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Lottery Fever; Supreme Court Weighs Health Care Decision; Jumping on Romney's Bandwagon; Obama Fiery in Campaign Mode; If Romney Wins the Nomination; Japan: We Will Shoot Down North Korea Rocket; Blind Man "Drives" Google's Self-Driving Car; Pot Growing Legally in Washington; JetBlue Compensates Passengers; BlackBerry Maker Considers Selling Company; Stocks Hit Highest Levels In A Decade

Aired March 30, 2012 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Barack Obama swept into office by promising change. Now in a fiery new pitch for reelection, the president says he's been delivering on those promises and he's vowing to finish what he started.

The Supreme Court is now deciding whether the president's biggest accomplishment will survive. The justices have gone behind closed doors. We will tell you what's happening right now and what happens next.

Also, $640 million up for grabs. The largest lottery jackpot in history could be yours if you got the lucky ticket.

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

We have got breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. President Obama has just stepped up his reelection campaign. We have the information that is just coming in, stepped-up pressure on Iran, huge new pressure. The White House has decided to go ahead with what will be the toughest sanctions yet against the Iranian regime.

Bottom line, get this, any country getting oil from Iran won't be doing business with the United States any longer.

Let's go straight to our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin.

Jessica, tell our viewers what the president decided to do just now.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the news is that 12 countries that get oil from Iran will have to make a decision by June 28. Either stop taking that oil from Iran or stop doing business with the U.S.

Now this should take a lot of oil off of the world market because Iran is the third largest oil exporter in the world, but in a letter released today, the president decided that -- quote -- "There is sufficient supply of petroleum and petroleum products from countries other than Iran to permit a significant reduction in the supply of oil from Iran." And he added that he will -- quote -- "closely monitor that situation to assure that the market can continue to accommodate a reduction in purchases of oil from Iran."

The question is, with so much less oil on the market, you have to imagine that this could only have a negative impact on prices at the pump here in the U.S. Senior administration officials here at the White House are the first to say and they say it frequently that prices here in the U.S. at the pump are high because of global oil supply, but today they refused to predict how taking so much more oil off the market would affect prices at the pump here in the U.S., Wolf.

BLITZER: Some of these 12 countries that would suffer if they don't stop purchasing oil from Iran include some major U.S. trading partners. Tell us who is on that list.

YELLIN: Among the countries on that list are some European countries and China, at this point, China, India, and South Korea, but I should point out, Wolf, that in total there are 23 countries that take oil from Iran and 11 countries are exempt for now.

Those 11 are exempt because they take so much oil from Iran that the U.S. has said they need to wean themselves gradually and they are starting. They're making such good progress toward weaning themselves that they have another 180 days to make further progress along those lines. And for now, they will be given an 180-day window to make more progress before the U.S. considers any sanctions against them, Wolf.

BLITZER: I just want to be precise, a country like China or India for that matter, or South Korea that -- there's a lot of trade going on between the U.S. and those three countries alone. If they decide to continue purchasing oil from Iran, what precisely will the United States do to punish those countries?

YELLIN: As of this moment, the U.S. is saying if those three countries do not stop importing oil from Iran by June 28, U.S. financial institutions will cut off all business with their financial institutions.

Now, I should add that senior administration officials say they could add more countries to the list of those exempted from these rules between now and June 28, but those three countries we named are not on the list of exemptions. So as of now, China, India and South Korea, if they do not cut off oil imports by June 28, they will not be allowed to do business with the U.S. after that date.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, I suspect they will cut off their oil imports from Iran, because they certainly have a lot more at stake in continuing a business relationship with the United States, but we will see what happens.

Jessica, thanks for filling us in on the breaking news.

Other important news we're following right now, the U.S. Supreme Court has gone behind doors today to decide the fate of President Obama's cherished health care reform law. Based on this week's public arguments, it doesn't look good for the critical part of the law.

We're talking about the mandate requiring individuals to buy insurance. But the rest happens in private right now, and it could be months, certainly until June, mid-June, end of June until we know for sure.

Our congressional correspondent, Kate Bolduan, as is our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. They were both inside the Supreme Court for the oral arguments this week.

Kate, first to you. Tell us what happens right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, well, the justices were expected to gather in private today to vote on where each stands on the issue.

Still, we will not likely know the final outcome for months, which has left everyone simply waiting, watching, wondering how this unfolding drama will end.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ask that the Affordable Care Act in its entirety be upheld.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a direct threat to our federalism. Thank you.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): From the minute arguments were over...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The case is submitted.

BOLDUAN ... court watchers were searching for any clue as to how the justices might vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, everybody in the case of this magnitude is trying to read tea leaves.

BOLDUAN: For the high court, the real work is just beginning, deciding all four issues and the critical task of writing the court's opinion. Here are the options.

The centerpiece, will the individual mandate stand or fall? Does the rest or any of the law survive if the mandate is struck down? Or will the court call for a legal time-out until the main provisions go into effect, though this option is unlikely.

Key to the decision may be these two men, Chief Justice John Roberts and the traditional swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More so than in most cases, Justice Kennedy seemed visibly to be struggling here. He thought that this statute does fundamentally change the relationship between the federal government and the citizens, which really worried him. On the other hand, he understands the special nature of the insurance market.

ANTHONY KENNEDY, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Can you create commerce in order to regulate it? BOLDUAN: While Kennedy and Chief Justice Roberts are part of the conservative majority, they asked hard-hitting questions to both sides.

JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: I don't think you're addressing their main point, which is that they're not creating commerce in health care. It's already there. And we're all going to need some kind of health care. Most of us will at some point.

BOLDUAN: Their skepticism of the government's case leaves the mandate in doubt. However, court watchers say they have left themselves some wiggle room to side with the government, albeit narrowly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No matter what side wins this case, it will win barely because it's so close. If the individual mandate is upheld, it is almost certain to be an opinion by five, maybe six justices, saying Congress can go this far, but no further.

BOLDUAN: Even Paul Clement, the attorney challenging the law, cautioned such a high-profile case is impossible to predict.

PAUL CLEMENT, FORMER U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: I would never get in the business of being a prognosticator. I do think the one thing that's pretty secure is that the justices are taking this case very seriously. The deliberations process for them has just begun, really.


BOLDUAN: So what happens now? The justices have certainly almost certainly already voted on where they stand. This happens all in private and no press releases and no leaks, and then begins the ever-important process of writing the opinions, which needs to start almost immediately because they have four issues to decide and have very little time to finish up, Wolf.

BLITZER: They have basically until the end of June to let us all know the historic outcome of this decision. Thanks very much, Kate, for that.

Let's turn to Jeffrey Toobin right now, our senior legal analyst, one of the best court watchers out there.

So they meet informally. I take it the chief justice convenes this group, all nine justices together. And he asks them for a little straw vote, how they feel on these respective four issues?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, it's not a straw vote. It's a real vote. They go around the table. It's very much done by tradition.

The chief justice casts the first vote. And then they go in order of seniority, starting with the senior associate, Justice Antonin Scalia, all the way down to the newest justice, Elena Kagan. If the chief justice is in the majority, he then assigns the opinion, usually probably a few days later, to one of the justices in the majority.

If the chief justice is not in the majority, the senior associate justice in the majority assigns the opinion. And then they start exchanging drafts.

BLITZER: Do the justices ever change their minds after this initial vote?

TOOBIN: They do, not often, but it does happen. No decision of the court is official until the day it's announced.

So these votes that they take around the table are, by definition, tentative votes because once the justices see the arguments laid out by their colleague, sometimes they change their minds. It doesn't happen a lot, maybe a couple of times a year. Very rarely do the votes switch in a way that changes the outcome of the case, but it does happen now and then.

BLITZER: You still convinced, as you were earlier in the week, that the Obama administration, as you said on Tuesday, faced a train wreck, on Wednesday a plain wreck? You still convinced? You have had a few days now to think about it.

TOOBIN: I sure do. I just think -- I was responding to what I saw. I thought the arguments went very, very well for Paul Clement.

The questions from the justices seemed to indicate they were more sympathetic to him, but this is just a prediction, and I have tried to make that clear, that, you know, this is something that it's a projection, a prediction, it's not a statement of fact, but I'm sticking with what I saw.

BLITZER: Because other court watchers have a little different assessment.

I assume you know Dahlia Lithwick of She writes this. And I will put it up on the screen: "After Tuesday, it appeared Kennedy and Roberts were both hostile to the bill, but attempting to keep an open mind. Kennedy implied that he saw how the insurance market differed from other markets. I think most people believe that if Kennedy gets cold feet on striking down the mandate, Roberts will go with him to write the opinion as narrowly as possible."

What do you think of what Dahlia suggests?

TOOBIN: Well, let me say this about Dahlia Lithwick.

Dahlia Lithwick is fantastic. Dahlia walks on water. I think she's wrong here. I just -- I had a different reaction to the questions and we will see who intuited what happened.

BLITZER: Just to be precise, you think they will strike down the mandates and then go further and say the whole bill has got to go and that Congress has to start from scratch?

TOOBIN: No, that I'm not sure about. I do think they will strike down the mandate. That's the part I'm more confident about. As for what that means for the rest of the opinion, I am not convinced that there's a clear answer out there at this point.

So I think it's a possibility that they strike down the whole law. And going into the argument, that seemed like an option that was almost outlandish, but clearly you had justices embracing that idea in the oral argument. But whether there are five votes for that is far from clear to me.

BLITZER: Jeffrey, thanks very much. Good week for Supreme Court watchers, I should say.


TOOBIN: It's been a really, really fun week.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much.

Rick Santorum, he's dialing up his rhetoric. Listen to this.


RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a contrast, not a difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.



BLITZER: But key members of the Republican establishment are rallying around Mitt Romney.

And President Obama all fired up today. He says he's been delivering on his promises of change, and he's vowing there's more change to come.


BLITZER: Big-name Republicans are now rushing to jump on Mitt Romney's bandwagon. But there's still a along road to the nomination and Rick Santorum is trying to throw some roadblocks in the process.

Our national political correspondent Jim Acosta has been watching all of this unfold.

A very busy week, Jim, of endorsements.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, a busy week of endorsements. Mitt Romney just gave a speech that sounded like a general election speech for the campaign.

The Romney campaign, Wolf, did not win primaries this week. They did something better, by shaping a narrative that they've won.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: I'm excited. I'm encouraged. I'm enthused.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Another endorsement for Mitt Romney. This time, it was House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

But more important than what was said on stage --

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe Americans face a very fundamental choice in this election.

ACOSTA: -- was what Ryan said in this radio interview in Milwaukee, that time is running out for Romney's rivals.

ANNOUNCER: If Rick Santorum loses, do you think it's time for him to get out of the race?

RYAN: Yes. I mean, I think -- I think most people would agree with that.

ACOSTA: It's been the Romney campaign surrogate message all week, best put by the first President Bush quoting Kenny Rogers.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: There's a time when to hold them and a time when to fold them.

ACOSTA: Rick Santorum is still gambling he can win. His campaign's latest line of attack that one of President Obama's top officials at the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, once directed the Romney policy in Massachusetts.

GINA MCCARTHY, ASST. ADMINISTRATOR, EPA: I did. I played a pretty good role in trying to get Governor Romney to finally sign the Massachusetts climate change action plan.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a contrast. Not a difference between Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.

ACOSTA: But Santorum declined to speculate whether Ryan's endorsement would swing the Congressman's home state of Wisconsin, Romney's way.

SANTORUM: Talk to political pundits. I'm running for office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When ol' Mitt claps his hands for the Paul Ryan plan that's a amore.

ACOSTA: But Democrats are already talking up a love connection, noting Romney has endorsed Ryan's plan to reform Medicare and the Republican budget that just passed the House. It would end the current entitlement program in 2022, and replace it with a program that gives payments to future seniors to buy into Medicare or private insurance.

Ryan says Romney's support of the plan proves he won't be another moderate nominee.

ANNOUNCER: You are convinced now that Mitt Romney is conservative enough?

RYAN: Yes. I am. Look, I was not a fan of Bob Dole being a nominee in '96. I did not support John McCain throughout the primary. I supported other people, you know, the last time. This is not the same kind of candidate.

ACOSTA: But Romney is not just lining up endorsements. He's mending fences, meeting behind closed doors in the last week with his old nemesis, Newt Gingrich, who sounds more pro-Romney every day.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Mitt Romney is clearly the front-runner. I think he will probably get the 1,144. But I think he has to earn it.


ACOSTA: The Romney campaign is only half way to getting the delegates needed to clench the nomination. But as a Romney adviser told CNN, more and more Republicans are coming to recognize the importance of unity for the real battle ahead.

And, Wolf, there's a good reason why the Romney campaign wants this wrapped up in April, it's called May. Look at the states on that calendar, Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Texas -- it doesn't sound like Romney country -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It looks like Santorum also is ratcheting up the rhetoric against Romney, Tweedle Dum, Tweedle Dee, comparing him and President Obama.

ACOSTA: That's right. And he's opened up this new line of attack on the environment, trying to say that Mitt Romney, like in the case with health care, is following or is laying out a path for President Obama on the issue of climate change.

Now, the Romney campaign had a response for that saying it's all desperation, that he's grasping at straws and Rick Santorum is showing no signs that he's pulling out of this race any time soon.

BLITZER: No, he's not.

All right. Thanks very much, Jim.

The House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan would seem to be an important politician to have on your side. Let's discuss what's going on with our chief political analyst Gloria Borger, and our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.

Both of you have spent a lot of time with Paul Ryan. You spent a lot of time with him up in Wisconsin. He's a significant player.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, he's a significant player. I think this is an important endorsement in the sense that Mitt Romney likes the notion that there is a coalescing behind him, Wolf, that kind of adds to the narrative. I would argue that the endorsements he ought to be looking for are the endorsements from evangelicals, because those are the people within the Republican Party who remain the most skeptical about him.

But if he can't get those, these help. Yes, exactly. Right.

BLITZER: Yes. He'll get them eventually, but he needs them right now.

Democrats, though, some of them, Dana, correct me if I'm wrong, they seem to like the fact that Paul Ryan is now working with Mitt Romney.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, you heard to say, I have to say, it was a funny web video that the Democrats did, that's amore, because look, when you talk about Paul Ryan, if you're a Democrat, the next thing that you say is he wants to do away with your Medicare. Whether that's fair or not, it is the politics that Democrats feel they actually have done pretty well on.

This time last year was the first time Paul Ryan passed the budget, which many Republicans were voting for, but were unsure of afterwards because Democrats did such a good job of hitting Republicans on it.

I talked to a senior Democrat this morning about this who said, when they make the argument that the Republicans, now Romney and Ryan, want to do away with Medicare at the expense of tax cuts for millionaires, they say that the polling is off the charts. So if they can continue to tie these two --

BORGER: Which they will.

BASH: Which they will.

BLITZER: In almost every interview Paul Ryan does nowadays, someone asked him about being a possible vice presidential running mate.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: Is that realistic, do you think?

BORGER: Well, I think -- he's got to be on the list and, lo and behold, I also asked him that question, Wolf. This was back last summer when I did a piece on Paul Ryan. Take a listen to what he said back in August.


RYAN: Who knows? I mean, I didn't plan on being a congressman in the first place. I thought I was going to go work in the field of economics. So I'm one of those people that cross bridges when we get to it. You know, we had an open Senate seat here in Wisconsin, I decided against running for that because I think I could make a bigger difference as chairman of the House Budget Committee and an impact. So --

BORGER: It doesn't sound like a -- sort of no way, no how.

RYAN: It's something that's out of my control. That's somebody else's decision.


BORGER: There you are. Not exactly Shermanesque, I would say. The door is open.

BLITZER: And even today. he's saying something similar. You know what -- you know, he's not ruling it out, necessarily, but he says it's not something anyone has spoken to him about seriously.

BASH: That door is wide open and it is a very clear difference with the way he answers the question and Marco Rubio who got -- who endorsed Mitt Romney yesterday who everyone is looking at as another potential vice presidential candidate. He's saying I don't think I want it.

I talked to people close to Raul Ryan.

BORGER: He would take it.

BASH: He would take it in a heartbeat. And if you look at the landscape, it might -- it would be a good pick, actually. I mean, Wisconsin is a potential swing state. You know, if you look at the history of it, presidential candidates who tend to be to pick people who are more like them, they look more comfortable. And if you're Mitt Romney, you don't want anyone who's going to make you look less comfortable.

BLITZER: I think my own personal guess, we're just guessing, Rob Portman of Ohio, the senator and budget director, former special trade representative. I'm going to talk more about that. But I would put him at the top of the list.

BORGER: And if you win Ohio, you can win the presidency.

BASH: In halls of Congress, we all greet him as Mr. Vice President.

BLITZER: No Republican has ever won the White House without capturing Ohio first.

BORGER: And Portman endorsed pretty early, but just saying.

BLITZER: Yes, I put him at the top of the list.

All right, guys. Thanks very much.

BASH: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Marijuana is growing legally right now here in the nation's capital. Why officials insist it won't be abused.

And all fired up -- President Obama sounds a theme he made famous in the last race for the White House.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In three years, because of what so many of you did in 2008, we've begun to see what change looks like.



BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer.

Here are some of the stories we're working on in THE SITUATION ROOM for our next hour.

Life on the run -- new details on how and where Osama bin Laden lived in the years following the 9/11 attacks.

Plus, take a look at these live pictures from a helmet camera as an Ohio clerk sells lottery tickets for the biggest jackpot in history. We're going to tell you how to increase your odd potentially of winning what one winner did to hit the jackpot. Stand by.

And the killing of Trayvon Martin. The shooter's brother speaking out to CNN in an exclusive interview with our own Piers Morgan. I'll speak to Piers.

Stand by. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: And all of that coming up in our next hour.

But let's get to our strategy session right now. Joining us are CNN contributors, the Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, and the former Bush White House speechwriter David Frum, he writes for "The Daily Beast" and "Newsweek."

Guys, thanks very much for coming in.

Let me just touch on what I was talking about with Dana and Gloria. Vice presidential running mates for Romney. What do you think about what I thought, maybe Rob Portman, the senator from Ohio?

DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think that's an interesting idea. I -- like another CNN contributors' idea, John Avalon and Brian Sandoval, I think David Petraeus should also be in the mix, somebody who is -- can bring some foreign policy gravity.

Here's the thing that Romney, I hope, will not do, that use the vice presidency as one more opportunity to rally the hard base of the Republican Party. If they are still not rallied by the time the convention, there's nothing that can be done. Meanwhile, he has to talk to the country, cease talking just to the party, talk to the whole country.

BLITZER: Who scares as a vice presidential potential running mate, the Democrats the most? Would it be a Rob Portman, a Marco Rubio, a Paul Ryan, a Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, who speaks Spanish and can appeal to Hispanics voters out there?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN ANCHOR: Like Mitt Romney, I think they all will represent the same old failed policies, economic policies of the previous administration. So I'm not really fearful of any of his picks.

But here's what I believe he will do. I believe he will go back to the right and perhaps put Bob McDonnell, the governor of Virginia, Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida, because he needs to put several important battleground states into play.

BLITZER: Here's what Marco Rubio told "The Daily Caller," not exactly ringing -- he endorsed Mitt Romney, but he said this -- he said, "There are a lot of other people out there that some of us wish had run for president, but they didn't. I think Mitt Romney would be a fine president and he'd be way better than the guy who's there right now."

He wishes others had run. He would be a fine president. That doesn't sound exactly like Mitt Romney is his top favorite.

FRUM: It certainly doesn't. I think that will register. I think that may be that people take themselves out when they have an intuition that they may not be in.

Now he has a reason, but the thing that has to be stress side the people who are being talked about by the base of the party. That is a message for the party itself.

They were talking so long that they need to have a severe budget and have tax cuts for their people and protect the old and not the young. It is time to start talking to the whole country if you want to win.

BLITZER: And you really think the CIA Director, General David Petraeus would be someone that Mitt Romney would look towards?

FRUM: I have no information on that. I hope he would because one of the things we also need to remember is it's a big world out there. You're going to be competing against the president who is the president who killed Osama Bin Laden.

That is going to be an issue and that will be an essential talking point of the administration and to have someone who can say, you know what? We also bring foreign policy and this is the general who would turn it in Iraq and Afghanistan. That would be I think a real --

BLITZER: Have you heard about speculation about General Petraeus being a Republican, vice presidential running mate?

BRAZILE: No, I have not heard that, but I do think that's an interesting point and they look for someone with foreign policy experience and perhaps Condoleezza Rice's name should be thrown in the mix if he's looking for somebody with that type of experience.

But, look, I think Mitt Romney is a very cautious politician, so he's likely to choose somebody like himself and someone with executive experience and that's why I had Bob McDonald as my number one person for him.

BLITZER: Yes, that's why I had Rob Portman, potentially, as a name out there that I've heard mentioned pretty often. We're going to invite Portman into THE SITUATION ROOM talked about it.

If he doesn't come on, I have a sense that he's not that interested, but if he comes out --

BRAZILE: But Colin Powell would also be another interesting choice.

BLITZER: Yes, but Colin Powell is already in the 70s, you know, I don't know.

BRAZILE: That's the new 50s.

FRUM: He's turned it down before.

BLITZER: I don't know if you had a chance to see President Obama's speech in Vermont today. It was a real campaign speech. He was on fire. Do we have a clip of the president of the United States? Let me play this right now.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: That in three years, because of what so many of you did in 2008, we've begun to see what change looks like. Change is the fact that for the first time in nine years there are no Americans fighting in Iraq.

We refocused our efforts on the terrorist who actually attacked us on 9/11 and thanks to the brave men and women in uniform, al Qaeda is weaker than its ever been, Osama Bin Laden is no more.

Already 2.5 million young people now have health insurance who didn't have it before because this law lets them stay on their parents' plan. Already, millions of seniors are paying less for their prescription drugs because of this law.

Already Americans can't be denied or dropped by their insurance companies when they need care the most. Already they're getting preventive care that they didn't have before. That's happening right now.


BLITZER: As a former White House speechwriter, it's a pretty good speech.

FRUM: Pretty good speech. Pretty interesting omissions that he's got from Iraq to the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and omitting the fact that he marched American troops into Afghanistan and marched them out again without achieving really anything much in the interval.

I also noticed that I don't know it's completely representative. Soft message on the economy because the main thing you want to be able to say as president is things were not so good when I took office. They're better now. He's going to be able to say, things were not so good when I took office and they're good now.

BLITZER: Well, he can say things are moving in the right direction at least.

BRAZILE: Wolf, I mean, look, yes, he killed Bin Laden. He ended the war in Iraq. He had drawn down of forces out of Afghanistan advanced women in the workplace. My list -- I have a pad.

Look, President Obama has a great story. The American people will have a choice this fall, and I believe he's fired up, ready to go. I was in Vermont yesterday. They're excited.

BLITZER: You did an advance work for the president in Vermont?

BRAZILE: Well, you know, I'm not too old to do advanced work, but I was speaking at UVM with Matalin, Cunan and many, many others.

BLITZER: I didn't know he was the first president to visit Vermont since Bill Clinton way back in the '90s.

BRAZILE: In 1995.

BLITZER: You were still in elementary school.

BRAZILE: The president had his coat on.

BLITZER: It's great state, Vermont. Guys, thanks very much.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

BLITZER: Marijuana is growing legally here in Washington, D.C., at least for some users. We have details coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.

Plus, an unforgettable welcome home for one American soldier. This is a feel good story you're going to want to see it.


BLITZER: Rising tensions around North Korea's planned rocket launch. Lisa Sylvester's monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, what's the latest?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Japan says it will shoot down any part of that long-range rocket that enters its territory. North Korea says it's planning to launch a rocket carrying a satellite in mid-April.

The communist nation insists it is for peaceful purposes, but Japan, South Korea and the U.S. think it's a cover for a long-range ballistic missile test.

And the car that drives itself and allows a blind man to get behind the wheel. Google posted this video of itself driving car. It takes a legally blind man to taco bell and the dry-cleaners.

The man says such a car would give him independence and flexibility. Google calls it a promising look at what the technology may one day deliver.

Buzz Lightyear has landed at the Smithsonian. The "Toy Story" doll flew to the International Space Station aboard space shuttle "Discovery" back in 2008. He has made thousands of trips around the earth since then.

Buzz was part of interactive games meant to get children interested in science and he goes on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum this summer.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Big daddy's home.


SYLVESTER: I'm loving this. A soldier's welcome home goes viral. Check this out. You can see how excited this dog is to see his owner. The soldier was returning after eight months in Afghanistan and this boxer -- you can see here.

He can't stop jumping all over the soldier, licking his face and wagging his tail. The video has gotten more than 2.2 million hits on YouTube. That's a hero's welcome if I've ever seen one, Wolf.

BLITZER: I assume that soldier's wife, daddy's home and they're pretty excited about that. I understand why that video has gone viral.

Tornado on the ground, a terrifying look inside the school bus as the twister strikes and legal pot for some Washington, D.C. residents, why some worry, though, where it will lead.


BLITZER: Marijuana comes to Washington, D.C, medical marijuana. City officials insist residents won't abuse it, but some worry already where legalizing pot will lead. Lisa is back. She is taking a closer look at this story. What are you finding out?

SYLVESTER: Well, Wolf, as you can expect, this is a controversial issue. Advocates point to science and say it shows marijuana can ease the pain of some patients, but critics say that it opens the door to abuse. As of this summer it will be legal to use marijuana in Washington if you meet certain conditions.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): Marijuana growing legally in the heart of Washington, D.C. The District of Columbia's Health Department received 90 applications from people wanting to grow pot for medicinal purposes.

Out of those, the city selected half a dozen cultivators. By early June, patients with cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis, chronic renal failure and glaucoma can receive a prescription for marijuana use in their home.

The city's health director says there are controls in place to make sure the medical marijuana program is not being abused.

DR. MOHAMMED AKHTER, WASHINGTON, D.C. HEALTH DIRECTOR: If you have one of those five conditions and the doctor can evaluate whether you could be benefiting from the medical marijuana, then you take the prescription.

You come to the health department, you are issued an identification card with your picture on it and you take that to the dispensary and the dispensary only dispenses you 2 ounces by month.

SYLVESTER: The District of Columbia joined 16 states that have now approved marijuana use to treat medical conditions.

(on camera): The District of Columbia has approved six of these cultivation centers and all six of them are just a few miles from the nation's capitol.

(voice-over): Marijuana was actually legalized in D.C. 13 years ago, overwhelmingly approved by its residents, but because it's the District of Columbia, Congress had to approve and that took until 2009.

But not everyone is a fan. Residents near one of the centers expressed dismay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think marijuana is a gateway drug. Marijuana today, heavier drugs next week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't look good for the neighborhood.

SYLVESTER: The city has a new resident, WeGrow, a national franchise that sells medical marijuana supplies that opened Friday. The company's founder says D.C. is following a national trend of decriminalizing marijuana.

DHAR MANN, WEGROW FOUNDER: Marijuana cultivation, distribution and consumption is going to happen with or without their acceptance. The choice that we have to make is whether we want to regulate and tax it or continue to expend limited resources and trying to control it and only giving rise to the underground criminal market.


SYLVESTER: Now the D.C. health director says they screen the six cultivators to make sure marijuana meets certain quality standards and that it can be grown in protected environment and there are limit to how many plants each cultivator can grow -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And a lot of really ill people think it helps them ease the pain.

SYLVESTER: And that's one of the reasons they are doing this. You know, the D.C. health director, he is a medical doctor and he says that he has seen it firsthand. Where these people particularly in the last six months of life that they may be suffering a lot and if this helps them, he says that's the reason why he's in favor of it because it's from a compassionate standpoint -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lisa, thanks very much.

Escaping a tornado. How one quick-thinking bus driver saved a group of children from disaster?

Lotto fever, live pictures of one Ohio clerk wearing a helmet camera as he sells tickets. We are only hours away from the $640 million drawing.


BLITZER: A monster tornado bears down on a bus full of children and a quick thinking driver. You saw these horrifying images after the tornado passed. Now CNN's Carol Costello shows us what it was like during the storm -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, take a look at this. Remember this bus that was launched by a tornado through a diner in Henryville, Indiana?

It happened earlier this month. Well, now we have video from inside the bus. It shows us what happened moments before the bus driver and her kids escaped this terrifying disaster.


COSTELLO (voice-over): School bus driver, Angel Perry is trying to calm her students as the race to dodge that F4 tornado begins.

ANGEL PERRY, SCHOOL BUS DRIVER: We're going to go into the Baptist church too. I don't know what else to do.

I stopped the bus for a second, put my hands down, and said dear Lord, what do I do?

COSTELLO: Thinking fast, she quickly radios a dispatcher.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCH: I know you're busy. It's 3:38. UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: We should go back to the school.

COSTELLO: With chaos all around her, she makes a rash decision.

PERRY: We're going back to the school. Count how many kids do we have, please? 11. Thank you so much. If anybody needs to call their parents, we're going back to the school.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I do. I don't know my parents' phone number.

PERRY: We'll call them when we get to the school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a tornado on the ground.

PERRY: Tornado on the ground, guys. Be quiet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see the tornado on the ground north of the school.

PERRY: If you have a book to put over your head, do it. Get in the middle.

COSTELLO: They've got a minute and a half to get out of the way and find cover.

PERRY: There's a tornado right there, guys. Look, the funnel cloud.

COSTELLO: In a frantic state of mind, she calmly instructs her students on their next move.

PERRY: Don't block me truck. Don't block me. Guys, we're just going to go as fast as we can into the school.

COSTELLO: They make it back to school. The tornado moves closer. They make a run for it.

PERRY: Everybody stay together. Our group together. Right now. Go, go, go, go, go. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. Come on! Come on. 10, 11. Go, go, go, go!

COSTELLO: Just moments later, the 18-ton bus moves across a parking lot, into a car, lifts into the air, and is thrown into a diner. A picture that will never be forgotten in the city of Henryville, the bus is now inside the restaurant. What also will not be forgotten are the lives saved from the quick thinking of that heroic bus driver.


COSTELLO: Just to give you an idea of what it took to move that school bus across the parking lot. The tornado was an EF-4 with 170 miles an hour and it was one of two tornados that struck Henryville that day -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Carol, thank you.

Amazing videos. We have more amazing videos as well. Take a look at this incredible up close video of this dangerous-looking tornado. Look at this. It was recorded in Mexico yesterday.

Let's bring out our severe weather expert Chad Myers. Chad, pretty amazing pictures.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. And this tornado, Wolf, probably an F2, somewhere around maybe 100 miles per hour, maybe a little bit more, went right over the roadway, right in front of where these ladies were driving.

They had the presence of mind to stop the car, don't get any closer and the storm continued to go across the highway and when they got up to where the storm was across the highway, they did find cars overturned.

They found cars blown off the highway and as we put this into play, this you will see as they turn and pan the camera off to the right how much bigger this tornado got. You're looking at, at least 125, 135 miles per hour here and this is the dust and the dirt that this tornado was picking up.

Pretty spectacular pictures of this storm on the ground, watching the swirl of this storm going around, for now minutes and minute, the ladies did get out of the way and, boy, it was a tough couple of hours there for those people there. There was lots of hail with the storm as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Are we still in what some might call tornado season or is that pretty much over with?

MYERS: No, it's just starting. You know, people were saying how rare is this for Mexico? You have to understand that Mexico and Texas are right next to each other and Texas is the heart of tornado alley right with Oklahoma City. So, yes, northern Mexico does get tornados and there's proof positive of that right there.

We are now finally into spring. All of the tornadoes we've had, a couple of hundred have been in winter. Now we are into spring time and we will have tornadoes.

In fact, there is one tornado warning right now happening for the panhandle of Florida into Bay County Florida, not on the ground, but indicated by radar. We'll be in tornado for many, many more months.

BLITZER: All right, we'll watch it together with you. Let's hope for the best. Thank you.

Fathering children while on the run and that's just for starters. We have some shocking revelations about Osama Bin Laden from one of his widows.

And an extraordinary breach of credit card security. Millions and millions of people in the United States may be affected right now, information you need to know.


BLITZER: Take a look at these long lines. This is Hawthorne, California, not far from Los Angeles. They're lining up there to buy these lottery tickets, $640 million goes to the winner or if there are more than one winner, then they'll divide up $640 million at 11:00 p.m. Eastern tonight.

We'll know if there is a winner presumably, and we'll know the combination. We're watching this story and much more coming up at the top of the hour.

Meanwhile, let's take a closer look at some of this hour's "Hotshots." In Myanmar, a young supporter of the pro democracy opposition leader shouts a slogan during a rally.

In Afghanistan, a dog barks at a German NATO soldier. In England, panic buying causes gasoline supplies to dwindle ahead of a possible strike by fuel truck drivers.

And in Paris, movers use an external elevator to carry boxes. "Hotshots," pictures coming into THE SITUATION ROOM from around the world.

JetBlue compensating passengers on that diverted flight. Lisa is back. She is monitoring that story and some of other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM. Lisa, what's the latest?

SYLVESTER: Well, Wolf, the airline says it has reached out to all of the passengers on Flight 191. It made an emergency landing after an in-flight meltdown by the captain. JetBlue says it is now offering refunds for the one-way fare and a voucher for twice the value of the original ticket. Federal officials are investigating that incident.

And more trouble for Blackberry maker, Research in Motion. The company reported a large loss and disappointing sales. The new CEO says substantial change is what's needed. He says he'll be exploring all options including selling the company. Research in Motion has had increasing difficulty competing with other smartphone makers.

And stocks ended a spectacular quarter today with the Dow and S&P at their highest levels in a decade. The Nasdaq is at its highest point since 2000.

For the quarter, the Dow is up 8 percent. The S&P up 12 percent and the Nasdaq a whopping 19 percent. The gains were driven by improving economic data in the U.S. and easing concerns about Europe's debt crisis.

And Canada is ditching the penny. They say it costs more to make the penny than it is worth. The Royal Canadian Mint will stop distributing pennies this fall, but consumers will still be able to use them. Canada calls the penny a burden to the economy. I know that's something that they've talked about doing here in the United States, but for now, our U.S. penny lives -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It still lives for now, key words for now. Thank you, Lisa.