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Dems at Risk After Health Care Vote; Iran's Deadly Help to Taliban

Aired March 22, 2010 - 18:00   ET


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: He will get into Jerusalem, pretty strong comments, we expect, saying that it's the capital of Israel, and not a settlement. He will also talk about steps that Israel has taken for peace, talk about Iran.

And then we also expect that he is going to be meeting with the vice president before he gives that speech -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And he will be meeting with the president tomorrow.

All right, Jill Dougherty, thank you. And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: a landmark victory for President Obama and the Democrats. But they will have to convince doubtful Americans that the health care legislation, which is about to become law, is good for them. As Republicans plan their next moves, I will speak with the president's senior adviser, David Axelrod, this hour.

A new threat to U.S. troops. Iran has long been accused of supplying weapons to the Taliban, but now there is word it's also training Afghan insurgents inside Iran.

And Tiger Woods answers questions on the sex scandal that rocked his personal and professional life.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The health care reform bill has just been delivered to the White House, and President Obama will sign it into law tomorrow. It's a huge win for the Democrats, but there's still plenty of political combat ahead, as the Senate must approve the so-called fixes to the bill, and Republicans plan their next moves at the same time.

Meantime, the president will still have to sell the public on this health care overhaul. Get this. In our brand-new CNN/Opinion Research poll taken before the final vote, 59 percent say they oppose the legislation, and only 39 percent favor it.


BLITZER: And joining us now from the White House, the president's senior adviser, David Axelrod. David, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Now, you know you have your work cut out for you explaining the benefits of this health care new law that's about to become the new law.

Our new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll that was taken before the vote last night over the last few days, it asked the effect of this health care bill on your family. Only 19 percent thought it would be -- the family would be better off -- 47 percent thought it would be worse off, 33 percent about the same.

You have got a problem here. You have got to explain this.

AXELROD: No, look, I think that -- I understand that there's been a lot of back and forth on this, and there's been a lot of misinformation shared.

And, frankly, it's been a confusing debate for people as a result of the sort of millions and millions and millions of dollars of advertising and propaganda and so on.

But the reality -- the reality -- this is now a reality. It's not -- it's not a theory. And what people are going to find, for example, is, if they own a small business, that, this year, when the president signs this bill, most of them will be -- will qualify for a tax cut, a tax credit to help provide health care for their employees of 35 percent.

That's a major benefit to these small businesses. It ought to help our economy as well. Children with preexisting conditions will now qualify for their parents' insurance. That discrimination will go away. The lifetime cap on insurance will go away, so that if people get seriously ill, they don't have to worry about their benefits running out.

And the same is true of the annual cap. The doughnut hole will begin to be filled on Medicare prescription drugs. So, there is a long list of things that are going to happen right away, Wolf. And people -- we will do -- we will inform people of these provisions, so that they can take advantage of them.

BLITZER: But those are all positive things people will like. But a lot of people won't like the fact that they will be paying higher taxes, that there will be increased fees on medical devices, that some of their health insurance benefits will be taxed if they have a good health insurance plan. They're worried about that.

AXELROD: You know, Wolf, that would be true if it were the case. But the fact is, many of those fees will not take place immediately. And most of them won't hit the average person when you talk about fees on medical equipment, on insurance companies, on the unearned income of upper-income people on their Medicare tax. The true -- what is true is that this will provide the largest tax cut for health care in the history of this country, and it will be squarely aimed at small businesses and middle-class people who are struggling to pay for their -- to pay for their health care. And they're going to know it. So, I'm very confident about that.

BLITZER: I know a lot of seniors are nervous about Medicare. They love their Medicare. They rely on their Medicare. Over the next 10 years, this law will cut Medicare projected increase in spending by about $500 billion, a half-a-trillion dollars, $50 billion a year.

Now, we know there is a lot of fraud, waste and abuse, but $50 billion worth a year?

AXELROD: Well, it's not just fraud, waste and abuse, Wolf, but also unwarranted subsidies to insurance companies that do nothing to add to the health of senior citizens.

What this will do is, it will immediately make preventative care free under Medicare. It will provide more prescription drug coverage for senior citizens and it will extend the life of Medicare for almost another decade against these challenges to its solvency.

So, that's why the AARP, which is the -- sort of the source when it comes to issues involving senior citizens, were so enthusiastically supporting this legislation.

BLITZER: Unlike some other major policy legislation, whether the civil rights legislation in the '60s, or Medicare, or Social Security, you got no Republican support whatsoever.

Listen to John McCain, because he was very upset about what you have now done.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: With all this euphoria that's going on, this inside-the-beltway champagne-toasting and all that, outside the beltway, the American people are very angry. And they don't like it. And they're going to -- and we're going to try to repeal this. And we are going to have a very spirited campaign coming up between now and November. And there will be a very heavy price to pay for it.


BLITZER: A very heavy price to pay for it.

What do you want to say to John McCain?

AXELROD: Well, look, I respect senior McCain. And I remember when he was a strong independent voice in the United States Senate. Last year, he had the most partisan voting record in the United States Senate.

And he's got a challenge from the right wing in his own party right now. I understand that, too. But when he said today that we're not going to get any more cooperation from the Republican Party this year in the United States Senate because they're unhappy about this health insurance reform, I think that's unfortunate.

That's better for the sandlot than it is for governance. We need to work together to solve problems. And, as for the election, we didn't pass this bill in order to win an election. We passed it in order to solve a pressing problem that has bedeviled the American people for 100 years and is only getting worse.

But if he wants to campaign and tell small businesses in the state of Arizona that he wants to take those 35 percent tax -- that 35 percent tax credit for health care away from them, he should do it. If he wants to look children in the eye with preexisting conditions in his state and tell them, you know what, I really do think you ought to be discriminated against, if he wants to tell all the people in his state that we're going to put the caps back on what you can get from your insurance companies and put the insurance companies back in the driver's seat, he ought to campaign on that, and we will see -- we will see what happens.


BLITZER: What happens if the Senate does not approve the so-called fix-it bill, the reconciliation bill that they're going to take up this week?

AXELROD: I'm really confused by that as to -- well, first of all, they will approve it. I mean, the question is whether the Republicans in the Senate will engage, as they have over the last several months, in dilatory tactics, parliamentary tactics, to try and delay the vote.

The votes are there to pass this. I don't, for the life of me, understand why they would anyway. This cleans up some of the concerns that they and others have raised about the legislation, on which we agree. And so why they would delay that, I don't know.

In any case, the president is going to sign the law tomorrow, and that's -- and so what goes on there will not stop us from implementing the tax credits for small businesses and all the other provisions that will really benefit the American people.

BLITZER: Give us a little flavor. Take us inside the White House last night. We saw that picture of the president and the vice president when you got word that it had passed the House of Representatives.

You had been working on this for 13 months, basically, since he came into office. Take us inside the Roosevelt Room, and tell us how the president reacted.

AXELROD: I have to tell you, Wolf, I haven't seen the president so happy about anything, other than his family, as long as I have known him and worked with him.

Even election night, he was not as excited as he was last night, because, as he said, you know, it's great to get elected, but that only gives you the opportunity to do meaningful things. This was a very meaningful thing, and he knows that it will give greater security to the American people now and for generations to come.

And that is a very, very satisfying feeling. So, yes, it was a long, hard slog, but it was worth it. And it was his determination and his commitment and his perseverance against all of these obstacles that made it happen. So, we're very proud today.

BLITZER: He was more excited last night than he was on November 4 of 2008 when he got word that he was going to be the next president of the United States?

AXELROD: I am -- I am here to bear witness, Wolf, that is absolutely the case.

He was excited that night, but not the way he was last night. Last night, he had a great feeling of satisfaction that we had actually helped so many people across this country and given the American people more security and more peace of mind, and that this is something that will benefit generations to come.

It's been a -- we have had this discussion in this country, this debate, for 100 years, back to Teddy Roosevelt, and we have finally addressed it, not perfect. You know, nothing is perfect. But it -- as he said last night, it is much, much better than the status quo and holds out much greater hope for the American people.

BLITZER: And I guess that's why you celebrated in the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing...

AXELROD: Exactly.

BLITZER: ... of the White House, no coincidence there.

David Axelrod, thanks very much. Congratulations.

AXELROD: Thanks, Wolf. Good to be with you.


BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is coming up with "The Cafferty File."

Then, he's the congressman who admits yelling "It's a baby killer" during that contentious House debate on health care reform. And now he is speaking about why he said that, what he really meant, and why he still believes the bill will kill babies.

Also, Taliban fighters training inside Iran, we're learning new details from military and intelligence sources.

And Tiger Woods' first interview since the sex scandal that turned his world upside down. We're going to hear what the golf legend is saying about his therapy, his return to the game, and much more, all of it in his own words.


BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: So, what have you got for an encore? And does the country have the stomach for it?

If you liken the passage of health care reform to a birth, the pregnancy was difficult, and the labor and delivery were worse. But now that the health care baby is here, what's next? There's no shortage of issues facing the country that are demanding attention from our government.

Start with immigration reform. Tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied over the weekend, frustrated with the lack of action so far. The president promised to make immigration reform a top priority in his first year. And we all know what happened there.

It's an issue that has defied resolution. Congress failed to agree on immigration reform under President Bush and with the highly partisan atmosphere in Washington today, I wouldn't bet they will have any more luck this time around.

Then there's the economy, nearly 10 percent unemployment, bringing jobs back issue one with millions and millions of Americans. Some say it should have taken priority over health care reform. Skyrocketing deficits, a more than $12 trillion national debt that we're unceremoniously dumping on future generations.

Add in reform of the financial institutions, no coherent energy policy, education, gays in the military. The list is long. And then there's a whole basket of stuff overseas, two wars, nuclear standoffs with Iran, North Korea, disintegrating situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

So, here's the question. What would you like to see Congress do next? Go to Post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: Thanks, Jack. Good question.

The House debate on health care reform sparked some pretty nasty exchanges. Now a Republican congressman from Texas has revealed that he shouted out the words. He said he screamed out "It's a baby killer," explaining that he was not targeting Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak of Michigan, who voted for the health care bill after a compromise on abortion language.

Listen to this from Congressman Randy Neugebauer.


REP. RANDY NEUGEBAUER (R), TEXAS: I called Congressman Stupak today and said I just want you to know that my remarks were not directed to you personally, that they were about the policy that was unfolding. I said I was very disappointed in the vote where we had a government takeover of health care, and I was particularly disturbed with the fact that we were somehow brokering a deal with the White House where we are putting the lives of unborn children in jeopardy.

And I just told him, I said, I was speaking passionately. Some people thought I was directing those remarks at him, and I wanted him to be assured that I was not directing those remarks at him.

I'm just trying to represent the people of the 19th Congressional District, and I have heard from them over and over again. And I saw them in town hall meetings all across the 19th Congressional District last summer. Where we used to have 100 people, we had 1,000 people.

And the cards, the letters, the phone calls when we do tele-town hall meetings, I mean, the intensity of the American people I think was represented in my intensity last night. And the passion that I had, it's just the same passion that they have.

I did believe, and still believe, that that Senate bill is a baby- killing bill. And I don't like the language in that bill. It puts taxpayers, I think, in many ways, funding abortions in this country. And even whether you're pro-choice or pro-life, I don't think that many Americans think their tax dollars should be going to fund abortions.


BLITZER: Congressman Randy Neugebauer of Texas explaining his outburst last night, when he shouted "It's a baby killer."

Let's talk about that and more.

John King is here. His brand-new show, "JOHN KING USA," debuts less than an hour from now.

You getting a little nervous about that?




KING: ... little fun.

BLITZER: Let's talk about that in a moment.

Let's talk about this uproar, because it comes on the heels of several nasty comments made that have been made, especially this weekend, some ugly comments protesters made against some African-American lawmakers here in Washington, Barney Frank, an openly gay congressman.

What's going on?

KING: Well, there are raw emotions. The congressman is right about that.

But, on the left, and even many of his Republican colleagues say raw emotions, high intensity, maybe even exhaustion, doesn't justify reprehensible words and behavior, the slurs spoken to Congressman Lewis and Congressman Frank, saying baby killing on the floor, whether he says he didn't mean it directly to Congressman Stupak, he meant it about the entire proposal.

And he has been asked by -- the House majority whip, Jim Clyburn, says he should go to the floor and make an apology. Remember, we went through this when Republican Congressman Joe Wilson shouted, "You lie" during the president's speech to a joint session of Congress. Democrats wanted a full apology then as well.

So, the point here in part is that this political -- there will be political theater about this, because Democrats see some gain politically in challenging this language, saying it is way out of balance, and they believe there is something to be gained there.

And, frankly, some at the White House are not too thrilled about the focus on this, because they need to try to turn this legislative victory into a public opinion success. The public is divided on this bill. They would rather be talking about the specifics of the health care bill, trust me.

BLITZER: Yes, because going into the vote last night, our new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows that not so much divided, that more Americans don't like it than like it.

KING: This is a remarkable moment for the president. Without a doubt, this is a big policy victory. The question is -- and you saw it, that little swagger in his step last night when he came into the East Room. The question is, can he sell it to a very skeptical American public? And, more importantly, can he sell it -- there are doubts about this in his own base and there are doubts about this among independent voters, those two constituencies.

The president's success with them between now and November will say a lot about how tough the political climate is for Democratic members of Congress and governors when the voters speak.

BLITZER: Forty minutes from now, "JOHN KING USA" debuts. I know you have a new interview, an exclusive interview, with an important person.

KING: Wonderful conversation today with Vicki Kennedy, the widow of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. No matter what you think of the health care debate, Senator Kennedy fought for health care for 40 years. He was a leading player in the debate.

There are liberals out there to whom he is a hero. There are conservatives out there who sparred with him of course his entire career and disagreed with him. But she came in here to offer her first thoughts exclusively to us on what the moment was like last night, Wolf, including, she said, once she got word from Democrat that it would pass the House, she went out to Arlington National Cemetery, where he is buried. She said she wanted to bring the news to him, if you will.

BLITZER: "JOHN KING USA" debuts 7:00 p.m. Eastern, right after THE SITUATION ROOM.

KING: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Good luck.

KING: Good luck to you. Have a good dinner.

BLITZER: Thank you.


BLITZER: Democrat are celebrating. Some may be especially vulnerable, though, now that they have voted for health care reform. Gloria Borger, she is standing by live. She will tell us the risks in the upcoming elections.

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



BLITZER: Some state Republican attorneys general are now standing by to challenge the health care bill once it's signed into law. Do they really, though, have a good case? We will talk about it with our senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin.


BLITZER: Let's get back to our top story.

The dramatic health care bill that passed yesterday has been delivered to the White House. President Obama will sign it into law tomorrow. Democrats certainly are celebrating, but some who voted for the overhaul may have put themselves in some serious jeopardy, especially those who won in Republican districts in the last election.

Our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger, is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Gloria, who is at risk?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the ones we're going to look at are really at risk, Wolf, because these are people who won in Republican districts where Barack Obama did not win, and he's not getting any more popular in these districts.

First of all, let's look at the state of Virginia. Tom Perriello, he's from around Charlottesville, Virginia, and the exurbs around that state. Unemployment rate in a city like Martinsville, Virginia, 20 percent. He won, Wolf, by only 1,000 votes in the last election. Obama did not carry the district. He voted for this health care reform bill, very, very dangerous for him.

Another one in the state of Indiana, Baron Hill in Indiana, two-term incumbent whose district includes Bloomington. Obama did not carry his district, although, as you know, Obama did carry the state of Indiana by a hair. He was a yes last night.

Somebody who I think is really the most interesting is Betsy Markey of Colorado. Her district is east of Denver, again, a Republican district. She ran ahead of Barack Obama. She won handily. But here's Betsy Markey's problem, Wolf. Betsy Markey was a no on this bill originally, when it was voted on in the House.

Last night, that turned into a yes, because she liked some of the deficit reduction in it. But you can imagine some of the voters in her state saying, why were you against the bill before you were for it? So, she is really an endangered species.

BLITZER: What's the political rationale here? What's going on?

BORGER: Well, first of all, the fiscal conservatives can argue that the second bill was better than the first. They saw the deficit numbers in it. They saw that it was supposed to bring down the deficit.

But the other thing that these members are thinking about is, who is my base? Who brought me here? The Democrats brought them, and they said, look, if I don't do something for those Democrats, the Republicans aren't going to come out and vote for me, so I have got to energize my Democrats, which is exactly what they were doing. And I'm told, Wolf, by top House leadership aide, that not one of these three asked for a bye or a pass. They all told the House Speaker that they would vote for the bill.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: A matter of principle.

BORGER: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Betsy Markey in Colorado, for example.


BLITZER: How is it playing in her district - I know you have been doing some reporting.

BORGER: Yes, I have. And look, you know, it's not easy for her. She faces a real uphill battle, but surprisingly, the local newspaper -- the "Coloradoan" actually praised her when she announced that she was going to vote yes. And let me show you what they said. They said, "We acknowledge voting in favor of this bill comes with political risk for Markey who in November voted against an earlier version of the reform package. In choosing to support this reform package, Markey faced the most difficult choice of her short political career."

Wolf, we're going to just have to see how short that career will be.


BORGER: We don't know.

BLITZER: We'll see how these endangered Democrats deal with it between now and November, whether they can salvage their career. BORGER: And let me say one little thing which was kind of interesting. When I talked to somebody in the speaker's office today, they said, you know, we had to get above 216, because if we had only gone 216 votes, they needed that pad in there, then everybody could have been called the last vote of health care reform and they didn't want to hand that over to the Republican Party, because they would be able to say to every Democrat, you were the deciding vote. So they needed the pad.

BLITZER: So they had 219. They had three to spare.

BORGER: Exactly.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks, Gloria. Thanks very much.

Republican attorney general in 10 states are already getting ready to challenge the health care bill after it's signed into law. The Florida attorney general Bill McCollum sums up some of their key arguments.


BILL MCCOLLUM, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: The law is unconstitutional because it requires an individual to buy a health insurance policy. And if they don't do it, they're going to get penalized with a fine or a tax. And the fine or the tax of somebody for doing nothing but living - there is no commerce, there is nobody buying a car. This is not a tax on employment. It's not like Medicare or social security. This is a tax or a penalty on just living. And that's unconstitutional.


BLITZER: All right. Let's bring in our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. This argument, Jeff, is it likely to hold, to stand, if it were to reach the Supreme Court?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's unlikely to succeed, but again you never know how courts are going to rule. And there are four very conservative justices. Certainly Justice Clarence Thomas has indicated in earlier opinions that he is sympathetic to this argument, but not even Justice Scalia, who his usual ally has gone this far.

There are two provisions in the Constitution relevant here. Interstate commerce. The right to regulate interstate commerce. That right that Congress has is interpreted very broadly. Just recently, the Supreme Court said that an individual who grows marijuana in - for private use in California never sells it, never exchanges money, just because it affects the market for marijuana, which is a legitimate thing for the federal government to regulate, that's within Congress' power.

Here you have 16 percent of the economy, which effects all sorts of interstate commerce, that's an area where the courts have been very permissive in allowing the federal government to get involved. BLITZER: There's another argument that some of these attorneys general are making, as well. Listen to this.


MCCOLLUM: Secondly, the lawsuit is going to seek a declaration that the whole bill as unconstitutional on the basis that it manipulates the states into doing things that the state simply can't afford and breaks the sovereignty and is a violation of the Tenth Amendment.


BLITZER: What about that argument?

TOOBIN: That's almost a sure-fire loser. Because the 10th Amendment has never been used, certainly very often, to declare laws unconstitutional. And the only time it has been declared unconstitutional is when the federal government tells the states, not individuals - tells the states to do something that is really a state function.

But here, this law doesn't tell the states to do anything at all. It tells individuals to get insurance. So I don't see this argument getting any traction. The interstate commerce argument, if there's going to be a successful one, that will be it.

BLITZER: We'll watch it with you, Jeffrey, thanks very much. Jeff Toobin.

TOOBIN: And Wolf?


TOOBIN: Happy birthday from New York.


BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin, thank you very much.

An emotional moment in the other "Situation Room" today. Hillary Clinton has had experience with health care legislation. Remember that experience more than a decade ago. Early in the 90's when her husband was president? She gets to celebrate a little bit today. Listen to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Prior to coming out here I was in a meeting in the situation room where Secretary Clinton was. And she was very happy to see what happened yesterday, and when the president came in, walked over and gave him a big hug for what had been accomplished.


BLITZER: Lots of happy people at the White House today. More happy people tomorrow when the president actually signs this bill into law.

Iranian aid to the Taliban allegedly taking a deadly new twist with militants now said to be training inside the Islamic republic. CNN's Brian Todd is learning new details, very disturbing details, from his sources. His report coming up.


BLITZER: Iran has been accused for some time of supplying weapons to insurgents in Afghanistan. But now it seems there's too many traffic at the border. Deadly arms flowing out of Iran, Taliban trainees coming into Iran. What's going on? We asked our Brian Todd to investigate. You're getting some new information, Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. New information about new levels of Iranian support for the Taliban. You know that recently, Defense secretary, Robert Gates, accused Iran of playing a double game in Afghanistan. On one hand voicing support for the Afghan government, on the other, helping the Taliban. The Iranians have denied that. But tonight new information on how far the Iranians are going to help America's enemies.


TODD (voice-over): U.S. military and intelligence officials tell CNN Iran has gone beyond giving weapons to the Taliban. The officials say the Iranians are helping train Taliban fighters in the use of small arms, and are doing some of that training inside Iran.

These officials did not say how many Taliban fighters have been trained in Iran. Or whether this was sanctioned at the highest levels of the Iranian government. We also spoke with Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer, who did a strategic review of Afghanistan for the Obama administration last year.

(on camera): What are they doing specifically that you know of?

BRUCE RIEDEL, SABAN CENTER FOR MIDDLE EAST POLICY: Well, Iran and its allies like the Hezbolla are masters at improvised explosive devices, putting bombs along the sides of ditches and roads. They have been doing this in Lebanon, in Iraq, and in other places for decades. They're among the best in the world in this kind of knowledge. And they're trying to transmit some of that knowledge over to the Afghan Taliban.

TODD (voice-over): The Iranian regime has always denied supporting the Taliban, and contacted by CNN about this latest information, an Iranian official at the United Nations said that these are "absolutely baseless and wrong allegations and strongly rejected by the Islamic republic of Iran.

U.S. military officials recently said Iran was training the Taliban, but said it was going on inside Afghanistan. General David Petraeus has called the help limited in scope. Defense secretary Robert Gates agrees.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: there is some, but it - to this point, I think has been considered to be pretty low level.

TODD: Now, in addition to CNN's latest information on Taliban training inside Iran, the "Sunday Times of London" quotes two unidentified Taliban commanders as saying they attended three-month courses inside Iran. CNN could not independently confirm those details.

The Iranians who are Shia have been a long time enemy of the Taliban, which is primarily Suni. But Riedel said in the short term, Iran sees helping the Taliban as a way to counter America's overall pressure on Iran.

RIEDEL: As the United States squeezes Iran, Iran is looking for placing to squeeze America back. And we are better than Obama's war next door in Afghanistan.


TODD: And Riedel says the Taliban, despite having no love for Iran, needs to take help wherever they can get it right now, because Pakistan is arresting more Taliban militants inside its borders while the Americans' drone campaign is also hurting the Taliban and their allies. Wolf.

BLITZER: What would be, I know this is hypothetical -

TODD: Right.

BLITZER: -- the threshold for the U.S. to respond militarily against some of these targets in Iran?

TODD: Riedel says if Iran starts providing them with more sophisticated weapons, like shoulder-fired missiles, things like that, that would really be a dangerous escalation because it would challenge NATO and American superiority in the air there. There is no indication that they're about to do that, but U.S. intelligence officials are going to watch this very closely.

BLITZER: A dangerous situation indeed. All right. Brian, thanks very much. Good reporting.

Tiger Woods is answering questions about his return to golf, his therapy, and much more. You're going to hear him in his first interview since his personal life exploded into the headlines.


BLITZER: Tiger Woods is speaking out in his first interview since the sex scandal that rocked his personal and professional life. He's talking about his therapy, his return to golf, and more.

CNN's Mary Snow is working the story for us. All right, what's Tiger Woods saying, Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, he talked about his life going out of control. He talked about his public apology, but there is still lots of questions left unanswered. Tiger Woods did two interviews, five minutes each, one of them is with ESPN. And in that one, Woods talked about what it will be like returning to the Masters next month. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What reception are you expecting from fans?

TIGER WOODS, GOLFER: I don't know. I don't know. I'm a little nervous about that, and to be honest with you -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much do you care?

WOODS: It would be nice to hear a couple collapse here and there. But also - but also there are also claps for birdies, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 11 months ago, here in (INAUDIBLE), I asked you, how well does the world know you? What's your answer to that now?

WOODS: A lot better now. I was living a life of a life. I really was. And I was doing a lot of things, as I said, that hurt a lot of people. And stripping away denial and rationalization, you start coming to the truth of who you really are. And that can be very ugly. But then again when you face it and you start conquering it and you start living up to it, the strength that I feel now, I've never felt that type of strength.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the last four months, Tiger, what's been the low point?

WOODS: Oh, I've had a lot of low points. Just when I didn't think it could get lower, it got lower.


BLITZER: What did he say, Mary, about the car accident that night?

SNOW: Well, Wolf, he was asked about that. And he refused to answer any questions about that accident outside his Florida home in November that, of course, led to his story unraveling. He also didn't describe the exact kind of therapy he's receiving. He did mention his rehab. Here's a clip from his interview with the Golf Channel.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For a man who is so disciplined, physically and psychologically, why couldn't you say no?

WOODS: I don't know. Now I know. But at the time, as part of what I learned in treatment, being there for 45 days, you learn a lot. You strip away the denial, the rationalization, and you come to the truth. And the truth is very painful at times. And to stare at yourself and look at the person you've become, you become disgusted.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SNOW: And Wolf, we should also point out that CBS was also offered an interview with Woods, but declined, and a spokesman tells us that the network was interested in an extended interview without any restrictions. We also checked in with David Dusec of, who sees these interviews as part of a long-term strategy for Woods, but doesn't see it helping in the short run, saying there is nothing that he thought came out of the interviews that will make someone think better of Tiger Woods. Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll see how he does in the Masters, and that's coming up in only a few weeks. Mary, thanks very much.

Jack Cafferty is standing by with your e-mail, and did they really say that? Jeanne Moos takes a most unusual look at the health care debate.


BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack for the "Cafferty File." Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, "THE CAFFERTY FILES": The question this hour is what would you like to see Congress do next? Geoffrey writes "major financial reform, roll back the Clinton era law that allows credit default swaps. Roll back the Reagan era reform that removed usury and removed limits on interest rates. Roll it all back and then regulate it. Demand simple easily understood contracts for all loans and insurance. Just think, the special interest commercial will sell then. Ka-ching, Jack."

Chandler in New Jersey writes "Wake up and realize we are at war with China, Indian and Saudi Arabia among others and we are losing. Badly." Craig in Maryland writes, "What should Congress do next? How about take a nice long bath? After all the wheeling, dealing and mudslinging that occurred over health care reform, I would think they could use one."

John in New Jersey writes, "repeal health care reform." Carrie writes reverse NAFTA, bring those manufacturing jobs back to this country. That was the start of our economic demise. June writes "Go home and stay there. They've done enough damage." Donald in California, I would like to see the Democrats continue to support what this president promised the people he would do. Health care is almost taken care of. So work on don't ask, don't tell being overturned, get out of Iraq, immigration reform and jobs."

Linda writes, "Given the appalling displays of ignorance we've seen over the last 13 months of health care debate, I would suggest some serious education reform." Mark in San Diego, "I'm not sure, but what I am sure of is that the GOP will be against it." And Larry in Ohio writes, "face a firing squad."

You want to read more on this, you'll find it on my blog at

BLITZER: You can only imagine, Jack, what his agenda would be if health care had gone down last night. It would have been very difficult if not impossible for him to get any of these other initiatives through.

CAFFERTY: That's true and I don't know whether the Republicans will, you know, learn anything from the failed partisan effort that we've seen with health care reform, but time will tell. I mean, these midterm elections, if they're going to get anything major done, they've got about six months because my guess is after the midterms, the partisan issues will only be worse.

BLITZER: Yes, I think the Democrats would have been so demoralized if it would have simply collapsed, it would have been hard to get that excitement going to do some of these things.

CAFFERTY: Yes. How do you get excited after that health care thing is over? I mean, it's just like the world's longest ordeal. And everybody has got to be a little exhausted down there. But don't they get a vacation now?

BLITZER: Let's take a vacation. Let's go to Disney World.

CAFFERTY: They have a spring break.

BLITZER: Yes. Jack, thanks very much. See you tomorrow.

CAFFERTY: All right.

BLITZER: We're only minutes away from the premiere of "John King, USA." Tonight he has an exclusive interview with Vicky Kennedy, the widow of the late senator Ted Kennedy. She'll be talking about health care reform and her husband's legacy. Stand by for that.

And up next, it was a poster child for uncivil discourse. Jeanie Moss takes a closer look at some of the debateable moments from the healthcare debate.


BLITZER: It was some of the most passionate raucous, and wild debate on Capitol Hill in recent memory. CNN's Jeanne moos takes a most unusual look at the health care reform uproar.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is there a doctor in the house? Of representatives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We now know with absolute certainty that the only thing -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you don't. No, you don't.

MOOS: The health care debate was enough to raise the blood pressure. Republican congressmen were out on the balcony holding hand-made signs. Representative Michelle Bachmann was cheerleading chants. Iowa Republican Steve King gave a thumbs down and even swatted Speaker Nancy Pelosi's image. Outside and inside, it was a debate to remember. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Answer the call of history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This bill is a fiscal Frankenstein.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame on this body.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give health care a chance.

MOOS; What ruled the House were House rules.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do the House rules apply or not?

MOOS: The gavel wielded at one point by Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gentlemen, time has expired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... in reconciliation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman's time has expired.

MOOS (on camera): No wonder we all haven't expired, the time it's taken to pass health care.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House will be in order.

MOOS (voice-over): In order but not without confusion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I yield back - what?

MOOS: Order on the floor but not necessarily in the hallways. This was where democrat Barney Frank was called a gay slur and John Lewis was called the "n" word. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. riled the anti-health care protesters by waving at them.

Drudge declared it a date which will live in infirmary. Democrats were giddy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got you back.

MOOS: Republicans fierce.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RUSHLIMBAUGH.COM: We need to defeat these (bleep). We need to wipe them out.

MOOS: As the president praised the outcome, watch the guy in the background come out, then realize he's on camera.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After nearly 100 years of talk -

MOOS: Only once did we see money change hands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, thanks for all the hard work you do for Wall Street and big insurance.

MOOS: Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell was showered with real bills by fake billionaires for wealth-care. That made a guy taking photos mad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make my (bleep) insurance go up 10 years from now.

MOOS: The next thing you know both sides were scrambling to pick up the money while Nancy Pelosi was picking up a big gavel.

(on camera): My gavel. It's bigger than hers.

(voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let them eat Advil.

MOOS: New York.


BLITZER: Very lively debate on the floor of the House of Representatives last night. Remember, the signing ceremony tomorrow at the White House. CNN will have extensive coverage. You can also follow us what's going on here in the "Situation Room." I'm on Twitter. You can get my tweets at That's all one word, wolfblitzercnn.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in the "Situation Room." The premiere of "John King, USA" starts right now.