Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
New Information on Case Against Zimmerman; New Satellite Image From North Korea; North Korea Rocket Launch; Hilary Rosen Apologizes; Exclusive Club; Old Birds, New Tweets
Aired April 12, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And you're in the SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, new information just coming into the SITUATION ROOM in the case against George Zimmerman. We just learned moments ago why prosecutors charged him the way they did. I'll ask his new criminal defense attorney about the defense strategy that's unfolding and whether he has some help from the dead teen's mother.
Also, North Korea may be close to launching a rocket, possibly triggering a rather dangerous international crisis. CNN is inside North Korea. We have a new satellite image of the launch site.
And the Romney camp sends a message, "don't mess with Ann." Ann Romney this hour, the Republican presidential candidate's wife, fighting back against the Democratic strategist's claim that she never worked a day in her life.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
BLITZER: But first, breaking news in the case against George Zimmerman accused now of second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin. Court documents offering new information about what Zimmerman may have said on the day of Trayvon Martin's death.
I'll talk with Zimmerman's new lawyer in just a few moments, but right now, CNNs David Mattingly is joining us from Sanford, Florida. Tell us about the new information, David.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, taking a look at the court documents that prosecutors filed telling the judge why they believe that George Zimmerman should be charged with second-degree murder. There was one very telling paragraph, and here, we're going to show it to you right now. It has to do with that 911 call and what was heard from George Zimmerman as he was talking to the 911 operator.
They talk about how Zimmerman made reference to the people in the neighborhood that he felt had committed crimes and gotten away, referring to them as, quoting him saying these blanks, "they always get away," and then also said "these blanking punks." That's significant because they are going to saying that Zimmerman used the word punks and did not utter a racial epithet as so many people thought he did during that 911 call. So, that, in itself, is significant, but we're also looking at today about the question about why George Zimmerman is remaining behind bars about why bond was not set in this case, so far. His attorney coming out saying that they're going to wait for an appropriate time in order for the publicity to calm down a little bit, and then, there'll be a bond hearing to determine if George Zimmerman will be a free man.
Other than that, there is an arraignment set for the end of May in this case, and as this was going on, after both sides came out and speaking to the cameras and both sides falling on a very common theme here, standing up for the justice system, because as you know, the justice process in this case has been almost under attack almost as much as George Zimmerman, himself. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S LAWYER: He's glad the process is in place. He really does hope as the prosecutor said that would give any the opportunity by the media, by the community to handle this case the way it's supposed to be handled and full discovery, conversations, negotiations and trial if need be, mostly appropriate (ph), and let the system work.
It really, truly -- it works. And now that we have focus on it, it's going to work even better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: Letting this system work, we just had the very first step with George Zimmerman going for his initial appearance today. He uttered four words the entire time. The process today took less than three minutes for it all to transpire. Again, this is just the beginning of what promises to be a very long, legal process for George Zimmerman before he gets to a jury. Before he even gets to a trial, there's going to be a hearing possibly to invoke the stand your ground law here in Florida.
So, a lot of huge hurdles have to be cleared before the prosecution can actually get George Zimmerman in front of a jury. Also, the question about who's going to be paying for George Zimmerman's defense. His attorney today saying that George Zimmerman is indigent.
We know that he's set up a website where he was soliciting funds from the public to help pay for his living expenses while he was in hiding, also for his legal expenses, so we knew that he didn't have any money to pay for an attorney. Now, his attorney saying that he is indigent, which looks like it's opening the door for the state of Florida to be paying for his defense -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And I've been reading this affidavit of probable cause, second-degree murder, that the prosecutor has just released, and I know you read it as well, state of Florida versus George Zimmerman. You point out the prosecutors in this case are very specific on those words that Zimmerman uttered in that 911 call. Let me read that paragraph. "During the recorded call, Zimmerman made reference to people he felt had committed and gotten away with break-ins in the neighborhood." Later, while talking about Martin, Zimmerman added these, and I won't use that word, a bad word, "they always get away." And also said, these, bad word, "punks."
The word was "punks" that he used, not a derogatory word against African-Americans. I guess, David, and maybe the lawyers will be able to explain this, this removes presumably the opportunity for the U.S. justice department to file some sort of civil rights case against George Zimmerman if he used punks as opposed to a derogatory word about African-Americans.
MATTINGLY: That would appear to be the case. What the justice department is doing is completely separate from this, but what it does tell us is getting at the state of mind of George Zimmerman as the prosecution sees it. That's what's the bases of their second-degree murder prosecution here is what was on his mind?
What was his intent as he killed that young man that night? So, what this paragraph is doing is getting at George Zimmerman's state of mind, perhaps, laying the groundwork for some sort of malicious frame of mind that he had toward Trayvon Martin that night.
BLITZER: And you know, it's interesting. And I'll read another line or two from this affidavit, because it's interesting. When the police dispatcher on this 911 call said -- realized that Zimmerman was pursuing Trayvon Martin, he instructed Zimmerman not to do that and that the responding officer would meet him. That's the word. "Don't follow him. An officer was coming and just stand by."
Zimmerman, according to this affidavit, disregarded the police dispatcher and continued to follow Martin who was trying to return to his home. That would probably be the most damning comments in this affidavit.
MATTINGLY: And remember, this is the prosecution's first step forward in telling the court why George Zimmerman should be defending himself against these charges. We haven't heard in any official form what kind of defense is going to be mounted on his behalf.
We've known from previous attorneys that he's going to argue that he did not start that confrontation, but for these purposes of this document, it's the prosecution who's having the first words.
BLITZER: All right. David Mattingly on the scene for us, thank you.
Trayvon's mother is now pulling back from a stunning remark she made earlier today that the killing of her son was, quote, "an accident." Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: I believe it was an accident. I believe that it just got out of control, and he couldn't turn the clock back. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Sybrina Fulton, the mother issued a statement later saying she didn't mean to suggest that the shooting was an accident. She wrote and I'll read it to you, "We believe that George Zimmerman stalked my son and murdered him in cold blood. The accident I was referring to was the fact that George Zimmerman and my son ever crossed paths."
Let's bring in George Zimmerman's new attorney, Mark O'Mara. He's joining us on the phone right now from Orlando, Florida. First of all, what do you make about the mother backing away from her earlier comment.
O'MARA: You know, I only saw the initial comment once and I just heard what you said she said. I don't want to comment on what her (Inaudible). We're just going to have to deal with it as I see more about it. I've not seen the first page of evidence yet.
BLITZER: Have you spoken at length with your new client yet?
O'MARA: Certainly, yes.
BLITZER: And, how's he doing? What's he saying? What's the bottom line as far as his mental state because his former attorneys were suggesting he's in major depression.
O'MARA: Well, I think he's tired. I think he's stressed. I think he's frightened. You know, if you think of what he has been going through for the past number of weeks, at least, the isolation caused by the publicity in this case, no matter what he was involved in a set of circumstances in which a person lost his life, Trayvon Martin.
So, the stress level certainly that that carries with it. He's facing second-degree murder charges, but I will tell you, in my conversations with him, I was able to interact with him. I think that, at least, now, there's a process in place that he knows what the next few steps will be, and there's a certain certainty in that.
BLITZER: You didn't seek his ability to get bail, and get out of jail today, but I assume you're going to do that at some point, is that right?
O'MARA: That's correct. We have a bond motion filed.
BLITZER: When is that?
O'MARA: I believe it's going to be set at the end of next week. We're confirming that time with the judge, really, as we speak.
BLITZER: And are you realistically hopeful that the judge will let him leave on bail?
O'MARA: Yes, I believe he should be out on bail. There's a schedule in Florida, a bond schedule, that suggests no bond initially on a second-degree murder charge, but the judge has the right to review all the facts and as what we call the author of proceeding or hearing where the state presents what they believe to be evidence supporting their case.
And I get to contest it to a certain extent. Mr. Zimmerman's prior record or lack thereof and the stability in the community are also elements that ought to be considered. I just want him to help me, in a selfish way. I want him to be available to me so we're together in preparing his defense, and I don't believe that he needs to be incarcerated while we're doing that.
BLITZER: In prison right now, in jail, is he isolated from other prisoners?
O'MARA: He's in Seminole County calls protective custody So, yes, he is isolated from other prisoners.
BLITZER: Have you had a chance, Mark O'Mara, to read this affidavit of probable cause that the prosecutor, Angela Corey, has just released, state of Florida versus George Zimmerman?
O'MARA: Very briefly, because (INAUDIBLE) at the hearing where we were interacting with the judge.
BLITZER: One of the lines saying the police dispatcher informed Zimmerman that an officer was on the way and to wait for the officer. I guess, the bottom line question is, why did he disrespect that request from the 911 police dispatcher and continue following Trayvon Martin?
O'MARA: I have no idea of the timeline. I don't have the evidence or the discovery, so it would really be improper (ph) for me to comment on what I don't know yet.
BLITZER: And this other line, I'll read it to you, maybe you don't want to comment on this one either, but I'll read it to you anyhow. "When the police dispatcher realized Zimmerman was pursuing Martin, he instructed Zimmerman not to do that and that the responding officer would meet him. Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher and continued to follow Martin who was trying to return to his home."
That would seem to be very damning evidence against your client that he was -- that he was willfully going after this 17-year-old boy.
O'MARA: Well, I'm not sure who signed the affidavit and what information that they looked at to come to that conclusion, but what I would like to do is get to that evidence in sum, not just a summary of it, but all of the evidence, timeline it and see.
I know that there were other sort of misinterpretations of the evidence along the way, so I'd rather wait until we have it before adding to those misinterpretations.
BLITZER: The two investigators who signed this affidavit are T.C. O'Steen and Dale Gilbreath, both identified as investigators. I assume that would mean police investigators who are on the scene, right? O'MARA: I don't know if on the scene or reviewing it. Investigators may well have been the ones reviewing all the information. I truly don't know.
BLITZER: All right. Mark O'Mara, we'll stay in close touch with you. Thanks very much for joining us.
O'MARA: Sure thing. Take care.
BLITZER: We have a lot of other breaking news we're following this hour as well, including a revealing new satellite image that we're just getting from North Korea where a rocket could soon launch in defiance of U.S. warnings and threats.
And Ann Romney as the firefighter for her husband's campaign were spat (ph) with Democratic strategist, Hilary Rosen, is exposing her tough side.
And see what happens when some charming ladies take their first voyage into cyberspace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can twitter to a whole bunch of people and a whole bunch of people can twitter to you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No that's -- that's -- that's --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Google.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exing. Texting.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It took 18 hours for Hilary Rosen to apologize for her ill-considered comment that Ann Romney never worked a day in her life. My guess is, there had been such a firestorm of criticism over what she said, she wouldn't (ph) have apologized at all.
The apology is a day late and a dollar short. The damage has been done, and there's a lot of it. Ann Romney, who raised five children as well as dealing with cancer and multiple sclerosis and that's work, too, Miss Rosen, was classy in her response to this. She said, quote, "She made a choice to stay home and raise five boys, believe me, it was hard work," unquote.
I think that's probably a true statement. Democrats ran from Rosen like she was on fire. David Axelrod called the comments inappropriate and offensive. Another true statement. Top Obama campaign officials said they couldn't disagree more with Rosen that families ought to be off limits and that stay-at-home moms, quote, "work harder than most of us do," unquote. Before she decided to apologize, Hilary Rosen was busy blaming Mitt Romney for bringing his wife into this debate. She says that Mitt shouldn't say Mrs. Romney is the expert on women and the economy. Why not? First rule of holes is when you're in one, stop digging. Mercifully, after 18 hours, Hilary Rosen finally put down the shovel.
For the moment, President Obama enjoys an almost 20-point lead among women. An incident like this might make women give Mitt Romney a second look.
Here's the question. How much damage did Obama supporter Hilary Rosen do when she said Ann Romney never worked a day in her life? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and post a comment on my blog or go to our post on the SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page.
BLITZER: Causing a lot of heartburn out there for a lot of Democrats, Jack, and even the Vice President Joe Biden was asked about it on MSNBC. Listen to this.
All right. Let's get that sound bite of the Vice President Joe Biden reacting to the Hilary Rosen uproar, and what she said about Ann Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Pardon me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did Hilary Rosen go too far last night?
BIDEN: Absolutely. Absolutely. Great to see you, guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Well as we said later (ph), he also spoke out earlier in an interview with MSNBC, and the president of the United States was asked by a local TV actor about the Hilary Rosen issue, and he said, this is President Barack Obama, "I don't have a lot of patience for commentary about the spouses of political candidates."
That's the president reacting to this uproar. Just how critical is Ann Romney to the Romney campaign? Joining us now is our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta. Tell us a little bit more about Ann Romney.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the lesson today is pretty simple, don't mess with Ann Romney. She is the not so secret weapon of the Romney campaign.
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I introduce to you the heavyweight champion of my life, wait, I (INAUDIBLE).
ACOSTA (voice-over): Mitt Romney often calls his wife, Ann, a fighter, but really, she's the campaign firefighter, always there to put out the flames. It happened in Ohio. He botches the introduction, she saves the day.
ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S WIFE: To be able to stand by me and tell me that my job was more important than his, that raising those boys was going to bring forever happiness in our lives, which it has. But, now, I think his job is going to be more important.
ACOSTA: So, when CNN political contributor, Hilary Rosen, went after Mrs. Romney --
HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: His wife has actually never worked a day in her life.
ACOSTA: The democratic strategist unleashed what's widely considered the Romney campaign's best asset, and for months says Mrs. Romney told CNN's Piers Morgan she's had a job.
ANN ROMNEY: It's my job. It's a great job that I have right now with making sure people see the other side of Mitt.
Even then you knew that these moments would be fleeing.
ACOSTA: A web video of Mrs. Romney on her days raising five boys gets tough billing on the campaign's website.
ANN ROMNEY: I miss having all of them under my roof all the time.
ACOSTA: And she's a natural on interviews responding to Rosen on Fox News.
ANN ROMNEY: Look, I know what it's like to struggle.
ACOSTA: Namely her health struggles as her husband has detailed time and again.
MITT ROMNEY: She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and more recently with breast cancer. She has battled both successfully.
ACOSTA: Yes, Mrs. Romney now lives a life of privilege.
MITT ROMNEY: Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually.
ACOSTA: But she also reminds voters where her side of the family comes from.
ANN ROMNEY: My grandfather started working in the coalmines in Whales at age eight.
ACOSTA: The power of Ann Romney was demonstrated in all of those tweets in her defense. The president's top strategist, David Axelrod, to Democratic Party chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Michelle Obama. It wasn't long after the first lady's tweet that Rosen put out a statement offering an apology to Mrs. Romney. The backlash would hardly come as a surprise.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A fist bump, a pound, a terrorist fist jab?
ACOSTA: Mrs. Obama took her share of hits in 2008. Romney's press secretary, Andrea Saul, says there should be limits when it comes to a candidate's spouse.
Are the spouses truly off limits now if they're out campaigning, Mrs. Romney campaigns, Mrs. Obama campaigns?
ANDREA SAUL, ROMNEY PRESS SECRETARY: Well, of course, they're, you know, of course, you know, Mrs. Romney is a surrogate for the governor. She's out campaigning for him. So, of course, people are going to look at what she says and examine that, but as far as taking a cheap shot at her to make some sort of political, you know, points on the board, I just don't understand, you know, what the point of that is.
ACOSTA (on-camera): Mrs. Romney came across so well today that many of her supporters and even some reporters were suggesting, perhaps, suggest that Mitt Romney should pick Ann Romney as his running mate in the presidential race. That is not the role that the Romney campaign envisions.
It sounds more like a traditional first lady role, Wolf, that I talked to a Romney campaign aide who said that Ann does not make policy, but she does provide advice and counsel to her husband, but she does so in private. Sounds a lot like the first lady the country has now -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. All right. Thanks very much for that, Jim Acosta. We should point out that Hilary Rosen has formally apologized. She was here in the SITUATION ROOM. She apologized to Ann Romney profusely for saying what she said, the way she said it. We're going to have a clip of what -- if you missed it -- what Hilary Rosen specifically said. That's coming up later this hour here in the SITUATION ROOM.
Meanwhile, the world is watching North Korea as it prepares to defy the west and launch a long-range rocket. CNN's inside the secretive country for the countdown.
And find out who's in the most exclusive club in the world.
BLITZER: North Korea may be, may be just minutes away from provoking a dangerous confrontation with the United States and other nations. A controversial long-range rocket is being fueled. Weather conditions appear to be right for it to launch. One miscalculation by any side, though, could be disastrous. We have a new satellite image from the launch site.
Let's go straight to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. Barbara, they're watching this very closely over at the Pentagon, other intelligence agencies around Washington, indeed around the world. What does this new satellite image show? BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's put it up and show it to our viewers right off, Wolf. This is by Digital Globe, a commercial satellite company, obtained by our producer, Adam Levin (ph). The image was taken on Wednesday inside that circle. There are about 11 vehicles now on the launch pad. By all accounts, none of them are fuel trucks essentially, so no fueling going on anymore.
It may be fueled up now and ready to go. That means the pre-launch activities are done. It could be anywhere from now to maybe in the next couple of days. Here's why the North Koreans have to get moving on this. Once they have fueled up the missile, the rocket, pardon me, once they have fueled the rocket, the fuel is very corrosive. It will eat away at the seals and other essential parts of the rocket.
It may begin to boil off. So, they don't want to have to take all of the fuel out and start all over again. They need a clear weather window, and they need to get this thing moving if they really intend to launch it, Wolf.
BLITZER: Our weather experts are telling us, Barbara, the weather seems to be perfect right now, potentially, for a launch. It's getting close -- it's already Friday morning over there in North Korea. So, it could happen. There's a window starting fairly soon, right?
STARR: There is a window, and let's not make any -- let's not overlook the fact that the world's media is there as well including CNN's own Stan Grant. So, the North Koreans have some confidence that they are going to be able to make this work. Nobody thinks they would have invited in a world press corps to watch if they thought it was going to fail, if they wouldn't be able to launch it, if it wouldn't get off that launch pad.
So, the real question here is, why is North Korea so confident it's going to work? Who's been helping them? Why do they feel like they can do this in front of the world's eyes? Wolf.
BLITZER: Good point. Barbara, thank you.
And as the liftoff, apparently, is getting closer and closer, the United States and its allies still aren't buying North Korea's claim that its rocket is strictly being used for peaceful purposes to launch a weather satellite. CNNs Stan Grant is inside North Korea. He's waiting for the rocket to launch, and the global tensions are intense.
STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Countdown is looming and the pressure is building. A barrage of the world's media descending on North Korea and one critical question, missile or satellite?
(on camera): After all of the denials that this is not a missile test, why does the United States not believe?
BAEK CHANG HO, HEAD OF SATELLITE CONTROL CENTER (through translator): I think in my personal opinion the United States people are very confused.
GRANT (voice-over): Pyongyang has gambled that opening up to journalists would quill the suspicion; instead it sparked even greater scrutiny.
(on camera): The U.S. is basically saying you're lying, why should they trust you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is why we invited you here says this official. Then pointing at a space analyst from the United States here with an American TV network for his opinion.
GRANT: They're putting you on the spot here. Do you believe them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am going to be reporting for "NBC News". Then please (ph) leave it there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe -- I believe that this is not a military shot. The conditions -- the conditions of the future we cannot predict.
GRANT: Well this is the nerve center from behind me here. They'll be able to track the progress of the satellite, but really failure is not an option. This is not about science. This is decreed by the dear leader himself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): So our great leader comrade Kim Jong Il led us through the development of our space technology step by step and he spent lifelong efforts in development of our science.
GRANT (voice-over): Here, too, there are reminders that this whole operation is in praise of their leaders. This control room is on the outskirts of the capital Pyongyang escorted here by government minders, we see a bare bones facility. One international observer though says it appears to be enough to do the job, but the question remains, what will it be tracking?
YURI KARASH, RUSSIAN SPACE EXPERT: It is possible to use this launch vehicle to carry a nuclear warhead to some part in the world. However, I am sure that this particular launch vehicle will be useful to launch a satellite.
GRANT: Han Park is a Korea specialist from an American university. He's been invited as a guest of Pyongyang. He says this is all about trust. He trusts them, but --
HAN S. PARK, DIR. OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, UNIV. OF GEORGIA: Is it a satellite or is it a missile and that question is not really ultimately a question of science because it's the same science and technology. It comes down to the motives on the part of North Koreans.
GRANT (on camera): And Wolf, North Korea's ambitions don't just end here, they say that this technology is going to be used in the future and they are planning even further launches and bigger launches -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Stan Grant on the scene for us in North Korea. Japan, not that far away is warning it will shoot down the North Korean rocket if, if it enters its airspace. The country's missile defense systems are scanning the skies right now. Let's go to Japan. CNN's Kyung Lah is standing by -- Kyung tell us what is going on over there.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well what the government has done, Wolf, is roll out three Patriot missile batteries in the Tokyo region. What you're seeing right over my left shoulder here those are the missile batteries and these are in effect land-to-air missiles that will intercept any part of the North Korean rocket that threatens to land on Japan. There are three of them here in the Tokyo region. There are four of them in the southern part of Japan, the Okinawa Island and there are also three war ships at sea loaded with interceptor missiles. So where all of this is, Wolf, it's Japan saying that if its citizens are threatened it will, in fact, shoot down this rocket -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Because they're concerned that this rocket could go off target or whatever and land -- crash land some place in Japan. That's why those Patriot air defense missiles are ready to go, the ones we see right behind you.
LAH: You're absolutely right about that, and what they're most concerned are not just these grounds, government grounds, but right behind those Patriot missiles, Wolf, those are apartment buildings. This is a highly populated area. Now the chance that it will actually hit the Tokyo region very unlikely if you talk to -- if you look at the trajectory of the North Korean rocket. But the government doing a bit of political show here, but saying that they are going to defend its people.
BLITZER: I know the Japanese military have practiced several times with those Patriot air defense missiles. We'll see if they are needed in this current crisis right now. Kyung Lah on the scene, we'll stay in close touch with you.
Meanwhile coming up, President Obama is weighing in on the biggest political story of the day.
BLITZER: All right. This just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM, new evidence the Obama camp wants to distance itself from Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen (ph) even after she formally and publicly apologized for saying Mitt Romney's wife never worked a day in her life. Let's go to our White House correspondent Dan Lothian -- Dan, the president of the United States now weighing in on this flak (ph).
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right and just to rewind just a little bit Wolf, to last week, remember the president was speaking to the Women's Conference here at the White House talking about the role that strong women had played in his own life from his mother to his grandmother and so now some of those same themes we heard from the president that he weighed in on this controversy for the first time in an interview with CNN affiliate KCRG (ph).
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here's what I know that there's no tougher job than being a mom, and you know, when I think about what Michelle's had to do, when I think about my own mom, a single mother raising me and my sister, that's work. So anybody who would argue otherwise, I think, probably needs to re-think their statement. More broadly, I don't have a lot of patience for commentary about the spouses of political candidates.
My general view is those of us who are in the public life you know we're fair game. Our families are civilians. You know, I haven't met Ms. Romney, but she seems like a very nice woman who is supportive of her family and supportive of her husband and you know I don't know that she necessarily volunteered for this job, so we don't need to be directing comments at them. I think me and Governor Romney are going to have more than enough to argue about during the course of this campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LOTHIAN: Vice President Biden earlier today also waded into this controversy when a CNN producer caught up with him asked him if these comments went too far and the president -- the vice president rather said, quote, "absolutely" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Stand by for a second, Dan, because the last hour I spoke with our CNN contributor, the Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen who is at the center of this uproar right now. I asked her to look into the camera and speak directly to Ann Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I apologized. Working moms, stay-at-home moms, they're both extremely hard jobs. I know, I've shared them both, and I'm sorry if that offended you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So the White House, Dan, is still pretty upset at Hilary Rosen for this issue coming up right now, I take it.
LOTHIAN: Well that's right Wolf and you know we can give a little bit of context to this. We've been talking now for several weeks about the role of women not only in the president's life, but also in this campaign and what it means to the president's re-election hopes. The president in polls showing far out leading Mitt Romney among women and women, obviously, are more engaged in the political process than men according to the polls. And so they realize that the women, the female vote is important, and so something like this could certainly set the president's message back, and I think that's why you saw the president come out and trying to clean this up today, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes and everybody else on the Democratic side as well. The vice president, the campaign, the chair of the DNC, a whole lot of others. Thanks very much for that, Dan Lothian at the White House.
We're going to take you inside a secret society that's called the World's Most Exclusive Club.
BLITZER: There's a super-exclusive club with only five members in the entire world and "TIME" magazine is taking us inside this club in its brand new issue. We're talking about the powerful group of people known as presidents or former presidents of the United States of America.
Joining us now is our -- is the managing editor of (INAUDIBLE) publication "TIME" magazine, Rick Stengel. You have got an excerpt from a brand new book that's coming out in a few days by Michael Duffy (ph), Nancy Gibbs (ph), two of your excellent staff, workers (ph), Michael Duffy (ph) the Washington bureau chief. Tell us first of all, give us a nugget about this unique relationship between two of those presidents. The current president and Bill Clinton.
RICK STENGEL, MANAGING EDITOR, TIME: Well it's interesting because they were rivals, of course, during their campaign, Wolf, but now they realize there's much more that unites them rather than separates them and in fact, as you saw, when the president launched his first campaign video, a 17-minute video, Bill Clinton is in it throughout, basically endorsing Barack Obama's policies. So they have a dataunt (ph) between each other and they realize how useful they can be to each other.
BLITZER: How important is Bill Clinton -- forget about Hillary Clinton for a moment -- Bill Clinton to the re-election of President Obama?
STENGEL: I think he is important, Wolf. I mean he helps with the Democratic base. He helps with demographic groups that Obama doesn't do well, for example, white males, working-class females. He's an idol, an icon of the Democratic Party. You know, people want to see his shoulder next to Barack Obama's shoulder.
BLITZER: Talk a little bit about this fraternity of these presidents.
STENGEL: Well it's a wonderful book, Wolf, and you know both by Nancy and Michael. And what they realized is that there's this whole long history, you know going back to Truman, of how presidents have this very exclusive and elite club where they realize, you know what? Anyone -- only someone who has sat in that chair really understands what it's like for somebody else to do that and they actually need to help each other and it's beyond party, it's beyond partisanship and Obama has called on Jimmy Carter, on Bill Clinton, on Bush 41 and Bush 43. In fact you know there's a lovely anecdote about Bush 41 being invited to the White House and making President Obama laugh. BLITZER: Nancy Gibbs (ph) and Michael Duffy (ph) have done a fabulous, fabulous job in this book. I haven't read it yet, but I've heard a lot about it. I'm anxious to read it. Thanks for giving us a preview in this new issue of "TIME" magazine, Rick. Thanks very much.
STENGEL: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: So what happens when you put two 80-year-olds in charge of a major company's Twitter account?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to let them know that we got their message.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we're trying our darnedest to figure out how to work this Tweet machine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's get back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour is how much damage did Obama supporter Hilary Rosen do when she said that Ann Romney never worked a day in her life?
Jennifer writes from Winnipeg, "Damage to whom? Ann Romney did not have to work like the majority of middle class women. She hasn't got a clue about the economy as it relates to working mothers. Both the Romneys have always been part of the one percent. Hilary Rosen was right on target."
Lilian writes from Colorado "As a disabled mother of three with a husband now in his second year of being unemployed, I don't have two cents to offer in this discussion and I don't expect any politician's wife to know what real American women are going through or have to put up with during these unsettling times."
Diane writes, "I'll bet Mrs. Romney had maids, nannies, cooks and other paid help. Raising children is a big job, I know. I raised four. But it is much, much easier when you have the money to hire help and have the choice whether to work outside the home or not. Mrs. Romney had this option. Many women have no choice but to do both, raise their kids and work outside the home."
Svitlana in California, "She is half right which in high-stakes politics passes for truth. Working as a mother, raising kids is as any stay-at-home mom knows a task not to be discounted. Although Hilary Rosen's dig doesn't quite rise to the shame on you level, it's nonetheless deserving of a dishonorable mention."
Gilbert on Facebook, "With two Cadillacs and God knows how many staff, Mrs. Romney knows that the average woman goes through -- Mrs. Romney knows what the average woman goes through on a daily basis. Wake up America."
And Gordon in New Jersey writes, "Hilary Rosen should not apologize for stating the obvious. Ann Romney seems like a charming woman but if she ever had to work for a paycheck then she is by definition out of touch with all but a handful of Americans. She can never understand the life of a supermarket cashier who has to juggle work and family. Republicans ought to be careful not to push back too hard on this. The wives of NASCAR team owners is a relatively small voting bloc."
If you want to read more on this, go to the blog, CNN.com/CaffertyFile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you.
It is never too late to learn. That's the mentality of two 80-year- old women taking their first stabs at social media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dottie, you know what she said back to me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said, don't worry, we will get you a wheelchair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We want to introduce you to Frankie and Dottie right now. Like so many of us they're making the jump at the social media. They're learning about Twitter, Facebook, Google, all things cyberspace. But unlike most of us, they are almost -- get this -- they are almost 90 years old. Here is CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are charming the pants off the Internet by being clueless about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Xing (ph), texting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need a WiFi, a WiFi, one of those pad things maybe.
MOOS: They might not know an iPad from a Brill-o pad but Frankie Shantz (ph) and Dottie Annick (ph) took over Kraft Macaroni and Cheese social media for three days. Monopolizing Facebook, terrorizing Twitter. It was a stunt designed to promote the edible icon's 75th anniversary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) cheesier, it's really pretty easy -- MOOS: Yes, well Twitter wasn't.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This tweet machine.
MOOS: But "Old Birds" did manage new tweets. Dottie tweeting she always used butter to make Mac and Cheese and it was good. They posted photos on Facebook of themselves at 16. Both are in their mid- 80s now. Fans didn't get gooey over the Mac and Cheese. They got gooey over Frankie and Dottie. You two dames are awesome. Here's Frankie explaining Googling to Dottie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just whips out his little Palm thing and (INAUDIBLE) he gives me the answer. It is called Google.
MOOS (on camera): And this is how Frankie feels about Facebook.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get a life, TMI.
MOOS (voice-over): But by the end of their three-day social media reign, Frankie described it as mind-blowing and heart-warming. She especially liked having all those nice young ad agency people hanging around her California home. Oldsters in cyberspace are practically a trend. Betty White just took up Twitter and remember the couple in Oregon who went viral after accidentally recording themselves on their new laptop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How pretty your hair is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just drop your dress a little bit to see your boobs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop it.
MOOS (on camera): Now there are critics who say what is cheesy is making these two octogenarians seem clueless. The women are being exploited posted someone. Ridiculous says Frankie. Like Mac and Cheese --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know you love it.
MOOS: That's how Dottie and Frankie feel about their voyage to cyberspace.
Jeanne Moos, CNN --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh Dottie, Dottie --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are we having fun, Frankie?
MOOS: -- New York.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: These are amazing women and they look great, I must say, Frankie and Dottie. Congratulations. We are going to continue to follow you on Twitter for sure.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.