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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  September 20, 2010 5:00pm-7:00pm EDT

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this is not an exact science. people can't say with any certainty this will help or hurt the economy. they're making their best guesses. it seems like people are congealing around the idea that it's better safe than sorry. we're going to slow the recovery down if we go for the tax cuts. on the other hand, we can't afford to co-that for too long. >> got to go. i thank you. i think wolf blitzer will continue this conversation. pass it on to him in washington. here he is with the situation room. wolf. thanks. happening now. president obama insists it american dream is not dead. but he's getting an earful today about the public's economic pain. this hour, the president and the voters sounding off about tax cuts. class war fair and the looming battle for congress. also, critics are likening it to a fishy frankenstein alter. would you eat fish that had been
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altered? food, science, and safety. bewitched, christine o'donnell comments about her past remark that she dabbled in witchcraft when she was young. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." behind the scenes, white house aides and reporters closely watched president obama's performance at a town hall meeting in the economy today. they know that every word out of the president's mouth could influence anxious voters only 43 days before the election. the president was asked about big issues that may decide whether his party keeps control of congress from jobs and tax cuts to the anti-government mood in america. listen to the president's response at the cnbc forum when he was asked what his administration will do if tea party activists get elected. >> the problem that i've seen in the debate that's been taking place and in some of these tea
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party events is i think they're misidentifying sort of who the culprits are here. as i said before, we had to take some emergency steps last year. but the majority of the economists will tell you that the emergency steps we take are not the problem long term. the problem long term are the -- are the problems that i talked about earlier. we've got -- we had two tax cuts that weren't paid for, two wars that weren't paid for. we've got population that's getting older. it's -- we're all demanding services. but our taxes have actually substantially gone down. and so the challenge for the tea party movement is deny what will you do? it's not enough to just say get control of spending. i think it's important for you to say, you know, i'm willing to cut veterans' benefits. or i'm willing to cut medicare
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or social security benefits. or i'm willing to see these taxes go up. >> president clearly zeroing in on the topic of tax cuts. he once again extended his push to extend the bush-era breaks only for the middle class. he accuses them of holding the tax cuts hostage by insisting that wealthy americans get that extension too. how that strategy is playing with voters. dan lothian is joining us. dan? wolf, white house aides say the strategy of going after republicans singling some of them out by name, especially on the issue of tax cuts for the wealthy, is working. but as we found out, some americans have turned off by all of the finger pointing. >> from a latin bistro to a tea exchange to a hair salon, small business owners across the country are more focused on paying the bills than pondering politics. >> we're paying taxes, we're
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paying all of these insurance that everything they're adding on to us daily. >> they're struggling in a tough economy as washington debates tax cuts. and to make matters worse, some say, the president is picking a fight with a republican most americans say they barely know. >> mr.r. >> let me be clear to mr. boehner. >> reporter: do americans really care about this finger pointing? a public tit for tat played out on inn the briefing room, on morning news shows, and on twitter. >> people just don't care about all of the in-fighting. >> reporter: to flesh that out sentiment, we sent producers to three cities, orlando, philadelphia, and los angeles, and met people like margarita fernandez who owns it orlando latin bistro. >> it's somewhat of a disappointment. it's not doing nothing for our country. >> reporter: she's turned off by the bipartisan rhetoric and says it's a waste of time that could be better spent talking about solutions. jeffrey schrader who owns a spice and tea shop agrees. >> it seems childish, it's
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exhausting. people who are making decisions or who are there to make decisions are fighting amongst themselves and you wonder how anything is getting done. >> reporter: across the country, george carroll is a bit more forgiving. he understands how drawing sharp contrast in politics can be effective. but as the line of customers coming in to his business thins and more people he knows lose their jobs, the bipartisan debate, he says, has become a distraction. >> it's jobs, stupid! it's the economy, stupid. what can washington do to create -- to put people back to work? >> reporter: in philadelphia, shana who runs a dance academy has tuned everything out. she's cynical about the blame game but struggles to come up with the alternative. >> if i knew the answer to that question, i would be making a lot more money than i'm making now. >> reporter: a washington official says the president will continue to make the case that the republicans are putting up roadblocks, a charge they denied.
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and that democrats are offering real solutions. wolf? dan lothian, thank you. let's get to the republican campaign strategy right now. gop leaders are set to unveil a blueprint for reclaiming control of the house on thursday. our senior congressional correspondent dana bash and deirdre walsh, they broke the news first here on cnn. dana is joining us right now. dana, a lot of comparisons between what the republicans are planning to do this week and what they did back in 1994. >> right, you remember the images from 1994, right? it was the big, dramatic ceremony on the steps of the capital. you can see newt gingrich back then. that was their -- of course, their attempt after being in the minority for 40 years in the house to unveil their ten-point contract with america, legislation they promised to pass. but what house republicans plan to do this coming thursday is the same concept laying out an agenda for how they would govern if they're in charge, but it will look and feel very different. you will see the faces of the house republican leadership.
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i think they have them. that's who you're going to see this coming thursday. they're going to be not on the steps of the capitol but in a hardware store in northern virginia. it's by design emphasizing the issue, jobs and the economy. >> what do we know about what's going to be in their agenda? >> five major themes. the five major themes are going to be jobs, spending, health care, national security, and reform of congress itself. specifics on these things are not holding them close to the vest so far. but the economy is definitely going to be the top issue. there's no kquestion about that. and it's interesting that there's a not, we're told, from gop sources to tea party issues. no it just a promise to repeal the health care bill, but a legislation and scrutinize legislation to make sure it's constitutional. another nod to the dominance of the economy. we're told not to expect much by the way of social issues in this republican ape general da,
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abortion and gay rights and things like that. >> they're going to avoid that. why is it so important to the republicans right now to be unveiling this new agenda. >> republican strategists, we talked to them for months and months. they understood that the missing ingredient in their push to get elected and take control of congress has been that they haven't offered voters a look at what they're for. and they're not just doing enough to say but against the democrats. but, still, some republicans told us today that they're actually wary of veering from what gop sources called their 80/20 rule. they believe that this election in the words of one strategist is 80% about democrats, the president, the house speaker, and 20% about us, meaning republicans. and what they're going to do on thursday is try to fill in that 20%. but, the fact that they're going to do it in this relatively low-key way is very interesting and really telling that they still think that the dominant issue, the issue, is anger towards the democrats. >> talk about this tomorrow with the former president bill
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clinton who knows about what the republicans did in 1994 when they lost control of the house and senate. get his perspective, a special interview with him tomorrow. the controversy surrounding republican senate candidate christine o'donnell has only grown since an old clip surfaced of her talking about dabbling in witchcraft when she was young. brian todd is in delaware right now. he's investigating. also, lady gag a's main event. she's putting pressure on two u.s. senators in her campaign to get rid of don't ask don't tell. wait until you hear how a big wild fire in utah got started. you want some fiber one honey clusters? yeah. you must really care about him. what? you gave him fiber. this tastes way too good to be fiber. they're delicious crunchy clusters with sweet honey and half a day's worth of fiber. you care about my fiber?
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see your lexus dealer. jeff cafferty here with the cafferty file, jeff? wolf, for candidates who are up for election in november are spending three times more money advertising against president obama's health care law than they are for it. the president told us during the heated health care debate that reform would mean lower health care costs. well, so far, it's not happening. start in california. regulators there have now cleared all four of the state's major insurers for rate hikes. these four companies controlled 90% of california's individual health insurance policies. "the los angeles times" reports that aetna was the last company to be approved with rate hikes averaging 19%. the company is defending the
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rate hikes saying they're necessary to keep one the rising health care costs like hospital care, prescription drugs, doctor visits, etc. they said the maximum increase for some of the members will be 30%. 30%! some policy holders are rightfully concerned that they soon will not be able to afford health insurance at all. meanwhile in connecticut just up the road a piece here, regulators have approved rate hikes of 20% of the state's largest health insurer, that would be anthem blue cross/blue shield. the increases will vary depending on the plan. the costs will go up due to rising medical costs and the benefits from health care reform. this includes things like covering young adults until they turn 26, and covering full costs of preventive care, like mammograms or colonosocopies. the question is this, do you think your health care costs will rise under president obama's new health care law?
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go to to post on my blog. >> people do think they're going up already. >> that was a gift to the insurance companies, wasn't it? >> okay. yeah, jack, thank you. republicans are tentatively calling it their commitment to america. we heard earlier about their upcoming plan for winning back and governing the house of representatives. let's talk with gloria borger. this this is like the 1994 contract with america, we heard dana bash. how important is it to the republicans? >> i met with some senior republican house strategists today. it's important because you have to tell people what you're going to do. it's different from 1994, wolf. in 1994, the republicans had
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health control for 40 years in the house. they had to remind people, this is what we stand for. right now, they feel that they have a terrific issue set already out there. the stills will package, they can talk about that. the health care policies, they can talk about that. so they consider this to be more of a governing document, if you will, than a campaign document. they believe, look, it's fine for us to do it, but we don't all need to tie ourselves to the establishment in washington, our candidates are just fine on their own. happy to have it. don't need it. >> what other republicans target of opportunity in the house? >> i spoke to them today. they divided it to three groups. freshmen and sophomores. the election of 2006 and 2008, the democrats in swing districts, more than 50 of them. secondly, long-time democrats. establishment democrats they
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have been trying to knock off for years, lots of them, they have a shot at them. democrats in the northeast. republicans have had a difficult time in the northeast. they say they're about seven to eight seats each in new york state and ohio, for example, that they consider to be targets of opportunity. and don't forget, there are 48 democrats right now in districts that john mccain won. that's a real target of opportunity. >> they need 39 to become the majority in the house of representatives. now, if the democrats supposedly nationalized this election, how do the republicans respond to that? >> as george bush once said, bring it on. they're very happy to nationalize the election. you know, they say it may work in some senate seats for democrats, run against the tea party, etc. but in house races, they say what this is going to do is bring out the republican base. they're not going to be happy to
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see anyone demonizing anybody in the republican party. they say it will only help them locally in their elections. so if they want to make it about barack obama, that's what the republicans want. so fine with them. >> gloria, thanks very much. >> sure. the worst economic downturn since the great depression has now officially been declared over. so how does president obama plan to raise consumer confidence? i'll ask mark zandi. that's coming up. and a heightened concern in the thaus the cout the country a threat -- we're talking about iran. mahmud ahmadinejad is in new york. he's got a message for barack obama. and the former president of the united states, bill clinton, sitting down with me in "the situation room" in the clinton global initiative tomorrow. that interview coming up in "the situation room" tomorrow. check it out. i can like, see everything that's going on with the car. here's the gas level.
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jake bald wynn is monitoring some of the other top stories in the situation room right now. kate, what's going on? the utah governor said the raging wild fire started by national guard and munition could soon be out. authorities are optimistic that winds have shifted and temperatures have dropped. the fire has burned about 10,000 acres and evacuation orders remain in place for some 5,000 people, although residents with specific needs are being allowed in briefly. four homes were destroyed. and a weakening hurricane igor is now moving away from bermuda after hammering the
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island. the storm took down a number of trees and left 2/3 of the area without power. there were no serious injuries or deaths. thankfully high surf advisories have been issued for most of the seaboard as igor heads north and a tropical storm watch is in effect for parts of newfoundland. former defense secretary donald rumsfeld is speaking out. he isn't holding back. his long anticipated memoir is set to be released in january. the book entitled, known and unknown is a play on his infamous 2002 quote referring to the war on iraq. rumsfeld is expected to reveal new details about the bush administration, 9/11, and the wars in iraq and afghanistan. and music star lady gaga is making headlines again today. she's making a last-ditch attempt at rallying support for a key senate vote on the military's controversial don't ask don't tell policy. the entertainer appeared in maine today to pressure the state's two gop senators to vote
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to begin debate on a defense spending bill that includes a repeal of the provision. so far, it hasn't worked. democrats are falling short of the 60 votes needed to open the debate. and the vote is set for tomorrow. and right now, woman, our capitol hill unit says the vote is too close to call. >> susan collins and olympia snowe, the moderate republican senators from maine are not going to listen to lady gaga. is that what you're saying? >> so far indicating that they're sticking with their party. lady gaga is making an attempt. the capitol hill unit says it's too close to call. critics say president obama is pitting the risks facing the middle class. the danger of turning off wealthy voters. and an exclusive interview with the french first lady, carla bruni. she's setting the record straight about what michelle obama told her about life in the white house. be sure to join us tomorrow for the one-on-one interview with
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you're in the situation room. happening now, the french first lady speaking out exclusively to cnn. she's trying to set the record straight on what michelle obama told her about life in the white house. stand by. you can't find it in the water but some day may be on your dinner table. just ahead, the growing debate over genetically engineered salmon. i'm wo blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we received an official end date today for the worst economic downturn since the great depressi depression. the national bureau of economic research says the recession that began back in december of 2007 lasted 18 months and ended in june of last year. that's cold comfort, though, for millions of americans who are out of work or suffering financially in some way. let's talk about some of the big questions about the economy and jobs as election day approaches with mark zandi.
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he's the chief economist for moody's. thanks very much for coming in. >> thanks, wolf. >> this horrible 18-month recession, it seems so much longer because of the joblessness that's out there. is it fair to say that this is a jobless recovery? >> i think that's fair. i think this proclamation that the recession ended just over a year ago, something only an economist can appreciate. you know, the value of all of the things that we produced, gdp, has been growing, and, thus, the end of the recession. but it's not been growing fast enough to get businesses to go out and hire, certainly not hire enough to bring down unemployment. until unemployment is falling, i don't think anybody is going to feel really good about this. >> economists define recession as two consecutive quarters with negative economic growth. in other words, six months of negative economic growth. we haven't had that since june of last year. will we have it again? in other words, do you foresee a double dip recession?
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>> no, i don't think so. i think the recovery will remain intact. but it is very fragile. economic growth is slow. as i said, not fast enough to bring down unemployment. with the unemployment rate that's likely to move higher, there's no cushion here. if anything goes wrong, we will be back in to that double dip. but, barring that kind of scenario, barring getting hit from left field, i think we have enough staying power here to make our way through and by this time next year, hopefully the expansion will take hold. >> the republicans argue that unless you keep the tax rates the same for everyone, middle class and the wealthy, then you have a greater chance of getting that double dip recession, the democrats including the president say let the tax rates stay the same for the middle class 97% of taxpayers out there. but for the wealthiest, those making more than $200,000 or $250,000 a year, let it go back down to the tax rates of the '90s.
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what would be the impact of either scenario on the possibility of another recession? >> if the tax cuts expire for everybody, which neither the president or the republican congress is saying, that's a possibility given the political wittry oriole we're seeing in washington, that would be fodder for a double dip recession. that would do it. if the president's proposal is adopted and tax rates rise for upper income house holds, i don't think it will be enough to push us back in to recession, but it would be a weight on the economic recovery which, as i said, is very fragile. i wouldn't take that chance. i would -- i would allow no tax cuts, no tax increases, i should say, for 2011, when the recovery is so fragile. wait until 2012, 2013, when the recovery is on sounder ground. at that point, we can think about letting those tax rates rise to address our long-term fiscal problems.
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not in 2011, the recovery is too fragile to take that risk. >> if the tax rates stay the same throughout 2011, that's better for job creation than if you -- if you increased taxes for the wealthiest? >> yes. that is true. yes, that is true. that is clearly the case. we get to 2012 and 2013 and the economy is improved and we need to focus on bringing down the deficits and getting the debt load down, at that point, i think it would be okay to allow the tax rates to rise to generate the revenue that we need to address that problem. but not in 2011. i just think that it's taking too big a chance with this very weak recovery. >> as you know, a lot of major companies out there, they're sitting on a lot of cash. they're making money. they have profits but they're reluctant to go out and hire a lot of people right now. what if anything can the president do to strengthen their confidence that this is a good time to take that cash, remove it from the sidelines and start
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hiring a lot of people. >> you make a really good point. and the profits of big and mid sized companies is the most fundamental reason for optimism here. it's no longer a question when these businesses go out and expand and hire. it's an expansion of a question. that's an important distinction. they're just about there. we need the businesses to engage and begin to hire. the key impediments are one credit for small businesses. they have having a tough time getting credit. and the other is confidence. part of that goes to the policy uncertainty. so, the most important thing congress and the administration i think i can do is nail down what we think about these tax cuts. the uncertainty we're creating is causing them to remain cautious and not deploy all of the cash on the balance sheet. >> eyeball to eyeball on these tax rates right now. everybody's taxes will increase if the congress doesn't do something. they have to do something by the end of the year in order to
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allow the bush tax cuts to continue. how do you see this playing out? >> i'm an economist, not a political strategist. that question is a little out of our strike zone. but let me say, the economic logic would argue that nobody's taxes would rise in 2011 because we need to make sure that the recovery is in full swing. by 2012, 2013, allow the tax rates and the house holds to revert back where they were in the upper '90s. at that point, i don't think the tax rates would be significant enough to change their saving and working behavior and we need the revenues to address the long-term fiscal problems because it's going to be the next big problem. >> paul krugman wrote in "the new york times" today, this --
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you agree with that assessment? >> i don't know. i would say that these elected officials have to get votes from the house holds, a lot of them in the middle income house holds. i think they're listening to everybody. they're trying to do what's best. everyone has a different perspective on this. these are very uncertain times. i don't think i described those kinds of motivations to the decisions being made. i think these are earnest people trying to make tough decisions in a very difficult time. >> mark zandi is the chief economist for moody's. thanks for coming in. >> thank you. in our top stories, a new milestone in the war in afghanistan. we'll check in on what's going on there. and we're also learning about a small plane crash on a major interstate highway.
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monitoring stories in the
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situation room. what's going on? >> just in to cnn, the faa confirms a small plane crash in the interstate in the atlanta area. it's not clear if it went down on takeoff or landing. it's licensed to a company in georgia and the pilot appears to be okay. a suspected serial stabber jail in michigan could face new charges as soon as today. he's expected in court on one count of premeditated murder and four counts of assault. he's suspected of stabbing eight people in three different states. five of whom were killed. many believe the attacks targeted african-americans. the suspect's lawyer says there's little evidence against his client. british forces in afghanistan are handing over responsibility of a major taliban strong hold to u.s. marines. the transfer in the helmand province district was first announced to authorities in july. it comes amidst heavy losses in the region. the handover was made possible by the increase of u.s. troops
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in the country. >> and, wolf, my dear, you know you're my bff, but you may be surprised to find out that that is one of the newest entries in the new oxford american dictionary. joining best friend forever in the big book are other texting short cuts including lmao -- that means laughing my "buns" off. and we can thank sarah palin of another edition of "hockey mom." this may be the biggest addition of web speak and slang words ever in the oxford dictionary. wolf, ttyl, talk to you later. that's the biggest list of the day. >> omg -- lol, are those on the list too? >> i'm going to check. >> see if omg and lol are. >> i will, i promise. >> thank you, get back to me. >> okay. the obama family makes a rare church visit. could it be a political move? we'll talk about that and a lot more in our strategy session. and delaware is a
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controversial republican candidate. now scrambling to answer embarrassing questions about her past. we're live at christine o'donnell's campaign headquarters.
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into revolutionary performance. one word makes the difference between defining the mission and accomplishing the mission. one word makes the difference in defending our nation and the cause of freedom. how... is the word that makes all the difference. right to our strategy session. joining us, donna brazile and the republican strategist, ed r rawlings. is it fair to say right now if sarah palin decides to run for the republican nomination, goes to iowa, might be three or four or five other republican
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candidates, white guys running, and her. she's the front-runner to capture the iowa republican caucuses? >> she certainly is the most significant republican on the scene today. obviously mike huckabee decided to give up his fox show and go back and be a viable candidate. and i have to preface it by saying i was his chairman. but he went on -- hep won that last time. she's got to run a grassroots campaign. she can't just bop in and make speeches. reminds me of ronald reagan in 1980. he was the great love of iowa having been a radio announcer and everything. the strategist of this campaign, which i was not the principle at that point in time argued he didn't have to go to iowa. george bush went to iowa and did all of the things that he had to do, he won that and lost his career. so if sarah palin wants to be a viable candidate, she ha to go in for the next year and work like any other candidate. >> not just mike huckabee, but sarah palin would have to give up her fox career as well. she's a contributor to fox. if she does win iowa.
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and i think a strong case could be made, donna, that she could win the iowa caucuses. i don't think she can win the new hampshire primary. she could then win the south carolina primary where she's popular among the conservative republican base. if she wins two of the first three contests, does she get the republican nomination? >> we're a long way from the february 62012 caucus. >> what do you think? historically, whoever the republican is who wins two or three of the first contests gets the nomination. >> look, she's a woman -- she's a woman. and we know that woman candidates face unique hurdles. there's no question that she's filling a lot of air time. she's the social media queen of the moment. if she tweets, everybody, you know, overanalyzes her remarks. but i still think ed is right -- the folks out in -- in iowa want to hear from you. they want you to work it. they want you to come to those -- those festivals, those county fairs. if sarah palin is willing to put
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in the work, then she will reap the harvest in terms of the votes. but, look, the republican primary may reward the most conservative person in the room, but you know new hampshire is unpredictab unpredictable. those voters up there sometime do not like to endorse the winner of the iowa caucuses. so, it's going to be a tough primary for sarah palin if she decides to run. and right now, thoeptz guy thos not putting a glove on her. come 2012, the moment after thee election season, they'll start to knock her around. >> the presidential season will begin the day after the november 2 midterm elections. the race to iowa, new hampshire, south carolina, michigan, that begins for the republicans. same question to you, ed, if she wins iowa and south carolina and the stage is set for michigan, does she win the republican nomination? >> she'd be awful hard to stop if she won those two. you know, at the end of the day, she wants to run a real campaign, she's going to be a serious candidate, no matter who
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else is in the race. the question is, is she going to put operatives together, is she going to raise money? is she going to do the things -- it's easy to tweet and whatever else she does. but getting in the trenches and working hard and getting the daylights beat out of you and going 16-hour days a tough one to go through as we all have done it. we think she takes all of the oxygen out of the air next year if she thinks she can -- >> i don't want to use boxing metaphors with women, i'm not knocking her around, dragging her -- these are metaphors we use in politics, of course, we know in presidential politics is it's down and dirty. and if -- the you're not ready to go out there and really get yourself devoted to spending weeks at a time in those various counties, i want's very tough to win those iowa caucuses. not as easy as you think. >> not saying it's easy at all. i'm asking the questions. here's the question for you, donna. the president and the first family, they went to church here in washington, first time in a long time they were cybilly seen going to church.
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is this a deliberate new political strategy? what's going on here? >> you know, president obama's devotion to the christian faith is maligned and distorted by his critics. he's devoted to strengthening not only his christian faith. if he goes to church when he's at -- when he's at the place in maryland -- what do you call it -- look, i have -- camp david. thank you, lord, 50 years old, i have to watch it now. but, and he has a circle of christian pastors and advisors, we all know that president obama would like to spend more time visiting -- at a church community across the city of the district of columbicolumbia. but every time they leave the white house, they tie up traffic. so he's decided the best way to show his devotion is not only walk across the street, do it inside the white house, do it at camp david, but he's devoted to his christian faith. >> he walked with the family across lafayette park from the white house to this church.
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and, ed, very quickly, a thought? >> it's been 17 months. the great churches in washington, d.c., great african, white churches. he should join a church, he should practice his christian faith publicly. it's an important part of the president's inspirational role. you do that, all of this other stuff would have gone away a long time ago. thank you. jeff cafferty is asking do you think your health care costs will rise under the new health care law? >> also, some fireworks, seems to be, when the iranian president comes to new york to address the united nations. what will ahmadinejad do this time in week in new york? and what happened after a fire shut down a commuter train -- a commuter train bridge in new york.
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cafferty file". >> do you think your health care costs are going to rise under president obama's new health care law? they've already begun to in some places. chuck writes, it's sure looking that way. this is what happens when you only do a job halfway. republicans should have put their country ahead of themselves and allowed this bill to pass as intended.
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democrats forcing this bill through should have gone the full nine yards or not done it at all. thanks a lot, guy. your bickering comes back to hurt all of us. jorge writes i don't know if you're being disingenuous or not, but none of the health reform law takes effect until 2014, which was a mistake in its own right. all those rate hikes and the creased costs you mentioned are happening under the old system, the one obama wanted to change and the one that republicans and some conservative democrats want to keep. if anything, all these rate hikes argue for reform, not against it, although reform might make a convenient scapegoat for the insurance companies as they go about their gouging of the customers. lori in pennsylvania writes, in all the debates about the health care reform bill, i never heard that something would be done about how much health insurance companies could and would charge. under obama's health care law with health insurance companies having to accept people with preexisting conditions, of course they will rise. that is reason to once again up
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health insurance rates. al writes, yes, but not as much as they would have without the new law. david says, absolutely. you can't add coverage for 30 million new people and risk and not see cost rise. i learned that in the 7th grade. and last year, our health insurance went up 25%. we're under a federal employee health insurance plan. i'm scared what this year is going to bring. if you want to read more on this, go to >> lot of people are nervous, jack. >> absolutely. >> thank you. it looks like salmon and it tastes like salmon, but is it safe to eat fish that have been genetically engineered? the fda is asking some questions. so are we. and a new book about the french first lady, carla bruni, has created a stir for what it says about michelle obama and her life in the white house. carla bruni is speaking out in an exclusive cnn interview. >> but i do live in france. and france is a free country. i want to give my 5 employees health insurance,
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but i just can't afford it. i have diabetes. i didn't miss a premium payment for 10 years. and i'm worried if i lose my job, i won't be able to afford insurance. when i graduated from college, i lost my health insurance. the minute i got sick, i lost my insurance. not anymore. not anymore. not anymore. america's healthcare reforms change lives for the better. to find out how it can help you, visit us at it's not just fair, it's the law.
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a major week getting under way in new york city right now as leaders from around the world gather for the united nations general assembly. among those taking the international stage, the iranian president, mahmoud ahamadinejad. let's bring in our foreign affairs correspondent, jill daugherty. she's getting ready for a very busy week in new york. jill? >> wolf, president ahamadinejad always seems to make headlines when he's here at the u.n.
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he's likely to face criticism on his human rights stand, but he's trying to change the dynamics. depicting himself as a humanitarian. but his critics aren't buying it. anti-ahamadinejad demonstrations on a roll on the streets of new york. the iranian president is here for the u.n. general assembly. outside his hotel, his critics want the management to kick him out of his room. >> we don't believe in peace with the iranian government. >> reporter: the committee says iranians ought to kick him out of office. >> we've seen over the past year that people come to the streets and demand these changes and all they're faced with is execution. >> reporter: organizers are planning a demonstration against president ahamadinejad. it's going to be taking place on thursday at the united nations just about a block down from here. and it would be taking place at the very time that president
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ahamadinejad addresses the united nations general assembly. organizers say they hope to bring 20,000 people into the streets. this week in new york, ahamadinejad is on a pr offensive, addressing a session on tackling world poverty, giving interviews, trying to prove he's not the monster his critics make him out to be. telling abc news that after he helped free american hiker sarah s shourd, there should be payback from president obama. >> translator: it should not be misplaced to ask that the u.s. government make a gesture to release the iranians who were illegally arrested. >> reporter: the u.s. says those cases have nothing to do with each other. for the obama administration, the real showdown here is over iran's nuclear program. president obama told a cnbc town hall he's hoping tough sanctions
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will work before israel takes matters into its own hands. >> we don't think that a war between israel and iran or military options would be the ideal way to solve this problem. but we are keeping all our options on the table. >> reporter: but between hanging tough on nukes and his brutal crackdown on the opposition since last year's election, ahamadinejad has few friends left at home or abroad. >> well, he certainly has an increasingly small circle of people that he trusts and that are willing to support him. >> reporter: but he can count on some world leaders here this week who are willing to hear him out, such as hugo chavez and the leaders of turkey and brazil, two growing powers trying to mediate his stand-off with the west. ahamadinejad insists sanctions aren't going to work. he is prepared to talk about his nuclear program, he says, but only under respectful conditions. u.s. officials don't expect any
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major breakthroughs this week, but they do tell us they expect things to happen in the not-so-distant future. there could be some movement behind the scenes this week to help that happen. wolf? >> when you say behind the scenes, what does that mean? what types of scenarios are you hearing? >> well, it could be, you know, talking that there actually is willingness. you're hearing some of that from president obama today, that they're willing still to engage, you know, much more positive words than you might have expected from the president coming out today. so behind the scenes, it could be let's get real, let's begin to really talk. it depends a lot, of course, on both sides. >> jill, thanks very much. major world leaders will also be gathering in new york city this week for the annual clinton global initiative meeting. the former president, bill clinton, will be my special guest right here in "the situation room" tomorrow. we'll talk about his initiative, we'll talk politics, we'll talk about a whole lot more. that's tomorrow right here in "the situation room."
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and you're in "the situation room." happening now, new political star christine o'donnell says she once dabbled in witchcraft, but some delaware voters may be more bothered and bewildered by serious questions about her finances. why her campaign is suddenly scrambling. lady gaga leads the charge to get rid of the military's don't ask, don't tell policy, but can the pop star convince a couple of u.s. senators to go along? and a cnn exclusive this hour. the french first lady, carla bruni, tells you what michelle obama really told her about life in the white house. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- president obama today came face-to-face with the anger and the deep disappointment that's sweeping the country at the
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heart of it, the long economic slump and the slow recovery. the president appeared at a town hall-style meeting on cnbc. listen to this. >> i'm exhausted. i'm 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. i have been told that i voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. i'm one of those people, and i'm waiting, sir. i'm waiting. i don't feel it yet. >> my goal here is not to try to convince you that everything is where it needs to be. it's not. that's why i ran for president. but what i am saying is that we're moving in the right direction. >> like a lot of people in my generation, i was really inspired by you and by your campaign and message that you brought. and that inspiration is dying away. it feels like the american dream is not attainable to a lot of us. and what i'm really hoping to
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hear from you is several concrete steps that you're going to take, moving forward, that will be able to reignite my generation, reignite the youth who were beset by student loans. i really want to know, is the american dream dead for me? >> absolutely not. look, we still have the best universities in the world, we've got the most dynamic private sector in the world, we've got the most productive workers in the world. there is not a country in the world that would not want to change places with us. for all the problems that we've got, as tough as things are right now, we are still the country that billions of people around the world look to and aspire to. and i want everybody to always remember that. >> right now, the president is on the road. he's busy raising money for democratic candidates trying to keep their heads above water amid a rising populous tide. the latest example of that, the
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tea party backed christine o'donnell who beat the mainstream republican candidate in last week's senate primary in delaware. she claims she's pulled in close to $2 million since her win last week. christine o'donnell may be the political star of the moment in delaware, perhaps elsewhere, but from her finances to her beliefs, she's been dogged by questions about her past. o'donnell canceled sessions on two sunday talk shows, but is due this hour to make an appearance in delaware. our brian todd is in delaware right now. he's at o'donnell's campaign headquarters with more. a lot of folks are taking a look at the stuff she said and has done over the years, brian. >> they are, wolf. they're hoping for answers on some of that pretty soon. they may get it tonight. christine o'donnell about to appear behind me here. not clear if she's going to answer some of the questions that you mentioned, those questions that have been hounding her campaign for the past couple of days. you know, a short time ago we got an inside look at her
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shoestring campaign headquarters. real incisight into how her staffers are handling the media attention. christine o'donnell and her staff scrambling to show they're ready for primetime in delaware and beyond. this house, not the place you'd expect to find a hot campaign that's already beaten one political machine and is taking on another. inside the o'donnell campaign headquarters now, looks like a small operation right now, but it's getting booted up very fast. about eight people are inside here right now. we're told that some of them not only work here but live here. five people live in this townson as well. >> it's here that we're looking for answers about questions with o'donnell's personal past. like this comment in 1999 on bill mahr's old show. >> i dabbled into witch craft. >> reporter: officials say that episode was a moment of soul
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searching in her youth. the campaign provides us this clip of her defense at a public event sunday. >> i was in high school. how many of you have been hanging out with questionable foeb folks in high school? there's been no witchcraft since. >> reporter: but o'donnell's team has serious questions to answer about her finances. citizens for responsibility and ethics in washington, a campaign watchdog group, wants federal and state officials to look into one persistent accusation. >> what we're most concerned about is that ms. o'donnell appears to have committed numerous crimes by misusing her campaign funds for personal use. >> reporter: a charge levelled by her opponents and a past official of one of her campaigns. slicker, more established operations would have issued a statement. this campaign is scrambling to bring on more staff, including people to handle press questions. campaign manager matt moran is reluctant to go on camera but then agrees.
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to the broader charges from several different quarters that she's misused campaign money, what is your response? >> well, several different quarters would qualify as a lot of the establishment. and then for the supposedly bipartisan organizations that are -- have brought forth a suit, you know, i am very confident that they will be dismissed as frivolous and for the charges that need to be articulated fully, we have some lawyers that will be looking at that and addressing those concerns. >> matt moran later told me christine o'donnell has been living off her savings. she's been paying for personal expenses with some money that she's earned doing pr work for a client. when i asked for specifics about who that client is and the money and the work involved, that official declined to give those specifics, citing privacy concerns. this campaign is unlike few we've ever covered. living and working in a cramped townhouse, struggling to work with all of the notoriety
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they've gotten and all that comes with it, including fending off withering attacks from opponents. >> they have raised the last few days nearly $2 million. that should help with their finances. brian, what is the campaign saying about her decision to cancel those two sunday talk show interviews? >> we pressed them about that today. they said they were not ducking the media. they were not trying to duck the questions about witchcraft and the finances or anything. they said it was a logistical problem, a communications snafu. she was triple booked, she was booked for two events in delaware at the same time that a pr firm that they're getting up to speed, just hiring to take on media questions, was booking her on those talk shows. simply a communication problem. they say that's all that it was. she was not ducking anyone. >> we've invited her to join us here at "the situation room." we'd love to interview her and chris kuns, her opponent. thank you, brian, for that. later this hour, christine o'donnell will be taking part in a candidates forum in delaware
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in middleton, delaware. she's expected to speak shortsly. her democratic opponent will not be at that forum. we'll monitor to see what she says. there is another upset winner who has appeared seemingly out of nowhere. we're talking about alaska's joe miller. john king is joining us now. he hosts "john king usa" at the top of the hour. you spoke to joe miller. how did that go? >> he's the republican senate nominee in alaska, but now he's got more crowd in the field. lisa murkowski announced she'll run as a write-in candidate. she promised to support joe miller and not run as a write-in or a third-party candidate and now she's broken that promise. he continues to hold a hard line saying that in the future, the federal government needs to make tough decisions about medicaid, about social security. he's getting hit from lisa murkowski on one side and bill clinton also criticized joe miller, who said that long-term unemployment benefits in his view are unconstitutional. bill clinton saying that he
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doesn't think putting ten more people in -- 10 million more people in the bread lines is not the way to get the economy back. joe miller was unapologetic about that. >> you've got to remember why are we at this point anyway? why we're talking about expanding unemployment compensation for a much longerperilonger period than in the past. the reason why is because this federal government has kept down the american worker, has kept down the american economy, whether it's by obama care, whether it's that 1099 requirement, whether it's by taxation, the party of bill clinton is the problem. of course, it's wider than that as well, but they are a major problem. >> some think the democrat could even win that race right now. it is fascinating when you talk to him and the other tea party candidates. they don't back down. they say there's fiscal insanity in washington. if that means ovtime scaling back or even eliminating social security for future generations, they're willing to have that conversation. scaling back medicare, they're willing to have that
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conversation. his opponents call it radical. joe miller says look at all the red ink in washington. >> so if you have two republicans basically splitting the republican conservative vote, does that potentially open the door for the democrat to sneak in? >> it does. the big question now is the national democratic committees had stayed out of that race assuming the republican, whoever won the republican nomination, would win. now that you have two republicans in the race, the democrats have to decide whether to invest precious resources up in alaska. as you know, there are so many competitive races across the country, and most of them democrats on defense. resources will be scarce for the final weeks. it's an opportunity, but also a tough challenge for the democrats for them to make that risky investment. >> tough decision there. thank you, john. this tea party momentum keeps rolling. now they're targeting yet another state. our deputy political director paul steinhouser and mark preston, they're at our political desk right now. we're talking about west
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virginia, paul. that's next, right? >> you are absolutely right, wolf. we're talking about robert byrd. the democratic senator died earlier this year. this is going to be a special election in november. the democratic governor there, pretty popular, is the nominee, but republicans think they have a good shot at taking back this seat. look at this. the freedom works, a conservative grassroots group here in d.c. but they back tea party movement organizations. and they are now eyeing that seat. they say they'll help the republican candidate there, john racy. they'll help him get out the vote. i tell you, they targeting west virginia now, freedom works. if they can take west virginia, the republicans have a shot at winning back the senate. wolf some. >> let me bring in mark for a moment. mark, the -- the democrats are pushing back against this whole tea party phenomenon right now. the president and the vice president, for example, they're on the road. >> they are, wolf. really, look, the president is not on the ballot in november, but this election will be a ref
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ru rendm on this policies. he's raising money in philadelphia for democratic candidates. he'll do the same in new york later this week. not only him, joe biden will be in four states this week, wolf, raising money, trying to get as much money as possible to run these very expensive ad campaigns. i just got off the phone with democratic officials and what they're telling me at this point is that the tea party will be a big issue for them. they will try to frame the tea party as an out-of-control organization and they'll try to tie the republican party to it. this is what joe biden said just a few hours ago at a fund-raiser for ted strickland, the ohio governor. he said don't compare me to the almighty. compare me to the alternative. the republican tea party is the alternati alternative. that's the message he's telling democrats to tell their friends into the midterm elections. >> mark preston, thanks to you and to paul. we're talking politics tomorrow, among other stuff, with the former president, bill clinton. he's got a lot on his mind. he's my special guest tomorrow in "the situation room."
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jack cafferty is coming up next with "the cafferty file." then texting and driving. the deadly toll it's taking on america's roads and highways. and a pop star pressuring lawmakers to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the u.s. military. will lady gaga's rally have an impact? ♪
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jack cafferty is here with "the cafferty file." jack? >> raising taxes on wealthy americans could wind up driving them right out of the country. in a recent letter to the "wall street journal," a california real estate executive wrote that although he makes more than $250,000, he doesn't consider his family wealthy. glenn says he's still paying off school loans for three kids, he has no funded retirement plan except for social security, and no guarantee of permanent health care. yet he believes people making more than $250,000 a year are vilified and held accountable for paying for the government's runaway spending. quoting here, apparently our president thinks that living in america is so wonderful that we will never leave despite being directly attacked. he should think again, unquote.
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a los angeles times reporter asked him if he really expected wealthy americans to consider leaving this country because their tax rate might rise from 35% to 39.6%. he responded that although he's not an expert, he has received a lot of support from people who agree with him. one possibility, he says, is bermuda. short hop from the u.s. coast. while you do have to battle an occasional hurricane, the islanders pay no income tax. most economists think it's a good idea to extend the bush tax cuts for everyone, despite the president's call to let them expire for the wealthiest americans. polled 31 leading economists, and 18 of them said extending the tax cuts for all of us is the most important thing congress can do to help the economy. only three of these economists back president obama's plan to raise taxes for the wealthiest americans. so here's the question. if your wealth was threatened by
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rising taxes, would you consider moving to another country? go to, post a comment on my blog. wolf? >> sounds extreme, jack, to actually leave the united states, even if your taxes are going up. >> well, i mean, the jobs are leaving. why not some of the citizens, too? >> yeah. i hope they stay. i like these fellow americans. don't want them to go to bermuda. >> it is a nice place. >> visit, but don't live there. >> the problem with going to bermuda, you might have trouble duplicating that $250,000 a year income. >> yeah, that would be a problem. thank you, jack. stock markets, by the way, rallied to four-month highs today. the dow was up 145 points. the nasdaq and the s&p 500 reach up about 1.5%. investors may have been reacting to the news that recession here in the united states is officially over. actually, it ended in june of last year, but the call was made today by the national bureau of economic research. hindsight, yes, but simply put,
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that organization now has more data, more information, to work with. joining us now is our senior political analyst, david gergen. this was the longest recession since the great depression. it's now technically over, but for millions of americans it certainly doesn't feel over. >> it sure doesn't. you know, reagan used to say that a recession is when your neighbor loses his job and a depression is when you lose your job. and for an awful lot of americans right now, their neighbors still don't have work. even if you're working, everybody knows at least one person and most people know a lot more than one person who doesn't have a job. and it feels like a recession. and it -- you know, this is so painful coming out of this, so slow coming out of this. you know, wolf, there's been a lot of talk about are we entering a lost decade like japan's? there's a lot of evidence that we've been going through a lost decade. incomes have been flat for ten years. we haven't created new jobs over the last ten years. these are rough times for
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people. >> you know, mark zandi, the chief economist for moody's, he said this is clearly a jobless recovery. it may be a recovery, but it's a jobless recovery. >> and what has been disturbing, wolf, is that the last couple of recoveries have been pretty jobless. we used to, you know, sort of go down fast and then we'll come out fast. and, you know, for example barks in the reagan years when we went down so fast, the year after the recovery was over, we had about 7% growth. here we are with this apneumic growth at 2% right now, and it just -- it's slow and jobless. and that's a danger -- very dangerous political territory for the democrats obviously. >> if it's a jobless recovery in 2012, how much danger would that put president obama as far as reelection is concerned? >> well, let's put it -- if the economy comes back, i think he'll be in pretty good shape. if it does not come back, then an awful lot of questions will
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arise about who the nominee is on the other side. if we get a fringe candidate, if we get an extremist, i think obama still wins. if the republicans can bring themselves to -- to nominate someone who is much more mainstream, then obama may be beatable. right now, i think probably odds are he's going to -- the odds have been changing in favor of the republicans in the last few months. >> david, thanks very much. >> take care. thank you, wolf. join us tomorrow for my one-on-one interview with the former president, bill clinton, on his global initiative, what advice he has to help the ailing economy, and a lot more. my interview with bill clinton. that's coming up tomorrow right here on "the situation room." kate baldwin is monitoring other top stories, including disturbing new findings in education. what countries rank worse when it comes to giving kids a chance to learn? and a massive tribute to ronald reagan at sea.
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we're monitoring the other top stories in "the situation room" right now. kate, what's going on? >> texting behind the wheel
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remains a deadly problem in the u.s. the government says distracted driving accounted for 16% of traffic deaths in 2009. the same as in 2008. it's blamed for more -- more than 5,400 deaths and more than 440,000 injuries last year. tomorrow transportation secretary ray lahoud will host a summit on distracted driving. the global economic downturn is taking a toll on education. the world's poorest countries are cutting more than $4 billion a year from their schools. that's according to a new report by the global campaign for education. it also says 69 million children who should be in school are not. it ranks somalia, haiti as having the world's poorest access to education. service on new york city's metro north commuter trains has resumed today after a fire closed the bridge used by all three lines to and from grand
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central station. wood pilings underneath the span ignited late this morning. look at those flames. it took about 60 firefighters just over an hour to contain the fire. fortunately, no one was hurt. and a tribute to ronald reagan. sailors formed his initials and the number 100 in tribute to the upcoming centennial anniversary of his birth. reagan was born february 6th, 1911, and tied at the age of 93. you would have no idea those were actually sailors out there forming that. that's pretty impressive. >> very impressive. a nice tribute to the former president of the united states aboard the uss ronald reagan. thanks for that. speaking of presidents, i'll interview bill clinton tomorrow here in "the situation room." we'll discuss the economy, politics, his global einitiative, and much more. the interview with bill clinton, tomorrow. and lady gaga makes a big
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push to overturn the ban on allowing gays to serve openly in the united states military. so what is she doing in maine? and a cnn exclusive. the french first lady, carla bruni, on what america's first lady really told her about life in the white house. the interview, this hour here in "the situation room." [ male announcer ] not one person climbing everest has ever stopped at the drive-thru window for breakfast on the way to the top.
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a critical senate vote is scheduled tomorrow on repealing the ban on gays serving openly in the united states military. today lady gaga headlined a rally in the state of maine, calling on the state's two moderate republican senators to vote with democrats to let debate on the bill begin. >> i'm here because they inspire me. i'm here because i believe in them. i'm here because don't ask, don't tell is wrong. it's unjust. and fundamentally it is against all that we stand for as americ americans. >> let's bring in chris lawrence, who is watching this debate unfold. lots of pressure to let the debate begin in the senate tomorrow. what are you hearing at the pentagon? what do they want?
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>> they're not exactly going crazy over gaga, if that's what you mean. a senior defense official was asked this morning whether officials were going to keep an eye on this rally and they said, no, not really. they think it's clearly aimed at the political side of this argument, not necessarily at the military side. you can bet a lot of the senators and like that, they'll be paying attention. but she came to that rally in maine trying to convince the two republican senators and right around the same time as this was getting started, one of those republican senators, olympia snowe, said that she still favors waiting until the pentagon's review of this policy is completed in december before taking any action. so there's some question whether they're going to have the votes there. just to bring people up to speed, the house passed its version of repealing don't ask, don't tell. the senate would also have to do so. but it remains to be seen if the
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democrats have enough votes to block any republican filibuster, wolf. >> they need 60 votes. not going to be easy to get that. if they do get the vote in the senate to begin the debate, the situation could move rather quickly. >> that's right. if you go back even just a few months, the idea that this could come up so quickly wasn't really on anyone's radar. people were looking much further out. now to that end, the pentagon has set up a working group that is looking at these issues. you know, if it was repealed, would gay and straight troops share barracks? would benefits apply to same-sex partners? they're even looking at things such as public displays of affection. they're not taking a stand on anything. the working group is more looking at how it would be implemented if it came to that, to sort of get ahead of the curve. also, there are several -- there are surveys that have gone out to the troops.
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now the pentagon has even sent out surveys to spouses, husbands and wives of service members. we're told today about 38,000 of those have already come back. so on the military side, there's a great deal of interest in this topic. >> we'll see how this debate unfolds. the iranian president, mahmoud ahamadinejad, is in new york city right now for the meeting of the united nations general assembly. he arrived a day after the american hiker, sarah shourd, was released from an iranian prison. let's talk about that with fran townsend. fran is an external board advisor for the kcia and the homeland security department. two hikers remain in iranian jails. ahamadinejad says he wants iranians released from american prisons. are there iranians in american prisons right now? >> you know, wolf, as you appreciate, under our constitution, if iranians are arrested here in the united
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states, they have access to an independent lawyer. they can confront the witnesses and evidence against them, they're entitled to ask for bail, they're entitled to have contact with their consular officials and representatives here in the united states. a whole series of rights that americans don't seem to be granted when they're taken into custody in iran. and so it's understandable that he might raise the -- the u.s. having in custody iranian citizens, but it's by no means fair to -- to make the analogy to americans like these two hikers, not to mention remember there's also robert levenson, a retired fbi official, who did appeared. he's never even been acknowledged by the iranian government. and may not even still be living. and so there is not -- this is not one for one. it is unfair of ahamadinejad to suggest that there's any parody between them. >> as far as you -- you know, your contacts and your information is concerned, a deal, releasing some iran you
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kn know -- iranians, you think that's a non-starter. >> yes. iran did the right thing by releasing sarah shourd. she's got two friends still in custody there, and she's advocating for their release. there is additional pressure brought on iran while ahamadinejad is in new york at the u.n. general assembly. she's right to raise it. there are lots of issues. i don't think you'll see a deal get cut there. >> ahamadinejad is going to sit down with larry king this week. the french first lady sets the record straight about her american counterpart. we're talking about carla bruni. she speaks exclusively with cnn about michelle obama. stand by. and would you eat genetically engineered salmon? the fda is speaking out. so are critics who call it frankenfish.
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the french president, nicolas sarkozy, and his wife, carla bruni, they are in new york. he's speaking at the united nations. she's speaking out about a quote attributed to the u.s. first lady, michelle obama. carla bruni spoke exclusively
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about it with cnn. tell our viewers what this controversy is all about. >> well, adding to the worldwide fascination, wolf, with carla brun bruni-sarkozy, two tell-all books came out in france, explosive allegations against carla bruni. one where the author said he cooperated with him. they said that she had relaid to him that michelle obama had told her that life in the white house was hell. i caught up with her in new york. her husband gave a speech at the united nations. she is here in her capacity as ambassador for the global fund to fight aids and malaria. i asked if it's true that michelle obama told you these things. here's what she told me. >> of course michelle obama never said such a thing. i'm happy to tell you very frankly that this is not a notarized book. no one -- not only one book that
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came out about me was authorized. i read the book, i knew about the book. but i do live in france, and france is a free country where anyone can fantasize and print it. so, of course, i could do something legal, but first of l it gives a lot of publicity to all those looks. second of all, it's not in my principle, you know. i'm a democrat. i believe that everyone is allowed to say and write and say what they want. but i'm happy to -- to deassociate myself -- >> disassociate? >> disassociate myself not only from that book, from all books and, of course, mrs. obama never said such a thing. >> so, wolf, she said she was happy to disassociate herself from the book and the allegations because there are other more explosive allegations. one that she used secret police services to tap into some of her rivals' text messages, to
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uncover plots to oust her from the palace. her life really makes soap operas sound pretty tame. >> she is an amazing woman with a rich, rich history, as a lot of our viewers know. right now, her husband is speaking out by global antipoverty issues. she has a unique role as the first lady of france as well. >> well, she admits herself that she's knew at this. she's not a career humanitarian. i asked if she'd like to be known as the french angelina jolie and she said, no, no, no. this is just as the wife of the french president that i would like to do what i can to help in a cause that i believe in. it happens to be the global fund for the fight against aids. she is the only ambassador for the global fund, which is a rather young fund within the united nations. she really just -- it was a quick visit, a short 24-hour visit for the french first lady. it's something that she hopes her celebrity status will shine
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a spotlight on. >> thanks for coming into "the situation room." good interview. jimmy carter, the former president of the united states, is speaking out. you'll want to hear what he is telling cnn's larry king about president obama. we have the clip. and you won't find this fish in the water, but you may find it one day in your supermarket. we need directions to go to... pearblossom highway? it's just outside of lancaster. sure, i can download directions for you now. we got it. thank you very much! onstar ready. call home. hi, daddy! i'm on my way. send to car and...done! you have one saved destination: dillon beach. would you like those directions now? yes, i would. go north on route 1. check it out. i can like, see everything that's going on with the car. here's the gas level. i can check on the oil. i can unlock it from anywhere.
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it's a fish you can't find in the water, but some day it may be at your local supermarket. the food and drug administration
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holding public hearings on genetically engineered salmon. scientists say the salmon is safe to eat, but critics are calling it frankenfish. joining us now, elizabeth cohen. she's the author of "the empowered patient." elizabeth, what is different about this salmon as opposed to all the ordinary salmon we've always been eating? >> wolf, this salmon grows much faster. here's the issue. regular salmon, the kind we eat all the time, they only have growth hormone in their bodies during the warm weather months, so that means they don't have growth hormones when it's colder. so here's what scientists did. it's pretty interesting. they went to another fish called an ocean pout, which does have growth hormones in its body all year round, they took that gene, that growth hormone green from the ocean pout and they put it into the salmon. so now the salmon instead of taking 30 months to reach
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maturity, reaches maturity in about 16 months. it grows much faster. you can see there's a clear business advantage for doing that. wolf? >> have they studied how this modified salmon, this genetically modified salmon, affects humans? >> you know, the folks who make this salmon say there's nothing different about this salmon except for this one thing, that it has growth hormone all year round. there's no other differences. it hasn't been studied in any big trials or really in any trials to see what effect it has on humans. there's some consumer advocates who aren't crazy about that. they say we should be studying this in humans. maybe people will have allergies to this salmon. but the folks who make it say, look, there's no difference except this one gene about the growth hormone. >> when would this new salmon go into the market? >> you know, even if the fda approves it, it still would take years to come to market and it's not clear, wolf, once it comes
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to market will it be labeled? will it say this is modified salmon? we don't know. >> still some questions out there. elizabeth, thanks very much. >> thanks. scientists with wo s are won enviropig. genetic engineering has been used to make corn and soybeans resistant to herbicides and to produce some microorganisms used in baking, brewing and cheese-making. you may not know when you consume some modified crops because the fda does not require a label identifying them. it was your -- if your wealth was threatened by rising taxes, would you consider moving to another country? jack cafferty next with your e-mail. and the former president, jimmy carter, compares president obama to abraham lincoln. we'll tell you why and where. f .
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we'll get to jack in a moment. the former president, jimmy carter, talking about the difficulties president obama is facing right now. listen to what he just told cnn's larry king. >> larry: what is your read on obama? >> i think he's a good, solid, intelligent man who is suffering from perhaps the worst washington environment of any president in history, and i would even include abraham lincoln as we led up to the war between the states. no other president has faced such a polarized congress where you can hardly get one or two votes out of hundreds who are republicans in the house and the senate. so he has had to overcome that and i think he's had remarkable success. in light of that handicap.
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>> you can see the full interview with the former president on "larry king live" later tonight 9:00 p.m. eastern only here on cnn. let's check in with jack. he has "the cafferty file." jack? the question this hour, if your wealth was threatened by rising taxes would you consider moving to another country? l.s. in illinois, i've been considering the move for quite a while and i'm not even close to earning $250,000 a year. it's not only the federal income tax but rising property taxes. i paid off my home ten years ago. the escalating property taxes are almost equal to what my mortgage payment used to be. when people no longer own their own homes in this country but instead are forced to rent them from the state in the form of taxes, it's time to leave. i'm sick of all of it. lex writes, let them move. they seem to think that the conditions under which they earned their wealth magically appeared.
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it's taxes that pay for the education, health and infrastructure responsible for our great society. they can fight for the high paying jobs available in bermuda. anthony in new jersey, i traveled the world, jack. i'd never live anywhere but here. the trouble with most americans is they're too provincial and have never traveled. even in europe they don't have close to the amenities i enjoy every day. believe me, there is no place like home. eric writes from montreal, jack, i have to laugh. after a resent trip to virginia this summer where i paid 50,000 less for some of my favorite wines and 35% less for gasoline that i do in quebec, canada, i'm stunned by some who want to move to another country. if you do want to move, don't come to canada. my salary of $70,000 a year turns into just over $34,000 after income tax and that still doesn't take into account $4 a gallon gas and a general federal provincial sales tax of 13%. bimal writes, jack, the problem is that taxes are not 39.6%. they are now going up to over
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60%. you are forgetting social security, medicare, medicare on capital gains, state taxes, property taxes. i'm of the opinion that after 60% a person making $250,000 a year should consider leaving america. why not look at life and growing economies like india, china, or other places? frank writes, know any countries without fox? if you want to read more on this go to my blog and you'll find a lot of e-mails and things there. do you know any countries without fox? >> i don't know. i'm sure there are some, jack. i'll see you tomorrow. i appreciate it. bye-bye. it's not an issue that usually comes up in campaigns, but one race is now making headlines because of witchcraft. cnn's jeanne moos takes a most unusual look. and all the words stick because they're true.
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♪ bells will ring, ring a ding ♪ ♪ ring a ding, ring a ding, that's logistics ♪ ♪ there will be no more stress ♪ ♪ cause you've called ups, that's logistics ♪ which senate candidate once confessed to dabbling in witchcraft? a most unusual look. >> reporter: when nancy pelosi's opponent presented her as the wicked witch -- >> i will save you. >> reporter: little did we know that yet another witch would bewitch the media. >> i dabbled into witchcraft, i never joined a covent. i dabbled into witchcraft. i hung around people who were doing these things. ♪ it's witchcraft >> sarah palin is mean and christine is not.
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♪ because there's no nicer witch than you ♪ >> reporter: the press may be laughing but the witches aren't. >> she was ill informed then and it appears that she continues to be ill informed. >> my first was on a satanic -- >> reporter: hers is a nature religion. >> witchcraft is not satanism. it's not hocus pocus. ♪ and i've got no defense for it ♪ >> reporter: how about this defense from a supporter online. well, i used a ouija board once. so what? here was christine o'donnell's defense as seen on "the view." >> i was in high school. there's been no witchcraft si e since. if there was, karl rove would be a supporter now. >> i don't understand. what does that mean? >> she is saying if she was a witch, she would have cast a spell and karl rove -- >> reporter: it sure stirred up a caldron on "the view."
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>> there are people listening to us who are thinking, why don't those witches shut up. >> reporter: if sarah palin became known for her wink, will christine o'donnell become nose for her nose twitch? more than a decade ago christine o'donnell was a frequent guest on bill maher's show. now she won't come on, he's threatening to release more old clips. >> it's like a hostage crisis. every week you don't show up, i'm going to -- i'm going to throw another body out. >> reporter: hey, bill maher has his own skeletons from the past. >> art thou a witch? >> well, it depends on how you define art. >> reporter: and among those old clips we found this. >> hi. how are you. >> thanks are for the underwear. >> reporter: he says he doesn't remember what the underwear was a reference to. do witches even wear underwear? ♪ this witchcraft >> reporter: jeanne moos, cnn, new york. remember to join us tomorrow for my


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