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President Obama Undercut on Health Care Reform; California's Budget Woes

Aired July 16, 2009 - 18:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Two piercing blows to the heart of President Obama's goal of health care reform. The head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office declaring that Democrats' proposals would increase health care costs, not reduce them, leaving America even deeper in debt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUGLAS ELMENDORF, CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE: In the legislation that has been reported, we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount. And, on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That certainly undercuts the president's message that reform is urgently needed to reduce medical costs during these desperate economic times. And it only got worse for Mr. Obama on Capitol Hill today when a Democratic senator sent up a desperate SOS.

Our White House correspondent Dan Lothian is standing by.

But let's go to our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. She has got more with what is going on right now -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it is really hard to overstate the importance here on the Hill of what the Congressional Budget Office says about health care reform, the plans, and their costs and their benefits.

That is why what the CBO director said, and we just heard it, was so -- such a big problem, but not just for the policy of what the Democrats are trying to do, and that is to have health care reform, but also to reduce the cost, but look, for the process. And Max Baucus, he is a senator, the lead Democrat trying to get a health care plan through, he was stunningly candid about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D), MONTANA: Basically, the president is not helping us. He does not want the exclusion. That is making it difficult. The tax exclusion off the table, it is still difficult to come up with revenue measures and other savings measures.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, Max Baucus has been working round the clock with a group of bipartisan senators. In fact, they're meeting as we speak, Wolf. And they're trying to come up with that health care plan, that magic plan will actually pass the Senate.

But, as you just heard, they are having a very hard time figuring out how to pay for it without taxing benefits. So, that is another problem here on Capitol Hill. Publicly, Democratic leaders, they look at what the CBO director said, they look at what Max Baucus said today, and they are saying, it's no big deal. They're trying to shrug it off.

Privately, very different. Let me read to you very quickly a quote from a senior Democratic leadership aide. He said: "This is a potentially devastating one-two punch. It couldn't come at a worse time. A difficult time just got more difficult" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, let's go.

Stand by for a moment, Dana. I want to go to the White House.

Dan Lothian, our correspondent there, is getting reaction.

What are they saying over there? This is a pretty significant development?

BLITZER: It really is.

But what the White House is saying, that they don't see the train here being derailed. Clearly, they would much rather be hearing different language from their fellow Democrats. But they point out that they always said that this process would not be easy, that there would be bumps in the road.

But what you are hearing over the last few days is probably indicative of what the White House is feeling. The president's rhetoric has gotten a lot stronger. And today, out in New Jersey, at a rally for Governor Corzine, he sounded very much like he was on the campaign trail.

BLITZER: It looks like we are getting some technical problems over there, Dan.

The president obviously sees this as a critical moment right now. And he has got a lot of work to do between now and when Congress goes into recess in August.

LOTHIAN: He really does.

And, again, as I was pointing out, the president really using stronger language. And what the White House is saying, despite what you might see, the public might be thinking or criticism coming from Capitol Hill, that they believe a lot of progress is being made. And they point out how the president has even been meeting with Republicans over the last two days, five senators, Republican senators here at the White House, the president trying to listen to their concerns and their ideas and also trying to lobby them as well. So, it is a tough fight for the president, because he is dealing not only with opposition from Republicans, but those in his own party -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Dan Lothian is working the story at the White House.

Thanks very much, Dan.

Let's get back to the other major story unfolding here in Washington today also on Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor ending every days of grueling confirmation testimony. Republicans got in some final digs as well.

Let's go back to Dana Bash. She watched all of it unfold.

Four days of testimony, opening statements, three days of questioning, finally over for Sonia Sotomayor.

BASH: Over for Sonia Sotomayor. As you can probably see behind me, the hearing is still going on with outside witnesses. But, big picture, Republicans know very well that Sonia Sotomayor is headed for almost certain confirmation. So, their strategy today was already look ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): With Sonia Sotomayor's path to confirmation clear, Republicans leaping against her focused on areas where they see her as out of the mainstream and on political issues for the next election.

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: My constituents in Oklahoma understand, as do most Americans, that the right to own guns hangs in the balance.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I can assure your constituents that I have a completely open mind on this question.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You have said some things that just bug the hell out of me.

BASH: Lindsey Graham was of course talking about her wise Latina comment. He asked her to explain it again.

SOTOMAYOR: I regret that I have offended some people. I believe that my life demonstrates that that was not my intent, to leave the impression that some have taken from my words.

GRAHAM: You know what, Judge? I agree with you. Good luck.

BASH: Appearing to hint as how he will vote, the Republican said he does not think she is an activist judge. GRAHAM: You're able, after all these years of being a judge, to embrace a right that you may not want for yourself, to allow others to do things that are not comfortable to you but for the group.

BASH: Other Republicans remained openly frustrated.

SEN. JON KYL (R-AZ), MINORITY WHIP: I know, as good judge, if I were arguing a case before you, you would say that's all fine and dandy, counsel, but answer my question.

BASH: Jon Kyl was trying to ask about a race discrimination case conservatives have seized on, criticizing Sotomayor for ruling against white Connecticut firefighters without a full explanation. After Sotomayor was dismissed, Frank Ricci, the lead plaintiff in the case, testified.

FRANK RICCI, NEW HAVEN FIREFIGHTER: Despite the important civil rights and constitutional claims we raised, the Court of Appeals panel disposed of our case in an unsigned, unpublished summary order.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: But, after four days of testimony without any major mess- ups, Sotomayor seems like such a shoo-in, one Republican senator accidentally called her justice, as if she already has the job, Wolf.

And even the lead Republican on this Judiciary Committee said he looks forward to her confirmation vote, likely to happen before -- actually, he said almost certainly to happen before Congress leaves for August recess.

BLITZER: Dana is watching this story for us.

All right, thank you, Dana.

Sonia Sotomayor told senator today she has lived on a judge's salary for 17 years, and that, if she's confirmed to the Supreme Court, she says, she can -- and I'm quoting now -- "suffer through more of it."

Right now, associate justices earn $208,100 a year. That's slightly less than the chief justice, who makes more than $217,000 a year. Sotomayor currently earns more than $179,000 a year as an appeals court judge. Senator Jeff Sessions put the pay issue into perspective.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: I think that it is about four times the average family income in America. I hope that you can live on it. If not, you probably shouldn't take the job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Federal judges haven't received a substantial pay hike since 1991. And they can earn certainly considerably more if they practice in the private sector. Sonia Sotomayor took a huge pay cut when she left private practice to go and become a federal court judge 17 years ago.

Talk about pay. You might say one person getting paid in the confirmation coverage is Senator Al Franken. His jokes are paying off, even as he asked some very serious questions at the same time.

Let's bring in our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin.

Her responsibility, the past few days, take a closer look at the newest senator.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The newest senator is getting a lot of attention these days, Wolf, and he seems to be relishing it. It is the role of a lifetime for comedian turned inquisitor Al Franken.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN (voice-over): The Senate's newest star seems comfortable in front of the cameras, but less at ease with congressional procedure. Here, Senator Al Franken looks to his committee chairman to approve a request.

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: I would ask that it be entered into the record. So, can I enter it into the record? OK. Thank you.

YELLIN: Franken's national debut seems to be amusing his old peers on the comedy circuit...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": I just kept expecting him to go, "Live from New York."

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: You know what I mean?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: ... and his new peers in the Senate, here earning chuckles after switching seats with Committee Chairman Leahy. Franken also hit some serious notes, reading from a pocket Constitution.

FRANKEN: Section one, the right of citizens of the United States to vote.

YELLIN: Asking Judge Sotomayor about the Voting Rights Act, whether Internet access should be protected, and for the definition of an activist judge. He even went where the administration did not want Democrats to go, pressing the judge on abortion rights.

He argued that abortion rights don't have to be written into the Constitution to be protected. FRANKEN: Are the words birth control in the constitution?

JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: No, sir.

FRANKEN: Are the words privacy in the Constitution -- or the word?

SOTOMAYOR: The word privacy is not.

YELLIN: But the watercooler moment of the hearing came when Senator Franken asked the judge, who had revealed that she's a lifelong fan of the TV show "Perry Mason," to name one case Perry Mason lost. She couldn't.

FRANKEN: And -- and you don't remember that case?

SOTOMAYOR: I know that I should remember the name of it, but I haven't looked at the episodes. I...

(CROSSTALK)

FRANKEN: Didn't the White House prepare you for...

(LAUGHTER)

FRANKEN: ... for that?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN: All right, Franken says that he was pleased with Sotomayor's answers and he plans to vote to confirm her.

And we did our homework. We looked this up in "The Perry Mason TV Show Book," which, Wolf, appears to be quite authoritative. And there are in fact three cases in all that Perry Mason lost. They are called "The Witless Witness," "The Terrified Typist."

Might you know the third?

BLITZER: I know it is the case of something.

YELLIN: Yes. You get the answer.

BLITZER: "The Case of the Deadly Verdict."

YELLIN: You got it.

BLITZER: I watched all of those episodes...

(LAUGHTER)

YELLIN: I'm sure you did.

BLITZER: ... on a black and white TV, little boy growing up, just like Sonia Sotomayor and Al Franken.

Thanks very much for that.

There is no doubt that there is a lot of news happening today. One Web site is saying, and I'm quoting now, Michael Jackson's unreleased song, you are going to hear that song, apparently not publicly heard before, and purportedly from Michael Jackson. We are going to play it for you.

Also, addicts looking for prescription drugs like Vicodin aren't just turning to drug dealers. Some dentists are also prescription drug pushers. You will hear some shocking details about addicts and what they are doing. Some are saying, it is called dentist shopping.

And some people think California is in such an economic mess that it is time for drastic action.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're digging deeper into a problem getting new attention after Michael Jackson's death. According to the DEA, more Americans abuse prescription drugs than any other elicit drug. And they are not always going to back alleys to get it.

CNN's Thelma Gutierrez explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KENNY MORRISON, RECOVERING ADDICT: I need the hot water. Start cleaning all this up. The pasta should be done. We're good to go.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kenny more son used to be a sous-chef at a top Los Angeles restaurant.

MORRISON: I was married, house on the beach, very corporate job.

GUTIERREZ: Within a couple of years, he lost it all because of a habit.

(on camera): You started with codeine.

MORRISON: Started with codeine.

GUTIERREZ: Graduated to Vicodin.

MORRISON: Vicodin.

GUTIERREZ: How many pills were you taking at the height?

MORRISON: At the height, I was taking probably 20, 25 a day.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Kenny didn't buy his drugs on a street corner or get them from a dope dealer. He got them from a dentist, a medical professional he had never even met before.

According to the DEA, seven million Americans are abusing prescription drugs. That's more than the number abusing cocaine, heroin, and inhalants combined. JAMES STILLWELL, IMPACT DRUG AND ALCOHOL TREATMENT CENTER: If you have a medication that you are taking that was prescribed by a legitimate doctor...

GUTIERREZ (on camera): Or a dentist.

STILLWELL: ... or a dentist, how can you be a drug addict? It helps you to legitimize it.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Kenny says, among addicts, dentist shopping is an open secret.

(on camera): You call them, you tell them that you have pain in your mouth.

MORRISON: I have pain in my mouth.

GUTIERREZ: They can't see you that day.

MORRISON: Right.

GUTIERREZ: And what do they do?

MORRISON: They will prescribe you -- they will call in a prescription for you.

GUTIERREZ: One dentist didn't give you the prescription. What would you do then?

MORRISON: I was going in the phone book and just going right down the list, boom, boom, boom, one after another.

DR. JAY GROSSMAN, DENTIST: I get calls on a fairly regular basis.

Try to relax your tongue, if you can.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Dr. Jay Grossman, who sits on the disciplinary committee for the California Dental Association, says he routinely turns them away, but acknowledges some dentists don't.

GROSSMAN: The moment somebody hangs up the phone on me, I know that they are literally going down the book. They're calling the next one in the yellow pages, hoping that someone will write them a prescription.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): What reason would you have to do that?

GROSSMAN: The only reason is that they don't want to come in on an emergency basis that night to take care of the patient, and they hope that that patient will become a patient of record in the very near future.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Kenny has been clean for more than a year now. He was hired as the head chef at the rehab center that he says saved his life. Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Pasadena, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And staying in California, some say it is a huge, huge economic and political crisis unfolding right now. And they insist it will take potentially a new constitution to get California out of its current mess.

Let's go to CNN's Dan Simon. He is working this story for us.

Dan, what's going on?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, anybody who has been following this budget story in California knows that it has been a huge mess. And it is a process that some say could have been avoided altogether if you had a new constitution. And that's now what some are calling for. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON (voice-over): This is the man leading the effort for a new California constitution.

JIM WUNDERMAN, BAY AREA COUNCIL: You call a constitutional convention when the government is not performing its basic functions, failing the people. And that's what is happening in California now.

SIMON: Jim Wunderman heads the Bay Area Council, a group of nearly 300 of some of the best known companies here and in the U.S., including Google, Yahoo!, Chevron, The Gap, AT&T.

WUNDERMAN: We want to to be a competitive region and a competitive state. And we won't be if our government basically is in a complete state of dysfunction.

SIMON: The dysfunction has been most evident with Sacramento's difficulties closing a $26 billion deficit, in part because the constitution requires that two-thirds of lawmakers agree. A new constitution would make passage easier, with a proposed 55 percent majority.

The call for drastic changes in state government has reached a fever pitch in recent days. Protests seem to pop up almost daily, this one in San Francisco made up of teachers, health care workers, and the disabled, who say Governor Schwarzenegger proposed cuts would hurt their lives.

(on camera): What would you say to the governor and to lawmakers who are considering making these cuts?

BRENDA JACKSON, CARE PROVIDER: would tell them that they are making these cuts on our backs, the backs of the consumer and the backs of the in-home care providers. We need this.

SIMON: Brenda Jackson is a state in-home care provider to the elderly and disabled. She worries that her wages, already low at $11 an hour, could be cut.

JACKSON: I won't be able to pay my rent. I can't -- I pay rent, water, utilities, food. I mean, all the necessities of life, I will need -- I will lose.

SIMON: For his part, Schwarzenegger has been holding steady, unleashing a 60-second ad saying the cuts, while painful, are necessary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I'm standing firm for a balanced budget that does not raise your taxes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON: As for where things stand with bridging this $26 billion deficit, we were told that the governor and lawmakers were close to reaching a deal. But now things seemed to have stalled.

Bottom line, Wolf, when they do reach a deal, you are going to have billions of dollars in cuts in both education and in social services. Going to hurt a lot of people.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Dan Simon out in San Francisco, thank you.

It happened 40 years ago today, a liftoff that opened a whole new world of space exploration -- just ahead, a whole new way to look at that very first successful mission to the moon.

Plus, a potential problem for the space mission under way right now. Has the shuttle Endeavour actually been damaged?

And we will tell you why President Obama was surrounded by women aboard Marine One today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

BLITZER: There may have been a glitch during the shuttle Endeavour's long-awaited launch. You saw it 24 hours ago live here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We are going to tell you what crew members are looking for right now and why, potentially, we hope not, but why potentially it could be a problem.

And on this day 40 years ago, the moon was finally in our reach. Stand by to relive the Apollo 11 launch that made history. And remember those old grainy images of that one small step for man? Guess what? They are in high-definition right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: checking for damage on the space shuttle. Astronauts and mission control are looking into the effect of debris, of the debris impact during yesterday's launch. You saw it live here in THE SITUATION ROOM almost exactly 24 hours ago. We're going to tell you what happened and explain what is going on right now.

Also, NASA released newly restored and enhanced images from the Apollo moon landing. But space agency officials say there are other higher-quality images from that mission that would take our breath away. We are going to show you the video on this, the 40th anniversary of the launch.

And President Obama about to deliver a major message to African- Americans. He's expected to show some tough love when he speaks before the NAACP -- all of this coming up, plus the best political team on television.

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

Yesterday, the dramatic liftoff of the shuttle Endeavour. Today, some concern about foam insulation from the external fuel tank hitting the shuttle.

Let's bring in our severe weather analyst, Chad Myers. He's over at the CNN Center.

Chad, what are they saying about potential damage? We saw it take off yesterday. We saw some debris.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We saw an awful lot of debris, Wolf. And here are one of the pictures here.

This is the picture that I really want to get to, because it's been going around the blogs. Look at all of the debris pieces here coming off of the external tank. But this happened six minutes into the flight. Why does that matter?

Because six minutes into the flight, Wolf, there is very little atmosphere up there and there's very little drag on those pieces, so they are not going very fast. The exact opposite happens down at the surface.

When you lose some pieces or ice comes off the external tank down here, this thing is only going 20 miles per hour. It doesn't matter if it hits. It is in between. It's this time right here that matters the most, when it is going and accelerating through the atmosphere.

At some point, right through here, you are going to see what is called a pileus cap right there going through the top of what would be the top of a thunderstorm, if there were as a thunderstorm there. There was not, thank goodness. But this is the area of maximum drag. That drag will pick these pieces up and throw those pieces into the side of the orbiter, or , worse, into the wing of the orbiter. That happened a couple of times. But they have had the arm out all day long. This arm comes out of the orbiter. It looks at what's going on here. And they have been able to determine that, so far, none of these scuffs or gouges are significant enough to, one, abort the mission and bring up another shuttle, or, even, for that matter, worry about it at this point.

They are going to flip the shuttle over as it approaches the space station, take 300 pictures of the bottom of the shuttle to see if it really is OK -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope it certainly is.

All right, Chad. Excellent explanation.

Thank you very much.

Spectacular images of man's first landing on the moon are missing. NASA can't find them. And we asked CNN's Tom Foreman to come into THE SITUATION ROOM and tell us what's going on. We're getting ready on Monday, the 40th anniversary of man landing on the moon.

There are some great pictures that are, what, gone?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, missing. Yes, mislaid. Let's say they're not gone entirely. But 40 years ago today, they blasted off.

Do you remember that extraordinary moment?

What a thrill that was. And these really are -- these are the images that I think, if you study history, long after all of us are gone, hundreds of years from now, when the president's names are just dusty names in books, these will be the moments that will be remembered.

And there's a very important missing link in these pictures right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: (voice-over): It's the iconic image of our efforts to explore space. And now, as we approach the 40th anniversary of man's first visit to the moon, NASA has restored and enhanced the original grainy black and white images, including that one that riveted the planet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, that looks beautiful (INAUDIBLE). FOREMAN: Astronaut Neal Armstrong setting foot on the lunar surface on July 20th, 1969. The new high definition video is an improvement over the original. But NASA officials believe that somewhere out there is video that could take our breath away -- images like this, but sharper and clearer than anything seen before.

The problem is, no one knows where it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And liftoff of Endeavour.

FOREMAN: Regular shuttle missions and the crisp color images they transmit have space fans a little spoiled. We forget just how complicated it was to transmit pictures from space to Earth in 1969.

Here's how it worked. A small camera built into Apollo 11 scanned the lunar landing in a unique format unsuitable for regular TV. Those images were transmitted to tracking stations in Southeast Australia and California's Mohave Desert, where they were converted to a standard format and send on to Houston -- losing picture quality every step of the way.

But veterans of the Apollo mission recently reminded NASA that technicians at both ground stations recorded the transmissions onto special tapes which, if converted now with modern technology, would produce the highest quality images of man on the moon ever seen.

A search has been launched, but three years into it, after scouring multiple NASA facilities, there's no sign of those tapes. And now many fear the spectacular images on them -- images far superior to anything we've ever seen -- may be lost forever.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOREMAN: There is an investigation underway into these missing tapes. NASA says they're going to complete it fairly soon and they're going to let us know what the results are -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope they find those pictures. That would be pretty cool.

FOREMAN: That would be spectacular. And to think, the first time they went into space, one of the earliest shots, they didn't even think about taking a camera. It was only a last minute decision to say well maybe we should have some pictures.

BLITZER: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

FOREMAN: Astounding.

BLITZER: Thank you.

It's easy to remember this historic space mission, but we're also looking back at all of it, as it took place, to see how it unfolded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The target for the Apollo 11 astronauts -- the moon, at liftoff, will be at a distance of 218,096 miles away. We're just past the two minute mark on the countdown. Two minus one minute, 54 seconds and counting.

Our status board indicates that the oxidizer tanks on the second and third stages now have pressurized. We continue to build up pressure in all three stages here at the last minute, to prepare it for liftoff.

Two minus one minute, 35 seconds in the Apollo mission -- the flight to land the first men on the moon.

All indications coming in to the control center at this time indicate we are go. One minute twenty-five seconds and counting.

Our status board indicates the third stage completely pressurized.

The 80 second mark has now been passed. We'll go on full internal power at the 50 second mark in the countdown. The guidance system goes on internal at 17 seconds, leading up to the ignition sequence at 8.9 seconds.

We're approaching the 60 second mark on the Apollo 11 mission. T minus 60 seconds and counting. We're past T minus 60. Fifty-five seconds and counting.

Neal Armstrong just reported back. It's been a real smooth countdown. We've passed the 50 second mark.

Power transfer is complete. We're on internal power with the launch vehicle at this time.

Forty seconds away from the Apollo 11 liftoff. All the second stage tanks now pressurized. Thirty-five seconds and counting. We are still a go with Apollo 11.

Thirty seconds and counting. Astronauts report it feels good. T minus 25 seconds.

Twenty seconds and counting. T minus 15 seconds. Guidance is internal. 12, 11, 10, nine. Ignition sequence starts. Six, five, four, three, two, one, zero. All engines running. Liftoff. We have a liftoff. Thirty-two minutes past the hour, liftoff on Apollo 11.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tower clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neal Armstrong reported back when he received the good wishes: "Thank you very much. We know it will be a good flight. Good luck and God speed."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And a Web site from the JFK Presidential Library has been recreating every minute of the Apollo 11 mission online, launched earlier this morning, literally.

Let's bring in Abbi Tatton.

Tell us what's happening right now.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, It was 9:32 a.m., 40 years ago Eastern time, that this liftoff happened.

So let me show you what was happening at 9:32 a.m. this morning on this Web site.

This is the liftoff recreated digitally 40 years on at the Web site, WeChooseTheMoon.org. It's a collaboration with the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

And it's taking you minute by minute through the entire mission. It's going to be doing this for the next four days -- combining these amazing animations with archival footage, as well, showing you what other people were seeing, showing you behind the scenes, showing you -- if we can bring the steady camera over here -- the million people who were around the launch watching it. The launch control center you'll see there.

And if we move across the screen to the right here, you'll see some of the behind-the-scenes footage, as well -- the astronauts going about their chores. You'll see astronaut Michael Collins there having a shave.

If you watch this Web site, you'll see the key moments recreated in animation. A couple of hours ago, we were watching as the command service module broke away from the spacecraft, did a maneuver, rejoined the spacecraft. It's really amazing stuff. That was happening just as it did 40 years ago.

BLITZER: Tell us exactly the -- the moment when man touches down on the moon.

When is that going to be recreated?

TATTON: The money shot. That's 4:17 p.m., July 20th. That will be Monday afternoon. And I know that CNN has a lot planned here for that moment.

BLITZER: We have a whole hour that we're going to recreate for our viewers the excitement of that.

Abbi, thanks very much.

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Monday, as Abbi notes, will be the 40th anniversary of the landing of the first man on the moon. On that day, a very special hour right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Buzz Aldrin, who went to the moon with Neal Armstrong, he'll be among our special guests. We're going to look back at that historic day and talk to other experts about -- about how it changed the world.

All that, 4:00 p.m. Eastern on Monday, exactly, to the minute, 40 years after man landed on the moon.

An unreleased song believed to be recorded by Michael Jackson has been discovered and we have just received it. We're going to play it for you. That's coming up.

Also, confirmation hearings wrapping up for the Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor.

Did she change any minds?

What will happen to Republicans who vote to confirm her?

Plus, President Obama addressing the NAACP later tonight.

But are they on the same page when it comes to some critical issues?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A debt that we all owe to those who marched for us and fought for us.

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BLITZER: Four days of hearings wrapping up. Sonia Sotomayor slated to become the next justice of the United States Supreme Court.

How did she do?

What's going on?

Let's bring in our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley; and our good friend, Clarence Page, of the "Chicago Tribune."

It's -- all of us know it's a done deal. There was nothing there to undermine her. She's going to be one of those nine on the Supreme Court.

But it does set the stage for the next vacancy, if you will, because there are some lessons learned from this one. GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think, in talking to conservatives about how this went -- and I think what their -- their objective was -- and that they believe that they achieved it -- was to sort of set down some markers for President Obama, who's likely to have more than one more Supreme Court nominee. And by raising the issues of gun control, abortion rights, property rights, they -- affirmative action -- they say look, we've laid down these markers and so next time, you're not going to be able to nominate a liberal judge.

BLITZER: I think all 58 Democrats, both of the Independents who vote for the Democrats, I think they're all on board. The only suspense right now, Candy, is how many Republicans will vote to confirm.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I -- I think in the committee, you'll probably get two. That's my guess. I think you'll get more than a handful -- you know, bigger than a bread box. But I -- you're -- the majority of Republicans are going to vote no, is my guess. Those who believe that a president should get his way because he was elected -- and that's kind of the old school Republicans -- will go ahead and vote for her.

BLITZER: The two Republicans on the committee -- Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Orrin Hatch of Utah -- a lot of people think they, in the end, might vote to confirm. Maybe Chuck Grassley, also, of Iowa. We don't know.

But outside of the Judiciary Committee, there are a bunch of other Republicans who might go along.

CLARENCE PAGE, "CHICAGO TRIBUNE": Yes. But judging by the statements those gentlemen made in terms of the people, when they were, you know, expressing their concern about her statement about "wise Latina," her stand in regard to the "Ricci" case, etc. Nevertheless, they spoke highly about her competence and about her character, as far as they could tell.

So I think it's possible you might see some -- some wavering even from someone as conservative, say, as Lindsey Graham or Jeff Sessions. I think he's still out there -- out there, perhaps.

BLITZER: Yes. He said -- when I spoke with him earlier in the day, I said to him, have you made up your mind?

He said no, I haven't made up my mind.

PAGE: Yes.

BORGER: But, you know, they made a point of saying, if we were to use the standards set by President Obama, then Senator Obama, when he went on the floor to talk about Justice Alito, we would be voting against Judge Sotomayor, because he set an ideological standard.

But there are people of the old school, as Candy says, who believe that a president deserves his Supreme Court nominee. BLITZER: Yes.

BORGER: And that's what elections are about.

BLITZER: And Senator -- Senator Obama even voted to fill buster. He was among those who were ready to filibuster Samuel Alito.

CROWLEY: Yes. He did. But that -- you know, that was not going to happen. Even a filibuster is not likely to happen, because you have some Republicans and the main senators that you can pretty much figure were going to go ahead and break a filibuster, if they were needed.

I think going into this, we all knew how it was going to end up, even the Republicans. I think she could have lost some Republicans. I'm not overly sure she gained any. I think she could have said some things that would have torn away some of these people that will vote for her. But I think probably everybody is the same as they went in.

BLITZER: The president is getting ready to address the NAACP later tonight in New York City. It's the first time since he's become president addressing a major African-American group.

What does he need to say?

PAGE: He doesn't need to say anything, Wolf. I mean, you know...

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE: Well, he doesn't need to say anything. I mean the very fact that he's there...

BLITZER: But it's an opportunity for him.

PAGE: Well, it's an opportunity for him. But I think the question is what's the NAACP going to say to him?

You know, I mean, he needs to know that -- that they've got his back. And the fact is his administration has been hesitant, cautious about raising the profile of this event.

The NAACP wanted to have it over -- over at Yankee Stadium. It would have been the biggest celebration of Obama since the inauguration. The White House really wanted to lower the profile on this and I think for a number of reasons. They don't want to just be too closely identified with the NAACP per se.

But with the principles, definitely. He'll speak out. There's a certain format to speeches like this. You first must pay tribute to the martyrs in the past and all the NAACP has done and talk about the great road that we've got to -- we've still have to travel. He'll do that and get great applause.

CROWLEY: I think...

BLITZER: Well, I would...

CROWLEY: I was just going to say that the thing is, that's very much in keeping with the campaign, where he's not interested in becoming the president of black people, the black president. He -- he has a broader agenda than that.

BLITZER: We'll watch the speech closely. So he'll make the speech and we'll study it and we'll review it tomorrow.

Guys, thanks very much.

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

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Well, in fact, that speech to the NAACP that the president will be giving here in just about 45 minutes tonight, we'll have live coverage of it, on our broadcast, of that speech to the NAACP's centennial convention taking place in New York.

The president's speech likely to mark a change of policy, perhaps holding steady. We'll see.

We'll also have complete coverage of the final day of Judge Sotomayor's confirmation hearing. She appears certain to be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, just as she did when she began the confirmation process.

And rising opposition to the president's plans to raise taxes to pay for sweeping changes in the health care system. The highest tax rate could reach levels not seen since the 1970s if he has his way. We'll have a special report.

Join us for all of that, all the day's news and much more at the top of the hour -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: See you in a few moments, Lou.

Thank you.

It's a song not publicly heard before and it's believed to be recorded by Michael Jackson. We're going to tell you the story behind this song and let you hear it.

And you couldn't get away from the words "wise Latina" during Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings.

Jeanne Moos looks at why the phrase is trigging -- triggering such strong reactions.

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BLITZER: Jeanne Moos is here with some Moost Unusual reactions to Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): A word to the wise -- make that three words.

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STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST: Wise Latina woman.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A wise Latina woman.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A wise Latina woman.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Where does one go to find these wise Latina women?

MOOS: Try the Senate Judiciary Committee.

JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: It was a bad choice of words by me.

MOOS: After four days of hearings and hearing in particular those same words...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wise Latina.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wise Latina woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wise Latina comment that you made

MOOS: ...we started to feel as irritated as this baby sounded.

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MOOS: The words are now emblazoned on t-shirts meant to honor and on a magazine cover meant to mock and on a mug meant to be sold, depicting Supreme Court justices saying, "just what we need, a wise Latina woman."

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PAT BUCHANAN: A wise Latina lady.

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GLENN BECK: A wise Latina heading for the Supreme Court.

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MOOS (on camera): The whole wise Latina woman thing has inevitably led to wisecracks.

(voice-over): Take the fake news story headlined: "Wise Potato Chips Unveils New Mascot, The Wise Latina Woman."

Comedians ate it up.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can understand the appeal of nominating a hardworking New York Latina woman who has risen to the top of her profession against all the odds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So why don't we just nominate Jennifer Lopez?

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MOOS: A group of conservative provocateurs reversed the now famous quote to read: "A wise white male would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion than a Latina woman."

They took their sign to predominantly Hispanic Union City, New Jersey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think when you see that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's B.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So do you think that statement's racist?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think of that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Racist.

MOOS: This guy raced to a piano to put the phrase to music.

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MOOS: What I need is a break from this quote.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The last question on the wise Latina woman comment.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The wise...

MOOS: ...CNN...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Latina...

MOOS: New York.

SANCHEZ: Women, wise or otherwise.

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BLITZER: President Obama shows some tough love. He's set to hold African-Americans to a higher standard in remarks before the NAACP. That's coming up next hour. We'll have special coverage of that and carry the president's remarks live. Standby.

And first, though, that new recording believed to be by Michael Jackson -- we're going to play part of it for you right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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BLITZER: There is yet another layer to the Michael Jackson saga. Just days after his death, an unreleased song believed to be recorded by the singer has been discovered.

The song's title is "A Place With No Name".

Listen to this.

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BLITZER: If the song sounds familiar, that's because it's similar to the song, "A Horse With No Name," released by the group America back in 1971. There's been no confirmation from Sony that the recording is actually Michael Jackson. But we're told that several years ago America's manager gave the group's permission for Michael Jackson to record the song.

America's current manager was also Michael Jackson's manager in the late '80s and early '90s and says the band was honored that Jackson wanted to record their song. It certainly did sound like Michael Jackson.

I remember that song, as well.

Thanks very much for joining us.

A lot more coming up. Remember, Lou's going to have live coverage of President Obama's address before the NAACP. That's coming up in the next hour.

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

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