its case. That, plus response from Senator Richard Shelby on what he says the bailout should not happen.

Barack Obama, the war in Iraq, and what happens next. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs just finishing up a news conference a short while ago, how things might work under the Obama administration.

Plus, Barack Obama says a member of his transition team is making suggestions to the treasury secretary right now. But how far do those suggestions go?

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


BLITZER: October was the worth month for auto sales since the 1950s. Sales for the big three, GM, Chrysler and Ford, all down by double digits. Even foreign far companies are having problems selling cars. So much so, that for the first time, Toyota is shipping trucks built in its U.S. factories to be sold outside North America.

And these numbers are why American auto companies are hoping for a bailout. GM is turning to YouTube right now to try to make its case. The company's president is warning that the collapse of the auto industry would impact people well beyond Detroit.

Let's go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton -- Abbi.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, this is a dire warning from GM in the form of an online video about what they're saying will be the ripple effects of a U.S. auto industry collapse. Get ready, it says, for three million job losses in the first year between automakers, suppliers and spin-off industries, and an economic situation so severe, it says, as to threaten national security.

The video's been placed on GM's YouTube channel, once a place they would showcase and show off their vehicles. But in the last month, this has been used increasingly by executives to make the case for GM. CEO Rick Wagoner here last month.


RICK WAGONER, CEO, GENERAL MOTORS: We've been doing a huge amount on whether it's improving the fuel economy of the cars that we're offering today and tomorrow, where GM has a much better performance than a lot of people think...


TATTON: The latest video has been urging people to write or call their member of Congress, but you can see from the comments placed online that some people are skeptical about the auto industry's viability, about a bailout in general. This one from last night saying, "Please let the car companies go out of business instead of allowing them to be an albatross for my children" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Abbi Tatton, thanks very much.

And joining us now, Senator Richard Shelby. He's the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, clearly involved in all of this.

Senator Shelby, I know you've been very skeptical of a bailout of the big three auto manufacturers. But when you hear what GM is saying, three million potential jobs could be lost if nothing is done to save Ford, GM and Chrysler, what do you say?

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: Well, first of all, I don't believe those figures are right. Secondly, if we send money to them, it's going down the same old road that management has led them down already. The model's not going to work, Wolf. We're going to have to borrow this money.

Let's say it's $25 billion, $50 billion, or $100 billion. We're borrowing that just like we're borrowing everything else.

And if I thought for one second that money would be paid back to the government, that would be one thing. But I know it's not going to be. And the management's going to be in place. The contracts with suppliers, the contracts with labor is going to be there. And this model won't work at all.

GM, Ford, Chrysler have spent billions and billions in the last few years trying to right themselves. If there was a good deal, private banking would be running in there financing this in a second. Nobody believes really that this is going to work.

BLITZER: Well, yesterday I spoke to the commerce secretary, Carlos Gutierrez. And he says he was speaking for President Bush. He says don't use any of the $700 billion to bail out the auto industry, but there's $25 billion available in some energy bill that was passed last year that you could reprogram, and you could use that to help the big three auto manufacturers.

Listen to what Carlos Gutierrez told me yesterday.


CARLOS GUTIERREZ, COMMERCE SECRETARY: That bill, that section, can be reworded quite readily, and that money can be made available to auto companies that can prove that they are viable or that they have a plan for viability.


BLITZER: All right. Are you with the president on this?

SHELBY: Well, I voted against that $25 billion, in all honesty, Wolf. I don't believe $25 billion or $50 billion or $100 billion is going to change the way Detroit does business. I wish it would, because I think these jobs are important, but management has brought them to where they are today, and management is going to stay there. They're going to be in place. We're going to waste this money.

Now, as far as the $25 billion you referenced, they could amend that legislation and could do that. I wouldn't support it. But at the same time, if they were to get that $25 billion, I believe it will just be money wasted.

BLITZER: And so this is good money, you say, going to bad. But the economy being in economic distress, in crisis right now, if it's not three million jobs, what is it, two million jobs, one million jobs? Can the overall economy sustain a loss of jobs like that?

SHELBY: Well, the question is, can we sustain continuing to borrow and borrow? Wolf, this year, our deficit, operating deficit, is going to be $1 trillion or more and growing. This is a question, do the American people want to borrow from their children to prop up companies that are dinosaurs, that have failed models, that have no innovation to speak of, just the whole jobs?

I think it's the wrong model. The government is choosing winners and losers in the marketplace. It won't work. It's never worked.

BLITZER: Let me get to you respond on some politics right now. Your colleague from South Carolina, Republican Jim DeMint, he said this over the past day or so. He said, " We have to be honest, and there's a lot of blame to go around, but I have to mention George Bush, and I have to mention Ted Stevens, and I'm afraid I have to even mention John McCain." He's blaming all of them for the disaster that the GOP has gone through this Election Day and back in 2006.

Do you agree that John McCain deserves some of this blame?

SHELBY: Oh, I wouldn't blame John McCain. John McCain has not been president of the United States.

He ran. He ran a spirited campaign. We lost. I hated to see us lose, but there were a lot of things working against us. President Bush is somebody I have supported on a lot of occasions, but I'm disappointed in the administration on a lot of things and where we are today.

I think the GOP, the Grand Old Party, the Republicans, they will regroup. This reminds me of 16 years ago, when you had the big victory by President Clinton and they said the GOP was finished. We were back in a few years, we'll be back again. I think that my friend Senator DeMint should keep this stuff in a caucus and not be out beating up on fellow Republicans.

BLITZER: All right. Senator Shelby, thanks for joining us.

SHELBY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Barack Obama says he wants a relatively speedy exit of U.S. troops from Iraq, perhaps 16 months. But the nation's top military officer saying just a little while ago it could take twice as long as the incoming commander in chief wants to accomplish that. We have new details coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM.

And it's three times the size of a U.S. aircraft carrier. A supertanker loaded with crude oil, it's now been seized by pirates.

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



BLITZER: Your issue #1 is also Barack Obama's top priority. Why the president-elect has a point man with a direct link to the treasury secretary. We have new information.

And a quarter million Americans are supposed to be able to watch the inauguration for free. A U.S. senator is now taking steps to make sure scalpers and counterfeiters don't spoil the party.

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


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

Happening now, Hillary Clinton under consideration, her husband under scrutiny. Bill Clinton's activities overseas, could they hurt his wife's chances at a cabinet post back home?

Stand by. We're getting more information.

The Oval Office and key seats in Congress. The GOP's losses kept increasing this year. Now the regrouping and the finger-pointing has begun.

And personal e-mail is OK, so is senatorial e-mail. But presidential e-mail? That's perhaps another story. Barack Obama faces a potential BlackBerry blackout.

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

Certainly issue #1 for the American public right now, and President-elect Barack Obama is making the economy his issue #1, as well.

Let's bring in Brian Todd. He's looking into this story for us.

Brian, he's trying to make sure that what the Treasury Department is doing right now sort of coincides with what he has in mind.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. As you know, things are moving very fast with the bailout, almost day by day. The president-elect needs to know what's going on, and it appears he's got someone right at Henry Paulson's side.


TODD (voice-over): Three days after being voted into office, Barack Obama was up front about his top priority.

OBAMA: Immediately after I become president, I'm going to confront this economic crisis head-on.

TODD: But it doesn't appear Mr. Obama's waiting until January 20th. In speaking with CBS' "60 Minutes" about the immediate need to help homeowners, the president-elect is asked if he's consulted with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the architect of the financial bailout.

OBAMA: We've assigned somebody on my transition team who interacts with them on a daily basis. And you know, we are getting the information that's required to -- and we're making suggestions in some circumstances about how we think they might approach some of these problems.

TODD: An Obama transition official tells us that last part is an overstatement. The liaison with Paulson, this official says, has a constant line of communication with the treasury secretary but is not giving policy advice. Who is this person? Dan Tarullo, former economic adviser to President Clinton, former member of the National Security Council.

Our efforts to reach Tarullo were unsuccessful and the Obama team says he's not doing interviews. But in a signal of how serious the economic crisis is, an Obama aide says Tarullo is their only high- level adviser now in direct contact with a cabinet secretary, a different arrangement from the standard procedure they have at the State Department, Pentagon, and elsewhere, with lower-level agency review teams.

PETER MORICI, ECONOMIST, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: It's a good idea to send one individual to interact with Secretary Paulson to ensure that policy has a smooth transition over the next 60 days, so that there isn't a disruption in the way the economy is managed.


TODD: Now, one historian says, this is unusual, but it is appropriate. He says other top priorities, even Iraq, can wait until Mr. Obama takes office in January.

But, with the bailout, he says, so many decisions are being made almost hour by hour, that Obama needs to be privy to what's going on at all times -- Wolf.

BLITZER: They are ramping up their transition operations at other departments and agencies throughout the federal government right now.

TODD: They are. There's a lot going on.

We're told that, today, 17 Obama staffers went to the Pentagon. That's a big priority for them, as you know. That's in -- in addition to the two that they have taking a look at operations top to bottom, a huge undertaking at the Pentagon. So, things are moving very quickly with them right now.

BLITZER: All right, thanks.

Brian Todd is working the story for us. Thank you.

Let's go up to Capitol Hill right now. Everybody there wants that corner office. The people you elected to Congress this year certainly are no different. The election may be over, but there's a new race happening on Capitol Hill. That would be the race for office space.

Here's CNN's Brianna Keilar -- Brianna.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, with the election over, we're now in the middle of the race for office space.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. (INAUDIBLE) selected number two.


KEILAR (voice-over): It's a tradition on Capitol Hill. The post-election office lottery as defeated congressman clear out, senior members get first pick at bigger and better digs. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) selected number 10.

KEILAR: Staffers do their bosses' bidding, though some members of Congress, like California Republican Darrell Issa show up in person. Issa even brought his wife, Kathy, to pick his number.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putting all the pressure on you, huh?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Issa has selected number eight.

KEILAR: She lucks out, not so for Arkansas Democrat Mike Ross. Just reelected with 86 percent of the vote, his chief of staff draws number 23 out of 23.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope I don't, you know, take a pay cut because of this. But we have two years to -- to think about that and for me to make amends for my boss.

KEILAR (on camera): A beautiful view is, of course, a bonus. But when you're picking a congressional office, it's just like choosing any other piece of real estate. It's all about location, location, location.

(voice-over): The draws, proximity to rooms where hearings take place, the best cafeterias, and the House floor, where members can trek several times each day for votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's clearly competitive, as you can see.

KEILAR: Staffers for Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky are eying an office that will get their boss closer to the House floor. Schakowsky's deputy chief of staff estimates a move to this office could save his boss up to 60 minutes on a busy day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just drop down the elevator and hop on the subway, and you're right there.

KEILAR (on camera): Those were fourth and fifth-term members of Congress claiming their new offices. And, by the end of this week, the freshmen will get their chance. And, let's face it, Wolf. The pickings will be slim.


BLITZER: Brianna, thank you -- Brianna Keilar up on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, tickets to the Obama inauguration are supposed to be free -- the new law that's being proposed to stop scalpers and counterfeiters. Stand by.

Like many Americans, Barack Obama is addicted to his BlackBerry. But will he face a BlackBerry bailout once he becomes president?

And he's been battling brain cancer for months. Now the lion of the Senate, Ted Kennedy, he is back at work on Capitol Hill. You're going to hear what he's saying today.

And we're also getting new information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now about Hillary Clinton and the prospects of her becoming the Secretary of State.

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


BLITZER: We're getting new information right now coming into THE SITUATION ROOM on the prospects of Hillary Clinton becoming the next Secretary of State.

Let's go to Ed Henry. He's working the story for us in Chicago.

What are you hearing, Ed?

HENRY: Well, Wolf, two officials close to the Obama transition are confirming that they have begun looking at the finances and the post-presidential activities of former President Bill Clinton to try and ascertain whether or not there should -- there's any sort of negative information out there that should wave President-elect Barack Obama from even considering Senator Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State.

They're stressing that they're -- they're trying to get unspecified records into some of his finances, into some of his dealings to try to sort all of that out, but also interesting that these officials are trying to shoot down a report earlier today on the Politico Web site saying that there was exasperation in the Obama camp with the slow pace from the Clintons in terms of turning over information.

Obama officials are insisting that they're not exasperated. They're not specifying how quickly these records are being turned over, however, but they're trying to stress that they're not exasperated, they're not upset. They're just trying to get this in an orderly fashion.

What's significant about this, the fact that they're reaching out to get these records shows just how serious they are in terms of their consideration of Hillary Clinton potentially as Secretary of State, number one, and, number two, how delicate this is, because they don't want it out there, they do not want the suggestion that there's any sort of tug of war here, that they're not getting what they need.

They're saying, so far, there's been cooperation. They're happy at this moment. But it shows you just how delicate the back and forth is right now, as they even consider Hillary Clinton, and as to whether or not she should be nominated as Secretary of State, let alone, if she is nominated, how delicate all of that will be, including the confirmation hearings, potentially, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. I have been hearing that Bill Clinton is making it clear he wants his wife -- if she wants to be Secretary of State, he wants to do whatever he can to make sure that that happens, and happens smoothly.

So, he's fully cooperating with the Obama transition team, giving them the information they want and they need. So, a lot of people, Ed, just think this is eventually going to happen, probably sooner, rather than later.

HENRY: Well, it's hard to tell, because they have interviewed other people, as you know, for example, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

But the fact that we're hearing more detail -- much more detail about the volume, the records, et cetera, that they're looking into with the Clintons certainly suggests that perhaps she's a more serious candidate than some of the others, because they're certainly going into much more detail.

Some of these records would include his work with his charitable foundation. It would include his presidential library, some of the donors that have -- have supposedly given very large donations to the Clinton Presidential Library. So, it's hard to categorize, because they're doing all this behind the scenes.

But the information we're piecing together, piece by piece, suggests that Hillary Clinton is a very serious candidate for this job -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, she certainly is.

All right, Ed, thanks very much.

We're going to have a lot more on this story coming up right at the top of the hour.

Meanwhile, there are now 151,000 U.S. troops still stationed in Iraq, and it may take a lot longer than Barack Obama wants to get them out -- that word today coming from the nation's top military officer.

Let's go to the Pentagon. Our senior military correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, is standing by.

Jamie, what are you hearing?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, When President Obama takes office, he's going to have to reconcile what is essentially the Iraqi withdrawal plan with the advice of his own commanders and his notion of what is a responsible pullout. And, as you might imagine, they're not all in sync.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): The newly signed agreement calls for U.S. troops to stop patrolling Iraqi cities by mid-2009 and get out of Iraq entirely by the end of 2011.

Meanwhile, President-elect Barack Obama promises, as soon as he takes office, he will order a drawdown, after consultations with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his national security team.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs is already on record opposing a rigid timetable, such as the 16-month withdrawal plan Obama laid out during his campaign.

(on camera): Has your view change that any withdrawal of troops from Iraq needs to be based on the conditions on the ground?

ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN, JOINTS CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: No, I'm -- I'm in a position that -- that is still conditions-based. And I think it needs to be measured. And -- and it needs to be -- and, again, conditions continue to improve in a way where we are allowed to withdraw forces. I certainly understand there are other options. And it's something that we look at all the time.

MCINTYRE: If -- if you have one of those other options, as you call it, can you carry that out?

MULLEN: Sure. Sure.

MCINTYRE: (voice-over): Admiral Mullen says, the logistics of pulling 150,000 American troops out over three years are, in his words, more than doable. How risky it is depends on how well the Iraqis can provide for their own security.

A big test will come in Baghdad and Mosul, two violent cities the Iraqis say they will be able to control in another year.


MCINTYRE: So, the new agreement essentially buys three years, which, if you think about it, is not inconsistent with Obama's plan, especially when you consider that Barack Obama has said he would leave some number of troops in Iraq to support the Iraqi military and fight al Qaeda.

But the other thing that's clear here is, while Admiral Mullen is going to lay out the risks of pulling out the troops too fast, he's also ready to salute smartly and carry out the orders of the new commander in chief -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sounds like a plan.

All right, thanks very much, Jamie, for that.

Another massive round of layoffs today and another sign that the credit crunch is still squeezing Wall Street's biggest firms. Citigroup is providing that the bigger you are in this struggling economy, the smaller you could get.

Let's go straight to our financial correspondent, Stephanie Elam, with the latest.

What is the latest? What's going on, Stephanie?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, you take a look at a story last -- like this, and, last week, talk about 10,000 job cuts at Citigroup caused a stir, but the axe just keeps on falling. The New York-based financial firm says it plans to slash more than 50,000 jobs. Now, that's on top of the 22,000 cuts that were already announced, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, the CEO talked to employees about all of this today. What did he say?

ELAM: That's true.

Vikram Pandit is the CEO at Citigroup. And he addressed the job cuts in a meeting with employees this morning. He said, 2009 is also expected to be a difficult year for the company. And that's obviously going to factor into how they go forward with job cuts.

BLITZER: It's been a very rough year so far for Citigroup.

ELAM: Oh, that's definitely true. Over the last year, the company has lost $20 billion, and its stock is down practically 70 percent year to date. So, this is obviously a big blow to the U.S. economy, which, so far this year, has already lost about 1.2 million jobs -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And the market down 223 points once again today.

All right, Stephanie, thank you.

They fought bitterly for the White House. Now Barack Obama and John McCain say they hope to work together. Should the president- elect actually find a job, though, for his former rival?

And, as the space shuttle program winds down, does President- elect Obama plan to keep Americans in orbit?

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


BLITZER: Should Barack Obama bring John McCain into his Cabinet? We're going to discuss that, more -- and more in our "Strategy Session." Donna Brazile and John Feehery, they are walking into THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: In our "Strategy Session": Barack Obama, John McCain, they met today in Chicago to patch things up after their pretty rough campaign. Should the president-elect offer his White House rival an actual job?

Let's discuss this and more with our Democratic strategist, the CNN political contributor Donna Brazile, and Republican strategist John Feehery.

Should he offer McCain a job? DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Senator McCain has a great job right now in the United States Senate, and he will be an asset to President-elect Obama, especially on reform -- their reform agenda, immigration reform, pay as you go, and then corporate earmarks.

This is something that both Senator McCain is excited about, and I'm sure President-elect Obama to have him back in the Senate to help him out.

BLITZER: Because, when I interviewed Senator -- then Senator, now President-elect Obama right at the end of the campaign, he was hoping for that possibility of bringing Senator McCain into his team.

And listen to what he said, Obama, back on May 22 of this year about Senator McCain. Listen to this.


OBAMA: If I really thought that John McCain was the absolute best person for the Department of Homeland Security, I would put him in there. No, I would, if I thought that he was the best. Now, I'm not saying I do.


BLITZER: That's -- that's telling, I thought. You know, he wants to bring his rivals and others into his team.

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think we're reading a lot of history from the Lincoln days.


FEEHERY: I agree with Donna. He's much better for the Obama administration if he's in the Senate.

I think he has two passions, defense and environment. He's not going to be in defense, because he disagrees with Obama on the major policies of defense. Is Interior and EPA big on jobs for McCain? I don't think so. I think he will stay in the Senate.

But, you know, we will see. Who knows? I think that you're right, that Obama wants to cast a different view of -- of the presidency, and go back to Abraham Lincoln, who is his personal political hero.

BLITZER: It's pretty interesting, this -- this whole notion of bringing in your rivals, like Abraham Lincoln did. We know he's been reading up on that.

What do you think about that, that theory is -- in terms of governing?

BRAZILE: I think the American people deserve and expect that the next president will bring in people who disagree with him, but, also, President-elect Obama has really set about casting the widest net possible to look for the most talented people to come to Washington, D.C.

So, it's a good spirit. The American people want bipartisanship. And I think Obama will present that.


Rudy Giuliani was in Dubai, I -- I believe, over the weekend, someplace in the Gulf. And he was talking to our own Hala Gorani of CNN International.

And he said, you know, he might be interested in running for governor of New York State. And he also said he's not ruling out the possibility of running once again for president of the United States.

What kind of future do you think the former New York City mayor has?

FEEHERY: Well, I supported Rudy Giuliani in the primary. And my support got him zero electoral votes. You know, I think that...

BRAZILE: Zero delegates.


FEEHERY: Zero delegates, right. That, too.


FEEHERY: I think Rudy would be a great governor. I think he's got -- that's the next step if he wants to be president. I think he's the future of the party. I think he's -- he's tough enough, but he's also got...


BLITZER: And you say he's the future of the party, a guy who supports abortion rights and gay rights and gun control? That's the future of the GOP?


FEEHERY: I thought so at the end of the primary, because I think we needed to be -- cast a wider net. We need to be able to compete in the Northeast. We need to compete on -- nationwide.

I'm not sure if he's still the future, because, obviously, he didn't get that much support. But I love Rudy Giuliani. I think he would make a great governor of New York. And I think he might run for it.

BLITZER: What do you think?

BRAZILE: Well, Dave Paterson is going to run for a full...


BLITZER: The current governor of New York be.

BRAZILE: He's going to run for a full term in 2010, and I think he will be tough to beat.

BLITZER: Because?

BRAZILE: Because I think that the voters will be become very comfortable with Dave. He's making some tough choices right now on the budget.

And, look, the former mayor went out there, and he tacked hard to the right to try to get those conservative votes. New Yorkers like their politicians mild and moderate.

BLITZER: You know there's a lot of speculation, as you know, of Hillary Clinton becoming the next Secretary of State. Supposedly, it's hers if she wants it. That would mean that Governor David Paterson would have to name someone to replace Clinton as the junior senator in New York State.

And, already, there's buzz out there, Caroline Kennedy, for example. What do you think about that possibility?

BRAZILE: I like all of the above.

I think Senator Clinton would make a great Secretary of State. I don't believe there are any problems with former President Clinton. She files a financial disclosure every year. So, if this is what she wants, and President Obama offers -- offers this position, I support it 100 percent.

FEEHERY: I wouldn't be surprised if Andrew Cuomo got appointed. That way, he's not -- as someone who would be a possible primary appointment against Governor Paterson.

BLITZER: You think Andrew Cuomo would be on the short list to replace Hillary Clinton as the -- as senator?

FEEHERY: Exactly. Just get him out of the state.


BLITZER: Maybe you know more about New York State politics than I do right now.

BRAZILE: Governor Paterson would have a long list. And, of course, Chuck Schumer will weigh in as well.

BLITZER: They will all weigh in.

All right, let's see what happens.

When do you think -- if she gets the job, when do you think that would be announced, Secretary of State? BRAZILE: I think we just should prepare ourselves to have a happy Thanksgiving and wait for President-elect Obama to make these Cabinet appointments some time early December.

BLITZER: Early December?



BRAZILE: We will see.

BLITZER: Donna knows.

FEEHERY: Donna knows.

BLITZER: Very well plugged in.


FEEHERY: Yes, well-connected.

BLITZER: Yes, she should be.


BLITZER: Thanks very much, guys.

Imagine no BlackBerry, no e-mail, at least for the next four years. How is that possible? Well, that's what Barack Obama's facing, potentially, as he gets ready to take office. The electronic blackout, why it important? Stay with us.

And a young family facing a big move -- the Obamas talk about their personal transition, relocating to the White House, and giving up the last of their privacy.

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


BLITZER: We're 64 days right now from that historic presidential inauguration. And that's led to a huge demand for the 240,000 free tickets given to lawmakers to hand out.

It's also leading to worries that scalpers might try to illegally cash in.

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California chairs the Inaugural Ceremonies Committee. And she has drafted legislation to punish people who try to sell or counterfeit the tickets.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I find it unconscionable. These tickets are supposed to be free for people, for the volunteers who gave up their weekends, walking miles door to door, to encourage voters to turn out to the polls on Election Day, for members of the African-American community to see one of their own take the oath of office for the highest office in the land, for schoolchildren to witness history, and for the American public to watch this affirmation of our Constitution.


BLITZER: Lawmakers are getting literally tens and tens of thousands of requests for tickets. Chuck Schumer of New York is planning on holding a lottery to give away the tickets he's been allocated.

Remember, for the latest political news any time, you can check out The the's where you can also download our political screen saver,

Let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: How concerned are you about another terrorist attack? The question being prompted by the fact that, sometimes, during presidential transitions, people who are up to no good can see that as a -- as a window of opportunity.

Randy in New York writes: "Another attack is always a concern. After the first World Trade Center bombing, it took almost eight years for the next, more devastating attack to come. Since we haven't captured the master designer of the 9/11 attacks, it's probably just a matter of time."

Don in Ottawa says: "Not at all, Jack. The terrorists are achieving what they want without lifting a finger. We are destroying ourselves from within."

Laura writes: "Why bother to plot an attack when they can sit back, watch the country financially implode? George Bush and his crew have been the ultimate gift to al Qaeda."

Mark in Oklahoma City: "Very concerned. I believe we will be hit again, but only when bin Laden can be certain that destruction and loss of life will be much greater than that which took place on 9/11."

Pat in Kentucky writes: "I'm concerned and aware, but not anxious or hysterical or paralyzed, by the possibility or probability. I don't know what to do to help prevent an attack, and I'm certainly not going to stop everything and hold my breath waiting for it to happen."

Lauri in Baltimore writes, "I'm a lot less concerned now than I was on November the 3rd."

And Bruce in Saint Paul says: "I'm not worried. After all, we have to take our shoes off and surrender our shampoo at the airport. And we have a partial fence separating us from Mexico. How could terrorists possibly penetrate a system like that?" If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at Look for yours there, among hundreds of others -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: The next president may tap Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State. But a former president could wind up making that a little bit difficult at least -- how Bill Clinton could derail, potentially, his wife's chances. There's some new information just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. We will tell you what we know.

Also, the lion of the Senate roars again -- Ted Kennedy returning to work, as he battles brain cancer. He's speaking out about the ambitious agenda he hopes to advance together with Barack Obama.

And after stinging losses across the country, Republicans go back to the drawing board to determine where the GOP goes from here.

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