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THE SITUATION ROOM

Clinton Gets Emotional; Make-or-Break for McCain; Interview With Bill Bradley

Aired January 7, 2008 - 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, emotions running very high on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. Democrat Hillary Clinton choking back tears as she fights to bounce back.
And the front-runner, Barack Obama, drawing huge crowds and stirring up excitement.

Also this hour, John McCain looks back to the future. The Republican is trying to repeat his 2000 victory in New Hampshire, but Mitt Romney determined to try to stand in his way. We're about to unveil some brand-new poll numbers in both the GOP and Democratic races.

And Michael Bloomberg stealing some of the White House hopefuls' thunder. The New York mayor joining the Democrats and Republicans to preach bipartisanship, but is he dropping any new hints about an Independent presidential bid?

I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Hillary Clinton says running for president isn't easy, and after her Iowa defeat and long, hard days on the campaign trail, it shows. The Democratic presidential candidate's eyes welled up and her voice broke in New Hampshire just a little while ago.

Senator Clinton heads into tomorrow's crucial primary knowing a second loss to Barack Obama might do irreparable damage to her campaign. Listen to Senator Clinton's response when a sympathetic voter asked her about her grueling fight for the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I have so many opportunities from this country. I just don't want to see us fall backwards. You know? So...

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: You know, this is very personal for me. It's not just political. It's not just public.

I see what's happening. And we have to reverse it. And some people think elections are a game. They think it's like who is up or who is down. It's about our country. It's our kids' futures. It's really about all of us together. Some of us put ourselves out there and do this against some pretty difficult odds, and we do it, each one of us, because we care about our country.

But some of us are right and some of us are wrong. Some of us are ready, and some of us are not. Some of us know what we will do on day one, and some of us haven't thought that through enough.

Let's bring in our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley. She's out there covering Senator Clinton.

Candy, what does this say, this sign of serious emotion, say about this race right now?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it says it's been going on for a long time, almost a year, and it says it's been very intense for the past several weeks.

Look, let me just tell you about that room and give you sort of an indication of how it was received there. That is, it was a roundtable of undecided voters. Most of them women, very sympathetic to Hillary Clinton.

Most of them, you know, came up to her afterwards and said, you know, it's OK. The campaign saying, listen, she's passionate when she talks about America. So there was very much simpatico with those in the room to what Hillary Clinton had to say and her emotions.

BLITZER: Candy, give us a little flavor of what voters are saying out there on this, only hours before the voting actually started.

CROWLEY: What's surprising is how many of these voters say they're still undecideds. You can really see the same voters in a Barack Obama event as you can at a Hillary Clinton event. We recognized a couple of faces.

The fact of the matter is some of them say they really haven't made up their mind, and they're struggling with exactly what came out of Iowa. And that is agents for change, either Barack Obama or John Edwards and Hillary Clinton, who has sold herself as the candidate of experience.

Obviously, she's now trying to kind of pivot that and say, look, I'm the experienced candidate who can make change happen. They haven't made change happen. But it's -- it really is amazing how the voters here really are struggling.

We had one voter say to us, you know, "It's between my heart and my gut. And my gut tells me, you know, go with the Hillary Clinton because she's so experienced. And my heart says Barack Obama really could change things."

So the undecideds right now are where the focus is and where really it's most interesting. BLITZER: Candy Crowley covering Senator Clinton for us.

Thanks, Candy, very much. We'll check back with you.

Clinton rival John Edwards would not directly comment on Senator Clinton's emotion, the decision to show that emotion today. It might not have been a decision, it might have just happened. But when asked about it by CNN, Senator Edwards had this to say...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think what we need in a commander in chief is strength and resolve. And it's -- you know, presidential campaigns are tough business, but being president of the United States is also a very tough business. And the president of the United States is faced with very, very difficult challenges every single day, difficult judgments every single day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Coming up shortly, Barack Obama on the primary eve in New Hampshire. We're going to have a live report on what some are calling Obama-mania in the Granite State right now. We're going to have a full report on what's going on in his campaign.

Now to the Republican showdown for the race for the White House in New Hampshire. Polls showing that John McCain is the man to beat. He has a history of winning in the Granite State, but his rival, Mitt Romney, can't afford to let that history repeat itself, especially after his loss to Huckabee in Iowa.

Dana Bash is covering McCain and the Republican race. She's joining us now.

Is McCain looking more confident? I assume he must be looking a lot more confident right now than only days ago.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Definitely, he's looking confident, but hardly complacent, Wolf. He's got seven stops across the state of New Hampshire today.

You know, John McCain was considered a goner just a few months ago. So he more than anyone understands how unpredictable this Republican race is.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks for being here.

BASH (voice over): When you're feeling good, there's time for a little nostalgia.

MCCAIN: We've had a great time. This has been a wonderful experience again.

BASH: But for all his hope of a comeback, John McCain knows it's do or die in his beloved Granite State.

MCCAIN: I believe that I have the experience and the knowledge and the judgment.

BASH: So along his final Straight Talk Express Tour here, a few last whacks at chief rival Mitt Romney.

MCCAIN: One of my opponents not long ago said you don't need foreign policy experience. My friends, look at the world.

BASH: And off to the next stop, urgency an understatement. Perhaps even more so for Romney.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How are you doing?

BASH: A second place finish for the second time could wound him beyond repair.

ROMNEY: Please go out and vote multiple times tomorrow. That is, if you are for me.

BASH: So the former governor from New Hampshire's neighboring Massachusetts touted his outside Washington experience with his favorite new word.

ROMNEY: And I can bring the change that America needs.

BASH: And poked McCain in his soft spots.

ROMNEY: His view with regard to illegal immigration, which is that there would be a form of amnesty, was again something which I think people in New Hampshire will find very troubling.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Anyone who eats this will lose weight, will vote for Mike Huckabee, and will live forever.

BASH: Mike Huckabee is hoping for more than a burger bearing his name. Perhaps third place to show appeal beyond Iowa's evangelical base.

And Rudy Giuliani?

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we're a multi- fund operation.

BASH: He's slipped in the polls and faces increasing skepticism his focus on later contests will work.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Now, if John McCain wins New Hampshire, he and Mitt Romney are going to go mano a mano in Michigan. That is, of course, Mitt Romney's home state, but it is also welcome territory for John McCain, just like New Hampshire. He won there in 2000.

But Wolf, if we learned anything along the way, it's that we should take one state and one contest at a time.

BLITZER: What about the former Tennessee senator, Fred Thompson, the former star of "Law & Order"? What's he up to?

BASH: He's not campaigning here at all in the state of New Hampshire. He did participate in the debates this weekend, but instead his campaign is completely focused on the next contest state for him. And that is South Carolina.

In fact, they're joking that it is -- they're calling it Custer's Last Stand. It's an interesting, perhaps telling analogy, Wolf, because you'll remember Custer, he lost the Battle of Little Big Horn. In fact, he lost his life. That's why it's called Custer's Last Stand.

So, interesting that that's what they're calling that inside the Thompson camp -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens. And remember what happened to Custer, too.

All right. Thanks very much for that, Dana.

Let's bring in Jack Cafferty with "The Cafferty File."

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: You've got to wonder about these strategies, "I'll get in this later." Thompson in South Carolina, Giuliani's going to wait until Florida. There may be nothing left to wait for by the time it gets around the...

BLITZER: This train may be leaving the station.

CAFFERTY: Yes. Things are moving along.

In fact, it may almost be time to stay home and bake cookies. And here's why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Now wait a minute. I'm going to respond to this, because obviously making change is not about what you believe. It's not about a speech you make. It is about working hard.

There are 7,000 kids in New Hampshire who have health care because I helped to create the Children's Health Insurance Program. They are 2,700 National Guard and Reserve members who have access to health care because on a bipartisan basis, I pushed legislation through over the objection of the Pentagon, over the threat of a veto from President Bush.

I want to make change, but I've already made change. I will continue to make change.

I'm not just running on a promise of change. I'm running on 35 years of change. I'm running on having taken on the drug companies and the health insurance companies, taken on the oil companies. So, you know, I think it is clear that what we need is somebody who can deliver change. And we don't need to be raising the false hopes of our country about what can be delivered. The best way to know what change I will produce is to look at the changes that I've already made.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAFFERTY: Ouch. Remind you of anybody?

We've had seven years of a president who gets angry any time somebody disagrees with him or has the temerity to suggest that he might not have all the answers. And that little outburst you just saw from Saturday night's debate is probably not going to help Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, where 45 percent of the voters are Independent.

ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper, on his blog, after witnessing that debate, said that Hillary got angry "... not about an issue so much, as about the fact that Obama is beating her."

So here's the question. Will Hillary Clinton's angry response at the debate on Saturday hurt her chances in New Hampshire tomorrow?

Go to cnn.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: She got angry in that debate, but just a little while ago, as you saw at the top of this show, she got emotional. Her eyes were -- seemed to be tearing up. So two different -- very different sides of Hillary Clinton only hours before they start voting in New Hampshire.

Jack, see you in a few moments.

CAFFERTY: OK.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

Barack Obama is pulling in some more big name support after his Iowa win. Up next, the former senator and one time presidential candidate Bill Bradley. I'll ask him why he's backing Obama instead of Hillary Clinton.

Plus, we're standing by for the release of our brand new presidential polls in New Hampshire. This on a day before the important primary, though. We're going to show you those numbers as soon as they're all tabulated.

That's coming up, brand new poll numbers in New Hampshire.

And later, a call to arms from al Qaeda as President Bush prepares to travel to the Middle East. We'll look at the intense security and the potential danger.

We're live at the CNN Election Center, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: As the Democratic presidential race heats up in New Hampshire, big-name members of the party are moving front and center to tout their choices for the Democratic presidential nomination. Tomorrow we'll be speaking with former secretary of state Madeleine Albright. She's a Hillary Clinton supporter.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And joining us now from Manchester, New Hampshire, the former senator, Bill Bradley, himself a former Democratic presidential candidate.

Senator, thanks for coming in.

BILL BRADLEY (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My pleasure, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. You've decided to endorse Barack Obama, which surprised some people, in part because you wrote this in your recent book, "The New American Story." You said, "The Democrats' final curse is that we are hypnotized by charisma. Many of us are still waiting for another charismatic leader who we can invest with powers more magical than real."

To some that might sound like Barack Obama. What do you say?

BRADLEY: Well, I don't have any problem with charisma, but it's got to be joined with structure. The party needs to have structure in order to elect people at every office, at every level.

If you have a leader with charisma, that's fine, but the problem was the party was only going with charisma. So I was arguing you need charisma and structure.

BLITZER: And you think Barack Obama has that combination?

BRADLEY: You know, I don't know about the word "charisma," but I do know that he's what the country needs today, in my opinion. That's why I endorsed him. I mean...

BLITZER: Why does the country need him more than, let's say, Hillary Clinton or John Edwards?

BRADLEY: Well, you know, when you think about it, if you see a politician speaking on the stage and the light is shining on the politician, sometimes the politician swells. But what Barack does, he reflects the light back onto people and empowers them.

And they feel they're in control of their destiny. And indeed, they are with an invitation from him to be citizens. And I look at that and I say he's incredibly inclusive. He's reaching out to Independents, to Democrats, Republicans. I think that he recognizes that we have to fix democracy in order to deal with our big problems, and the way you do that is by going back to the people. BLITZER: It's a vote from your part for Barack Obama, a vote against Hillary Clinton. The last time you were here in THE SITUATION ROOM, you said she's got to show a certain vulnerability, she's got to show her soul. And she seemed to do some of that today, just a little while ago.

I'm going to play a little clip for you, because she did show some vulnerability. She did show her soul. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: You know, I have so many opportunities from this country. I just don't want to see us fall backwards.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: You know, this is very personal for me. It's not just political. It's not just public. I see what's happening, and we have to reverse it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. She was choking up. She was getting very emotional, very personal.

What doesn't she bring to the table that convinced you that Barack Obama would be the better presidential nominee?

BRADLEY: Well, I think what Barack offers is a very clear appeal from idealism, and to harness that idealism to make fundamental change in the country. And I feel that he is what the country needs now. And I look out there and I see the problems we are facing as a country, and you can't solve those problems unless you have the people behind you, and you don't reach the people unless you have words that reach them.

For example, I thought one of the moments in the debate last week was when he talked about words. And I don't think you can denigrate a politician's use of words. I mean, it was important to Lincoln, it was important to FDR, and clearly Barack has that ability to inspire people, but direct them as well...

BLITZER: All right.

BRADLEY: ... to deal with the problems we need to have dealt with in this country today.

BLITZER: Well, let me rephrase the question. Why not Hillary? What's lacking there?

BRADLEY: Well, you know, I don't want to get negative on anybody. That's not what politics are about. That's certainly not what the Obama campaign is about.

I don't think getting into a tit-for-tat is what it's all about. It's about inspiring people to think of a better day in the country. That's what he does. That's why I'm here. That's what I want to do.

BLITZER: Last time you were also on the show you were asked, who do you like right now among the respective candidates? And you singled out John Edwards. You said, "I think John Edwards is telling people the truth."

All right. So I'll rephrase the question as far as John Edwards is concerned. Why did you go with Obama over Edwards?

BRADLEY: Well, I must say, I like John Edwards as a human being. I think that he's spoken out on some important issues. I think that he's an outstanding candidate. I just felt that Barack at this moment was the one to capture the imagination of the American people and direct it in a way that's positive toward the broadest number of Americans.

BLITZER: Bill Bradley, the former U.S. senator from New Jersey, himself a one-time presidential candidate.

Thanks for joining us.

BRADLEY: Thank you. My pleasure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: We're standing by to bring you some brand new CNN poll numbers on the presidential race in New Hampshire. We have brand new numbers on the Democratic and the Republican contest.

Stand by for that.

Also, on this primary eve are there any big new shifts in the race? We'll show you what we know.

The New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is in the spotlight on this primary eve. Is it a sign that he has his eyes on the White House?

Lots more coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, amid fears of a potential war with Iran, there are some acts that are ratcheting up tensions right now. We're following what's being called a major confrontation.

Some armed Iranian boats are said to have harassed and provoked three U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf. And officials say those U.S. ships actually manned their guns, ready to fire.

We have a full report from the Pentagon coming up. In Kenya, meanwhile, death and political disputes over a contested presidential election. While Kenyans closely watch those tensions, they're also watching another tense situation. That would be the U.S. presidential elections, especially with Kenya being home to Barack Obama's family.

And a newspaper report claims that the U.S. wants to put more CIA operatives inside Pakistan, but how is Pakistan responding to that?

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

In the United States, many people are not very united when it comes to politics. This election clearing showing that more and more people are divided over major issues facing the country.

Let's bring in our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. He's watching this story for us.

Bill, are candidates trying to rally -- I assume they're rallying, trying to rally their base in New Hampshire. .

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: No, no, no.

BLITZER: Not?

SCHNEIDER: That is so Karl Rove.

BLITZER: Really?

SCHNEIDER: Now they're trying to be uniters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice over): In 2000, candidate Bush said...

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've been a person that's been called a uniter, not a divider.

SCHNEIDER: Could voters be looking for someone who can deliver on Bush's promise? That would be a change.

We asked New Hampshire voters of both parties their opinions of the various contenders. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Democratic primary voters like them both. Especially Obama.

How do Republican voters feel about them? Clinton, Republicans don't like her much -- 15 percent favorable. But Obama? Most Republican voters in New Hampshire like him. A liberal Democrat, but one who reaches across party lines.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm interested in not just seeing a divided country; I want to see a united country.

SCHNEIDER: Is there any Republican who can bring people together? Look at the two leading Republican contenders in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney and John McCain. Republicans like them both, especially McCain. The same McCain who supports comprehensive immigration reform? Yes, him.

Democrats don't like Romney much -- 16 percent favorable. But look at McCain. A whopping 62 percent of New Hampshire Democrats like him. The same John McCain who enthusiastically supports President Bush's troop buildup in Iraq?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Anyone today would have to suspend disbelief to not believe that the surge is working.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, him.

SCOTT SPRADLING, WMUR-TV: They see McCain as a straight shooter, someone who is going to give you an answer that you may not like, but it's what he's really thinking. Voters will always respect that here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: These are New Hampshire voters. They don't much like President Bush. New Hampshire was the only state that voted for Bush in 2000 and then against Bush in 2004. Now, McCain beat Bush in the 2000 New Hampshire primary. So, maybe New Hampshire voters want to say, we told you so -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Bill Schneider, thanks very much for that.

Just hours before the people of New Hampshire go to the primary polls, candidates know every word they say might win them a vote or work against them.

Let's get a little flavor of what's going on today on the campaign trail, beginning with Barack Obama taking a jab at President Bush's speaking skills.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We can start electing a president who will be straight with you...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... who will talk to you in clear terms.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Now, I wasn't referring to pronouncing nuclear, but, you know, that's...

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: ... a whole 'nother thing.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Barack Obama out today.

Let's go to John Edwards right now.

After his second-place showing in Iowa, he's sticking to his man- of-the-people message in New Hampshire today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While it's true that I am the underdog in this campaign, running against two campaigns that had over $100 million, the bigger underdog in America are the middle class, who are struggling, working people in this country, who are struggling every single day, low-income families, families with no health care coverage, families who are in danger of losing their jobs or who have already lost their jobs. We know what this fight is about. And we should never misunderstand that it is a fight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: John Edwards earlier today.

While the top three Democrats are out duking it out, Bill Richardson is trying to convince New Hampshire voters that he's above the fray.

Listen to Bill Richardson on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D-NM), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Voters want us to be positive about the country, about what we're going to do. You know, we shouldn't be attacking each other personally and whether you're in the pockets of special interests and mistrust each other.

Policy differences, yes. Like, I want to get all the troops out of Iraq, and some of my fellow candidates want to keep them until 2013. Point out those differences, but not get personal. And I think it's getting too personal. That's not good. Voters don't like that.

So, I'm a diplomat. I'm a peacemaker. I'm staying above that. That's what I would do as president, bring people together, not engage in those catfights.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Bill Richardson earlier today.

Meanwhile, remember, we have some brand-new poll numbers coming out in New Hampshire. They are the results of our CNN/WMUR poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire. Can McCain build on his lead? And what about Barack Obama? We're going to show you the latest numbers. That's coming up in a few moments right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

While Barack Obama's momentum in New Hampshire is rising fast, Hillary Clinton's answer is to try to push back aggressively for voters to turn to her events and to vote for her in tomorrow's primary. And her efforts are extending far beyond New Hampshire.

Let's go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton. She's here.

Abbi, what's the latest going on online?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, look at these sites with just a day to go.

From the Barack Obama Web site, really pushing their support, posting photos and video of the crowds in New Hampshire that are turning up to their events. You can see it also on the Hillary Clinton Web site. They have got pictures of their own.

And, on that note, an online appeal over the weekend to supporters not just in New Hampshire, but across the country, the Hillary Clinton camp asking them to make phone calls to voters within New Hampshire, inviting them in this e-mail to phone them and tell them to come out to Hillary Clinton events that are happening and going own right now.

In the e-mail and in the online instructions that accompany it, it says: "We need to get these undecided voters in front of the candidate, and we need to show our crowds in front of all these TV cameras that are out here to show our support."

Other campaigns have been pushing. These online phone banks, they have been going on -- the Hillary Clinton e-mail saying that, "We're using new technology to get as many calls out as possible in these final hours."

And that's not their only online appeal. This is the latest coming in from Bill Clinton, asking for contribution, this one of more than a dozen that he sent out over the last year -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Abbi, thank you.

And only hours before New Hampshire's primary, some Republicans, Democrats and independents have a message for all the candidates: Stop. Stop with all the partisanship, or else.

They're meeting right now in Oklahoma, discussing ways to try to unite the country. And, if none of the major candidates can, some in that group are warning they will back a third-party candidate. One name widely being floated, that would be the New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg. He's out there in Oklahoma right now.

Jim Acosta is as well. He's covering this story for us.

Speculation is continuing that Bloomberg eventually might throw his hat in the ring. Give us the latest from Norman, Oklahoma, Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

But all of the participants at this bipartisan forum deny that they are here in Oklahoma to launch or start a third-party or independent bid for president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: And I can't think of anything more appropriate than three Junior's cheesecakes.

ACOSTA: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg may have come bearing a Big Apple cheesecake in hand, but, when he sat down at this bipartisan forum hosted by former Democratic Senator David Boren, he served up the same old denial about running for president.

BLOOMBERG: Well, look, I'm not a candidate, number one.

ACOSTA: Instead of discussing a third party, some of the nation's leading centrists agreed that rampant partisanship has left American with a broken government.

BLOOMBERG: Every one of the people here will tell you, our experience is, the public may not agree with you when you take a decision, but they respect you for it. We used to have that, and we don't anymore.

ACOSTA: The result, according to the participants, is a country that cent solve its problems, whether it's the economy, national defense or the deficit. Some called the crisis in leadership a slow- moving catastrophe.

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We have got to pay our bills. We can't continue to borrow from our children. We're bankrupting them. We're engaged in fiscal child abuse.

SAM NUNN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: As I heard a preacher say the other day, he said, if you think you're a leader, and you look over your shoulder, and ain't nobody following, man, you're just taking a walk.

(LAUGHTER)

ACOSTA: Should the Washington bickering persists, a few at this forum have hinted they may support an independent presidential candidate.

Nebraska's maverick Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, who is sometimes mentioned as a potential running mate for Mayor Bloomberg, left the door open a crack.

(on camera): Do you feel like that that atmosphere could possibly surface later on in this election cycle?

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: Well, sure. I think, as Dave Boren said, this is not just a one-time meeting for this group. We're going to continue to meet.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Former Democratic presidential contender Gary Hart says the subject of an independent bid did come up at times, but only casually. GARY HART, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: We could well know by February 5 who the two nominees are. That's the time then to ask your question.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And, as for February 5, or Super Tuesday, the thinking goes among some of the participants here that, if the parties nominate candidates on the extremes, that does open up room in the middle for a third, centrist contender -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta reporting for us, fascinating material, thank you very much.

There are planned protests, even bomb threats right now -- President Bush set to fly into a hornet's nest of anti-U.S. sentiment during his upcoming Middle East trip. We're going to tell you about the largest security operation in seven years to try to keep him safe.

Also, more on Hillary Clinton's emotional moment. What will New Hampshire voters think? We will talk about that and a lot more in our "Strategy Session."

And one presidential candidate's surprise announcement, it made some news media executives -- he calls some news media executives, that is, arrogant, "knuckleheads." You're going to find out about Duncan Hunter's campaign plans and what has him so angry right now.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: U.S. intelligence agencies right now reviewing a new threat against President Bush. It's an al Qaeda videotape urging its fighters to attack the president when he visits the Middle East this week to try to jump-start the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

CNN's Atika Shubert reports from Jerusalem on the very tight security that is under way for the president's trip -- Atika.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Jerusalem is the first stop on President Bush's three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. And security is being stepped up dramatically.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHUBERT (voice-over): Only days before the president embarks, al Qaeda issued this grim appeal to militants in the region.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): To be prepared to receive the crusader butcher Bush on his visit to Muslim Palestine and the occupied peninsula at the evening of January. They should receive him, not with roses and applause, but with bombs and booby-traps.

SHUBERT: More than 10,000 police will be deployed , in addition to American federal officers, the biggest security operation here since the visit of the pope more than seven years ago. But it's not just the possibility of terror attacks the president has to contend with. A number of large demonstrations are planned, none of them very welcoming. When first lady Laura Bush visited Jerusalem's holy sites in 2005, she faced angry crowds of Israelis and Palestinians, forcing Israeli police to form a human wall between the first lady and protesters.

Security analysts say the greatest risk may be during such volatile situations, when an individual is suddenly inspired to take violent action.

RONI SHAKED, "YEDIOT AHARONOT": We have to think about the crazy man, crazy Palestinian or somebody who was sent here by not by Hamas or by I don't know what, perhaps that he went to the mosque and he heard something, and he will do something. That's the only risk I think that he have here.

SHUBERT: During his three-day visit, President Bush will also go to the Palestinian territories, where the Palestinian Authority, not Israeli forces, will be responsible for his security.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUBERT: To minimize exposure, President Bush will be doing most of his traveling by helicopter. But some of the stops on his itinerary, particularly in the West Bank, can only be reached by car or on foot. That, security analysts say, will be the most dangerous time for the president -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Atika Shubert in Jerusalem getting the ready for the president's visit this week.

In our "Strategy Session": The emotional side of Hillary Clinton, it seemed to be coming through today, as we watched her unfold. Let's take a look at this little clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have so many opportunities from this country. I just don't want to see us fall backwards.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Will voters greet Senator Clinton's moment with empathy or skepticism?

And if Mitt Romney belly flops in New Hampshire, how could he pick up the pieces? Donna Brazile and Bill Bennett, they are standing by -- right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Today, Hillary Clinton had a very personal moment in a very public way.

We want to talk about that and more in our "Strategy Session." Joining us, our CNN political analyst the Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, and our CNN contributor Bill Bennett. He's a conservative commentator. He's also with the Claremont Institute.

Guys, thanks very much.

We played it earlier. Let me play this tiny little clip showing Hillary Clinton getting very emotional out there today, a day before people vote in New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I have so many opportunities from this country. I just don't want to see us fall backwards.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, Donna, what do you think? This is a much softer side of Hillary Clinton than we saw Saturday night at that debate, where she really went on the offensive against Barack Obama.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I know Hillary Clinton, and that was a very spontaneous moment.

She was answering a question from a woman who talked about what it's like and how does she keep herself going. And I think Hillary really got inside herself, and it reminded her of why she's doing it. She's been a passionate fighter for children all her life.

I think it was an unscripted moment for a candidate who is so- called scripted. And I don't believe voters will at all take offense at the fact that she really just spoke from the heart. And it was truly a touching moment.

BLITZER: What do you think, Bill?

BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, who knows? I'm not going to criticize her. Donna says it was unscripted. OK. But it tells you about our politics, Wolf, and I guess something about the Clintons that so many people think it wasn't.

I have to tell you, in terms of Clinton moments today, it was Bill's comments about Hillary, where he said, I wish she were taller and younger and male, that I thought were truly bizarre. And he really should -- should know better.

Something is happening to the Clinton camp, obviously. The numbers are not looking good. We shall see what else -- what else happens. But these are not good days for the Clintons.

I think, charitably, they're running -- she's running on no sleep. Adrenaline happens when you're winning. You get more energy. And, when you're hurting, like she is in the numbers, at least the polls, it can take you down. BLITZER: Is that a fair point, Donna?

BRAZILE: Oh, no question.

This is an endurance test. The first test is about vision. And we saw in the debates leading up to this -- this season that, you know, Hillary Clinton has a vision. The second test is about temperament. And I think, at this point, you know, during the primaries and the caucuses, Senator Clinton needs to recast the conversation, talk about the economy, talk about things where she can highlight her experience.

I still think that this race is for her to lose, because she has tremendous institutional strength. And perhaps, you know, she can start focusing on those states that will occur on February 5 and beyond.

BLITZER: Bill, what about Mitt Romney? If it's zero for two for him after New Hampshire, losing in Iowa, losing in New Hampshire, what does that do to his campaign?

BENNETT: Let me just say, I don't agree with Donna.

(LAUGHTER)

BENNETT: It's rare. But I think it's his to lose. I think they're -- the Clintons are losing. And I think it's almost panic time. But we shall see. I'm sure she will go on.

I think Mitt Romney goes on. He's a strong candidate. Let's assume that what happens tomorrow is what people are predicting, Wolf, that McCain wins. A lot of people are going to say, well, there he is. He's emerged. It's a coronation.

That won't happen. There are lot of people who are very critical of John McCain in this party. I don't know what going to happen on the Democrats' side, but I promise you, on the Republican side, this is going on for a long time. Romney has got a lot of money. He has got Michigan coming up. Remember that Michigan primary. We don't go -- the Republicans don't go right to South Carolina. We go to Michigan. And he's -- he's strong there.

He did very well in the debates, too. But he can't keep finishing second. But I think he lives to fight another day if he's a strong second.

BLITZER: What do you see -- what do see you out there on the Republican side, Donna?

BRAZILE: Oh, I think McCain is going to win it tomorrow night. And I think Mitt Romney will live to fight another day, as Bill said, in Michigan.

Bill, let me just remind you, on the Democratic side, it's about the accumulation of delegates, 2025. And, although these first early states, there are about 147 delegates at stake, in California alone, there are 370 delegates. So, let's not forget it's not about how many states you win, but how many delegates you accumulate. So, Senator Clinton is not out of it, even if she loses tomorrow night.

BENNETT: Not out of it. And that's good facts. That's good prose. But poetry does move. And poetry is moving the people, and, you know, because this politics of hope is making a big difference. She's not out of it, but I think it's his to lose.

BLITZER: Bill Bennett and Donna...

BRAZILE: I love this campaign -- I love this campaign, Bill, and I love the movement, but, if you build it, then you have to go out there and make sure that you can turn it out. So, let's see what happens tomorrow night.

BLITZER: Let's see what happens.

BLITZER: Prose and poetry, I love this kind of discussion.

All right, guys, thanks very much...

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: ... Donna and Bill.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

BENNETT: All right.

BLITZER: Hillary Clinton is very popular with African-American voters in the Granite State, but some are now supporting Barack Obama. We will talk about that with our CNN contributor Roland Martin. That's coming up.

And acts ratcheting up tensions between the U.S. and Iran -- some Iranian boats are said to have harassed and provoked three U.S. Navy warships in the Persian Gulf. Officials say those U.S. ships manned their guns, ready to fire. We will have a full report.

That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Barack Obama heads into tomorrow's crucial primary in New Hampshire ahead of Hillary Clinton in several new polls. And it's hard to miss the enthusiasm for him on the campaign trail.

Let's go right out to the campaign trail.

Jessica Yellin is standing by. She is getting more on this story.

You have been watching what tremendous crowds showing up for Obama. JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And it's not just the size of the crowds, but there's something different. People come and wait for hours for him. Sometimes, they start crying when he talks. Now, granted, no doubt, some of this is the celebrity factor, people coming to see the famous guy.

But, I have to say, as an observer, there is a fervor there that's unlike anything I have seen covering politics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN (voice-over): It's not Beatlemania. It's an overflow crowd for Barack Obama. Several hundred people who couldn't get into a rally gathered outside for a glimpse.

OBAMA: What an unbelievable turnout.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

YELLIN: Obama insists, the interest in him is part of a larger national craving.

OBAMA: There is something stirring out there, where the American people are saying: We want to try something new. We want to try something different.

YELLIN: Something has happened since Iowa. Voters who attend Obama events these days walk away talking as if they're enraptured.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's thrilling. It's exhilarating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He really makes you feel like, wow, we can actually do this. It's -- it was really -- it was great to listen to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It reminds me of the Kennedys and the great election of '68, that reaching out for something new and something different.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My friend just felt like he met a rock star, but I kind of think it's a little better than that.

YELLIN: Many of these supporters don't actually know Obama's position on the issues of the day: education, health care, the economy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm learning more all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you're -- you're pressing me here.

YELLIN: But that seems less important to them than who he is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm getting a sense of how he -- how he would view most things. He's -- he's got a big, broad mind. And -- and I like that.

YELLIN: Obama's growing popularity is troubling to some in the Democratic Party.

STUART ROTHENBERG, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "THE ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": I think some liberal Democrats don't like Barack Obama because he's not angry enough, he's not partisan enough, he's not out for George W. Bush's blood.

YELLIN: And you will find them here, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess I expected a little more from Obama, more change. I like Kucinich (INAUDIBLE) to be Kucinich.

YELLIN: But in these crowds, they're certainly the minority.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN: And, Wolf, the Obama camp is still being cautious. One of his senior aides said to me today, not so long ago, they were left for dead by the side of the road, and, once that happens, you never get overconfident -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jessica Yellin, thanks very much.

Let's bring back Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: Will Hillary Clinton's angry response at the debate on Saturday hurt her chances in New Hampshire?

Got a ton of mail, I mean a ton of mail.

Kris writes, "We have already had two terms with a 'my way or the highway' president. Hillary Clinton's angry outburst sounds like more of the same."

Jason in Atlanta writes, "It's called passion, Jack. It irks me to no end that when a woman shows some strength and passion, she's considered angry or a 'blank.' But when you have some little barking Chihuahua, like Romney -- or even Bush -- constantly throwing hissy fits, it's somehow different. If New Hampshire voters are smart, they will see that Iowa made a big mistake. They will put Hillary back on top, where she belongs."

Joe writes, "Hillary Clinton is the epitome of the term 'plastic candidate.' She will say anything to get elected. I am not swayed by her fake tears. She is trying to use a 'sympathy tactic' because she is realizing that her words are as hollow as her heart. America is not fooled. We will not settle for a 30 years of a Bush-Clinton dynasty."

Jack in West Virginia, "I'm an Obama man, but I thought Hillary was entitled to step it up and belt it out on her record. People praise Edwards when he gets testy, Obama when he has a vision. At least give Hillary points for being on point about her record. And, good grief, don't compare her to George Bush. Are you groggy from a weekend of really good football?" Alan in Indianapolis, "Hillary Clinton is an angry woman. We saw that when her husband ran for office -- not going to be a woman who bakes cookies or something to that effect. Bill's election team had to put her in seclusion until Bill was elected. She can run, but she can't hide. Her outburst reflects her personality: frustrated, angry feminist. She will never be elected."

And Brian writes, "One minute, she's angry. Another minute, she's crying. Is she bipolar or just cold and calculating? Either way, she does not belong in the White House. I see the true colors shining through now, and I think America is starting to see it as well" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you. See you in a few moments.

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