Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
The World Reacts to Iran's Election; "All I Ever Wanted for Haiti"; Israel Answers President Obama; ADHD Drug Risks; Tornado Near Denver
Aired June 15, 2009 - 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: And a stunning dash cam drama as a police officer pulls over an ambulance on the way to the hospital. You won't believe what happened next.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But first, the breaking news out of Iran. We must warn you that we're about to show you a very graphic picture -- a shocking image of violence that came during a stunning show of solidarity. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians filled the streets of Tehran today. They were out to show support for reformist leader Mir Hossein Mousavi and his demand that the government look into allegations of major election fraud.
Then, toward the end of the rally, there were reports of gunfire and this. Look at this -- a really harrowing picture taken by another news organization of a man apparently lying dead in a pool of blood. We don't know the circumstances. We're just looking into what happened and we'll get you more information as it becomes available.
Could the vote in Iran, though, have been rigged -- rigged completely?
Our Brian Todd has been looking into this sensitive question for us -- Brian, I know you're speaking to a wide range of authorities.
What do they say?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we have new information on the level of concern in the Obama administration over the credibility of this election. And we have spoken with an Iranian official, who fiercely defends his government's conduct.
TODD (voice-over): On the streets, claims of a stolen election. Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi calls for and gets an investigation into election irregularities. Privately and publicly, U.S. officials have a hard time believing this was the landslide for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the Iranian government claims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "MEET THE PRESS," COURTESY NBC) JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's some real doubt about that. I don't think we're in a position to say. It was surprising that the assertion was he won by, what, 60 some percent of the vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Another administration official, who didn't want to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation, says early indications are that there may have been some fraud. U.S. officials are not in a position to say Ahmadinejad didn't win, the source says, but a few things are difficult to square -- the fact that Mousavi didn't win in his hometown of Tabriz; the indication that Ahmadinejad got several million more votes than he did four years ago, despite all his controversies since then; and the fact that there were no independent monitors on the ground.
An Iranian official tells us the Guardian Council, made up of six people appointed by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and six appointed by the judiciary will report the findings of its investigation in a week to 10 days.
One analyst is skeptical.
KARIM SADJADPOUR, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: I have very little confidence that the Guardian Council can be an objective actor in adjudicating this dispute, for no other reason than that the head of the Guardian Council publicly endorsed President Ahmadinejad before these elections.
TODD: The Iranian official we spoke with says the idea that the Council will be influenced by the president is unfounded and unfair.
The head of an international polling group that did an independent survey of Iranians three weeks before the election says its poll showed Ahmadinejad ahead by a two one margin.
KEN BALLEN, TERROR FREE TOMORROW: That does not mean he would have won the election. What it does tell us is that he enjoyed substantial support in Iran and that his re-election is possibly based on the will of the people.
TODD: Ken Ballen says that could well be the case, even if Mousavi had a surge between that poll and the election. Remember, there was three weeks' time between the two. Ballen also says his poll indicated that in Mousavi's home region, it was Ahmadinejad who had a clear advantage three weeks before the election. So no guarantee, in Ballen's mind, that Mousavi would have won that home district of his -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What's the relationship -- the dynamic -- between the -- supreme leader and Mousavi?
TODD: Well, Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment points out that Mousavi was prime minister during the 1980s when Khamenei was president. Mousavi had a lot of power back then. And Sadjadpour says if Khamenei believed that if Mousavi had won, the dynamics between the president and the supreme leader would have changed dramatically instead of what Mr. Sadjadpour calls subordinate-like Ahmadinejad, the supreme leader would have someone in Mousavi with much more power as president.
Now, an Iranian official disputes all of that and says there were reports, also, of tension between the supreme leader and Iran's former president, Mohammad Khatami. And he says, look, Khatami won two elections. So tension between the supreme leader and president isn't what it's cracked up to be here.
BLITZER: Brian, thanks very much.
A key weapon used to break up demonstrations in Iran, those fast- moving squads of black-clad riot police, along with paramilitaries. They rush the crowds on motorcycles. One steers the bike while the rider behind swings a club at protesters.
The Basij militia, as they're called, was founded three decades ago by Iran's revolutionary leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini. It may be able to mobilize millions and has tens of thousands of active duty, uniformed personnel.
President Ahmadinejad is said to have used the Basij to intimidate voters in his 2005 presidential campaign.
The protests are not just confined to Iran.
Our iReporters are sending us amazing pictures of demonstrations in cities worldwide.
Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton -- Abbi, you've been going through these iReports for us and they're pretty striking.
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Right. They're sent in -- a lot of them -- by Iranian expats. Many of them say we voted absentee for our candidate, Mousavi, and we are now protesting the outcome of this election, standing in solidarity with the people in Tehran right now.
Look at this from across the world. We've got protesters in Paris. Three hundred people there yesterday in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Our 18-year-old iReporter saying that he was standing there with our compatriots protesting inside Iran.
In Dubai, in the UAE, we had a protest there just happening today. Many of the people there wearing the trademark green of the Mousavi campaign. And then here in the United States, multiple protests. This is the protest in Los Angeles yesterday. Arez Shnuku (ph) said that he was there in support of students there.
And there, just like in all these pictures, you see this sign, "Where is My Vote?" -- Wolf, the people we're talking to through iReport have been saying we voted massively for Mousavi and then the outcome was massively for Ahmadinejad. And that's why they're in the streets.
BLITZER: Yes. A lot of anger out there, no doubt about it. I want to get some more on this.
Let's get some world reaction to Iran's election outcome.
And for that, we'll turn to CNN's Max Foster in London -- Max?
MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Iran has been facing a growing backlash abroad. The European Union has been particularly critical. And that matters because it's Iran's biggest trading partner.
FOSTER (voice-over): Around 400 demonstrators outside the Iranian embassy in London on Monday -- twice as many as the day before.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We went to election. We vote, but the vote was not heard by anyone. And the result was not really what we wanted. We want our votes back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just wanted to vote (INAUDIBLE) my country. And we just want to -- our back. That's it. That's the only thing we want.
FOSTER: European Union leaders are now calling on the Iranian authorities to address and investigate concerns expressed regarding the conduct of the elections, though they stopped short of discussing sanctions.
GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The Iranian people are proud people who deserve democracy. And that is why the regime must address the serious questions which have been asked about the conduct of the Iranian elections. The way the regime responds to legitimate protests will have implications for Iran's relationships with the rest of the world in future.
CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL, GERMANY: We are concerned about the restrictions on media reporting and we believe that there should be a transparent examination of election results because there are arguments that there were irregularities.
FOSTER: There has been a favorable response to the election, though, from neighboring Turkey. The country's president sent his congratulations to Mr. Ahmadinejad, as did the leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan.
But those who oppose the Iranian election results are becoming more vocal -- a trend summed up by this CNN iReport submitted by Farzad Bolouri. These are pictures from a demonstration in Dubai, where he says Iranian expats are supporting the reform movement.
FOSTER: Displeasure with the Iranian government being expressed around the world, then. But so far, no policy response from governments -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Max Foster reporting for us from London.
Let's get back to Jack.
He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the battle over health care reform is turning into an uphill fight for President Obama.
The president was in Chicago today, asking skeptical doctors to get behind his plan to overhaul the system, calling it a ticking time bomb for the budget that could force the U.S. to go the way of General Motors -- as in bankrupt.
Mr. Obama swung out at critics, calling them naysayers and fearmongers. And he warned interest groups not to paint his efforts as socialized medicine.
For the first time, President Obama said publicly this health care overhaul could cost $1 trillion over 10 years. He says that's real money.
But it's less than what the U.S. is projected to spend on the Iraq War.
The president wants a new public program that would compete with private insurers. It would help to cover the 46 million uninsured Americans. He doesn't want to do away with privately-owned plans.
But Republicans are accusing the president of pushing a government takeover of health care. And even members of the president's own party don't think health care reform can get through the Congress.
The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Kent Conrad, says there simply are not enough votes for the public option. Conrad says they're also going to have to attract some Republicans -- that's not likely -- along with holding onto all the Democrats.
Even though there are big questions about how to pay for all of this, Conrad says the country cannot afford not to change the system.
So here's the question: Do you think that health care reform will pass the Congress this year?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog.
If it doesn't go through this year, you can probably forget about it -- at least until after the midterm elections next year. BLITZER: Yes.
BLITZER: The last time it didn't go through was '93, '94.
BLITZER: And how many years did it take to come back?
BLITZER: Even for discussion.
CAFFERTY: What, 14, 15 years?
BLITZER: So we'll see again.
CAFFERTY: And it's starring to look like they just don't have the votes. I don't know what's going to happen.
BLITZER: It will depend. It's a little arcane whether they need 51 votes or 60 votes.
BLITZER: And we can talk about that later. But there's a battle over the bureaucracy of how many votes it will need. If there's going to be a filibuster, it will need 60. But if they can get what they call reconciliation, it just needs 51.
CAFFERTY: I don't think we need to talk about it later. You just sorted it all out for us.
BLITZER: I sort of explained it for all our viewers.
BLITZER: All right, guy, thanks very much.
BLITZER: Former President Bill Clinton gets a new job. It pays just a dollar a year. He's talking about his new position with his new boss. That would be the United Nations secretary general.
Also, President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the drama of the Middle East peace process -- what their opening lines tell us about the coming acts.
And we're just getting brand new pictures in of a possible tornado touchdown near Denver. Stand by for that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: The former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, is today talking about his brand new job as the United Nations special envoy to Haiti.
Let's go to our senior United Nations correspondent, Richard Roth.
He watched it unfold over at the U.N. today.
How did it go -- Richard?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Bill Clinton was already a U.N. envoy for tsunami relief several years ago. And now another natural disaster has spurred his appointment as, once again, a U.N. special envoy.
ROTH (voice-over): For eight years, Bill Clinton arrived at the U.N. as president of the United States. Now, he will be paid a dollar a year as the U.N. special envoy to Haiti.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I saw some reports in the Haitian press speculating that this dollar a year job I took was somehow an imperialist plot to take over Haiti. All I want to do is help the Haitians take over control of their own destiny. That's all I have ever wanted for Haiti.
ROTH: When Clinton was president in 1994, he used the threat of military force to convince the military government to make way for civilian rule. Seventy percent of the people on the island are now unemployed. Clinton will be urging countries who have pledged $250 million in additional aid to follow through.
BAN KI MOON, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: He loves the country. He loves the people. They love him.
ROTH: The former president and the U.N. secretary general toured Haiti in March, months after Hurricane Gustav left the already impoverished island nation with more than 800,000 people homeless.
CLINTON: Haiti, notwithstanding the total devastation wreaked by the four storms last year, has the best chance to escape the darker aspects of its history in the 35 years I have been going there.
ROTH: U.N. peacekeepers have provided relative political stability in Haiti. The U.N.'s new envoy feels there is a window of opportunity to finally make progress in Haiti -- the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.
CLINTON: I will not be able to, under my general agreement, to personally lobby the State Department for more money. But since the secretary of State has been going to Haiti as long as I have, I presume that I don't need to say much. (END VIDEOTAPE)
ROTH: Haiti has received promises before. The Haitian foreign minister here, though, noted with a Haitian expression, that with a helping hand -- in this case, a strong one -- it lightens the load -- Wolf.
BLITZER: A very important mission.
All right. Thanks very much.
Richard Roth at the U.N.
A week-and-a-half after President Obama delivered his message to the Muslim world and called on Israel to make concessions for peace, Israel's leader has now given his answer.
Let's turn to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.
He's taking a closer look -- how is the White House responding, Bill, to Prime Minister Netanyahu's major address on the peace process yesterday?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it really becomes a matter of interpretation, Wolf.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): President Obama speaks in Cairo.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.
SCHNEIDER: June 14th, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responds, with what sounds like a rejection.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): They are not the enemies of peace, they are our brothers and sisters, these settlers.
SCHNEIDER: How should the Obama administration read Israel's response?
CLINTON: This is his response to the Obama administration's first move. It's just the beginning. And it's a drama that will have a few more acts.
SCHNEIDER: President Obama also said in Cairo...
OBAMA: The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.
SCHNEIDER: Prime Minister Netanyahu responds with what sounds like a concession. NETANYAHU (through translator): We would be prepared to reach an agreement with regard to a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state.
SCHNEIDER: It's a concession, says David Makovsky, co-author of a new book on America in the Middle East.
DAVID MAKOVSKY, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: I think the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu's, remarks were clearly a step toward President Obama, for Netanyahu, who had opposed a Palestinian state, I think much of his adult life.
SCHNEIDER: Now, President Obama needs to pressure the Palestinians for a concession.
MAKOVSKY: Frankly, a lot of his people -- on the Netanyahu said -- said you'll see. You'll give the idea of a two-state solution and the Palestinians will give you the back of their hand.
SCHNEIDER: What do the Israelis want in return?
NETANYAHU (through translator): Palestinians have to recognize the State of Israel as the country of the Jews.
SCHNEIDER: In this opening act, as former President Clinton described it, you have to start with each side recognizing the legitimacy of the other side's claims -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Bill Schneider, thanks very much.
He fled to avoid court-ordered chemotherapy. Now, his treatments are over.
Are they helping this Minnesota teenager fight his cancer?
We have an update on his health. Stand by.
And the first lady, Michelle Obama, bringing jazz to the White House today. We're going to hear from the first lady in her own words.
BLITZER: Alina Cho is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
And what are we getting just now -- Alina?
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we have this just in to CNN. The Food and Drug Administration is urging parents of children who take attention deficit drugs to keep them on the medication. Now, that's despite a new study that's just out today that links those drugs to an increased risk of sudden death in otherwise healthy children. The FDA itself partially funded the study, but is now questioning its methodology.
We have an update in the case of that 13-year-old Minnesota boy who fled with his mother for about a week last month to avoid court- ordered chemotherapy. The family favored alternative treatment. Now, Daniel Hauser has since had two rounds of chemo and a family spokesman tells CNN the tumor in his chest has gotten much smaller, but side effects from the chemo have left him sick.
The Coast Guard is investigating the mysterious circumstances surrounding a reported passenger overboard from a cruise ship. A 46- year-old man was found with minor injuries clinging to a buoy near St. Petersburg, Florida. He says he fell overboard at about 4:00 this morning, as the cruise ship was pulling into the port of Tampa -- but he didn't say how it happened and nobody was reported missing from the ship.
War hero, senator, presidential nominee and now -- movie director?
It's true. Massachusetts Democrat, John Kerry, wants to use about $300,000 of his campaign funds to back a documentary about wounded Iraq War veterans. And he's seeking permission from the Senate ethics panel and the Federal Election Commission. Now, Kerry would not be paid for this, but he could get up to a 120 percent return on his investment -- Wolf, as you know, his daughter, Alexandra, is a film producer. So maybe she's rubbing off on her old dad.
BLITZER: Yes, maybe. Maybe he's -- that's a good talent (ph) for him. We'll see.
CHO: He could have a future career.
BLITZER: Yes. Maybe. Let's see.
Thanks very much.
We're getting some amazing pictures of a possible tornado near Denver.
Let's bring in our severe weather expert, meteorologist Chad Myers.
Is it a possible tornado or a real tornado?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's a real one. It's on the ground -- reports from the spotters on the ground for almost six minutes.
Here's Denver, 40 miles to the southeast is a town near Elbert and also Elizabeth. And this is from Lieutenant Michelle Maddov (ph). She actually took these pictures.
And just a cone-shaped tornado. We talk about them. Sometimes they look like a wedge. Sometimes they look like a rope. This looks like you want to put a scoop of ice cream on top of that thing -- a cone tornado.
According to reports, though, no damage, even though it was on the ground for that long of a time. And a fairly large -- maybe an F2 tornado. Not sure of the damage yet at all. Probably just to trees and a lot of outbuildings out there, if there are any at all. This is wide open country well to the southeast of Denver, Colorado.
That warning is still going on right now, Wolf. And that tornado may still be on the ground at this point. There are still storm spotters out there looking at it, well to the east now and southeast. That's about similar -- there's Limon, Colorado, well to the east of where it was.
Also, just to the north of Memphis, big storms. Many of these are rotating. Tornado warnings on those, even into places like Tennessee -- there you go, Chester, Crockett and Henderson under tornado warnings at this point.
And very heavy rainfall in New York City. The commute home in the city right now is at a standstill -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. OK, thanks very much -- a real tornado, not a possible tornado.
MYERS: Real. Absolutely.
BLITZER: An ambulance racing to the hospital pulled over by a cop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I listened to you, buddy. You get your (EXPLETIVE LANGUAGE) back in that ambulance or I'll take you in. I'm talking to the driver.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: A shocking dash cam drama. You won't believe what happens next.
And Michele Obama welcomes some young jazz musicians to the White House for lessons from a legendary jazz family.
BLITZER: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, bloody post-election violence in Iran and the fallout for President Obama -- what White House officials are telling us publicly and privately.
Also, the head of the federal Aviation Administration says -- and I'm quoting now -- "things aren't quite right at the country's regional airlines" and he's concerned enough to call a safety summit.
And a new law regulating drivers licenses called Pass I.D. -- is it common sense or Russian roulette that could lead to another terror attack?
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Make no mistake, the cost of our health care is a threat to our economy. It's an escalating burden on our families and businesses. It's a ticking time bomb for the federal budget. And it is unsustainable for the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Obama urging doctors to back his push for health care reform. He took his plea to the center of physician power, addressing the American Medial Association convention in Chicago today.
Some doctors booed the president when he said he was against limits on malpractice awards. And for the first time, he put a price tag on overhauling the nation's health care system -- about $1 trillion over the next 10 years.
His goal -- providing affordable, quality care to all Americans, regardless of pre-existing conditions, with a choice of doctors -- coverage you could keep even when you switch or lose your job, plus protection against bankruptcy because of medical debt -- all while cutting surging costs. That's what he says is his goal.
The president also had this very serious warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If we do not fix our health care system, America may go the way of G.M. -- paying more, getting less and going broke.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Let's talk about this and more with our Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor, Paul Begala, and Republican strategist Nicole Wallace.
Guys, thanks to both of you for coming in.
You heard the president's speech, Nicolle. Paul worked on Hillary Care as it was called back in '93. What did you think basically of his overall goal?
NICOLLE WALLACE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, don't blame Paul. Look, I think that everyone shares a goal of fixing that which is broken. But I think the biggest problem that Obama faces is not Republicans, it's the doctors. Most Americans don't understand just how tightly linked health care policy and healthcare politics really are. But I don't know that there is any area where they are more connected than healthcare. And I think that most normal people look to their doctors for advice and for their reaction to the big health care debates that take place in Washington, and the doctors are opposed, very strongly opposed to one of the central tenets of Obama's plan. So, I think --
BLITZER: Which tenet is that?
WALLACE: This is the public option. This is where their idea and their talking point and their spin is that they'll create competition. But there's plenty of competition, and the docs argue that you would crowd out private insurers who really cover 70 percent of Americans. So, the Democrats have got the talking points down and they've got the spin on their side, but I think the opponents of what he's proposed have the doctors in this country on their side.
BLITZER: The AMA is a critical element if he's going to get this passed. He's going to need those doctors, Paul.
BEGALA: In fact, historians will tell you when the AMA opposed other progressive presidents as they've tried to reform health care, they hired a very famous actor to make back then an LP -- I'll have to explain to my children what an LP is -- made a record, and that actor was Ronald Reagan.
But this is not your grandfather's AMA. I think the president was politely received. There were some problems. But I talked today -- the Obama administration did something very smart, something we did not do. They're organizing around the AMA. In the campaign, there was doctors for Obama just like there was left-handed Scrabble players for Obama. The doctors for Obama, though, have morphed into now what they're calling themselves, doctors for America. And there's thousands and thousands of doctors in this.
I talked to one of the leaders of that group today and he pointed out to me the American Medical Association does not survey its members. They don't really know what those doctors think. These doctors for America are surveying docs, and docs are fed up with having to mud wrestle insurance companies just in order to care for patients. I think President Obama was in there sweeping them. He's going to win over those doctors.
BLITZER: Here's what he said today. He said it twice during the course of the speech because he wanted to hit this theme very hard. Listen to this, Nicolle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Millions of people are happy with what they have right now, and he says, you know, you continue to be happy. What's wrong with that?
WALLACE: Well, nothing, and I think that he certainly recognizes that that's what people want. But, again, as you listen to the doctors and you listen to some of the Republicans, you know, compelling them to participate in a government-run or a system that moves toward government-run healthcare is not something he can do.
I mean, I don't understand exactly every aspect of what he would do to compel the doctors to participate. But I think that they are a troubling opponent of some of the critical parts. And it's actually not the Obama White House that's playing brinksmanship with the docs. It's Nancy Pelosi once again who really politicized and charged up the stimulus debate. She's doing it again but not with the Republicans, with the doctors.
BLITZER: All right, the president of the United States, several times in the course of his speech today, Paul, he made this point and he was directly addressing Republicans. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: So, when you hear the naysayers claim that I'm trying to bring about government-run health care, know this -- they're not telling the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That's a very sensitive point, as you know.
BEGALA: It is, and I think it's very smart for him to take it head on. Again and again, we played the clip a moment ago, he reassures people, look, if you want to sign up for this new option, you can do so. But what it'll do, and this is the phrase the president used that I think is very wise, he says it'll keep them honest. We should try that phrase, keeping them honest.
BLITZER: Well, look at this, Paul, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in Senate, says there won't be any private insurance companies if the president gets his way. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), LEADER: In fact, if the government is in the insurance business, there won't be any other insurers. It's inevitable because the taxpayers will be backing up the program.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He says you can't compete with the government.
BLITZER: If the government gets its way, it will be one government-backed insurance company. There won't be Blue Cross/Blue Shield, there won't be United Health Care. There won't be any of the other private insurance companies. BEGALA: It's just the same way the postal system drove FedEx and UPS out of business. Oh, wait, they didn't. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, I thought smoked Mitch McConnell on this when he took the Senate floor and pointed out, like the good grandpa he is, that when he wants to send a package to one of his grandchildren in Nevada, he has a choice. He can go to UPS or he can go to the post office.
If the post office is not doing a good job, UPS will do better and vice versa. The competition is good and healthy. But Mr. McConnell, Senator McConnell, is trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, he says government program will be so awful, this program will be terrible. And on the other hand, he says, it will be so good and so attractive, everybody will want to join it. Now he's got to pick his poison. Either government is going to be so great that no one will be able to compete or it is going to be so terrible that no one will want to join it. But he can't have it both ways.
BLITZER: All right, good argument. Nicolle, what do you think?
WALLACE: Well, the problem is when the postal service cuts back service, you don't get mail on Saturday. When government-run health care cuts back on service, there could be critical tests and procedures that are no longer covered. So I think healthcare is a lot more emotional than our ability and options for mailing Christmas packages. So I think this will be a more emotional debate. I think it is important enough that we should avoid shouting at each other. And you know, I'm willing to wait and see. I think most Republicans are.
But again, I think when doctors stand up and say you will eliminate and crowd out the people who cover 70 percent of Americans and the cost and the burden will be on the shoulders of taxpayers, whose taxes are already going up, to pay for our bailouts, to pay for the stimulus package, to pay for all the job creation programs that we've already passed, I think the American people will be very wary.
BLITZER: Here's a procedural question, Paul, but you lived through this back in '93 and '94. And it could make the difference between health care reform or no health care reform. Will this be -- require 51 votes to pass in the United States Senate, or will it require 60 votes because that's a huge difference given the math in the Senate, and it could be life or death for President Obama's health care reform plan.
BEGALA: Right. I think that will be a decision that the Senate leadership and Senator Kennedy and Senator Baucus will make at the time. That decision will be made like in October. And I heard you talking to Jack Cafferty about it earlier. There's another piece of this, though, that so-called reconciliation process, where they use the budget procedure --
BLITZER: That would mean you only need 51.
BEGALA: They would only need 51 because the budget procedure only requires 51 votes because we want to always pass a budget every year.
If they do that, there are few substantive pieces of health care reform that cannot slip through that loophole. And so, the president cannot get everything he wants by using the so-called reconciliation. It's not as simple as a lot of --
BLITZER: It isn't simple at all, Nicolle, because if you use that reconciliation process, which would only need 51 votes if the Democrats have many more than that, it would have to mean that some of those changes would be temporary, they couldn't be permanent, and that's a major, major setback.
So, in the end, a lot of folks are saying, you know what, going to need 60 votes and to get 60 votes you'll need some Republicans on board.
WALLACE: Sure. And God save the American president who tries any monkey business or politics on an issue as important as health care reform. I think even more than the stimulus plan that was the first signature piece of legislation that Obama pushed through, I think that he has a lot riding on this. And I think it will certainly improve and enhance every aspect of his presidency at the time being right now and, you know, I think his legacy would say you're always aware when you work in the White House, if he brings some Republicans to the table.
BLITZER: All right, our alert viewers will know we're going to be speaking a lot more about reconciliation and filibuster down the road. Guys, thanks very much.
BEGALA: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: The stakes are clearly enormous right now. What do you think about the U.S. response to the results of the Iranian election? Should President Obama publicly address the situation in Iran? You can submit your video comments to iReport.com/SituationRoom. Watch the program tomorrow to see if your video makes it on the air.
An air war on West Nile virus. We're going to take you to the front lines where fallout from the home foreclosure crisis is making a perfect breeding ground for hundreds of millions of mosquitoes.
Plus, police have a dash cam video of a shocking standoff. An officer argues with paramedics over failing to yield while you hear a patient screaming in the back of the ambulance.
BLITZER: In Southern California right now, the ground war against West Nile Virus is increasingly becoming an air war targeting the enemy's breeding ground. That would be a swimming pool. CNN's Thelma Gutierrez is on the front lines.
THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This police helicopter is on the trail of a potential killer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
GUTIERREZ: Lurks in back yards and stalks its pray indiscriminately.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Start a grid search east of the 605.
GUTIERREZ: It's a hunt that takes investigators quite literally into the cesspool and swimming pools of suburbia for pesky mosquitoes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is mosquitoes growing in it, some dead animals floating around.
GUTIERREZ: Robin Rogers (ph) says as far as he's concerned, mosquitoes are public enemy number one. So does Jon Halili, who works with the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito/Vector Control. He says mosquitoes can transmit deadly West Nile Virus.
In the last six years, 2,700 people have been infected and 91 have died in California alone. They thrive in standing water. In Southern California, neglected and abandoned pools like this are a major breeding ground.
STEVE WEST, SAN GABRIEL VALLEY MOSQUITO/VECTOR CONTROL: We miss a pool that has mosquito larvae in it and let it go about a month, you could have a million mosquitoes produced from that one swimming pool.
GUTIERREZ: Because of the mortgage foreclosure crisis in California, there are more abandoned pools to check out than ever before. But the green pools are easy to spot from up above.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see there's a great deal of dirty pools.
GUTIERREZ: Once spotted, ground keepers are called in to treat the pools with chemicals that kill mosquito eggs and larvae before they can develop into adult mosquitoes. But it's only a temporary solution.
JON HALILI, SAN GABRIEL VALLEY MOSQUITO/VECTOR CONTROL: This only treats the ones that are in there. It doesn't prevent new mosquitoes from laying eggs.
GUTIERREZ: So, the seam says its only hope is to continue its relentless pursuit of the mosquito.
GUTIERREZ: San Gabriel Valley spends nearly $3 million a year trying to control the mosquito population. Property owners, whether the banks or private homeowners who don't keep their pools clean can be fined $1,000 a day. There are only three states that are free from the West Nile virus -- Alaska, Hawaii and Maine. Wolf? BLITZER: Thelma Gutierrez, thanks very much.
An ambulance racing to the hospital pulled over by a cop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to jail. You understand me? You are under arrest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What's behind the shouting match between a police officer and a paramedic? We have the dash cam drama.
And amid post-election violence in Iran, a new allegation that the vote was rigged. What options does President Obama have? He's meeting with Italian prime minister right now. Will they speak out about Iran? Stay by, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: An extraordinary scuffle between a police officer and a paramedic, all of it caught by the policeman's dashboard camera. It began when an ambulance was pulled over on its way to the hospital. Brian Todd has been looking at this story for us. It's pretty dramatic. What happened there, Brian? Explain.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was on May 24th, Wolf. This is taken from the dash camera of Oklahoma state patrolman Daniel Martin's cruiser. We're going to show you what happened, just take you through the video. He is trying to first -- you see him first trying to pass an ambulance on the highway. The ambulance apparently, according to him, did not yield the right of way. He then pulled over the ambulance. We're going to show you the videotape of what happened next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TROOPER: Now, here, now.
PARAMEDIC: No, you know. What's wrong?
TROOPER: What's going on? I'm talking to the driver.
PARAMEDIC: No, no, I'm talking to you. I'm the...
TROOPER: No, you better get back in that ambulance. I'm talking to the driver.
PARAMEDIC: I'm in charge of this unit, sir, OK? My name is Maurice White, I'm a personal care paramedic.
TROOPER: I'm going to get you a ticket for failure to yield. And when I go by you son, what's going on, you don't need to give me no hand gestures now. I ain't going to put up with that, you understand me? PARAMEDIC: And I won't put up with you talking to my driver like that.
TROOPER: I ain't listening to you, buddy. You get your (BLEEP) back in that ambulance or I'll take you in. I'm talking to the driver. Come over here.
PARAMEDIC: Take me in if you would. No, we got a patient in this unit right now.
TROOPER: You want to go ahead and pull over to the side of the road when there's an emergency vehicle behind you?
PARAMEDIC: You were (INAUDIBLE) us. You ran up on us too quickly.
TROOPER: I did not run up on you quickly, buddy.
PARAMEDIC: Yes, you did.
TROOPER: You better get back in that ambulance before you get your butt to jail now, you understand me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Now, at that point, shortly after that, we are going to show you some video here as I speak. Another person comes up. A couple of people kind of congregate around the officer and one of them tells the officer that his wife is in that vehicle, and they have to get to the hospital. At certain points, there are about four or five people around the officer and then a scuffle ensues between the officer and the lead paramedic named Maurice White. Here's the videotape of that.
TROOPER: No, you can't go right now. You're not running through. Come here. Sir, I'm going to ask you to step back, OK? Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's my wife. She needs to be at the hospital.
TROOPER: If he wouldn't come out here, we would have been on our way about five minutes ago, partner. Now step back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry.
TROOPER: All I'm trying to do is talk to you about it. I didn't need your manager or whoever it is in the back, paramedic, whoever happens to be in charge to get out of the car. You understand?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir, I do.
TROOPER: You're going to jail. You don't jump out on top of a state trooper like that. You understand me? I don't care who you are. You're not running emergency, OK? All right? I didn't just get up behind you and tailgate you and turn on my red lights and siren. I been going hot over here to help the county out. You understand?
PARAMEDIC: Yes, sir, I do.
TROOPER: We're going to get you to the hospital here just quickly, OK? Hey. You're going to jail, you understand me? You are under arrest.
TROOPER: You are under arrest.
PARAMEDIC: You can press charges on me.
TROOPER: I told you to turn around. Turn around now.
TODD: There's a scuffle between the Oklahoma state patrolman, name of Daniel Martin (ph) and the lead paramedic in that unit, his name was Maurice White.
The officer in question is white and the lead paramedic is African-American. You don't see the driver in there. The driver, not clear who he is and what he exactly was doing there. Apparently some hand gestures made when the officer tried to pull over the ambulance and the officer claimed that the ambulance didn't heed the right of way but still, that officer is on administrative leave that we are told he requested until an internal investigation is ruled on by the command staff of the Oklahoma State Patrol. So right now, he is on administrative leave of his own volition.
BLITZER: All right, we'll continue to watch this. Let us know what happens. It's pretty dramatic stuff on the highway there. Let's go back to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File." Jack?
CAFFERTY: What do they need an internal investigation for? Play that tape for the guy he works for, then fire him. I mean, you got a patient in the back of an ambulance and you got this delinquent officer? Don't they have like profile tests that they give to find out who should be carrying a gun and a badge? Who authorized this quick tempered Charlie to be out on the highway pushing ambulance drivers around? I don't have time to go any farther than that.
The question this hour is do you think health care reform will pass the Congress this year? There is a growing sense that it's in trouble.
Nancy in Michigan writes, "I'm fairly certain some kind of healthcare will pass, but I'm afraid Congress will water it down so much that it won't be the reform we need. They know how important this issue is to many Americans and they want to be able to brag about their reform in the 2010 elections."
Janice writes from New Jersey, "I think a health care will be passed this year, but there will be so much fighting over it, it will be almost useless. Either hospitals will close for lack of funds, or there will be a backup of over a year to get a simple procedure done. It won't be patient-friendly and insurance companies are still going to get rich off the poor people."
Mark writes, "No, it won't pass. As a former lobbyist, I can honestly say it's very easy to stop legislation if there's enough special interest money that wants to do so. In this case, big pharma and the health insurance industry will use front groups to keep a safe distance, but make sure their members of Congress either load the bill up with unrealistic amendments or just don't show up when it's time to vote. That way they can honestly say they didn't vote against it."
Scott in Arizona writes, "Unfortunately, no, our country has already demonstrated that it will not endorse change until the system collapses, literally. Look at our financial system as a good example. Americans don't have the backbone to insist their representatives in Congress speak for the people."
Kerry says, "I'm hopeful it won't pass it its present form, given the extremely high yet underestimated costs, no clear plan or budget to pay for it, and a higher level of awareness by more citizens opposing it, proponents are going to be in for a tougher fight than they realize."
And Gabriel sums it up this way, "It will all depend on how many politicians are for sale this time around."
If you didn't see your e-mail, go to my blog, CNN.com/CaffertyFile, look for yours there among hundreds of others. They ought to fire that trooper, Wolf, right now.
BLITZER: I know how you feel. He's on administrative leave. All right Jack, thanks very much.
The first lady trying to shake up the first family's play list.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: I brought my own family with me today because I want to keep them alive and aware of all kinds of music other than hip-hop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Michelle Obama bringing jazz to the White House.
BLITZER: The first lady, Michelle Obama, today hosted a group of young musicians and turned the White House into a studio with lessons from some jazz legends. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
M. OBAMA: I hope you guys enjoy your time here together. I hope you get to see some of this White House. I heard a few of you were skipping up your way to the White House. I hope you keep skipping and have fun here. I brought my own family today because I want to keep them alive and aware of all kinds of music other than hip-hop.
So it's so important for me to have you here that I brought them here as well, and jazz has been part of my life since I was a little girl. My mother's father, who we called Southside, before there was room to room speakers, he had a speaker in every house, every room in his house, and he played it 24 hours a day on the highest volume he could put it on.
And that's how I grew up, in my household. At Christmas, birthdays, Easter, didn't matter. There was jazz playing in our household. So it means so much to me to be able to bring that music here to the white house and to have you all celebrating with us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Great jazz at the White House.