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THE SITUATION ROOM

Senate to Debate New Immigration Rules; Moussaoui Admits He Was to Attack White House; Students in L.A. Protest Proposed Immigration Laws; Scalia Controversy on Major Case in War on Terror

Aired March 27, 2006 - 16:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much.
And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Standing by, CNN reporters across the United States and around the world to bring you today's top stories.

Happening now, a new confession about 9/11 by al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. It's 4:00 p.m. here in Washington, where Moussaoui now claims he knew the twin towers would be hit and that he was part of a plan to fly a plane into the White House that day. We have all the remarkable revelations from his sentencing trial.

Also happening now, Americans at odds over illegal immigration. Protesters and the president staking out their ground in an all-out war getting underway. It's 1:00 p.m. in Los Angeles, one of the frontlines of this border fight. Will it prove to be a winning or a losing battle for President Bush?

A stunning allegation or a joke? A GOP rival of Hillary Clinton says the senator has spied on her house and even her bedroom. It's 4:00 p.m. in New York where this Senate race gets stranger every day. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin this hour with the new revelations from the confessed al Qaeda conspirator, Zacarias Moussaoui. He finished testifying in his sentencing trial just a short while ago. For the first time, he is admitting he knew about al Qaeda's plot to turn hijacked planes into deadly missiles. Our national correspondent, Bob Franken, is joining us now from outside the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia. What happened today, Bob?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, his court- appointed defense attorneys did not want Zacarias Moussaoui to testify, and the reasons became obvious when he started. He admitted that he lied to investigators, fundamental to the prosecution belief that had he told the truth he could have prevented the September 11th attacks.

In addition, Moussaoui went on to say, yes, he knew that there were going to be attacks, although he did not know the precise date. Then he also said original plans had him as being the pilot of a fifth airplane that was to crash into the White House. Among his fellow conspirators was to be Richard Reid. was arrested in December of 2001, called "The Shoe Bomber" because he was arrested while trying to set off an explosive device in his shoe.

In any case, the defense attorneys will now have to try and undermine Moussaoui's credibility. The defense attorneys, who have not been working in concert with Moussaoui, who now claims he knew about the attacks and that he lied about them. Wolf?

BLITZER: We're going to have a lot more on this later, Bob. Thank you very much.

We'll move on now to immigration wars. From California to Capitol Hill, Americans are venting their anger about get-tough legislation just hours before the Senate directly dives into the debate. President Bush is trying today to put a kinder face on this political fight by appearing at a swearing-in ceremony for new U.S. citizens. And senators are struggling to strike compromises over some of the most divisive immigration proposals before a midnight deadline.

Dana Bash is standing by live on Capitol Hill. But let's go to our new White House correspondent, Ed Henry, first. Ed?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a kinder, gentler pitch from the president calling for a civilized debate on this hot button issue. But let's face it it's a bare knuckles political brawl splitting the Republican party. Even the president admitted he's facing long odds at trying to find a compromise.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): The president chose a patriotic back drop, a naturalization ceremony for 30 new citizens from 20 countries, to wrap his immigration plan in the American flag.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our constitution does not limit citizenship by background or birth. Instead, our nation is bound together by a shared love of liberty and a conviction that all people are created with dignity and value.

HENRY: Not so subtle prodding of fellow conservatives who are furious over the president's call for a temporary worker program to deal with the nearly 12 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S.

RON BROWNSTEIN, LOS ANGELES TIMES: On many issues the president has governed over these last five-plus years in a way to solidify and consolidate his base. This is not one of them.

HENRY: So the president used the newly minted U.S. citizens in the room to sent a signal to conservatives on Capitol Hill that he will not let illegal immigrants off the hook.

BUSH: I believe granting amnesty would be unfair. It would allow those who break the law to jump ahead of people like you all, people who play by the rules and have waited in line for citizenship.

HENRY: And the president tried to reassure conservatives who believe his plan focuses on the economic gains of cheap labor rather than the need for security. BUSH: Congress needs to pass a comprehensive bill that secures the border, improves interior enforcement and creates a temporary worker program to strengthen our security and our economy. Completing a comprehensive bill is not going to be easy. It will require all of us in Washington to make tough choices and make compromises.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: Top Republicans privately admit the president's assessment is pretty close to being right, but it's going to be really hard to bridge this divide, especially within the Republican party. It may be difficult. Another legislative loss for a president who desperately needs some victories.

BLITZER: Are they suggesting though this House version is way too far out of line with the president's thinking?

HENRY: Absolutely. The White House is basically trying to moderate that version and makes sure that the Senate moves much closer to the middle. That's where the divide is. It's going to be extremely hard to get that to the middle. Congress may just stalemate and it may go home without any sort of a bill. The president may not get a chance to sign it or veto it. Another loss for him if that were to happen.

BLITZER: Let's go to Capitol Hill right now where senators are racing against the clock and facing some very serious divisions before the immigration debate formally begins tomorrow. Our Dana Bash is watching all of this on Capitol Hill. She's our new Congressional correspondent.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, exactly what Ed was talking about, the fact that this is not going to be easy here on Capitol Hill, is already on display. Today is essentially opening day for the United States Senate trying to get through what is going to be, is already obvious, a very, difficult issue to find compromise with. That is the president's guest worker program. Whether or not illegal workers can stay in the United States and for how long.

We have seen that really all day long, particularly this afternoon. Senator Arlen Specter, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, trying to figure out exactly what any magic compromise is to discuss whether or not these workers can stay in the United States, whether they have to go back to their country of origin, whether they can stay here permanently, find permanent citizenship.

Now, what the main sort of buzz word, if you will, for these conservative and Republicans who are very divided on this issue is something you heard the president talk about. That is the question of amnesty.

Many conservatives still believe, no matter what those who support a temporary worker program, say that this is amnesty. Listen to this sound byte from Senator John Cornyn of Texas, denying that accusation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: I will oppose amnesty at all stages of this process, both in the committee and on the floor, because I think we made a mistake in 1986 by saying that we would grant amnesty to three million people. Now we have 12 million here today living in the shadows. The solution is not to repeat that mistake, but rather to come up with a different solution that learns from that mistake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, the Senate Judiciary Committee has gotten through a couple of key amendments. First of all, one from Dianne Feinstein, the Democrat from California. She wants 1.5 million workers in the agriculture industry to be able to stay here for at least five years legally. That did pass. Earlier today, Wolf, something from Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat, pushing back on, what they call, something that was very difficult from the House of Representatives, essentially, they say, criminalizing the idea of trying to help illegal workers.

They changed that particular bill or particular measure in the Senate today in the Judiciary Committee. But, Wolf, this is just the beginning. It's important to keep saying that. This is going to be a long, hard slog out of committee if it even gets there. And then on the Senate floor probably for the next two weeks.

BLITZER: Thanks very much. Senator Cornyn will be joining us live here in THE SITUATION ROOM in the next hour. He's stuck in the middle on this debate.

Americans are trying to make their views on immigration heard loud and clear before any final decisions are made by the U.S. Congress. Los Angeles is turning out to be front and center once again today for protests and border politics. Let's go out to L.A. CNN's Peter Viles is joining us from the scene.

PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is the first fourth day in a row of street protests here in Los Angeles. A huge one on Saturday. Half a million people by the estimate of the police department marched on city hall.

Today is much smaller but very unusual. Fourteen thousand high school students and middle school students have cut class, boycotted school, and have been staging impromptu marches in different neighborhoods of the city. About 500 of them marched past our building on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood a few hours ago. I stopped and walked with them a little bit.

They were all teenaged girls. I said, where are you girls going. They said we're going to Channel 5. I said why are you going there. She said the Senate needs to hear what we have to say. We caught up with another high school student at City Hall, where several thousand of these high school students have gathered at this time.

And that high school student said it's not good enough to get a guest worker program for Latinos. We should be allowed to stay here forever because we're doing the work that this country needs to have done.

Now presumably that teenage girl was talking about the work that maybe her family members or her parents have done. So very unusual today, Wolf, the protests in this city essentially being carried out by children on the streets of the city, often walking with police escorts and very often flying the Mexican flag. Wolf?

BLITZER: Peter, thank you very much -- Peter in L.A.

And by the way, our recent polling suggests Americans' concerns about immigration are serious indeed. In late January, nearly a third of those surveyed said it's extremely important for the president and the Congress to deal with immigration. This year, another third said it's very important. About a third said it's moderately important.

Still, though, immigration ranked far lower on the public's list of hot issues than Iraq, terrorism, health care and the economy. Let's go up to New York for another week of "The Cafferty File." That means Jack is standing by -- Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Wolf. You've got to love it. For years and years, this country has failed to enforce the existing laws on immigration, which is why we have 12 million illegal immigrants running around this country.

The problem is completely out of control, and it's getting worse every day. What do the politicians want to do about it? Why they want to pass more laws, of course. You see, it's an election year so they want us to think that they're actually doing something about illegal immigrants.

One wants a guest worker program. Somebody else wants to close the borders. Another one wants to make illegal immigration a felony. Meanwhile, the streets of many of our cities are clogged with people protesting immigration reform. These folks march around our streets carrying Mexican flags and complaining the United States may actually want to have some control over who comes here. Imagine that.

And at the end of the day, it's very much an open question whether anything meaningful will get done. If I were you, I wouldn't hold my breath. Here is the question. What do you think should happen to illegal immigrants? E-mail us at CaffertyFile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Jack, for that.

Coming up, Justice Antonin Scalia gives his opinion but not while sitting on the Supreme Court. We're going to tell you what he said and what it could mean for a blockbuster case as early as tomorrow.

Plus, much more on the border wars. J.C. Watts and John Podesta, they'll consider the stakes and the fallout. That's coming up in our "Strategy Session."

Plus, what kind of perks does Senator John Kerry ask for when he's on the road? We told you about the vice president's wish list. Now it's Kerry's turn. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Another week, we'll also check in with Zain at the CNN Center for a quick look at some other stories making news. Zain, what's going on?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, more chaos, carnage and casualties in Iraq today. Officials say a suicide bomber set off his explosives at the Iraqi Army Recruiting Center between Tal Afar and Mosul, killing at least 30 Iraqis.

In other violence, a rocket blasted a building in Baghdad, killing seven people. And Iraq's national security ministry warns that insurgents are placing bombs in boxes of candy.

He's not yet free but he's said to be seeking asylum. Abdul Rahman, the Afghan man who could die for converting from Islam to Christianity, says he wants asylum outside Afghanistan, that actually according to a statement from a United Nations representative. Rahman faces the death penalty for his religious conversion, but some Afghan officials say that he could be soon be released from custody.

And the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council will hold talks on the nuclear crisis with Iran. British and American officials say that the talks will include Germany, and they are scheduled for Thursday in Berlin. Some Western nations including the U.S. say that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapons program. But Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian purposes. Wolf?

BLITZER: Zain Verjee reporting -- thanks, Zain, very much.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is at the center of a new controversy on the eve of a major case in the war on terror. This time Scalia's under fire for dismissing the idea that detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp have constitutional rights.

Let's bring in Brian Todd. He's over at the Supreme Court watching this story. Brian, tell our viewers what's going on.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, some detainee advocates and legal scholars want Justice Antonin Scalia to step away from the case that's going to be heard here tomorrow. But it is still not clear whether his comments about detainees in which he mentioned that his son was on the battlefields of Iraq, actually pertained to this case.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Friends call this vintage Antonin Scalia. CNN obtained this video of the Supreme Court justice taking questions at a Swiss law school three weeks ago. Here Scalia sounds off on what legal rights Guantanamo detainees should have.

ANTONIN SCALIA, JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT: We are in a war. We are capturing these people on the battlefield. We never gave a trial in civil courts to people captured in war. We captured a lot of Germans during World War II, and they were brought not to Guantanamo, but to the soil of the United States. We didn't give them a trial.

TODD: The comments lead some detainee advocates and legal scholars to call for Scalia's recusal from the blockbuster case the court hears tomorrow. Osama bin Laden's driver, now-captured detainee Salim Hamdan is challenging his pending military tribunal.

JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: A justice cannot ethically sit on a case is if he has previously held forth on the merits and also stated a personal reason why he would rule one way or the another. That's enormously improper. It would bring discredit to the court.

TODD: Hamdan's attorney's don't plan to call for recusal.

LT. CMDR. CHARLES SWIFT, HAMDAN'S MILITARY ATTORNEY: Maybe I'm naive, but I have a great faith in the courts on weighty issues, to give it the full and fair consideration.

TODD: But others argue that Scalia did not mention Hamdan by name and they say the justice was in fact criticizing a case decided two years ago when the Supreme Court ruled detainees could challenge their detention in federal court.

DAVID RIVKIN, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ATTORNEY: So for a Supreme Court justice to talk about a decision that's already made where he has taken a position in the form of a dissent, absolutely does not violate any ethical norms and absolutely does not disqualify him in this case.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Now in the end, Supreme Court Justice Scalia will have to decide for himself if he will recuse in this case. A court spokeswoman says he will not comment on that. We may not know about that until tomorrow. If he does recuse, only seven justices will be hearing Hamdan's case. Chief Justice John Roberts has already recused himself because he ruled against Hamdan in a case in federal appeals court last year. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian, thanks very much -- Brian Todd at the Supreme Court.

Still ahead, Republicans are butting heads with Republicans over illegal immigration. What's driving this family feud involving the president and his own party?

And Senator Hillary Clinton's challengers and would-be challengers have had a very rough time of it. But now a tabloid is accusing one of her Republican rival of being a kook. What did she say, that the senator was spying on her?

We'll have the details, that's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: In the U.S. Senate right now, the immigration war is clearly picking up steam on the eve of a critical and divisive debate. And Republicans are finding themselves in quite a political pickle.

Let's bring in our senior analyst Jeff Greenfield. He is watching this story -- Jeff.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there's no doubt about what topic A is on this week's political agenda. It is illegal immigration and what to do about it. Everyone seems sure it will have a big political impact. OK. But am I allowed to ask, is anyone really sure what the political impact will be?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, and congratulations.

GREENFIELD (voice over): By most accounts, the issue threatens to split the Republicans. President Bush has long embraced immigration as a source of national renewal. It's not exactly an accident that he was at a naturalization ceremony today as the immigration debate began in earnest. And he's quoted Hispanic voters throughout his career.

Some Republican senators, among them potential presidential contenders John McCain and Chuck Hagel, have backed deal that would find a way for many of the estimated 12 million illegals to get on a path to citizenship. Others like Senate Majority Leader and likely presidential contender Bill Frist have emphasized much tougher ideas, building a security fence, treating illegal immigrants and those who hire them as felons, much the same policies passed by the House last December.

Representative Tom Tancredo, who has called illegal immigrants a scourge that threatens the very future of the nation, is so focused on the issue he has threatened to mount a presidential campaign to spotlight it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They keep coming. Two million illegal immigrants in California.

GREENFIELD: The fear among some Republicans is that a tough message on the issue, the kind Governor Pete Wilson used in California in his successful reelection campaign in 1994, will drive Hispanics away from the party, as it did in California.

But the issue may not be so simple. Back in 2003, during the California gubernatorial recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger took a very strong stand against driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. Exit polls showed that a majority of Latino voters agreed with Schwarzenegger.

And remember Latino voters are, by definition, legal immigrants. If they come to see illegals as a huge labor force that drives wages down and if politicians can draw a clear obvious distinction between approving legal and disapproving illegal immigrants, then the backlash some Republicans fear could be minimized. Not to mention the fact that most Americans say they want tough action on the issue.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GREENFIELD: Yesterday, I asked one Republican lawmaker how he thought the competing policies would be resolved by the Congress this year. It's simple, he answered, this year we will do nothing -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jeff Greenfield, thank you very much.

Up next, President Bush and some Republicans are parting ways over immigration, as we just heard. Is he going out on a limb that he'll regret? Border battle lines are drawn in today's "Strategy Session." That's coming up with J.C. Watts and John Podesta. They are standing by.

And is this the final word on Condoleezza Rice's future? I pressed the secretary of state about a job opportunity that could be a dream come true. We'll tell you what she said. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. Today in our "Strategy Session," the battle over immigration policy taking center stage right here in Washington. Will the fight split the Republican Party? Will this be one of the major issues of the November midterm elections?

Joining us now, former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta and former Republican Congressman, a CNN political analyst, J.C. Watts. Thanks guys very much for joining us.

Here is an excerpt to what the president said today on this issue of immigration reform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Congress needs to pass a comprehensive bill that secures the border, improves interior enforcement and creates a temporary worker program to strengthen our security and our economy. Completing a comprehensive bill is not going to be easy. It will require all of us in Washington to make tough choices and make compromises.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: As you know, J.C., there's a lot of division within the Republican Party itself over the president's proposal for guest workers to work in this country. Is this going to be another Dubai Ports deal for the GOP?

J.C. WATTS (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: No, I don't think it is Wolf. I think Republicans have thought long and hard about this, as I do think the Democrats have. And I think the president is right. The magic is trying to find the chemistry, the magic formula, to get it done.

I think there is a role to say that we ought to do something in terms of illegal immigration, but that's the magic word, "illegal." I mean, why are we talking about illegal immigration?

Debating that issue, understanding that we are a nation of immigrants, but we also are a nation of laws. And I think trying to find that magic balance, that's going to be the key in this debate.

And one final thing: I would hope that in this debate that we would be careful to appeal to the intelligence of the American people and not pander to the fears of the American people. This is a very critical debate...

BLITZER: Because of the racial overtones, is that what you're talking about?

WATTS: Yes. I think there are -- you know, we can't say that, you know, all Muslims are tied to Osama bin Laden. That's unfair; we've got a lot of law-abiding people in this country who are Muslims, who love this country. So we have to be careful that we're not painting with a broad brush and find the right balance in this discussion.

BLITZER: I want you to listen to what Senator Kennedy said on this issue yesterday. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We cannot solve the problem of illegal immigration just by law enforcement alone. We have spent $20 billion on chains, and fences, and border guards, and dogs in the southern border over the last 10 years, and it doesn't work. What we need is a comprehensive approach.

I think President Bush understands it. I think John McCain understands it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That's very interesting. He says President Bush understands it. That's Ted Kennedy. He thinks the president's basically understanding on this issue.

JOHN PODESTA, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: You know, Wolf, a couple of months ago people were saying immigration was going to be the wedge issue of 2006. But right now it seems to be driving a wedge right through the heart of the Republican Party.

I think you've got Bill Frist, Tom Tancredo over on one side who are running a campaign that, I think, from the perspective of legal immigrants, not just illegal immigrants, are hearing with very racist overtones.

BLITZER: But was it smart for Democrats to get involved like this?

PODESTA: Yes, I think it was.

BLITZER: They obviously had no choice. PODESTA: But, look, I think the American people...

BLITZER: But some people think the Republicans -- let them fight it out amongst themselves.

PODESTA: I think the American public expects it. It's clearly a crisis in this country. We've got 11 million or maybe 12 million undocumented workers here, and that's increasing at a rate of 750,000 a year.

And so I think that the Democrats are wise to put forward a comprehensive plan, because that's what it's going to take, but that includes doing something that I don't hear the president talking very much about, which is tough enforcement against employers, too.

I think eventually we can't just do the work at the border, as Senator Kennedy was suggesting, but we've got to get serious about providing real penalties for people who hire illegal immigrants, as well.

BLITZER: It's going to shut down a lot of industries, agriculture specifically, if you're going to get that tough on the employers, because in Florida and California, a lot of these states...

PODESTA: Look, we've got to find a way to get people who are here in the workforce by getting them into a guest-worker status, but we've also got to find a path towards -- if they pay a penalty, if they pay their taxes, if they have a clean record, that they have a path towards citizenship. And that's the one thing...

BLITZER: Isn't that amnesty? Isn't that amnesty?

PODESTA: No. I think what you'll, across the political spectrum, is amnesty -- we tried it in '86. It didn't work; we can't have amnesty now.

BLITZER: Here's what Tom Tancredo -- he's a Republican congressman from Colorado -- said yesterday, and he's leading the charge against any kind of guest-worker program in the United States: "When you reward millions and millions of people for coming across the border the wrong way, doing it illegally, then you -- it's a slap in the face to every single person who has done it the right way. It's bad policy and it's also, I think, for the Republican Party, especially bad policy."

You understand his stance?

WATTS: Well, I do. I think people, you know, whether one agrees with Tom or not, I think you...

BLITZER: You don't agree with him?

WATTS: ... you have to -- I think there is, as I said earlier, I think there is an illegal component. What's the difference in someone running a stop sign and saying, "Hey, that was illegal, but, hey, you need to overlook that." I think there's a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. And I think, you know, cooler heads are going to have to prevail in this debate.

You know, John mentioned legal immigration. Nobody's wanting to take on legal immigration. There's a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it, and we have to come up with a conclusion that will say, yes, we recognize that people want to come to this country, but at the same time...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: But you know, J.C., there are a lot of Republicans...

(CROSSTALK)

WATTS: ... illegal immigration.

BLITZER: ... a lot of the base of the Republican Party think if you reward some of these 12 million, 10 million -- whatever number there is -- illegal immigrants in the country with a guest-worker program and a track toward eventually maybe getting citizenship, you're, in effect, giving them amnesty.

WATTS: Well, Wolf, I think a lot of those people on the Republican and the Democrat side, they understand what happened on September 11th, and they're saying security first.

You know, we've got to come up with a way to register or to find out who is in this country illegally. We've heard numbers 8, 10, 12 million, but nobody's doing anything to try to come up with conclusions on how we deal with that.

BLITZER: But let's talk about the political ramifications, potentially, potentially, in November.

Senator Mel Martinez, Republican of Florida, said this. He says, "Republicans have made significant gains among Latinos, and we're risking all of that by allowing ourselves to be positioned as anti- immigrant. We are at great peril."

Is this a potential political bonanza for Democrats?

PODESTA: Well, I think it's a political risk for the Republicans. My organization, Center for American Progress, is releasing a poll tomorrow of legal immigrants who say that what they're hearing from the right-wing side, from Tancredo, Bill Frist, and others, is a racist argument.

And I think that the Republicans, I think, are playing on very dangerous ground when they have proposals like that came out of the House of Representatives, where they're going to make illegal the kinds of activities that the Catholic Church engages in to provide support for immigrants.

But it's clear that what we do -- we have to have a comprehensive approach to this problem. But, you know, we're not going to be able to sit there and just deport 12 million people tomorrow; we've got to find a way to get them, as J.C. suggested, into the system.

BLITZER: All right, quickly, J.C., are Republicans going to lose Latino support in September?

WATTS: Well, Wolf, you saw "The Cafferty File" when he said that, in California, when Governor Schwarzenegger dealt with it, you had many -- or the majority of Latinos -- that said, "We agree with doing it the right way, because if we don't, all the work that we did to get here the right way, you're all ignoring that." So...

(CROSSTALK)

PODESTA: ... talking about California, you ought to ask Pete Wilson what he thinks.

WATTS: I think many in the Latino community would agree: There's a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it; let's do it the right way.

BLITZER: J.C., John, thanks very much.

Coming up, truth or comedy? The woman who wants Senator Hillary Clinton's job said the senator spied on her. So why is that not so funny to New York Republicans?

And want to know Senator John Kerry's likes and dislikes when he travels? We've got the details, some new documents, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: On our "Political Radar" this Monday, the New Orleans election delayed by Hurricane Katrina apparently won't be delayed again. A federal judge today refused to put off the planned April 22nd vote for mayor and other city officials. Civil rights groups had raised concerns that residents displaced by the storm would not be able to cast ballots. The judge ordered both sides in the case to identify and solve any problems that might hinder voter turnout.

Another new poll suggests Democrats have the edge in the upcoming battle for control of the Congress. The "Time" magazine poll of Americans' choice for Congress shows Democrats, by and large, are favored over Republicans 50 percent to 41 percent. Nearly half of those surveyed say they disapprove of the way the Republican-led Congress is doing its job.

And she said it was her dream job, so has Condoleezza Rice really taken herself out of the running for NFL commissioner. With Paul Tagliabue retiring this summer, I pressed the secretary of state on whether she might reconsider and apply to be commander in chief of pro football or, for that matter, whether she's interested in another top job, namely president of the United States.

I interviewed her yesterday on "LATE EDITION." (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: We're all out of time, but I have to ask you about the NFL, your passion. This is what you told "Ebony" magazine, July 26, 2005. "If that job comes open, I'm gone."

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Oh, well...

BLITZER: That job has come open.

RICE: A little too soon. I'm afraid, as I was saying earlier, you know, I'm going to have to let this ship pass, if they'd have me. But the fact is: I'm secretary of state. I love being secretary of state, and there's always a next time on other jobs.

BLITZER: Well, speaking of other jobs, the first lady told our Larry King Friday she would love you to run for president of the United States in 2008. Listen to this little clip from Laura Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: She'd make an excellent president, but I don't think we can talk her into running.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Can she talk you into running?

RICE: That second part of that's right.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Why not?

RICE: Well, Wolf, I know what I want to do with my life, and I know what my strengths are. And I have enormous respect for people who run for office, but I love being secretary of state.

I think I'm fortunate to be here at a time that is consequential. And hopefully, we will make some progress on some of these very important issues while I'm here.

But I know what I want to do, and I'm going to be back at Stanford. And who knows? Maybe there'll be other great jobs like the NFL job.

BLITZER: You're still a very young woman.

RICE: Still young, but I know what I -- well, thanks. I appreciate that.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Thank you very much for joining us.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: Condoleezza Rice speaking with me yesterday here on "LATE EDITION."

And we're just getting this in: Senator Kerry hates celery, likes creamy peanut butter and orders in-room movies when he travels, that according to documents just released online. Last week, we told you about the vice president's hotel preferences. Now, we have John Kerry's.

Our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton, is joining us with more -- Abbi?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, this is the site that did tell us last weak that Vice President Dick Cheney likes Diet Sprite. Well, now we're onto John Kerry. And according to this site, it's protein bars and chocolate chip cookies.

Documents, four pages of them, released online show some of the things that Senator Kerry likes when he travels. Breakfast: apple juice, wheat toast and Wheaties. There are also various snacks listed on here. Peanut butter should be creamy, and it should be the Skippy brand.

Also, various things that the senator does not want. John Kerry hates celery, and never order any tomato-based products there.

There are also some specifics there about some of the things that the senator wants, not related to food. For example, John Kerry would prefer a recumbent bike -- this is an exercise bike, a reclining bike.

Now, we spoke to a member of Kerry's traveling road show who confirmed that these documents are real and said that they're actually dating back from the spring of 2003 when the senator was recovering from cancer surgery. Hence, all the healthy specifics -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Abbi, for that.

In Israel this hour, voters are preparing to cast ballots in a pivotal election. It's all looking very familiar to American political observers, as well. Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is in Jerusalem covering these elections. He's joining us now live -- Bill?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, you know, Israeli political campaigns are like American campaigns, only more so. Just look at the ads.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Who is this guy? Looks a little like Stalin. It's actually Amir Peretz, leader of Israel's Labour Party. This campaign ad by the rival Kadima Party subtly insinuates that Peretz, a socialist, resembles his look-alike.

Notice the red star and the Russian lettering at the bottom of the screen. At least 15 percent of Israeli voters are Russians. They do not admire Stalin or any socialist.

This Labour ad defines Peretz own models, Bill Clinton...

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... let us raise the minimum wage...

SCHNEIDER: ... and Tony Blair.

TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: We've got a minimum wage, and we're going to raise it.

SCHNEIDER: Kadima is promoting acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as a worthy successor to the party's founder, stricken Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

That's Sharon's empty chair. The party even appropriates the music of Israel's national anthem, "Hatikvah," as Kadima's theme song.

Israel has a lot of small parties with targeted messages. A Jewish wedding, break the glass, then kiss, really kiss, to promote same-sex marriage.

The big issue in the Israeli campaign? Borders. The Kadima Party is promoting a plan for Israel to redraw its borders with the Palestinians unilaterally. The opposition's response shows the West Bank expanding and squeezing the Jewish star and suggesting the new borders could make Israel's international airport vulnerable to attack and divide Jerusalem, slicing off part of Jewish identity.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: What's striking, Wolf, about the Israeli campaign is how often the ads evoke beloved historical leaders, like Menachem Begin, and David Ben-Gurion, and Ariel Sharon, and, of course, Yitzhak Rabin. That's because none of the current leaders who are vying for power, not Olmert, not Netanyahu, not Peretz, is beloved or even popular -- Wolf?

BLITZER: And we're going to be getting results in about 24 hours from now. Bill Schneider is going to be in Jerusalem. He'll be joining us tomorrow, as well. Bill, thank you very much.

Up next, there they go again. That would be gas prices on the rise. We're going to tell you where they are right now, what's going on, who's to blame.

And what should be done to stem the tide of illegal immigrants? Lawmakers have their ideas; you have yours. Jack Cafferty is back with your e-mails. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Once again, let's go to CNN's Zain Verjee at the Global Headquarters for a closer look at some other stories making news -- Zain? VERJEE: Wolf, it's the unwanted gift that just keeps on giving: rising gas prices. In the past two weeks, gas prices rose nearly 15 cents. The national average is now $2.50 a gallon for regular self- serve. The publisher of the Lundberg Survey blames higher crude oil prices and higher costs for new gasoline-based regulations.

Two Americans and a Briton are free today. The oil workers were held hostage in Nigeria for the past five weeks. All of them seem to be in good health. Nigerian militants captured the men, part of a string of kidnappings that have been targeting the oil industry. Already, a fourth of Nigeria's output has been cut off. The rebels are vowing to cripple the entire industry.

They're the final moments at the World Trade Center on 9/11. The city is releasing tapes and transcripts of 911 calls made during the terror attacks. The release is being made under a court order after four years of legal battles. The victims' half of the conversations will not be made public unless their families agree.

And for music fans, Graceland has always been a landmark, but now the federal government thinks so, too. So today, Elvis' home joined George Washington's house and the Brooklyn Bridge as national historic landmarks. Elvis Presley bought the house back in 1957 with earnings from his first hit, "Heartbreak Hotel" -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Zain, thank you very much. We're going to get back to you soon.

Just hours ago, the Federal Election Commission ruled it will not regulate political speech online, but political advertising on the Internet will be subject to campaign finance laws. Let's get some more from our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner -- Jacki?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, after more than a year, the Federal Elections Commission decided unanimously today that the only thing that's going to be regulated on the Internet for now is political ads, and those ads put on somebody else's Web site.

We stole this disclaimer from Moveon.org, but these are the kinds of things that you will now see on the Internet.

The 96-page decision is available at FEC.gov. Commissioner Ellen Weintraub has broken it down into a really good two-page document that you can also get at the Web site. I broke it down even further.

Really, the two points you need to worry about in this: What Internet activity is covered? Paid advertisements. And how do the new rules affect bloggers? They will not be regulated.

As you might imagine, they are celebrating. It's headlines like this: "We Won!" Also celebrating is former FEC commissioner Bradley Smith. It was his interview with CNET News last year that sparked a firestorm. Bloggers were very concerned that they were going to be regulated. He is very happy. He is now blogging at Red State. He'd like congressional action.

Wolf, we're keeping an eye on this one. It's called H.R. 1606, and it's actually on the agenda for this Wednesday -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Jacki.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty in New York with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack?

CAFFERTY: As the Senate gets ready for a showdown on immigration reform, President Bush warned today that tough choices lie ahead. The question we asked this hour is: What do you think should happen to illegal immigrants?

Mike in Sarasota, Florida, writes, "The president's plan for guest labor's a good one. No one's admitted by amnesty. Citizenship still has to be earned, but workers and employers both benefit. It doesn't matter who proposed it; it sounds good."

Nick writes from Ponca City, Oklahoma, "I generally am neutral on the illegal immigrant problem, but the waving of foreign flags by young people on our soil at the same time we have soldiers in harm's way is a boil ready to burst."

Loretta in Columbus, Ohio: "Illegal aliens -- they're not immigrants -- should be shipped back to the country of their origin. This is not an immigration issue; it is criminal activity. This smacks of an overthrow of the country, the loss of U.S. national sovereignty."

Kay in Memphis, Tennessee: "Hire more border patrol. Put the rest on hold until after the 2006 elections. We need a long-term solution, not politics. The illegals helped build this country; they don't deserve to be treated like dangerous felons."

John in Brunswick, Maine, writes, "Round them up, give them accelerated military training, and send them to Iraq. In that manner, they can fill jobs that most Americans don't want."

And Shasta in Fort Worth, Texas: "Illegal immigrants should have two options: go back to their country of origin and later attempt to enter the country legally, or achieve citizenship by agreeing to watch 72 hours straight of "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," followed by submitting a book report on exporting America."

Wolf?

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Jack, for that.

Still to come, Hillary Clinton is no stranger to criticism, but even she may be surprised by a GOP rival's latest claim about spying. Was it a jab or a joke?

Also, a key player in the Senate now under way wrangling over immigration, Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, he'll join us live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Challenging Senator Hillary Clinton is no easy task to begin with, but Republican rival K.T. McFarland is finding the going to be a lot tougher than she may have thought. And she hasn't helped herself any by going on about helicopters and spying.

Our Mary Snow is following this bizarre new twist in New York -- Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, K.T. McFarland, a Republican challenger to Senator Hillary Clinton in New York, was already having a rough start to her week's-old campaign. And it took a strange turn with some comments about spying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Republican Senate hopeful K.T. McFarland says it was a joke, but her crack about a conspiracy waged by Senator Hillary Clinton landed her in the spotlight, with the "New York Post" headline, "Kooky K.T.'s Spy Tale." This after McFarland told Republican fundraisers Senator Clinton is so worried about being challenged that she's spying on McFarland and had helicopters photographing her two homes.

BETH FOUHY, ASSOCIATED PRESS POLITICAL WRITER: She's in the glare of the New York media, the New York tabloid media, which is typically prepared to jump on anything odd or strange or new. That's what happened in this case.

SNOW: Senator Clinton's camp couldn't resist a response saying, quote, "Some campaigns hand out buttons. The McFarland campaign hands out tinfoil hats with antennas. We wish Ms. McFarland the best and hope she gets the rest she needs."

Fellow Republican, John Spencer, McFarland's conservative opponent, was present when McFarland made the comments and expressed disbelief at the conspiracy crack. McFarland responded, saying, quote, "This is a perfect example of what is happening in American politics. One misinterpreted joke, and your opponents are smearing you in the press.

FOUHY: Evidently, it was just a big thud, and it was just one more piece of backlash against her already fairly troubled candidacy.

SNOW: That candidacy took a new twist with an attack on her political adviser, Ed Rollins, of Ross Perot campaign fate. New York's Republicans chairman is urging McFarland to dump Rollins, saying in a letter, quoted by the Associated Press, that Rollins is the man who helped bring Mrs. Clinton into all of our lives, reasoning that, had Rollins not backed Perot in 1992, Bill Clinton would not have been elected president.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Ed Rollins called the GOP letter absurd. K.T. McFarland says she is sticking with him and intends to press ahead in challenging Senator Clinton -- Wolf? BLITZER: Mary, thank you very much.

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