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Gore's Prize and Presidential Race: Will Nobel Make a Difference?; Senator Kennedy's Surgery; Interview with Al Gore

Aired October 12, 2007 - 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: Happening now, Al Gore calls his Nobel Peace Prize just the beginning. He says he'll use it to further the fight against global warming. Will he also use it to launch a run for the White House?
Plus, a presidential campaign first. Candidates from opposing parties are now teaming up in Iowa to find a solution in Iraq. This hour, the Joe Biden/Sam Brownback one-two punch.

And a mind-boggling forecast of TV ad spending in the 2008 election. We're talking about $3 billion. Yes, you heard it right, $3 billion.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up first this hour, Al Gore is capping his transformation from a losing presidential candidate to commander in chief of the international battle against global warming. The former vice president today won the Nobel Peace Prize, along with the United Nations panel on climate change. He's promising to donate his half of the $1.5 million prize to a nonprofit group devoted to spreading the message that the planet right now is in crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will be doing everything I can to try to understand how to best use the honor and recognition of this award as a way of speeding up the change in awareness and the change in urgency. It truly is a planetary emergency, and we have to respond quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Gore says the Nobel prize is just the beginning, but the beginning of what/ Could another run for the White House also be in the works?

Let's go right to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. He's watching this story for us.

Does the Nobel prize for Al Gore, Bill, change the political landscape in 2008?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, it does, even if Gore sticks with his decision not to run for president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice over): Al Gore has scored a trifecta: an Oscar, an Emmy, and now the Nobel Peace Prize. The Draft Gore movement is already in high gear. They ran a full-page ad in "The New York Times," they're putting videos up on YouTube.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): I spent four lonely days in a brown L.A. haze, and I just want you back by my side

SCHNEIDER: What impact will the Nobel prize have?

ELAINE KAMARCK, FMR. GORE ADVISER: Obviously today's news gives them a shot in the arm, but they still don't have a candidate.

SCHNEIDER: Not yet.

Here are three reasons why many Democrats want Gore to run: revenge for what they regard as the stolen 2000 election, Gore's outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq before it began.

GORE: I am deeply concerned that the course of action that we are presently embarking upon with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism.

SCHNEIDER: And the fact that Gore looks eminently electable. He's already been elected, many Democrats believe.

Here are three reasons why Gore probably will not run.

KAMARCK: It's getting late. And the filing deadlines are coming. And you can't win delegates if you're not on the ballot.

SCHNEIDER: A Gore candidacy would start a civil war in the Democratic Party.

KAMARCK: Obviously a lot of the same people, myself included, are fans of Hillary and fans of Al Gore, but that would be a very hard choice for a lot of people in the Democratic Party.

SCHNEIDER: After he got news of the Nobel prize, Gore said in a statement, "The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity."

That would change if Gore ran for president. The climate crisis would instantly become a political issue.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Was the Nobel Committee trying to stick it to President Bush by giving Gore the peace prize? Well, a reporter asked the chairman of the Nobel Committee, and the chairman's answer, "The Nobel Committee has never given a kick in the leg to anyone."

Now, some people may take that as a yes -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Bill, how many U.S. presidents have actually won the Nobel Peace Prize?

SCHNEIDER: Three since the prize was first given in 1901. Theodore Roosevelt in 1905, Woodrow Wilson in 1919, and Jimmy Carter in 2002.

And one vice president has won it, too, besides Gore, Charles Dawes. Calvin Coolidge's vice president won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925. He was the author of The Dawes Plan that helped rescue German from out of control inflation -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Bill Schneider with a little history for us.

Thanks very much.

CNN is certainly showing its commitment to reporting on climate change. Don't miss "Planet in Peril," a CNN investigation, to explore the world's environmental issues. You can join Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Animal Planet host Jeff Corwin on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 23rd and October 24th, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

Another big-name Democrat is making headlines today for a very different reason. Senator Edward Kennedy underwent surgery today to remove a blockage from an artery in his neck.

Let's check in with our congressional correspondent, Jessica Yellin. She's watching this story for us.

Jessica, how's the senator doing?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're told that Senator Kennedy is resting comfortably after the surgery, which doctors describe as very successful, uneventful and routine. They say that it lasted only about an hour.

As you said, it's to repair a blocked carotid artery which is in his neck. It was on the left side of his neck. And they need to do this to prevent a stroke, when they see that the plaque inside that artery is building up.

Now, his office tells us that this wasn't the result of any symptoms he had. He discovered this because he went into the doctor for a routine MRI.

He gets them every so often because he suffers from a very bad back as a result of a plane crash that happened in the 1960s. And Senator Kennedy, when he got that MRI, they discovered this blockage and decided to do this as a precaution.

Now, we understand that he's going to spend a few days at the hospital, and then continue to rest and recuperate at home in Massachusetts. I can tell you, Wolf, that they say he's in very good health otherwise. He swims every day, he works full days.

He was out campaigning for Nicki Tsongas, who's running for Congress in Massachusetts, before he went in for these tests. But he does have this back problem. And anybody who works here and sees him on a daily basis knows that he walks sort of a lumbering walk. And they pull out a chair for him often when he's at press conferences if someone else is talking so that he can sit down and rest.

But again, doctors say he's in good shape right now. He actually had ginger ale and ice cream already, and they say he's even fit to watch a Red Sox game if it doesn't raise his blood pressure too much.

BLITZER: Well, let's see if he'll watch THE SITUATION ROOM as well.

We wish him, of course, a speedy recovery.

Jessica, thanks very much.

Jessica Yellin and Bill Schneider, as all of you know, are both part of the Emmy Award-winning best political team in television. And remember, for the latest political news at any time, you can always check out our political ticker. Just go to CNN.com/ticker.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty. He's in New York for "The Cafferty File".

Hi, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the Bush administration is in danger of breaking its arm from patting itself on the back. They announced that the federal budge deficit declined for a third straight year to $163 billion. They also said the number came in under an earlier estimate of $205 billion.

Well, don't get too excited, because they're lying.

"Fortune" magazine's Allan Sloan warned us about this very thing in a great piece entitled "Fuzzy Bush Math". It came out a month ago.

In the piece, he said Washington would report another decline in the deficit. They did. He pegged the number at $158 billion, which is pretty close for an article that came out a month ago. He only miss it $5 billion.

Sloan explains the federal government operates under its own unique budget accounting system, regardless of which party is in power. Here's how it works.

Social Security, for example, will take in $78 billion more in payroll and income taxes than it shells out this year. That's a surplus. But the government takes that money and spends it, and gives the Social Security trust fund an IOU.

There is no money in the Social Security trust fund, only government IOUs. The Treasury will pay $108 billion of interest on the trust fund's $2.2 trillion of treasuries, but that, too, will be paid with IOUs. The money will be spent.

Right there, add those two together, $186 billion, which would more than double the stated budget deficit. And there are other financial shenanigans that go on that make the number even higher. We don't have time to go into them all.

The point is we're not being told the truth about the financial health of this country, and we continue to push a larger and larger burden on to the laps of our children and our children's children.

So here's the question: If the government lies to us about the size of the deficit, what else do you suppose they lie to us about?

Remember, it's only a three-hour program.

E-mail us at cafertyfile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/caffertyfile -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And you made the excellent point the other day, Jack, about the national debt that has built up since President Bush took offices. Just remind our viewers where it was and where it is right now, because this is a debt that our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren are going to be burdened with.

CAFFERTY: There has been more debt accumulated during the administration of President Bush than during all of the previous presidents combined. When President Bush was sworn in 2000, the debt was around $5 trillion-plus -- $5.2, $5.3 trillion. It is now just a shade until $10 trillion.

So in almost -- in seven years, the debt, total debt, has almost doubled in this country. It is a staggering number.

BLITZER: Eye-popping. Thanks, Jack, very much.

Jack Cafferty will be back shortly.

Al Gore doesn't sound too impressed by the presidential candidates' positions on global warming. The other day I spoke with him about the issue that won him the Nobel Peace Prize. His outcry for urgency and his criticism of the Bush administration, that's coming up.

Plus, after years inside the Bush White House, Dan Bartlett is now spilling some secrets. Wait until you hear some of the tales he's telling.

And try to get your arms around this figure. That would be $3 billion. That's the eye-popping forecast for ad spending this election cycle. We're going to tell you how much of that is likely to be spent on winning the White House.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Just the other day, before Al Gore won his Nobel Peace Prize, he was promoting the campaign against global warming over at the United Nations. I was in New York that day, and I spoke with him about the environment and the presidential race.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And joining us now, the former vice president of the United States, Al Gore.

Mr. Vice President, thanks very much for coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're speaking -- you're at the United Nations, and there's a lot of people looking to the United Nations to do something about global change, about climate change, global warming.

Do you really expect the U.N. to do anything concrete right now?

GORE: Wolf, I do. This was the largest gathering of heads of state in history to focus on the climate crisis, and the immediate purpose was to give a mandate to the negotiators that will be meeting in early December in Bali, in Indonesia, to start the negotiating process for a new and tougher treaty to take the place of the Kyoto Treaty. And I called upon them today to finish that up two years ahead of what's currently planned now, 2012, instead to get it completely in place by 2010.

We face a planetary emergency. Just three days ago, as you know, the scientists reported that the melting of the north polar ice cap was 10 times faster than expected. It's fallen off a cliff in the words of one of these scientific experts, and it really is an emergency.

BLITZER: Well, what about India and China, two of the world's biggest polluters? In the past they have not cooperated, they've not participated in any of these protocols, basically. Do you have any commitment, any idea whether they're going to change their mind right now?

GORE: Well, the best way to get them to is for the United States to provide leadership. Both were represented at this meeting today, and the head of China took the position at the APEC meeting 10 days ago in Australia that he supports the Kyoto Treaty. And both China and India have talked about the need for every nation, including their own, to be a part of this new treaty.

So it will be a negotiating process, but yes, they have to be a part of t.

BLITZER: So what I hear you saying, Mr. Vice President, and correct me if I'm wrong, that the U.S., the Bush administration, is the big stumbling block right now. Is that right?

GORE: Well, that's long been the case. The United States has the greatest capacity to provide leadership and to help organize a global response to this crisis, but you know, we do have new leadership in the Congress. And a little more than a year from now, we will have a new president, perhaps one that is committed to action on the climate crisis. So whatever is done in the next remaining year or so of the current president's term needs to be seen in that larger contest. But I don't rule out the possibility that President Bush and Vice President Cheney might make some small changes in their positions. I would hope so.

BLITZER: Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, was here at the United Nations this week, speaking in part about global warming. Do you think there's a change of heart on the part of this administration?

GORE: No, I don't think there's a change of heart yet at all. There's a small tweaking of the language, and it sometimes conveys the impression that there's a change, but there's been no change in policy as yet.

Nevertheless, the rest of the world is moving, and the foundation's being laid here at this meeting today for the negotiations that will begin in December. And I'm very optimistic that we will get a new and tougher global agreement, but the time is running out.

We really need to approach it with a great sense of urgency and alarm. We can still solve it, but we don't have that much time.

BLITZER: You're looking ahead to the next U.S. president. Who among the candidates, Democrat and Republican, do you think is most committed to where you stand in terms of the need to deal with global warming?

GORE: Well, let's give them more time. The process still has a long way to go.

Several of the candidates on the Democratic side have spoken out forcefully on this issue. None has yet presented a truly comprehensive plan, but I'm optimistic that as the debate continues, they will.

On the Republican side, I haven't heard much about it. John McCain has in the past had a very responsible position, but competing for the votes in those primaries, I guess, has led him in another direction. But I really am optimistic that both political parties will make this one of the core issues, and I'm very optimistic that the next administration will be very different from this one.

BLITZER: I know you're studying all the candidates and their positions on this and other issues. Four years ago you endorsed Howard Dean. What about the prospect of Al Gore endorsing any of the candidates this time around?

GORE: I don't know if I'll make an endorsement or not. I just don't know.

BLITZER: Because the president, you heard him say this week that he thinks Hillary Clinton is going to get the Democratic nomination, but then lose to the Republican next -- a year from November. What do you think about that prediction by President Bush?

GORE: Well, I think it's too early to make predictions. At least it's too early for me to make predictions about it.

BLITZER: But you're not ready to jump on the Hillary Clinton bandwagon yet?

GORE: I'm not ready to endorse a candidate or to decide whether I will. But I appreciate your interest in it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Al Gore speaking with my the other day in New York before he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Now that he's won the peace prize, will he go after the prize that eluded him earlier? That would be the White House. Or might he just make the current candidates' lives more complicated?

Paul Begala and J.C. Watts, they're standing by for our "Strategy Session".

Also coming up, the mother of a teenager pays a price for the unbelievable array of weapons found in his bedroom.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Meanwhile, in Iowa today, presidential campaign odd couple. Why would a Democratic and Republican presidential candidate join forces right now?

Coming up, their plan and how it's playing politically.

Also coming up, a father's grief and a startling claim that the military is using predatory recruiting tactics. Is one ethnic group paying a high price for that, sacrificing young lives?

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, Russia giving the United States an earful over an issue of distrust. Vladimir Putin hosting Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates, and he seemed to take a very combative tone in the talks. It involves a U.S. project Russia views as a threat.

We have details coming up.

In Egypt, some police become public enemies. If you steal something or commit other crimes, you might be tortured. We're going to tell you about efforts to expose what one person is calling -- and I'm quoting now -- a "torture epidemic". And backlash over some Hollywood movies. They claim to depict the war in Iraq, but one casts U.S. soldiers as villains who rape and murder an Iraqi girl.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Two presidential candidates right now, a Democrat and a Republican, they're teaming up today for a new policy involving the war in Iraq.

Mary Snow is following this story for us from Des Moines, Iowa.

Mary, this involves a plan for Iraq. What's going on?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is a plan for Iraq and a political solution, but the candidates here say that their message has much broader appeal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (on camera): People are calling you the odd couple? Is that...

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we are an odd couple, but we like each other.

SNOW (voice over): Presidential hopefuls Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Sam Brownback admit they disagree on a lot, and they say they can understand why their alliance is turning heads.

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You may want to check and make sure the sun comes up the next day and see if the world doesn't fall apart.

SNOW: Biden and Brownback, both U.S. senators, are calling for a political solution, not a military one, to end the war in Iraq. They say they chose Iowa to tout their plan to make a political point.

BIDEN: I think Americans are sick and tired of this red and blue, you know, liberal, conservative, the other guy. If you disagree, it's not that they're just wrong, they're bad. This was a way to demonstrate that we can pull together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Brownback...

SNOW: Biden and Brownback sponsored a resolution calling for a federalized Iraq that wants 75 votes in the Senate. They're calling for a decentralized government that would allow Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds to have their own states. The measure has brought attention to both, who are long shots for the presidency in their respective parties.

BROWNBACK: We're trying to show hope to the country that we can come together on top tough topics, even Iraq. And I think that can show and sew a big seed of hope for the country of us coming together on tough problems. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: And Wolf, while Senator Sam Brownback is talking about hope, he's also talking about reality in this race. He says that he will drop out of the race if he places lower than fourth in the Iowa caucus -- Wolf.

BLITZER: They disagree on a lot of domestic issues, social issues, but is anyone talking about both of them sort of teaming up for some sort of third-party run?

SNOW: You know, I asked Senator Biden about that today, and he said there's certainly a rationale for a third-party candidacy.

But he says, the thing is, you have to be able to win. And with the current environment, he says, he doesn't think that's possible with a third-party candidate.

BLITZER: Thanks, Mary -- Mary Snow on the scene for us in Des Moines, Iowa.

Meanwhile, regarding U.S. military recruitment goals, one man claims the military is trying to recruit more Hispanics than any other ethnic group. And he's making his surprising claims about what he believes the government is now doing to try to lure them.

Let's go right to Brian Todd. He's watching this story for us.

It's is a very personal crusade. What's going on, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, very personal, Wolf. And it began after this gentleman received the worst possible news.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Fernando Suarez del Solar wears a father's grief on his chest, holding his 20-year-old son's dog tags, speaking of the day he received the worst news.

FERNANDO SUAREZ DEL SOLAR, FATHER OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: Three Marines go and told me, "Your son is a hero. And he died last night in combat when received a shot in the head."

My -- my life is destroyed.

TODD: Marine Lance Corporal Jesus Suarez del Solar was one of the Iraq war's earliest casualties. Now his father fights to discourage other young Hispanics from following in Jesus' footsteps by visiting hundreds of high schools, and publicly accusing the military of predatory recruiting tactics aimed at Hispanics. He calls his campaign Aztec Warrior for Peace.

SUAREZ DEL SOLAR: Today, you see in the barrios, in the working class areas, the recruiter meets every single day in the high school. But, in the rich areas, you never see the recruiter in the high school. TODD: CNN contacted recruiting commands for the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, and Air Force. All say their methods are not predatory, the Marines telling us they work very hard to ensure recruits have the best and most accurate information before enlisting. Each command also said their recruiters do not target one ethnic group more than another and that the rise of Hispanics in the armed forces is modest.

One Hispanic commentator explains the recruit increase this way.

LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: There is a tremendous sense of patriotism, honor and respect for the military within the Hispanic community. And a recruiter is going to receive a very positive response there, because a lot of Hispanics see this as an economic way out of the barrio.

TODD: Those who study the military's demographics say economics do play a heavy role in recruitment.

DAVID SEGAL, CENTER FOR RESEARCH ON MILITARY ORGANIZATION PROFESSOR DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: You have got a sector of the civilian young adult community that is disadvantaged in the civilian labor force, and you have got an employer, the military services, that are pretty much ethnicity- and race-blind.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: And there's also word of mouth, one professor telling me, when Hispanic Marines leave the force, they often go out into their communities and talk about the positive experiences to kids.

But, this time, Fernando Suarez del Solar will joining them with a very different message -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What are the percentages out there for Hispanics in the military?

TODD: Well, we looked at mostly the Army and Marines, where the greatest percentages of Hispanics are found. And they hover there at around 13 percent of the total force with each of those branches. And that's less than their percentage of the U.S. population overall, so one expert argues that they may actually be underrepresented in those forces.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Brian Todd, with that story.

He's a man who knows many secrets about things that have happened inside the White House and in President Bush's political campaigns. Now the former presidential counselor Dan Bartlett is lifting some of that veil of secrecy, revealing some pretty surprising stories in the process.

Our White House correspondent Ed Henry has some of the revelations -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, call it Bartlett unplugged, the former Bush aide letting his hair down and offering a rare window into how the White House works.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY (voice-over): Nobody kept secrets better than Dan Bartlett when he was at President Bush's elbow. But now that he's left the White House, Bartlett is on the paid speaking circuit, telling tales out of school.

DAN BARTLETT, FORMER COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT BUSH: The Cheneys aren't into small talk.

HENRY: Bartlett's agent has posted one speech online to drum up business, but it also provides rare insight into key players, like the 2000 Republican Convention, when Bartlett gingerly tried to talk to the Cheneys about their daughter Mary being a lesbian.

BARTLETT: The press is going to really focus on this. They're going to maybe intrude into their lives than you would be prepared. And Ms. Cheney is there, too. Darts just shooting through me left and right.

HENRY: The future vice president finally broke the silence.

BARTLETT: We won't be talking about my daughter.

I said, OK. Thank you very much.

HENRY: Or the private dispute President Bush had with Russian President Vladimir Putin at their first meeting.

BARTLETT: I didn't have the information, George. And when he gets really kind of up, he also like would pointedly, George.

HENRY: Why was Putin steamed? U.S. chicken imports to Russia.

BARTLETT: You're only sending us chickens from the bad chicken plants, and Americans are getting all the good chicken plants.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it true?

(LAUGHTER)

BARTLETT: Now, you can imagine, I mean, the president is not very good at hiding his emotion. He's kind of like, what the hell is he talking about?

(LAUGHTER)

BARTLETT: Vladimir, if you want to go come over to America, we can go to every chicken plant in America and eat as many chickens as you want.

(LAUGHTER)

BARTLETT: I -- you know, let's go now.

HENRY (on camera): Bartlett was also tough on the vice president for not being more forthcoming about his hunting incident, revealing some tension within the White House.

And, while he was speaking for himself, Bartlett's take on Putin, that he suffers from KGB think, could complicate an already complex relationship -- Wolf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Ed, thanks very much -- Ed Henry reporting.

It's more money than most of us can fathom, $3 billion. That's how much campaign ads could cost in this, the 2008 election cycle. We're going to break down the numbers. That's coming up.

Also, police tapes from the night a New York woman died in custody over at the Phoenix Airport.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The presidential candidates have been scrambling for campaign cash at an extraordinarily rapid pace. And there's powerful new evidence that they are going to need every single penny and maybe a lot more.

CNN has had some exclusive access to the forecast of a campaign media analysis group that tracks ad spending.

Tom Foreman is here. He's got some more on what's going on.

These records are about to be shattered.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is just mind-blowing. It's unbelievable. You ever think about how much money candidates spend to run TV ads? Well, throw out everything you have ever known before, because the 2008 election cycle is taking ad spending to a whole new level.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN (voice-over): Hold on to your TV. You are about to be bombarded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN AD)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time for Republicans to start acting like Republicans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD) SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Barack Obama. And I approve this message because, to fix health care, we have to fix Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

ANNOUNCER: Rudy Giuliani has always been a big fan of George Bush's war in Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They attacked us, and they will again. They won't stop in Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

EVAN TRACEY, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, TNS MEDIA INTELLIGENCE: We think $3 billion will be spent in the 2008 election. And this is everything from dogcatcher to the president of the United States to issue groups.

FOREMAN: Three billion dollars? That's record-breaking and nearly double the amount spent to clutter the airwaves in the 2004 cycle.

A new advertising forecast by the Campaign Media Analysis Group, a CNN consultant, projects $800 million of that total will be spent by candidates, parties and issues groups in the presidential race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN AD)

ROMNEY: I'm Mitt Romney, and I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: On the Republican side, deep-pocketed presidential candidate Mitt Romney is in a class by himself. His ads have run roughly 11,000 times in early primary states, price tag, more than $8 million. Democrats gunning for the White House are putting all their TV ad money into Iowa and New Hampshire, introducing themselves to voters.

But, candidates, beware. Still unknown players in the ad wars could be this election's wild card.

TRACEY: What you have right now is a bunch of groups that are forming out there that are going to look to be the swift boat of the 2008 election. They are going to look for an issue that they can exploit through advertising in some of these battleground states. And I suspect that's going to be a big part of the campaign.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FOREMAN: The candidates have a tough choice to make. Spending all their money in states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina with early votes mean they might not have enough cash to buy airtime in states that vote on February 5 or tsunami Tuesday.

Experts also say that, once each party picks its nominee, the general election ads are likely to start right away without much of a pause, meaning viewers and voters won't get much of a break. As we say in "Raw Politics," that's a big piggy bank you got to have to run for president.

BLITZER: Tsunami Tuesday?

FOREMAN: Tsunami Tuesday.

BLITZER: I thought it was superduper Tuesday.

FOREMAN: Oh, no, this is much bigger. The tsunami -- to measure the money, we had to use the term tsunami.

BLITZER: OK.

FOREMAN: And we're considering superduper tsunami if the money keeps going up.

BLITZER: Did you coin that?

FOREMAN: No, I didn't. But if -- but, you know, if I can get...

BLITZER: You will take credit?

FOREMAN: ... royalties on it, sure.

BLITZER: OK.

FOREMAN: I will start building my presidential fund.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Tom Foreman, thanks very much. Staggering numbers.

Today, Al Gore has his eyes on the prize.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tipper and I will go to Oslo, and I will accept this award on behalf of all of those who have been working so long and so hard to try to get the message out about this planetary emergency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: But will he use his Nobel Peace Prize to join or influence the 2008 race? J.C. Watts and Paul Begala, they are standing by for our "Strategy Session."

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: He just won another coveted prize, a very coveted prize. Will he go after the ultimate, though, political prize again? That's what a lot of people are asking about Al Gore. They wonder if the newly minted Nobel Peace Prize winner will reconsider a bid for the White House right now.

Let's get some analysis in our "Strategy Session."

Joining us, two CNN political analysts. Paul Begala is a Democratic strategist, and J.C. Watts is a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma.

Yesterday, before he won the Nobel Peace Prize, James Carville here didn't rule it out. He thought it was still possible, especially if one of the Democratic presidential front-runners should stumble.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's the biggest question, is, if somebody collapses, that is, Hillary. Come on. Let's be honest. That doesn't seem very likely right now.

And I was in contact with someone who is very close to Vice President Gore today. And what he said to me was, don't rule anything out, but it's extremely unlikely. He says the Nobel will not affect Gore's decision. He's got his hands full already with climate change.

But, then,interestingly, this Gore insider said this. The fact is, cranking up a presidential race would be an easier schedule than what we have been through already. So, in a sense, I think they do feel like they could do it if they wanted to. And I'm sure he could.

But the question is, is there oxygen for him? Is the field amenable right now to a white knight riding in? Right now, it's not. Democrats like their candidates. So, I suspect he won't run.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: J.C., what do you think? What do you think Al Gore will do about running for the White House again this time around?

J.C. WATTS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He will not run.

And, Wolf, I even think, if a front-runner was to collapse or to stumble -- I don't think they will collapse, but you could see them stumble -- I still don't think he runs.

I mean, we're less than three months away from the first primary. I think Fred Thompson has seen that it's very difficult to do this in a short period of time. Newt Gingrich, I think, discovered the same thing. And I don't care if it is Al Gore. I think it would be extremely difficult for him to mount a campaign at this point in time.

BLITZER: And what about an endorsement? Last time around, as you remember, he endorsed Howard Dean, didn't exactly do much for Howard Dean. What do you think he's going to do? If he doesn't run -- and we all assume, I think, that he's not going to run -- who does he endorse?

BEGALA: Well, I don't know. I don't know.

but I think the Gore brand means a whole more now than it did on the day he endorsed Howard Dean, not because of the Nobel Prize, because of his very now really close association with global warming and with solutions to global warming.

And I saw in your interview with him last week, he was kind of cagey. He's going to let them all develop. But, if one of the candidates could earn that endorsement, it will mean a lot more, because it will say, on one of the biggest issues facing the world, the most credible guy in the world thinks you have a good plan, Hillary or Bill Richardson or Joe Biden.

So, it could be a very big deal.

(CROSSTALK)

WATTS: I don't think it would be Vice President Gore's style to support the front-runner. And I don't think it would be Senator Clinton.

But, Wolf, he does have a brand. I think he's created a brand in terms of all the global warming, the environmental things that he's doing. And the vice president is also understanding you can impact policy without having a title. You don't have to be a congressperson or a president or vice president.

And so he does have a brand. Somebody will want his endorsement, but I don't think his endorsement goes to the front-runner.

BLITZER: In the next hour, we are going to get the analysis from Donna Brazile. She was Al Gore's campaign manager back in 2000. I'm anxious to hear what she has to say.

Let's talk about the $3 billion that is now projected to be spent for campaign advertising, presidential, a billion dollars, $2 billion for all the Senate and House races. These are enormous sums that -- that underscore the -- the point that a lot of us often make. Money talks in politics.

BEGALA: It does. It's actually not much at all. I'm sorry. It's a pittance. This is a $12 trillion economy, OK?

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: It's almost a $2 trillion budget that that president will be presiding over. Three billion is -- that's the -- that's nothing. I'm sorry. You know, if you were going to launch a whole new...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: J.C., he's being sarcastic.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: I'm actually not. No, I'm serious. I want more and more communication out.

If I were king of the forest, I would make CNN and the other networks provide free airtime, so these candidates don't have to grub for so much money. They could still have lots of time on the air to communicate with their fellow citizens, but they wouldn't have to spend all the time with special interests trying to raise the money. That's what we ought to do, is the free airtime.

BLITZER: Is that a good idea?

WATTS: Well, I'm a capitalist. I would not make CNN...

(LAUGHTER)

WATTS: ... provide free advertising. Make them pay for it.

But I do agree with Paul in the sense that $3 billion, it's a lot of money, but it's not a lot of money when you consider the fact that I could run a congressional campaign for $800,000 in the 4th District of Oklahoma. It cost about $1.5 million to buy 60 seconds worth of advertising on the Super Bowl. What's most important?

I think my vote was more important than, you know, an advertising concerning some beer product or whatever. So, I think we do have to keep that in perspective.

BLITZER: You know, the fact is, though, that you hear $3 billion, a billion dollars for the presidential campaigns, these numbers go out there, and a lot of people react with disgust.

BEGALA: They do, but I think it's not the spending. It's the fund-raising, right? And if we had more public financing...

BLITZER: And what the -- what the fund-raising entails in terms of...

BEGALA: Yes, exactly.

BLITZER: ... promises that have to be made?

BEGALA: Yes. Three billion dollars is squandered away in one special-interest tax break. The oil companies alone -- and oil and gas -- got $50 billion in tax breaks. OK? So, the special interests who fund these campaigns, they know what they're getting.

Now, I will say, on certainly the Democratic side, especially Barack and Hillary, have been raising smaller donations as time has gone on from more and more donors, because of the Internet. So there's some hope. But...

(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: But there's no shortage of fat cats that are helping them.

BEGALA: No, there's not.

WATTS: That's right. That's right.

BEGALA: And, again, the thing to do would be to have measure of public financing, free airtime, like they have in Britain. The quality of the ads would go up. You know, I just...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: You hear about this all the time, McCain-Feingold. They tried it, and that created fresh loopholes, new ways to raise money.

Is anything going to get done on that front, you think, or should anything, J.C., be done?

WATTS: Wolf, it's not. You can always -- you are always going to have people. McCain-Feingold, Begala-Watts, you can call it whatever you want to call it. People are going to find ways to get around the system.

And I do think that people should have a right to give money to Congressmen Blitzer or Congressman Watts. I mean, that is free speech.

And then let me tell you, the hypocrisy of it is when members, when someone will go spend $50 million of their own money to put in their campaign, but then J.C. Watts can only give $2,300 to some candidate. That that -- I think that's a little bit hypothetical. That's a little bit disingenuous. We have people that voted to say you can only give $2,300 to a candidate, but I can put $50 million of my own money in a campaign.

BLITZER: Is that fair?

BEGALA: Well, I -- look, I would have a completely different system than the one we have had. James and I wrote a whole chapter about it in this last book that we did last year. So, I would have a totally different system.

But at least this is -- we're choosing it at least somewhat democratically. I still can't let this day go by without commenting that Al Gore not only won the Nobel Prize. He did win the presidency.

And I'm just waiting, because, by this time Monday, the Supreme Court will order Gore to hand that Nobel Prize over to George Bush.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Those thieves in black robes. I have not -- everybody says, get over it. I have not gotten over it. Vice President Gore should be President Gore in his second term right now. (CROSSTALK)

WATTS: He doesn't have enough left-wingers on the Supreme Court that's willing to disobey the law.

BEGALA: No. Oh, please.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Paul Begala and J.C. Watts, guys, thanks very much.

Two presidential candidates land some big-name support. Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani are endorsed by two people who could give them somewhat of a boost with their respective bases. We are going to tell you what's going on.

And it's never happened over at the CIA, the spy agency investigating its own independent watchdog. Now some lawmakers are worried. They're questioning the CIA's motives. We will explain. ` Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the "Hot Shots" coming in from our friends over at the Associated Press, pictures likely to be in your newspapers tomorrow.

In Seoul, South Korea, people participate in an exercise against a possible terrorist attack.

In Crandon, Wisconsin, a high school senior plays his bagpipes as a tribute to the six killed and one wounded in a shooting rampage.

In Pakistan, girls show their hands painted with henna to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

In Sydney, Australia, camel riders race camels are horse racing was suspended due to a flu outbreak -- some of this hour's "Hot Shots," pictures often worth 1,000 words.

Big-name endorsements on our "Political Ticker" this Friday. The Georgia congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis throwing his support behind Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Lewis' endorsement could help Senator Clinton enhance her already strong backing among African-American voters.

Her leading Democratic primary rival for the African-American vote, Senator Barack Obama, is conveying his admiration for Congressman Lewis. His spokesman says Obama understands Lewis' long relationship with former President Bill Clinton, and he notes that Obama has the support of another leading civil rights figure, Jesse Jackson.

One of Rudy Giuliani's former Republican rivals is endorsing his campaign today. That would be the former health secretary and Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson. Thompson says he's backing Giuliani because he can unite the nation and beat Hillary Clinton. Thompson announced his support for Giuliani in the key battleground state of South Carolina. He abandoned his own struggling presidential bid two months ago.

Remember, for the latest political news at any time, you can check out our Political Ticker, CNN.com/ticker.

Let's go back to Jack Cafferty in New York for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: If the government lies to us about the size of the deficit -- and they do -- then what else do you suppose they lie to us about?

Robert in Hurst, Texas: "The whole enchilada. We have been lied to, lied to, and lied to again. So much for the good Christian president who put his hand on the Bible during his swearing-in and said he would restore morals to the White House."

Andy in Sun Valley, Nevada: "Given the situation in this country, they can't afford to tell the truth. If the government ever told us the truth about everything, we would come after them. And they know that. They have to lie about everything as a mechanism to keep order."

Ronald in San Antonio: "The biggest lie they tell us is that the government is for the American citizen. The truth is, it's a government for wealthy corporations. If it wasn't, then our government would understand the meaning of impeachment."

Bill in New Jersey writes: "George Bush is a confirmed liar, as was Clinton before him. The entire Bush administration lied in order to start a war. Virtually all the government is run by criminals who know how blindingly stupid the American public is and how they can get away with just about anything they please. And a generally blind press allows them to do it every single day."

Gary in Alabama: "I ran out of paper and time trying to answer your question regarding what else our government lies to us about. A simpler question to answer would be, is there anything they don't lie to us about?"

And Mike in Lady Lake, Florida: "Let's put it this way. If President Bush or anyone in his administration told us it was daylight at 12:00 noon, I would go outside and check to see for myself" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: The secretaries of state and defense get blunt talk and a cold shoulder in Moscow -- Russia putting up new opposition to U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Europe and making some serious new threats. Also, a convicted terrorist who killed in the name is Islam now undergoing a shocking prison conversion. Is the World Trade Center bomber, Ramzi Yousef, renouncing his faith?

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