Return to Transcripts main page


Dolly Now a Hurricane; Barack Obama Stays Committed to Troop Withdrawl; Dalai Lama Speaks Out

Aired July 22, 2008 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, there's breaking news. Dolly is now a hurricane and it's moving towards Texas. There's a warning to anyone in its path. Consider leaving immediately. Stand by for details.

Barack Obama stays the course about withdrawing troop from Iraq. But as he travels, a man launches what the Israeli government is now calling a terrorist attack using a construction truck in Jerusalem. And it happened right near the hotel where Obama will be spending the night.

And the Dalai Lama says President Bush lacks understanding of reality. Wait until you hear his explanation. We have a CNN exclusive.

All that and the best political team on television.

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

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

And we begin with the breaking news here in the United States.

Within just the last hour, the storm called Dolly has been upgraded to a hurricane. It's churning in the Gulf right now with sustained winds of about 75 miles an hour and even stronger gusts. And, right now, Hurricane Dolly is taking direct aim at South Texas.

Let's go there. CNN's Brian Todd is joining us now live from South Padre Island. That's right in the path of Hurricane Dolly.

All right, what's the situation, Brian, where you are?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, here on South Padre Island, as you say, right in the path, and we're right in the surf here as it starts to get a little bit more active.

We just talked to some local people here who say the surf is really never like this. It's much more placid. It usually lies much further out.

And I'm going to ask our photographer, Bill Alberter (ph), to kind of walk with me and pan up the beach here a little bit, where you can still -- you can see rain bands forming offshore. You can see a lot of mist and the wind from the ocean washing up along on the beach.

A lot of people coming out here just to see the first fringes of the storm. As we just mentioned, this is now a Category 1, expected to wash ashore here in just the next several hours. But people in Brownsville, Texas, not far from here, are supposed to get the brunt of it. They have been boarding up, taping up all day, Wolf, but they're not evacuating here at the moment. They're not evacuating Brownsville. They want them to ride it out for the moment.

BLITZER: I know. We heard from the director of the National Hurricane Center in the last hour who says their real concern are the massive rains that are about to start to take place and the floods that could develop as well.

What about the offshore oil rigs? There are a lot of them in the Gulf of Mexico not far away from where you are. What's the latest as far as their security or their stability is concerned?

TODD: Well, people in the oil companies are taking no chances, Wolf. We mentioned that they are not going to necessarily be evacuating the shoreline areas here, but they are evacuating offshore platforms.

We talked to oil officials, several of them today, several different companies, Exxon, Shell, Chevron. They have been evacuating hundreds of people from these offshore platforms since Sunday, bringing them in on helicopter shuttles, boat shuttles, anything they can get them in on, just to be on the safe side.

Now, oil production is not supposed to be disrupted by this storm as of now, because it is a Category 1, but they are not taking any chances here. And we're just waiting for the next few hours for this thing to wash ashore, Wolf.

BLITZER: Stand by, Brian. We will be back in touch with you.

Meanwhile, there's another developing story we're watching. New details just coming out about a plane carrying several members of the U.S. Congress having to make an emergency landing.

Brianna Keilar is working this story for us here in Washington.

What do we know, Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the FAA is telling us that a Continental Airlines plane that was headed from Houston here to Washington, D.C., had to make a rapid descent following a reported pressurization issue.

And according to a spokeswoman for Congressman Nick Lampson of Texas, there were seven members of the House of Representatives on board, all of them from Texas, a combination of Democrats and Republicans, including former presidential candidate Ron Paul.

But, again, according to the FAA, this is Continental Flight 458, again, heading to Washington, D.C., from Houston. It ended up making an emergency landing in New Orleans at the New Orleans Airport, 118 people on board, according to our affiliate KHOU out of Houston, everyone apparently reportedly safe. And our affiliate telling us, Wolf, that the plane is still there on the ground at the New Orleans airport.

BLITZER: All right, Brianna, we will stay on top of this story as well.

Let's get to presidential politics right now. Barack Obama was in Amman, Jordan, earlier today. Iraq, though, very much still very prominent in his mind. He talked about what he saw in the war zone and what military leaders cautioned about Iraq.

But Obama says he remains convinced about his plans for Iraq should he become president.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, has more from Amman -- Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Barack Obama has wrapped up his Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq portion of the trip. He says he saw lots of things on the ground in those countries that back up his policy proposals for the region. But there were quiet voices of dissent.


CROWLEY (voice-over): Barack Obama left Iraq as he went into it, convinced that a 16-month timetable for withdrawing U.S. combat troops is doable. Not everyone is on board, including someone who told him so, Obama's chopper companion, General David Petraeus, commander of coalition forces.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that his concern has to do with wanting to retain as much flexibility as possible.

CROWLEY: Obama says it's not a matter of ignoring military brass on the ground, but as commander in chief, he would be prepared to overrule it.

B. OBAMA: I'm factoring in their advice, but placing it in this broader strategic framework that -- that's required.

CROWLEY: Obama and his two fellow senators on the Iraq trip agree that military and political progress has been made since the surge began, but Obama, hit repeatedly by McCain for opposing the surge, balked at calling it a success.

B. OBAMA: I believe that the situation in Iraq is more secure than it was a year and a half ago. I think that the definition of success depends on how you look at it.

CROWLEY: Obama's first post-Iraq news conference was held on a mountaintop against a backdrop of Amman, Jordan, where he met and dined with King Abdullah, as he will meet with Israeli, Palestinian and European leaders. It's a trip designed to shine up his foreign policy credibility back home, a presidential-style agenda, though Obama has to be careful not to act as though he's already President. This is tricky.

B. OBAMA: There are a range of factors that I have to take into account as a commander in chief, or a potential commander in chief.


CROWLEY: From here, Obama flew to Israel for a full day of activities in one of the trickiest stops of this trip. He has along the campaign trail said things that have offended both the Israelis and the Palestinians -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Candy Crowley reporting for us from Amman, Jordan.

Meanwhile, a bloody rampage in the streets of Jerusalem near the hotel where Senator Obama is staying tonight, this the latest stop of his Middle East swing. And it happened only hours before Obama arrived in Israel. A Palestinian man turned his massive construction vehicle into a weapon, crushing cars and ramming a bus, before he was shot and killed by an Israeli civilian and a border policeman.

An Israeli government statement says five people were wounded in the rampage. It was an eerie replay of an incident earlier this month, on July 2, in fact, when a Palestinian construction worker barreled along one of Jerusalem's main streets, crushing vehicles, overturning a crowded bus, and killing three people before he was shot dead.

While Obama travels, John McCain strikes. He's hitting his rival hard regarding Obama's insistence on withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. And today he delivered a rather harsh message in a state he badly wants to snatch back from the Democrats.

CNN's Dana Bash is working this story for us. She's in New Hampshire.

It's an important state for both campaigns, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. But there was another reason why John McCain came here today, Wolf. It is well known that New Hampshire is the state where John McCain actually resurrected his primary bid. And he's sort of like a favorite son here in the Granite State. So, he came here while Barack Obama is in the spotlight overseas, looking for a little love.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Coming back to New Hampshire is also like coming home.

BASH (voice-over): It was here McCain debuted his favorite line about supporting the then unpopular military surge in Iraq.

MCCAIN: I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war.

BASH: Now, a play on his own words.

MCCAIN: It seems to me that Senator Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.

BASH: McCain seized on Obama's comments while in Iraq that, knowing what he knows now, he still would not have supported the troop surge.

MCCAIN: He was wrong then. He's wrong now. And he still fails to acknowledge -- he still fails to acknowledge that the surge succeeded. A remarkable -- remarkable.

BASH: He got wild applause for insisting the U.S. must not follow Obama's 16-month withdrawal plan.

MCCAIN: He wants to reverse the gains we have made and set a date for withdrawal, which would endanger our progress in Iraq.

BASH: But not everyone agrees.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We entered the Iraq war illegally, immorally and against international law.

BASH: One voter reminded McCain, among other things, the Iraqi government now says it wants troops out. He shushed hecklers in the crowd.

MCCAIN: Could we all be respectful of everybody's point of view?

BASH: She continued.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isn't it time to end the occupation, Senator?

BASH: He made his case.

MCCAIN: The war was badly mishandled. And we failed. I believed that a change in the strategy and the surge would succeed. And, indeed, it did.

BASH: Her turn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Respectfully, I disagree with you completely. I believe that we are...

MCCAIN: I figured that.



BASH: Now, McCain's advisers are still looking for ways to grab attention away from Obama's overseas trip. And one tactic is to tweak the media. The McCain campaign released a new video on its Web site today, and it's called "Obama Love." And it basically makes fun of the media by running some clips of reporters who appeared to be -- who are fawning over Obama -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Dana's in Rochester, New Hampshire, for us working the story. Dana, thanks.

By the way, I will be speaking with Senator McCain. We will talk about his criticisms of Obama over Iraq, other substantive foreign policy, domestic policy issues as well, the issues you care about most. The interview will take place here in THE SITUATION ROOM on Friday.

And you can take part in the interview. This is what you can do. Send us your questions via CNN's I-Report. You can submit your questions at, the interview Friday in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty, meanwhile. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the next generation of Republicans is not optimistic and is fretting over its inability to connect with younger voters.

The head of the Young Republicans told "The Washington Post" that his party is -- quote -- "staring down a very long, dark, quiet night" -- unquote. He's probably right. A recent poll shows, voters under 30 are more than twice as likely to identify themselves as Democrats. A lot has changed.

In 1984, Ronald Reagan won 59 percent of the young vote. In 1992, they were split about evenly between the two parties, but, since then, Democrats have gained ground among the young in every election. Usually, the parties don't pay a lot of attention to young voters because historically they don't show up to vote. But this election could be different.

Record numbers of young people did turn out to vote in the primaries. The up-and-coming Republicans also have mixed feelings about John McCain. Some worry he's not conservative enough on issues like taxes and immigration reform. The head of the Young Republicans talks about how Obama has inspired a whole generation of voters, while McCain has not done a good job communicating about issues like the war and economy, causing younger Americans to simply turn away from the Republican Party.

The head of the Young Republicans thinks that McCain can still attract young voters by reaching out to them through social networking Web sites and by showing his sense of humor through more appearances on the late-night TV talk shows.

So, here's the question: How can the Republican Party excite young voters?

Go to You can post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

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

He was on the run from war crimes charges for more than a decade. Now there are new details on how the man known as the butcher of Bosnia stayed one step ahead of his pursuers.

And a popular Philadelphia news anchor now facing federal charges, accused of hacking into e-mails to spy on a co-worker.

Plus, the nation's reliance on imported foreign oil amounts to a crisis that one billionaire oilman says the United States can't ignore any longer.


T. BOONE PICKENS, FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN, BP CAPITAL: If you don't solve this problem, you don't have to worry about health care and education, because you're not going to have the money to take care of it anyway.



BLITZER: As gas and oil prices spiral out of control, a lot of people want to know how to get them under control. And a billionaire oilman has some ideas of his own.


BLITZER: And joining us now, the oilman himself, T. Boone Pickens.

Mr. Pickens, thanks very much for coming in.

PICKENS: You bet, Wolf.

BLITZER: How much time do we really have? Because we have seen your commercials. The numbers are alarming, the transfer of wealth from the United States going around the world. How much time, realistically, do you think the United States has?

PICKENS: I think you're neck deep in it right now. I don't think you have any time. I think you have got to -- you have got to make your energy plan move forward.

And, you know, if you're saying are we going to -- is it disaster tomorrow, probably not, you know, but it could be.

BLITZER: Let's talk about, you know, the sort of change. You have been an oilman your whole life. You have been drilling for oil. You're 80 years old. And I guess the question is, why now? What took so long for you to come around to this realization that there's a disaster for the United States out there? PICKENS: Well, if you go back and look, Wolf, 10 years ago, I was saying that we will be at 60 percent imports by the end of the century. That was true. It happened. People said, Boone's crazy. That isn't going to happen.

It did happen. I have been pretty good on speaking up and predicting things. But now what's happened is that you're -- you're at a very critical point, but we're also at a critical point in this presidential election, too. And I don't think this issue has been elevated into the debate to the level I want to see it elevated.

It's number one. If you don't solve this problem, you -- you don't have to worry about health care and education, because you're not going to have the money to take care of it anyway.

BLITZER: McCain says, yes, go ahead and drill off the coasts of Florida and California. Obama says, no.

You're an oilman. What do you say?


McCain says, OK off the East and West Coasts. I say East, West Coast and ANWR. Get it all. I mean, to get off of foreign oil, that is the enemy. Get everything you can get. You cannot drill your way out of it. But you're drilling, and whatever you are able to find and put into the domestic system will help us. But you -- you aren't going to be able to find enough to take care of all the imports that we have.

BLITZER: What about nuclear?

PICKENS: Nuclear, fine, do it. Anything in America, do it, and get off of foreign oil.

BLITZER: And you're ready to put some of your own money behind all of this as well. How much are we talking about? We know you're a billionaire.

PICKENS: I have -- in the 4,000 megawatts that I'm building at Pampa, Texas, that that's going to cost $10 billion. So, I'm putting my money where my mouth is.

BLITZER: T. Boone Pickens, thanks very much for coming in.

PICKENS: You bet. Thank you.


BLITZER: He says the focus has to be on wind, solar, and natural gas. That's what the United States needs to do to wean off its addiction to foreign oil, T. Boone Pickens joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Another story we're following, he was the face of news in Philadelphia, a popular local anchor. Now he's facing federal charges for what he allegedly did to his co-anchor who has had some serious problems of her own.

Let's go to Mary Snow. She's working the story.

And what a story it is, Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, what started out as a workplace rivalry turned into a bizarre case of cyber-stalking. Prosecutors compare it to stealing a locked briefcase, prying it open and then helping yourself to the contents.


SNOW (voice-over): Here are former anchors Alycia Lane and Larry Mendte in happier days seen in a promo for a Philadelphia TV station KYW that is posted on YouTube. That's before they became the subject of a scandal.

Lane was fired in January after her personal life became tabloid fodder. Now federal prosecutors are charging him with illegally hacking into her e-mail account and leaking personal information that led to her downfall.

LAURIE MAGID, U.S. ATTORNEY: You will see that he is on there many, many days in a row, and there are days that he is on her e-mail up to a dozen times.

SNOW: Prosecutors say some of those e-mails were between Lane and her attorney. In January, she was fired after being arrested in a scuffle with plainclothes police in New York. A month later, she appeared in court with her attorney announcing the charges were dropped.

ALYCIA LANE, FORMER NEWS ANCHOR: I just want to say I'm just so glad this is over.

SNOW: Prosecutors say Mendte could face six months in jail. In a statement, his attorney said, "As we continually have said from day one, Larry has been cooperating fully with the investigators. He continues to cooperate and will accept full responsibility for his actions."

Lane's attorney calls it the two faces of Larry Mendte. One is her trusted friend and co-anchor while at the same time covering his dark side to systematically and methodically destroy his co-anchor's life, both professionally and publicly.

As to just how Mendte might have broken into his former co- worker's computer, a "Philadelphia Inquirer" columnist tells us this.

MICHAEL KLEIN, "PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER": Our sources are telling us that he or someone else installed a small device on her work computer one day that captured the keystrokes.

SNOW: The prosecutor in the case isn't commenting on how the passwords were accessed, but says the case serves as a fraud reminder. MAGID: This kind of case is an opportunity for us to urge people to protect your password. Don't give it out willingly and also don't be tricked into giving it out.


SNOW: Now, what prosecutors can't say is how common this kind of cyber-spying might be. In this case, they say the snooping was going on for more than two years. Meantime, Philadelphia station KYW had no comment on the charges filed against its former employee -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What a story, Mary. Thanks very much for that.

Barack Obama and John McCain soon to be side by side at a mega- church forum. Will the move pay off for either of them?

Taxpayers may get socked with a massive bills to save mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

And women and Viagra -- the little blue pill isn't just for men anymore.

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



BLITZER: The Dalai Lama says President Bush lacks understanding of reality, speaking exclusively to CNN to explain what he meant.

And "The New Yorker" faced outrage over its cover, drew the Obamas in a bad light. Now "Vanity Fair" is mocking the McCains.


MCCAIN: Pakistan.

B. OBAMA: Pakistan.

MCCAIN: Pakistan.

B. OBAMA: Pakistan.


BLITZER: McCain and Obama are at odds at how to pronounce Pakistan, or Pakistan. So, who says it correctly?

Stick around.


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, the Dalai Lama speaking candidly and exclusively to our own Carol Costello about President Bush and a lot more, his love for him, his love for President Bush, and what he says he lacks.

Also, behind the headlines. Critics see some serious missteps by Barack Obama on his trip to Iraq. What do they think went wrong?

Plus, Obama and McCain going after evangelical voters -- all of this, plus the best political team on television.

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

To some, the Dalai Lama is the face of courage, but to others, particularly China's government, they've accused the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader of stirring up violence and of even trying to wreck next month's Beijing Olympics.

Let's turn to CNN's Carol Costello. She had an exclusive sit- down with the Dalai Lama.

And among other things, Carol, you spoke about President Bush.


The Dalai Lama, Wolf, is one charming man. He jokes, he giggles, but make no mistake, this man's words can pack a punch. He insists he's happy China is hosting the Olympic Games and he's not urging his followers to disrupt the games. He also talks about his love for President Bush and what the president lacks.


COSTELLO: I was reading so many blogs about you and so many articles, and there was some interesting quotes that they've attached to you. And one of them came from a blog. And it said that you said that you love President Bush, but he lacks understanding of reality. Did you say that?

DALAI LAMA, EXILED TIBETAN SPIRITUAL LEADER: I love him. Because since my first visit, I noted he as a human being, very nice, very open, very straightforward. My first call at that time, within a few seconds we became very close friends. So I love him.

COSTELLO: Well, when you said he lacks understanding reality, what did you mean by that?

DALAI LAMA: That is I think the United States sort of analyzation about the situation. Then, Saddam Hussein, there, so called mass destructive sort of weapons and these things. It seems the information not complete.


COSTELLO: In short he means the United States didn't look at the situation in Iraq from all sides before it made the decision to invade. The Dalai Lama says he's not upset President Bush is attending the Olympic opening ceremonies. He said that dialogue between the U.S. and China can continue on the matter of Tibet -- Wolf. BLITZER: All right, Carol, thanks very much.

Barack Obama certainly grabbing headlines with his trip to Iraq and Afghanistan. Some say, though, it hasn't been without some blunders. Let's discuss this and more with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger, our own Jack Cafferty and David Brody, he's the senior national correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Guys, thanks very much for joining us.

I'm going to play a little clip of an excerpt with of an interview he had with Terry Moran from ABC News when he was pressured on the issue of the surge from Iraq.


TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: If you had to do it over again knowing what you know now, would you support the surge?

B. OBAMA: No. Because keep in mind that ...

MORAN: You wouldn't?

B. OBAMA: Because these type of hypotheticals are very difficult. Hindsight is 20/20.


BLITZER: Let's go to Gloria first. Gloria, politicians rarely like to admit they were ever wrong. He says the surge, though, has worked thanks to the bravery of the 30,000 or more U.S. troops who were sent in, but he's reluctant to say, you know, he would have voted for it knowing then what he knows now.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he also says it's because of the cease-fire by the Shiite militia, the decision on the Sunni awakening, and he -- to fight al Qaeda. But he won't say, I was wrong. And he does give John McCain an opportunity there, which John McCain took today, I might add, to say you know what, he was wrong, I was right. And he won't say that he was wrong. If you point out politicians don't like to do it, but looking back, the surge worked.

BLITZER: Jack, what do you think?

CAFFERTY: That's a mistake? Look, the surge is over. The surge is over. McCain needs to stop whining about the surge. An interview saying if you'd known then what you know now, would have, could have, should have is totally irrelevant to what we do now with Iraq and in case McCain is interested.

Here's Gallup poll numbers, 79 percent, Gallup poll of Americans have a negative views of the economy, 87 percent of the Americans say the economy is getting worse, 61 percent of Americans say an economic issue is the most important thing in the next election, 18 percent say it's the war in Iraq. So, you know, I'm tired of listening to McCain whine about he won't say he was wrong about the surge. It just doesn't matter at this point!

BLITZER: Hold on one second. Let's let David weigh in as well. David?

DAVID BRODY, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: Yes, well, Wolf, a couple things. I think what we're seeing here the squirming by Obama on the surge talk is clearly not good for him or his campaign. Because what's going to happen, Wolf, we're seeing in July what's going to happen in September at that first debate. It's going to be Obama and McCain mano-a-mano on that soil and that surge question is going to come up and it's not going to be a comfortable moment for Obama. Having said that Obama has his own message ready go as well that he was against the war from the start and he's got the Maliki card he can play as well. This is what the setup is here, Wolf.

BORGER: It's about judgment. And that was the issue in the Democratic primaries for Obama. He used that very effectively against Hillary Clinton saying that he had the right judgment, not to go to war with Iraq in the first place. McCain is trying to turn the table on him. Saying, look, I had the right judgment about how to win the war. And the American people are going to have to make that decision about whose judgment is better.

CAFFERTY: Isn't the judgment ultimately about the war itself? You heard ...


CAFFERTY: You heard a woman stand up in the town hall meeting today and say the war was illegal. Immoral. We invaded a country that hadn't done anything to us. Obama was opposed to that from the start. That what's happened in the ensuing five and half years, besides killing off more than 4,000 of our young people and costing us a trillion dollars, is pretty much water under the bridge. Yes, things are better there now.

But the question is -- what do we do about Afghanistan, which is going to hell in a hand basket? Our national debt which is over $9 trillion and an economy that's in the toilet? It's not about the surge.

BRODY: Wolf, I also think in that interview, he also talked about how his batting average is pretty good. And I think that's indicative of what's coming from Obama as well, to say, listen, though he won't admit he was wrong on the surge, he will say that overall his judgment's been pretty good.

BLITZER: All right, guys, stand by. Because we have a lot more to discuss.

Also coming up, "The New Yorker" magazine did the cover on the Obamas. Now "Vanity Fair" spoofs John and Cindy McCain. We'll show you the mock cover. And John McCain and Barack Obama get a big opportunity to win over wary evangelical voters. We'll tell you what's happening right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: The popular evangelical Pastor Rick Warren is getting ready next month to host an event, a forum, where he'll be interviewing both Barack Obama and John McCain. Let's discuss with the best political team on television.

I interviewed Rick Warren earlier today and among other things, he said this ...


RICK WARREN, AUTHOR, "THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE": My plan is to bring them out on stage together at the beginning or at the end. But what I want to do is I want to let each of them talk without interrupting each other. And it's not a debate format. There will be plenty of time for debates. What I want to get is people to know the real person like I know them.


BLITZER: Is it fair, David, that this evangelical vote right now out there, and you know this story well, is really up for grabs between John McCain and Barack Obama?

BRODY: Well, I don't know if I would use the word "up for grabs" in the sense that, you know, McCain is obviously going to do better among evangelicals than Barack Obama. The question is how much can Barack Obama do here with the evangelical vote. He has been at this, his campaign has been at it for over a year targeting evangelicals. Clearly they will make a dent; the question is how much.

The Rick Warren situation, very interesting, because I see this, Wolf, as a huge turning point for John McCain and the evangelicals he's trying to reach, the base he's trying to reach. Why? Because Rick Warren, though, they're going to talk about poverty in Darfur and a lot of social justice issues, John McCain has a chance to turn this a little bit and talk about the life issue, the marriage issue, some other issues that are important to evangelicals.

Now, I understand that the format is not going to be about life and marriage. But, look, he's a politician. All the politicians turn the question. He can do it and evangelicals are waiting desperately to hear from John McCain on these issues.

BLITZER: All right. Jack?

CAFFERTY: Isn't there a risk involved if he gets into those issues in this forum that he's going to simply turn off a lot of those Hillary Clinton women supporters that he's been actively trying to attract to his camp as well? The evangelical conservative positions on things like right to life don't exactly resonate with women who supported Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: Good point. Gloria?

BORGER: You know, they don't. I think at the base of this is that John McCain is just not comfortable with these voters. It's not his comfort level. He would rather be sitting with a -- with a member of the Joint Chiefs than talking to evangelical voters. Whether he agrees with them or not and he does on issues like ...

BLITZER: Why is that, Gloria? He's got a perfect record when it comes to opposing abortion rights.

BORGER: He does.

BLITZER: So why is he uncomfortable?

BORGER: He's not a faith-based politician. He's not someone who talks about himself easily or his faith easily. He says it's very important to his life. But whereas Barack Obama did very well in that -- in those faith forums that CNN sponsored during the primaries, and Hillary Clinton did well, too, it's going to be interesting to see how reflective John McCain can be about his spiritual life. Because we haven't heard a lot of that from him.

BRODY: Wolf, he's going to -- yes, he's going to be very guarded with that. Clearly his senior aides talked to me about that a lot. That he's just old school when it comes to that. So, that's a big part of it.

BLITZER: We'll lee leave it right there. Guys. Good discussion. Thanks very much.

Jack, don't go away, we've got "The Cafferty File" coming up.

It's not what they say but how they say it when it comes to Pakistan or Pakistan. Which candidate has it right?

Also, the McCains get equal time but the spoof inspired by "The New Yorker" magazine cover.

Plus, Viagra for women, details of a new use for the little blue pill.


BLITZER: Let's check in with Lou to see what's coming up right at the top of the hour.

What are you working on, Lou?

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGTH": Wolf, we're reporting on a new campaign to highlight the issue that the presidential candidates have ignored, the violent drug cartel invasion of this country, a threat to American lives. We'll have complete coverage tonight.

And new evidence that the Bush administration remains simply clueless about the state of our worsening economy and the crisis that faces what's left of our middle-class.

The Bush administration changing its mind on the condition of the economy once again.

And Senators Obama and McCain intensifying their long-distance showdown now over the conduct of the war in Iraq. Obama helped by the liberal media, member -- many of whose members are traveling with him on his tour of the Middle East and Europe. We'll be talking about bias in the media and three of my favorite radio talk show hosts to join me here to talk about that and a lot more. We hope you will as well at the top of the hour, right here on CNN for all of that, much more, all the days news from the independent perspective.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Lou.

Let's check back with Carol right now. She's monitoring other important stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM.

What do you have, Carol?

COSTELLO: Well, Wolf, prosecutors say Osama bin Laden's former driver, knew the target of the so-called fourth plane involved in the September 11th attack. Salim Hamdan is being tried for conspiracy and supporting terrorism by a military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Prosecutors say he indicated that the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania was headed for the Capitol here in Washington. But Hamdan's lawyers say he was a low-level driver, who knew little about al Qaeda's inner workings.

There may be a silver lining to rising gas prices, really. The National Safety Council is reporting a significant drop in traffic fatalities on American roads. Overall, figures show a nine percent drop through May, with some states reporting more than a 20 percent drop. No one is saying for sure why road deaths are declining. But the last time such steep drops were reported, was during the Arab oil embargo, back in the early '70s.

The benefits of Viagra for some men are well known. Now, it turns out, that the drug could help women as well. A new study finds that the pill may help women on antidepressants achieve, shall we say, a Meg Ryan when "Harry Met Sally" moment. Sexual side effects are a side effect of many antidepressants but the company that makes Viagra says it currently has no plans to pursue approval for use of the drug for female sexual dysfunction. Back to you.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much for that, Carol.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File."

I'm not going to ask you to follow-up, Jack, on that story. You can do that if you want to.

CAFFERTY: I was just thinking, it sure would simplify Christmas shopping, wouldn't it? The question -- the question this hour is: How can the Republican Party excite young voters?

Chris: "They can excite young voters by not starting unnecessary wars that the young will have to fight."

Stephanie writes from Minneapolis: "If the Republicans guarantee jobs that won't be outsourced within the next five years to their young supporters, maybe that would light a fire under them."

Ben writes: "The Republicans can start by embracing the ideals that drew so many young people to Ron Paul's candidacy in the primary, peace, freedom, prosperity. Instead of shunning us now that the primary is over, they should embrace the dedicated activist conservative wing of the party if they want to attract younger voters and inspire future generations."

Mariel says: "That train has already left the station."

Derek writes: "Having McCain drop out. Put Stephen Colbert as the nominee."

Jackie writes: "I don't know five people under 21 who are Republican . We are in an era where young people are finding it hard to pay for college, racking up school debt, our friends are getting killed in Iraq, we probably won't have any Social Security left for us and most of us don't have health care. Unless the GOP strongly changes positions where young people can see success for themselves, McCain doesn't really have a chance."

Dave in Maryland writes: "Refer them to the Obama campaign."

Michelle in Washington: "McCain just learned how to use the Internet. Is this a serious question? I hope not because I am LMAO. Hint, McSame won't get it."

And Ed writes: "Stop being so Republican."

If you didn't see your e-mail you can go to my blog at Look for yours there among hundreds of others.

You know what LMAO means, don't you?

BLITZER: I have no idea.

CAFFERTY: I can't tell you. It's naughty.

BLITZER: Tell me later. All right. Thanks, Jack.

In today's "Political Ticker," less than a week after his climate change warning, Al Gore is making another appeal this one online. He's urging party faithful to give money to the Democratic National Campaign Committee to put Barack Obama into the White House and win Congress. He's launching 100 days of action campaign. Lawmakers will contribute $2 for every $1 raised by outside donors. Speculation is heating up that John McCain could potentially pick the Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal as his running mate. McCain is set to meet with Jindal tomorrow. The McCain campaign reportedly is considering announcing his vice presidential pick maybe even as early as this week but a lot of people doubt that. Some say maybe he wants to see some of the spotlight from Barack Obama in the midst of the trip to the Middle East and Europe but a lot of other people say that's not going to happen. Or at least not this week.

"The New Yorker" magazine's cover caricature of Barack and Michelle Obama caused a huge flap as you know. Now "Vanity Fair" magazine has posted a mock cover, not a real cover, a mock cover of John and Cindy McCain on its Web site. It shows the two bumping fists with an arm full of prescription drug bottles. "Vanity Fair" tells us it has no intention of putting it on the August issue. Just having some fun I suppose.

Remember, for the latest political news any time, check out The ticker now is number one political news blog out there on the Web.

Some say Iraq and others say Iraq but it's Pakistan or Pakistan that may pose a pronunciation pitfall for White House rivals Barack Obama and John McCain.


MCCAIN: Pakistan.

B. OBAMA: Pakistan.

MCCAIN: Pakistan.

B. OBAMA: Pakistan.


BLITZER: Jeanne Moos is about to get to the bottom of this story. Stand by for that.

And make way for ducklings. A good Samaritan ushers in a lost duck and her brood to safety. Some of today's "Hot Shots" coming up.


BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the "Hot Shots" coming in from our friends over at the Associated Press. Pictures likely to be in your newspapers tomorrow. In Switzerland, the U.S. chess grandmaster Alexander Onitzev (ph) faces off against Switzerland's Yannick Peltier (ph).

In India, activists celebrate a vote of confidence on a possible U.S. nuclear technology deal. In China, workers try to move props for opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games.

And in England a parking attendant escorts a lost duck and her ducklings back to a lake. Some of this hour's "Hot Shots," pictures worth 1,000 words.

Barack Obama and John McCain don't always see eye to eye on some of the key issues and that includes how to say the name of a major U.S. ally on the war on terror.

Our Jeanne Moos has this "Moost Unusual" report.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pakistan has gone the way of tomato tomato.

B. OBAMA: On questions about Pakistan...

... for people of Pakistan.


MOOS: Senator Obama says it one way, Senator McCain another.

MCCAIN: Including the Pakistan situation.

B. OBAMA: Pakistan as a safe haven.

MOOS: Sure it's subtle.

MCCAIN: Pakistan.

B. OBAMA: Pakistan.

MOOS: But Senator Obama puts a more native twist on words most Americans pronounce Pakistan and Taliban.

B. OBAMA: To go after the Taliban.

Preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan.

MOOS: It has bloggers like Kal, an American of Pakistani origin raving. "The clincher for me is the fact that Obama is the first American politician I can recall that pronounces Pakistan correctly."

He then goes on to give this helpful hint. Pakistan is like Tupac and not six packs. Author and linguist Jeff Numberg (ph) says Pakistan says this about Obama ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It marks him as an internationalist. On the other hand some people will say let's not the say we Americans say the name.

OBAMA: On the Web, critics mock the Pock in Pakistan with a phone held upside down. They accuse Obama of sounding affected. Does he pronounce France, France? Multicultifruitcake (ph) says another. Pitfalls exist much closer to home. The right way.

MCCAIN: It's wonderful to be here in Nevada. Nevada. Nevada. Nevada. Nevada. B. OBAMA: The wrong way.

MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA'S WIFE: It is so nice to be back in Nevada. We are so happy to be here. Nevada. Nevada. Nevada.

MOOS: As they say in the song ...


MOOS: Forget bananas. How about this for a guy that went to Harvard and sometimes the candidate gets accused of making a gaff.

B. OBAMA: That's why I stood up for equal pay in Illinois.

MOOS: It is possessive if you let him finish his sentence.

B. OBAMA: Illinois' State Senate.

MOOS (on camera): Think if Senator Obama succeeds president bush, we could find ourselves going from one extreme to another in terms of presidential pronunciation.

And this at least ...


MOOS: (voice-over) Would cease to proliferate because neither Obama ...

B. OBAMA: Nuclear weapons.

MOOS: Nor McCain say it ...

MCCAIN: Nuclear weapons.

MOOS: Though the kid behind mechanic cane looked like he was about to go nuclear Tuesday until his mom shot him a look and led him to disarm unilaterally.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: This important programming note for our viewers. I'll be speaking with Senator McCain about his criticisms of Barack Obama involving Iraq and other substantive foreign policy and domestic policy questions. The issues you care about the most. The interview with Senator McCain takes place here Friday in THE SITUATION ROOM and you can take part in the interview as well. Send us your questions via CNN's I-Report. You can submit questions at

We're going to try to get questions to Senator McCain right here in THE SITUATION ROOM on Friday.

Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Let's go to Lou Dobbs in New York -- Lou.