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THE SITUATION ROOM

Pelosi Discusses the Political Power Shift; Michael Steele on the RNC Elections; The Politics of the Arizona Shooting; Trump's Tough Words for China; The First Gulf War 20 Years Later

Aired January 22, 2011 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Nancy Pelosi leads the Democrats' defense of healthcare reform. But House Republicans vote for repeal anyway. The former speaker joins us for a wide-ranging interview in her new role as minority leader.

Gabrielle Giffords takes the fight of her life to a new level and new city. Two weeks after the Tucson shooting, the local sheriff explains why Giffords had no police protection on that tragic day.

And Donald Trump lets loose on China, accusing Communist leaders of ripping off the United States. Is he angry and frustrated enough, though, to run for president? I'll ask him.

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

It was issue number one for House Republicans. And this week they pushed ahead on their promise to repeal the healthcare reform law. After a sharp debate, the lawmakers voted to turn back the clock on the president's key achievements. The fight now moves to the Democratic-controlled Senate where odds against a successful repeal effort would seem insurmountable.

With the battle joined, I sat down for a wide-ranging interview with the former speaker of the House, now the Democrats' minority leader, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Madam leader, thanks very much for joining us.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: My pleasure.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the repeal of the healthcare reform law.

Our brand new CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll, out today, shows 50 percent of the American public want to repeal all provisions, all provisions, in the new health care law, 42 percent oppose.

Why does the American public believe repeal is the way to go?

PELOSI: Welt, I'm not sure I completely agree with-there are polls and there are polls that show a different trend. But the fact is that overwhelmingly the American people support ending discrimination on the basis of a preexisting medical condition. They oppose lifetime limits, even annual limits, on care for people. A patient protections that's in the bill are wildly and widely supported by the American people.

BLITZER: Except in this poll it shows that maybe the way it was put together, the whole package, they don't like. Because even Independents, even -- forget about Democrats and Republicans, but Independents there's a majority of Independents who oppose the health care law, wanted whole thing repealed.

PELOSI: Well, let me say this. You're saying maybe the way the bill was put together. Maybe the way the poll was put together. But the fact is that what we are hearing from people, and what we've heard most recently today in our hearing, from people who are directly affected; if you're a woman with breast cancer, a man with prostate cancer, if you are a parent with children who turn 23, and now can stay on their parents' policy until they're 26 years old, the list goes on and on of strong support for patient protections that are in the legislation.

Those protections cannot happen unless you have comprehensive health insurance. So we'll still continue to make the case to the American people, but the strongest, most eloquent voices are those of people who are directly affected. Just think of it. Any one of us, any one of us, is one phone call, one diagnosis, one accident away from needing health care, and up to 129 million Americans, under the age of 65, have a preexisting medical condition. And 17 million of them are children.

BLITZER: Remember a year ago, during the height of the debate, you said that once the American public sees what's in this bill they'll begin to like it. Well, they're now seeing what's in the bill, but according to this poll and other polls, they don't like it.

PELOSI: Well, they're getting to like it better.

BLITZER: I'm not sure. The polls don't necessarily say that.

PELOSI: Well, your poll doesn't.

BLITZER: Other polls, too.

PELOSI: Well, on specific elements of it. In September, as you know, lifting the discrimination for children with preexisting conditions from having access to health insurance is very popular.

BLITZER: I guess the bottom line, who failed in explaining all of these things to the American public? Why are they saying repeal?

PELOSI: Well, I think some of this takes time because it is change, and there has been fear mongering associated with it. We all know that. Issues that have nothing to do with the bill but used effectively by the insurance industry to use some issues to pay-to protect them, protect the health insurance industry.

BLITZER: Could you the Democrats and the president have done a better job of explaining this to the American public?

BLITZER: I think in the House of Representatives we saved healthcare reform. We had town meetings. We had media events across the country in August of last year. I believe the House of Representative Democrats saved health care reform. The long time it took in the Senate because of the obstruction of Republican senators, gave an opportunity. But you know what, we have to look forward. What we're looking forward to is to saying to people, in your own life, this is what this means to you. And we will stand firm against any attempts to prevent you from having access to quality healthcare. It's no use looking back and assigning blame. It's about taking responsibility for the future.

BLITZER: So what would you do to improve this law, to make it more acceptable to the American public, a specific example?

PELOSI: I think the law is a very good law. No law is perfect.

BLITZER: So what would you do to make it?

PELOSI: Well, one thing that we tried to do and tried to pass in the House but the Republicans resisted was to repeal the 1099 provisions in the bill, that affect small businesses. I think that's one place where we have bipartisan agreement, but not enough Republican support to pass it in the House of Representatives, which required two-thirds. That, for one, would be a place for --

BLITZER: But are you open to legislation to improve it?

PELOSI: We're always open to legislation. This is not theology. It's not ideology. It's problem-solving for the American people. If people have ideas about how to help solve those problems in a better way, then we're open to it. But understanding that this is about patients' rights, not about health insurance company profits.

BLITZER: How worried are you that the courts will say it's unconstitutional, the mandate part, that you must purchase health insurance?

PELOSI: The argument for a mandate is if that you're going to lower price and improve the access and improve the quality of care, you have to increase the risk pool. You have to get more people in the pool to lower the cost and spread the risk. So that is essential to patient protections. We believe the way the bill was written was constitutional.

BLITZER: Do you think the courts will go along? How worried are you about that?

PELOSI: Well, I'm not worried about it. The court-most of the courts-there have been 14 decisions, 12 have just not addressed it, one went against us, one went in favor of us. Something like that. It's part of the fight. But this is about change. It's about changing a leverage from the special interest to the people's interest. They will always challenge, whether it's in the court, in the court of public opinion, wherever. But this is very important for us to protect, for what it means, to the American people.

BLITZER: The other day, not that many days away from now, 87 freshmen Republicans were sworn in to the House of Representatives, nine freshman Democrats were sworn in. What a lopsided victory for the Republicans.

PELOSI: Yes, it was.

BLITZER: You know a lot of those Republicans say they were sworn in because they ran against you.

PELOSI: Oh, they were sworn in because we had 9.5 percent unemployment in our country. That is the overwhelming reason.

BLITZER: But you saw the nasty ads some of them going after you.

PELOSI: Yes I did. Very personal and very threatening.

BLITZER: Talking about a witch, or whatever they were saying.

PELOSI: Very threatening.

BLITZER: There was one example calling you the wicked witch, another 50 foot Pelosi--

PELOSI: This was in my own district and I got over 80 percent of the vote. Let me say this-

BLITZER: How did you feel personally, on a personal level how do you feel?

PELOSI: I really don't-I mean from a standpoint of reaction, I care about what happens to the American people as a result of the Republicans being in charge. And where they've been before. But you know what? Let's look forward and hope for the best and wish them well.

Secondly, I think that at this time it's no use rehashing what happened before. We lost tremendous talent in our caucus, and I'm concerned about that. We had to wave elections, we won 30, then we won 25 on that. They 60, some, we'll be back. As we look forward, we'll be back.

BLITZER: Well, you need a net gain in 2012 of 25 seats, and you'll be back in the majority.

PELOSI: Well, we want 30 on 30 in '06 and 25 in '08. But again let's look forward.

BLITZER: Let's look forward. Will you be the speaker of the House again?

PELOSI: The issue is-how-let's wish the Republicans well. If they can solve problems for the American people, we salute them, we extend a hand, as a willing partner to do so. Job creation, job creation, job creation. BLITZER: Issue number one.

PELOSI: We see that.

BLITZER: But in 2012 if you get a net gain of 25 seats the Democrats become the majority. Will Nancy Pelosi once again be the speaker of the House?

PELOSI: We live in the here and now. Our fight is to have firm opposition to their attempt to repeal patient protections that are in the healthcare bill. We are in the here and now to create jobs for the American people.

BLITZER: But I assume, like the great Speaker Sam Rayburn, you would like to be-he was speaker then minority leader, then speaker, then --

PELOSI: What's important to me is the Democrats are in the majority. But let's not worry about elections. Let's worry about results, solving problems for American people. If the Republican s can accomplish that, God bless them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: The Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

He's just been ousted after a controversial tenure. Now the former Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele still making waves. He'll explain why he thinks Karl Rove has been attacking him for years.

Also, the battle lines are forming for the next presidential race. And Donald Trump is watching it closely. Is he about to jump in? I'll ask him.

And he was one of the first law enforcement officials to speak out publicly after the Tucson massacre. And his remarks prompted a huge backlash. Does he stand by them? The Pima County Sheriff, standing by to join us this hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Michael Steele may still be adjusting to his new reality as the former chairman of Republican National Committee. Just days after he was forced out, he sat down and joined us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Michael, thank you for being here.

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIRMAN: Good to be with you, man.

BLITZER: What's the biggest single reason you believe why you were ousted? STEELE: I think there was just a lot of noise and grappling for control of the RNC. I think that I came in with a very clear mandate from the members to move the party in a different direction, to get it out of its doldrums, get us back in a fighting path, and with that comes a lot of contracts and a whole lot of other things that people wanted to make sure that they were at the table with.

And that's part of it. I think also my style is very different, much more engaged on the streets of America, as you saw in the bus tour, I like to be out there with people. So it's just a different approach and a different style.

BLITZER: The new chairman, Reince Priebus, is a very different style.

STEELE: Yes.

BLITZER: Listen to what Karl Rove wrote this week. He said, "Priebus has begun an extensive outreach to the GOP's fundraising poobahs to explain there's a new fiscal regime in place. No more bloated entourages, sweetheart deals, and lack of financial oversight."

What an attack from Karl Rove on you.

STEELE: Yes, well, Karl has been attacking me for years. You know, clearly he's --

BLITZER: Why?

STEELE: I don't know, you have to ask him that. I think the reality of it is Karl doesn't know what he was talking about.

The fact of it is there were no entourages, there were no bloated budgets. We ran a very lean machine. We took every dollar that came into the building and put it back on the streets where it belonged.

BLITZER: They say the RNC now is 20 million in the hole.

STEELE: As is every other political committee in this town. And we are not the only ones. In fact, we are right in the middle of the pack in terms of where the D -- the D -- the Democratic Party is, the Republican Senatorial Committee, as well as Congressional Committee.

The members asked me to put the money to work to win elections, to spend the money to win. Guess what. We won. Amazing.

BLITZER: So why did they dump you?

STEELE: Well --

BLITZER: I mean, that's what I've had a hard time understanding myself.

STEELE: Well, I've been trying to figure that out myself as well, and I think the reality of it is they wanted someone different in there, they wanted someone who probably had a different tone about them than I have, and so that's fine.

I'm looking to move the party in a position -- into a position where we continue to engage with our activist community out there, that we go out and we build off of the successes of this past two years.

BLITZER: Do you feel betrayed?

STEELE: Not so much betrayed, disappointed. Disappointed. The only thing I've ever wanted to do, Wolf, is to do the job. That's all I've ever asked to do.

And we did. We went out and raised $192 million. We did it differently because we did have 527s to contend with. We had a lot of folks out there saying don't give to the RNC, give to us, so we adapted.

BLITZER: But that was sort of a competition that was developed.

STEELE: Sure.

BLITZER: Whether it was Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie setting up their group, or Dick Armey setting up -- you're basically going after the same fat cat --

STEELE: You go after the same pot.

BLITZER: -- Republicans to get the money, and instead of giving to the RNC they were giving to these other organizations.

STEELE: And the difference is I -- if I've got a million dollars, I can give it to a 527, I can do that, I can get more bang for the buck than giving 30,000. But the RNC still needs that $30,000 to build its grassroots organizations around the country, and we got every dollar we could.

The other thing that we did that a lot of establishment folks like Karl and others don't get is that we not only took our volunteers and got them out there and engaged again, but they actually began to donate to the party. So a lot of small dollar donors came to the table as well.

BLITZER: Were you held to a different standard because you're a black man?

STEELE: That you'd have to ask those who hold those standards. I think --

BLITZER: What do you think?

STEELE: You know, I don't know. I mean, I think it's a hit or miss issue, hit or miss question.

I didn't look at my job in those terms. I looked at my job in terms of what did the members expect me to do -- raise money and win elections. I did, we won, and now I move on to other things. BLITZER: Because as I pointed out, you get dumped even though you win special elections --

STEELE: Yes.

BLITZER: -- in Virginia and New Jersey --

STEELE: New Jersey.

BLITZER: -- even Massachusetts.

STEELE: Hawaii.

BLITZER: You have a crushing landslide in November.

STEELE: Yes.

BLITZER: You get dumped. The chairman of the Democratic Party, Tim Kaine, he's a nice guy, good friend of yours --

STEELE: Great -- yes --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: I'm sure you like him a lot.

STEELE: I do.

BLITZER: but they do really badly and he gets to stay another two years.

STEELE: Yes.

BLITZER: How do you explain that?

STEELE: I can't. There's no -- but that's politics. There's no logic to it. It's only political, and I think the people of in the party, particularly the establishment, are breathing a sigh of relief. They have control of the RNC, now let's see what they do with it.

BLITZER: When you used to get spoofed on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart"--

STEELE: Yes.

BLITZER: You saw -- seen those --

STEELE: Oh, yes.

BLITZER: -- those little puppets.

STEELE: Yes.

BLITZER: I want to play a little clip. I want your reaction.

STEELE: OK. BLITZER: Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART" FROM COMEDY CENTRAL)

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": What do you make of your successor Reince Priebus?

"MICHAEL STEELE", PUPPET CHARACTER: Reince Priebus? Hs name makes no sense. It's jabibbilris.

I left the Republican Party $20 million in debt with virtually no accountability. I'd say it's time for me to head back to the street, Wall Street. Make it rain, Frasier Crane. Woo-woo. It's my birthday. Woo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He says he did the puppet thing because you didn't want to go on the show.

STEELE: No. I want to go on his show. I'd love to go on his show. You know, folks a little nervous about my going on his show because --

BLITZER: But you're the boss, you could have gone on his show.

STEELE: Well, look, you realize the boss has bosses. So, you know, at the end of the day you want to make sure that everybody is happy. And look, I'd love to --

BLITZER: You would have done well on that. I think you would have done well on that show.

STEELE: I -- that show, yes, absolutely.

I mean, look, I love all that stuff. It was fun to watch and it's humorous because, guess what, people are talking about the party. Yes, and it's, you know, it's satire. It's comedy. But there's also the fact that people understood that there was a different sheriff in town, there was a different way to do things.

BLITZER: You going to run for governor or senator? You were the lieutenant governor of Maryland.

STEELE: I loved being the lieutenant governor of Maryland and heartbroken the day we inaugurated, re-inaugurated Martin O'Malley. I was hoping it would have been Bob Ehrlich. And so, we'll see what's out for us down the road.

BLITZER: You're leaving that option open?

STEELE: Leave it open, absolutely.

BLITZER: Thanks for coming in.

STEELE: It's good to be with you, buddy.

BLITZER: Will you come visit us often here in THE SITUATION ROOM?

STEELE: You know I will. You know I will.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Donald Trump keeps dropping hints he might run for president of the United States. I'll ask when he'll make a decision and what would persuade him to run.

Also, the accused Tucson shooter due back in court next week, and the local sheriff is sharing what he knows about Jared Loughner's possible motive.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Few people have the kind of money and name recognition that Donald Trump has. The real estate mogul and TV personality could be a formidable presidential candidate potentially, at least, if he decides to run and spends a lot of his own money.

Trump keeps talking about the possibility, so I tried to pin him down.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Are you still thinking about running for president of the United States?

DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I'm giving it very serious thought.

BLITZER: When will we know if you'll be a candidate?

TRUMP: Sometime prior to June.

BLITZER: Prior to June. What's the main point that you're going to be working on, whether or not you think you can win, is that right?

TRUMP: Well, it's all jobs. It's all jobs. We really have an effective rate of 18 percent unemployment, not 9.4 percent. Depending on the way you count the numbers it could be more than that. We'll see what happens with jobs. We'll see what happens with the fact that OPEC is ripping us just as badly or even worse than China. I mean worse than anything is OPEC.

Nobody from this country even makes a call to say, hey, listen, you're going to destroy our economy. If you look at the prices now, they're up to almost $100 a barrel. It's going to be $120 and $130. And the last time that happened we almost had a massive depression and nobody ever blamed the oil prices. They talked about the banks and the banks were certainly at fault, but so was oil. So if something doesn't happen with oil, gasoline now is selling for way over $3 a gallon. If something doesn't happen with that, if something doesn't happen with jobs, I very well may do it, Wolf. Because this is not a respected country anymore. We're a whipping post for the world.

BLITZER: Just to be precise, you'd run for the Republican presidential nomination, is that right?

TRUMP: I'm a Republican. I would run as a Republican, yes.

BLITZER: And as a Republican. Can you give us a ballpark, how much of your own money you might be willing to invest in a presidential run?

TRUMP: A lot. If I decide to do it, a lot.

BLITZER: Donald Trump, you'll let us know what's going on. Thanks very much as always.

TRUMP: Thank you, Wolf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Stand by, we are going to hear more from Donald Trump. He's especially worried right now that the United States is being ripped off, he says, by China. He has some tough words about the Chinese president's visit to Washington this past week.

Are we any closer to understand what drove the accused Tucson gunman over the edge? I'll press the local sheriff about the investigation and his own politically charged comments about the case.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Less than two weeks after she was shot in the head, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is beginning the next stage of her truly remarkable recovery. She was transferred from the Medical Center in Arizona to Houston, where she'll now undergo intense, long- term rehab.

Before the move, her husband spoke out about her progress and what a fighter she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK KELLY, GABRIELLE GIFFORDS' HUSBAND : I'm extremely hopeful that Gabby is going to make a full recovery. I've told her that. She recognizes it. She's a strong person, a fighter. I mean, she is a fighter like nobody else that I know, you know. So I am extremely confident that she's going to be back here and back at work soon. I've been telling the hospital staff they should expect her to be walking in the halls and into the ICU within a couple months. I'm sure of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I spoke about the shooting and a lot more with the Pima County Sheriff, Clarence Dupnik.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: Is there any evidence that you have -- because we've seen all the public evidence out there -- that he was motivated by politics?

SHERIFF CLARENCE DUPNIK, PIMA COUNTY, ARIZONA: There's no way to know what motivated him. You know, he seemed to be fixated on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords from 2007 when he attended be an almost identical event. And she had sent him a letter and he was very upset with her because he asked her some very strange question to which there was no rational answer. And he was very, very upset about that. And went on for quite a while talking to his friends about how she ought to be able to answer his question and she couldn't.

BLITZER: As far as you know, did he attend any other Giffords events between 2007 and this most recent massacre?

DUPNIK: Not to my knowledge.

BLITZER: Did he have any contact with Congresswoman Giffords as far as you know between 2007 and now?

DUPNIK: Not to my knowledge.

BLITZER: What about his parents? Have you had a chance to speak with them? You were -- your investigators, your deputies, are they cooperating with you, his parents?

DUPNIK: Yes, they are. The parents have always been cooperative with us. It's been very, very devastating for them.

BLITZER: Without getting into my violation of confidentiality or undermining the investigation, can you share anything that they're staying to you?

DUPNIK: The fact the matter is, Wolf, they had absolutely no way to predict this kind of behavior, and they were just as shocked as everyone else.

BLITZER: Because a lot of people find that strange, given the evidence that has mounted over these past 10 days that he was engaged in all sorts of bizarre behavior. He was living with his parents. You would think they would have seen some irrational behavior and would have advised him to begin some sort of treatment or something like that.

DUPNIK: Well, I'm not aware of any and, you know, there's been a lot of talk about what the law enforcement personnel at Pima College knew and what they were confronted with, what the officials knew, what the Pima County Sheriff's Department knew about him.

But the fact of the matter is, there's no way to force somebody into a treatment for mental health unless they do it involuntarily or you have reason to believe that they are a threat to themselves or somebody else. And it has to be some very hard facts to do that or else you can't get somebody committed. BLITZER: Just to be precise, as far as you know, based on what you've heard from the parents, the parents didn't see any signs of bizarre mental -- irrational mental behaviors, is that what I'm hearing you say?

DUPNIK: That's what you're hearing me say, yes, sir, Wolf.

WOLF: All right, good. I just wanted to clarify that point. So the drug use -- you could still go ahead and buy guns. You could still buy ammunition even if you have been at least picked up or arrested on drug use in the state of Arizona, is that right?

DUPNIK: Well, if it's a misdemeanor unless you're convicted of a felony, and the laws in the state of Arizona are the same everywhere in the country.

These are federal laws, and you either have to have been adjudicated by a court to be mentally unstable, mentally insane or you have to be convicted of a felony or you have to be a prohibited gun possessor.

BLITZER: A lot of people have e-mailed me, tweeted me, Sheriff, and have asked, why wasn't there any police presence at that event, at that supermarket, at that Safeway that Saturday morning, given the fact her office had been vandalized. She had received some threats? Why wasn't there a cop there or a police car there that might have deterred a shooter?

DUPNIK: Well, I suppose that's speculative, but the fact of the matter is, the Congresswoman Giffords didn't want protection unless there was some specific information, which there were in a couple of cases where we did provide protection.

She didn't want the protection and second of all, if you know all the facts, protection wouldn't have prevented this at all. And there would have been nothing a security guard or a police officer could have done.

Nobody knew that this was going to happen until the suspect pulled the weapon when he was about three feet from her and shot her in the head.

BLITZER: Because a lot of experts say, even if there's a cop car there or a police officer there, some guy might not necessarily even start to open up fire. I take it you knew about this event, but you made a conscientious not to send a police officer there. Is that what I'm hearing you say?

DUPNIK: We did not know about the event. As a matter of fact, Gabrielle, when she's home almost every weekend in Tucson, has six to eight events almost every day.

BLITZER: And so you were waiting for a phone call from her office in order to ask for police protection, and you never got that from her?

DUPNIK: We don't go to the political events unless there's some reason to believe there might be a problem.

BLITZER: Is that going to change now?

DUPNIK: We had no reason to believe -- well, I hope it does. You know, I think all of the politicians in Washington, the congressmen and senators, have tremendous protection when they're back in Washington.

The minute they leave and they go back into their respective districts, all over the United States, they're very vulnerable. This could happen to any one of them today or tomorrow, and I think it's time that we take a look at how we can do a better job of protecting our elected officials.

BLITZER: Here's the statement that you made on that first day that generated a lot of commotion. I'll play it for you. You've now had 10 days to think about it.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DUPNIK: Unfortunately, Arizona, I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Do you regret making that statement?

DUPNIK: I said what I felt at the time, and I've been foaling that way for a long time. You may recall back in April when our Arizona legislature passed Senate Bill 1070 and it's called, in my judgment, that bill was born out of prejudice, born out of bigotry.

And I still feel that, and based on some of the legislation that's been introduced, for example, in gun control, we now have legislation introduced that will allow students and teachers to carry concealed weapons on campus. And from my point of view that's just insane.

BLITZER: But do you have any evidence at all, Sheriff, that any of this alleged shooter, Jared Loughner, to go to that supermarket, that shopping center that open fire that day?

DUPNIK: None at all. There's no way to know precisely what motivated him. But I think every expert in the field of psychology will say, when you're dealing with an unstable mind and they are subjected to this kind of rhetoric and discourse, as we have today that is so vitriolic, that it influences those people more readily.

There's no doubt in my mind that it does. Is there someone specific? No, I couldn't say that. But I think it's time -- you know, we used to have -- for example, Morris K. Udall whom you probably knew, as far left as you could get, but a statesman not only in Arizona, but in the country. And we had Barry Goldwater, a statesman in the country as well, on the far right. Both were elected by overwhelming margins, but let me tell you when it came time to do business, address the nation's problems, they put ideology aside and they did what was best for this country. And this is not happening today, and it's got to stop.

BLITZER: And who's to blame for this? Because some of your critics say you're basically implying that Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck Or Sarah Palin may have created the environment that led to this massacre?

DUPNIK: Well, I think all the flame throwers are responsible.

BLITZER: Give me some specifics, who?

DUPNIK: Well, you mentioned two of them, and I think that people who go out and call for people to use the second amendment up in order to resolve certain problems. Those kinds of statements are so vitriolic and I can't tell you how vitriolic the campaign against the Tea Party candidate that ran against Gabrielle Giffords.

It's just sickening and I've seen some of the latest polls, people as a whole, as a nation are tired and sick of what's going on in Congress where people aren't sitting down together to work out the problems.

BLITZER: But in your investigation over these 10 days, Sheriff, do you have any information that leads you to believe that this alleged shooter, Jared Loughner, was listening to these, what you call, flame throwers whether Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or anyone else on the left or the right, do you have any specific information that he was influenced by them?

DUPNIK: No, I do not. But I can tell you that he has been preoccupied the last three years with an elected official, government official.

BLITZER: You're talking about this congresswoman?

DUPNIK: I am.

BLITZER: Gabrielle Giffords, but -- because we heard that he had the communist manifesto among other books in his possession. Based on what you know, was he more influenced by the left or the right?

DUPNIK: I have no way of knowing that, Wolf.

BLITZER: Because a lot of people are asking, Sheriff, if you don't know that he was influenced by these individuals, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or anyone else, why make the accusation that they helped create the environment that resulted in six people getting killed?

DUPNIK: Well, it just happens to be any opinion, based on 52 years in law enforcement.

BLITZER: You're just speculating. DUPNIK: I am.

BLITZER: Because I just want to make sure that you don't know something -- you know a lot more about this investigation than I know or our viewers know. But you don't have any hard evidence that Jared Loughner was listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio or listening to Glenn Beck or anyone else?

DUPNIK: I don't know what he listened to on the radio.

BLITZER: All right, so you're not backing away from that -- you know you're going to get a lot of criticism for making these statements, Sheriff, but you're not backing away.

DUPNIK: Well, the flamethrowers are pointed at me almost everywhere in the country.

BLITZER: So you have beefed up your own security? Is that what I'm hearing you say as well?

DUPNIK: We take that into consideration, yes, sir.

BLITZER: How worried are you?

DUPNIK: I'm not that worried. I do my job. As a matter of fact, I love my job or else I wouldn't be here after 52 years doing it. I enjoy getting up and coming to work, even when circumstances aren't what I wish they were.

BLITZER: Have there been any specific direct threats leveled against you?

DUPNIK: None that I would call credible.

BLITZER: Sheriff, good luck to you.

DUPNIK: Hey, thank you very much.

BLITZER: Sheriff Clarence Dupnik is the sheriff of Pima County, appreciate him very much for joining us.

Imagine if Donald Trump had been in the room during talks with the Chinese president. Trump tells me what he would have said, and guess what? It isn't pretty.

And we remember what it was like to cover the first Gulf War 20 years ago this week. It was a historic moment for the world and for CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A lot of pomp and attention when the Chinese president visited Washington this week. If Donald Trump would have been in President Obama's shoes, he would not have rolled out the red carpet.

I talked with Trump about his deep concerns about China's economic grip on the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: If you were in one of those meetings with President Hu Jintao, in a nutshell, what would you say to him?

DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION (via telephone): Well, I wouldn't be having fancy steak dinners on a - to a country and he's the primary representative that's done nothing, but take advantage of the United States.

I find it amazing when I listened to some of the political leaders talking about how we're making progress. They're making $300 billion a year and probably more than that each year. Let's call it profit off the United States. They're in manipulating their currency. Intellectual property rights and everything else are a joke over there.

They're making stuff that you see being sold all the time on Fifth Avenue copying various - you know, whether it's Chanel or whatever it may be, the brands and just selling it ad nauseam. I mean, this is a country that is ripping off the United States like nobody other than OPEC has ever done before.

I certainly wouldn't be saying as I've been hearing you for the last few minutes as your representatives and people on the show saying, we're making progress with China. These are not our friends. These are our enemies. These are not people that understand niceness.

And the only thing you can do, Wolf, to get their attention is to say, either we're not going to trade with you any further, or in the alternative we're going to tax your products as they come into the United States.

BLITZER: China also is America's leading banker. They have nearly $1 trillion in T-Bills and U.S. Treasury notes. When you have bankers you have to deal with all the time, aren't you nice to your bankers?

TRUMP: Who's done better with bankers than I have? Look, the fact is, it's very simple, the tax would be 25 percent is what I would estimate. In a short period of time, in a matter of a few years, the hundreds of billions of dollars that they've really bought for their own benefit, they didn't buy it for our benefit. They bought it for their own.

So they think they can have control over the country and by the way at the same time get interest, get a nice rate of interest. So what happens is the tax to be paid on the products that come into this country would more than pay off those loans in a very short period of time.

And the fact is, we're the highest taxed country in the world. We are the highest taxed country in the world. We would -- I would lower the taxes for people in this country and corporations in this country and let China and some of the other countries that are ripping us off and making hundreds of billions of dollars a year, let them pay.

BLITZER: You know that General Motors sells more cars in China than it does in the United States. There's a lot of American jobs at stake right now, isn't there?

TRUMP: Well, you know what's happening? I mean, China is very hard to do business with China first of all. It's almost impossible.

BLITZER: GM is doing a pretty good job having business with them.

TRUMP: Say it again.

BLITZER: GM is doing a pretty good job dealing with China.

TRUMP: And what's going to happen? They're going to make General Motors build the cars in China. They're not going to let General Motors take their cars from this country and sell them in China.

They want General Motors to give up all of its intellectual rights and at the same time have Chinese workers build the cars something, which we are not doing to that extent.

If you look at what's happening with China and what they're selling to this country or take South Korea with the television sets and everything else, they're making it over there. China wants General Motors to build the cars in China.

BLITZER: You know that a lot of the economists, the free trade experts, say if there were a trade war between the United States and china it could cause not only a worldwide row session, but a worldwide depression if these two giants -- the number one and number two economic powers in the world went to war against each other.

TRUMP: No. It will cause a depression in China, not here. China's making all the money. We're not making the money. Look at the numbers. Look at the difference as to what we import compared to what they're importing.

BLITZER: It's about three to one.

TRUMP: It's more than three.

BLITZER: They export to the United States three times as much as we export to them. You're right on that point, but a lot --

TRUMP: I like getting rid of that kind of a partnership. I mean, that's called we're losing a lot of money. I like -- and that has nothing to do with free trade or fair trade.

I like to call it fair trade because free trade is not -- forget it. It doesn't exist between these two countries and I like to say fair trade. And I'm a big believer in free and fair trade, but this is unfair trade.

BLITZER: I take it, Donald. You were not invited to the state dinner last night for President Hu Jintao.

TRUMP: Well, I wouldn't have gone if I was.

BLITZER: But you weren't invited.

TRUMP: Absolutely not.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Donald Trump telling us how he feels.

Remembering the first Gulf War 20 years later, the loss, lessons and the reporting experience of a lifetime.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Twenty years ago this week, the first Gulf War began when the U.S. and its allies launched a massive air assault was launched on the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein.

I was then CNN's Pentagon correspondent. As CNN's Bernard Shaw and John Holliman described the start of the bombardment from the Iraqi capital. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNARD SHAW, FORMER CNN ANCHOR (via telephone): This is, something is happening outside. The skies over Baghdad have been illuminated. We're seeing bright blasts going off all over the sky.

JOHN HOLLIMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): The sky continues to be filled with tracers as the anti-aircraft continue to fire. Another huge blasts from the ground, huge blasts over the city and there's a lot of fire going up.

And as I say these bombs continue to come down occasionally on the ground here. There's no sign that any of the -- any of the aircraft involved in this, not from Iraq, but from the allied forces have suffered any damage.

BLITZER: Pentagon officials say it should have come as no surprise that this attack started tonight. They say that the United States wanted to start the attack at night. There are specific targets for almost 5 1/2 months. The United States has outlined virtually every strategic target in Iraq and occupied Kuwait.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's bring in our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson. He was 20 years younger as well.

Unlike me, Nic, you were actually in Baghdad with Peter Arnett and John Holliman and Bernie Shaw. Tell us first of all what your job was at the time.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I was the engineer. At that time, we had that four-wide communication device that allowed to us keep broadcasting after the communication center got hit. It kept us on the air. It made a difference.

That was one of my jobs. I'd smuggled in a satellite telephone that we would use after the phone communications got destroyed. That was the plan. My job was to kind of keep us on the air technically and I must say learned at the feet of some great journalists.

BLITZER: How scared were you as you saw the skies over Baghdad being illuminated as Bernie Shaw memorably said?

ROBERTSON: Wolf, it's almost chilly to listen to Bernie and to hear him say those words we've heard so many times from 20 years ago. There was -- I really was learning, and one of the things I'd learned was about being safe, and I was one of the first people in the bomb shelter that night. I got down there so quickly I think there was no one there.

So I went up and checked it out and went back down again. What I learned from Bernie Shaw and others, when you're going to report, you need to be there to see it, to watch it happening. So come shock and awe 12 years later, I wasn't in the basement. I was on the roof of the hotel, and I owe that to those great journalists, because they gave me the skills that I share with our audience today.

BLITZER: It's hard to believe, you know, 20 years later. The whole Middle East, obviously, there had been significant changes and certainly in Iraq, Saddam Hussein is gone. Not as a result the first gulf war but as a result of the second war, the war in Iraq that started in 2003. As you look at these changes over the past 20 years what goes through your mind because you spend a lot of time in that region.

ROBERTSON: Wolf, I think the longer time you spend covering wars, the more you ultimately realize almost the futility of it. Between those, the first war in Iraq and the second, the war in Bosnia. A quarter of a million people killed, and when you look at it today, so little really on the ground changed, slightly different political dynamic.

When I look at the Middle East today, so many lives lost, and for what gained? And I think that's the perspective that you get from covering wars close up is that you realize there's a certain amount of futility than what is actually gained by either side at the end of the day. So it's saddening to witness so much loss of life.

BLITZER: Yes, I remember those days very, very vividly. The "Operation Desert Shield" leading to "Operation Desert Storm," which started this hour 20 years ago today. Nic, thanks very, very much.

Let's take a look at this picture, you can see our team in Iraq. You can see Bernie. You can see right there. By the way, that tall guy on the far left, that's Nic Robertson. Nic, you look so young. Not that you're not handsome now, but you look incredibly handsome as a 20-year young person over there.

Your hair is a little thicker. It's red. Was it red there? It's still red right now, right?

ROBERTSON: It was. Wolf, I have to say I'm glad I met my wife back then and am not trying to find a wife today. I met my wife, CNN's correspondent at the time in the build up to the Gulf war. If I looked younger, that helped me and I'm really happy for that.

BLITZER: Yes, you looked great then. You look great now and more importantly are doing great reporting for CNN. Thanks very much.

Nic Robertson. It's hard to believe it's been 20 years.

Vendors, artists and dancers from around the world. They're pictures worth 1,000 words. "Hotshots" coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here's a look at some "Hotshots."

In Egypt, a vendor stacking bagels down a busy street.

In Pakistan, an artist's sculpting wooden camels.

In Nepal, a living goddess in a festival for good luck and prosperity.

In Sri Lanka, check it out, dancers perform in an annual pageant outside the Buddhist temple honoring the first full moon of the year.

"Hotshots" pictures worth a thousand words.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer.

Join us weekdays in THE SITUATION ROOM from 5:00 to 7:00 Eastern and every Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN and at this time every weekend on CNN International.

The news continues next on CNN.