Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
President Appeals to Young Voters; Miners Ready To Go Home?; Freed Miners Make Headlines; Interview with California Senator Barbara Boxer; CVS Pays Millions for Illegal Sales
Aired October 14, 2010 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Don, thanks very -- very much.
Happening now, the next big step for those freed miners in Chile. And many of them could soon be leaving the hospital and beginning their new lives as international heroes. This hour, their health, their futures and the amazing stories of their ordeal underground.
Also, President Obama just wrapping up right now a live TV event aimed at young voters. We're going to tell you if the MTV crowd threw him any boxers or brief type of questions.
And foreclosures skyrocketing right now, even as we learn more about potentially criminal loan practices under investigation.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Let's begin with what has just happened. President Obama wrapping up a made for TV pitch to some of America's youngest voters 19 days before the midterm election. He held a town hall event that aired on several networks.
Bill Clinton set the stage for the format back in the '90s, when he appeared on MTV and got a famously intimate question.
Let's bring in our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian, who was monitoring what was going on -- Dan, was the president asked about boxers or briefs?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That was not a question that the president received at this town hall meeting, which, by the way, was sponsored by not only MTV, but also BET and CMT.
There were some serious questions from these young people about immigration, about the economy, taxes, even Sudan. But there was one pointed question from a young Republican woman from Austin, Texas, who pressed the president on his pledge for more bipartisanship.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY MTV NEWS/BET NEWS)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you going to improve the dialogue among the two parties? BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I ran, it was based on the notion that Washington was broken. We were having arguments that had more to do with who would win an election than how we were going to solve country's problems. And I continue to believe that that is holding us back. Now, I will tell you that, with respect to health care, we actually spent months trying to obtain cooperation from Republicans to see if we could negotiate a commonsense solution. This is not, by the way, something that I'm just making up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LOTHIAN: Now, the president says that he hopes that after the midterm elections, that there will be more -- a greater spirit, rather, of bipartisanship, especially on some of these undone agenda items like education and energy. He hopes that both sides can really focus on things that they have in common instead of their differences.
Now, why did the president attend this event today?
Well, first of all, polling -- recent polling shows his popularity is slipping among young people. This is the group that got him elected in 2008. A lot of frustration among this group. So the president trying to get them energized and geared up for the midterm elections -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And, as you correctly point out, it wasn't just MTV, it was also BET and CMT.
LOTHIAN: That's right.
BLITZER: They co-sponsored this town hall event that just wrapped up.
Who picked the audience?
How did that happen?
LOTHIAN: Well, Wolf, you know, there was a bit of controversy with that because it was going around that there was a casting call, much like you would have for Hollywood shows, to get these seats filled.
And, in fact, what happened was that MTV sent out an invitation Backstage, which is an online resource for actors and actresses and other performers, picked it up, put it on their Web site and put a title on it as a casting call when, in fact, MTV says there was no casting call.
But I can tell you that these young people were prescreened, according to officials over at MTV. They had to send in their name, a picture of themselves and even had had to show up for a face-to-face interview. Five hundred people were screened and they picked 250 -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Dan Lothian over at the White House. His colleague, Suzanne Malveaux, a chance to speak with Debra Lee, the head of BET. That report coming up later this hour.
But let's move on to Chile and to the 33 most famous miners in the world right now. They're recovering. They're readjusting to life outside their small, dark, underground prison.
CNN's Gary Tuchman is joining us now live from Chile with the latest.
They're all freed -- what a -- what an amazing story, Gary, you helped bring to our viewers here in the United States and around the world.
What's going on right now?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a great story, Wolf. And we still feel great about it the next day. It's one of the rare breaking news, hard news stories that is just a good news story. It makes everyone feel great, particularly here in Chile, where they are celebrating.
All the miners had to go to the hospital. It was mandated. And the very good news -- more good news -- is that there are no major health problems with any of these miners. The most serious problem, one of the miners has a slight case of pneumonia. (AUDIO GAP).
BLITZER: Unfortunately, it looks like our signal with Gary went down. We're going to -- to definitely try to clean that up. Maybe he's back -- Gary, are you there?
TUCHMAN: Do you hear me now, Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes, I hear you.
TUCHMAN: Can you see me?
BLITZER: I hear you. Go ahead. We hear you and we see you.
TUCHMAN: Aha. OK. I went down to some of the celebrating people in Chile and walked by our satellite dish and then blocked the signal. That could happen and we forgive them for it, because we've gone through so much happiness here in this country.
But what I was saying was no serious medical conditions whatsoever for the 33 miners. One has a small case of pneumonia, we're being told. Two are having dental work done. Not a big surprise. They were in the mine a long time and might need dental work anyway. And there are some with skin conditions. This is all from the Chilean health minister.
What's the biggest complaint we're hearing from any of the miners?
We're being told that Mario Sepulveda, the second miner who was pulled out of the mine, he has a complaint in the hospital. And his complaint is, please, don't treat me like a celebrity. I'm a common man. I'm a miner. So it's all good news from the hospital -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Is there any possibility any of these 33 will actually go back to work as a miner?
I know that's what some of them are saying.
But what are you hearing?
TUCHMAN: Well, I would guess, just based on other mine stories we've covered -- and most of them have been bad stories -- that a lot of people will not go back. That doesn't mean some won't go back, because it -- it's their life. It's what they know. It's what's being -- it's what's done for generations all over the world -- fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers.
However, the Chilean government have made it very clear they're going to provide for these miners. They say -- they're saying they took care of them for 10 weeks.
By the way, the horn you hear honking -- yes, this is a good shot. We're just going to show it to you, Wolf. These are celebrating family members. As you can see, we're still at Camp Hope right now. That guy is blowing a horn, flying the Chilean flag. You can see him. I mean this goes with exactly what I was saying at the beginning of this -- the beginning of this live report. People are celebrating all o -- all over the country. But the Chilean government says they will provide for these miners financially, medically, psychologically.
So will any of them go back?
We'll just have to wait and see.
BLITZER: Gary Tuchman did an outstanding job.
He's still on the ground for us. And we're going to check back with him -- Gary, thanks very much.
I want to also alert our viewers that the health minister of Chile will have a briefing at the top of the hour on the -- on the condition of these 33 miners. And we'll, of course, have coverage for you on that. Don't go too far away.
So many of us have been riveted to the miners' story, especially over the past 48 hours, as they finally saw daylight again.
Our own Brian Todd went over to the news -- Newseum here in Washington to check out the coverage from around the world -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We, there were so many compelling layers to the miners' rescue and layers even in the news coverage. You know, we dealt with the live feeds and the dramatic live pictures of the rescue taking place and the miners getting out of the capsule.
But another really cool layer was the newspaper coverage and the pictures in time that they captured.
Look at this from "The Charlotte Observer." The miner, Esteban Rojas, embracing his wife just after he got out. They really range from a menagerie of pictures and headlines to something very simple and yet compelling.
Look at this one from "The Oregonian." Look at this great snapshot -- the relatives of one of the miners, Dario Segovia, and their faces as he gets out. Really a great picture -- a moment in time. And check out this one -- you know, again, a real range of the way they handled this in the newspapers. But this one from "The Virginian Pilot" -- a simple headline, big bold letters and another great picture -- the same guy, miner Esteban Rojas, just as he gets out of the capsule, kneeling and praying.
A great sampling of some of the headlines here -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brian. Thanks very much.
I want to also have this programming note for our viewers. The story that's really captured the world's attention. And you can relieve the entire drama in an "A.C. 360" special, "Countdown To Rescue." It will air tomorrow night -- tomorrow night here on CNN at 10 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 Pacific -- once again, tomorrow night.
Nancy Pelosi and the mid-term elections are on Jack Cafferty's mind this hour.
Jack is joining us with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could wind up doing in her own party in the midterm elections. Jonathan Allen writing for Politico how Pelosi, even more so than President Obama, could be the heaviest drag on the Democrats' hopes of holding onto the House come November.
All around the country, Republicans are using Pelosi's image on billboards and mailers and in video clips to encourage voters not support the Democratic candidate.
In Florida, billboards show one Democrat as a marionette with Pelosi as you the puppeteer. And the National Republican Congressional Committee is airing anti-Pelosi ads in dozens of Congressional districts that show how often a Democratic lawmaker has voted with Nancy Pelosi.
Mid-term elections are usually seen as a referendum on the president. But Allen writes that, "if the Democrats lose the House, it's as likely to be a rejection of Nancy Pelosi, one of the most unpopular figures in U.S. politics today."
An expert says the strategy of demonizing Nancy Pelosi didn't work for the Republicans in the last two elections, but this time around, it just might. He says the vitriol against Pelosi is similar to what Democrats showed against Newt Gingrich. Democrats are feeling the pressure, too. Several of them have already said that they will not vote for Pelosi as speaker in the next Congress. Of course, that's depending on whether they keep control of the House or not. Other Democrats insist the GOP is pouncing on Nancy Pelosi because she's been so successful, passing legislation like health care and Wall Street reform.
Anyway, here's the question -- how much might House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hurt the Democrats in the midterm elections?
Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and post a comment on my blog.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty, thanks very, very much.
President Obama is admitting to a mistake that could have a big impact on the economy and jobs. We'll let you know what he's saying.
Also, is Senator Barbara Boxer in lockstep with the president?
She's standing by to talk to us about her tough reelection campaign.
And chasing down a Tea Party favorite -- you're going to find out why it was so tough for our own Jessica Yellin to catch up with GOP Senate candidate, Sharron Angle, in Nevada.
BLITZER: The president and Michelle Obama are planning a one-two punch to try to help Senator Barbara Boxer get reelected. They are scheduled to make campaign appearances for the California Democrat this month. Senator Boxer is facing a tough challenge from Republican businesswoman Carly Fiorina.
The latest Reuters poll, by the way, shows Senator Boxer leading by only 4 points. I spoke with Carly Fiorina earlier in the week, let's speak to Senator Boxer right now, she is joining us from California.
Thanks very much, Senator, for coming in.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks for the invitation, Wolf.
BLITZER: Some Democrats don't want the president to come into their states or districts to campaign for them, but you want the president there, right?
BOXER: The president and the first lady are very popular in California. Californians understand this president inherited the worst recession since the Great Depression. They are rooting for us all to get this country back on track.
BLITZER: Is there any issue that comes to mind that you disagree with the president on right now? BOXER: Yes. In Afghanistan, I am supportive of legislation that would say, let's get an exit strategy in writing so that we know we are really moving to bring those troops home. You know, I do believe in nation-helping, not nation-building. We have to rebuild our own nation.
So I think on that, there's a bit of a difference.
BLITZER: What about on domestic issues like economic issues, job creation, health care, do you disagree with him on any of those things?
BOXER: Well, I did push hard when we did the economic recovery act for some more infrastructure dollars. So, I pushed very hard for that and we did compromise on that. I would have liked to have seen more of that.
But I think the president is right when he says, let's stop giving tax breaks to companies who ship jobs overseas, give them to companies that create jobs here at home. So, there's a lot of agreement and a few places of disagreement.
BLITZER: Your opponent, and I interviewed her earlier, Carly Fiorina, she says basically this charge about you, you have heard it from her directly, that you're simply a career politician who has no experience in the real world creating jobs.
I will play this little clip, what she told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLY FIORINA (R), CALIFORNIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Where has Barbara Boxer been? For the last six years, the last 12 years, the last 18 years, the last 28 years that she has been in Washington, D.C., where has is she been? Where she has been is voting for more taxes, voting for more borrowing and spending.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Your chance to respond to her.
BOXER: Well, she is just wrong on that. I voted for over $2 trillion of tax cuts, the largest one was in the stimulus bill.
But I have to say, she talks about 12 years. Look, I was there in 1992 and I supported Bill Clinton. And we know that in that period of time, those budgets that I voted for and those economic policies created 23 million jobs, the best in modern history. That's the fact. And we not only balanced the budget, we created surpluses.
Then you had George W. come in -- Bush, George W. Bush come in, and in about, you know, a few minutes, it felt like, we saw those surpluses disappear. We saw a horrible record of job creation, the worse since the Great Depression, only a million new jobs. And at the end of the Bush term, 700,000 jobs a month bleeding.
So she is just wrong. And you know, she acts as if I didn't get --
BLITZER: When you say --
BOXER: -- elected -- I got elected.
BLITZER: Excuse me for interrupting.
BOXER: Wolf, I got elected all of those times, and I'm hoping to get elected this time.
BLITZER: But when you say you supported $2 trillion in tax cuts during the stimulus --
BOXER: Tax cuts. Yes, I have --
BLITZER: Tax cuts?
BOXER: During my career.
BLITZER: Oh, during your career. I thought you just said during the --
BLITZER: -- stimulus. When you said you supported $2 trillion --
BOXER: No, no, no, 1.2 -- 1.2 trillion with the stimulus.
BLITZER: There was $1.2 trillion in tax cuts in the stimulus?
BOXER: There was a lot. About -- well, I will put it this way, over time, that's what it will be, when you figure all of the tax cuts over time. And what we did for the -- for the senior citizens, giving them back those refunds. So there was a lot. Actually, a third of the stim was direct tax cuts. That I can tell you.
BLITZER: Yes, but that would be maybe $200 million or $300 million. We're not talking about a trillion.
BOXER: So let me say this, a third of the stim and over my time -- let me correct it, you are right, thank you -- 2.2 trillion I voted in tax cuts, 1.2 trillion of which became law. A third of the stim was tax cuts and it was considered the biggest tax cut in history over a couple of year period.
BLITZER: All right. Let's get into some other issues, including the issue of abortion rights for women.
In this same interview I had with Carly Fiorina, she made this point about you. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FIORINA: Well, I personally am pro-life. And I know that not all women agree with me, but it is Barbara Boxer who is extreme in her views here. She supports partial-birth abortions. She says that babies don't have rights until they leave hospitals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is that true?
BOXER: No, it is not true. Here's the thing that's so interesting. Wolf, Roe v. Wade, which decriminalized abortion in the early stages of a pregnancy, that passed the Supreme Court in 1973. My opponent wants to overturn Roe V. Wade, making women and doctors criminals.
She raised the issue. She already has the right to life group in here sending mailers against me. She has got the Susan B. Anthony group doing that. She has distorted my position. I voted for the Feinstein Amendment, which would say no late-term abortions whatsoever except for the health of the mother.
I'm a mother, I'm a grandma. Listen, I have got to say, she has raised the issue by being so extreme that we went back to look at every senator who ever represented the state of California, Republican or Democratic, and for decades everyone has been pro-choice.
She would -- she would come in there saying she wants to repeal Roe v. Wade. It's an extraordinary difference between the two of us.
BLITZER: On the issue of gay marriage, you support gay marriage, right?
BOXER: Yes. I do.
BLITZER: She supports civil unions.
On the issue of legalizing marijuana, that is a big issue in California right now, it's on the ballot, where do you stand?
BOXER: I support California's current law. I do not support legalizing the marijuana, so I'm against that initiative.
BLITZER: But you do support the current law in the sense that for medical purposes, people can get prescriptions to use marijuana?
BOXER: I do. I do.
BLITZER: What's your biggest --
BOXER: I do. And that was voted -- and I might say that was voted on by the people.
BLITZER: What is your biggest problem with Carly Fiorina? What is the single biggest difference that you have with her on a substantive issue?
BOXER: She's running on her record at Hewlett-Packard. She doesn't tell people she was fired from that job. She doesn't tell people she laid off 30,000 workers and she shipped American jobs abroad to China, to India. She was proud to stamp "made in China," Made in India." And I want to see the words "made in America" again.
BLITZER: She makes --
BOXER: And I think that's really --
BLITZER: -- the point -- I'll just -- I'll just --
BOXER: I think that's really the biggest difference.
BLITZER: I'll just tell you what she told me the other day. She says that the six years she was the head of Hewlett-Packard, when she came in, there was X-number of jobs, there were more jobs that she he created when she left, even though there was a down period during the dot-com bubble and she had to lay off some people. But more people were working there when she left than when she started.
BOXER: She created jobs in China instead of Chino and Chico. She created jobs in India instead of Indio, California. She created jobs, but not in America. And she said she would do it all over again. And she said there's no God-given right to a job in America anymore.
And she doesn't have the heart for these times we are going through, so I think that is the biggest difference, but there are lots of others too.
BLITZER: And this campaign will continue for another two-and-a- half weeks.
BOXER: Yes. Senator Boxer, thanks very much for coming in.
BOXER: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: We are monitoring some other top stories, including a major development in the military's controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The federal government has just taken new action.
Plus, the drugstore CVS now admitting to illegally selling a chemical used to make methamphetamines, the details coming up.
BLITZER: Fredricka Whitfield is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now, including a major fine for CVS Pharmacy.
Fred, what is going on?
FREDRICKA WHITEFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is right, very big, Wolf. CVS has admitted to illegally distributing a chemical in some cold medicines used to make the drug methamphetamine. As part of an agreement with federal prosecutors, the company will pay $75 million in civil penalties. It will also forfeit the $2.6 million in profits earned as a result of the illegal sales. CVS is the biggest operator of retail pharmacies in the United States.
And the U.S. Justice Department is appealing a federal court ruling that struck down the military's controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The government says the emergency stay it's requesting would allow for an orderly transition to a new policy where gay men and women could serve openly. President Obama says the current law is discriminatory, but says Congress, not the courts, should change the policy.
And eight NATO troops are dead following a string of insurgent attacks across Afghanistan. This brings the total number of foreign troops death there to 14 in the past two days alone. The violence comes as a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll reveals that 58 percent of Americans now oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan while only 37 percent support it.
And if your kids are graduating from college soon, you may not want to turn their room into a den just yet. A new Pew Research Center poll shows that a whopping 85 percent of people who graduated from college in May actually plan to move back home. The number of boomerangers, as they're being called, is up because why, so many college grads simply can't find a job, Wolf.
BLITZER: Boomerangers, I haven't heard that word before.
WHITFIELD: Oh, you haven't? Oh, yes, boomerangers.
BLITZER: Boomers I know, but --
WHITFIELD: Boomerangers, coming back, you know? You toss them out and they're coming back.
BLITZER: Just want to point out, I like the pearls.
WHITFIELD: Oh, you do?
BLITZER: Yes, very nice.
WHITFIELD: Thanks, just for you.
BLITZER: Fredricka Whitfield, don't go far away.
In Nevada right now, Republican Sharron Angle has a shot bringing down the top Senate Democrat. So why was she trying to avoid our own Jessica Yellin? What was going on?
And some advice for President Obama on winning back support from African-American voters, some of whom feel frustrated and let down.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: This just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM, the president of Chile saying the remarkable miner rescue cost between $10 million and $20 million but he says every single penny was worth it. He visited with the 33 men, all in the hospital today. We are told they are all together in one room and in good health, considering certainly what they went through. The hospital official says three miners are being released today. Many more will be sent home tomorrow. He spoke just a short while ago about their physical and mental health.
JORGE MONTES, COPIAGO REGIONAL HOSPITAL SUBDIRECTOR (through translator): The psychological state of people is something you cannot foresee. We know that they were subject to great stress for two months so we are not going to see immediately what problems may develop from that.
BLITZER: We're learning more about their life underground at the same time before their emotional rescue. Among other things it turns out some miners wanted to send more than one note to let the world know they were alive, including some asking for food, but they finally agreed to stick with their original plan to send one note, an example of how they managed to work together under these extremely difficult conditions. We're going to have much more on this day the first day of their total freedom coming up later in THE SITUATION ROOM. We have got more information. We'll go back live to Chile as well.
Other news we are following right now, political news in Nevada tonight, a one time only political event, the Senate majority leader Harry Reid debates his Republican opponent, the tea party movement favorite, Sharron Angle. Polls show the two are in a close battle and Angle just might topple the top Senate Democrat. Our national correspondent Jessica Yellin is in Las Vegas right now. She had a chance to speak with both of the candidates over the past few hours. Tell us about this opportunity you had to catch up, literally, with Sharron Angle. Tell us how that worked out.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is probably the most ferociously competitive Senate race in the nation with the campaigns and money here on overdrive and still, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate here, Sharron Angle, is very hard to come by. She has publicly said she does not like speaking to the press, tries not to whenever she can, so we weren't able to get an interview with her. Instead, we got a tip that she would be speaking, it was actually yesterday, she would be speaking at an event so we went there stood in public view, in front of the event for more than an hour. Finally, a car with her in it pulled up and when we saw it we started walking to the car, openly, calmly and then they hit the gas and took off. Our cameraman saw the car pull away about a block and hide behind some bushes. Before we knew it one of her campaign aides approaches us back at the site and says, hey the candidate is running late, she will be here in a little bit and the next thing we know, she has entered inside through another door. It was the most hide and go seek unusual scenario I have ever experienced as a political reporter trying to find a candidate.
But they did eventually say, look, we know you are not leaving and we will let you speak with her. So, we did get a chance to ask her a couple quick questions, one of the questions I asked Wolf is something we have covered on CNN, her claim, Sharron Angle, the Republican Senate candidate, claim that there is Sharia law, religious fundamental Islamic law practiced in two cities in the United States. I asked her where's her proof.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARRON ANGLE (R), NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE: All I had was just some articles that I read that there were some things that were happening that indicated that there might be something like that going on. I'm not, of course, an expert in what goes on in any municipality but certainly, I believe in the freedom of religion. And none should be persecuted for their religion.
YELLIN: What would your remedy be if you believe there is Sharia law?
ANGLE: I'm not prepared to go into hypotheticals with you. That is my statement on what we were talking about that day, certainly, it is not a widespread problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I know they have a big debate today but you also caught one Harry Reid. What's he saying?
YELLIN: Well, Wolf, he is, first of all, defending his record on the economy. As you know, this state has the highest unemployment rate in the nation and he will certainly be asked many questions about his work on behalf of Nevada voters but also he will try to attack Sharron Angle for comments like those she made to us. His argument is she is too extreme, in his view, his words, she has wild views and he gave examples to me when I spoke to him as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: Not for days, weeks, not for months but for years and she has been very proud of how she has talked about getting rid of the department of education, the department of energy, privatizing the veterans administration. She thinks presidential proclamations, that is executive orders, are unconstitutional, like the emancipation proclamation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: All eyes will be on this race this debate tonight. Both sides say their standard for success is no major gaffes.
BLITZER: You didn't have to play hide and go seek with Harry Reid, did you?
YELLIN: I did not. They scheduled an appointment and an interview.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for that, Jessica Yellin in Las Vegas for us. President Obama is admitting to making a mistake that could cost him big time with big business. We will talk about where he says he may have gone wrong.
And the flash points from the Delaware Senate debate, Democrat Chris Coons dealt with the Senate majority leader, calling him pet.
BLITZER: Now the race for Delaware Senate seat, one of the hottest in the country right now. Last night at a debate I co- moderated at the University of Delaware, the Democratic candidate, Chris Coons, and the Republican candidate, the tea party favorite, Christine O'Donnell, they faced off. Here is how the candidates addressed the issue of ending partisanship in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE O'DONNELL (R), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: I would like my party to be here on this stage to win nomination and to some extents, I am still might fighting my party. So my -- when I go to Washington, my allegiance will be to the voters of Delaware, not any special interests. My whole campaign has been about returning the political process back to the people of Delaware and to me, that's great thing. So, what I would do is I would stand strong on legislation that benefits the interests of our citizens, not the special interests in Washington, D.C.
BLITZER: On this specific issue and Ms. O'Donnell raised it earlier, I will give you a chance to explain, says Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, has called his pet.
CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: I don't know why Harry Reid said that. I'm nobody's pet. I'm going to be a bulldog for Delaware. I'm running to represent all Delawareans, of every party, not just the Democrats. I have a significant amount of support from independents, from Republicans, from Democrats, from all three counties. I have a record of independence and of fighting for the public interest as county executive and I would continue that in Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's talk about this debate with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; she was there at the University of Delaware with me last night a good substantive 90-minute debate.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It was fun.
BLITZER: Did you think there was a clear win, a clear loser?
BORGER: You know, in the end, it probably didn't change many people's minds, Wolf. I don't know what you think sitting there around the table, but I think that she had some trouble on substance. He could not hide his disdain for her as a candidate. And I think that could cause him a little bit of problem with women. What we saw in that clip now, both going after those independent voters. I don't know how many time Chris Coons used the word independent, but it is clear they understand that there is a group of voters up for grabs, but you have a 19-point differential, as there is right now, it is a very heavy lift.
BLITZER: Only two and a half weeks.
BORGER: For her to make up. She really had to hit it out of the park. She was quite aggressive in going after him, but I don't think that she could make up that kind of deficit with that kind of performance.
BLITZER: We pushed for specifics.
BORGER: You did.
BLITZER: On several key issues. We got some. But do the voters really care about that kind of stuff, you think?
BORGER: Well, I think they do care about specifics right now. She, for example, you asked her, if I recall, about the deficit. And you said to her, okay, let's not talk about waste, fraud and abuse, let's talk about how you're going to reduce the deficit. What did she say?
BLITZER: She gave me examples and then she went to waste, fraud and abuse.
BORGER: Exactly. She went to waste, fraud and abuse and then she wasn't as specific as she probably should have been. When you asked foreign policy questions, there was a bit of a problem. On the other hand, he had the problem because he has raised taxes as county executive in Newcastle. So I think people are listening but right now these are two candidates they don't know well.
BLITZER: When you say he was sort of dismissive and haughty, some thought he was arrogant and might turn off women voter. Some thought that happened to Al Gore, as you remember, during his debate.
BLITZER: But elaborate a little bit you why think so.
BORGER: I don't know if you felt at the table but a couple of times you asked some questions and he said I don't even know what the question was from her answer or you clearly don't understand AAA bonds, right? So I think he let her get under his skin. Did you sense that there? Did you feel an anger from him?
BLITZER: He takes her seriously because he knows she beat Mike Castle in that Republican primary. Mike Castle didn't attack her as directly as he does. He is running, even know 19 points ahead, I suspect he is running as if he thinks it is tied.
BORGER: Let me ask you, I know you guys spent a lot of time on the questions, how did you sort of figure out whether to ask the question about the ad, the witch ad versus foreign policy?
BLITZER: We wanted to get through the substantive issues, the most important economic issues, job issues, national security but we couldn't ignore some of those other issues as well with, we thought long and hard.
BORGER: You followed up on that evolution question which I also think was quite important.
BLITZER: I wanted her to clarify and she didn't exactly clarify on that point.
BORGER: She did not.
BLITZER: We followed up with the pet question to him as well, why Harry Reid calls him my favorite pet.
BORGER: He didn't have an answer. Maybe you should ask Harry Reid.
BLITZER: Gloria, thanks very much.
We're standing by, by the way, to hear live from Sarah Palin. Will the GOP star reveal whether she plans to run for president in 2012? She is getting ready to deliver a speech.
And the world witnessed their dramatic return to the world. Now new revelations about some of the personal lives of the Chilean miners.
BLITZER: President Obama speaking candidly about his last two years, nearly two years in the White House. He is acknowledging there have been lessons learned and mistakes made. An interview with the "New York Times" magazine comes as the White House is struggling right now to assure Wall Street executives that the president is not against big business. Let's talk about all of this and more with our senior political analyst David Gergen. He joining us from his office at Harvard University in Cambridge.
David, thanks very much. Let me read to you from the article Peter Baker writes in this coming Sunday's "New York Times" magazine. "Obama told me he had no regrets about the broad direction of his presidency but he did identify what he called tactical lessons. He let himself look too much like the same old tax and spend liberal Democrat. He realized too late that there's no such thing as shovel- ready projects when it comes to public works." He is trying to deal with big business at the same time but I take it he is having some serious problems reassuring them that he is on their side.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He is having very big problems with that, Wolf. I have had the opportunity the last few weeks to meet with a number of CEOs, a number of business groups, many fields, Wall Street yesterday and others and I can tell you that the kind of disappointment that people felt early on has turned to alienation and it has hardened, the attitudes of business have hardened. I think I have had four or five major CEOs in a row speaking almost in identical language about how alienate they had feel. They think he hates them. They think he doesn't understand their world. That he and some of the other people around him think the world works one way and they, in Wall Street and elsewhere, think it works another way and they can't persuade them. It is not a question of disagreeing over tactics, they disagree over broad directions.
BLITZER: They say the White House, accord to this article by Peter Baker, they're trying to do Obama 2.0 now. How does he restore that relationship with big business?
GERGEN: Well, one hopeful sign is, Wolf, several sources have told me that the president has had at least two and maybe more individual high-level from the business community come in and meet with him one-on-one, nobody else around, for searching conversations. They have been very quiet, secretive meetings and I'm told in there, he is asking, where do you think I have gone right? Where do you think I have gone wrong? Help me think this through. What should we do? That is a hopeful sign that is a president who is trying to you know, sort of figure out how do I get this better in the next two years? But I must tell you there is a feeling among some major CEOs that he is a little lost, that he came in and was -- he was inexperienced, he wasn't quite sure how the world worked, he tried some things that he thought as many young people do you can do everything, you know, you can do anything you want and he tried, had had this hugely ambitious agenda. He got himself off course, now he has got an economy in a mess and he's not quite sure what to do next.
BLITZER: We'll see what happens together with you David. Thanks very much, David joining us from Harvard.
GERGEN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Foreclosures are rising to record levels right now, and there's growing fear that a second mortgage debacle may be in the works.
BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack with the Cafferty file. Jack?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question this hour is how much might speaker Nancy Pelosi hurt the Democrats in the midterm elections?
Frank in California, "I think she will significantly hurt the Democratic Party in the midterms. I live in the San Francisco bay area. I know how liberal and divisive she is as a politician. The Democratic Party made a mistake having the most liberal politician from the most left-leaning city in the liberal California to be their speaker of the house. It's difficult to sell her in California. It'll be nearly impossible to sell her brand of politics in middle America." Jacques writes, "Pelosi seems to be the face of the enemy for the Republicans this cycle the same way that Bush was the face of the enemy for the Democrats in the last cycle. She an easy target, and politicians love easy targets. Much easier to do the guilt by association thing, than, you know, to actually discuss the real issues."
Steve in California, "I'm a registered Democrat, but Pelosi is the problem. She hijacked the president's guidance and policy direction which resulted in the nationwide disdain for incumbents and gave the tea party legs."
Sherry in Indiana writes, "How could she make it worse? Silly to blame Pelosi for what the Democrats as a group have done as a country. She did not do it alone, and she may have led the lambs to slaughter, but if they weren't sheep, they would not have followed. The Dems could hear the people saying no. They ignored their constituents. Time to pay the piper."
Mike says, "Does anybody notice the very qualities that help somebody become speaker makes it impossible for somebody to be speaker. Think Newt. Pelosi is from the same mold."
Al in Delaware, "Every time I look at your questions you always have something derogatory to say about President Obama and the Democrats. Meanwhile, you have the bat crazy lunatics over in the Republican tea party saying all kinds of idiotic crap. Why don't you rag on them once in a while? Is the Fox noise channel paying you under the table?"
Jack writes, "Holy moley, Jack, what an idea. If the Democrats want to scare people in return, they could put John Boehner's photo on the nation's billboards. That overly tanned blowhard's the poster boy for remembering why not to elect Republicans."
And D. writes, "Nancy and Harry will put the cap and trade on their own party."
If you want to read more, you will find it on my blog at CNN.com/Caffertyfile.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you.
President Obama meanwhile is trying to make amends with African- American voters. He is getting advice on what he needs to do.
BLITZER: White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux has more on President Obama's town hall meeting today with youth voters. Suzanne?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Wolf. The president's town hall is aimed to recapture two critical groups African-Americans and young voters. I had an opportunity to sit down and talk to the CEO of BET Debra Lee about the president needs to see what motivate black voters to go to the polls for the midterm elections.
MALVEAUX: Does it seem like it's a little bit late to get young black voters involved in paying attention to the midterm elections?
DEBRA LEE, CEO, BET: I hope not it's too late. I think BET played a major role in helping to get out the youth vote in the last presidential election. I know some people are disillusioned and I hope he can motivate folks to get out and vote, again.
MALVEAUX: Candidate Obama motivated 65 percent of black voters to go to the polls in 2008, 2 million more than the previous presidential election. The White House is hoping that even a modest uptick of blacks at the polls for the midterm elections could save some Democratic seats. Two years ago an overwhelming 96 percent of blacks voted for Obama, but does he still enjoy that same support today?
Your audience, they are frustrated from the president and want to see more from him?
LEE: Well, there is a sense of frustration and it was captured very well by the African-American woman who spoke at his last town hall.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am exhausted. I am exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for and deeply disappointed with where we are right now.
MALVEAUX: What are you hearing from them, what are you hearing are some of the social ills or the frustrations that particularly young black people who watch BET and what they are experiencing?
LEE: Well, I think the biggest issue right now is jobs.
MALVEAUX: A staggering 41 percent of black teenagers are unemployed. Lee says as CEO of a major corporation, she also wants to see the Obama administration do more for big business.
LEE: I was excited very early on that this administration was reaching out to business leaders and especially, myself, as an African-American woman, and really trying to listen to what the issues are. I think the disconnect has been, how do you listen, understand the issues, and take it to solutions.
MALVEAUX (on camera): What does he need to understand better?
LEE: How business works.
MALVEAUX: Well, Wolf, President Obama is going to continue to highlight the accomplishments over the last two years, namely health care, as well as trying to get the economic recovery going. He is going to make the case here that people need to go out to support the Democrats in these midterm elections in order to help see his agenda through -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux, thank you.