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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview with Robert Gibbs; Surviving 8 Days Trapped Under Rubble; New Video of Quake Hitting Haiti; Exodus from the Quake Zone; Dad Said What?!
Aired January 20, 2010 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: To our viewers, you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: Eight days after Haiti's catastrophic earthquake, a young boy is pulled alive from the rubble. But as relief efforts gear up, a powerful aftershock is a reminder of just how fragile the situation is for the survivors.
One year after Barack Obama was sworn in as president, a stunning setback for his agenda and his party. It has Democrats wondering where they go from here.
And we will hear from the senator-elect Scott Brown, the Republican who pulled that upset in Massachusetts. He says voters sent a powerful message.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
One year ago today, President Obama's historic inauguration seemed to signal unlimited possibilities. He had an ambitious agenda, a strong majority. Now Democrats are reeling from a stunning election defeat in Massachusetts, where Republican Scott Brown captured the Senate seat held for decades by the late Senator Ted Kennedy.
Suddenly, the Senate majority is no longer filibuster-proof for the Democrats, and that agenda right now very much up in the air.
So, what happens now?
Our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is standing by, but let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry.
Ed, what is the White House saying and doing because they're obviously very worried about this loss in Massachusetts?
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Wolf.
But when you talk to the president's inner circle, they believe that this was less about health care, more about the economy, that people are anxious about falling wages, losing jobs. And they say this is not a surprise to them, because the president saw that on the campaign trail in 2008, that anger was building, and that he channeled it to his election.
But that begs the question, then, if they knew this was out there, why they didn't focus more last year on jobs, the economy, also Wall Street regulatory reform. I put that question to Robert Gibbs today, and he basically said, look, we believe the economy and health care are intertwined.
But, clearly, there was an emphasis last year that was much heavier on health care, much less on the economy, especially in the latter part of the year. But as one top adviser to the president told me today, look, it is a lot better and the good news for the White House is that this was one race in January, not dozens of races in November. They have a lot of time between now and then to readjust and recalibrate, Wolf.
BLITZER: The whole notion of where they go from here, the White House, we are going to be speaking this hour with the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, but what are they saying to you?
HENRY: Well, what is interesting is, when you talk to the president's inner circle, they talk about the likelihood of a sort of more scaled-back health care bill, that the president is not going to give up this fight altogether and walk away. He believes it is too important, he's going to push forward, but that it is likely to be a scaled-back bill.
Possibly one scenario floating out there is that you just do the insurance reforms that both sides find pretty popular, maybe preexisting conditions, for example, but also expand a program like Medicaid, so you can maybe cover millions more people, less than what they originally wanted to do, but what they could believe would be a step forward.
The other big thing, the final point is that they are going to have a much sharper turn now to jobs and Wall Street regulatory reform, something that the president will be talking a lot about in the State of the Union next week. The problem, though, is they could have been talking about that a lot more last summer, last fall. They are going to now have to make up for a lot of lost time, Wolf.
BLITZER: One week from today, the president delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of the United States Congress.
Ed, thank you. For Democrats, the big dilemma is what to do about health care reform? Do they try to push for final passage or do they go back to the drawing board?
Listen to some of the congressional leaders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: We're not going to rush into anything. As you have heard, we're going to wait until the new senator arrives before we do anything more on health care. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Heeding the particular concerns of the voters of Massachusetts last night, we heard. We will heed. We will move forward with their considerations in mind, but we will move forward for health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.
Dana, the question is, how will they move forward with health care?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we are hearing from Democratic leaders today is they are going to take a breath and in part they are saying that because they are trying to study the results, the data from Massachusetts. In part, they're saying that because they really don't know.
In fact, I think that a big part is they really don't know what they're going to do next on health care. One of the things that they have are talking about here, they have been scrambling all day, meetings really all day long among Democrats on how to go forward. One of the things that they are talking about is what Ed mentioned, a scaled-back version of health care reform, something that would be maybe some bite-sized pieces of the things that members of Congress that I have talked say that they are hearing from their constituents that they really want them to focus on.
I spoke to a couple of rank-and-file Democrats about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: I think that we are in a new day and a new time, and we need to pull together the elements of the House and the Senate bill that we know can make it through to lay the framework for where we need to go.
REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I want the boldest bill that we can possibly, you know, get on the president's desk to come through this Congress. But we have to count the votes. And you need 60 in the Senate to have lunch, never mind pass a health care bill, so that's the reality we have to deal with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Dana, what are you hearing about possible ways the Senate could get health care passed with only 51 votes, as opposed to the 60 that they usually need to break a filibuster?
BASH: It is something they are talking about. The Finance chairman, Max Baucus, told me point-blank the solution to health care here probably is in a term called reconciliation. It is a little bit in the weeds, but I think we're going to hearing a lot about that in the future.
It is just effectively pushing health care through with that 51 votes. It's very difficult to do, but they are talking about even that scaled-back version, if that is what they collude that they need to do, that will be hard to pass with 60 votes.
So, that is part of the discussion, but I have to tell you that it sounds tonight according to our Deirdre Walsh and Evan Glass, who are over talking to House members as we speak, that perhaps the idea of passing the Senate bill in the House is not completely dead that is if in fact -- these members are telling them if in fact the Congress can -- the Senate can use so-called reconciliation to deal with the fixes, the changes that they have been negotiating between the two bills, if that is done first, so that the House knows the Senate is doing that, then perhaps some of the most ardent opponents of the Senate health care bill could hold their nose and vote for it in the end.
That is one option being discussed, but, again, I can't emphasize enough there is a lot of confusion about what to do next on health care.
BLITZER: For the Democrats, they have some bad options and some even worse options.
BASH: You said it.
BLITZER: All right, we will discuss this and more.
Dana, thanks very much.
It is only one seat in the United States Senate, a special election, but this off-year win by the GOP has far-reaching implications.
Let's bring in some members of the best political team on television. David Gergen is joining us. Joe Johns is still here. Gloria Borger is still here.
Is it over for the Democrats as far as what they envisaged for health care reform?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that the major health care reform bill probably died last night.
Having been through the Clinton failure in '93 and '94, this has a similar feel about it, that, you know, there has been something surreal about this for a long time, and that is that the public opposition has been strong nationwide against this health care reform now for a couple of months.
And, Wolf, we have not had a major piece of social legislation passed in this country since the Great Depression that I can find that has been so strongly opposed as this health care reform. I think the Massachusetts vote sort of essentially pushed it over to the side a little bit. That is not the say they can't get something important done, but this big grand proposal I think is going to be very, very hard.
BLITZER: Let's bring in another one of our CNN political contributors, Bill Bennett. He is the host of a radio talk show.
Bill, what do you think about the prospect of the Democrats still salvaging health care reform any time soon?
BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it is very hard. I agree with David. It is very hard.
It is interesting, too, isn't it, if you think about it? You say it is one Senate vote. You are right. There are 59 Democratic votes in the Senate, and a huge majority in the House, and yet they seem kind of powerless, don't they?
There is a reason for that. It is because the proposals that are on the table are not within the ken, within the center of American politics. And that is why they are having so much trouble and resistance. I think it is dead for the year. And I think they wasted a large part of the year.
And now they are saying, well, we will get on this issue of economics and jobs, which is what the public has been saying all year long. I am not trying to gloat here or anything. Obviously I am very pleased with the election, but they have missed the point for a year, and I think maybe at least this will wake them up to what is the main concern of the American people.
BLITZER: What would be worse for the Democrats, Bill Bennett, dropping health care right now at this late stage or moving forward and getting something passed from the strictly political perspective?
BENNETT: Well, you know, there is another problem, Wolf, as you know. I heard one comment last night -- I can't remember which congressman it was -- you may recall -- who said, they have abandoned their base in abandoning the public option in the Senate. They have abandoned the left part, the left strain of the Democrat Party.
To get something passed for the Republicans, they would have go further in the direction of the Republicans, which would further alienate that base. That creates political problems of another sort for them.
I think they would be better off dropping it and saying, OK, message received. We understand what the top priority is to the American people, and now we are going to address it. Health care has to wait for another day.
They can then in the near future with the Republicans do some things on a bipartisan way, and he can save some face that way.
BLITZER: For the Republicans, Bill, who deserves more credit or most of the credit for turning things politically around, the Republican establishment leadership or the tea party, those sort of renegades in the conservative movement who don't like the establishment at all? BENNETT: Well, both.
You know, it has been a theme, Wolf, as you know, of a lot of our critics that there is a civil war in the Republican Party. And there are obviously differences and disagreements, but what you saw in Massachusetts was everybody pulling in the same direction.
Believe me, I know them all. I have tentacles, we have tentacles in the radio to all parts of this Republican Party and conservative movement. Everybody was for Scott Brown. So I think some of this notion of a deep schism is exaggerated.
Yes, you will see differences will come out. And, Wolf, I heard one person say today when conservative groups say we have got to watch Brown when it comes to Supreme Court nominees, so they won't even give the guy 24 hours. But this is American politics. But it was remarkable unanimity, I think, and pretty low profile by a lot of people.
A lot of people asked where Mitt Romney was. He was actually there. A lot of his people were working it very well and very effectively, but a lot of credit to Scott Brown.
Let me just say, too, if Coakley was a bad candidate, we now have Virginia, we now have New Jersey, we now have and Massachusetts. The case is getting pretty strong that people are saying no to what they are seeing.
BLITZER: All right, Bill Bennett is joining us, as he often does, our political contributor. Thanks very much.
The best political team on television is standing by to assess what is going on, on the political front here in the United States. And there are hugely significant developments unfolding.
We're also watching the situation in Haiti. We're going to go to back to Port-au-Prince. Ivan Watson is on the scene for us. There is an exodus under way, or at least an attempted exodus. We will have the latest for you after this.
BLITZER: Let's get right to Jack Cafferty. He has "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: At the end of the day, there will be an overwhelming number of orphans in Haiti in the aftermath of last week's earthquake. Even before the quake, it was estimated Haiti, one of the world's poorest countries, 380,000 orphans, kids who have lost one or both parents. Some lost their mothers and fathers in previous disasters, deadly storms, hurricanes. Others were orphaned during Haiti's political turmoil.
And aid groups are estimating the number could climb well up into the hundreds of thousands, perhaps approaching a million. UNICEF is warning the scale of the crisis has reached -- quote -- "unbearable proportions."
Countries are trying to help pick up the pieces. The U.S. has announced a humanitarian policy that will allow some Haitian orphans into the country temporarily. Dozens of these kids have already arrived in Pittsburgh.
The government is also trying to speed up hundreds of Haitian adoptions that were already in the works. And the Catholic Church is trying to bring thousands of these kids into the United States permanently.
Other children are being adopted by Dutch families, brought to group homes in the neighboring Dominican Republic. But there are so many of them. Some experts worry that children may be shipped overseas or adopted before it's clear whether they still have extended family members alive in Haiti. And there's a concern that at this time of chaos, these kids could wind up the victims of fraud, abuse or trafficking in children.
Although tragedies and heartbreak coming out of Haiti seem to have no limits, it seems entirely possible, when it's all said and done, the youngest and the most vulnerable in that society will be among the hardest hit.
So, here's the question: What ought to happen to hundreds of thousands of Haitian orphans?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and come up with an idea or two. We could use them.
BLITZER: It is heartbreaking, Jack. When you think about it.
Donna Brazile is here, Paul Begala.
You guys have been, like all of us, so moved by what we're seeing.
Donna, this is heartbreaking. What is the answer?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we have to step up. We have to do more. We have to adopt those kids. We have to make sure they are not abused, that they're not part of some human slavery trafficking chain. We have to give now.
And I am proud of the work that CNN is doing in educating the American people on the importance of us helping the kids from Haiti.
BLITZER: How many times a day when you watch our reporting from Haiti do you break down and start to cry?
BRAZILE: Well, Wolf, I have not only broke down and cried. I have broke down and given just about every dime to help the people of Haiti.
I remember Hurricane Katrina. I remember how generous the American people were to my family. Paul Begala -- my dad has Paul Begala's coat -- couch in his living room. My sisters and brothers benefited from an outpouring of support from all over this country. The American people are giving. I want to say thank you, but we can still do more.
BLITZER: And I know, Paul, this has been very moving for you. And there are people out there who have not gone to CNN.com/impact, and made a contribution. Hard to believe.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it is easy to do. And this is one of the deals where the old cliche is give until it hurts. This is you give until it feels good.
We are here. We're safe. We're protected. We're loved. We're prosperous. And I have to say the American people are stepping up. As generous as we were for example during Katrina, I saw a statistic that said Americans have already donated 50 percent more than that to our brothers and sisters in Haiti.
If you look at the work that Catholic Relief Services, which is one of my favorite charities, or the Clinton Foundation, who has been involved in Haiti for years now, all the experts tell me you've got to send cash, though
I did talk to someone associated with a nonprofit today who said, it costs so much money to sort through the stuff that we want to give, the shirts and the blankets. And he said, please, just tell everybody to send cash.
So, folks, send cash.
BLITZER: All right, guys, stand by, because we're going to continue our coverage to Haiti. We're going to go back to Haiti shortly.
Ivan Watson is on the scene. Sanjay Gupta has done amazing reporting, as all of you know, for us, and Anderson Cooper, our whole team. Stand by. We have a lot more on Haiti coming up.
But let's get back to the political story. What is behind Scott Brown's stunning victory in Massachusetts? The senator-elect has a explanation, and candidates in upcoming races may want to pay very close attention. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS SENATOR-ELECT: I think the message from traveling around the state, and I have tried to obviously do some self-reflection and analyzing as to why I'm standing before you today. And really the number one thing I have heard is that people are tired of the business as usual.
People and the pundits, and I will let them determine, you know, what this means in terms of the national race. But I think it's important to know that the main thing that they want is good government back and to be part of the process. And I think they sent a very, very powerful message that business as usual is not going to be the way we do it.
QUESTION: Do you see yourself as the senator who will go down there as the 41st vote and put the brakes on the Obama agenda?
BROWN: Well, first of all, I had a great conversation with the president, first of all. I don't know if I was able to share that with you last night. But he called. He called right away, which I thanked him for.
And we were talking, and he said, you know, I look forward to meeting you and having an opportunity to work with you. And he said I heard that you -- you know, that you are open-minded and you're kind of an independent guy. And I said, well, Mr. President, I want to meet you, too. You have a wonderful family. I have always had great respect for your accomplishments. And, by the way, do you want me to bring the truck? And he laughed. He said, well, you know, when I came down there, I didn't go at you too hard. I said, well, all kidding aside, I do have a basketball player daughter and I know you play a lot of hoop. And I love to -- you pick your best and I will take Ayla, and we'll play a two-on-two. And he laughed, again.
And I said, you know what, Mr. President, regardless, of you know, we may not agree on some things, but you have a sense of humor, and you have to have a sense of humor about politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, let's get back to the best political team on television.
Alex Castellanos, one of our contributors, a Republican strategist, is standing by.
He is a pretty impressive politician for someone most of us never heard of only a few weeks ago.
ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It seems these state senators are coming out of nowhere to become either president or take Senate seats in unexpected places.
But, yes, he is impressive. He has won 10 elections, impressive guy. But he also benefited from a wave. I was looking at some research this morning. Two-thirds of Coakley's vote said they were voting for her. Half of Scott Brown's vote was for Scott Brown, but the other half, send Washington a message. They're not listening to people like us, working people.
BLITZER: You can't just blame Martha Coakley, though.
BEGALA: No, but it is a good start. Let's set that aside.
BLITZER: Because going in to this campaign, she was the attorney general. She had a pretty good brand.
BEGALA: Right. Sure.
And yet, she lost a race that anyone should have won. But let's give senator-elect Brown his due. I think Alex is right. Just right there showed a lot of poise and a lot of humor. And, really interestingly, look what he said. I think, perhaps here in Washington, we are overanalyzing the health care piece of this.
Massachusetts may be a unique situation. They already have 98 percent of their people covered. A lot of them were perhaps worried that the Obama plan might endanger the very similar plan that they have. But he talked about reform. And this is something I think Democrats ought to take to heart here.
Barack Obama on his own without passing a law refused to take money from lobbyists. I think that's a good idea. I think that he ought to challenge his Republican friends, if they're really for reform, to do that.
There are a lot of reforms that we could do, perhaps in a bipartisan way, with a guy like Scott Brown. And I would like to see them take on...
BLITZER: Donna, give the president of the United States one piece of advice right now.
BRAZILE: Well, I think he should take a chapter from the book that Scott Brown just wrote. And that is to spend as much time as possible talking directly to the people, and not sitting in a room focusing on what the lawmakers are doing, coming up with another plan or another project. Talk to the American people.
Clearly, the polls indicate that the American people are still supportive of the president. Let's keep them with the president.
BLITZER: We have a lot more to dissect, guys. Don't go away. We are watching this political story.
We are also going back to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Ivan Watson is on the scene right now. There is an exodus, at least an attempted exodus, under way that could have serious ramifications, not only for the lives of Haitians, but also for a lot of other people.
Stand by. Our coverage continues after this.
BLITZER: Going to back to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in a few moments. There are dramatic developments under way right now. Stand by.
But let's get back to the political story we are following, the GOP's upset victory in Massachusetts. It certainly has Democrats reeling right now. Their filibuster-proof majority in United States Senate gone. That presents Democrats with a real dilemma when it comes to health care reform legislation.
BLITZER: And joining us now, the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs.
Robert, do you want the House to pass the Senate version of health care reform?
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Wolf, that is certainly one of the options that is being discussed here and on Capitol Hill.
I know the president believes that health care reform is important. We watched the president travel for two years talking to small businesses, talking to families about the high cost of health care, the struggles that they had. Those concerns are still had by those families and small businesses today.
You won't see him abandon his effort for health care reform.
BLITZER: So, that option is on the table. Is it doable, though? Do you think you have enough Democrats in the House to pass the Senate version, so it does not need to go back to the Senate?
GIBBS: Obviously, that is one of the things, Wolf, that we are working through and they are working through on Capitol Hill in order to get a comprehensive piece of legislation quickly to the president's desk, so we can get important insurance reforms enacted into law very quickly.
BLITZER: What are the other options you have?
GIBBS: Oh, there are a good host of options, Wolf, all of which are being discussed in our own Situation Room.
BLITZER: It sounds to me like one option, the president saying he wants to not jam anything down, at least not right now. It sounds like he wants to scale back and try to come up with a more modest health care reform package that might only require 51 votes in the Senate. Is that another option he is looking at?
GIBBS: Well, Wolf, what the president said clearly today was the idea that some had in ramming something through the Senate before senator-elect Brown was seated is not an option as far as he is concerned. We are not going to go that route.
A bill has already passed the Senate, so one of the options, as you mentioned earlier, is to try that legislation through the House. But, again, the president is focused on getting something done. It is long past time to get health care reform passed into law and make it a reality for American families.
BLITZER: But, if necessary, would you do that 51 majority Senate vote as a backup? GIBBS: Well, look, I think that there are far better strategies to work through right now that are being looked at as to how to get this stuff done.
BLITZER: As you remember, originally, the president wanted it done by the August recess, then by the Thanksgiving recess, then by the Christmas recess, then by the State of the Union address. It has gone on and on and on. What was the problem here?
GIBBS: Well, look, this is a pretty complex piece of legislation. It has had to go through three committees on the House side, three committees on the Senate side, be passed by the House and Senate.
And, look, let's be honest, Wolf. At every step of the way, the special interests, the insurance companies in this country have run millions of dollars of advertising and tried to slow down this process, so that a child that is now being discriminated against by an insurance company because they are telling that family that that child has a preexisting condition, they don't want to see progress on those types of issues in this country.
The president has pushed against the special interests in Washington, against the health insurance lobby, that's why the president is determined to get something done.
Change takes a long time in Washington, Wolf. I am here today exactly one year after I first came to work at the White House. We have not done all that we want to do to change the way Washington works, but the president woke up today just as he did a year ago, determined to change the way Washington works.
BLITZER: Here is what the president said exactly one year ago on this day. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those of us who managed the public's dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The president says do our business in the light of day. Transparency. But a lot of these negotiations were done behind closed doors, backroom deals with the pharmaceutical industry, for example, labor unions, special interest, all sorts of other special interests.
BLITZER: And the Republicans took full advantage of this.
GIBBS: Wolf, I bet the most dominant political story you did in 2009 was on health care. My sense is you're not about to tell me that what you did all throughout 2009 was inaccurate, because you got information on what we were discussing, you watched committee hearings, you watched House and floor debate.
You watched meetings that were happening here at the White House. You have a list of every person that's walked into this White House that's come to talk to an official about health care.
This White House has been the single most transparent White House in the history of our country. We now released the list of people that come here for meetings. That's something that's never been done, not just in recent time, it's never been done in the history of this country.
The president is focused on and has met the promise of transparency. The American people can have confidence that they know what is going on in their government.
BLITZER: But the promise that all of these negotiations, backroom deals, would be on C-SPAN, that hasn't been met.
GIBBS: Well, I -- I don't agree with the notion that somehow these are backroom deals. If they're backroom deals, how do you know about them, Wolf? How are you reporting on them?
BLITZER: Well, we...
GIBBS: Ed Henry who's standing right over there gets information from me and others and is able to accurately report on them.
GIBBS: Look, Wolf, I know we've all got a script and we've got to say certain things, but let's be honest and forthright with the American people. You've covered health care more than you've covered any single issue in the past year, because you've had and watched the debate that's transpired in this country, and it's been transparent.
BLITZER: But we didn't have access to the negotiations, the discussions you had, for example, with the pharmaceutical industry in Washington. We learned about it after the deal was made, but we didn't watch it unfold.
GIBBS: But you learned about what was in it, Wolf. That's what Ed reported. That's what you've talked about.
The reason that you're talking to me about it is you know about it. If you're talking to me about it, it's a poorly kept secret, if it's a secret.
BLITZER: Well, it's just a little point, but it's significant...
GIBBS: No, it's...
BLITZER: We learned about it after the fact. We didn't watch it happen.
GIBBS: Well, Wolf, I'm happy to come to your editorial meetings and watch how the news happens. This has been the single most transparent White House in the history of our country.
You know because people asked, we would like a list of people that have come to the White House to discuss health care. You have that. In the previous administration, when you ask for that same list about energy, what happened? You went to the Supreme Court.
There's a difference. Transparency has happened in this White House. It's happened under President Obama's watch and people feel confident about that.
BLITZER: Why have the Democrats in three statewide elections, in Virginia, New Jersey and now in Massachusetts, lost?
GIBBS: For varying and different reasons. Obviously, gubernatorial races hinge mostly on local issues. I think there were a myriad of reasons why Martha Coakley didn't win yesterday in Massachusetts.
We've certainly dissected -- and I know you've discussed a lot of those issues. There is an anger and a frustration in this country that the president heard and was elected hearing and inaugurated a year ago.
That same anger continues in this country because there's a genuine frustration that we haven't seen more progress on our economy, that unemployment continues to be at 10 percent.
The president hears and understands that anger, and he's focused each and every day on getting our economy back on track.
BLITZER: Robert Gibbs is the White House press secretary. Thanks very much for coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.
GIBBS: Wolf, I'm happy to do it.
BLITZER: All right. We're going back to Haiti in just a moment. We'll continue our political coverage, but Brian Todd is on the scene. He has witnessed a rescue, a rescue on this day. Ivan Watson also on the scene for us.
Much more of our coverage from Haiti and the world of politics after this.
BLITZER: Eight days into the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti there are still people who are surviving amidst the rubble. Courageous search-and-rescue teams are on the scene. We're watching what's going on.
Let's bring in our Brian Todd. He's on the ground in Port-au- Prince, where there's new hope that someone may be alive under the rubble.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're in this building in downtown Port-au-Prince. A totally collapsed structure. We're here because the L.A. County fire and rescue team, their canine team -- there you see the dog up there -- they've got two positive hits earlier today.
They came back here just now and this dog -- at least this dog and possibly another one came in and excavated again. They got more positive hits. The dogs were really barking earlier. So they've got the team down here. They're going to bring more personnel in. They believe there could be someone alive in this building.
Also I'm going to show you over here, our photographer, Floyd Yarmouth is going to kind of come with me, and you can see some of these devices over here. And Floyd, you can -- he's kind of pan into those orange sonar devices.
Wolf, when the dog teams get a positive hit, they bring in these sonar devices, string them up in there, these are sensors that can detect any kind of human movement, even faint move and breathing, anything else.
We're going to have to move out of the way here. Floyd, why don't you come with me? Because there's a truck with more rescue people back and upright here.
So a pretty dramatic scene. It's drawing quite a crowd behind us here. We're just kind of getting, you know, just initial reports. There could be some people alive in here. We're going to stay here for a while and monitor the situation -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And Brian is going to be coming back in the next hour with an update. There have been some developments. Standby for that.
Lisa Sylvester is also standing by. She has some new video that's just coming in.
What are you seeing, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you're going to want the take a look at this brand-new video from Haiti, and it is showing the exact moment the earthquake hit last week.
Take a look at this. You can see panicked customers at this Port-au-Prince bakery as they are running for their lives as soon as they felt the earth shake. Take a look at this video.
Now the bakery itself, it didn't collapse, but there is a building across the street that did. The bakery's owner actually managed to reopen after electricity was restored, but just amazing video, Wolf, as you take a look at people going through -- basically trying to run for their lives and trying to escape, and it's clear that they knew what was going on, that they had to escape the building and good thing that they did -- Wolf.
BLITZER: So many unfortunately did not. But that video is obviously very dramatic.
Lisa Sylvester, don't go away, we're going back to Port-au-Prince in a moment. Ivan Watson is standing by. Much more of our coverage from Haiti after this.
BLITZER: We want to update you now on one of those amazing rescues in Haiti. Yesterday, the world was watching and Anderson Cooper was there as 70-year-old Anna Zizi was pulled from the rubble of the Catholic Cathedral in Port-au-Prince where she'd been trapped for a week.
You saw the pictures. Zizi says for the first several days of her ordeal, she talked to her priest who was also trapped nearby, but she says he eventually fell silent. After that, she says she simply prayed and waited.
Zizi was air-lifted to the USS Bataan where she is being treated for a dislocated hip and a broken leg. Doctors on board say she is resting comfortably right now. And we wish her a speedy, speedy recovery. This is an amazing woman right now.
There is also a new chapter unfolding at Haiti's earthquake disaster saga. Survivors are now trying to flee the capital in growing numbers.
CNN's Ivan Watson is joining us now from Port-au-Prince.
So, Ivan, tell our viewers what you're seeing.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've already been seeing people going out by road, but today, down at the port of Port-au- Prince, there were dramatic scenes and evidence of how desperate people are to get out, Wolf.
Thousands of people lining a filthy wharf there where they've been sleeping for days. These are families whose houses have been destroyed. Desperate to catch a ferry boat that the government promised would give free passage to another port, to the west of Port- au-Prince, about 100 miles away.
And they have been staying there for days. They had no information about when or where the ferry would be coming to. And when the ferry did finally appear, they all jumped into wooden row boats, overloaded them. They were all dangerously close to capsizing and swarmed the ship.
Climbing on board, passing their children up, passing babies up, hand-by-hand. That ferryboat I was told by the owner is only supposed to carry about 600 people, and instead, there were clearly thousands on board, clearly not enough life vests in case there was an emergency.
Clearly not enough lifeboats if there was an emergency. It was a potential maritime disaster if anything went untowards out at sea, and this crowd of people all desperate to escape this shattered city -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And what else is going on, on this day? It's day eight after the earthquake. What else are you seeing, Ivan?
WATSON: Well, we spent a lot of our time down at this location and spoke with the people working down at the port, which has suffered a lot of damage. And we did see that French naval vessels had docked there, and that a U.S. freight ship, U.S. military freight ships, were scouting out the area.
But this morning's aftershock was massive. Registered at close to 6.0 -- magnitude of 6.0, and it did additional damage to what was left of the port. We saw new buckling in the port, and that U.S. divers, military divers, were working in the area trying to see what damage had been done.
The wharf area is even more beaten up and that is going to complicate further attempts to try to bring in more aid to the city that we all know needs help so much right now. This is complicating this operation -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Complicated and heartbreaking, indeed. Ivan Watson, one of our reporters doing an outstanding job for us in Haiti.
Much more on this story coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Also, the political story we're watching what's happening, the fallout from that Massachusetts' special election for United States senator. We're assessing what's going on. We have new information. Our coverage continues after this.
BLITZER: Go to Lisa Sylvester, she's monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, what's going on?
SYLVESTER: A gruesome scene in central Nigeria. Charred bodies, some with scorched hands, reaching upwards, are lying in the street, victims of sectarian fighting that has reportedly killed more than 200 people since Sunday.
It's unclear what started the violence between groups of Christians and Muslims. One official says it began after Muslims set a Christian church on fire, but other community leaders deny that.
Virginia police say bomb squads are detonating several explosives at the home of a man accused of going on a deadly shooting rampage. 39-year-old Christopher Speight surrendered to authorities this morning ending a massive manhunt.
Now he is accused of fatally shooting eight people yesterday. All but one of the victims were found in or near Speight's house. Officials say the -- suspect, rather, knew his victims, but they aren't speculating on a possible motive. Charges are still pending.
And "The New York Times," well, it's going to start charging readers who view its online content. Beginning next year, readers will be able to view only a set number of articles for free. After reaching a monthly limit, they'll be charged per article.
The "Times" says that the paper is making the change to create a second revenue stream and its preserving its advertising business. Print subscribers, on the hand, though, they will continue to have free access to the paper's Web site. So changes afoot -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Lisa Sylvester, reporting for us. She's the newest member of our SITUATION ROOM team. We welcome Lisa Sylvester here.
Jack Cafferty is standing by with the "Cafferty File." We're also watching these two major stories. What's happening in the world of politics after the Massachusetts Senate race, the outcome, the Republican wins, the Democrat loses.
Also, we're going back to Haiti for the latest developments.
BLITZER: Let's get back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack?
CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: What should happen to the hundreds of thousands of Haitian orphans? Some relief agencies said that when it's all over, there could be close to a million of these kids down there with no parents.
Geraldine writes: "No doubt the people of Haiti need help at this time. Stealing their future generation is not the way to do it, though. Many children were in the process of adoption prior to the earthquake. Speed up those adoptions, cut the red tape, and then assist the Haitian people in setting up a viable orphanage system within their own country."
Jeff in Connecticut writes: "The key here is not to produce so many orphans in the first place. Before the earthquake, there were 400,000 orphans among a population of nine million. This is the fault of the Catholic Church of which 80 percent of Haitians subscribe to. The Vatican doesn't want Catholics to use birth control so that more Catholics are produced. However, the reality is more orphan, hungry and homeless children come into the world needlessly."
Barbara in North Carolina: "We adopted four siblings here in the U.S. They are grown now. We would open our home to as many of these children as we have room for and adopt them. And I know many others who feel the same."
Elaine writes: "Setting up orphanages for the children would be the best thing for them. This would allow for extended family members to locate the kids that belong to them. There are many organizations that would be able to monitor these orphanages so that abuse and trafficking does not occur."
B. writes: "Sorry to sound cold and heartless but with thousands of U.S. orphans not being adopted because of bureaucratic red tape, we can't afford to care for them in an already overburdened system. We need to take care of our own people first."
And Amanda in Texas says: "There are thousands of American who would like adopt Haitian orphans. The vetting process for those parents should begin now. Then they should be allowed to adopt one of the children identified as an orphan before the earthquake. It's that simple. Start with the orphans we already know about."
If you want to read more about the orphans in Haiti, go to my blog, CNN.com/caffertyfile -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Look at those pictures of those kids, those little kids.
CAFFERTY: Heartbreaking. You can see the desperation on their faces.
CAFFERTY: It's just heart braking.
BLITZER: Thanks. And we're going to go back there. Brian Todd is standing by live. He's watching a rescue operation unfolding right now, eight days, eight days after the earthquake hit.
Also we are watching what's happening in the United States and the world of politics. The Obama administration facing a new political reality on this exactly one day since President Obama was inaugurated. Our coverage continues after this.
BLITZER: We're there capturing the headlines with his election victory last night. But it's the daughters of Republican Senator- elect Scott Brown who captured much of the attention at his celebration.
CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a "Most Unusual Look."
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She was the mystery woman dancing while pundits prognosticated.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: The American people don't want one- party rule.
MOOS: Behind their backs...
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm told she congratulated Scott Brown.
MOOS: Stealing the show from a commentary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's being sold to the people state by state in a corrupt fashion. MOOS: Don't look now but it's the winning candidates' daughter performing at his victory party and breaking the news to the crowd that Scott Brown's opponent had conceded.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad is the next senator of Massachusetts!
MOOS: But we really got to meet the senator-elect's two daughters when he had a "Dad said what" moment.
BROWN: Yes, they're both available. No, no.
MOOS: Ayla whispered...
AYLA BROWN, SENATOR-ELECT SCOTT BROWN'S DAUGHTER: Not Arianna.
MOOS: Then her younger sister is not available.
S. BROWN: Only kidding. Only kidding. Arianna definitely is not available. But Ayla is.
MOOS: And thus began the debate. A proud dad teasing his daughter in a loving way? Or just plan creepy. They sure seem to have fun together. This photo began circulating on the Web, captioned by one kid, "Found a picture of Scott wearing clothes." That "wearing clothes" jabs stems from this, Scott posing for "Cosmopolitan." Back when he was a law student.
JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": This guy has got like machoness. Wow.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": This is guy is hot. He's ringing my bell.
MOOS: But bells were ringing for the senator-elect's daughters as well. "Easy on the eyes." "Some kind of hot." The younger daughter is a premed student. And if the older daughter Ayla looks vaguely familiar, you may have seen her on season five of "American Idol" a few years back.
(On camera): But the "American Idol" river was apparently too wide for Ayla. She made it to the top 16 and then.
SIMON COWELL, JUDGE, "AMERICAN IDOL": It was good, it just wasn't fantastic.
MOOS (voice-over): She left the competition with her self in tact and hopes for a singing career. So what if her dad hit an odd note? Watch mom's face.
S. BROWN: Yes, they're both available.
MOOS: But this was one happy day as they left fake confetti out of her cleavage. Her cup truly runs over.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)