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THE SITUATION ROOM

Charlie Crist on Democratic Do-Over; Will Democrats Fighting Help McCain's Chances?; New Information Emerges on Times Square Explosion

Aired March 6, 2008 - 18:00   ET

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


LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": There is no way in which we can conduct a "war on terror" without recognizing that we're going to have to root out relentlessly and vigorously and with all our might the seeds that give life to that kind of madness.
That means going after unrelentingly those who would do us harm and doing so in a concerted, emphatic and lasting way, so that we can live in peace, not only in this country, but in Israel, in the Middle East, around the world. There is no way in the world for anyone to assume safely that half-measures will be in any way effective in stemming this kind of violence.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: See you in one hour, Lou. Thanks very much.

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

Happening now, a race so close that neither side has a delegate to spare. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton could use delegates that are not being counted from Florida and Michigan, but how might an earlier punishment be resolved? There are plans afoot right now. I will ask Florida's governor, Charlie Crist.

Meanwhile, Clinton and Obama have unfinished business, her camp comparing him to a man Democrats love to hate, and his camp accusing her of keeping something from you.

And a dangerous world awaits whoever becomes president. Today, a terror attack unleashed death in Jerusalem. Which candidate has the foreign policy credentials to handle crises like these?

All that, plus the best political team on television. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We want to will our viewers in the United States and around the world.

We're following what's surely a nail-biter for both the Clinton and Obama campaigns, a painstaking vote count, a sought-after prize, and a still very unclear outcome. At this point, no one knows who will win Texas Democratic caucuses. Right now, Obama holds a slight lead.

On Tuesday, Clinton won the state's primary, but these separate caucuses hold 67 delegates. Meanwhile, the candidates continue trying to elbow each other out. Let's go to Mary Snow. She's watching all of this unfold.

Mary, the Clinton camp even brought up the name of a man who was once one of their top political adversaries. What's going on?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Kenneth Starr's name surfaced in the Democratic fight today, as the campaigns turn up the heat and the candidates question each other's credentials.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice over): Her message was clear. Senator Hillary Clinton surrounded herself in the nation's capital with military officer who support her to try and make the case that she is best suited to be commander in chief. It's her latest attempt to raise doubt about Senator Barack Obama's national security credentials.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, I have said that Senator McCain will bring a lifetime of experience to the campaign. I will bring a lifetime of experience. And Senator Obama will bring a speech that he gave in 2002.

SNOW: Obama argues his judgment is superior and says he sees no evidence Clinton is better equipped to handle a crisis. Wednesday, he hinted he may take a more forceful approach toward Clinton.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She's made the argument that she's thoroughly vetted, in contrast to me. I think it's important to examine that argument.

SNOW: Obama's camp stepped up calls for Clinton to release tax returns as well as papers while she was first lady. The Clinton camp has said it's working on releasing them.

It's fired back, comparing Obama to Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor who investigated the Clintons on Whitewater and the impeachment of President Clinton.

A Clinton campaign memo states, "Imitating Ken Starr is not the way to win the Democratic nomination."

The Obama camp calls the comparison absurd, saying, "We don't believe that expecting candidates for the presidency to disclose their tax returns somehow constitutes Ken Starr tactics, but the kind of transparency and accountability that Americans are looking for and that's been missing in Washington for far too long."

As Obama tries to regain ground, some political observers say he needs to be wary of how hard he fights.

STUART ROTHENBERG, POLITICAL ANALYST: Barack Obama's greatest strength is he's talking about change, a new politics, bringing people together. If his message is too mean, if it's regarded as nasty and petty, and just like every other political campaign message, I think it's going to hurt him.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: More money, though, can't hurt. And the Obama camp says it's raised $55 million for the month of February. That's topping Clinton's February totals by $20 million.

The Clinton camp today, though, touted that it's raised more than $3 million since Clinton's wins in Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island on Tuesday -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary Snow, thank you.

In a time when every delegate counts, Florida and Michigan are continuing to battle with the Democratic Party over a way to seat their delegates at the convention.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, considers whether or not those two states really can hold do-over primaries -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, for Florida and Michigan to hold do-over primaries would be highly irregular, like a mulligan at a golf tournament.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Suppose the credentials committee decides to seat the Florida and Michigan delegations at the Democratic Convention. Those delegates could put Hillary Clinton over the top. Sounds OK to her.

CLINTON: I think that it would be a grave disservice to the voters of Florida and Michigan to adopt any process that would disenfranchise anyone. And, therefore, I am still committed to seating their delegations.

SCHNEIDER: Chairman Dean sees trouble.

HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We have got to play by the rules. If you don't do that, then the half of the people in the Democratic Party whose candidate doesn't win this nomination are going to go away believing they have been cheated.

SCHNEIDER: He wants to avoid an angry split at the convention, possible walkouts by Barack Obama delegates. Republicans wouldn't mind that. The governor of Florida is a Republican.

GOV. CHARLIE CRIST (R), FLORIDA: Ideally, we want the votes that were already cast to be counted. I mean, that's just the logical thing to do. On January the 29th, we had a record turnout.

SCHNEIDER: Well, yes, but there was something odd about the Florida and Michigan results. More Republicans than Democrats voted. In 24 of the 29 primaries that have already been held this year, the opposite was true. More Democrats voted. Apparently, a lot of Florida and Michigan Democrats stayed home because they were told the primary wouldn't count.

Now Michigan and Florida are talking about holding new primaries. That costs money. Who's going to pay?

DEAN: We hope they can comply with the rules, but they're going to have to figure out how to pay for it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: It might be worth it. If Florida and Michigan redo their primaries late in the season, they might actually determine who wins. Isn't that what they were trying to do in the first place? -- Wolf.

BLITZER: They were trying. Thanks, Bill, very much.

Regarding that question that Bill just asked, who might pay for a new primary in Florida, I will speak about that with the governor of Florida. We will get his thoughts on the Democratic Party paying or the state of Florida paying. That's coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

While Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama keep up their fight, John McCain sounds like a spectator with a ringside seat. His nomination is essentially locked up. So, he's free to blast both potential rivals from the sidelines.

Let's go to Dana Bash. She is in Atlanta. She's following this story for us.

He's battling them, but he's also looking ahead, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He is looking ahead, Wolf. But it was interesting. A couple of McCain advisers called today to make sure we knew that the senator called New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to check in about the bombing there in New York in Times Square. So, as much as they are looking ahead, they also want to make sure that the senator is in the news now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice over): Howley's Diner in West Palm Beach Florida, John McCain's first campaign stop as presumptive GOP nominee. And he's readying for a fall fight.

Here, on Barack Obama...

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know if he's naive or not. I know he's inexperienced.

BASH: The reality is McCain doesn't know who his Democratic opponent will be, and he admits their gripping high-profile clash is a mixed blessing.

MCCAIN: I'm no longer in a competitive race. And there will understandably be more attention to Senator Obama and Senator Clinton. But at the same time, it does give me an opportunity to go around and shore up our base of support, unite our party. BASH: McCain's biggest challenge now is staying in the headlines. Knowing that, his advisers tell CNN they have a series of events planned to try.

First, travel abroad. Later this month McCain will go to Europe and meet with key allies, and also go to the Middle East.

MCCAIN: I have spent my entire life addressing national security issues.

BASH: The goal, not just words, but imagery of a leader comfortable on the world stage, hoping it provides a contrast to the Democrats' political brawl.

Upon his return, McCain advisers tell CNN they plan a tour touting his storied biography. Aides say voters may know he was a Vietnam prisoner of war, but they are eager to fill in the details in a campaign where they think voters are looking for inspiration.

MCCAIN: My background and my judgment allow me to do the thing that's most important for America -- to inspire a generation of Americans to serve a cause greater than their self-interest.

BASH: The spring tour will include stops like Annapolis and other places to help illustrate his life story and long lineage of military service.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: And we are also told that Senator McCain is planning a series of policy speeches on a host of issues. The most important, Wolf, will be on the economy.

The economy is perhaps his biggest weak spot. That is certainly the perception. He is already working on an economic plan with one of his top advisers on that issue, Phil Gramm -- Wolf.

BLITZER: He's also starting the process of looking for a vice president.

BASH: That's right, the process, just the process.

He admitted to reporters that he has enlisted the help of somebody who is well-respected on this issue, A.B. Culvahouse. He was Ronald Reagan's counsel back in the day. He is somebody who is a known lawyer in Washington. He is going to help Senator McCain vet whomever will be his running mate.

Senator McCain insists he is not yet thinking really about those names, but he is thinking about the process, making sure that whomever he picks is properly vetted -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Dana, thanks very much.

Let's check back with Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack. JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the next president, whether it's John McCain, Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama, better bring a big shovel, because it's going to take a long time to muck out the Bush barn.

A top concern of many Americans is what has happened to our image abroad. Americans are very unhappy about where we stand these days in the global community. Since February of 2001, right after President Bush took office, the public's dissatisfaction with our position in the world has more than doubled, according to a Gallup poll.

In February of 2002, the dissatisfaction level was 27 percent. That's not very long after the 9/11 attacks. That number rose to 50 percent in the run-up to the Iraq war, dipped back down to 29 percent right at the beginning of the invasion in 2003, but it didn't stay down for long, because, when the public found out in this country that that invasion of Iraq was based on a batch of lies and faulty intelligence, the rest of the world found that out, too.

And, today, Americans' dissatisfaction level stands at 68 percent. That's the highest level Gallup has ever recorded on this question, including during the Vietnam War.

More bad news; i0n February of 2001, the number of Americans who thought our country was viewed favorably by the rest of the world stood at 75 percent. Today, that number has fallen to fewer than half of us, just 43 percent. So, when it comes down to it, one of these three candidates is going to have a tremendous amount of fence-mending to do.

Here's the question: Which candidate would do the best job restoring America's position in the world?

Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. You can post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

As of now, Florida's delegates won't be seated at the party's national convention. And the Republican governor of Florida is not happy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRIST: This is a decision about the next president of the United States. It should be made by the people, not made by party bosses in Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: As Florida fights back, I will speak with the governor, Charlie Crist, and ask him if there's anything he can do about it.

Also, a political fund-raiser with ties to Barack Obama goes on trial in Chicago. Will the presidential candidate feel any fallout? And a bombing in the heart of New York's Times Square, the target, a U.S. military recruiting station -- why police are searching for a person seen riding a bicycle.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Right now, Democrats are fighting Democrats over a matter of delegates. It involves resolving what many people see as a wrong -- at issue, whether or not delegates from Florida and Michigan will be seated at the Democratic Convention in Denver at the end of the summer.

Just a short while ago, I spoke about that situation in Florida with the state's chief executive, Charlie Crist.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Governor, thanks very much for coming in.

CRIST: Good to be with you, Wolf. Thank you, sir.

BLITZER: Let me get the your reaction to what we just heard from the Democratic senator from your state of Florida, Bill Nelson. He's just issued a press release calling few a new Democratic presidential primary in Florida, and saying the DNC, the Democratic Party, should pay for it.

Are you on board with him on that?

CRIST: I wouldn't oppose that at all. In fact, I talked to Senator Nelson -- he's a friend -- yesterday about that very topic. Either seating the delegates, you know, who have already been selected by virtue of the vote here on January 29th, or to go ahead and have a primary redone on the Democratic side.

As you know, there's really not an issue on the Republican side anymore because of John McCain's victories. But on the Democratic side, paid for by the Democratic National Committee, that could be overseen by the state of Florida.

The difficulty we have for our Florida taxpayers paying for it, Wolf, is the fact that they paid for it once, number one. And number two, we're in a tight budget year.

But I think Senator Nelson is on the right track. If, in fact, there would be another vote, then paying for it by the Democratic National Committee would be the only way we could do it if, in fact, they don't agree to seat the delegates that already have been selected by virtue of the vote January 29th.

BLITZER: If there's another primary -- let's say in June, after Puerto Rico, which is June 7 -- how much are we talking about? Because I have heard various estimates -- $18 million, $20 million. How much money would it cost the taxpayers of Florida if the Democratic Party under Howard Dean -- he says they're not going to pay for it. They don't have the money. How much would it cost Florida to redo it?

CRIST: I don't think it will cost them anything, because I don't think we would redo it under that circumstance. I think the only way we even contemplate it is if, in fact, the Democratic National Committee is willing to do so. And that's something for the Democratic Party to decide per Senator Nelson's recommendation, which I think is a good one.

BLITZER: I have just written a little blog post for CNNPolitics. com in which I make the point that this could be an economic bonanza for Florida and Michigan if you -- you have critical primaries right now which could be the ultimate determinate factor of who the Democratic presidential nominee is. Think of the millions of millions of dollars which will be pumped into your state in commercials, advertising, people going there, hotels, restaurants.

I just spoke to the senator from Pennsylvania. They have one coming up on April 22. Between now and April 22, Pennsylvania taxpayers, the Pennsylvania economy, in effect, is going to get at least a partial economic stimulus package as a result of them holding this very important primary there.

Don't you think $18 million or $20 million in Florida could be money well spent to boost Florida's economy?

CRIST: Well, there's no question about it. I mean, the opportunity for the Democratic National Committee to pay for a second Democratic primary in the Sunshine State, certainly that's significant dollars being spent. And a lot of people would finish the Sunshine State.

BLITZER: But I'm talking about if Florida -- if Florida taxpayers were to shell out $18 million or $20 million. Don't you think you would get a lot more in return by having this critical primary in Florida in June?

CRIST: Well, that's not your typical stimulus package for economic development.

BLITZER: I know it's not typical. It's thinking outside the box a little bit. You know the history of Iowa and New Hampshire. They want their primaries first because this is -- these are such important economic bonanzas for their state.

And I'm thinking of Florida right now, which is close to my heart. I have got some relatives living down there as will. Don't you think you would stand to make a lot more than you might lose in shelling out $18 million?

CRIST: Well, that may or may not be. But the fact of the matter is, I don't think you will see a primary do-over, if you will, as people have been calling it, unless the Democratic National Committee were to pay for it. I understand your point. Don't lose sight of that fact. But I think that the right way to do it is to have the party pay for it, as Senator Nelson suggests.

And I have got to give credit, too, to Governor Granholm in Michigan. The notion of going ahead and making sure that these voters' votes count, that they aren't disenfranchised from this critical election and this election cycle for the next president of the United States I think is something very laudable on Governor Granholm's part on behalf of her citizens in Michigan. And I'm proud to have the support of Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, with this Republican governor, on behalf of the citizens of Florida.

Senator Mel Martinez, by the way, agrees. So this is not a partisan issue, I guess is the point I'm trying to make, Wolf. The point I'm trying to make is that this is an issue about democracy.

This is an issue about making the voter's voice be heard. This is a decision about the next president of the United States. It should be made by the people, not made by party bosses in Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Governor Charlie Crist speaking with me just a little while ago.

A deadly terror shooting at a religious school in Jerusalem, that kind of sudden shocking violence is certain to test the next U.S. president as well. Who has the credentials to handle such a crisis?

And a bombing in New York's Times Square is caught on camera. So is a person riding a bicycle. Police want to know if there's a connection.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

BLITZER: On and on it goes, but where it stops could potentially hurt the Democrats. So, how might Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's running battle actually help John McCain?

And "TIME" magazine says that, when things looked rough for Hillary Clinton in Texas and Ohio, she reached for a meat cleaver. Is smashing her rival the only way to win?

And, as Clinton often touts her foreign policy credentials, we're doing some fact-checking about that, a few claims that she makes about her accomplishments. How accurate are they?

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now: The game is back on between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, their battle for the presidential nomination now looking like it will go on for weeks, if not months. We're going to show you the danger that poses for the candidates and the Democratic Party itself. We're watching the story.

Also, Clinton once again becomes competitive, "TIME" magazine now calling her the fighter. The question now, how hard will she fight?

And a mass shooting in Jerusalem, a bombing in Baghdad bringing terror front and center into the campaign. Which candidate has what it takes?

All of this, plus the best political team on television.

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

In her battle for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Hillary Clinton has been playing the experience card very heavily of late, particularly in regard to her role in foreign policy.

CNN's Brian Todd checks the facts to see how they stack up against Clinton's claims -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, in some cases, we found a lack of clarity on her real involvement, but, in other cases, her claims seem to check out fairly well.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Her campaign revived, Hillary Clinton hammers at why she says she's best equipped to take on John McCain, what she says is real experience in real-world crises that sets her apart from Barack Obama.

He counters, the media has not held her feet to the fire on foreign policy.

OBAMA: But was she negotiating treaties or agreements or was she handling crises during this period of time? My sense is, the answer is no.

TODD: Here's what we found on Senator Clinton's specific claims.

CLINTON: I helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland.

TODD: A "Washington Post" blogger accused Senator Clinton in January of exaggerating her involvement in Northern Ireland.

But former Democratic Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who was U.S. special envoy to Northern Ireland, told us off camera, while Mrs. Clinton was not directly involved in negotiations, she did play a helpful role -- bringing in women's groups who made a difference.

Mitchell is a Democratic super-delegate and has not publicly endorsed Clinton or Obama. Congressman Peter King, a Republican, was also involved in the Northern Ireland peace process. He recalls one late-night meeting with Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: There was discussion of how the IRA would decommission its weapons. And I know that Senator Clinton was part of that meeting.

TODD: Another claim from Hillary Clinton...

H. CLINTON: I negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo.

TODD: In May 1999, she was in Macedonia, visiting refugee camps near the Kosovo border and meeting Macedonia's president and prime minister. Sources with knowledge of her visit say she discussed the refugees' plight with those leaders. Not clear how much she helped, since CNN reported at the time that Macedonia reopened its border to Kosovar refugees before Mrs. Clinton's visit.

Then there's this statement about China...

H. CLINTON: I've been standing up against, you know, the Chinese government over women's rights and standing up for human rights in many different places.

TODD: During a 1995 visit to Beijing, Hillary Clinton made this speech at a time when her husband's administration was trying to press China on human rights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1995)

H. CLINTON: No one should be forced to remain silent for fear of religious or political persecution, arrest, abuse or torture.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: One other thing to remember, a former National Security Council official in the Clinton administration tells us that Mrs. Clinton did not attend NSC meetings. So while her experience is extensive, she rarely carried an official portfolio -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting. Thank you.

Bombings in Times Square and in Baghdad today, a mass shooting in Israel -- these developments highlighting one of the central questions of the current campaign -- which candidate is best equipped to deal with these kinds of national security issues, including terrorism?

Let's talk about that and more with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger. In New York, Jack Cafferty. And also Rick Stengel, the managing editor of "Time" magazine, our sister publication.

Jack, what do you think? These crises -- these kinds of incidents, do they sort of highlight where voters out there -- the need to have someone in charge who can deal with these kinds of matters?

CAFFERTY: Well, yes. And I would guess that any of the three people that are left in the race that are elected president would probably be able to get the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the CIA and a few other agencies around them and construct some sort of a game plan against Islamic fundamentalist terror.

But the piece about Hillary's foreign policy experience, I think, misses the point. The referendum that has allowed Barack Obama to do as well he had is about the status quo of politics in Washington, D.C. . It's not about whether he could have talked to Sinn Fein about laying down their guns and making peace in Northern Ireland.

The public is sick of Washington politics. That's why they're voting for Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton and John McCain are poster children for the status quo in Washington. And that's what this election will ultimately be about, I think.

BLITZER: All right, Gloria, what do you think?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Barack Obama's people will say to you, as Obama does himself, that this is really about judgment, it's not about experience. It is when you get the phone call at 3:00 in the morning, what is your judgment going to be?

And he argues, of course, as Jack was pointing out, that his judgment was right on the war in Iraq and her judgment was wrong. I think the American public wants to be sure that they have faith in the intelligence of the person they're electing president to do what they want them to do.

But, you know, Hillary Clinton -- you know, this is a very predictable argument from Hillary Clinton that she's been making from day one.

BLITZER: What do you think, Rick?

RICHARD STENGEL, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, you know, Wolf, we did a cover story last week about how much experience does a president need. And we cited the fact that John Kennedy, when he was first elected, very inexperienced president, got us in the Bay of Pigs, a terrible mistake. But who planned the Bay of Pigs? Dwight Eisenhower.

I agree with Gloria. It's not so much experience. It's temperament, it's the judgment. It's all of those things that experience contributes to.

BORGER: You know, and the Obama campaign also says well, look at all the experienced people around President Bush. He had a very experienced team and what did that get him? Not much.

BLITZER: Including a vice president, Dick Cheney, who served in various capacities, and Donald Rumsfeld the secretary of defense. BLITZER: Stand by, guys.

I want to continue this conversation we're just picking up, including the battle for the Democratic nomination. It could soon be heading into overtime. We're going to show you the risks that poses potentially to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and to the Democratic Party itself.

Plus, why "Time" magazine is now calling Senator Clinton "the fighter." We're going to take a closer look at how hard of a battle she's prepared to wage.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: As the race for the party's nomination stretches on and on, some insiders are concerned that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama may not only be tearing each other down, but Democratic prospects, as well.

What do you think, Jack? Is that a real fear?

CAFFERTY: Well, it wouldn't be the first time that the Democrats would resemble the gang that couldn't shoot straight. And this, arguably, has probably been as golden an opportunity as the party that's out has been handed to capture the White House in a very long time, given Congress and President Bush's low approval ratings.

That said, my buddy -- and, Rick, with due respect to "Time" magazine -- a buddy of mine, Jonathan Alter, over at "Newsweek," has written a terrific piece called "Hillary's New Math Problems." He has taken her to the end of all of the primaries, after Puerto Rico.

He has included Michigan and Florida, given her victories by double digits in all of the remaining contests. And the numbers he comes up with says she would arrive at the convention still behind triple digits in pledged delegates, still behind in the popular vote.

Translation -- this race is over if the party plays by its own rules. Of course, we're looking at Michigan and Florida and it's entirely possible they won't play by their own rules.

BLITZER: But, you know, part of the party rules are super- delegates...

CAFFERTY: No, no...

BLITZER: ...just as much as pledged delegates.

STENGEL: Right.

CAFFERTY: That has nothing to do with this. He also says that the super-delegates would be committing suicide...

BORGER: Yes. CAFFERTY: ...to take the nomination away after all of this time from a candidate who won the majority of the delegates and the majority of the popular vote. He has a point.

STENGEL: Yes, I mean that...

BORGER: Well...

STENGEL: But as Wolf was saying, I mean the super-delegates, by definition, the rules say they have an important role. I mean I wrote a couple of weeks ago saying that the super-delegates should adhere to what the general public is saying.

But if it's so close and it goes all the way through Puerto Rico, you know, then the super-delegates actually have a constitutional responsibility to step in and make a decision about it. She's basically saying -- it's almost like the lawyer's strategy -- delay, delay, delay, something may happen.

BORGER: Sure.

STENGEL: And if she gets within shouting distance, she thinks the super-delegates could break her way.

BORGER: But you know what? Super-delegates are politicians. This is a tough political predicament for them. So what are they going to do? They're going to punt. They're going to say OK, let's do a redo and let the Democratic National Committee pay for, it in Michigan or in Florida.

They're going to try and avoid conflict at all costs. Because if any of these super-delegates who are elected officials make the wrong decision, they're going to find themselves in competitive primaries when they come up for reelection next time.

So, you know, they're not going to go jumping off of any bridges here. And Hillary Clinton does have to be careful and Barack Obama also has to be careful, because you don't want to be seen to be pushing these people, to be saying to them we'll give you an ambassadorship, we'll build a bridge in your district, we'll help you out somewhere. They have got to really be careful about how they handle this because they're going to look like back room dealers themselves.

BLITZER: All right.

Rick, you interviewed Hillary Clinton after her wins in Texas and Ohio and Rhode Island. And you've got a new cover -- the new issue of "Time" magazine has this picture of her. She's smiling. It's called "The Fighter: How She Came Back and Why It Could Be Too Late."

What's the upshot? What did you learn from this woman after her victories this week?

STENGEL: Well, she was very calm and had a sort of sense of satisfaction. I mean her back was against the wall. You know, it could have been a disaster for her and she averted it. You know, she also basically said -- a little bit like what I was saying before -- she doesn't see any reason to get out at any point until it's actually definitive.

She is going to stay in the race until finally -- I think what Gloria was saying, in a sense, will be true. If it's so close -- the popular vote is close, the delegate count is close -- she's going to say let it tip to the super-delegates and I feel I have a good chance. I have a good feeling that they'll go to me.

BORGER: I mean they're going to be counting every vote. They may say let the popular vote count and forget the delegates...

BLITZER: You know, it...

BORGER: ...leave it up to the people. It depends on where the numbers are.

BLITZER: And, Jack, it's looking...

CAFFERTY: Now, there's a concept -- leave it up to the people.

BLITZER: It's...

BORGER: Yes.

BLITZER: And it's...

CAFFERTY: What a switch that would be.

BLITZER: It's looking, Jack, almost certain, I would guess right now, that there will be a redo in both Michigan and Florida after the Puerto Rico caucus for the Democrats on June 7.

CAFFERTY: Yes.

BLITZER: This is going to go on into June. And I think that that's going to happen. They're just going to have to figure out who's going to pay for it.

CAFFERTY: Have either of these governors in Michigan or Florida explained why they went ahead and signed bills exposing both states and all the citizens therein to these problems, when they were told up front there would be consequences if they moved these primaries forward? Have either of them explained why they went ahead and put pencil to paper anyway and "disenfranchised" millions of people as a result?

STENGEL: Well, it was a game of chicken that they were playing...

BORGER: Right.

STENGEL: ...and they felt that the DNC would never actually disenfranchise states that are that important, that are as important as Florida and Michigan. They bet wrong, it looked like, in the short- term.

But now, as Gloria was saying, now it's a potential bonanza for them. They may be actually deciding the whole thing.

BLITZER: All right guys, on that note, let's leave it alone.

I wrote a little bit about that on my daily blog post at CNNPolitics.com. I'd be interested to hear what you think about it.

Thanks very much.

Jack, don't leave. We've got "The Cafferty File" coming up.

Let's check in with Lou Dobbs to see what's coming up at the top of the hour -- Lou.

DOBBS: Poor Jack, Wolf. He never gets to leave. I mean that's -- that's terrible. Give him the night off.

BLITZER: None of us ever get to leave, Lou. You know that.

DOBBS: Well, you sure don't, I'll tell you, partner.

BLITZER: How long have you been working at CNN?

(LAUGHTER)

DOBBS: The iron man, Wolf Blitzer. Wolf, thank you very much.

Coming up at 7:00 Eastern here on CNN, we'll have much more on presidential politics. And we'll be reporting on stunning new evidence of the depth of this nation's housing crisis. Americans now own, for the first time since 1945, less than one half of the equity in their homes.

And for the first time in 63 years, five years after the Bush administration created the Department of Homeland Security, our borders are still not secure, our ports not secure. Lawmakers, many of them, have had a bellyful of the Department's failures and excuses. One of those lawmakers, Congressman Lamar Smith, joins us.

And rising fury in this Congress after the Bush administration tells American workers to go to hell again. A leading opponent of the Pentagon's plan to buy European tanker aircraft, Senator Patty Murray, will be joining us.

And a California mayor declared his city a Dobbs-free zone -- how about that -- just because I had the temerity to criticize a sitting U.S. Congressman. We'll have that story and a lot more.

Please join us at 7:00 p.m. Eastern for all of that and all of the day's news -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: We'll see you in 15 minutes, Lou.

DOBBS: You got it. BLITZER: Thanks very much.

A fundraising businessman goes on trial in Chicago. But it's his link to a popular presidential candidate that has drawn national media attention. We're about to go to Chicago.

And our question of the hour -- which candidate would do the best job restoring America's position in the world?

That's Jack's question.

Your e-mail coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: On our political ticker this Thursday, the trial of a businessman and political fundraiser underway in Chicago. Tony Rezko -- he's on trial for allegedly using his clout to get millions from companies wanting to do business with two state boards. But it's his fundraising connections to presidential candidate Barack Obama that's turning the spotlight on this trial.

Let's go to Susan Roesgen. She's watching it all unfold in Chicago.

I take it the senator's name came up today. What happened?

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT: Well, what happened was the prosecution -- the federal prosecution did not mention Senator Obama's name because he is not in any way implicated in this case against Tony Rezko.

But the defense, Wolf, did bring up Obama's name, in a positive light, as a successful politician that Tony Rezko supports. Now, Senator Obama's name was mentioned only in passing.

But it is likely to come up again in this trial because Obama did receive $150,000 in a campaign contribution from Tony Rezko -- a contribution that his campaign later gave away to charity. Obama did do some legal work for Tony Rezko on a low income housing project. And Obama, as well, did buy a piece of property that Rezko helped him get at a very discounted price.

Now, again, none of those things is in any way illegal on Senator Obama's part. And yet just the mention of his name at this trial, just like that picture of Senator Obama embracing Tony Rezko, is likely to make the Obama campaign wince every time it comes up -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Susan, thanks very much.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Getting some new disturbing information on that incident at Times Square early this morning -- a bombing incident. Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre.

What are you picking up -- Jamie?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, some very sketchy information at this point, Wolf. But there are initial indications, at least, that this was, in fact, some kind of political act.

And we base that on the fact that a law enforcement official has told CNN that an undetermined number of letters have arrived in offices on Capitol Hill that refer to this incident and, in fact, contain a picture of the recruiting office before the incendiary device or explosive device went off this morning. So they would have been mailed before the attack.

We don't know exactly what the letters say or what they show. We do know that an investigation by the U.S. Capitol Police is already underway, trying to track these letters. But, again, the combination of the letters arriving on Capitol Hill that would have been mailed before the attack with a picture of the site before the attack indicates that there's a clear intent here to send some kind of political message -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jamie. Thanks very much.

Jamie will watch this story for us, a very disturbing story.

Let's go back to Jack. He's "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Which candidate -- the question this hour, which candidate would do the best job restoring America's position in the world?

Joe writes from Mississippi: "Barack Obama is in the best position to restore faith in America. His judgment was sound regarding Iraq. Experience means nothing if judgment is poor. His unifying campaign has shown the world how he'll interact with each and every country. His campaign has curbed my cynical perception of politics."

Tom writes: "Clinton. She has the contacts, history and experience to bring faith in America back to us and the world."

John writes: "Any Democrat will do. As someone who travels around the world, the scorn of the Bush administration, its policies and practices are evident and hard to explain. Today, it's just easier to say you're from Canada."

Christian in Florida writes: "Obama has the clear advantage. Obama-mania among the residents of Obama, Japan; Obama-mania all over Africa, particularly in his father's native land of Kenya; the fact that Obama's middle name is Hussein leads many in the Middle East to think that maybe America is changing, is different from what they thought it was. What Barack Obama lacks in experience he more than makes up for in world view, image, policy ideas and ideals and his ability to connect with people in other countries."

Paul writes: "No one is better than a real American hero like John McCain." Tina writes: "Hillary Clinton. Despite those who don't like the Clinton name, the rest of the world does."

And Kelly in Florida writes: "Obama has the ability to inspire and motivate people, get them excited about politics and look at Washington in a different light. If he can excite American citizens like that, he can do the same for the rest of the world. And the world is watching, waiting to see what we will do next."

I think next I'm going to go home -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Have a good night. I'll see you tomorrow, Jack. Thanks very much.

Politics is not for the feint of heart. But what happens if someone faints in the company of politicians? You're going to find out. Jeanne Moss has a Moost Unusual report. You're going to want to see this right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

In Arizona, baseball players sign autographs before a spring training game. It's that time of the year.

In Ecuador, a soldier patrols along the border with Colombia.

In Oklahoma, you could barely make out a person carry an umbrella to protect them from snow.

And in Vermont, miniature horses poke their noses over a fence at a farm.

Some of this hour's Hot Shots -- pictures worth a thousand words.

Analysts are talking about candidates resuscitating their flailing campaigns. Well, who has this Moost Unusual way of reviving fans when they keel over for their favorite candidate?

CNN's Jeanne Moos has the answer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is there a doctor in the race?

OBAMA: There's somebody who fainted.

H. CLINTON: Did somebody faint?

OBAMA: It looks like we have somebody who may have fainted.

H. CLINTON: Oh, we need a doctor right here. OBAMA: That's OK. This happens all the time.

MOOS: It happens so often that conspiracy theorists speculated the fainters were fakes planted by the Obama campaign to make it seem like his supporters were swooning. But, hey, Hillary and Bill's fans swoon, too. It's become so common the candidates are starting to sound like doctors.

OBAMA: They probably just need some water and then some juice, get low blood sugar.

MOOS: Good call, say medical experts.

(on-camera): So how do the candidates compare in terms of bedside manner?

We decided to award stethoscopes on a zero to five scale.

(voice-over): For instance, the first thing the candidates always do is reach for water.

H. CLINTON: Here comes a little bit of water.

OBAMA: You got some water?

H. CLINTON: Sir?

Mr. Secret Service man, would you hand that water?

MOOS: We award four stethoscopes.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What you probably really need to do is get them fluids. The reason they fainted, they simply probably don't have enough fluids in their body.

H. CLINTON: Can somebody take one of those posters and just kind of fan? OK, good.

MOOS: More good advice -- four stethoscopes. And guess which politician tends to physically come to the rescue? For actually picking up the student, we award Governor Schwarzenegger five stethoscopes.

And just listen to Dr. Arnold's subsequent advice.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: Loosen up your knees. Don't stand with stiff knees, OK, because that's how you faint.

GUPTA: Yes, you know, Governor Schwarzenegger has a good point there. You want to make sure that you're getting some of the blood flow from the legs back into the torso.

MOOS: And watch this 12-year-old's eyes roll back as he keels over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...for all of our students. MOOS: Again, Arnold to the rescue.

THEO SCOTT-FEMENELLA, FAINTING VICTIM: I'm sure that deep down, one side of me was thinking cool. The governor is helping me up. And the fainted. But wait a minute, I fainted in front of the governor. Oh, no.

MOOS: How about fainting behind Bill Clinton?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And by a proven cost savings in the health system that everybody agrees are there, it'll work. And it's very important...

MOOS: That's Chelsea in the background, winning five stethoscopes for coming to their aid. Maybe all the fainting is a hint.

OBAMA: That's a sign I might be speaking too long.

UNIDENTIFIED SUPPORTERS: No!

MOOS: Politics not for the faint of heart.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Leave it to Jeanne Moos. What a creative mind she has.

You've helped make our politics pod cast one of the most popular on iTunes. To get the best political team to go, subscribe at CNNPolitics.com or iTunes.

Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- Lou.

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