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President Obama Publicly Supports Same-Sex Marriage; New Russian Jetliner Disappears On Demo Flight; Postal Service Backs off Plan for Closures; Historic Hitting by Rangers' Hamilton; Ousted Senator Warns GOP

Aired May 9, 2012 - 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: Breaking news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have just concluded that, for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: A truly historic and potentially watershed moment, as President Obama comes out, formally, publicly, enthusiastically, in support of gay marriage.

And with the election less than six months away, the political implications are enormous. We will look at all of the potential fallout.

Reactions from both sides of this issue pouring in right now into THE SITUATION ROOM. We are going to hear what influential groups and individuals are saying about the president's new position on gay marriage.

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following the breaking news this hour, President Obama announcing his support for same-sex marriage, a move with potentially huge political and social implications.

Listen to what he told ABC News in a White House interview just a little while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Over the course of several years, as I talk to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf, and yet feel constrained even now that don't ask, don't tell is gone, because they're not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point, I've just concluded that, for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We have in-depth coverage and analysis this hour, beginning with our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin.

Jessica, this has been a long time in the making. A lot of people always assumed the president personally favored same-sex marriage, but today he went public with his position.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

And this is one of those rare instances where I'm hearing slightly mixed messages from the White House. From some senior administration officials, I'm being told that the president always planned to come out in support of gay marriage before the election, that the vice president's remarks on Sunday saying that he is absolutely supportive of gay marriage, different -- slightly different wording, simply expedited the president's decision to do it this week, but that was always has plan.

Another senior administration official tells me that, in fact, the president's advisers were divided this week about whether the president should, in fact, come out for it, but then after the firestorm, when the media just -- when all of us began grilling Jay Carney, when the questions wouldn't stop, they ultimately decided that the president needed to come out and forcefully declare where he stood on the issue.

The one matter that everybody agrees on, everyone's clear about is that this is where the president's heart was all along, that the president believes this and he believes in gay marriage and he has wanted for some time to be able to say that that's what he believes, and so now you hear it quite clearly.

The one piece I would add is that, in this ABC interview, he makes it clear that he believes the issue of whether same-sex couples should be married should be left up to the states, that it's not a federal issue, it's a states' rights issue, Wolf.

BLITZER: Are we expecting the president to go out there now and actively campaign on this issue?

YELLIN: No.

I'm advised that it's not something that we should expect to hear him necessarily highlight in his campaign speeches. There's not a legislative issue he's going to push, but he does continue to raise money, massive amounts of money from gay and lesbian donors, and no doubt that's something he will probably mention in front of those audiences. And I do expect them to draw strong contrasts with Mitt Romney on this point. One issue that some of the president's top aides have highlighted in the aftermath of the president's comments just this afternoon is that Romney has stood up in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages.

And so this is an issue that they want to draw contrast with their opponent in the general election. It's an issue that they believe motivates young voters, because young voters are so strongly in favor of gay marriage, Wolf.

BLITZER: Very different positions between the president and Mitt Romney.

Jessica, thanks very much.

Jim Acosta is covering the Romney campaign for us.

As I said, the presumptive rival out there in November, his position is 180 degrees different now than the president of the United States.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

Mitt Romney said earlier today in a round of interviews with local stations out in Denver -- he was campaigning out in Colorado -- that he has not changed his position on this issue, that he remains opposed to same-sex marriage. And he laid that out in an interview with affiliate KDVR in Denver earlier today.

Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, when these issues were raised in my state of Massachusetts, I indicated my view, which is I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender. And I don't favor civil unions if they're identical to marriage other than by name.

My view is that domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights and the like are appropriate, but that the others are not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: So you heard the distinction there, Wolf.

He is opposed to same-sex marriage, but there are some issues where he does feel that gays and lesbians have rights. He has opposed discrimination when it comes to hiring practices, that sort of thing. And this issue came up when he was governor of Massachusetts. The state Supreme Court in Massachusetts came out in favor of same-sex marriage.

At that time, Mitt Romney when he was governor took steps to block that decision from being carried out in practice. And this even goes back to when he ran for the Senate in 1994 against Ted Kennedy. Gay leaders in Massachusetts at that time were able to get out of Mitt Romney some promises that he would be perhaps even better than Ted Kennedy when it came to the issue of gay rights, save this issue of same-sex marriage.

He has never really come down in favor of same-sex marriage. That is one area where he has not evolved, unlike the president, who has evolved on this issue. We should also point out the Republican National Committee put out a statement just a few moments ago accusing the president of playing politics with this issue, and saying that Mitt Romney has been consistent on this issue all along.

And we should note, in a few moments from now, pretty much around the bottom of this hour, Mitt Romney is expected to take questions at an event in Oklahoma City. You can rest assured he will be asked about this question. And it's likely that his campaign is putting him out there to take this sort of question just to get this contrast out there later on this afternoon, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, Jim.

Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican Party, issued this statement, among things, saying this -- and I will read it to our viewers -- "While President Obama has played politics on this issue, the Republican Party and our presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney, have been clear. We support maintaining marriage between one man and one woman and would oppose any attempts to chase that" -- a statement from Reince Priebus.

ACOSTA: Right.

BLITZER: So let me just be precise. I'm trying to fully understand where Romney stands on these issues.

He opposes gay marriage. He supports a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage throughout the country. He opposes civil unions. Where does he stand on the issue of don't ask, don't tell in the military? Would he try to reinstate that as commander in chief, or would he let the policy as it stands now stand?

ACOSTA: My understanding, Wolf, is that he would try to bring back that policy in the Pentagon.

You know, this issue came up, these issues of same-sex marriage, rights that pertain to gays and lesbians, all of this came up during the presidential primary process. And it was a difficult period for Mitt Romney, because Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, as you will recall, were accusing Mitt Romney of basically evolving in these positions and changing his positions over the years to satisfy the concerns of conservative voters.

And this issue of same-sex marriage could cut another way for Mitt Romney. Keep in mind, we're in West Virginia right now, Wolf. We came out to West Virginia today to take the pulse of voters when it comes to the popularity of President Obama. And, you know, that -- this issue of same-sex marriage has come up in the neighboring state to West Virginia, Ohio. You will recall, back in 2004, that very issue hurt John Kerry and perhaps cost him that election against President Bush.

So, the fact that the Republican Party and even Mitt Romney in a few moments from now may be taking a pretty hard stance on this issue and getting it out there and talking about it and making it public I think is some evidence that they think that this could work as a political issue heading into the general election campaign, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta out there on the campaign trail.

We will wait to hear. He is going to be answering some questions, Mitt Romney. We will take that. We will see what the -- the Republican presidential candidate has to say.

Let's dig a little bit deeper right now on the breaking news with our chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, the host of "STATE OF THE UNION," and our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

The politics of this, Gloria, perilous potentially for president.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They are, except that younger voters, as people have been pointing out, are very much in favor of gay marriage.

And he -- the president wants to mobilize that young base again that was so important to him during -- during the last election. Having said that, in swing states like Iowa, North Carolina, particularly southern Ohio, blue-collar Catholics in Pennsylvania...

BLITZER: Virginia.

BORGER: ... Virginia, this is an issue that won't play well for the president.

So, when it came down to it, he really didn't have any great choices, because he was going make somebody angry, no matter what he did. What he didn't want to do is look weak or indecisive. He wanted to look like a decisive president. He was kind of pressured into it, you have got to say, because of Joe Biden said and what Arne Duncan said.

And so he came out and said what most people believe he believed anyway.

BLITZER: And I sense that he and his people will want us to see this as almost a profile in courage moment.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Exactly.

This is a brave thing. It's very risky. I don't know how risky it is, simply for the reasons that Gloria states, and because this is a huge community. As Jessica has pointed out, this is a huge community for the president. Remember when he did fund-raisers -- and I think it was in 2010 -- and he went before a group of gays and lesbians who pretty much shouted him down on a lot of the issues that were important, don't ask, don't tell, as well as same-sex marriage?

So I think this works for him in a lot of ways. I think what is going to be interesting is to see whether there is a trickle-down effect here. If you're a Democrat in one of these conservative states, you know right now your local newspaper is calling you, going, the president has evolved his position. What's yours on this?

I think it puts them, as well as some moderate Republicans, in some interesting places.

BORGER: It's also interesting to look how public opinion has shifted over the years in favor of gay marriage.

It's still very close, Wolf, nationally, but when you look particularly at independent voters, now a majority of independent voters favor gay marriage, so, again, less of a problem for the president than you might think, although, in battleground states, a problem.

But if you're going to accuse Mitt Romney of not having a core, you have to have a core belief of your own, and I think that was also a part of this calculation.

CROWLEY: It was, except for the president once described his opposition to same-sex marriage as part of his core beliefs.

BORGER: Exactly.

CROWLEY: So, look, people -- people do change their minds...

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: They both evolved, right? Mitt Romney has evolved and Barack Obama has evolved.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: I think one of the interesting things we are going to see now is how Republicans play it.

You read what Reince Priebus had to say. I thought one of the more interesting things that came over the transom , to me, this is from Gary Bauer, who, as you know, is the president of American Values, a conservative, family values kind of fellow, who said, oh, gee, the charade is up. We now all -- he said publicly what we all believed privately.

And then he said, "Every American who can't find work, whose home is underwater, who can't afford to fill up his gas tank should be wondering why the president is spending even one second of his time thinking about to radically transform the institution of marriage. It's a political move meant to energize his left-wing base and distract Americans from this disastrous economic policies." It's a clever way to go at it. And that a family values guy would go, whoa, keep your eye on the ball over here, which isn't same- sex marriage, it's the economy, is interesting.

BORGER: Except that the president, of course, stopped short of calling for any kind of amendment to the Constitution. What he's essentially doing is adopting the Dick Cheney position, which is it's up to the states.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Right.

BLITZER: The Supreme Court's eventually to have to make a decision.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: You have been covering this closely, Gloria.

BORGER: That's right.

BLITZER: So, I mean, what the president has done is express his personal opinion, but, for all practical purposes, it's up to the states right now to decide whether or not they want to have same-sex marriage.

About half-a-dozen states allow it. Most of the states have passed amendments opposing same-sex marriage. But, eventually, it is going to come before the Supreme Court.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: It's going to.

And in terms of the states, only six states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage. So the states aren't exactly clamoring at this point, which is what the California case is all about, and, as you say, that could be decided by the Supreme Court, one more thing that President Obama might find in his agenda, including health care, for example, that goes before the court.

BLITZER: Earlier, he said we're -- the administration is no longer going to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act.

CROWLEY: Right.

BLITZER: It got rid of don't ask, don't tell. Now gays are allowed to serve openly in the U.S. military.

CROWLEY: Yes. Did this surprise anybody? Yes.

BLITZER: So he was working step by step by step.

BORGER: I think it's the timing.

BLITZER: I, frankly, had assumed he would wait until after the election to make his announcement, but you know what?

BORGER: Can you say Joe Biden?

BLITZER: Joe Biden sort of pushed him a little bit, Arne Duncan, the education secretary.

CROWLEY: I actually have to believe that they were thinking about this before, because they were getting so much heat.

BLITZER: Yes, this is what they're saying now.

CROWLEY: Yes.

BLITZER: But I'm not so sure. But that's me.

OK, guys, don't go too far away.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Much more reaction coming up to the breaking news, the president's announcement, the reaction pouring in. We're going to hear what his political allies are saying, his rivals are saying.

Also, Paul Begala and Alex Castellanos -- they are standing by to debate the issue in our "Strategy Session".

And James Carville's very blunt warning to all the Democrats.

All that coming up. Our breaking news coverage continues right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's get right to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, voters like Barack Obama more than they like Mitt Romney and that might be all it takes to decide the outcome of this election. A new "USA Today"/Gallup poll shows 60 percent of registered voters say President Obama is likable, that is nearly double the 31 percent who feel that way about Romney. Even among crucial independent voters, the president holds a double-digit edge on likability.

So despite the facts that polls show Romney and Obama locked in a dead heat both nationally and in the key battleground states, Mitt Romney is facing a huge likability here and it could cost him. Consider this -- in each of the last five presidential elections the candidates the voters liked most won. When you put other issues aside, a lot of people vote for the person who does a better job connecting with them on a personal level.

In 2004, polls famously showed undecided voters would rather have a beer with George W. Bush than John Kerry, and swing voters found Bush to be more of a real person than Kerry.

As for Romney, pollsters say this likability deficit presents a challenge for his campaign, as he tries to sharpen his image with voters. They can either work on making voters seem more likable or they can give up on likability and try to emphasize other areas where Romney is stronger than President Obama. For now, it doesn't look like Romney's hurting too badly on the issue since he is neck and neck with the president in most of the national poll, but he might be doing even better if he just hadn't tied his dog to the roof of the car.

Here's the question: How much does it matter that -- how much does it matter if you like -- I'm sorry, if you like a candidate for president? In other words, if you like the guy, are you more inclined to vote for him, regardless of his other qualifications?

Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile, post a comment on my blog, or go to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page.

And next hour on "The Cafferty File," Wolf, we'll be talking about today's developments on the gay marriage front.

BLITZER: Huge breaking news. Jack, thank you.

Let's get more on the breaking news. President Obama announcing a little while ago he now supports same-sex marriage.

Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor Hilary Rosen is joining us on the phone.

Hilary, I know you've been very, very active on this issue over the years. What did you think of the way, first of all, that the president made this announcement today?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): Well, I think, Wolf, frankly, it was a wonderful announcement because it was put in the context of exactly the way the American people, all humans think about this issue, which is who do you love, and do we want the government to stand in the way of that? If you're adults, you know, in a committed, loving relationship, you're raising children, that's what people ought to be focused on. That's how the vice president characterized it. That's what the president said today.

I think that's the place where the American people can come together and ultimately support this as we know the polls are moving in that direction.

BLITZER: A lot of my gay friends were moved by what the president had to say. They'd been waiting a long time for this, Hilary. I know you have been, as well.

So, when you heard the president utter those few word, did you get rather emotional? Did you start to cry? Because I've been getting messages from friends saying they actually started to cry, they were that moved.

ROSEN: You know, when I came out, when I was 17 and in college I didn't even think to hope that the president of the United States would affirm me. I was so petrified about what society would do and how it would affect me, and whether I could ever possibly be accepted. And I think that so many people go through that.

So, you know, I hope that what the president did today will be seen through the prism, we'll be seeing through that prism, through the prism of, you know, the young kids struggling to be all they can be, knowing that their life can still be successful and whole and affirmed by the president of the United States.

BLITZER: He made it clear this was a personal decision on his part. He didn't go the next step and actually say, you know what? The country needs federal, national legislation now to make it legal. He says it's still up to the states. So what do you think about that?

ROSEN: Well, I think that's inevitably true. It's not what I would hope for, but it is a fact that what will happen here is that different states will come to different conclusions and eventually the courts will try to reconcile that and we'll have a Supreme Court that will try and reconcile conflicting districts. Those are all -- that's kind of the legal path to marriage equality generally.

But I think the most important thing for people to realize about the president is that he is focusing on the economy every day. He -- what he said today did not mean that he's going wake up tomorrow and try to figure out how to make marriage equality a reality. What he was doing was assuring the American people that he is focused on the business at hand, on fixing this economy and helping people get through this, and that he would hope that this would be seen in the context of a personal decision and not a political distraction.

BLITZER: Mitt Romney opposes gay marriage, supports a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage. He goes even further in opposing civil unions.

How big of an issue do you think between now and November, Hilary, this is going to be out there on the campaign trail?

ROSEN: Well, I think it's an issue more about what it says about Mitt Romney than what it says about Barack Obama.

I mean, one of the things that Bill Clinton, in fact, taught us was that if we want people to grow and succeed and be all they can be in this country, we have to be inclusive. We have to be embracing, and we have to give them every opportunity.

For Mitt Romney to try and divide families -- you know, gay families come in Republicans and Democrats and independents, and all religions, and all shapes and sizes, to try and divide families by punishing people this way is not what we want in a president.

BLITZER: Hilary Rosen, thanks so much for joining us.

ROSEN: Thanks, Wolf. Take care.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to have a lot more reaction to the breaking news, President Obama's historic shift on same-sex marriage, why he's announcing it today. Our "Strategy Session", that's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over the course of several years, as I talk to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are incredibly committed in monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf, and yet feel constrained -- even now that "don't ask, don't tell" is gone -- because they're not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point, I've just concluded that for me, personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The president of the United States is speaking to ABC News just a little while ago, identifying himself with those who support same-sex marriage. Let's talk about the political fallout in our "Strategy Session."

Joining us, the Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor Paul Begala and the Republican strategist and CNN political contributor, Alex Castellanos. Alex, how is this going to play between now and November?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think I have to say that I've taken shots at President Obama here and there now and then.

I have to say I admire him for standing up for something that he believes in today, but also something that will have a political cost. He's not going lose Republican votes -

BLITZER: Hold on a second, Mitt Romney is taking questions. Speaking out, let's listen.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- between a man and a woman.

States are able to make decisions with regard to domestic partnership benefits such as hospital visitation rights, benefits and so forth of various kinds can be determined state by state, but my view is that marriage itself is a relationship between a man and a woman and that's my own preference.

I know other people have differing views. This is a very tender and sensitive topic as are many social issues, but I have the same view that I've had since running for office. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think president Obama has changed his position --

ROMNEY: I'm sorry?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think President Obama has changed his position on the issue?

ROMNEY: I believe that based upon the interview that he gave today on ABC it's said that he had changed his view, but you're a better judge of that than I.

I just saw the reports that he previously opposed same-sex marriage and now according to ABC News he supports it. You'll be able to make that determination on your own. Thanks, you guys. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

BLITZER: All right, taking a limited amount of questions and all of them involving the breaking news on the president's decision to go ahead and support same-sex marriage, you heard Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate saying he opposes same-sex marriage.

He believes marriage should be only between a man and a woman although he said he recognizes this is a sensitive, tender subject. What do you think of what he had to say and his reaction? Forget about the substance and the political strategy, if you will, and how he's dealing with this huge breaking news story today?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I don't know Governor Romney personally. If you look at the two pieces of tape, it did look to me like the president was happy and it looked like he'd been wanting to say that a long time and maybe politics or legalities had constrained him, but he looked happy and comfortable from his position.

I don't think Governor Romney did not look he was speaking from a place of conviction. He is the guy who did say years ago that he would be more pro-gay rights than Teddy Kennedy, which is less possible unless you're living with a dude.

OK, so he's clearly uncomfortable with the issue, Governor Romney is. I think the president has been uncomfortable and now he looked like a weight had been lifted off him and speaking from his principled position.

BLITZER: Alex, what do you think of the way Romney handled this tender and sensitive subject?

CASTELLANOS: Well, I think that's the Mitt Romney I know. As long as I've known him he's a strong believer in a traditional family. That's his faith and that's his background so I don't think it's something politically expedient that he's come to for any particular reason.

It's who he is and what he believes. I do think that the president, the important marriage did happen today that Barack Obama who didn't support gay marriage married the one who does, and we have one now and I respect him for that.

It is going have some political cost for him, Wolf. Not Republicans as we were saying earlier because they'll vote against him anyway and not black Evangelical voters who traditionally vote against gay marriage here.

But he will lose some Reagan Democrats, the cultural blue- collar Reagan Democrats in states like Ohio and North Carolina and Pennsylvania, important swing states that -- he stood up for what he said he believed in, and I admire him for that.

BLITZER: Here's another clip of the president speaking to ABC News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This is also a generation. When I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy or on foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same-sex equality or sexual orientation that they believe in equality.

They're much more comfortable with it. You know, Malia and Sasha, they've got friends whose parents are same-sex couples and whether there have been times when Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table.

And we've been talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn't dawn on them that somehow their friends' parents would be treated differently.

It doesn't make sense to them and, frankly, that's the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: As you know, plenty of pundits already saying this announcement by the president today will cost them not only North Carolina, a state he carried four years ago and maybe even Virginia and maybe even Ohio.

And Alex makes a point, there could be a political price here, but he's speaking from conviction and I think at the end of the day voters admire that more. You'll never agree with everybody on every issue, but now he's taken the position that is clearly in his heart.

I think people admire a conviction politician, and I think he can stand proud on that, and I don't think -- it may not hurt him as much as Alex suggests because finally a politician at a time when everybody is using these words is saying I'm not for this. Here's where I stand.

BLITZER: Even if you disagreed with the president and I think you do, obviously, it took guts for him to do what he did.

CASTELLANOS: Well, on this particular issue, I actually don't disagree with the president. I'm on the president's side on this and have been for quite a long time. The president made the point that it's a generational issue. I feel younger now.

Because at the end of the day I think Republicans can't be the party that says big government is OK if it enforces our beliefs and our morals. No, we have to be the party that cuts that out.

BLIZTER: All right, guys, thanks very much, a historic day. A lot of us remember what the president of the United States did on this historic day.

BEGALA: Thank you, Mr. President.

BLITZER: We're staying on top of the breaking news and we're following other important news including the news for a missing passenger plane that simply vanished from radar screens in a mountainous area. Stand by.

The U.S. Senate is rocked by a political earthquake as the longest serving Republican goes down in a primary defeat.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Russia's newest passenger jet goes missing on a demonstration flight with dozens of people onboard. Mary Snow is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Mary, what's going on?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as many as 50 people were onboard that jetliner when it disappeared from radar screens over a mountainous region of Indonesia. Search teams are trying to reach the area, but authorities called off an air search due to high winds.

The plane is a short to medium range civilian jet liner and it had taken off from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta and it was making a third stop of the demonstration tour to Asia.

Responding to a backlash against massive closures the Postal Service has decided to cut hours of 13,000 rural facilities. Some of them will be open two hours per day. It's part of an effort to save $55 million annually. Some communities will have the option of having the local post office be operated by a private company.

And Major League baseball history was made last night. The Rangers' Josh Hamilton went 5 for 5 with four home runs and a double.

It's one of the greatest hitting performances ever. He is only the 16th player to hit a homer four times in a game and he's only the second player ever to hit for 18 total bases just short of the record -- Wolf.

BLITZER: One short of the record indeed, an amazing, amazing feat. Congratulations to him. Mary, thank you.

The U.S. Senate is rocked by a political earthquake as the longest-serving Republican goes down in a public defeat.

Also, James Carville's warning and it's a serious one, to Democrats out there. All of that coming up as well as more on the breaking news coverage, the president of the United States now supporting same-sex marriage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A resounding primary defeat for the Senate's longest-serving Republican and it's raising some concern about more gridlock in Congress.

Indiana Senator Richard Lugar didn't ride off quietly into the political sunset. Instead, he unloaded on the state of politics in America. Here's our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless America.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Richard Lugar finished his concession speech, aides to the 36-year Senate veteran distributed something extraordinary, a three-page statement warning fellow Republicans especially his victorious GOP opponent Richard Murdoch, about the perils of hyper-partisanship.

He has pledged his support to groups whose prime mission is to cleanse the Republican Party of those who stray from orthodoxy as they see it. This is not conducive to problem solving and governance, Lugar said.

Murdoch's main argument to GOP voters was that Lugar, a moderate, too often supported President Obama's agenda. Mourdock openly advocates confrontation over compromise.

RICHARD MOURDOCK (R), INDIANA SENATE CANDIDATE: What I said and continue to believe, certainly, is one side or the other must prevail and I'm hoping this candidacy will help move the Republican party forward to become a permanent majority.

BASH: Lugar's loss is the latest blow to the center in an increasingly polarized Senate and half a dozen other moderates are retiring this year that after several were toppled by Tea Party backed candidates two years ago.

(on camera): But, Senator, as you look across the country, Republicans like you who have lost in Republican primaries have lost in many respects because they've done too much reaching out across the aisle. Does that concern you?

SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR (R), INDIANA: Well, of course, it concerns me that people don't understand the legislative process. Some people say well, we do understand it and by golly, we're going to wait until we have majorities in both Houses, the White House, whether it's two years, four years, six years, but the country has to keep going in the meanwhile.

BASH (voice-over): There are some exceptions like Scott Brown. To win a Democratic Massachusetts, a Republican plays up crossing party lines in this new ad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's turned out to be unpredictably independent and beholden to no one. BASH: That message was a negative for Lugar and his Republican primary, something he lamented in the face of his landslide loss.

LUGAR: We have then a factor employing people together so we reached decisions. The public as a whole may be unhappy with one party or the other, but they're very unhappy with the Congress as a whole for inability to make decisions.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Now Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican who rode the Tea Party wave into office two years ago, suggested to CNN that Lugar's lashing out to partisan Washington has a lot to do about hard feelings about his loss yesterday.

And Wolf, John McCain who is a supporter of Lugar told CNN that he thinks a big part of the reason why Lugar lost is because he lost touch with people here in Indiana.

Talking to voters here that was certainly part of it, but another part of it undoubtedly was the fact that they wanted party parity and Lugar was unwilling to do that for them.

BLITZER: Dana Bash in Indiana for us. Thank you very much. James Carville has a very, very blunt warning for his own Democratic Party and includes a four-letter word. Why he says Democrats right now need to wake up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're following the breaking news of President Obama announcing his support for same-sex marriage putting him directly at odds with Mitt Romney on another issue.

I talked about some of those other issues earlier in the day with Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor James Carville. He doesn't like what he's seeing right now, but he's sending a blunt warning to his own Democratic Party and to the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: James Carville is joining us now from our New York bureau. James, a powerful piece you wrote on cnn.com including these words. W-t-f-u, translated, wake the you-know-what-up. There is an earthquake. What are you smoking?

What are you drinking? What are you snorting or just what in the hell are you thinking? James, what in the hell are you thinking? What's going on here?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: What's going on is I go around the country and I talk to Democratic donors and supporters and Democratic office holders and there's this sense that we're going to win the next election. And you look at what's happening to incumbents around the world and my question to these people is what are you thinking? I hope we will. I think we have a very good chance of winning the next election, but man, we'll have to run a picture-perfect campaign.

We'll have to do everything right and we'll have to get the opposition on the defensive and we'll have to raise a bucket load of money. And I don't see Democrats out there as nervous as they should be about this and they're way, way too comfortable with their position right now which is not very good.

BLITZER: You include the DNC leadership, the Obama-Biden campaign, the White House, who is asleep right now?

CARVILLE: Well, I mean, look, it wasn't really directed at the White House or something like that. I think -- I think that we got to prepare for one of the hardest campaigns that we're ever going to be involved with in here.

And you know, it's just across the board and we have to buckle up here, what incumbents are staying in office here? We've got to go early and often and, you know, some of our so-called "Super PAC" guys they need to be raising more money.

And we need to have better-coordinated attack out there and there are a lot of things that we need to be doing and gearing up for it and I don't have the sense people feel it's time to get out and it is.

BLITZER: Why is it that Karl Rove's pro-Republican "Super PAC" is raising tens of millions of dollars and the Democratic "Super PAC" is having a tough time raising money at all?

CARVILLE: Well, to be fair, the pollution thing is supporting the thing and you can make more money by polluting things than you can by stopping people by polluting and there is an enormous financial stake in this.

But a lot of this is not just the Democratic "Super PACs" and it's all across the board. It's a sense that we're going to have a good year in 2012. We may, and I hope we do, I'm certainly not going suggest that that can't happen, but right now I don't see it.

We're tied in the polls and I think part of it, too, is people look at Romney and as I point out the thing, he's the worst with ever and he's the worst candidate I've ever seen, and I think people just assume that Romney can't get any better and it's a dangerous assumption to make.

BLITZER: You wrote an article on cnn.com back in September, among other things you said what should the White House do now? One word came to mind, panic. And you also suggested start firing people. Did they heed your advice?

CARVILLE: Well, they indicted some, and they indicted and they seemed to fight. They indicted somebody in this financial services thing, I'm -- you know, I think if it was me, I'm a different personality. I would be on fire right now.

I'd be screaming at people. I'd be trying to, you know, motivate the way, and I wouldn't be as comfortable, and I think they have to send a signal that they got back the jobs bush lost and that's where we are. People are not satisfied.

here's a sense that there's a lot more to do than probably try to convey that, but, you know, it's the way they ought to do it and they've been pretty successful so far.

And I sure hope they'll be successful in November, but I think that people's lives have started hurting out there and we have to tag Romney hard and soon. I'm ready to go and I'm ready to get started here.

BLITZER: Mincing no words. James Carville, thanks very much.

CARVILLE: You bet.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: A reminder, we taped that interview with James before the president's dramatic announcement that he supports same-sex marriage.

How will the president's support of same-sex marriage impact the support among African-Americans and others? We're looking at all of the fallout and the breaking news coverage will continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jack is back with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question is how much does it matter if you like a candidate for president?

Paula in Detroit, "It's the whole ball of wax for the typically stretched too thin voter with little time between daily chores to gather by osmosis any more than a bare minimum of pertinent information. The last-minute gut feeling in the polling booth becomes the deciding factor. It comes down to the guy I can have a beer with."

Bill in Delaware writes, "Jack, I'm not voting for somebody to teach Sunday school. I want the person who most closely fits my ideology. In the bottom of the ninth inning with the winning on the third base, who do you want at the bat? The player more liked by the fans or the one most likely to get a hit?"

Andy in Washington writes, "I think it matters a lot unless you can trust somebody you don't like." Fred says, "Unfortunately after today's cowardly capitulation to the gay rights agenda, the fact that I like the president will not matter in the upcoming election, despite being a lifelong Democrat I will not support the president's re- election and will do everything in my capacity to see he doesn't serve a second term."

Jennifer in Canada, "On the one hand you have a man that treats his dog like a member of the family. On the other hand you have a man who treats his dog like luggage. I know which one I like and this which one makes my blood run cold."

Jim writes, "Jack, it's not necessary to leak your candidate. It's only necessary to dislike the other bum more."

If you want to read more on this go to the blog, cnn.com/caffertyfile or go to Facebook -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.