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Barack Obama Discloses Fund-Raising Numbers; Interview With Rudy Guiliani

Aired April 4, 2007 - 16:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Happening now, Barack Obama's fundraising bombshell -- the Democratic presidential candidate finally discloses his bottom line.
Is Hillary Clinton now running scared?

Also this hour, Rudy Giuliani grilled about his support for abortion rights. A revealing CNN interview with a top Republican White House contender.

Plus, a brand new GOP presidential poll from New Hampshire.

And right now, President Bush is facing the troops in the midst of a political showdown over Iraq war funding.

Will he fire a new shot at the Democrats?

Wolf Blitzer is off today.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

This hour, new evidence that the 2008 presidential race is even more of a wide open slug fest than some may have even thought. On the Democratic side, Barack Obama proved today that he is giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money and challenging her frontrunner status. Senator Obama reports raising at least $25 million in the first three months of this year. That nearly matches Senator Clinton's first quarter haul.

In the Republican race, our new CNN/WMUR poll shows John McCain and Rudy Giuliani in a dead heat in the leadoff primary state of New Hampshire, with 29 percent each. Mitt Romney comes in third, with the poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire, with 17 percent.

Giuliani is campaigning in Florida today and answering tough questions about his competition, his moderate positions on social issues and about his personal life.

Our Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, sat down with the former New York mayor today for a one-on-one interview -- Dana, you pressed him on his support for many different issues, on public funding of abortions, whether or not this could be his position as president.

Let's take a quick listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't -- I mean I have to re-examine all those issues and exactly what was at stake then. And it is a long time ago. But generally that's my -- my view. Abortion is wrong. Abortion shouldn't happen. Personally, you should counsel people to that extent.

When I was mayor, adoptions went up, abortions went down.


GIULIANI: But ultimately it's a -- it's a constitutional right and therefore if it's a constitutional right, ultimately, even if you do it on a state by state basis, you have to make sure that people are protected.

BASH: So you support taxpayer money or public funding for abortion in some cases?

GIULIANI: If it would deprive someone of a constitutional right, yes. I mean if that -- if that's the status of the law then I would, yes.


MALVEAUX: Now, Dana, is that statement surprising coming from Giuliani, given all the concerns that the conservatives have about him?

BASH: Not surprising, but I'll tell you what it does say. It sort of cements the idea that if Rudy Giuliani does, in fact, go on to be the Republican nominee for president, it is going to rewrite the rules of the Republican Party. Really, it would represent a generational shift in Republicans and how they -- they pick their nominees.


Because, really, since Ronald Reagan, Suzanne, there's been a litmus test on a couple of issues -- taxes. And Rudy Giuliani is in line with his party on that. But also on abortion. And he makes very clear that he is and always has been for abortion rights.

But what he did here is he says that his position since he has been mayor is -- has -- is the same and will be when he's president.

And that is that he will allow and use the levers of government, taxpayer funding, to allow abortion. That is something that is not necessarily going to sit well with conservatives, especially in key early states like Iowa and South Carolina.

MALVEAUX: Certainly.

And, Dana, let's talk a little bit about his private life with his son, as well as his three wives here. A lot of scrutiny, a lot of talk about it in the news.

What did he say about that?

BASH: Well, you know, I asked him about his son, specifically about whether he had actually spoken with his son Andrew since he came out and publicly said that there was a rift between the two of them, that he would not campaign for him.

The mayor laughed and said of course they've spoken. He didn't want to get into the specifics. He said that's part of their private conversations.

But it was really interesting, Suzanne. He then launched right into the discussion and explanation of the fact that he understands that his personal life will be scrutinized. It was certainly scrutinized when he was mayor of New York. It will continue to be, not only about his son, but about his wife Judith, about the fact that he has been married three times. He said he hopes that voters keep his public and personal lives separate.

But he also said that he understands that he had a rocky road and that this -- the issues that he's had in his personal life is between him and god and the people who are involved.

MALVEAUX: Dana, a fascinating interview.

We're looking forward to seeing many other parts of it later in the show.


Dana Bash. We're going to have much more of Dana's interview with Rudy Giuliani ahead, including his reaction to our new poll from New Hampshire. And we'll have a full report on the Giuliani-McCain smack-down in the Granite State.

Now to the big money moment in the Democratic presidential race. Senator Barack Obama's $25 million fundraising bonanza. It's saying a lot about the state of Obama's campaign and the threat he poses to rival Hillary Clinton.

Our senior political correspondent Caley -- sorry -- Candy Crowley -- is in New Hampshire.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bottom line?

$25 million. Or, as the Obama campaign puts it, at least $25 million raised in the first quarter of the year.

Not bad. A bit of a wow!

DAN BALZ, "WASHINGTON POST": To raise around $25 million, having not even seriously thought about being a candidate until some time last year is impressive. And I thought that the fact that they've got 100,000 donors is also very impressive at this early stage.

CROWLEY: In fact, Obama had twice as many donors as Hillary Clinton. But she's got more money -- $26 million to his $25, and Obama doesn't have much money left over from his Senate campaign to drive the numbers up. Clinton had $10 million from a virtually uncontested Senate race, which brings her grand total for the presidential campaign, $36 million.

But the gap is less important than the message of $25 million. Obama is a heavyweight contender. His fundraising success all the more impressive because Clinton's fundraising machinery is a proven entity, much of it inherited from one of the most successful fundraisers in modern politics.

But until this day, Obama's organization was untested at the presidential level. Now, all he has to do is find the ground support to match those big bucks.

BALZ: I think the challenge for him is to figure out how to bottle up this enthusiasm and turn it into something that can sustain him for a much longer period.

CROWLEY: Twenty-five and $26 million in three months are mind- boggling amounts, breaking every record of modern politics, putting Clinton and Obama in a tier all by themselves and sending everybody else in the race scrambling.

Critics say it all speaks volumes about the system.

SHEILA KRUMHOLZ, CENTER FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS: Well, what it says is that it's highly dependent on money. You can have great skills, a good organization, but if you don't have the money, you don't have a campaign.

CROWLEY: All told, Republicans and Democrats, presidential candidates raised $133 million in three months. That's more than a million a day.


CROWLEY: The Clinton campaign is in it's what, me worry, mode. One aide saying nobody is rattled over here -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Now, Candy, Obama matches the Hillary campaign when it comes to fundraising.

What does this say about the state of play among Democrats in this campaign?

CROWLEY: Well, what it says is there will be no cakewalk here.

What you always want to do when you're a frontrunner, and particularly in the polls, where Hillary Clinton still maintains a sizable lead, what you want to do is muscle everybody else out of the race. You want to prove your inevitability. What happened today with that $25 million, or at least $25 million, as they say, is that there will be no muscling of anybody out of this race. There is no inevitability.

MALVEAUX: Candy, thanks so much.

Get out of that snow. Get warm inside there.

CROWLEY: It's pretty amazing, yes.

MALVEAUX: Tough duty.

Thanks again, Candy.

And not only does Obama's cash haul rival Hillary Clinton's, he also managed to outpace both Clinton and John Edwards for those vital online donors.

Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton -- Abbi, what does this look like? How is it playing out online?

ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the bottom line for the online fundraising for Barack Obama is $6.9 million. Over a quarter of his total is coming in from Web users. And today at the Web site, they're touting the people behind that cash -- 100,000 donors -- over 100,000 donors total.

Hillary Clinton had 50,000 donors total. Barack Obama is saying that he's got more than 50,000 donors just online -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Now, covering the campaign, we saw that Howard Dean used the Internet quite a bit.

Why has Obama been so successful?

TATTON: It's this tapping into the grassroots and decentralizing. If you look at the Barack Obama supporters online, they're doing their own thing. They're doing their own fundraising. They're doing their own organizing. And the campaign is giving them the tools to do it.

Look at this -- Archaeologists for Obama, Massage Therapists...


TATTON: ... Middle East Experts, all for Obama with their own online profiles, their own blogs online and their own creative ways to fundraise -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thanks very much, Abbi.

Abbi Tatton, Candy Crowley and Dana Bash, all the best part of the political team on television.

And remember, for the latest political news at any time, check out the Political Ticker at Time now for The Cafferty File.

Jack Cafferty joining us now from New York -- Jack, what are you looking at today?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Massage Therapists For Obama? Was that a group Abbi had on her Internet thing there?


It doesn't sound so bad if you're a candidate.


Anxiety is on the rise when it comes to how Americans view their country's foreign policy. A newly released survey finds this pessimism extending far beyond the war in Iraq. Two thirds of those polled saying the United States' relations with the rest of the world are on the wrong track.

The poll was done by a non-partisan outfit called Public Agenda, along with the cooperation of a publication called "Foreign Affairs."

Here are some of the findings. This is not good news for us.

Eighty-two percent say the world's becoming more dangerous for the United States and its people.

Seventy-three percent say the country is not doing a good job as a leader in creating a more peaceful world.

Seventy percent say U.S. troops ought to leave Iraq within 12 months.

Sixty-eight percent say the rest of the world sees the United States negatively.

And 67 percent say the U.S. should emphasize diplomatic and economic efforts over military ones when it comes to fighting terrorism.

The poll also included something called an anxiety indicator, which measured 137 on a scale between zero and 200, up seven points in the last six months.

Researchers consider the 150 mark a crisis of confidence in government policy.

So here's the question -- how would you rate your own anxiety level when it comes to U.S. foreign policy?

E-mail or go to -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Jack.

And coming up, does John McCain's presidential campaign need a shot in the arm?

Our Bill Schneider takes a look at Senator McCain's campaign and his new strategy to turn things around.

Plus, much more of Dana Bash's one-on-one interview with Rudy Giuliani.

Does the Republican frontrunner think being gay is immoral?

Find out ahead.

And later, much more on Obama's campaign cash.

Does his ferocious fundraising have the Clinton campaign nervous?

I'll ask James Carville and Michael Steele in today's Strategy Session.


MALVEAUX: Right now, there is a lot of straight talk, as John McCain would say, about the condition of the senator's presidential campaign. The latest numbers don't add up well for the Arizona Republican.

Let's bring in our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider -- Bill, why is the campaign in trouble?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the McCain campaign is beginning to look a lot like a bulky computer. When you get a lot of error messages, you know it's time to reboot.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Fundraising totals for the first quarter are in. Among the six leading candidates in both parties, John McCain came in last.

DAVID WINSTON, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: His campaign has floundered and it's struggling. And the amount of money he raised in contrast to other Republicans reflects that.

SCHNEIDER: McCain is in a dead heat with Rudy Giuliani in New Hampshire, according to a CNN/WMUR presidential primary poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire.

McCain beat George W. Bush in New Hampshire in 2000. He can't afford to lose New Hampshire this time.

Republicans have a long history of nominating the heir apparent -- Ronald Reagan in 1980; George Bush in 1988; Bob Dole in 1996; George W. Bush in 2000.

This time, McCain has done everything he can to make himself look like the heir apparent.

So what's the problem?

WINSTON: His threat is he's potentially creating two McCains -- the McCain of 2000 and then this McCain who will do anything to get elected in 2008. And -- and the personality that the voters liked was the McCain in 2000.

SCHNEIDER: Example -- McCain is rebooting his fundraising effort by embracing the big money techniques used by George W. Bush. But McCain has always said he wants to curb the influence of big money in politics.

Example -- McCain has embraced President Bush's war policy after the voters repudiated it last November.

This time, it's not clear Republicans are looking to nominate the heir apparent. Fewer than a quarter of New Hampshire Republicans say they strongly approve of President Bush's job performance. More than a third disapprove.

Both Giuliani and Romney are Washington outsiders. They can run as candidates of change.

And McCain?

WINSTON: Because he looks like the candidate of the past, not the candidate of the future.


SCHNEIDER: So McCain is rebooting his message, as well, with several major policy speeches beginning next week, when he'll talk about topic A -- the war in Iraq. McCain will officially announce his candidacy with a national tour beginning April 25th and try to get a new start -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Well, Bill, I covered McCain in the last campaign, and certainly we are seeing a different man and a different kind of campaign now.

Are there any other surprises in this poll?

SCHNEIDER: Well, what we are seeing in the poll is that Rudy Giuliani is picking up support among moderate Republican voters in New Hampshire and Mitt Romney is picking up support among conservatives in New Hampshire.

So it looks like the moderates and conservatives are going in different directions, but neither one in large numbers to John McCain.


Thanks, Bill Schneider.

And still ahead, Rudy Giuliani's message to a woman seeking an abortion.


GIULIANI: But it's your choice. It's an individual right. You get to make that choice and I don't think society should be putting you in jail for it.


MALVEAUX: The former New York mayor and presidential candidate takes on tough questions about social issues.

But will it hurt him with the Republican right?

And a breakthrough for British captives seized in Iran. We'll have the latest on their fate and what happens next.


MALVEAUX: Our Carol Costello is monitoring all the wires, keeping an eye on video feeds from around the world -- Carol, what are you looking at this hour?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM, Suzanne, just what they wanted to hear -- Iran says it will hand 15 detained British marines and sailors over to the British embassy this Thursday. CNN has fresh pictures from the past couple of hours showing the captives getting word that they would be going home after 12 days in Iranian detention. Iran's president announced earlier today he would let them go.

Britain's leader says he's glad the resolution came through dialogue.


TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Well, we have taken a measured approach, firm but calm, not negotiating but not confronting, either.


COSTELLO: In other news, two Iraqi lawmakers have been thrown out of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's anti-American movement for meeting with U.S. officials. One of the ousted officials, Transportation Minister Salam al-Maliki, denies being fired. He also denies he met with any Americans. Maliki, who is not related to the prime minister, and another Iraqi parliament member served as al- Sadr's representatives in the legislature.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman would neither confirm nor deny a meeting took place.

Car bombings remain the key focus as Iraq sets out to widen a security crackdown. An aide to Iraq's prime minister announced today the net will spread into two northern regions. He says the coalition will also turn security control over to Iraqi forces later this month in the Mesan Province to the south. Today's announcement came as scattered violence claimed the lives of more than a dozen people in Iraq.

That's a look at the headlines right now -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Carol, for the latest update.

Now, the family of an American citizen missing in Iran is speaking out.

Let's go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton -- Abbi, what are we learning today about the state of his fate?

TATTON: Well, we've just got a statement earlier today, Suzanne, from the family of Robert Levinson. Wife Christine says: "Bob has been missing for more than three weeks. We miss him and love him very much. We are worried about him and want him home safe and sound, as soon as possible."

And there are many details online about this American missing in Iran. This picture here from the BBC News, this "Panorama" program from 1999, of Levinson appearing on that show. And Levinson is also listed in this New York-based security firm as a former managing director and his online biography there describing 28 years of employment with the DEA and the FBI.

While with the government, Levinson, it says, focused on such problems as the Colombian drug cartels and organized crime in the former Soviet Union. The State Department has stressed that Levinson was in Iran as a private citizen -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Abbi, hopefully that will do some good.

Thank you so much.

And up next, what does Rudy Giuliani have to say about the promised release of those British captives?

The presidential hopeful compares the threats from Iran and Iraq.

And Nancy Pelosi in Syria -- and in the crosshairs of Vice President Cheney.

Is she on her way to becoming the most controversial House speaker yet?



MALVEAUX: Happening now, it's giving some in the White House nightmares.

What happens if Congress doesn't approve more money for Iraq in the next few days?

That scenario has some imagining the worst. Also, a message to President Bush -- enough is enough. That from Syria's U.S. ambassador, who says Syria is not an enemy. He is here to explain.

And what to do when the president threatens you. I'll ask Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean if his party should defy or comply with the president's wishes over Iraq.

Wolf Blitzer is off today.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

On the campaign trail, Republican Rudy Giuliani acknowledges his moderate views on some social issues could cost him the support of conservatives. And he may not have helped his appeal to the Republican right in his interview with CNN today.

Our Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, sat down with the former New York mayor in Florida and asked him about hot button political issues and international flashpoints.


BASH: Mayor Giuliani, thank you very much for sitting down.

GIULIANI: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: First, breaking news.

Iran, the -- President Ahmadinejad has said that he is releasing the 15 British sailors. He said that it was a gift to the -- to the British.

Can you assess Ahmadinejad? Do you think he's more of a threat that Kim Jung Il of North Korea? More of a threat than Saddam Hussein was five years ago?

GIULIANI: Well, first of all, we're glad that the Iranians released them. And thank god. And I'm sure that Tony Blair and the president feel relieved about that.

Is he more of a threat?

I mean it's very hard to comp -- he's a big threat and in some ways I think Iran is a bigger threat than Iraq. Maybe certainly now. I don't know about before. It's hard to -- hard to evaluate all that.

And he seems like a -- he seems like a very irrational person and he's sort of the worst nightmare of the civil war, which I possibly nuclear weapons in the hands of an irrational person.

BASH: Another piece of news out today. CNN and WMUR in New Hampshire have a new poll out that has you dead even with Senator John McCain, 29 to 29. Mitt Romney is at 17.

What does that say to you? Do you think, for example, the fact that Senator McCain won in New Hampshire in the year 2000, that if you beat him, or if anyone beats him, is he done after New Hampshire?

GIULIANI: John McCain is never done. I know John McCain. I admire John McCain and he's probably -- of all the people in the race, he's my closest friend. And I admire Mitt Romney very much.

John McCain is never going to be done. I don't know if I'm going to beat him or he's going to beat me in New Hampshire. But if I do beat him in New Hampshire, I expect to see him in South Carolina and I expect to see him in California and I expect to see him every place else.

This is a very, very strong man, a very determined man. We've been just about even in New Hampshire. A couple of times I've been ahead of him. A couple of times he's been ahead of me by 10 points or -- and we're going to probably go right down to the wire there.

BASH: You have been very, very outspoken about your opposition to what Democrats are doing in terms of a time line or deadline for withdrawal in Iraq. You say it's -- you even said today it's like crying uncle, it's giving the enemy...


BASH: ... the plan.

But having said that, though, you're somebody who has -- who's made a name on results and leadership.

Is there something to be said for the Democrats' argument that you have to make it clear to the Iraqi government that the United States isn't going to be there forever? Is there some way to communicate that to them, perhaps? Some people in Washington are floating the idea of a classified deadline. Would you go for that?

GIULIANI: Anything that's done off the radar screen, fine. That's the way you do diplomacy. That's the way you put on pressure.

I think this idea of, we want to put pressure on Iran, the Iranian government, and -- but, instead, what we're doing is putting our soldiers at risk, doesn't make sense. It's like we kind of haven't exercised common sense. We haven't exercised restraint, if what we want to do is get them to get more involved in their own security.

I would like to see them get more involved in rebuilding their country. I always believe in -- in constructive activities. If you ask me what am I worried about going wrong with this new strategy, it's not the clear part. I think that's going to work. It's not the hold part. I hope that works. We didn't do that before. But I think we -- we have a plan now to do that.

I'm more worried about the build part. Are we going to get Iranians actively involved, in large numbers, in rebuilding their schools, rebuilding their highways, rebuilding their factories? Are we going to get the 60 percent unemployment down to 30 percent?

I know this sounds like domestic problems, but we have taken on these domestic problems in what we have done here. And maybe we didn't focus on that enough. And I hope that we're doing that.

BASH: Again on the polls, you have surprised a lot of people on the fact that you are way ahead in many polls nationally. A lot of political observers say, how can Rudy Giuliani, who is so socially moderate, be doing so well among Republican voters?

So, I want to flesh you out a little bit on some of the issues.

GIULIANI: Yes. I don't think of myself as being way ahead. And there are polls that have been that way, polls that I have been behind, even. I think I'm competitive. That's the way I look at it.


GIULIANI: And we made the decision to enter Iowa and run in Iowa not because we know we can win it. Who the heck knows that? We think we're competitive.


GIULIANI: I think there are a lot of Republicans who are willing to look at the whole record, and to take a look at, you know, what can he do for us in terms of dealing with terrorism? What can he do for us in dealing with the economy? Is he going to be the fiscal conservative?


BASH: Let me ask you about -- about that record.


BASH: For example, on abortion, you're a self-described pro- choice Republican. There's a woman out there who says: I like Rudy Giuliani, because I think he's going to keep me safe. He's going to lower my taxes. He's going to get our -- a budget balanced. But I want to know, is he going to have the same position that he did as president than he did as mayor, which is to protect and defend my right to choose?

What would President Giuliani say?

GIULIANI: The same position.

I'm in the same position now that I was 12 years ago, when I ran for mayor, or as mayor, which is personally opposed to abortion, don't like it, hate it, would advise that woman have an adoption, rather than an abortion. And I will help you find the money for it.


GIULIANI: But it's your choice. It's an individual right. You get to make that choice. And I don't think society should be putting you in jail for it.

BASH: And one of the things that you have said is that you will appoint strict constructionist judges.

GIULIANI: For a different reason, not necessarily that reason.

I -- generally, that's my philosophy. It's the only way I can really see that we protect the separation of powers, personal liberties. And, by strict constructionist judges, I mean judges who will interpret the meaning of the Constitution, not create it.

BASH: And many people see -- many people see that as -- as code...


BASH: ... to conservatives, who say, that means that he is giving me a wink and a nod, saying, he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade.


BASH: Do you want to overturn Roe v. Wade?

GIULIANI: Dana, I don't wink and nod. I'm a very direct person. I tell people what I think. Sometimes, I get in trouble for it.

BASH: So, what's the direct answer?

GIULIANI: The direct answer is, a strict constructionist judge can come to either conclusion about Roe against Wade. They can look at it and say, wrongly decided 30 years ago, or whatever it is. We will overturn it.

They can...

BASH: What's your personal view on Roe v. Wade?

GIULIANI: They could look at it and say, it's been the law for this period of time. Therefore, we're going to respect the precedent.

Conservatives can come to that conclusion as well. I would leave it up to them. I would not have a litmus test on that. My -- my overall view would be judges who are going to struggle with the meaning of the Constitution. And that applies to criminal justice issues. It applies to terrorism issues. It applies to a whole -- whole host of issues, to the Second Amendment and the individual right to bear arms, that it's a whole group of issues.

BASH: One last question on abortion. You might have heard of YouTube.


BASH: There's something on -- you know, on YouTube from 1989. It's flying around the Internet. It's -- it's a clip of you.



GIULIANI: There must be public funding for abortions for poor women. We cannot deny any woman the right to make her own decision about abortion because she lacks resources.


GIULIANI: I have also stated that I disagree with President Bush's veto last week of public funding for abortions.



BASH: Is that also your -- going -- going to be your position as president?

GIULIANI: Probably. I mean, I have to reexamine all those issues and exactly what was at stake then. It is a long time ago. But, generally, that's my -- my view. Abortion is wrong. Abortion shouldn't happen.

Personally, you should counsel people to that extent. When I was mayor, adoptions went up. Abortions went down.

BASH: So, you...


GIULIANI: But, ultimately, it's a -- it's a -- it's a constitutional right. And, therefore, if it's a constitutional right, ultimately, even you do it on a state-by-state basis, you have to make sure that people are protected.

BASH: So, you support taxpayer money or public funding for abortion in some cases?

GIULIANI: If -- if it would deprive someone of a constitutional right, yes. I mean, if that's the status of the law, then I would, yes.


MALVEAUX: Still ahead: more of our Rudy Giuliani interview. Is he buckling under the scrutiny of his family problems? Find out later in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Coming up: President Bush breaks bread with the troops. Is there any new break in his bitter battle with Democrats over funding for the Iraq war?

And Barack Obama's big money challenge to Hillary Clinton. James Carville and Michael Steele take stock of the Democratic race and the Obama-Clinton brawl. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


MALVEAUX: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on her way today to becoming even more of a thorn in the side of the Bush administration. In Syria today, she met with top officials, as planned, against the wishes of White House officials. I have spoken with many of those officials.

Our congressional correspondent Andrea Koppel, of course, following this story.

Is this the first time that Pelosi has done something like this?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, Suzanne, it's the second. It's her second overseas trip since Democrats took control of Congress. She went to Iraq during her first trip. But it is by far the most controversial.


KOPPEL (voice-over): Speaker Pelosi may have looked like a tourist, strolling through old Damascus, sampling Arabic sweets, and praying at the tomb of John the Baptist, but that's not what has the White House crying foul.

It's this: her meetings with top Syrian officials, including President Bashar al-Assad.

In an interview with ABC News, Vice President Cheney said, Pelosi's visit is sending Syria's president the wrong message.


RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In other words, his bad behavior is being rewarded, in a sense.


KOPPEL: Congressional Republicans accuse Speaker Pelosi of acting like the secretary of state. Other critics say they believe her trip to Syria isn't about foreign policy at all.

PETER BROOKES, SENIOR FELLOW, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: My concern is that this is more about politics than policy, that it's more about the elections in 2008 than the problems we're facing in 2007.

KOPPEL: Congresswoman Pelosi is by no means the first speaker to travel overseas or to knock heads with the White House. The 46th speaker of the House, Oklahoma Democrat Carl Albert, was a Rhodes Scholar who reveled in international affairs.

But it was Georgia Republican Newt Gingrich who really used his gavel to hammer away at then President Bill Clinton's foreign policy. In 1996, for example, Gingrich added $18 million to legislation for a CIA covert operation designed to overthrow the Iranian government.

MARTIN INDYK, DIRECTOR, SABAN CENTER FOR MIDDLE EAST POLICY AT BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: It created a real problem for our policy, because it sent the signal to the Iranians that we were trying to overthrow them, when our policy was exactly the opposite, that we weren't trying to overthrow them; we were trying to change their behavior. And we were unable to reverse that perception.


KOPPEL: And Indyk says that, although they could never prove it, the Clinton administration suspected that the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia in 1996, which killed 19 U.S. servicemen and one Saudi, was a way for the Iranians to show the U.S. that, if we wanted to mess with them, they were capable of messing with the U.S. in Saudi Arabia -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Andrea.

And, of course, Andrea and, as you saw earlier, Bill Schneider part of the best political team on television.

And, remember, for the latest political news at any time, check out our political ticket at

Up next: Rudy Giuliani's family problems. The -- the Republican presidential candidate talks about his family's issues in our CNN interview.



GIULIANI: My personal life, I have made mistakes. I have had a rocky road. I regret them. They're between me, God, my conscience, and the people involved.



MALVEAUX: Early in the Republican race for the White House, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani takes on the tough issues. Then there's the money side of the presidential politics. Who is pulling in the big bucks? And who might need a new approach?

Joining me for today's "Strategy Session" are Democratic strategist James Carville and Republican strategist Michael Steele.

Let's, first of all, start off with the numbers. Let's take a quick look at these numbers. We have got Clinton at $26 million, Obama at $25 million, Romney at $21 million, Giuliani, $14 million, Edwards, $14 million, and McCain, $12.5 million.

Let's start with you, James.

You said that you do not advise Hillary Clinton or her campaign, but that you publicly are a supporter.


MALVEAUX: They must somebody really nervous. Are they nervous today?

CARVILLE: Well, I suspect that that's -- $25 million is a big number. You can slice it, dice it any way that you want to. I don't know. Nervous? I think they live nervous.

I have never been in a political campaign myself that I wasn't nervous. So, I suspect they were nervous today or yesterday.

MALVEAUX: What do they do now?

CARVILLE: Keep raising money. What else -- what do you do?



CARVILLE: You go out. And what do you think? She's going to quit?



MALVEAUX: Well, how does she become more effective? She clearly has a very competitive challenger here.

CARVILLE: Well, she does. But so what? Politics is a competitive business.

MALVEAUX: So, you think it's an inevitability that she's going to win?



CARVILLE: I don't -- on, I think it's inevitable. I think it's a tough race.


MALVEAUX: Michael.


MICHAEL STEELE, GOPAC CHAIRMAN: She's got Barack knocking at her door, and she better be prepared to answer it one way or the other, because he's raised $25 million with two years of service in the United States Senate.

She has a long history, going back to the Watergate days. This is a woman who knows this game very well. And she has got to the set the pace for this campaign. Now, it's early. Now, you know, next quarter could be a very different story for Barack and everyone else in the field. But, right now, she hears a knock at the door. And she better be prepared to answer it.

MALVEAUX: What does this mean for Obama's campaign? Because, clearly, he came into this race pretty late in the game. He didn't have the same kind of apparatus, the money-making machine here.


STEELE: Oh, it's like, oh, it's novelty. It's new. He's the black man on the national stage, and everybody goes, ooh, ah.

But the reality of it is, how does that translate into votes? How does that translate into additional fund-raising six, eight, 10 months from now? I mean, this is a long horse race, as this gentleman here can you tell.


STEELE: So, this is the beginning. But you have got to address at least early perceptions. And that's what Clinton is up against right now.

MALVEAUX: So, you're saying early perception. You just said that they're seeing a black man, ooh, ah. You think that this is just kind of novelty here?

STEELE: There's a certain level of novelty to it.

I know, in my own race for the United States Senate, there's a certain aura that goes before you. But, then, at some point, you have got to step up and start addressing these hard issues, and giving answers in a very serious way, which Clinton has done. She is setting the pace in that regard. And everyone likes to attack her, but they have to provide their own answers. And that's where the division is going to occur, I think.

CARVILLE: There's also a really big story here.

My calculation is that the Democrats have raised almost $80 million, Republicans maybe $50 million. There's a $60 million -- 60 percent increase in the amount of money Democrats running for president have raised over Republicans. I think that is a -- that is an enormous story. And, clearly, Senator Obama's $25 million is impressive.


STEELE: But it's not a big story, because it's -- there's still a lot of flexibility on the Republican side.

MALVEAUX: Well, let's talk about the Republicans.


MALVEAUX: Obviously, John McCain did not do as well as he wanted or as he needed to. He is revamping his team, bringing in Steve Schmidt, one person who was with the Schwarzenegger campaign. I know him very well.


MALVEAUX: And he's also adopting the Bush strategy here, the pioneers, the rangers, get the bundlers together to get those people, a lot of people, to collect and donate money to this campaign.

Where -- is it too little too late right now?

STEELE: I don't think it's too little too late. But I think you probably are going to have to go beyond the Bush strategy of rangers and so forth.

I think you're going to have to -- you have to couple that with a certain level of energy for the campaign. And, right now, it seems to be front-loaded with Rudy and Romney. And I think that McCain is going to have to really get in the middle of that pack some kind of way, not just financially, but in the polls as well, and really kind of push. And so those dollars can start to gravitate towards him. I think Romney has set the pace on the Republican side, as Hillary has on the Democrat side.

MALVEAUX: But McCain, hasn't he lost the social conservatives?

STEELE: I wouldn't say at this point. I think the social conservatives are still kind of in a holding pattern, if you will.

You still have talk of Fred Thompson out there. You still have a Newt Gingrich factor. There's still some play on the Republican side, which, again, when you look at numbers, I think more folks are keeping their hands in their pockets, as opposed to putting it on the table at this point.

MALVEAUX: Let's talk real quick about abortion and the Giuliani interview today. And then we will -- we will get -- get to you, James.


MALVEAUX: Let's take a quick listen here.


BASH: So you support taxpayer money or public funding for abortion in some cases?

GIULIANI: If it would deprive someone of a constitutional right, yes. If that's the status of the law, then I would, yes.


MALVEAUX: How big of a problem is that for Giuliani now for the social conservatives?

CARVILLE: I will defer to Governor Steele. He's one of them.

But I would think it would be a pretty big problem...


CARVILLE: ... if you're not just for abortion, but you're for taxpayers paying for them.

MALVEAUX: Well, that's a huge gift, perhaps -- it's perhaps a gift for Hillary Clinton.


STEELE: It may or may not.

Let's see how these issues play in the context of the war in Iraq and so forth. Yes, it is an issue that he's going to have to address with social conservatives, because federal funding of abortion is not something that we hang our hats on.

MALVEAUX: Thank you very much.

CARVILLE: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: We have run out of time.

CARVILLE: Appreciate it.

MALVEAUX: Still to come: Show me the money. Pentagon Chief Robert Gates warns Congress that, if it doesn't, there will be hell to pay for U.S. forces. That's coming up next hour at 5:00 Eastern.

And, just ahead, Jack Cafferty returns with your e-mails -- the question, how would you rate your anxiety level when it comes to U.S. foreign policy?



MALVEAUX: Now to California, where President Bush has been visiting with military personnel and their families. His appearance at Fort Irwin comes in the midst of his showdown with congressional Democrats over Iraq war funding and withdrawal deadlines.

Our White House correspondent Elaine Quijano traveling with the president, clearly trying to get a message in before his quick spring break -- Elaine.


That's right. And, at a time when Democrats, and, in particular, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have described the situation in Iraq as having deteriorated into a civil war, President Bush today here in Fort Irwin, California, rejecting that notion.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The people who do that are not people -- you know, it's not a civil war. It is pure evil. And I believe we have an obligation to protect ourselves from that evil.


QUIJANO: President Bush there talking about a situation in which insurgents use children in their operations.

Now, meantime, the president, a little bit earlier today, took a tour of what they call the National Training Center here in Fort Irwin, California. It is a place where combat units come in order to prepare themselves for warfare.

There is a greater emphasis, we are told, on Iraqi language and Iraqi culture. And this is billed as the Army's premier desert training facility. The president had lunch with the troops and their families. And he essentially reiterated that the Congress needs to hurry up and get its war funding bill to his desk, one that he can sign soon -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And, Elaine, I understand you also have some news as well, a surprise recess appointment.

QUIJANO: That's right, Sam Fox. And, as you recall, a week ago, the White House had pulled his nomination to be ambassador to Belgium. Well, now we have learned, just a short time ago that, in fact, the president intends to recess appoint him to that very same position.

You remember, this was controversial, because Democrats had complained he had donated some $50,000 to the Swift Boat for Truth ads against John Kerry in 2004 -- the president essentially today, Suzanne, bypassing Congress to make that recess appointment -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Elaine. We have seen him do that before.

So, thanks again. Really appreciate that.

And Republican Tommy Thompson tops today's "Political Radar." The former governor of Wisconsin and former Bush administration Cabinet secretary today formally declared himself a candidate for president. In Iowa this afternoon, Thompson called himself a reliable conservative.


TOMMY THOMPSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Republicans went to Washington to change Washington. We tried, but we lost our way. And I think Washington changed us. We tried to spend money as foolishly as the Democrats. And voters saw through the act.


MALVEAUX: Mitt Romney is on top among Republicans when it comes to fund-raising so far this year. And it seems the former Massachusetts governor is already spending some of that hard-earned campaign cash. His campaign is putting out new commercials on TV in Iowa and New Hampshire.

In the ads, Romney talks about bringing fiscal discipline back to Washington.

Jack is in New York with "The Cafferty File."

Jack, what do you have at this hour?


The question this hour is; How would you rate your anxiety level when it comes to U.S. foreign policy?

Dan in Kentucky wrote: "Anxiety doesn't really cover it anymore. I passed through anxiety in mid-2004. Now I watch my government's moves like a deer in the headlights. I'm simply numb, bewildered, disgusted, and in disbelief that we can find such extraordinary ways of screwing up everything."

Jim in Michigan writes: "If someone could explain what our foreign policy is, other than Condi Rice's photo-ops with our so- called allies, I would like to hear it."

Al in Massachusetts: "Significantly lower than it was 24 hours ago. Nancy Pelosi delivered Israel's message to Syria that it was ready to return to the peace table. And Syria appears to have responded positively. British used diplomacy instead of force, and Iran released the 15 captives. The rest of the world has taken a good, long look at Bush's doctrine, and given it the boot. If we can survive until January of 2009, things can only get better."

Archie in L.A. disagrees: "No anxiety at all. And, if we could idiots like Pelosi out of the picture, that would be even better. She will probably get us into another war."

R. in Madison, Wisconsin: "I don't think Bush has one. I have never seen such rank indifference to diplomacy. He just starts wars and rewards his wealthy donors. His only planning seems to include someone to write his speeches and a still photographer."

And Dianne in Pennsylvania writes: "My anxiety level is somewhere between labor pains and having a Brazilian wax -- not pretty, either one, Jack."


CAFFERTY: Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thank you very much, Jack Cafferty. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: no money, no war -- the defense secretary warning, the showdown over Iraq funding could jeopardize the entire mission, and sooner than you think.

Also: Iran's president shocking the world with a surprise announcement about those captured British sailors and marines. Is this hard line anti-Western leader manipulating the news media?

Also this:


GIULIANI: I do think that people who have a sexual orientation of one kind or another should not be discriminated against.


MALVEAUX: But does Rudy Giuliani think gays should be allowed to serve openly in the U.S. military? The Republican presidential candidate gets grilled on hot-button issues in a one-on-one interview.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


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