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THE SITUATION ROOM
Boy's Brutal Killing Rallies Syrians; President Obama's Economic Blues; Man was Apparently Suicidal; Man Drowns as First Responders Watch; A Very Punny Story; Mitt Romney Formally Announces His Candidacy For President In New Hampshire Today; Sarah Palin Just Happens To Drop In Nearby
Aired June 4, 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, THE SITUATION ROOM: One of the top contenders in the Republican presidential field makes it official. This hour, Mitt Romney's announcement in New Hampshire with Sarah Palin on his turf and on his back about health care.
Plus, Congressman Anthony Weiner says he won't talk about the lewd photo controversy anymore, but many aren't satisfied with the explanations he's given. We'll hear what voters in his home district in New York are saying.
And stern new calls for Syria's president to end his crackdown on protesters that's getting bloodier by the day. The death of a 13- year-old boy unleashing new international outrage.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
An early front-runner among Republican presidential hopefuls is now officially running. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney announced his candidacy in the first primary state of New Hampshire. But even as Romney was taking some sharp swipes at President Obama, Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani appeared in the same state, and took some swipes at Romney. Our Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley was there.
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Appreciate your help.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (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.
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 was in the neighborhood playing rough with a swing at the Massachusetts health care plan.
SARA PALIN, (R) FMR. ALASKA GOVERNOR: Health care plan, in my opinion any mandate coming from government is not a good thing. So obviously, and I'm not the only one to say so, but there will be more of the explanation coming from former Governor Romney on his support for government mandates.
CROWLEY: Sarah Palin says it's just a big coincidence she arrived in New Hampshire in the middle of Romney's speech, insists there's 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 in the state today?
ROMNEY: That's terrific. New Hampshire is an action central day.
CROWLEY (On camera): Your health care plan won't sell with the Tea Party.
The day of his presidential announcement may not be the time for Romney to try to align that Massachusetts health care law with current Republican Party opinion. Still, sooner rather than later, and probably more often than he would like, he will have to explain. Candy Crowley, CNN, Stratum, New Hampshire.
BLITZER: Let's dig deeper with our Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger. She is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Romney, the pros and the cons. He's got a lot going for him right now.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: He does. He's experienced. And as you know, Wolf, Republicans like to pick the person whose turn it is. If you were to look at the field, you'd say OK, he ran last time around. He can raise money. He may be more electable than a lot of other candidates in the field because he has some appeal to independent voters. But there are also some cons, Wolf.
BLITZER: Before we get to the cons.
BLITZER: One of the great strengths he has is the economy, which jobs issue number one. And he brings something to the table.
BORGER: Right, right. But his experience is on economic issues but you know, don't forget he's from Wall Street. Wall Street is not exactly popular right now. On the one hand, yes, he does have economic experience. But on the other hand, that could work against him, if he's seen to be part of the economic establishment.
BLITZER: Those are some of the pros. Some of the cons?
BORGER: That is a con. I think, you know, Mitt Romney is somebody who's been known as a flip-flopper. That is generally not a good thing in politics.
BLITZER: He's flipped on several issues.
BORGER: Particularly on the social issues like gay marriage. He's also a Mormon. And as you know, evangelical Christians, who are very important in the Republican primary process tend to view Mormons with a lot of skepticism. So that could be a problem.
BLITZER: The other huge problem, the Romney Care in Massachusetts.
BORGER: I was going to get -- the big issue is mandates. And that was part of his plan in Massachusetts. And that was a central part of Barack Obama's plan. It's also the key to why Republicans, Tea Party candidates oppose Barack Obama's health care plan. And as you know, the president is very fond of pointing out that the health care plan in Massachusetts was a model, in a way, for the health care plan that he passed. Big problem.
BLITZER: It's interesting because unlike his change of position when it comes to abortion rights for women or gay marriage or gun control, he's changed his position when he was running for governor of Massachusetts, as opposed toed to running for president and the Republican presidential nomination. On the issue of Romney Care, health care in Massachusetts, he's defending what he did.
BORGER: He has defended it. I talked to some people who worked for Mitt Romney and I think the decision was made if he had backed off of that, it would have been seen as one more flip-flop. So what he's done is he has made the distinction. He said look, I did it on a state level because it will work in the state of Massachusetts. But I would never do it on the federal level. That would be a power grab by the federal government.
So he's trying to draw that distinction. Whether that will hold with conservatives in his own party remains to be seen. I doubt that it will.
BLITZER: Sarah Palin says it was a coincidence. Romney says it didn't bother him, the fact that she showed up in New Hampshire.
BORGER: You believe that was a coincidence?
BLITZER: On his big day, the day he announces he's a Republican presidential candidate.
BORGER: I don't know. I don't think the bus just kind of showed up there by coincidence. I'm sure they all understood that this was the day that Mitt Romney was announcing formally for the presidency. I was e-mailing with someone in his campaign to ask about it. And he said to me, look, I don't believe in formal announcements anymore. Everybody knew that Mitt Romney was running. I think he was being a little charitable. It was clear to me she was trying to step on his message, particularly on his message on health care.
BLITZER: She made it clear she disagrees with him on that.
BORGER: She disagrees with him on that. And, look, you know, it's kind of unprecedented to me really on the first day that he officially announces, there she is. So it makes me think, you know, maybe she's more serious about running than I've previously thought.
BLITZER: She might. We never know. She's unpredictable. We'll find out-Rudy Giuliani shows up in New Hampshire on that day, as well.
BORGER: Yes, but it shows you what happened was that is Sarah Palin took all the oxygen out of the air there. So in an interesting way, you see what could happen in the race because if Sarah Palin gets in, I think in a way that could be good for Mitt Romney. Could become a two-person race quickly because Giuliani didn't get as much press as she did. If you're Tim Pawlenty or Jon Huntsman or Rudy Giuliani and you're trying to keep up with Mitt Romney, you see what happens. It becomes a two-person race. So that could work for the Romney campaign. Because I believe what Republicans want most of all is somebody who can beat Barack Obama. That's how he he's going to position himself against Sarah Palin.
BLITZER: She might it be able to get the Republican nomination. But a lot of Republicans don't think she could actually beat Barack Obama.
BORGER: That's right. So in the end, that will be what he campaigns on-if, and this is a big if-if she does get in the race. We see no evidence of that around the states, but her people believe that spontaneously, a grassroots campaign could materialize for her. So far we have to see.
BLITZER: She's very popular.
BORGER: She says she wants to be unconventional.
BLITZER: She's got 100 percent name recognition. If someone's going to enter late, it could be her.
BORGER: She's got 110 percent name recognition.
BLITZER: Absolutely. Gloria, thanks very much. ' BORGER: Sure.
BLITZER: Congressman Anthony Weiner becomes the target of questions and jokes after that lewd photo on his Twitter account. We'll profile the man behind the controversy.
Plus, the uprising in Syria and the stakes for the United States. Will President Bashir Al Assad step down?
And a very disappointing jobs report is weighing heavily on the White House and the president's re-election bid. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Did you send that picture to that college student in Washington state?
REP. ANTHONY WEINER, (D) NEW YORK: I did not. She says she never got it and doesn't know me. I certainly don't know her. This seems like it was a prank to make fun of my name, you know, when you're named Weiner, that happens a lot. Got 45,000 some odd Twitter followers, hundreds of people that I follow. This seems like a prank that has gotten an enormous amount of attention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: For days Congressman Anthony Weiner tried 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 Democratic congressman in his underwear, or if he sent to a young college student, or if it was all the work of a hacker. How is all this playing in the New York Democrat's home district? CNN'S Mary Snow went there to take a closer look.
What did you find out, Mary?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, "odd" was one word that we heard a number of times. 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 2010. He's gained a reputation as one woman described it as a hothead, but someone who's outspoken and blunt. It's that reason some say they're scratching their heads about what they've heard from Anthony Weiner the last few days.
SNOW (voice over): In Forest Hills, Queens, you don't have to go far to find supporters of Congressman Anthony Weiner in this heavily Democratic 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 college 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 we've hired. I've seen it. It's-I've seen it-a firm 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 many Washington State?
WEINER: I did not send it to that woman in Washington State.
BLITZER: But you're not 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, a Democrat, says it's not the picture on Twitter she cares about.
LINDA SPIEGEL, WEINER CONSTITUENT: I really don't.
SNOW: But do you care how he handles it?
SPIEGEL: Yes. I care how he handles it.
SNOW: And how has he handled it?
SPIEGEL: Not well.
SPIEGEL: Because it's odd that he's -- it's odd the way he's just not, you know, he's changing tact. 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. That's one thing I like about him. He's a strong individual and he just decided just to move on.
Weiner is seen here as more than just a congressman. Rather a potential mayor. He made an unsuccessful attempt to become the Democratic candidate for mayor in 2005. And he's 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's not so sure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he's a smart guy and I think that he really acted stupidly.
SNOW: While some say if it turns out that the congressman isn't telling it the truth, it would stain his reputation, but we didn't find anyone who said flat out that they wouldn't support him any longer, Wolf.
BLITZER: When I interviewed him in his office on Capitol Hill this week, Mary, he made it clear he'd still very much like to be mayor of New York. He's very interested in running. What do the experts in New York telling you? What about his chances?
SNOW: Mostly we heard from his constituents who we didn't even bring it up about whether or not he was going to run for mayor. They brought it up to us. And they fully expect that he potentially will run for mayor. As you heard from that one who said she is a Republican, didn't support him for Congress, but said she was hoping he would run for mayor.
BLITZER: These are critical days for him, no doubt about that. Mary, thank you.
Before this controversy broke, Weiner was certainly known for his frequent media appearances providing a feisty democratic voice on various issues. Still, you may not know a lot about him CNN's Suzanne Malveaux fills in the blanks.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Anthony Weiner is New York to the core, born in Brooklyn to lawyer and a school teacher. He went to a state university aiming to be a TV weatherman. When that didn't work, he turned to politics. Working for then Congressman Charles Schumer and hanging out with good friend comedian Jon Stewart. Six years after college, he mounted a long-shot bid for New York City Council. He turned his scrappy nature into votes and at age 27, became at the time the youngest person elected to the council, quickly becoming a thorn in the side of fellow councilmen and New York mayor David Dinkins.
When his old boss Schumer ran for Senate in 1998, Weiner jumped in and ran to replace him in the House. On Capitol Hill, Weiner cemented his reputation as a liberal's liberal, famously fighting for women's right and gun control. He's known for his determination, feistiness and above all, his fire brand rhetoric. Like the time he took on fellow New York Congressman Republican Peter King, over a bill to provide medical care for 9/11 first responders.
WEINER: You vote in favor of something if you believe it's the right thing. If you believe it's the wrong thing, you vote no. We are following a procedure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will the gentleman yield?
WEINER: I will not yield to the gentleman! The gentleman will observe regular order! (CROSS TALK)
WEINER: The gentleman will observe regular order!
MALVEAUX: But he does have a soft side. Last July, Weiner married long-time aide to Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, and became the only Jewish member of Congress to be married to a devout Muslim. Officiating at the ceremony, former President Bill Clinton.
WEINER: She's a remarkable woman. She married a congressman. She knows something about living in public life. She knows with that goes a certain amount of aggravation. I don't think she imagined that it would be this.
MALVEAUX: That is, perhaps, an understatement. Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Atlanta.
BLITZER: NATO makes a major move and says it's sending a clear message to the regime of Moammar Gadhafi, even as another key player defects.
Also, will growing American opposition to U.S. involvement in Libya impact how the Obama administration handles another key hot spot in the region? I'll be talking the region Syria, Libya, a lot more with our national security analyst, Peter Bergen.
BLITZER: Moammar Gadhafi is being hit from outside and from within. Gadhafi has suffered another key defection. This time it is the country's oil minister, who says he left because of the suffering of Libya's people. Meantime, the NATO allies say they'll keep the pressure on the regime. Brian Todd is here in THE SITUATION ROOM working the story for us.
It looks like it's going on and on and on.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It could, Wolf. NATO has just laid down a new marker, a new commitment to extend this mission three more months if need be. NATO officials tell us this is standard procedure in an operation like this, but there are new questions about how long this mission can remain effective, even with some recent setbacks from Moammar Gadhafi.
TODD (voice over): He's rarely seen in public. He's just lost eight generals from his command and his oil minister, and now the NATO alliance vows to keep up the pressure on Moammar Gadhafi, announcing it will extend its mission in Libya for at least another 90 days.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: This decision sends a clear message to the Gadhafi regime, we are determined to continue our operation to protect the people of Libya.
TODD: That's it the publicly stated goal. But on the ground, NATO has intensified its air campaign, hitting Gadhafi's command and control structures, bringing in French and British attack helicopters with more close-strike capability. All while NATO officials say they're not specifically targeting Gadhafi.
(On camera): Is that realistic to buy that line from them? PROF. PAUL SULLIVAN, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Publicly, they can say certain things, but the inference is that there are other goals involved.
TODD (voice over): Analyst Paul Sullivan says the signals are obvious. European leaders and President Obama have decidedly shifted their tone on this mission.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Time is working against Gadhafi, and he must step down from power and leave Libya to the Libyan people.
TODD: And published reports cite NATO officials describing a new strategy of driving Gadhafi out. But the extension comes after some tough criticism of NATO's effectiveness over the past two months.
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, (R), CHAIRWOMAN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS CMTE.: NATO-led air strikes in Libya have inflicted serious damage on Gadhafi regime's war machine, yet loyalist troops continue to demonstrate cohesiveness and operational superiority over rebel forces.
TODD: Contacted by CNN, a NATO official countered, saying by hitting it Gadhafi's command posts, NATO forces have degraded his ability to attack rebel forces and civilians. Sullivan says NATO has effectively destroyed Gadhafi's anti-aircraft capability, but --
(On camera): What has he got, though, that could hit those helicopter gunships?
SULLIVAN: If they're low enough, an RPG could cause enough damage. Think of Mogadishu.
TODD: That, of course, the debacle in Somalia when U.S. Black Hawk helicopters were brought down. An incident like that could mean a swift end to NATO's mission. Even if that doesn't happen, Paul Sullivan warns of other political problems for NATO. He says Gadhafi has the ability to drag this out and if he does, some NATO member nations may not have the patience to extend this mission much past September, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, they're losing patience very, very quickly up on Capitol Hill.
TODD: They are.
BLITZER: Brian, thanks very much.
With mounting reports of atrocities in Syria, will the Obama administration turn up the pressure on the President Bashir Al Assad? Our National Security Analyst Peter Bergen is standing by.
And disappointing jobs numbers set of more alarm bells on the U.S. economy. Will it make or break the 2012 presidential campaign?
BLITZER: There have been many, many horrific accounts of brutality coming out of Syria as the regime cracks down on dissent. But now the apparent torture, killing, and mutilation of a young boy has become a rallying cry for Syria's revolution. And it has prompted very strong reaction from the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She says the case symbolizes the total collapse of any effort by the Syrian regime to work with or listen to its own people.
CNN's Arwa Damon has put together this report. But we must caution you that some viewers may be upset by very graphic images of injuries sustained by children.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On April 29th, anti-government protesters tried to break the Syrian army siege on the city of Daraa. Eyewitnesses at the time described how security forces indiscriminately opened fire on them. Dozens were killed and wounded. Countless others detained.
Among them, say his family, was 13-year-old Hamza, separated from his father in the chaos. A month later, the family received their son's body. Hamza's face bloated, purple. This video posted to YouTube catalogs each of his wounds, much of it too graphic to broadcast.
The narrator points out multiple gunshots before moving to his head. And even more shocking, his genitals were mutilated. CNN cannot independently verify what happened to Hamza or the authenticity of this video.
After it was initially broadcast, Hamza's family was threatened. Now they are too petrified to talk, even to close friends. Razan Zaitouneh, a prominent Syrian activist who we reached via Skype says, she has no doubt it's real and that the regime had a message in releasing the boy's body.
RAZAN ZAITOUNEH, SYRIAN ACTIVIST: They want the people to see this. They want the people to get scared. They want the people to know that there is no -- everything, no matter how awful could happen to their family members if they continue to participate in this revolution.
DAMON: But far from cowing people, the video has only made them bolder. Demonstration to protest Hamza's death erupted. Even children took to the streets risking a similar fate vowing that his blood was not spilled in vein.
Activists are not surprised that the regime could having committed such cruelty and claim it's not the first time a child has been targeted. This 11-year-old boy was allegedly shot in his home. This many video shows the body of a child lying in the street, amid intense gunfire as others tried to recover his body.
And here children lie wounded in hospital after security forces allegedly fired at their school bus. The Syrian government said Tuesday there will be an investigation into Hamza's deaths, but a medical examiner told Syrian TV, there was no evidence the boy had been tortured and he claimed the condition of the corpse was due to decomposition.
Hamza's death prompted international outrage. A Facebook page calling itself we are all the murder the child Hamza Ali Alhazib (ph) had 60,000 followers by Tuesday. The face of this 13-year-old from a village in southern Syria now the symbol of an uprising. Arwa Damon, CNN, Beirut.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Horrific, indeed. The stakes in Syria are certainly enormous. What happens in Syria could have a huge, huge impact on the surrounding region.
Let's bring in our National Security analyst, Peter Bergen. Peter, this is awful. Now at least 1,000 people have been killed during the uprisings by the regime in Syria and I guess, the question is, can Bashar al-Assad, the dictator there, the ruler there, can he survive?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, as you know well, Wolf, his father made the calculation that if he killed up to 20,000 people in 1982, not only would he survive.
But he would thrive and clearly the son is very much the son of his father is making the same calculation now in the age of Twitter and Youtube. That may be harder to do. You know, his father was able to execute and murder thousands of civilians.
BLITZER: You're talking about what happened in Hama back in 1982 and there were at least 20,000 people who were simply slaughtered.
BERGEN: Right, you know, that was well-known but it wasn't being documented in virtually realtime as what we're seeing in Syria right now. I think it's much harder to do, but clearly he's making the calculation he's got nothing to lose.
And I think, you know, from the Obama administration perspective, we now have three civil wars in the region. And the United States' ability to do anything with Syria after all we've had a very hostile relationship with is strongly allied to Iran is pretty limited.
And you know, it raises the issue of perhaps a larger regional war if you know, an intervention on the Libya type of intervention in Syria I think is implausible right now.
BLITZER: I don't think that's going to happen. I want you to listen to what the secretary said, Hillary Clinton said after noting that the U.S. has imposed sanctions not only on Syrian officials, but also Iranian officials who may be helping Syria. She then said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think, you know, President Obama said it very clearly. If he cannot end the violence against his own people, take meaningful steps to start a process of reform then he needs to get out of the way. And every day that he stays in office and the violence continues, he's basically making that choice by default.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now, she's referring to Bashar al-Assad, the leader of Syria and a lot of members of Congress and others are saying why doesn't the Obama administration go further.
Simply sever relations with this regime, do what it did in Libya. Recall its ambassador, send the ambassador here back to Damascus, if you will. They seem to be still on the edge of hoping Bashar al-Assad will change, will have a change of heart.
BERGEN: Well, I think the history of imposing higher sanctions recalling ambassadors actually is not a very fruitful one. It's very rarely worked that sanctions against a regime has produced better behavior, often it produces worse.
I mean, think about Saddam Hussein or think about Iran. So, you know, I mean the calculation may be that we need to have some form of communication with the regime. You know, rather than just now communication at all.
BLITZER: Let's move onto the rest of the region, the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East. In Congress right now especially in the House of Representatives, there seems to be this be odd alliance of liberal Democrats like Dennis Kucinich, conservative Republicans like Ron Paul and now even the House Speaker John Boehner Saying, you know what?
It's so expensive Afghanistan, $2 billion a week, $100 billion a year. Iraq the U.S. is getting out of Libya. It's already cost U.S. taxpayers a billion dollars. You know, in this time of economic difficulty at home, is it just maybe in America's interest to get out of there?
BERGEN: I don't think it's necessarily in America's interest to just wash our hands of all these countries. However, even before the death of Bin Laden, there was a real skepticism about the amount of money we're spending in Afghanistan and also the amount of money we're giving to Pakistan.
It's not anything on the level of what's going on in Afghanistan. So, but with the death of Bin Laden, that's a moment for everybody to say why are we in Afghanistan, why are we in Pakistan.
BLITZER: Declare victory and get out of there.
BERGEN: Yes, I personally feel that would be a big mistake. I think that we've - sort of the United States has done that before in Afghanistan, closed its embassy in '89, did a very on the cheap nation building exercises in 2002.
And in the vacuum of security and governances in Afghanistan, the Taliban came back twice. So we've already run this experiment once before. Now, of course, this administration faces a big decision which is July, which is the drawdown of troops.
BLITZER: How many troops will actually start leaving? Will it be a symbolic few or it will be a robust drawdown?
BERGEN: It's going to be something that splits the difference. According to officials I've spoken to, I think it looks like in the 10,000 region so not insignificant, but not a game-changer enough to be able to plausibly say there has been some drawdown.
BLITZER: The U.S. has about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan.
BLITZER: Right now, another 40,000 NATO troops. So 10,000 U.S. troops or NATO troops, is that what you're hearing?
BERGEN: Yes, 10,000 U.S.
BLITZER: U.S troops, well, that would be a significant number, but still 90,000 would remain. It's not cheap to maintain a 90,000 U.S. troop level in Afghanistan.
One quick question on Pakistan. In the aftermath of Hillary Clinton's visit there with Admiral Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs has there been any improvement in this really strained intelligence connection between these two countries?
BERGEN: As you know well, Wolf, relations have never been worse. But I think the two visits and also John Kerry, Senator John Kerry's visit, have produced, you know, real take-away. The helicopter came back, the one that crashed in the compound.
The CIA did go into the compound. There have been changes. So I think both sides recognize that while this is you know, a difficult relationship, it has to be managed, it will never be completely solved and it's too important to fail.
BLITZER: Peter, thanks for coming in.
BLITZER: Thank you, Wolf.
A major new setback for the U.S. economy, jobs growth falling far short of expectations. That's helping drives the debate in the 2012 presidential race.
An outrage after a suicidal man drowns while first respondsers are there simply watching and doing nothing. Wait until you hear why they didn't even try to rescue the man.
BLITZER: A new and very disturbing sign that the U.S. economy is getting weaker. The government reports only 54,000 jobs were created in May. That's about a fourth of the number of jobs created the previous month. And it's significantly less than the 170,000 new jobs economists were expecting. Adding to the misery, the unemployment rate rose 1/10 of a percent last month to the 9.1 percent. Analysts expected the jobless rate to go down to 8.9 percent.
Our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian traveling with the president in Ohio. Dan, these numbers are not politically good for the president. They're obviously not good for the country and for those folks looking for jobs.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Not good at all, but the White House trying to put a really good face on these numbers saying that this is just a bump in the road to recovery.
But for the people out there on Main Street, it's much bigger than a bump. They're having a very difficult time finding work.
LOTHIAN (voice-over): Wall Street depends on various indicators to measure the health of the economy. At Dress for Success, the clothing indicator offers a fitting view of Main Street.
MEGAN GOFFNEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DRESS FOR SUCCESS: A lot of our clients are women with many degrees, have been working for 25 plus years, now laid off. So it's not the same type of client we've seen in the past.
LOTHIAN: This non-profit organization provides clothing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They get their three suits.
LOTHIAN: And counseling for women looking for work. Agene Fabian Maduakolam (ph) has been on the hunt for six to seven months.
AGINE FABIAN MADUAKOLAM: You know, I'm still waiting so I know something's going to happen.
LOTHIAN: But the economic news isn't rosy and landing a job isn't easy. New unemployment claims stayed above 400,000 for the eighth week in a row last week, worse than economists expected.
Sensing an opportunity, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney launched a verbal attack on President Obama and his economic policies as he announced his own bid for the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Barack Obama has failed America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LOTHIAN: Responding to that attack, White House Spokesman Jay Carney said the president wasn't ready to engage in 2012 election politics. Then touted steps the administration had taken to stop the hemorrhaging of jobs. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: President took dramatic action. We have now experienced 14 straight months of private sector is job creation, 2.1 million jobs created.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LOTHIAN: But many people are still skeptical. The latest CNN Opinion Research Poll shows 58 percent of Americans disapprove of how the president is handling the economy. White House aides admit there's still a long road ahead and that unemployment remains unacceptably high.
GOFFNEY: We want them suited literally from head toe.
LOTHIAN: They know that here too where referrals have jumped from under 150 per month earlier this year to more than 200 per month now.
GOFFNEY: We have ladies that are frustrated and they come here day after day applying to numerous jobs each day and just not hearing anything.
LOTHIAN: White House aides say yes, things are not great, but take a look at what has happened over the last two years. That the trend line is moving in a positive direction and that in order to keep the momentum going, that there should be more investment in research and development and in education and also focus on promoting exports. Wolf --
BLITZER: How worried are they at the White House, Dan, that if the unemployment number stays around 9 percent, a year from now. It could be politically very dangerous for his re-election.
LOTHIAN: Well, look, clearly they're worried about it. It's not something that they're talking about publicly. They're saying right now, the president is focused on creating jobs for Americans on lifting their situation.
But clearly, I mean, when you look at the signs, it's very difficult for someone to win the White House when you're saddled by the deep economic woes. It did appear that the trend line was moving in the right direction.
That thing were getting much better, were stabilizing, but this is a big setback for this White House.
BLITZER: Although one month does not necessarily mean a trend. We'll see what happens in the months to come. Dan Lothian on the scene for us, thanks very much.
A man drowns while firefighters and police watch from the shore with no attempt to rescue him. We're pressing officials to explain why.
Plus, Jeanne Moos with a different take on a congressman's Twitter controversy.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The firefighters and police officers watched this terrible situation unfold from the shore. Bystanders thought there would be some kind of rescue here, but it never happened.
SIMON (voice-over): Fully clothed, 52-year-old Raymond Zack made his way into the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay, apparently intent on taking his own life.
His mother yelled out to a bystander to call 911. Alameda fire crews and police arrived in minutes, but none attempted to save the distraught man's life.
DEE BERRY, VICTIM'S MOTHER: It's damn frustrating. That's how --
SIMON: Fire officials say budget cuts eliminated their water rescue training so department policy prevented crews from entering the water.
Witnesses watched in disbelief as first responders stood by while Zack got deeper in the water. He could be seen with water up to his neck.
WARREN BRUNETTI, WITNESS: I don't know how they took the uniform job diving in there. I was just really surprised.
SHARON BRUNETTI, WITNESS: What if it were a 10-year-old boy or 5- year-old girl? They don't go in the water. I would go.
SIMON: The Coast Guard vessel was unable to reach the man. Eventually a bystander, a 20-year-old woman attempted a rescue, but when she reached him, the man was dead.
CNN spoke with Interim Fire Chief Mike D'Orazi among the reason for not going in, he said crews were not sure if the man would get violent and endanger rescuers.
(on camera): People say to themselves this is crazy. These are firefighters. They're trained to save people's lives. They are not going in to save this man's life?
INTERIM CHIEF MIKE D'ORAZI, ALAMEDA, CALIFORNIA, FIRE DEPARTMENT: I understand that completely and believe me, our firefighters are very frustrated. They were standing on the beach and I want to talk with the police officers, but I think they were equally as frustrated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What were they thinking when they did nothing?
SIMON: An angry public lashed out at a meeting Tuesday night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This strikes me as not just a problem with funding and a problem with the culture and what's going on in the city. No one would take the time to help this drowning man. SIMON: The mayor said the funding to train the firefighters will be reinstated.
MAYOR MARIE GILMORE, ALAMEDA, CALIFORNIA: If we could go back and change it, we would. We can't. What we have to dedicate ourselves to is making sure something like this never happens again.
SIMON: Why did any of them say, what the heck with the policy. We're going to go give it a shot anyway.
D'ORAZI: I believe there was a discussion on the beach regarding whether or not they should just go in and try to take care of this. But once again, we have to defer to the scene and the scene commanders and what they felt was the most appropriate course of action.
SIMON: The Fire Department said they will get the money between $20,000 and $40,000 to train the crews, but before that happens, they reversed the policy and say that fire crews can go and do these groundwater rescues. They can use their common sense and discretion if the situation warrants. Wolf --
BLITZER: I can only imagine these firefighters, these police officers must be feeling so guilty right now that they simply stood on the sidelines and let this apparently sick man die.
SIMON: We are told they feel absolutely horrible that this situation occurred. There were nine firefighters on the shore watching the situation, you know, sort of - you know, play itself out.
They felt like that the way the policy was written and the way the orders came down that they should not do this coupled with the fact that you had a suicidal man and there is some discussion about whether or not they feel their own lives would have been in jeopardy had they gone and done this rescue.
BLITZER: Yes, they may be firefighters and they maybe police officers, but they are human beings first. You see someone who was apparently trying to kill himself and you can try to save that person, you only are a human being before you are a police officer or a firefighter.
It must be so frustrating right now. Let's hope that mayor is right when he said they are taking steps to make sure this never ever happens again in Alameda or any place else.
Dan Simon, thanks very much. A look at what may be the next world heritage site. That and a lot more in hot shots. That's coming up.
BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's "Hotshots." In Scotland, the 121-year-old Fourth Rail Bridge is being considered for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. In Italy, the military ceremony marks the 150th anniversary of Italian unification. In Iraq, men cover their faces during a major sandstorm in Baghdad and in Thailand, check it out. Customs officials seized 450 mud turtles worth around $30,000.
"Hotshots," pictures coming in from around the world. It's the story that inspired countless puns. Here's CNN's Jeannie Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Over Memorial Day weekend, we went from toasting wieners to roasting Congressman Wiener.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wiener day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are unwiener like.
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.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: In sending a picture, an around - well anyway --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For it might have been my area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's below the waist area.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It may or may not be his package.
MOOS: And what's being delivered often comes in puns from fun pages meant to tickle to editorials.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This weiner is cooked.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this or is it not Representative Wiener's chief of staff.
MOOS: As "New York Times" reporter John Swatz (ph) tweeted, all the bad wiener puns show that America is emotionally a sixth grader.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The long and short over the weekend you discovered.
REPRESENTATIVE ANTHONY WEINER: You didn't say the long and the short of it?
MOOS: Congressman Wiener is even punning himself.
WEINER: The other reason I was - perhaps you could give me a little bit stiff yesterday.
MOOS: Everything is starting to look Wiener-like. There are Wiener cartoons. Isn't that Anthony Wiener in ballet tights? The news is coming across as comedy?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know what your drawers look like?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know what I look like in my drawers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can tell you. I can identify my pelvis in a lineup.
MOOS (on camera): Some can identify and the guy behind the camera, what's your last name?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wiener.
MOOS: Give me the camera. Give it to me. All right, we both know about being called a Wiener.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know, being a Weiner is that bad.
MOOS: Actually, we both know a little bit about being called Weiner. Look what my high school nickname inscribed even in my yearbook, Wiener. I was so tall and skinny. No one just watched where you point that thing.
(voice-over): Anyone with the last name of Wiener has a love-hate relationship with that song. Anthony Wiener probably wishes he wasn't one even old friends are making jokes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In real life, my memory is this guy had a lot more Anthony and a lot less Wiener.
MOOS: Comedians like shooting fish in the barrel of their pants. Jeannie Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: Don't forget Monday night, June 13th, the CNN Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire, mark your calendar calendars, 8 p.m. Eastern, Monday night, June 13th.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. Thanks very much for joining us. Please join us weekdays in THE SITUATION ROOM from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Eastern, every Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN and at this time every weekend on CNN International. The news continues next on CNN.