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THE SITUATION ROOM
Herman Cain's Painful Flub; Police Remove Occupy Protesters; Sandusky: "I Am Innocent"; "Like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher"; ; Newt Gingrich On The Rise; Cain's Painful Foreign Policy Flub; Can Cain Undo the Damage?; Judge: No Protesters in NYC Park; Supreme Court to Rule on Health Care Law; Push to Recall Wisconsin's GOP Governor
Aired November 15, 2011 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Herman Cain's painful flub. His bungling of a simple question about Libya going viral and some calling it the final straw for a campaign already burdened by mishaps and the more serious allegations of sexual harassment.
Also, riot police sweep through a New York park, using force to clear out protesters, but a hearing is under way right now. Will the way be cleared for them to return? Fresh turmoil for Occupy Wall Street.
And facing dozens of counts of child abuse, former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky speaks out in a surprise interview and denies that he's a pedophile.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
In a predawn raid by riot police, Occupy Wall Street protesters were driven out today, two months after they started camping out in a Manhattan park. At this hour, a court is deciding whether they should be allowed back in.
Let's go live to CNN Money's Poppy Harlow. She's on the scene for us in New York.
Poppy, what happened in Zuccotti Park and what happens next?
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, at about 1:00 a.m. this morning, hundreds of New York City police officers raided the park behind me, completely cleared it out of Occupy Wall Street protesters.
I was here reporting from 2:00 a.m. on. There were clashes in the streets from protesters and the police. Wolf, the scene right now is this park is surrounded by protesters and also supporters of the movement waiting, waiting for a result from the courts, the hearing going on right now.
What happened is this morning, a New York state Supreme Court judge issued a ruling saying that it was illegal for the protesters to be evicted from the park, and that they should be allowed to protest, so all day, you have seen protesters around here telling police they are in contempt of court, that Mayor Bloomberg they believe has broken the law, violated the court's ruling. They are pushing to get back in the park. There was a second hearing that was under way this afternoon. It lasted for about an hour-and-a-half. I'm told the courtroom was packed with supporters of the movement and those opposing it, lawyers for the city and lawyers for Occupy Wall Street and lawyers for the private company that owns this park.
We are awaiting the ruling. We will bring it to you right as it happens, but I want to take you back to how this all went down starting at about 2:30 a.m. last night. Take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show me what a police state looks like.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: This is what a police state looks like!
HARLOW: It's about 2:25 a.m. We're a few blocks from Zuccotti Park.
We got reports about an hour ago that protesters were being evacuated from the park.
(voice-over): It was the middle of the night when riot police moved into the park, ripping down tents, tarps and signs and serving protesters with eviction notices, with the ultimate goal of cleaning out the park.
(on camera): It's about 2:50 a.m. We have been trying multiple times to get anywhere near the park. What you can see is a lot of NYPD offers lined up. They're not letting anyone in.
(voice-over): Some protesters agreed to leave the park. Others refused. By sunrise, the NYPD had arrested about 100.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're all gathering here to continue to support the need for justice in this world.
HARLOW (on camera): So, police are trying to clear us all off the street right now, so we're going to stay on the sidewalk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were pushing us between a car.
HARLOW: It's 4:40 a.m. We just got into Zuccotti Park. It took us about three hours to get in here. As you can see, many, many cleanup crews down here. You see some of the tent material from the park. You see some clothes here. You have obviously got some more tarps, blankets here.
(voice-over): New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg justified the eviction on health and safety grounds.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: The First Amendment gives everyone the right to speak out, but it does not give anyone the right to sleep in a park or otherwise take it over.
HARLOW: A little before 10:00 this morning, a New York judge issued a temporary restraining order, saying the protesters could not be evicted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a court order, a protective order. We will get in the park. If they stop us, it's contempt of court.
HARLOW: While police served as human barricades around Zuccotti Park, protesters fought to get in.
(on camera): Where does the movement go from here? What does this mean for this movement?
JOHN MURDOCK, OCCUPY WALL STREET: It means that it's not about a physical space, per se. It is now worldwide. The terms of the debate have changed around and the deal is now we have to evolve.
HARLOW: And, Wolf, our viewers now are looking at live aerial pictures of Zuccotti Park, where for two months, it has been occupied by protesters. Now it is occupied by New York City police officers. And those people that you see in yellow vests, those are private security guards.
They have been here since about 6:00 a.m. this morning. I want to note the latest we have on arrests is that we're told by the New York City Police Department that about 100 arrests of protesters have been made. I saw them being made myself in the early hour of the morning.
We're also told that there were no police injuries here. I do want to tell you though that the protesters were told by the mayor's office in the middle of the night, Wolf, that once the park was cleaned out, they could return. They have not been able to return.
I have witnessed some protesters jumping over the barriers to get in to the park. They have been toppled over by police officers because the police officers say you cannot enter this park yet. So protesters have been waited outside here all day long.
And I do want to reiterate, for us as journalists covering this in the middle of the night, Wolf, it took us about three hours to get past police barricades about two blocks away anywhere from this park. It was very difficult for us to get in. We wanted to show live pictures of the eviction and it was very difficult. We were not allowed to.
I pressed for answers as to why we were not allowed and we were not given any answers. But eventually, though, we did make it into the park at about 4:30 in the morning -- Wolf.
BLITZER: So you have been there, Poppy, ever since then, they middle of the night, 4:00, 3:00 in the morning, you haven't left? Is that right?
HARLOW: Yes. That's exactly right. I live close by. I got a call from a protester at 1:30 in the morning. Obviously it woke me up. He said we're surrounded on all sides of this park by New York City police officers. There's lights shining on us. They're evicting us. You guys should come down here. I got up, I ran down here. I have been here ever since. I ran home to take a quick shower and that's about it. We're back and we're going to stay here especially as we await that ruling from the New York State Supreme Court which will say whether or not these protesters are allowed back in the park, Wolf.
And they are awaiting that ruling, clearly ready to get back in to Zuccotti Park. You can hear the drum circles behind me. Just the way that I have seen it reporting this for the last month or so, this has really escalated the movement. It has invigorated this movement.
BLITZER: It certainly has. All right, Poppy, stand by. As soon as we get that court decision, we will come back to you. Poppy Harlow on the scene for us for hours and hours doing an excellent job of reporting the news.
Other news we're following, every political campaign certainly has its slips, stumbles, but Herman Cain is already mired in controversy over allegations of sexual harassment and now with a painfully awkward response to a rather simple foreign policy question, the onetime Republican front-runner may have dealt a serious blow to his White House hopes.
CNN's Joe Johns is working the story for us.
What's the latest, Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, if Herman Cain's brain freeze at the editorial board meeting of a newspaper hadn't been recorded on video, we wouldn't be talking about it right now. But a camera was in the room and now Herman Cain and his campaign are on damage control.
JOHNS (voice-over): Embarrassing, excruciating to watch, impossible to look the other way. Some have said Herman Cain's bumbling initial response to the softball question do you agree with Obama on Libya says a lot about a guy who wants to be the commander in chief.
HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: OK. Libya.
President Obama supported the uprising, correct? President Obama called for the removal of Gadhafi. Just want to make sure we're talking about the same thing before I say, yes, I...
JOHNS: In fairness to Cain, he did come up with a cogent answer after about a minute-and-a-half.
CAIN: I would have done a better job of determining who the opposition is. And I'm sure that our intelligence people had some of that information.
JOHNS: The video of this meeting went viral, approaching a quarter of a million views on YouTube just 24 hours later. And by then, Cain was explaining that his halting answer to a simple foreign policy question that's been front and center for most of this year was frankly no big deal, little more than a thoughtful pause, he said.
CAIN: Nothing happened. I mean, they asked me a question about Libya and I paused so I could gather my thoughts. It's really complimentary when people start documenting my pauses. It's one thing to document every word.
JOHNS: But in a political environment where a candidate's weakest moment is just a click away for any voter surfing the Web, it's going to be hard to dismiss and impossible to forget.
Republican strategist Ron Bonjean:
RON BONJEAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It's a very damaging visual to see him struggling to form a thought.
JOHNS: As if that weren't enough, Cain also seemed to suggest in the very same Milwaukee editorial board meeting that featured his long, awkward pause that he supports collective bargaining for public employees, which is sort of like telling some conservatives in a Republican primary to go jump in a lake.
Cain had to explain that, too.
CAIN: I am against collective hijacking. And by that, I mean when and organization puts so many demands on a state that's going to force it to go bankrupt, they have gone too far. Collective bargaining, they have the right, but I don't support collective hijacking.
JOHNS: If Cain is tiring, remember his other problem. He's also fending off accusations from women who say he sexually harassed them. Polls show women voters are turning away.
It's true Cain is still leading among likely Iowa caucus-goers, who will get the first chance in the nation to pick a Republican nominee, but some say this guy's path to the nomination is still looking like a very rough road right now.
BONJEAN: Cain's leading in Iowa and leading in some of the states, but polls show that the majority of voter still haven't really made up their mind of who they're going to vote for. And that means bad news for Herman Cain, especially when you're making these type of major stumbles.
JOHNS: Underscoring that point, when you allow for the margin of error, some of the latest polling shows a statistical dead heat in Iowa between Cain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.
Cain is pushing onward, however, though he seems to be getting a little ahead of himself at times. He recently met with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and says Kissinger turned down Cain's offer to be secretary of state should Cain be elected. Kissinger served in the administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford -- Wolf. BLITZER: He may be a brilliant guy. He's also almost 90 years old, Henry Kissinger, so maybe a little old to be secretary of state, but maybe not.
JOHNS: Shuttle diplomacy, a lot of flying around.
BLITZER: ... a youthful 88 or 89, or 87, what he is. Let's check to see how old he is.
All right, thanks very, very much.
Herman Cain has certainly gotten himself into a rough spot.
Let's bring in our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.
Gloria, a quick question. Can Herman Cain undo the damage?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I think it's very difficult for him to undo it now at this point no matter how much he spins because it didn't happen in a vacuum.
He's already had a problem of being considered not a heavyweight when it comes to foreign policy. Remember, he's already said that it's irrelevant that he know all the names of foreign leaders and he said he didn't need to know someone like the head of -- quote -- "Ubeki- beki-beki-beki-stan-stan." Remember that one?
He's also fond of saying repeatedly when he's asked about American troops movements that he would consult with the gels. That seems to be his all-inclusive answer whenever asked that kind of a question. And don't forget this comes on top of the sexual harassment allegations that have already been very, very difficult for him.
He's been hurt with women as a result of those allegations, also with the general population. In our most recent poll, Wolf, about half of the general population said he shouldn't even be running for president. So hard to undo.
BLITZER: We checked, by the way. Henry Kissinger is a youthful 88 years old.
BORGER: Still old to be flying around.
BLITZER: So, God bless him. I hope he lives many, many happy and healthy years.
Let's talk about Bill -- excuse me, Barack Obama right now. We have our latest CNN/ORC numbers. His job approval number still hovering around the same 46 percent, 45 percent, 46 percent, but in some areas, he does better than in others. BORGER: Yes. Take a look at our poll because we asked about how Barack Obama is handling certain issues. You can see here, Wolf, that when it comes to foreign policy, as we were just talking about, Iraq, Afghanistan, he does very well.
Unfortunately, on the issues of the American public seems to be focused on right now, health care and the economy, he doesn't do well.
So, the problem is while voters want someone they believe is a credible commander in chief -- and that would be Herman Cain's problem right now -- they really also want someone who's going to completely focus on the economy. He's dealing with 9 percent unemployment. And it's very, very hard to get around that, Wolf.
BLITZER: As the Republicans look at the field, who do they think, who appears to have the best chances against an incumbent president?
BORGER: Right now, in our head-to-head matchups, Obama vs. X, only Mitt Romney, and let me show you this Romney 51, Obama 47. Only Mitt Romney among Republicans can beat Barack Obama.
So Obama does pretty well against the other Republicans. But, again, he's dogged by the 9 percent unemployment. And that's a problem for him.
But Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster, pointed this out and I think it's an interesting point I haven't heard before. Don't forget that Barack Obama has a solid 44 percent base among the American electorate. There is no candidate out there yet that has a 44 percent base because even Romney who does very well among Republicans, can't seem to get above 25 percent. So, Obama has that going for him, but it's a long way between now and next November.
BLITZER: Almost a year, to put it bluntly. All right.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Gloria, for that.
The U.S. Supreme Court is taking up health care. Jack Cafferty is coming up next with "The Cafferty File."
Also, Jerry Sandusky speaking out, insisting he's innocent in the Penn State University child sex about scandal. But parts of the interview left some listeners stunned.
And from back row to the front of the GOP race for the White House -- we catch up with Newt Gingrich on the campaign trail.
Also, we're standing by for a ruling on whether the protest from "Occupy Wall Street" can go back to Zuccotti Park. We expect that ruling from a judge in New York any minute now. You're looking at live pictures. We're all over this story.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty's here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CAFFERTY FILE: Wolf, expect the Supreme Court to light up the 2012 presidential race when it rules on President Obama's health care law just a few months before Election Day. The high courts agreed to decide the constitutionality of the president's signature piece of legislation. The legal challenge comes from a joint filing by 26 states led by Florida.
The justices will hear two major questions. Whether the individual mandate is unconstitutional, can the government force you to buy insurance? And if so, whether the entire 2,000 plus page law should then be scrapped?
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in late February or March and rule by June. If they strike it down, it would be a huge embarrassment for President Obama. But the White House says it's confident that the law will be found constitutional.
And "Politico" reports the president so confident he didn't even try to stop the high court from fast-tracking the case.
Mr. Obama is gambling and if the court upholds the law, it will validate his epic two-year battle with the Congress and if they strike it down, it will fire up the Democratic base and energize party donors.
But there are also risks, big ones. If the court upholds the law, it could fire up the president's opposition even more. Remember the Tea Party? The revival of the health care debate could also hurt the president in some swing sates where his health care push alienated independent voters.
And, finally, if President Obama can't run on health care, it's not like he can run on the economy or reducing the national debt.
So, here's the question: What's it going to mean to President Obama if the Supreme Court overturns his health care law? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile, post a comment on my blog, or go to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page.
Wolf, big stuff next year.
BLITZER: Yes, huge. We'll do, Jack. Thank you.
The former assistant football coach over at the Penn State University, he's at the center of this child sex abuse scandal. He is speaking publicly about the case for the first time. Jerry Sandusky spoke by phone to NBC's Bob Costas.
But what he said left many stunned and questioning whether he hurt his own cause. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY SANDUSKY, FORMER PENN STATE ASSISTANT FOOTBALL COACH (via telephone): I say that I am innocent of those charges. BOB COSTAS, NBC NEWS: Innocent? Completely innocent and falsely accused in every aspect?
SANDUSKY: Well, I could say that, you know, I had done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and touched their leg without intent of sexual contact. But -- so, if you look at it that way, there are things that -- wouldn't, you know would be accurate.
COSTAS: Are you a pedophile?
COSTAS: Are you sexually attracted to young boys, to underage boys?
SANDUSKY: Am I sexually attracted to underage boys?
SANDUSKY: Sexually attracted -- you know, I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. I -- but no, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Wow. Let's bring in Mike Galanos from our sister network HLN. He's over at Penn State University right now.
Mike, you've been speaking to people on campus all day. What are they saying about this really remarkable interview?
MIKE GALANOS, HLN: Well, first, Wolf, it's the word you used just a moment ago -- stunned, flabbergasted. The sentiment, what is he doing? Why would he give this interview? And then it turned to the word, basically, disgust, to hear this grown man admit he had showered with young boys.
So, let's get a feel here. Let's listen to some of the students that I talked to today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just disturbing. I could barely get through it. It was just disturbing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After the things he's done to those boys, it's disgusting and outrageous.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To hear him say he was horsing around with these young boys and that that's just what jocks do is not what jocks do. I'm friends with many athletes here on campus -- football players, soccer players, and any athletes. And my dad was a coach and that's not what athletes do.
(END VIDEO CLIP) GALANOS: Again, Wolf, it's that other word in there: horsing around. Two words in there, that really infuriated some of these students, again, picturing Jerry Sandusky with these young boys.
BLITZER: Mike, there are reports of, as you well know, of more victims potentially coming forward. What are you learning on campus?
GALANOS: Well, what we're finding out, Wolf, is that in our colleague, Jason Carroll, did some digging as well. Yes, there have been more phone calls. We've heard anywhere from 10 to 12 potential victims coming forward with phone calls.
But all of this has -- this is an active grand jury investigation. All this has to be investigated, vetted.
But you like at the timeline, Wolf, Second Mile, charitable foundation for troubled youth, was founded in 1977. First allegation is 1994, 17-year window there. And then '94 all the way to 2008 when Sandusky informs the group that he's under investigation, 14 more years. We shudder to think how many more victims could be out there. All that still under investigation, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, this story is not stopping by any means. It's only getting started, I suspect.
All right. Mike, thanks very much.
Many people wrote off his campaign months ago. Now, Newt Gingrich is certainly a top tier Republican presidential hopeful.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. I am such an unconventional political figure that you really need to design a very unique campaign that fits the way I operate and what I'm trying to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We catch up with Newt Gingrich out on the campaign trail in Iowa where the caucuses are now only seven weeks away.
BLITZER: Looking at live pictures from Zuccotti Park in New York City. We're awaiting a ruling by a court whether or not those protesters will be allowed to go back in. As you know and as we showed you at the top of the hour, the middle of the night, the police came in and removed them. Many of them under, of course, lots of arrest.
Now, we're waiting for a judge's decision whether those "Occupy Wall Street" protesters will be allowed to go back in or not. We should get that decision fairly soon. We're all over this story.
Other news we're following, including some political news. As some of his Republican rivals stumble and several have, Newt Gingrich is surging right now. He's moved from back in the pack to becoming a front-runner.
CNN's Jim Acosta caught up with him on the trail in Iowa. Jim is joining us now.
So, how did he -- how did he react to this new frontrunner status, if you will, Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Newt Gingrich says his recent rise surprises even him. When we sat down with the former speaker, he told us, last summer -- and he said this candidly -- last summer was the worst time of his political career. That was when his senior staff abruptly resigned all at once. But all of that is now behind him.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Meet the GOP's latest fresh face: Newt Gingrich.
GINGRICH: Yesterday afternoon in Jefferson, Iowa, somebody introduced me as the front-runner.
ACOSTA: Yes, the same Gingrich who was a walking dead candidate last summer, now has a shot at the GOP nomination. Drawing big crowds in Iowa, the former speaker of the House is candid about his near-death political experience.
(on camera): Did you feel dead?
GINGRICH: No, I felt desperate, but I didn't feel dead. I've done this for 53 years. And the two hardest months of my career were June and July. I am the only candidate running who has actually led at national level.
ACOSTA (voice-over): But with Gingrich's humility has its limits, and assessing what initially went wrong with his campaign, he compared himself to two conservative giants.
(on camera): And where did you go wrong?
GINGRICH: Oh, I think it was a big mistake in my part to try to bring in conventional consultants, because I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. I'm such an unconventional political figure that you really need to design a very unique campaign that fits the way I operate and what I'm trying to do.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gingrich has climbed in the polls by outshining many of his rivals at the GOP debates and by selling ideas that sometimes veer from Tea Party doctrine.
For example, Gingrich would spend billions on a new federal brain science project to find cures for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
GINGRICH: The best way to control the cost of Medicare is to defeat the diseases so people stay healthy.
ACOSTA (on camera): But Gingrich rails against the Washington establishment.
GINGRICH: The Washington establishment model is pain and austerity.
ACOSTA: Despite being a creature of the capitol. You're not a creature of Washington?
ACOSTA: How long have you lived outside of Washington since your days as a speaker?
GINGRICH: I've lived in McClain, Virginia for practical reasons. I did work at the Central Intelligence Agency. I did work at the Pentagon.
ACOSTA: But critics might say you are a creator of Washington. Have you spent all of these years --
GINGRICH: You can call me anything you want to, all right? None of my policy proposals represent the Washington establishment.
ACOSTA (voice-over): There are other contradictions. One day, he jabs Mitt Romney as just a manager, the next, he refuses to criticize him.
GINGRICH: Look, Mitt is a good guy.
ACOSTA (on camera): Authentic conservative.
GINGRICH: I'm not going to get into -- depends on what you mean by authentic. I'm not going to judge Mitt Romney. The voters will judge Mitt Romney.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Ultimately, Gingrich wants voters to judge him not on his past, but what his web site calls the "New Newt."
(on camera): Because this is the new Newt?
GINGRICH: Go back and get the "Time" magazine cover in 1994 where they had me as scrooge holding tiny Tim's broken crutch and the title was "How Mean Will Gingrich's America Be."
One of the things media did is create a caricature of me, so when people finally saw me in debates, they said, that can't be Newt Gingrich because in fact, I'm very different from the media imagery.
ACOSTA: Another telling sign of Gingrich's sudden surge, he plans to open up his first campaign office here in Iowa next week and he's got a lot of campaign cash to deal with raising $3 million in just a last month. Wolf, that is a lot of money to do away with those ghosts of political seasons past. WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: So, is he going to focus his attention exclusively on Iowa or is he going to divide it up into New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida. I know he's got some cash, but he doesn't have as much as Mitt Romney or Rick Perry for that matter.
ACOSTA: That's right. There's a new poll out today came out from Bloomberg showing a four-way race here in Iowa, so and that Newt Gingrich is basically in that top tier. If he can pull off an upset here in Iowa, anything can basically happen at that point.
He's not expected to win New Hampshire. That's probably Mitt Romney's state, but his campaign staff has said in recent days to reporters, they're banking on South Carolina.
If they can do well in Iowa and somehow capture South Carolina, Wolf, they will be on a serious role.
BLITZER: They certainly will be. All right, Newt Gingrich emerging as top tier frontrunner candidate. Thanks very much. Jim Acosta on the scene for us in Iowa.
Herman Cain's sound of silence, his painful pause and flub of a rather simple foreign policy question raising new questions about his campaign. Our strategy session is next.
BLITZER: It's Herman Cain's pause heard about the world. Herman Cain's flub of a question about Libya has gone viral. If you haven't heard it, here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: OK, Libya. President Obama -- supported -- the uprising, correct? President Obama called for the removal of Gadhafi. Just want to make sure we're talking about the same thing before I say yes I agree or no, I don't agree. I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason. Now, that's a different one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, let's break away from there, but let's talk about it in our "Strategy Session." Joining us now our CNN political contributor, the Democratic strategist, Donna Brazile and our CNN contributor, David Frum of frumforum.com.
Eventually, David, he got to an answer that was pretty reasonable, pretty good, but it just took him a painfully long amount of time.
DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's painful to watch. It seems to be a different problem from the one that Rick Perry had in that famous debate where as Rick Perry really didn't seem to have the kind of brain interruption of a kind that we're told does happen to people.
This seemed to be he really wasn't sure of the answer. It's a much less high pressure situation. Herman Cain has been a candidate who's gotten where he is by repeating to the Tea Party their core philosophical commitments about domestic policy.
Foreign policy, he doesn't seem to be very well informed of and he reminds us of all of that again.
BLITZER: And in that same interview with the editorial writers of the Milwaukee newspaper, he seemed to be confused about federal employees and collective bargaining, whether they can, they can't, unions. Did you get that sense as well?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he seemed very uninformed when he's not using his talking points, when he's not talking about his economic plan, the 9-9-9 plan, which doesn't add up to much at all.
The problem is that he's an unconventional candidate and the normal rules of a candidacy simply do not apply to Herman Cain. He is on one day. He's on a book tour. The next day, he's a presidential candidate. The other day, the next day, he's a lecturer. I can't figure him out anymore.
BLITZER: Ronald Reagan broke up the air traffic controllers. He wasn't confused about collective bargaining and federal employees.
FRUM: Reagan would have his pauses, too, sometimes and that could happen to anybody. But the man's also under kind of psychic pressure because you can feel the deflation of the campaign happening.
He's listing downward in the polls. He has got a special trouble with women voters, Republican women and that takes a toll on somebody who a week and a half ago was riding so very high.
And he has to be worrying with the same things the pundit class is worrying about, which is do where the Cain voters go? Do they have anywhere to go?
BLITZER: Because it's like, you know, the sexual harassment allegations. That's one thing. The painful pause on the Libya question, the collective bargaining and some of the other issues he's had problems with. Bottom line, can his campaign come back?
BRAZILE: There's so much volatility in the Republican race, so you can't count anybody out given the fact the Republicans are not enamored with Mitt Romney.
So right now, he's going to continue to float along until the Republicans decide on their nominee. I looked it up today. It takes 2,287 delegates to attend the convention.
So he needs 1,100 people to support him starting in 49 days. I don't see it happening for Herman Cain, but you know what, this is becoming quite entertaining for Democrats.
BLITZER: In terms of the Republican field as a whole, explain this to me because you're a good Republican. David, in terms of intellect, experience, knowledge about these issues, Herman Cain emerged at least at one point as frontrunner.
Jon Huntsman, former U.S. ambassador to China, very, very smart guy, he's sort of at the bottom of the polls right now.
FRUM: Because the Republicans have until now, I hope this soon changes, been casting for the job of Obama critic in chief. They're looking for the person who can deliver the most intense attack on the president and that Herman Cain can do.
They haven't focused on the possibility, this person you nominate, they could actually win and there's actually a life beyond Election Day. There's inauguration day and four years after that, which one of these people can do the job of being president.
It really is striking that that is the only question that seems to galvanize people less, but that is the only question that matters. This is a very vulnerable incumbent president we have now, he could well lose. The Republican challenger could well win. It's important to pick someone who can really do that job.
BLITZER: And it's important to pick somebody who could actually be a commander in chief.
BRAZILE: As I've said before, some of these individuals, the closest they will get to the oval office is a guided tour. Huntsman is a very attractive candidate, but this is a very unusual year.
The Republicans are looking for somebody to beat President Obama. The country is looking for a leader who can change the dynamics of the economy.
BLITZER: All right, guys, Donna, David, thank you. Lost tapes from the days of John F. Kennedy's assassination. Now, they've resurfaced and they are for sale. That and some other top stories coming up next.
It's only been done successfully twice in U.S. history. Details of efforts in one state to recall the governor. They're kicking off today.
BLITZER: There's been a ruling in New York City on whether or not those "Occupy Wall Street" protesters will be allowed to go back into the park that they were kicked out of in the middle of last night.
Our own Poppy Harlow is on the scene for us. So what's the verdict? What's the ruling, Poppy?
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT: The ruling is this temporary restraining order, Wolf, has been denied. So what that means is the earlier ruling handed down this morning by the New York State Supreme Court saying that the protesters indeed could enter the park and evicting them would illegal that ruling has been reversed.
This coming down from Judge Michael Stollman. I believe a New York State Supreme Court Justice has ruled in favor of Brookfield Properties. That is the company that owns Zuccotti Park and he has ruled in favor of New York City, saying that protesters do not need to be allowed back in the park.
Obviously, there's many questions surrounding this, but what does that mean, this is a public area. Protesters will they not be allowed to camp out there or will they not be allowed to setup in any fashion that is.
That is a very big question, but again, this morning's earlier ruling has been reversed. A temporary restraining order has been reversed and the motion by the lawyers of those representing "Occupy Wall Street" has been denied -- Wolf.
BLITZER: So, in other words, the protesters are not going back until the owners of that park and the city for all practical purposes decide they will be allowed to go back.
But as of now, the mayor, Michael Bloomberg and the owners, it's a public park even though it's privately owned, they say they don't want the protesters there, at least for now. Is that right?
HARLOW: Well, it's interesting. Some color from our producer who is in the courtroom for this all day long. What he sent to us is conversations between the judge and lawyers representing Brookfield Properties.
And basically the message from Brookfield Properties was not that we don't want them in there at all, but the message as I read it, we can't have them there 24 hours, setting up a tent city, camping out there.
So it was not saying we don't want them there whatsoever, but they cannot set up shop there, if you will. So I think, Wolf, that's the big question is how will this go down? Are you going to keep Zuccotti Park barricaded like this?
This is a public park. Are they going to keep police officers and private security in there as it is now or are they eventually going to open up to the public? You better believe if they do that, protesters are going to come right on in.
BLITZER: A lot of people have tweeted me and asked me a simple question. Maybe you could explain it to our viewers out there, Poppy.
If this is privately owned property, why is it a public park? In other words, why would anyone be allowed to go into a privately owned piece of land in the middle of New York City?
HARLOW: It's a very good question. I wish I had an answer on that for you. What we know is that a private company, Brookfield Property, owns and has developed this park. They own some of the other buildings and the land around here.
But it has been as long as I've lived here in Manhattan, Wolf, and I live just a few blocks away. It has always been a public park, but it's a very good question. We'll talk to Brookfield. We'll try to get to the bottom of that. I wish I had a better answer for you on that one, but I just am not sure.
At this point, it is not operating as a public park. The only people allowed inside, and I don't know if we have those aerial shots to show you again, but it would be a good perspective because the only people inside the park right now, Wolf, are the police officers in their raid gear as they have been since the wee hours of the morning.
And also private security and that private security are the people that you see wearing those yellow vests, so that is who is controlling the park now.
BLITZER: So, police are in riot gear and the protesters are not in the park. I assume though some are near you. Some of them are outside that barricaded area. I don't know if you have any opportunity to speak to some.
We'd love to get some reaction to this judge's decision, New York Supreme Court Justice Michael Stollman as you say ruling not to extend a temporary restraining order that prevents the eviction of protesters.
But we'll get back to you. Stand by for a moment, Poppy. If you get -- do you have anybody with you right now?
HARLOW: We don't, but give us a minute. I've been talking to them all day long. Let's get someone. We'll bring them to you live.
BLITZER: All right, Poppy, standby. We'll get some reaction to this judge's ruling. The breaking news we're following. Those protesters from "Occupy Wall Street," at least for now, cannot go back into that park.
The police in riot gear, they cleared out the protesters in the middle of the night. We'll see what happens. We're watching a sensitive and tense story unfold live here on CNN.
Jack Cafferty is asking what will it mean to President Obama if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns his health care law? Jack and more of the breaking news when we come back.
BLITZER: Just recapping the breaking news that's just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. A judge in New York City has delivered another setback to those "Occupy Wall Street" protesters.
They were removed in the middle of the night. You're looking at the video coming in from last night, 2:30, 3:30 a.m., a judge in New York, a Supreme Court Justice Michael Stollman ruling not to extend the temporary restraining order that prevents the eviction of the protesters that had been, who had been encamped in Zuccotti Park.
Police in riot gear cleared out the protesters. There were dozens of arrests. Those protesters are not in Zuccotti Park right now. Right now, these are live pictures. You can see the area is barricaded. Police in riot gear are there.
They're watching it closely, but this judge says those "Occupy Wall Street" protesters can't go back, at least for now. We'll stay on top of the story.
More coming up at the top of the hour, but let's check in right now with Jack. He's got the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: My understanding earlier that Mayor Bloomberg of New York said that they could go back into the park as long as they didn't bring tents, sleeping bags and tarps.
And that he didn't want them sleeping there, but they would be allowed back into the park once they got it cleaned up. Now is that no longer an option to your knowledge?
BLITZER: It's an option, but I think the protesters, the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters, they want to stay there. They don't want to go in for a few hours a day then go home at night. They want to stay there and make their case. That's the big issue.
CAFFERTY: OK, well, still to be determined I suppose. What will it mean to President Obama if the Supreme Court, pardon me, overturns his health care law?
David Reid, "To fast track the case, the decision will come down probably about four months before Election Day next year."
Ann in South Carolina writes, "President Obama will be heartbroken. He'll probably lose the election, but he'll get over it. The more important question is what will it mean to the 50 million Americans who can't afford health insurance?"
David in Missouri writes, "It will mean that we're free at last of the oppressive nanny state dream that did not work in Europe and will not work here."
Tom in Maine writes, "Everybody's notice by now there are no health panels killing grandmothers, parents are seeing the benefits such as coverage of young people. If affordable health care is ruled unconstitutional, the public will demand a reinstatement of it in a form that the court will allow."
Sue in Tennessee writes, "In a word, toast. Instead of building a consensus, Mr. Obama chose to push it down our throats. Some provisions are good, but for the most part, it's a mess."
Willie in Texas writes, "It means Obama's next big project will be building his library." And Susan writes, "Health care is Obama's only success story of his administration. It means he'll leave office with accomplishing little except insulting the prime minister of Israel."
If you want to read more on this, go to my blog cnn.com/caffertyfile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM'S Facebook page. It will be an interesting summer when that decision comes down. BLITZER: Well, it certainly will be. All right, Jack, thank you. Wisconsin Democrats and labor unions have been gearing up for this moment ever since last February's showdown with the Republican Governor Scott Walker.
Now, there are massive recall effort is underway. Let's go live to CNN Ted Rowlands. He's on the scene for us. All right, Ted, what's the latest?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the talking about it since last February. They had to wait until Walker was in office for one year, but as you mentioned, the effort to recall him is now officially underway.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): The recall of Governor Scott Walker was a constant threat last winter from protesters inside and outside the Wisconsin capital because of Walker's push for a new law limiting collective bargaining rights for public employees.
This morning at 12:01, Democrats and union organizers got together to mark the exact moment they could legally start collecting signatures to force a Walker recall. Signalling that more than seven months after the law was passed, the political showdown in Wisconsin isn't over.
ILANA STRAUCH, RECALL ORGANIZER: We've got in the next week or so, hundreds of events that are going to be happening all over the state.
ROWLANDS: Forcing a recall isn't easy. Organizers have two months to collect 540,000 valid signatures, about 9,000 a day. Walker meanwhile is fighting back with this television ad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wisconsin's best days are yet to come.
ROWLANDS: Only two U.S. governors have ever been recalled. North Dakota's Lynn Frazier in 1921 and California's Gray Davis in 2003, he lost a recall election to Arnold Schwarzenegger. If enough signatures are collected to force a recall in Wisconsin, an election would likely be held sometime next summer.
ROWLANDS: And, Wolf, we should add that there are three senators that are being subjected, state senators, to recall efforts as well here. Bottom line here is this is playing out in Wisconsin, but it is being watched nationwide and millions of dollars from both sides are funnelling into the state once again while this battleground in Wisconsin -- takes place in Wisconsin.
But this is not as much about Wisconsin as it is about politics in general in this country and Ohio we should note, they had a similar law, but it was repealed by voters this year. That isn't an option in Wisconsin because they don't have a referendum process to repeal a law. BLITZER: We'll be watching it. The stakes are enormous not only as you for Wisconsin, but for indeed other states as well. Thanks very much, Ted, for that.
And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, fireworks erupting on Capitol Hill over the contentious withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq at the end of this year.
Just ahead, the defense secretary of the United States is responding to fierce claims President Obama's putting the country's national security at risk.
Also, an explosive new twist in the growing Penn State University child sex abuse scandal. Did the suspect, Jerry Sandusky incriminate himself during an uncomfortable new interview?
And Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords speaking publicly again today. You're going to find out what she's telling constituents just months after being shot in the head.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Breaking news, political headlines and Jeannie Moos, all straight ahead. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.