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THE SITUATION ROOM
Mitt Romney Launches Presidential Campaign; Tornadoes Hit Massachusetts
Aired June 2, 2011 - 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: Mitt Romney launching his 2012 bid in New Hampshire with some swipes at President Obama. But two rivals also show up there and take some swipes at Romney.
Rare monster storms turn Massachusetts into a tornado alley. You are going to see what happened when they hit and the shocking devastation they left behind, new video coming in.
And a high-level panel now declaring the global war on drugs unwinnable. Is the next step legalization?
Breaking news, political headlines and Jeanne Moos all straight ahead.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
For several days now, Congressman Anthony Weiner has been trying, sometimes clumsily, to end the drama over a lewd photo that briefly appeared on his Twitter account. It's still not clear if it was a picture of the congressman in his underwear or if he sent it to a young college student or if it was all the work of a hacker.
Today, Congressman Weiner gave it another shot. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: This a good spot?
OK. Good morning.
Yesterday, I think from 1:00 to almost 10:00, I sat down and did interviews with anyone that wanted, answered questions extensively, made it very clear I did not send the picture, that my Twitter account had been hacked.
And this prank apparently has been successful. But after hours of -- almost 11 hours of answering questions, any that anyone wanted to put, today, I am going to have to get back to work doing the job that I'm paid to do.
So, I appreciate your patience and understanding. And if I can do anything to make you more comfortable while you're sitting out here in the hallway, please let me know. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Fair enough from the congressman.
So, how's all this playing in his district, the New York Democrat's home district?
Let's go to New York.
CNN's Mary Snow has been taking a closer look.
How are the folks in his district reacting, Mary, to all of this?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, one word that we did hear was very odd, in terms of the reaction that they were giving us.
But to give you an idea of the kind of support the Democratic congressman has in his district, he won 61 percent of the vote in 2012 -- 2010. Now, he's gained reputation, as one woman described it, as a hothead, but someone who is outspoken and blunt.
And it's that reason, some say, that they are scratching their heads about what they have heard from Anthony Weiner the last few days.
SNOW (voice-over): In Forest Hills, Queens, you don't have go far to find supporters of Congressman Anthony Weiner's in this heavily Democrat district. But you also don't have to go far to find people voicing suspicions over the way he's been answering questions about the lewd picture sent to a student in Washington State.
Weiner blames the incident on a prank.
BLITZER: Is this you?
WEINER: I can tell you this. We have a firm that we've hired -- I have seen it, it's -- I have seen it -- a firm that we've hired to try to get to the bottom of it.
It certainly doesn't look familiar to me, but I don't want to say with certitude.
BLITZER: You didn't send that photo to that woman in Washington State?
WEINER: I did not send it to that woman in Washington State.
BLITZER: But you're not 100 percent sure whether the photo is actually you?
WEINER: What I am going to say is that we're doing everything we can to try to answer that question, but we're doing an investigation.
SNOW: Linda Spiegel (ph), a Democrat, says it is not the picture on Twitter that she cares about. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really don't.
SNOW (on camera): But do you care how he handles it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I care how he handles it.
SNOW: And how has he handled it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it is odd that he's -- he -- it is odd the way he's just not -- you know, he's changing tack. He's not giving the complete story.
SNOW (voice-over): But at least one constituent says Weiner needs to say no more about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just moved on. And that's one thing I like about him. He is a strong individual and he just decided just to move on.
SNOW: Weiner is seen here as more than just a congressman, rather, a potential mayor. He sought and lost the Democratic mayoral primary in 2005 and he has been rumored to want the job in 2013.
Republican Batia Banks (ph) says, while she didn't support him for Congress, she saw herself supporting him for mayor. But now she is not so sure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he is a smart guy. And I think that he really acted stupidly.
SNOW: And, Wolf, while some say if it turns out that the congressman isn't telling the truth, it would stain his reputation, but we didn't find anyone who said flat out they wouldn't support him any longer -- Wolf.
BLITZER: He's got a lot of support in that district in New York. All right, Mary, thank you.
Let's get some more now on the social media mess that Congressman Weiner finds himself in.
We will turn to our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.
It seems, every election cycle, there is a new social networking tool that these politicians love. It happens to be Twitter right now.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it is Twitter, and because it is a great promotional tool, if you are a politician. You are able to get your message across. You're able to brand yourself very clearly in 140 characters. You don't have us asking you pesky questions. So, if you take a look at somebody who has used it to her advantage, Sarah Palin is sort of at the top of the list. There she is in Alaska, on the speech circuit. She is able to inject herself into any policy discussion. Remember the impact she had on the health care debate.
And she was not even here in Washington. She can also target her audience, Wolf. She knows that her millions of Twitter followers are conservative. And if she runs for president, those are going to be people who are voting in the Republican primaries. So, she's used it quite well.
BLITZER: But 140 characters or less, we know that there can be a serious problem when a tweet goes bad.
BORGER: Yes. When a tweet goes bad, it is heard round the world, instantaneously.
Remember, way back in the olden days, say in 2006, we were all talking about YouTube. That was the big thing. Senator George Allen was running for reelection. He said something he shouldn't have. The video went viral.
But it still took a weekend, Wolf, for it to have an impact, and he had to apologize for it. A tweet is instantaneous. And the problem with a tweet is, then it gets spoken about in the Twittersphere, and there is an echo chamber there.
And one other thing, particularly if you are a politician. You cannot say that your tweet was taken out of context because there is no context. It is just your tweet. So it can be a real problem.
BLITZER: I'm tweeting all the time and I have got a lot of followers out there. And I write my own tweets. But a lot of these politicians, they pretend that they are writing their tweets.
BORGER: Right. Right.
BLITZER: They have a staff person writing their tweets.
BORGER: Yes, they do.
Look, in our politicians, we are all looking for some sense of authenticity. People complain, these people are phonies. We don't know who they really are.
Again, politicians can use this to say, here is who I truly am. Some of them tweet their own stuff. Some of them make mistakes when they do it, misspellings, et cetera. But lots of them have their staffs tweeting for them. And they say watch me tonight on SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER.
And what you establish sometimes is a false sense of intimacy, particularly if the politician himself engages with the person who is tweeting to them. And then people begin to think that they know you better than they know you. That may be what happened with Anthony Weiner.
So, politicians want to be break down a wall, but sometimes the voters are taken in, because they are not talking to the politician or they are being used by the politician, who, after all, just wants to promote himself.
BLITZER: Yes. And what I love about Twitter, and why I do it all the time, I have almost a half-a-million followers. so I send out a tweet.
BLITZER: It goes out to all of them. And many of them will then re-tweet it to their followers.
BLITZER: And with it -- you know, if I'm at a Washington Wizards basketball game, and I'm tweeting about the game, the NBA will re- tweet it. They have millions of followers.
So, within seconds, literally, I'm saying something about, you know, a player or whatever, and millions of people will be getting that instantaneously.
BORGER: Right. Well, imagine if you are running for office and you are running, say, for the presidency, and you want to have as big a platform as you possibly can have.
Twitter is so important to you. But you have to be very, very careful. And people who read the tweets people who run for the presidency or for political office also have to understand that, sometimes, you know, they are being taken in, yes.
BLITZER: Yes. OK. All right, Gloria, thanks very much.
Let's go to Jack. He has got more on this controversy for us.
I know you don't -- or do you, Jack? Do you tweet directly?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Never.
BLITZER: All right.
CAFFERTY: I wouldn't know how to do it if somebody held a gun to my head.
BLITZER: It's not that complicated.
CAFFERTY: That's all right. I will take your word for it.
You did a terrific interview yesterday with this Congressman Anthony Weiner. And watching it was kind of like watching one of those Buddhist monks set himself on fire. You feel bad for the guy, but you can't stop watching. It's compelling.
Weiner has spent a lot of time trying to dig himself out of a hole over the last few days, but the hole just keeps getting bigger. The incident in question, as you have heard, this lewd photo sent from Weiner's Twitter account to a female college student, went out to 45,000 other people as well. That was bad enough.
But watching the way Weiner's handling the media circus surrounding it, well, that's even worse. In fact, it might kill his career. Maybe he should take a lesson from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Remember, yesterday, we told you that he flew in a state helicopter to his son's baseball game? Bad move for a budget- conscious guy, bad move for any public officeholder.
But -- and, today, he went forward. He said, I made a mistake. I shouldn't have done it. And here is what I'm willing to do. I will pay the cost of the helicopter out of my pocket, $2,500.
Chances are he will never take a state aircraft to a kid's baseball game again. And now that story, in all likelihood, is over with and it will go away. For Weiner, not happening.
Prior to what's being called Weiner-gate -- what a name -- the congressman, an outspoken, articulate liberal, has been rumored to be seriously thinking of running for mayor of New York City in 2013. The events of the last couple of days could endanger that, big time.
Weiner represents a district in Queens, as Mary Snow was reporting, in Brooklyn that traditionally votes Democratic. Last year, he faced his toughest battle for reelection in his 13-year congressional career. He only got 59 percent of the vote. In all previous races, he had won more than 66 percent of the votes.
Of course, a run for any office still a couple of years away. A lot can happen in politics. And political scandals come and go all the time. But to say he mishandled this is an understatement.
The question is this. Can Congressman Anthony Weiner survive Weiner-gate? Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. Post a comment on my blog.
Watching that thing you did with him yesterday is like watching one of those chicken on the rotisserie just turning over the fire, just cooking.
BLITZER: Yes. Well, he can still come back. I have seen politicians come back from a lot worse than this.
CAFFERTY: Oh, yes, he can, but he ought to know better. He is a New York guy.
CAFFERTY: And there are ways to do these things. Christie did the right thing today. He said, yes, I screwed up. Here is the $2,500. I will never do it again.
BLITZER: And the American public understands if you make a mistake and you apologize, not going to happen again.
BLITZER: But if you try to cover up and try to become too clever, that's -- that's when the problems start.
CAFFERTY: Yes. And the American -- you're right. The American public is very forgiving. When people admit mistakes, they say, OK, give you another chance. But this guy is coming off as too slick by half.
BLITZER: Yes. Well, he has got -- still got some time. We will see what he does.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you.
So, what are Congressman Weiner's colleagues saying about the controversy? We are going to get reaction from Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She's the chair of the Democratic National Committee. She is standing by live to join us.
Also, Mitt Romney finds himself unexpectedly sharing the spotlight as he announces his president for the United States.
Plus, the secret software that reunited a theft victim with his laptop and even let him take pictures of the alleged thief.
BLITZER: Mitt Romney makes it official today, announcing he wants to replace President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, in the third year of his fourth-year term -- or his four-year term, we have more than slogans and promises to judge him by. Barack Obama has failed America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We are getting reaction from Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She's the chair of the Democratic National Committee. She is standing by live.
Also, a high-level panel of power players deems the U.S. war on drugs simply unwinnable. Wait until you see what they are now suggesting.
And when police wouldn't look for his stolen laptop, one man took matters into his own hands. You are going to want to see this right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Killer tornadoes are rare in New England, which may have made them all the more terrifying for Massachusetts residents. Powerful storms simply sliced through a number of communities yesterday, killing four people, damaging hundreds of buildings.
CNN's Jason Carroll brings us a closer look.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, when you hear that term Tornado Alley, most people don't think of Springfield, Massachusetts, let alone people who live here in this neighborhood.
But when you look at the street behind me, that is tornado alley. You can see what happened when the tornado came through here. It lifted this the yellow house off its foundation and turned it partially on its side.
This house here, another example, this house here also destroyed. Across the street, that brick apartment building, Wolf, will have to either be demolished. The reason they have it cordoned off here is because they are fearing that, at this point, the building is going to collapse.
But, in speaking to some of the people in the neighborhood, many of them saw the tornado coming and didn't take it seriously until it was too late, simply because most people in these parts are not used to tornadoes, a few close calls in the neighborhood.
One particular man who lives just a block from here, Dave Mech, he basically was getting off of work and was on his way home, got caught in the storm, and got out of his car, and also had his iPhone on. And so he was rolling the entire time, recording what was happening as he was getting out of his car, as trees were being uprooted, and he was trying to make it inside of this house.
You can hear him yelling and screaming above the howling wind, "Let me in, let me in, let me in."
Well, Wolf, he finally did safely get inside. And we had the opportunity to speak to him about what that experience was like.
DAVID MECH, TORNADO SURVIVOR: It just happened so quick. People say they happen quickly. They happen quickly.
And by the time I got from my truck to the house, the tornado was already there. And I started banging on the door. There was nothing between me and the rest of the trees that were coming my way. People say your life flashes before your eyes. Well, trees were flashing before my eyes.
CARROLL: And, Wolf, once again, Dave lives just a block away from where we are standing right now. His house ended up sustaining very little damage.
But then you look what we see here, again, just -- just a block away, and it shows you what tornadoes do. You can have utter destruction on one block and then one block away, things can look like there wasn't even a storm.
Again, people here now just coming back to the neighborhoods and trying to assess the damage, still trying on get their heads around exactly what happened here -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jason Carroll on the scene for us in Massachusetts.
We wish the folks there only the best.
Mitt Romney making it official today he is running for president of the United States, but has he already been upstaged by two potential rivals?
And a California man gets his stolen laptop back after it takes secret pictures of the alleged thief.
And 40 years -- after 40 years, I should say, is the global war on drugs a failure? We have a shocking report from a blue-ribbon panel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think the United States can afford to keep the drug policy as it is. It is costing them more and more every year to achieve something which -- which, you know -- where they are just not winning. I mean, it's not achieving anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: An early front-runner among Republican presidential hopefuls is now officially running for president, the former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney announcing today his candidacy in the first primary state. That would be New Hampshire.
Romney took some very sharp swipes at President Obama, even as Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani appeared in the same state and took some swipes at Romney.
Let's go live to our chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley. She is in New Hampshire watching all of this unfold.
How did it go today, Candy?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it went exactly as the Romney campaign wanted it to go. It was a perfect day. The pictures looked good. The candidate was on message and he stayed on message. And that message was, he's out to replace Barack Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Appreciate your help.
CROWLEY (voice-over): He is the heaviest hitter in the Republican field right now, and Mitt Romney came to play.
ROMNEY: Now, in the third year of his fourth-year term -- or his four-year term, we have more than slogans and promises to judge him by. Barack Obama has failed America.
You know, if you want to create jobs, it helps to have actually had a job, and I have.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CROWLEY: He excoriated all things Obama, foreign and domestic, including the president's health care plan, not unlike the one Romney signed as governor of Massachusetts, an uncomfortable similarity he tossed off in a single line.
ROMNEY: Not perfect, but it was a state solution to our state's problem.
CROWLEY: From hay bales to hot dogs, the trappings were pure Americana -- on the banner beneath his name, the words, "Believe in America."
ROMNEY: President Obama's European answers are not the solution to America's challenges.
CROWLEY: Romney's economy-centric bid comes amidst a trifecta of discouraging headlines: home prices dipping downward again, a skittish stock market, a stubborn jobless rate -- good timing for an opposition launch -- or maybe not so much. Look who else showed up in New Hampshire, also playing rough, with a swing at the Massachusetts health care plan.
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Health care plan, in my opinion, any mandate coming from government is not -- not a good thing. So, obviously -- and I am not the only one to say so, but that there will be more of the explanations coming from former Governor Romney on his support for government mandates.
CROWLEY: Sarah Palin says it is just a big coincidence she arrived in New Hampshire in the middle of Romney's speech, insists there is nothing political about her foray into this first-in-the- nation primary state, and sees no reason Romney should be offended.
And as he ladled out chili, he didn't seem to be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think about Sarah Palin being in the state today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here you go.
ROMNEY: That's terrific. New Hampshire is action central today.
CROWLEY (on camera): Your health care plan won't sell with the Tea Party.
CROWLEY: As you can hear, Wolf, certainly, Romney did not today want to answer questions about that Massachusetts plan.
But whether it is Sarah Palin or reporters or those in the crowd, it's certainly a question he's apt to be asked as he starts his campaign.
BLITZER: Candy Crowley on the scene for us in New Hampshire. A state all of us are going to be visiting a lot in the coming months. Appreciate it very much.
Let's get some reaction now to what Romney did today. Joining us now, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. She's the new chair of the Democratic National Committee. Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ (D-FL), CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Thank you.
BLITZER: Let's talk about Romney. He really went after the president. He ignored his Republican opponents for the nomination. He took direct hits at the president of the United States, calling him a failed president, if you will. How worried are you about Romney as the potential Republican nominee?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, Wolf, Mitt Romney has a puzzling definition of failure. I mean, looking at the president's -- the president's record, he has taken our economy from being literally about to careen off a cliff and turn things around.
Fast forward 2 1/2 years after he took the reins of this country. When the economy had been bleeding 750,000 jobs a month, and now we've added just last month 286,000 jobs to the private -- private sector.
You've got a steady 14 months straight of job growth in the private sector. You've got an economy that is -- is really beginning to pick up the pace.
And so if that's been Mitt Romney's definition of failure, it's a puzzling one. I mean, if he wants to see failure, he should look at his own record as governor. When his state was literally 47th out of 50 in job creation, and -- in coming out of the recession that he was in, in 2001 as governor, he was one of only six states as governor that never recovered all of their jobs. So he would know something about failure.
BLITZER: You know, he made a strong point today, going out of his way in his speech to go after the president on the president's position towards Israel. You're a strong supporter of Israel. And he basically said the president of the United States is treating the Israelis like the Europeans treat the Israelis, abandoning Israel during a critical time. I know you're concerned about this. What do you say?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Actually, I strongly support President Obama's position on making sure that we can preserve Israel as a Jewish democratic state.
It is absolutely essential that we continue to push hard to make sure that Hamas, which is a terrorist organization, as the president publicly put the -- you know, labeled them, that they -- they aren't -- that the Israelis aren't expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization, that we make sure that as few countries as possible recognize a unilateral declaration when that happens, which is likely to happen, at the U.N. in the fall. We have to make sure that we can continue to help the peace process or -- get restarted. And the only way that that's going to happen is if we make some progress.
The president indicated that the negotiation, when they do restart, should begin at the '67 lines, with mutually-agreed-upon land swaps, Wolf, which by definition means that they would not be the '67 borders, that those are indefensible, and the president made that clear.
So we need to stop playing politics with our support for Israel, and we need to come together, as Democrats and Republicans always have, and stand strongly behind Israel.
BLITZER: Let's talk about your colleague, Anthony Weiner. I noticed on the House floor, you had an animated conversation with him today. What were you talking to him about?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I was actually just talking to him about the votes that we were -- that we were casting at the moment. And just, you know, kibitzing with him a little bit. But you know, what Anthony Weiner is dealing with right now is a personal matter, and that's -- that's where it should be left.
BLITZER: Listen to what Steny Hoyer said today. He gave him some advice. He's the No. 2 Democrat in the House. I'll play the clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: He and I had a discussion. I told him that he needed to handle this and need to give the facts to the public.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has he done that to your satisfaction?
HOYER: Frankly, I've not been following it. So I don't know whether he's done that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Do you agree with Steny Hoyer?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Like I said, I think this is a personal matter, and that's how it should be left.
BLITZER: Because Eric Cantor, the Republican, the majority leader in the House of Representatives, he says that Anthony Weiner has a lot more explaining to do, if you will.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Anthony Weiner is dealing with a personal matter, and it should be left as a personal matter.
BLITZER: Do you believe that someone did hack into his account and -- and send out that picture, as he says?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I think Anthony Weiner is dealing with a personal matter and that is where it should be left.
BLITZER: But, you know, there are some that there should be -- he's a member of Congress and there should be a formal investigation. As the leader of the Democratic Party, is this becoming a distraction, or is this just something that, you know, you think will blow over?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I think it's really important that we focus on job creation, that we focus on continuing to turn the economy around and, as the leader of the Democratic Party, I think it's very clear that Republicans -- particularly those that are running the House of Representatives, haven't done a single thing to focus on job creation and not brought a single bill to the House floor in the six months they've been in charge, and that's what we should be focusing on, continuing to move the economy in the right direction.
BLITZER: Let me ask you about your good friend, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. How is she doing? All of us are deeply concerned, as you know.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: She's doing well. She -- she came through the surgery last week very well. She's continuing to make progress. Her birthday is next week, and I know she and her family are looking forward to that. She continues to make remarkable progress.
And I know she's very happy that Mark is back.
BLITZER: I'm happy he's back, and I'm happy she's making remarkable progress. I'm happy. I know she's happy she has a good friend like you, as well.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.
BLITZER: Congresswoman, thanks very much for coming in. We'll continue our conversation. Congresswoman Debbie Wassermann Schultz is the new chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Let's continue the conversation a little bit with our senior political analyst, David Gergen. He's joining us right now.
David, on the Romney issue, you're often in New -- in Massachusetts. Cambridge and Harvard. This whole business that he's announcing a big day like today in his race for the White House, Sarah Palin by coincidence shows up in New Hampshire. Rudy Giuliani by coincidence shows up in New Hampshire. What's happening?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it must be very frustrating to Mitt Romney and his team. Here he is, as you well know, Wolf, as the front-runner in the Republican pack. He's ahead in the polls. He's way ahead in the money. He's got a much stronger organization. He's got the name recognition. He's got a state like New Hampshire next door to Massachusetts, to launch his campaign in. And yet, here he is. It was Sarah Palin and -- and Giuliani getting the publicity on this day.
I think it -- beyond the fact he's got all these advantages, he still remains to a lot of people in the press, in particular, as dull, as predictable, as -- you know, as scripted. And he's got to overcome that. He's got to become the candidate who surprises you occasionally with something he says, as opposed to, well, that's what you would expect him to say.
And Sarah Palin, of course, is at the other end of the spectrum. Totally unpredictable. And he's got this -- he is the steak, but she's got the sizzle. And that makes a big difference in what the press covers. And I -- as I say, it must be frustrating for him. He's trying to get this message out. He's on message, on the right message about jobs and the economy.
And I think Debbie Wassermann Schultz is very promising as -- leader of the Democratic Party, but she's got it wrong on where the economy is. This is a softening economy. And it does, for the first time, give the Republicans some real fighting chance to get back in this game against Barack Obama.
BLITZER: But you remember, David, it was so much worse three years ago, the economy, than it is right now that the stock market, the Dow Jones was, what, 6,500. It's now over 12,000. That is one indicator alone that -- that the economy seems to be moving in the right direction, even though it's nowhere near where it should be.
GERGEN: Well, Wolf, it's true that the economy -- overall economic activity in this country is now back to what it was before we went in the deep dive. But you know, as we return to this level we have 7 million fewer jobs than we had when this recession started. The overall household wealth and assets in this country are down $7 trillion from where we started. And now we've got this deluge of reports. We'll have to see.
And Debbie Wassermann Schultz, you know, cited the last month's job numbers, and over 200,000 were created. Now tomorrow morning we'll hear what the new number is, and it may be quite a lot less than that. And that's the issue: is the economy losing steam?
And that's where the -- the Republicans -- and frankly, I think that Washington has to pay far more attention to not just the deficit but is this economy losing steam? Do we have some risk of a double dip now?
BLITZER: It's issue No. 1, to be sure: the economy and jobs.
By the way, 8:30 tomorrow morning, I'll be announcing the new unemployment number. I want our viewers to tune in to "AMERICAN MORNING." I've got the number at 8:30, exactly. We're all interested in that.
David, thanks very much.
GERGEN: Thank you.
BLITZER: The war on drugs: is it time for the U.S. to surrender? Some very powerful people are suggesting the answer is yes.
And imagine if your computer was stolen and you can use a hidden program to take photos of the thief. A man in California did exactly that. You're going to find out if he was able to follow the clues to track down his stolen Mac.
BLITZER: Some very powerful people are suggesting it's time for the U.S. to rethink the war on drugs. CNN's Lisa Sylvester is back here with an in-depth look -- Lisa.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you know, it has been 40 years since President Nixon declared a war on drugs. Now a high- profile panel says that war is unwinnable and that it's time to look at other strategies, including legalizing drugs.
SYLVESTER (voice-over): Use of opiates up 34.5 percent. Cocaine use up 27 percent. And marijuana use up 8.5 percent. That's according to U.N. data cited in a new report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy. The commission bluntly says the global war on drugs has been a failure and says it is time for countries to change their policies.
Commission member and CEO of Virgin Atlantic Richard Branson.
RICHARD BRANSON, COMMISSION MEMBER: Personally, I don't think the United States can -- can afford to keep the drug policy as it is. It's costing them more and more every year to achieve something which, you know, where they're just not winning and it's not achieving anything.
SYLVESTER: The commission is made up of heavy hitters: former U.S. Secretary-General Kofi Annan; former Secretary of State George Schultz; former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Paul Volcker; and various former Latin American presidents. They urge, quote, "to end the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but do no harm to others," and they recommend governments experiment with models of legalizing drugs to reduce the power and influence of drug cartels.
CESAR GAVIRA, FORMER COLUMBIAN PRESIDENT: Most European countries have tried these drug policies. They don't consider any more consumption of drugs a crime. They consider it -- it's a problem of the health system. They have opened their health system to people so people can go and try to find the solutions to the problem.
SYLVESTER: A spokesman for Hazelton, that operates treatment centers for drug and alcohol addictions, agrees the war on drugs has been a failure and applauds the report's conclusion for treating drug use as a health issue. But the group strongly opposes legalizing drugs.
WILLIAM MOYERS, HAZELTON CENTER FOR PUBLIC ADVOCACY: If I can speak professionally as somebody who works for the Hazelton Foundation, but I also know in my personal life that, whatever the drug of choice is, when you put that into the mind, into the body of an addict or alcoholic like me, they lose the power of making the right choices.
SYLVESTER: The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy did not make anyone available for an interview. But in a statement said, quote, "The bottom line is that balanced drug-control efforts are making a big difference. Today drug use in America is half of what it was 30 years ago. Cocaine production in Colombia has dropped by almost two-thirds and were successfully diverting thousands of nonviolent offenders into treatment instead of jail by supporting alternatives to incarceration.
SYLVESTER: Now, the White House says drug czar Gil Kerlikowske has been talking about for some time wanting to move away from the language of a war on drugs. Instead, he wants to focus on reducing drug use by 15 percent over the next five years, Wolf.
BLITZER: Tough, tough issue. I've been watching it for 40 years. As we say, it doesn't seem to be making any progress whatsoever. Thanks very much.
A stolen laptop secretly takes pictures of the alleged thief by helping its owner to recover it. Stand by for that.
BLITZER: A California man took action when someone stole his laptop by using some secret software. CNN's Silicon Valley correspondent Dan Simon is joining us now live with details.
What happened here, Dan?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, here you have this very tech savvy guy basically solved his own criminal case, handed it to the Oakland Police on a silver platter, if you will. But getting them to take action, that was a different story.
SIMON (voice-over): A burglar ransacked his apartment and took his laptop, but Joshua Kaufman knew something the chief didn't. He'd installed a security application called Hidden. It secretly takes screen wraps, pinpoints the computer's location, and snaps photos.
(on camera) When you saw that first image pop up, what did you think?
JOSHUA KAUFMAN, TRACKED STOLEN LAPTOP: I was amazed and impressed that it was working. I never really tested it out, so I didn't know if it was going to work or not.
SIMON (voice-over): It worked. The app began streaming images of the man in possession of Kaufman's laptop. He could view the images by logging into his HiddenApp.com account on any computer.
KAUFMAN: I was thinking this sucks. Someone's had my computer and has deleted all my stuff. There's nothing I can do about it.
SIMON: One moment he's in a car, shirtless in bed, or even sleeping on the couch.
KAUFMAN: People sleep in front of their computers all the time but it's -- they don't realize they're being captured on camera.
SIMON: Kaufman presented the sleuth data to an Oakland detective, but in a high-crime city like Oakland, stolen laptops are hardly a priority.
KAUFMAN: His first response was, you know, "I hate to be the one to tell you this, but we just do not have the resources -- resources to deal with this right now. We're just too busy."
SIMON: After weeks of inaction, Kaufman put it all on a blog. "Guy staring deliriously into my Macbook" read one post. "Guy deleting my account" said another.
KAUFMAN: I sent the blog because I was frustrated, and I wanted my story to get some more media attention, hoping that it would cause the police to act.
SIMON: His strategy paid off. The blog generated thousands of tweets. Police started getting calls from the media. And just like that, they called to tell him they tracked the man down and made an arrest.
So who is this guy? Twenty-seven-year-old Muthanna Aldebashi, an Oakland limo driver booked on charges of possessing stolen property. He reportedly told the cops the computer had been given to him as a gift but thought it may have been stolen and that he should have known better.
KAUFMAN: It was a relief to know that all my effort paid off. And I was just excited that it actually worked.
SIMON: It proved that security applications work and that sometimes a little public shame can work in your favor.
SIMON: Well, let's finally give credit to the Oakland Police for getting involved, no matter why they got involved. In any event, let's also give credit to that computer's software program, Wolf, that I suspect a lot more people are downloading it today.
Back to you.
BLITZER: You're probably right, Dan. Thanks very much, Dan Simon. Let's go to Jack right now. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The burning question of this hour is: "Can Congressman Anthony Weiner survive Weinergate?"
Ed in Pennsylvania writes, "I like Anthony Weiner. However, if he didn't do it, why doesn't he simply deny it and then turn it over to law enforcement? He said he's hiring a firm to determine whether or not to turn it over to law enforcement. I've been victimized on the Internet. I have immediately turned it over to law enforcement with astoundingly good results. I'd like to continue to like Anthony Weiner, because I've always found him forthright and direct, but now he's squirrelly and circuitous, leading me and others to think he's not such a straight arrow."
Donald in California: "I'm a fan of the congressman, but his mumbling with this issue doesn't pass the smell test. First time I've seen him at a loss for words."
Kathy writes, "Given his avoidance of any clear answer and his arrogance, his downfall is imminent."
Susan in Colorado: "Nope, if he flatly denied it several days ago and then shut up, he might have had a chance. But the more he talks, the worse he looks, and now I think he's toast."
M. in Texas writes, "Of course he'll survive. I don't know if I can, though. The endless sea of news media reporting over stupid stuff annihilates all reason. Palin taking a bus ride. Who cares what she does? A picture of a man in his underwear. How sexually repressed are we as people where anything concerning genitals gets this kind of coverage?"
Josh in New York writes, "There's only -- there's a Weinergate because you all are covering it as such. Compare to Schwarzenegger. We know that's a scandal because there's an actual child who was born. Or Larry Craig, the guy was arrested by an actual cop. What is the core fact in the Weiner case? He says he didn't send the picture. She says she didn't receive the picture. Where's the transgression? I can't find one. How about fewer questions about whose crotch is in the photo and more, you know, journalism?"
If you want to read more on this -- it's entertaining e-mail -- go to my blog: CNN.com/CaffertyFile. BLITZER: I've been getting hundreds and hundreds of tweets very much like that. A lot of e-mail. Folks aren't very happy with the...
CAFFERTY: Did you see the front pages of the New York tabloids, by any chance? They're just -- I mean, this is such tailor-made red meat for them it's unbelievable.
BLITZER: All right, Jack. See you tomorrow. Thank you.
Up next Jeanne Moos with a different take on the congressman and the controversy. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: With some more on that story that apparently keeps on giving, here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Over Memorial Day weekend, we went from toasting wieners to roasting Congressman Weiner...
WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST ABC'S "THE VIEW": Weinergate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The answers to him are un-Weiner-like.
CRAIG FERGUSON, HOST, CBS'S "LATE LATE SHOW WITH CRAIG FERGUSON": Weiner is in a bit of hot water.
MOOS: ... leaving those of us in the media searching for the right words to mention the unmentionable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bulging underwear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bulging underpants.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And sending a picture that aroused -- well anyway...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it might have been my area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His below-the-waist area.
MICHELLE MALKIN, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: It may or may not be his package.
MOOS: And what's being delivered often comes in puns from front pages meant to tickle to editorials.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This Weiner is cooked.
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL'S "COLBERT REPORT": Is this or is this not Representative Weiner's chief of staff?
MOOS: As "New York Times" reporter John Schwartz tweeted, "All the bad Weiner puns show that America is emotionally a sixth grader." UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The long and short of it is over the weekend you discovered...
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: You didn't just introduce that by saying "the long and short of it," did you, Earl?
MOOS: Congressman Weiner is even punning himself.
A. WEINER: One of the reasons why I was perhaps, if you forgive me, a little bit stiff yesterday.
MOOS: Everything is starting to look Weiner-like. There are Weiner cartoons. "Isn't that Anthony Weiner in the ballet tights?"
The news is coming across as comedy.
GRETCHEN CARLSON, CO-HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL'S "FOX & FRIENDS": Do you guys know what your drawers look like?
STEVE DOOCY, CO-HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL'S "FOX & FRIENDS": Of course.
BRIAN KILMEADE, CO-HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL'S "FOX & FRIENDS": I know what I look like in my drawers.
DOOCY: You do?
KILMEADE: I can tell you, I can identify my pelvis in a lineup.
MOOS: Some can identify with Anthony Weiner.
(on camera) So the guy behind the camera, Jamie, what's your last name?
JAMIE WEINER, CAMERAMAN: Weiner.
MOOS: Give me the camera. Just give it to me. All right. Talk to me about being a Weiner.
J. WEINER: Well, you know, being a Weiner is not that bad.
MOOS: Actually, we both know a little bit about being called Weiner.
(voice-over) Look what my high school nickname was, inscribed even in my yearbook, "Wiener."
(on camera) Because I was so tall and skinny. But no one has -- just watch where you point that thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Oh, I'd love to be an Oscar Meyer wiener.
MOOS (voice-over): Anyone named Weiner has a love/hate relationship with that song.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Oh, I'm glad I'm not an Oscar Meyer wiener.
MOOS: These days Anthony Weiner probably wishes he wasn't one. Even old friends are making jokes.
JON STEWART, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL'S "THE DAILY SHOW": In real life, my memory, this cat had a lot more Anthony and a lot less wiener. This is not...
MOOS: For comedians. Like shooting fish in a barrel or the pants.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.