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Surgeon General Gupta?; Political Theater on Capitol Hill

Aired January 6, 2009 - 20:00   ET


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody.
Breaking news again tonight.

Embattled Senator Roland Burris gets an unexpected vote of support from a powerful Democrat on Capitol Hill.

Bullet point number one tonight: a morning circus in Washington, as Burris made his debut. And tonight, Senator Dianne Feinstein breaking ranks with her Democratic colleagues and saying that Burris should be seated.

Bullet point number two tonight: Obama and vice president-elect Biden doing some damage control, both calling and apologizing to that very same senator, Senator Feinstein, after she had to learn from a reporter that Leon Panetta would be appointed to lead the CIA. That was an oversight because Feinstein is about to take over the Senate Intelligence Committee.

She has also been wanting someone who, unlike Obama's pick, has experience in covert operations.

Bullet point number three tonight: breaking news in the Israel- Gaza fighting. Israel has just announced it will establish what it calls a humanitarian corridor to supply the people of Gaza as it continues air and ground offensives against Hamas. And now president- elect Obama speaking out, saying he has been fully briefed on the furious battle that could steamroll into his first days in office.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: The loss of civilian life in Gaza and in Israel is a source of deep concern to me.


BROWN: Our Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour are in the region. And they're going to us live with the very latest details tonight.

And bullet point number four: The president-elect is looking at someone right here at CNN for a very high-profile job. A little later, we will show you who has been approached and why the Obama team is so interested.

First, though, tonight, "Cutting Through The Bull." We have been trying to report as accurately as possible on the fighting in Gaza. But that is without question a challenge when we do not have reporters on the ground who can bring you firsthand information about what is taking place. The reason we have no reporters on the ground in Gaza is because Israel will not allow foreign journalists into Gaza.

Tonight, a call for Israel to open the borders to allow journalists in, to allow them to do their jobs, to witness firsthand what is happening on the ground. Certainly, there are risks, both for journalists and for Israel. There is both a battle on the ground and a public relations war under way. But right now, only a handful of Palestinian journalists are there.

Much of the information coming out of Gaza is impossible to verify. And many of the images you see on television are provided by Hamas. There is but one way to get a true picture of what is happening now, and that is to allow journalists the access we need to tell the story with accuracy and with context.

And now we turn to our top political story, controversy on Capitol Hill over Roland Burris, the man who could be Illinois' next senator.

We're going to get the new details of one of the Senate's leading Democrats breaking ranks with her colleagues.

But, first, we want to show you what happened when Burris showed up this morning -- this was to claim Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat -- and found himself in the eye of a media hurricane. Take a look.


BROWN (voice-over): 10:22 on Capitol Hill, microphones and umbrellas waving, security guards trying to hold back the crowd, reporters shouting questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spread out. Spread out.


QUESTION: Sir, what is your expectation? What is your expectation, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No questions. No questions.

QUESTION: What do you think about all this, sir?

BROWN: Circus doesn't even begin to describe the scene of photographers running to keep up as Burris approaches the Capitol door. You can barely see him amid the media mob, as Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer blocks the way. He is the bald-headed guy in the tan coat -- 10:25 a.m., they go inside. The hazy broadband pictures show it is just as crazy inside as out.

There, Burris meets with the secretary of the Senate and the Senate parliamentarian, his credentials rejected because Illinois' secretary of state refused to sign his letter of appointment, so, no alternative but to run the media gauntlet again.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Forgive me if you can hear the yelling behind me. This is just a circus that is going on here.

BROWN: That's the voice of CNN senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash in the gray scarf, trying to get Burris to say something. After just 20 minutes inside the Capitol, Roland Burris is back out in the cold.

It is 11:00 a.m. when he finally steps up to the microphones.

ROLAND BURRIS, FORMER ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL: I presented my credentials to the secretary of the Senate, and advised my credentials were not in order and I would not be accepted and I will not be seated and I will not be permitted on the floor. And, therefore, I am not seeking to have any type of confrontation. I will now consult with my attorneys and we will determine what our next step will be.

BROWN: And with that, Burris was off again.


BROWN: It is only now getting more interesting. Late this afternoon, California's powerful Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senate Rules Committee chairwoman for the past two years, she says that Burris should be seated.

Burris is supposed to meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tomorrow.

National political correspondent Jessica Yellin is keeping track of all the congressional craziness.

And it's getting pretty crazy up there, Jessica. What's the next move here for Burris? What do you think is going to happen?


As you say, tomorrow, he is meeting with Senate Democratic leaders to try and see if there is some sort of compromise they can come up with. And the one idea that has been floated consistently is that maybe Burris could take the seat for just two years and then let someone else run in 2010.

The problem with that is, Democratic leaders like the idea. Burris has made it clear that is not an appealing option for him. And so far it seems like Burris has the upper hand. For one thing, Dianne Feinstein, a senior Democrat and the outgoing head of the Rules Committee, as you say, has called on Democratic leaders to seat him.

For another, as Dana Bash has reported, Burris actually filed a lawsuit in Illinois that could basically force the Senate to seat him. So, right now, the odds are they're not going to come to any kind of agreement tomorrow. It could go to the Rules Committee. So far, the incoming head of the Rules Committee, Chuck Schumer, he is not commenting. But it's to every Democrats' advantage if they could resolve this soon.

BROWN: No kidding, because today is supposed to be big first day on Capitol Hill. How much of a distraction is Burris for the new Congress, for the president-elect? It's certainly sucking up a lot of attention at a time they would all rather be focused on jump-starting the economy.

YELLIN: Right, not an ideal image of your democracy at work.

And it's certainly not how the Democrats would have dreamed of kicking off this new Congress. With violence overseas, an economic meltdown at home, they really wanted to lead up to inauguration with a clear focus on the economy and a series of news-free confirmations of Obama's Cabinet.

Instead, they have got a circus in their own party. And, look, Obama promised that when he is in office, government will function effectively. Now, he hasn't taken office, but so far not so smooth. This is not the image team Obama wants to project from Washington, D.C. -- Campbell.

BROWN: All right, Jessica Yellin for us tonight from Washington -- Jessica, thanks.

One reason that many argue that Burris should be admitted and admitted immediately is he would be our only African-American senator. In a moment, we will talk to three of our smartest political observers about race, whether it should be an issue here.

Also, president-elect Obama's damage control over his surprise pick of Leon Panetta to head the CIA, even Joe Biden now saying it wasn't handled so well.

And, later, a shocking story that started with a New Year's Eve arrest in a train station. It ended with an unarmed man dead on the platform, shot by a cop. What really happened? We're going to show you what we know so far.



BURRIS: Members of the media, my name is Roland Burris, the junior senator from the state of Illinois.


BROWN: Not so fast there, Mr. Burris. You are not officially a senator yet. But it does look like Democratic opposition may be starting to crumble tonight.

Some of the Senate appointee's supporters say the whole thing is a question of black and white. And they insist an all-white Senate is unacceptable and that seating Burris is the only way out of a bad situation.

Is there a point here to be made? That's a question we're going to put to our panel, Roland Martin, CNN political analyst, Jeff Toobin, CNN senior political analyst here with me in New York, and John Ridley, contributor to National Public Radio and founder of the Web site

Welcome, everybody.

Jeff, start with the breaking news, this word now coming from Dianne Feinstein that she believes Burris should be seated. Is this a sign of bigger things to come, I guess?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, it all -- today was a reminder of the great old Will Rogers line: "I am not a member of any organized political party. I'm a Democrat."


BROWN: We had forgotten that line, hadn't we? We haven't had to apply it for a while.


TOOBIN: The Obama steamroller made us forget it. But now it is back.

No, this is obviously a Keystone Kops operation. They're scrambling. They're trying to find a face-saving solution that doesn't make too many people angry, but preserves some integrity.

And, by the way, I still think there is an awfully good reason to reject Burris because of the circumstances of his appointment, but it does appear like the momentum is moving in the other direction at this point.

BROWN: John, Burris' supporters have made a pretty blunt racial argument here that he should be seated simply because the Senate shouldn't be without a single African-American as part of the body. Is that a legitimate case to make?

JOHN RIDLEY, FILM DIRECTOR/ACTOR/WRITER: No, I don't think so. Look, I am in favor of diversity. I think most people are.

But look at the situation. We have a person of color as president, who has just appointed or nominated probably the most diverse staff and Cabinet we have ever seen. But if we don't have this one black guy in the Senate, it all falls apart.

Diversity is great. But this idea that any brother will do, that's sort of '60s politics. And honestly I think it's affirmative act at its worst.

BROWN: Well, I want to read you something. (CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Hold on, Roland. I wanted to read you -- get your reaction to something, the "Chicago Sun-Times"' editorial today saying that -- quote -- "Illinois has enough problems without injecting the thorny issue of race where it doesn't belong. Trying to guilt the nation into accepting a tainted appointment is no way to make right the wrong here."

I mean, just to John's point there, are his supporters, Burris' supporters, playing with fire a little bit by making such an explicit racial argument?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, because it's important to note exactly what they're doing. And that is they want to frame it in this particular way.

Look, this is not any brother. Reality is he is somebody who is a state controller, attorney general, has the credentials. What you have is, you have...


BROWN: But hold on. They're not arguing that his credentials are the reason. They're arguing that he should be seated because he is black.


MARTIN: No. And what I was about to say is you have Congressman Bobby Rush who is making the point, and he's been making it for three months, there should be an African-American from Illinois.

But you have Roland Burris who is saying, I'm a legal appointee. That's what you have going on here.

And, so, look, the whole notion of race is ridiculous in this regard, because you have somebody who is qualified for the job. Now, this whole notion of it's being tainted, the reality is, Blagojevich is the governor. He's the governor. He gets to make the choice. They could have taken it from him. They didn't. They put it in his hands.


TOOBIN: Roland, the reality is that Blagojevich is out on bail right now for trying to sell that very seat.


MARTIN: No, Jeffrey, you are wrong. The charges leveled against him -- no, Jeffrey, the charges leveled against him did not involve the Senate seat. That's the problem here. But here's the deal, though.

(CROSSTALK) TOOBIN: He did include the Senate seat.

MARTIN: No, the two charges filed against him, he was arrested for, did not involve the Senate seat.

TOOBIN: Of course they do. They issued a complaint, Roland.


TOOBIN: Anyway.

All right, go ahead.


MARTIN: No. But hold on. But the point here is, he is still the governor. That's where the Democrats fail. I don't think the Senate Democrats have a leg to stand on. He is qualified for the job. He's likely going to be seated.

TOOBIN: When you are out on bail, you lose certain privileges. Just because you are still the governor doesn't mean you get to do everything that a governor still gets to do...


TOOBIN: ... just as if you were or I were arrested, we wouldn't get to be on CNN anymore, because that's...


MARTIN: Jeffrey, Harry Reid has already said that Governor Blagojevich has the right, right now, to walk on the Senate floor. Why? To talk to senators? Why? Because he is still a sitting governor.

Now, tell me how is that still legal and he can still do that, but he can't appoint somebody?

BROWN: All right, guys, I want to get John in here on this.

What do you think? Should he be seated, in your view? I know you don't agree with the racial argument, but for Roland's point?

RIDLEY: Yes, should he be seated? I think, unfortunately, he should be seated, I think unless there's some other...

BROWN: Unfortunately, why? Just because of the mess surrounding it?


RIDLEY: I think there is a mess around it. I think people are interjecting racial issues. I think everything else that is going on in the world, do we really need this? Quite frankly, whether he is seated or not, three months later, it's going to be the first nontroversy of 2009. But I think he will be seated unless there is, as far as I understand, some kind of constitutional decision. You go back to the -- I'm sorry -- not the -- the Adam Clayton Powell decision 1969.


RIDLEY: He will probably be seated.

But I think it is unfortunate race is being interjected into this. All these other matters are being interjected into this. They have nothing to do with the fact -- what's going on.


RIDLEY: And, quite frankly, I think Burris would have been better off saying, I am not going to be seated. I will let the process work itself out. After that, if people choose me, I would be happy to have the job, rather than saying, Jesus is on my side.

BROWN: Guys, we have got to end it there.

Roland, Jeff, and John, thanks very much for a passionate debate.

Coming up: The Obama team's mistake that left two senators steaming today, what does it mean for Leon Panetta's nomination as CIA director?

Also ahead, why al Qaeda's number-two terrorist blames the president-elect for the violence in Gaza.

And Minnesota's Senate smackdown. Norm Coleman says he is not giving up his Senate seat to Al Franken without a fight. We're going to have the very latest in the "Political Daily Briefing" when we come back.



SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I have the utmost respect for Leon Panetta. I think that he is one of the finest public servants that we have. He brings extraordinary management skills, great political savvy, an impeccable record of integrity.

As chief of staff, he is somebody who -- to the president -- he's somebody who obviously was fully versed in international affairs, crisis management, and had to evaluate intelligence consistently on a day-to-day basis.


BROWN: President-elect Obama today defending his choice of Leon Panetta as the next director of the CIA. And part of that defense involved a little bit of damage control. In a breach of protocol, Obama didn't give Senator Dianne Feinstein, the incoming chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, a heads-up about his choice of Panetta. She wasn't too happy about that.

Today, vice president-elect Joe Biden called the whole thing a mistake. And Obama called Dianne Feinstein to apologize, this episode yet another speed bump for the Obama team this week.

We're going to talk about some transition trouble with our political experts, Republican strategist Kevin Madden, CNN senior political analyst Paul Begala, and our senior political analyst Gloria Borger.

Hey, guys.


BROWN: Gloria, let me start with you here.

Apologies aside, how did this happen in the first place? Why wouldn't the transition talk to the person who is going to run the confirmation hearings?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Campbell, it is kind of a rookie mistake. And in talking to people in the transition, they just say it was a matter of transition overload, that essentially the people doing the vetting and the picking did not tell the people who were supposed to sort of smooth the political waters for this about it. And, as a result, someone like Dianne Feinstein wasn't given a heads-up.

It is an inexcusable mistake. They say they feel terrible about it. But nonetheless it's causing them a lot of problems.

BROWN: But, Kevin, also, sort of the screwups about the protocol here, this is also the first Obama appointment whose qualifications have come into question by some, I mean, concern that the CIA director needs a deep intelligence background, that's what we have heard voiced.

Team Obama.


BROWN: Go ahead.

KEVIN MADDEN, FORMER ROMNEY CAMPAIGN NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY: On the protocol side, I think Barack Obama is going to have to explain whether or not he was even in the Senate long enough to learn that protocol.


MADDEN: But, look, I think, what I am surprised about this, Campbell, is that Barack Obama decided to take on two entrenched bureaucracies, the first, the chairman bureaucracy up on Capitol Hill.

I mean, these people up on Capitol Hill are very ferocious about their turf and they're very ferocious about the idea of having a collaborative relationship with the White House on intelligence matters. And, secondly, taking on the entrenched bureaucracy at the CIA with an appointee who doesn't have the requisite experience in intelligence matters that are going to be required at a time when we need a very seamless transition on national security and intelligence issues.


BROWN: As White House chief of staff, as a member of the 9/11 Commission, Panetta is hardly like a novice at these sort of issues.

MADDEN: Well, look, he is not a novice. But the bureaucracy at somewhere like the CIA, where they expect to have somebody who is one of their own leading the effort, I think that is going to create an incredible amount of problems within the CIA.

And at a time where we need a seamless transition, do we really want a CIA appointee who is trying to catch up on how even the bureaucracy of the CIA works?

BROWN: Paul, what do you think is going on here?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, a couple of things.

I think Leon has, in some ways, the most important qualifications, which are, first, towering integrity and very strong management skills. I think that agency needs someone to be an advocate for them. Before he was chief of staff, Leon was director of Office of Management and Budget.

And the Office of Management and Budget only has maybe, well, a very few, a tiny handful of people who actually work on the super- secret black budget for the CIA. Leon was one of them.

When you put together an agency's budget, you learn a lot about how that agency runs. Then, as chief of staff, he becomes a consumer of the product of the intel that CIA produces. I think it's a really wonderful set of qualifications.


BORGER: This is about reforming the CIA. Everybody agrees the CIA needs to be reformed. The question is, is it better to do it with a careerist who has been inside the agency and understands its problems or somebody who can look at it with a fresh eye from the outside?

Dianne Feinstein not only has a problem with the prerogatives issue, but she clearly believes that the way to reform the CIA is from the inside out. Barack Obama, it's not really clear what he believes, because his first choice for this job, remember, John Brennan, who withdrew from the process, was a 25-year veteran of the CIA. So, I'm not quite sure where Obama is on this.

BROWN: Kevin, quickly.

MADDEN: Yes, Paul, I think that Barack Obama is going to have a hard time making the case that a bean counter in OMB is going to be able to, you know, reform the way that the CIA works just because he looked at the budgets and the spreadsheets. I mean, it is a much bigger job. We have people all across -- this is a worldwide organization.

BROWN: Let me go, Paul, to sort of more big picture on this, because Panetta has not really been the only headache this week.

Bill Richardson, Obama's nominee for commerce secretary, had to step aside, the Roland Burris circus. This can't be how he hoped to spend the first week in Washington as president-elect.

BEGALA: Yes, but it's all background noise, the truth is. And it's good for us. The circus today was I think kind of regrettable.

And the Richardson thing is upsetting for Richardson. But I think Obama handled that perfectly. I actually got a copy. Let me hold it up here. This is the -- well, if you could Panetta back, this is the questionnaire apparently I got off the Internet that they're submitting to people. And it goes on for 63 questions.

Well, you think, you go through 63 questions, you might want to mention that you are the subject -- or your office, your administration as governor, is the subject of a grand jury investigation. So, when they realized that Richardson wasn't being very forthcoming, they cut the ties and they are going to going to find somebody new.

BROWN: But wait. Wait. But that investigation was covered -- I mean, it was very public. It was covered in all the papers for months. It's not like he is -- it's something no one knew about that he hid from the vetters.

BEGALA: No, the question was how close was it coming to the governor's office and to former staffers in the governor's office.

And I think that's where the vetters felt like they were being misled. But, again, he handled it I think quite well. This is someone who campaigned for Obama, I think Obama has affection and respect for, and yet he had to do it. He had to make a tough choice. He made it quickly. He is going to move on. I think that is the right thing to do.


BROWN: Quickly, Gloria.

BORGER: And Obama has said he could have some future role in an Obama administration. So, we don't know what that would be.

(CROSSTALK) BROWN: All right, to Kevin, Paul, and Gloria, thanks very much, guys. Appreciate it.

Up next, a couple of surprises. One is really big, to us anyway, one of our CNN colleagues in the running for a job in Barack Obama's White House.

And in the "Political Daily Briefing," will he or won't he? The president's brother, Jeb Bush,tells us whether or not he is running for the Senate from Florida.

Plus, the president-elect's new wheels, check it out, very high- mileage, at least in the style department.


BROWN: A familiar face is up for a high-profile post in the Obama administration. Maybe you have seen him somewhere before, like right here on CNN.

Time now to reveal the mystery man. He is our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Could he be the next surgeon general?

Senior White House correspondent Ed Henry has the story behind this rather surprising news.

So, Ed, we have all worked with Sanjay. What's going on? Is this a done deal?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Campbell, it's not a done deal. But people close to the transition say it's pretty close.

What we can confirm is that officials in Barack Obama's transition team have approached Dr. Sanjay Gupta about being surgeon general. And they're very interested in having him, because of his credentials, not just his TV presence, but obviously he was a fellow as many people know in the Clinton White House. He was active politically then.

Also, he is a neurosurgeon, let's not forget. So, he has real expertise in medicine. This is not just about his abilities on television.

We are also told that Dr. Gupta, while he's not commenting publicly, is very interested in this privately, to the point that my colleague John King is reporting that he has approached both CNN and CBS News, where he also does some work, to try and get out of his contracts.

And I should note that CNN has put out a statement tonight saying -- quote -- "CNN has made sure that his on-air reporting has been on health and wellness matters, and not on health care policy or any matters involving the new administration."

That is obviously important journalistically to show that integrity, that there is a line there, and that he has not been reporting on what could eventually be his employer -- Campbell.

BROWN: And, Ed, I understand, as we have been reporting, that the incoming administration wants to sort of reinvent the role of surgeon general, to make this job a bit more about the power job in terms of policy. What are you hearing about that?

HENRY: Absolutely.

For the most part, surgeon general, it's a bully pulpit. It's kind of a figurehead. You can speak out on important issues, like the dangers of smoking, for example, trying to make sure kids don't get hooked on tobacco, that kind of thing. But you don't usually have a seat at the policy table.

What we're told is that, in private, people like Tom Daschle, the incoming health secretary, have been very blunt and direct in trying to recruit Dr. Gupta, and saying, look, you are going to have a seat at the table in helping to use your expertise to craft whatever health care reform legislation Barack Obama ends up unveiling early -- you know, early, in the first 100 days, number one, but, number two, that you will have a big role as well in trying to sell this, not only to the American people, but to the Congress, and trying to use Dr. Gupta's skills as a salesman as well.

So, before long, if this comes together, you may see Barack Obama paging Dr. Gupta, Campbell.


BROWN: All right, Ed Henry for us tonight -- Ed, thanks very much.

HENRY: Thank you.

BROWN: Senate drama dominates tonight's daily "Political Daily Briefing." Who was sworn in? Who was not? And who has decided he doesn't want the job after all?

Erica Hill is here with us tonight with the "PDB" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We might want to rename the "PDB" to tonight, Campbell, the "SDB," for the "Senate Daily Briefing," because so much of it is about the Senate today.

The 111th congressional session of course beginning today with the swearing-in of 34 senators -- and administering the oath, outgoing Vice President Dick Cheney, who also swore in the next V.P., Delaware Senator Joe Biden.

Now, the V.P.-elect is expected to resign his seat before the inauguration on January 20, but, before he gives up the post, a few more senatorial duties. Biden is actually going to join his colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for one last visit to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. A final trip that is, Campbell, as senator, of course, likely not his last one ever. BROWN: But when it comes to the really important stuff, I understand that being the incoming VP doesn't carry as much weight as maybe people think.

HILL: Important stuff like maybe you want to go to the movies on a Saturday night with your gal.

Maybe you're not getting in if you are the vice president-Elect. Apparently, Mr. & Mrs. Senator and Mrs. Biden tried to go see "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" on Saturday night. But they get to the theater to buy tickets, it is sold out apparently. No amount of pleading could get these two into the film starring Brad Pitt. Not even from the Secret Service of course.

Maybe there just weren't enough seats too, because when you're coming in with...

BROWN: An entourage.

HILL: As Biden, you have an entourage of security which may make it a little more difficult.

BROWN: Yes. And you can't really leave the Secret Service out.

HILL: Not so much.

BROWN: OK. Moving along to other Senate news, Al Franken declared victory yesterday, but his opponent saying not so fast. Give us an update.

HILL: That's right. Al Franken not sworn in today despite the fact that he was declared the winner in Minnesota's Senate race yesterday. Well, today, the incumbent, Norm Coleman, coming out and saying, hold on a minute. I am not giving up this fight. In fact, we have it in his own words, I believe.


NORM COLEMAN (R), MINNESOTA SENATE CANDIDATE: This race will be determined by Minnesota voters, not by Harry Reid.


HILL: Reference to the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, because he had also called for Coleman to concede. So, Campbell, at this point, we must say to the lawyers and the lawsuits, it is already under way.

BROWN: Yes. This is going to go on for a while.

Also on the same front, just a few days after his father endorses him for the job, Jeb Bush now saying thanks but no thanks.

HILL: Yes. Apparently, not interested in the Senate. At least not right now. You can count him out. Despite support from also his big brother, the president, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush saying today he's not eying a 2010 Senate run. He released the following statement this afternoon.

"After thoughtful consideration, I have decided not to run for the United States Senate in 2010. While the opportunity to serve my state and country during this turbulent and dynamic times is compelling, now is not the right time to return to elected office" -- Campbell.

BROWN: Well, we'll see how that plays out as well in the future.

Finally tonight, inauguration two weeks away, Barack Obama will not only have new digs, he's also got a new ride.

HILL: That's right. A new set of wheels for the president-elect and not just any set of wheels.

The presidential news, because this is a "PDB" tonight about the car. The new commander-in-chief's ride. There it is.

It is the 2009 Cadillac presidential limousine. That's the official name. It is set to debut on inauguration day.

I should point out though, we don't get a ton of details about the new caddy because of security concerns understandably. What we can tell you though, this one that you're looking at is not the only presidential limo. There could be as many as two dozen produced.

The windows we do know are a little bit larger than those on the 2006 model currently used by President Bush. Also in the past, GM has said these vehicles do have a 10 disk CD player. Campbell, perhaps updating for '09, they'll add an MP3 docking station. Although apparently not an iPOD, because as we know, the president-elect not much of an iPod guy. He goes for the more standard.

BROWN: But he's very green. I'm wondering if that comes in a hybrid.

HILL: An excellent question. I'll call GM. I'll let you know.

BROWN: Not thinking it gets very good mileage.

HILL: Probably not.

BROWN: No, no, no.

OK. Erica Hill for us tonight. Erica, good to see you. Thanks.

Still to come tonight, we are going to have the very latest on the situation in Gaza where humanitarian supplies and information both having a hard time getting through. We're going to talk to Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour for the very latest.


BROWN: Tonight, there is breaking news on both the military and diplomatic front as the fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza enters its 12th day now. Just hours ago, Israel confirmed to CNN that it is planning to set up a humanitarian corridor to get relief supplies to Gaza's residents.

In the deadliest single incident so far, at least 40 civilians were killed today. This is when an Israeli artillery hit a U.N. school that was being used as a shelter.

The United Nations Security Council discussing the crisis right now. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are there. Special envoy Tony Blair now in the Middle East itself.

Also today, a new message from al-Qaeda's number two man blaming the Gaza crisis on among other things President-elect Barack Obama. So let's set the stage before we go to our correspondents now.

As we have mentioned to you before, Gaza, sandwiched between Israel and the Mediterranean Sea, is about twice the size of Washington, D.C. Israeli ground forces moved in over the weekend effectively cutting the country or cutting Gaza in two.

Tonight, Anderson Cooper near the Israeli-Gaza border. Chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour is in Jerusalem for us.

And, Christiane, after 11 days, growing concerns about shortages of food, water, medicine in Gaza. Couple of hours ago, Israel announced they're going to open this humanitarian corridor for supplies. Tell us about that.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, after days of saying that there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the Israelis have now said that they will open a corridor. Now this came at about midnight here local time and it was posted on the Web site of the Israeli prime minister. And afterwards, his spokespeople gave a few more details.

They said that there would be no pause in the military campaign, but that there would be certain areas carved out for humanitarian distribution. We'll wait to see exactly how that does take place. But clearly, all the humanitarian workers, the U.N. and others inside Gaza have been sending out the SOS over the last several days because a desperate lack of electricity, water and medical supplies getting to those who need it. Also, a lack of food being distributed because of the military campaign, the air strikes, the artillery that is going on at the moment, Campbell.

BROWN: And, Christiane, I know earlier you spoke with Mideast envoy Tony Blair about what would have to happen for Israel to agree to a cease-fire. And what did he say?

AMANPOUR: Well, look, right now and for the last couple of days, at least there has been huge effort -- diplomatic effort to come up with a cease-fire. But not just a cease-fire, one that will also have strict monitoring of the border between Egypt and Gaza so that weapons and cash does not flow to Hamas.

I asked Tony Blair about how this was coming. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: A great call now for a cease-fire, is that likely to happen anytime soon? Are we at the end of this or the beginning?

TONY BLAIR, QUARTET MIDEAST ENVOY: I think there are two alternatives, one of which, and I hope this happens, is that we get an immediate cease-fire. And I think that will really revolve around whether there can be clear and definitive action on the smuggling issue, that is the weapons and money coming through the tunnels from Egypt into Gaza.


AMANPOUR: So what Tony Blair says is that Egypt, rather Israel, needs to show something tangible for this military campaign. Therefore, it can't just stop. It needs to stop with an actual result. And that result should be the closing down of that smuggling route from Egypt to Gaza.

Now, also, the ball is right now going to be in the Egyptian court because you just heard from President Hosni Mubarak and they will be -- they will be sending out an invitation to the Israelis, to the Palestinian Authority to come and hammer out a cease-fire -- Campbell.

BROWN: Let me turn to Anderson Cooper now. And, Anderson, as we try to get some sense of what conditions are like inside Gaza, explain to people how hard it is to accurately report this story given that no foreign press are being allowed in.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's difficult to say the least. Frustrating indeed.

I mean over my shoulder a couple miles away is where the fighting is taking place in Gaza. We can see rockets being fired from Hamas into Israel occasionally. We can see artillery shells going, explosions over there. But, we don't get a sense of what the ground combat is like on an hour-by-hour or day-by-day basis.

This is the fourth night now of ground operations. We are told that the fighting continues to be intense, street by street. In some cases, close quarters fire between Hamas militants and other groups inside Gaza and Israeli forces.

Israel says they have killed at least 130 Hamas militants since the ground operation began, Campbell, on Saturday evening. They said they captured more than 70. At this point, we cannot independently verify how the battle has been waged, how the action is actually taking place on the ground.

BROWN: All right. Anderson Cooper for us tonight along with Christiane Amanpour. Many thanks to both our correspondents. And you'll see a lot more on this evening on a special edition of "AC 360." That's at 10:00 Eastern time. Coming up, tonight a claim of excessive police force in Oakland, California getting national attention. Stay with us. See what happened.

A transit police officer shoots an unarmed man in the back killing him. We'll tell you more about this story when we come back.


BROWN: Lots of news happening tonight. Other news elsewhere out there. And Gary Tuchman is joining us now to tell us about it with "The Briefing" -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Campbell. 2009 is already bringing bad news for workers at Alcoa. The aluminum giant will cut more than 13,000 jobs this year, 13 percent of its work force. Alcoa and its competitors have been hurt by falling demand because of the bad economy.

The 8-year-old Arizona boy charged with killing his father will not have his statements used against him in court unless he testifies about it. Defense attorneys say the child had not been read his rights before talking to police and child welfare workers. Police say the boy admitted shooting his father and a roommate to death in November.

And Grateful Dead fans are very grateful tonight. Surviving band members will reunite for their first road tour in five years starting in April in North Carolina. Just like last time, they will simply be known as "The Dead" in tribute to their late lead guitarist, Jerry Garcia.

And, Campbell, Jerry Garcia died in 1995, but the Deadheads they'll live forever.

BROWN: I wonder if you're one of them secretly. Gary Tuchman tonight for us. Appreciate it.

Still ahead, is it un-American? We'll explain more about a strange case of a $54 million lawsuit over a pair of pants. A weird case you may remember when we come back.


BROWN: Our "Bull's-Eye" tonight is all about a pants suit, and I don't mean a woman's outfit. I'm talking about a story you may remember. The $54 million lawsuit filed by a man who said a dry cleaner had lost a pair of his trousers.

Remember this -- he lost the case. Then he lost an appeal. Well now, Roy Pearson, the former judge who brought the suit in the first place, is asking that his case be heard again by all nine appeals court judges in Washington.

Last month, a three-judge panel ruled that Pearson's argument against the dry cleaner defied logic. Not surprising, really. I mean, what could possibly be logical about a $54 million pair of pants?

Coming up at the top of the hour, "LARRY KING LIVE" as always. And he's following two big showbiz news stories tonight. Larry, tell us what you're working on.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Campbell, I've got some pants that I'm attached too.

BROWN: A few dollars attached, too?

KING: I would miss them. There is no telling.

Team Oprah will join us tonight, Campbell. Her personal trainer, her spiritual adviser, medical expert, all here to tell us how she's getting back on the weight loss wagon after a very public fall.

And of course the latest on the Travolta tragedy, all coming up next on "LARRY KING LIVE" -- Campbell.

BROWN: All right. Larry, we'll see you in a few. We'll be watching, of course.

Also, up next, hear dramatic video tonight. A life or death decision one police officer made on a busy train line. Did he shoot a suspect on purpose or by mistake? "NO BIAS, NO BULL" returns in a moment.


BROWN: Tonight, serious questions are being raised in Oakland, California, where a BART transit system police officer shot and killed a man just after New Year's eve. It was caught on cell phone video as riders watched just a few feet away. And people want to know why did the officer shoot.

Randi Kaye has been tracking the story for us. She's joining me now. And this is a story that's getting a lot of attention, right?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly in the Bay Area which is where this happened, Campbell, a lot of attention there and it's easy to see why. Police killed an unarmed man in front of hundreds of train passengers. I should warn you the video is very graphic.

But let's get right to it so our viewers can see just what happened there. This is from the wee hours of New Year's Day. BART police have received word of a fight onboard one of the trains. So they pulled these three guys and put them alongside that wall on the platform there.

That is 22-year-old Oscar Grant. If you could see him there, he is in the middle. He's the victim in this case. And you can see at one point he has his hands in the air. He's even inching away from the officer.

He does not appear in this video to be acting aggressively. Now the family's lawyer told me today, according to witnesses, Grant had his hands in the air and was saying to police, "Please don't taser me. Please don't taser me. I have a 4-year-old child."

While this was all happening, some train passengers were recording it with their cell phones including 19-year-old Kareena Vargas.


KAREENA VARGAS, WITNESS: He's not squirming. He's not fidgeting. He's being cooperative and they start -- you hear the gunshot. Turn back. Look at his face. He's in pain.


KAYE: Now here's how it all went down. And a warning again, this is graphic video.

For some reason, the officers forced Grant on to his stomach. About 15 second later, one officer puts a knee on Grant's head. The other can be seen patting him down. And then four seconds later out of nowhere, one of the officers pulls his gun. Stands up and shoots Grant in the lower back. Listen to the commotion.




KAYE: Now you don't see it on that video right there, but on other cell phone video that we've watched, there's plenty of different angles from all the cell phones that were recording this. The officer who fired the fatal shot actually looked surprised after he did so. And the other officer sort of jumped back. Meanwhile, Grant struggled on the platform and later died, Campbell, at the hospital.

BROWN: So, I mean, speculation? Or any information at all as to why the officer fired his gun?

KAYE: It may have been a terrible mistake. That's one thing that is under consideration. There's been some media reports that a former BART officer and weapons expert is suggesting maybe the officer reached for his taser gun instead of his real gun since those officers do carry tasers. But officials at BART have not said whether or not the officer even had a taser with him that day.

They have not released the name of the officer, but we do know he's 27 years old. He's been on the force for two years. He's now on administrative leave.

The transit agency is promising a thorough investigation working with the district attorney's office to try to figure out what happened here.

BROWN: Any word from the family or their attorney about the theory that oh my God, it could have just been this horrible mistake. The guy reached for his taser gun. KAYE: Yes, they don't really buy it, of course, as we might expect. The lawyer, John Burris, for the family told me it would still be though a criminal act even if the officer thought he was going for his taser and instead went for the gun. It's still criminal conduct. That's involuntary manslaughter, he says.

Now the family's attorney also told me today he filed a $25 million claim against BART, that's the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. That's the transit agency. And they have 45 days to respond before the official lawsuit is filed. The family will be suing for wrongful death.

BROWN: All right. Randi Kaye for us tonight. Randi, thanks very much.

And we do want to get a little bit deeper into some of the legal issues here. And we got Attorney Lisa Bloom, who is the host of "Lisa Bloom: Open Court" on truTV's "In Session."

And, Lisa, let's take another look at this video just for a second here. And you can see right there that there are three officers surrounding these young men. They seem to have them pretty well controlled. So, at this point, is it lawful for an officer to draw a weapon to use any sort of potentially deadly force.

LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Well, a jury is going to look at all of the relevant circumstances including the audio which we don't have here on the tape. But we don't know what words were spoken, what threats may have been uttered.

But what we do know is that there are three officers who are armed. And finally, Grant is down on his stomach and there are three officers on top of him. One pulls the gun and shoots him in the back. Those are very bad facts for the police.

And I agree with the attorney for the family. Involuntary manslaughter is probably the minimum charge. Top charge would be murder, possibly manslaughter.

BROWN: But what about just to play devil's advocate here? You know, people who say hey, this was New Year's eve.


BROWN: People are out there. They're rowdy. It's the job of the police to try to keep these situations under control. Does the officer have any defense here given --

BLOOM: Justifiable homicide would be the defense if indeed there was a threat if it appeared that this young man was reaching for a gun. That may be what the officers say. We don't see that on the videotape.

Doesn't matter that it's New Year's eve. It doesn't matter a lot of people around. These are trained officers. This should not have happened at least based on what we see on the videotape. BROWN: All right. Lisa Bloom for us tonight. Lisa, thanks to you. Appreciate it.

When we come back, to spend or not to spend during hard times. It's a question we're all asking ourselves these days.

Ali Velshi has got the answer and why it matters to the next president in his economic team. We'll explain that when we come back.


BROWN: In this economy, it looks like you are damned if you do, damned if you don't. What have the experts been telling us for years? Save more, spend less.

Well, we're finally doing that. Take a look.

Consumer spending dropped off a cliff in the third quarter of 2008. We Americans actually are starting to save more than we spend. That's so not like us. Sounds good though, right?

So why would those very same experts say that all that saving could be terrible for the economy? And what could it mean for the Obama economic stimulus plan?

Ali Velshi here to explain. He's actually written a new book, called "Gimme My Money Back: Your Guide to Beating the Financial Crisis," which lays this all out and much, much more in great detail.

And, Ali, the Obama proposal to get the economy back on track includes $500 in tax cuts for each individual, $1,000 for a family but that only works to stimulate the economy if people spend money. And you don't necessarily think they should do that.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. First of all, the $500 for an individual or $1,000 for a family up to a limit that we don't know about yet...

BROWN: Right. We're still waiting.

VELSHI: Let's just breakdown what you might do with this money. There's your $500. If you are losing your home or losing your job, the $500 is not going to do anything for you and that's part of the problem. It doesn't help to even this out amongst everybody.

We had a stimulus check almost a year ago. It didn't work. If it worked we wouldn't be in a recession. So here are your options for that $500.

You can pay down your debt which is generally a good thing to do because if you got debt that you're paying 10 percent or more on, well that's more money than you're likely to make on average in the market and there's no risk to paying off your debt. The only danger to this one, Campbell, is that banks and credit card companies are lowering the credit limit on many people's credit. So paying off that debt you may not get access to that credit later on. You can try and save some money for a rainy day. That's a tough thing for a lot of people to do, but the reality is we've had more than two million people lose their jobs in 2008. We're going to see more job losses on Friday. The December number comes out. So you do want to keep some savings around. Maybe six months or more worth of saving.

The other thing is if you got your credit and your savings, your emergency fund under control, you may want to start investing it. This is a good time to start investing. You can -- you can, you know, contribute to your 401(k). Many companies continue to match your contributions. The bottom line is any of these decisions make sense.

Spending the money doesn't make a lot of sense. That's not good for you. It may be good for the economy.

BROWN: Right.

VELSHI: The idea is if you give people money and they spend it, that will generate jobs. But that's not the right thing for Americans who are broke right now to do and that's the conundrum. I don't think that's going to help the economy too much.

BROWN: So your book, I should say also makes the point that one way or another, pretty much every American has lost money in this financial crisis.

VELSHI: Right.

BROWN: The title is "Gimme Me My Money Back." How do we get our money back?

VELSHI: You have to have a plan. We can't run away from the markets. When the markets are troublesome and people are fearful, that's the best time to go back in. But you don't have to buy a single stock.

The book describes ways that you can invest. You can almost put it on auto pilot. Check it four times a year. And that's it. You know, you just have --

BROWN: That takes a strong stomach right now, though?

VELSHI: But you can adjust your risk level. It's easy to do that. You can be a risky investor or a very conservative investor. The book tells you how to do that. tells you how to do that.

We can get you there. It's not a good time to run in the other direction.

BROWN: Ali Velshi for us. And once again, tell me the title of the book, "Gimme My Money Back."

VELSHI: "Gimme My Money Back."

BROWN: "Your Guide to Beating the Financial Crisis" VELSHI: That's what people have been saying.

BROWN: All right. Good luck with the book tour which I'm sure you're about to launch.

VELSHI: Thank you.

BROWN: Ali Velshi for us tonight.

That does it for us.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.