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THE SITUATION ROOM
Syria Pays Global Price for Deadly Massacre; "We Are Not Animals...Save Our Souls"; Elevated Radiation in Pacific Tuna; Trump not Dropping Birther Issue
Aired May 29, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, key Syrian diplomats kicked out of the United States and countries around the world following a horrifying slaughter that left more than a hundred people, nearly half of them reportedly children, dead.
Plus, we'll show you my face-off with Donald Trump on the so- called birther issue. You're going to see why I told him he's sounding ridiculous.
And a seafood delicacy here in the United States contaminated by last year's nuclear disaster in Japan. We have new details on radiation now being detected in one kind of tuna.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Syria is paying a steep price for what you're about to see. And we want to warn you, it's graphic and disturbing. Rows of children lined up dead. Nearly half of the more than 100 people murdered Friday in the besieged city of Houla. And that is according to the United Nations.
And now the world is responding. The United States and seven other countries -- Australia, the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Canada -- all expelling Syrian diplomats.
CNN's foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty is working this story for us, joining us from the Syrian embassy here in Washington, DC -- what is happening behind you there inside that embassy -- Jill?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, you know, here's an embassy right there. It's the back entrance. And the parking lot that you see over there was really full of cars for most of the day. The embassy technically is open for business.
But the clock is ticking for the man who was in charge to leave.
DOUGHERTY (voice-over): At the Syrian embassy in Washington, little activity. The U.S. notifying the second in command, Zuhair Jabour, he and his family have 72 hours to get out of town. There's no ambassador in place. The Assad regime pulled the Syrian ambassador, Imad Mustafa, back to Damascus last October in response to the Obama administration's decision to recall the U.S. ambassador, Robert Ford.
At least seven other U.S. allies are expelling Syrian diplomats, too, in response to last week's massacre in the village of Houla.
VICTORIA NULAND, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: This is a political measure. This is a statement of our extreme disapproval and horror at the massacre.
DOUGHERTY: The U.S. is not shutting the embassy, as it did with Libya. Nuland says all that's left is a handful of civil servants who would be needed if the embassy reopens after the Assad regime is over.
But a senior administration official concedes, ultimately, this is just a symbolic gesture, with no real practical effect on the killings.
Meanwhile, at the State Department, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with democracy advocates from the Middle East.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Can you give us your very honest assessments about what we can do?
DOUGHERTY: As she leaves the room, a brief chat with a woman from Syria.
CLINTON: Yes. And, well, you know, we're doing a lot behind- the-scenes to try to get everybody on the same page.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
CLINTON: Very important. You know, people are going off in too many directions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes.
DOUGHERTY: In Damascus, U.N. special envoy on Syria, Kofi Annan, meets with the Syrian president on the failing U.N. plan for peace, calling for bold steps now, not tomorrow.
So what could stop the slaughter?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM MAY 28)
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: My job is to provide the commander-in-chief with options. And I think the military option should be considered. (END VIDEO CLIP)
DOUGHERTY: But the White House sounds reluctant.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We do not believe that militarization -- further militarization of the situation in Syria, at this point, is the right course of action.
DOUGHERTY: One key player and still Syrian ally, Russia, calls the slaughter in Houla "a tragedy" and urges an independent investigation of the killings.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
DOUGHERTY: But the -- Victoria Nuland, who's the spokesperson for the State Department, actually was asked about Russia. And she was asked whether it could be a turning point.
All she could really say was, "We hope so."
Meanwhile, the White House, Jay Carney, spokesman -- spokesman says that the -- this is a horrifying testament -- the killings are a horrifying testament to the regime's depravity.
So a lot of tough words, Wolf, but still no concrete action.
BLITZER: And we'll see if there is any concrete action.
All right, Jill.
Thank you very much.
The slaughter in Syria showing no signs of stopping at all. Another 46 people reportedly killed just today, leaving those who live there pleading with the world to, quote, "save our souls."
Alex Thomson of Britain's Channel 4 is getting rare access inside Syria, where hardly any other reporter has gone before.
ALEX THOMSON, CHANNEL 4 CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Heavy firefights in some districts of Homs until the early hours. So this morning, the U.N. cease-fire monitors were patrolling with caution from its streets, out along the main north-south highway toward Rastan, where they tried to negotiate a cease-fire just three days ago. And then a halt after one incoming round was fired at the patrol from the direction of the town.
It happens routinely.
(on camera): These U.N. monitoring patrols come under fire in this area with great frequency. This is not a situation where there's much trust. And each cease-fire has to be renegotiated almost town by town, village by village.
(voice-over): Moreover, yet again, the United Nations said here the Syrian Army was jamming their radios.
With no effective communications, no cease-fire, in fact, Kofi Annan certainly has his work cut out two hours south from here, in Damascus. There he's been meeting key officials. And hanging heavy in the air the question for President Bashir al-Assad. He's seen events in Libya, in Tunisia, in Egypt. And barring any radical change of direction, the likelihood is this will one day end, for him, in exile, imprisonment or death.
But still tonight -- and rightly -- the Houla massacre commands the agenda, its consequences reverberating around the globe.
"This has to stop" -- Kofi Annan's message central message to President Assad today.
But worldwide, governments are not using words, they're taking action. Diplomats expelled across Europe. The French government describing President Assad today simply as "a murderer."
Kofi Annan would not use such language, of course, but told the Syrian president to be bold in stopping this war.
KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY ON SYRIA: I shared with President Assad my assessment that the six point plan is not being implemented, as it must. We are at a tipping point. The Syrian people do not want their future -- their future to be one of bloodshed and division. Yet the killings continue and the abuses are still with us today.
THOMSON: Tonight more details from Houla, where 108 people are now reported dead. Though from what I've seen and the location of bodies, I'm certain that that number will rise.
THOMSON: According to the United Nations, fewer than 20 died in the initial government shelling, after rebels clashed with soldiers on Friday. Another 88, mostly women and children, were executed, according to U.N. monitors who visited the town.
People there insist it was Shabhia, government-backed armed civilians, who slaughtered people house to house, family to family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A few, a fairly small number, appear to have been killed by shelling, artillery and tank fire, which took place over a period of more than 12 hours. But the majority appeared to have been the result of house to house summary executions of armed men going into houses and killing men, women and children inside.
THOMSON: One eyewitness told Channel 4 News he'd hidden in a pile of hay and seen men in black and army uniforms surrounding the town. He said, at first, they were welcomed in this Sunni town surrounded by largely Shia and Alawite areas.
Another villager said they went building to building, shooting people in the head and then looting. The U.N. confirms 49 children and 34 women were killed on Friday. Amateur video shows tanks still surrounding the town today. And I certainly witnessed them in action here two days ago.
President Assad, of course, blames what he calls terrorists.
Alex Thomson, Channel 4 News, Damascus.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: So what will it take for military action to try to help the people in Syria?
I'll ask the former NATO supreme Allied commander, General Wesley Clark, in a few minutes. He's standing by live. He went through a similar situation,, as a lot of our viewers will recall, back in Kosovo in the late 1990s.
Also ahead this hour, the first signs of radioactive fish linked to last year's nuclear disaster in Japan.
Also, I'll go one-on-one -- if you didn't see it, you'll see it now -- my one-on-one interview with Donald Trump on why he's not dropping the so-called birther issue.
DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR: -- (INAUDIBLE) Obama.
BLITZER: Donald, Donald, you're -- you're beginning to sound a little ridiculous, I have to tell you.
TRUMP: No, I think you are, Wolf. I -- and let me tell you something, I think you sound ridiculous. And if you'd ask me a question then let me answer, it (INAUDIBLE)...
BLITZER: Here's the question, did the conspiracy start in 1961, when the "Honolulu Star-Bulletin" and "The Honolulu Advertiser" contemporaneously published announcements that he was born...
TRUMP: That's right.
BLITZER: -- in Hawaii?
TRUMP: That's right. And many people put those announcements in because they wanted to get the benefits of being so-called born in this country.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with the Cafferty File -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, right on the heels of Memorial Day comes a strong suggestion that President Obama could have problems with military veterans come November.
A new Gallup Poll shows that veterans support Mitt Romney over President Obama by a stunning 24 points, 58 percent to 34 percent. Veterans make up about 13 percent of the population, as well as almost a quarter of adult men.
Pollsters say the large edge among veterans is a big reason why Romney is leading among men overall.
Historically, Republican presidential candidates tend to do better among veterans than Democrats. Both George W. Bush and John McCain carried the veteran vote, even though President Obama won veterans under the age of 60 in the last election. It's worth pointing out, as well, that there's another poll out this month that found the president is leading Romney among veterans, 44 percent to 37 percent percent.
Both Romney and President Obama saluted the troops over this Memorial Day Weekend. The president honored the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and those who, quote, "love their country enough to sacrifice their own lives for it," unquote.
He told the veterans that the U.S. must remain the world's top military power. 2012 is the first election since World War II without a major candidate who's a veteran. And it's clear both men realize the power of this voting bloc.
Here's the question, what does it mean if Mitt Romney leads President Obama by 24 points among veterans? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and post a comment on my blog or go to our post on the SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you.
Other news we're following, including Beryl is downgraded to a tropical depression, but torrential rains are sweeping across the southeast. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that, also some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. What's the latest, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, these pictures are from around Jacksonville, Florida where they received three to five inches of rain. Believe it or not, they actually got off easy compared to one area near Tallahassee. That's reporting more than a foot of rainfall.
Beryl center is now southwest of Savannah, Georgia, with sustained winds of up to 30 miles an hour. It's prompting flood watches from Florida to North Carolina.
And Facebook is continuing its free fall on Wall Street. The stock slipped almost 10 percent today, closing slightly below $29 per share. Analysts point to speculation that the company is preparing to buy the Norwegian software developer, Opera. Overall, Facebook shares have lost more than 24 percent of their value since the highly anticipated IPO just over a week ago. Home prices hit new post bubble lows in March. A new report shows average home prices down 2.6 percent from a year ago. That puts prices at the lowest level since 2002 and down 35 percent from the peak back in 2006.
So, now, to a cafeteria. In Los Angeles, where someone left the light on about 70 years ago and it is still burning. The neon bulb was discovered behind a wall that was put up as part of a remodel in the early 1940s. A remarkable discovery, but I've got to tell you, wolf, I don't envy whoever had to pay that electricity bill to keep it lit all of those years. That's amazing that neon bulb still going after 70 years, Wolf.
BLITZER: It is amazing, I got to tell you. Amazing, indeed. Thank you very much.
Up next, the first signs of radioactive fish linked to last year's nuclear disaster in Japan reaching the California coast. What's going on? Stand by.
BLITZER: More concern about last year's nuclear accident in Japan as researchers discover high radiation levels in one type of tuna caught off the west coast of the United States. CNN's Casey Wian is covering the story for us. Casey, among other consequences, this could be bad news for some sushi lovers out there. Are we going too far? Is that an exaggeration? What's going on?
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there are a lot of fears because of 15 fish that were caught off the coast of California last summer, fears about radiation in seafood.
WIAN (voice-over): Pacific bluefin tuna is highly prized by sushi lovers, mostly in Japan, but it's also a seasonal delicacy in the United States. Now, there's evidence showing some migratory bluefin caught off the coast of San Diego last summer carried low levels of radiation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will eat tuna probably less now that I know that, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm still eating sushi. You know what I mean?
WIAN: The source? Last year's Fukushima's nuclear explosion in Japan. The findings were published Monday in the prestigious scientific journal. One of the authors who were surprised by the results appeared on CNN "Early Start" program.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Surprised, but are you concerned?
NICHOLAS FISHER, STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY: From a public health perspective, not particularly. I say that because at least for these particular fish that we analyzed the radio activity was only about three percent above the natural radiation background.
WIAN: Even when the researchers estimated how much radiation the bluefin contained when they were exposed in Japanese waters before their migration across the pacific, the levels were far below what's considered safe for human consumption.
The pacific blue fin in the California study were caught by sport fishermen. Most of the bluefin eaten in the United States is farmed or Atlantic bluefin.
JON KAGAWA, OWNER, FISH KING: East coast bluefin is something that's probably considerably more desirable in the west coast version. I can say also the farm-based product is what primarily the sushi bars use, not the west coast.
WIAN: The FDA, EPA, and NOAA say U.S. seafood is safe to eat and unaffected by the Fukushima incident, but, they have not yet seen the results of the California bluefin study.
FISHER: I personally would not hesitate to eat the tuna that were caught off California, but I don't make recommendations for a lot of people. A lot of people are very anxious about radio activity. A lot of the foods we eat are radioactive.
WIAN (on-camera): Now, despite all of those assurances, researchers will be testing bluefin tuna that will be caught off of the California coast this summer. Those bluefin were actually exposed to the Fukushima radiation earlier in their lives right after they were born, so they want to see how much radiation remains in those bluefin tuna.
They don't know if it'll be higher or lower levels. The researchers also recommending that other migratory species be checked for radiation levels, Wolf.
BLITZER: Casey, keep us inform. Thanks very much.
We'll get back to our top story this hour. A massacre in Syria, dozens of innocent children among the victims. Why is that not enough to take military action? What's going on? I'll ask the former NATO supreme allied commander, General Wesley Clark. He's standing by.
Also, my heated interview, Donald Trump on why he's not dropping the so-called birther issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There are many people that don't agree with that birth certificate. They don't think it's authentic, Wolf.
BLITZER: I don't know when you say many people who don't agree -
TRUMP: Many people.
BLITZER: Like who? Give me a name of someone in a position of authority in Hawaii who says -- give me a name.
TRUMP: There are many people. I don't give names.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's get back to our top story right now. The Syrian slaughter fueling outrage in the United States and around the world. The White House says it's a, quote, "horrifying testament" to the Syrian regime, but still isn't ready to take any military action.
Joining us now, the former NATO supreme allied commander, General Wesley Clark. General, thanks very much for coming in. Let's talk about what's going on in Syria right now. Should the United States and NATO take military action to stop the slaughter?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK, (RET.) FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, EUROPE: Well, we'd certainly like to get the slaughter stopped. I think there's no question about that, but the problem is how do you do it effectively? And so, the normal way you do this is to work backwards, from the desired outcome.
That means you need legal authority, you need a political consensus to get the authority, and you need some kind of a political body at the end of the military action to take charge of Syria. None of that exists right now.
BLITZER: Let me interrupt you, general. Why doesn't it exist? Is it as Mitt Romney suggests and other critics of the president suggested the United States is not taking the necessary leadership to get a coalition together to at least impose what's called a no-fly zone or take some action to impose an arms embargo against Syria?
CLARK: Well, I don't think the no-fly zone is going to be effective here. I don't think it's still a matter of presidential leadership. The truth is that the Syrian opposition is fragmented. There are weapons being fed in. There were three main factions there in Syria. There's (INAUDIBLE) faction or Christian faction and the Sunni Muslim faction.
Christian faction is about two million. They're actually afraid of the regime changing because they're afraid a Sunni regime would come in and be a radical Islamist Sunni regime. That's two million more refugees to pour out into Western Europe and into Lebanon, and so, there's a lot of concern on this and there hasn't been a real political opposition form.
If a political opposition could form, then around that could coalesce the kinds of actions that would -- that NATO and the United States could then assist and reinforce, but absent a political leadership in there, it's very difficult to do anything. You can't simply drop weapons in.
CLARK: You can't start bombing.
BLITZER: The U.S. and the NATO coalition, the NATO allies did do that and got rid of Gadhafi in Libya. Why not do the same thing in Syria?
CLARK: Well first of all there was a political opposition in Libya. Secondly we had a U.N. Security Council resolution. We also had an Arab League resolution and so we had legal authority to do this. What we don't have is we don't have the legal authority but more importantly we don't have the political opposition. There's no one to assist. That's why we're providing non-lethal aid now. We're providing communications equipment and humanitarian assistance in there trying to get it in, in an effort to enable a political opposition to coalesce.
BLITZER: Because you well remember Kosovo. And I remember it. I was White House correspondent for CNN, Resolution 1199 which was the excuse used by you the NATO supreme allied commander and the other NATO allies to go ahead and start military action to stop the slaughter in Kosovo even though the last paragraph had a weak statement sort along saying deciding should the concrete measures demand, blah, blah, blah, not be taken to consider further action, to consider further action. You use that as authority, legal justification to go ahead and launch a massive military operation in Kosovo that saved a lot of lives.
CLARK: We did. And we knew at the time that as it was built up that Russia was going to veto a stronger resolution. It simply wasn't going to come out of the United Nations, but what we did have is we had a full effort to get a political resolution first. We knew what the outcome on the ground would be after the fighting was over and so there was a political framework there. There's no framework in place for Syria, and that's what's got to emerge. What is that framework? What could we do to assist?
BLITZER: Here's a tough question if you can answer it directly. President Bill Clinton at the time went ahead and did it to save lives in Kosovo and the criticism of President Obama right now he's not doing what Bill Clinton did. Is that a fair criticism?
CLARK: No, I don't think it's a fair criticism because in the summer of 1998 when Milosevic (ph) started the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, we did not take military action, what we did do was we took a series of warning measures and Richard Holbrooke went in and talked to Milosevic. I talked to Milosevic. He assured us nothing was going to happen, but of course he was doing it anyway. Exactly the same game Assad was playing and it took several months to mobilize the international community. We're at the point now where that mobilization is going to occur if there is a political opposition in Syria or outside of Syria representing Syrians around which we can work. There was such a group in Kosovo. We had a president, President Rugaval (ph). We had the Kosovo Liberation Army.
So President Rugaval (ph) had -- he had the support of his people. He was internationally recognized. Even Milosevic dealt with him, so it wasn't a political vacuum. The opposition in Syria right now, there are a lot of brave people in there. You know we honor what they stand for. It's absolutely wrong what the Assad regime is doing. It's murder. We know it, but we haven't been able to locate the political opposition, and we want to stabilize the situation. What we don't want is mayhem in a region where hundreds of thousands of people die. And Syria is in a difficult position with pressures on all sides, so we've got to make the right steps not just an urgent step.
BLITZER: General Wesley Clark, the former retired NATO supreme allied commander. We'll continue this conversation. Thank you.
CLARK: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, my one-on-one interview with Donald Trump who has some very strong things to say about CNN's reporting, the issue of where the president of the United States was born. If you didn't see it, you're about to see it. I must say a pretty explosive interview.
BLITZER: Turning now to the politically charged issue of where the president of the United States was born and those who refuse to let it die. One of the most outspoken, the real estate giant Donald Trump who is stumping for Mitt Romney on the same day he's set to clinch the Republican presidential nomination. Last hour I spoke with Donald Trump and I asked him why he's doubling down now and the interview got very heated.
TRUMP (via phone): His own publisher, as you know, using his words that he was born in Kenya and he lived in Indonesia, of course, now he's denying that amazingly so, but I'm not here to talk about that. I'm here to talk as you said you would, jobs, China, what's going on with respect to China and how they're ripping this country, what's going on with respect to OPEC and how the nations of OPEC are laughing at the stupidity of our country. That's what I'm here to talk about. You know that's what I'm here to talk about, and I thought that your introduction was highly inappropriate --
BLITZER: Well --
TRUMP: But that's OK, because I've gotten to know you over the years.
BLITZER: Well listen, Donald, first of all, I never said we weren't going to talk about the birther issue. We had a conversation earlier today and we didn't discuss at all what we were going to talk about. I don't know --
TRUMP: -- very much --
BLITZER: I don't know why -- TRUMP: And I will tell you it's not an issue that he likes talking about, so what he does is uses reverse psychology on people like you so that you report like, oh, gee, he's thrilled with it. He does not like that issue because it's hitting very close to home. You know it and he knows it --
BLITZER: I don't know it --
BLITZER: Donald, you and I have known each other for a long time and I don't understand why you're doubling down on this birther issue after the state of Hawaii formally says this is the legitimate birth certificate. He was born in Hawaii. Why are you going through all of this, Donald?
TRUMP: Well a lot of people don't agree with that birth certificate. A lot of people do not --
BLITZER: But if the state of Hawaii authorizes it -- if the state of Hawaii says this is official, he was born in Hawaii on this date, here it is, why do you deny that?
TRUMP: A lot of people do not think that was an authentic certificate --
BLITZER: How can you say that if the --
TRUMP: A lot of people -- no you won't report it, Wolf, but many people do not think it was authentic. His mother was not in the hospital. There are many other things that came out and, frankly, if you would report it accurately I think you would probably get better ratings than you're getting which are pretty small.
BLITZER: Donald, have you seen the actual newspaper announcements within days of his birth in Honolulu, for example, "The Honolulu Star Bulletin" -- we'll put it up there -- you see the birth announcement back in 1961 the --
TRUMP: Yes and many people did that --
BLITZER: Listen, listen to me, Donald.
TRUMP: Excuse me Wolf --
BLITZER: Honolulu --
TRUMP: Am I allowed to talk --
BLITZER: Can I ask a question?
TRUMP: You can stop defending Obama.
BLITZER: Donald, Donald, you're beginning to sound a little ridiculous, I have to tell you. TRUMP: No, I think you are, Wolf. Let me tell you something. I think you sound ridiculous and if you'd ask me a question and let me answer it --
BLITZER: Here's the question. Did the conspiracy start in 1961 when "The Honolulu Star Bulletin" and "The Honolulu Advertiser" contemporaneously published announcements that he was born in Hawaii?
TRUMP: That's right. And many people put those announcements in because they wanted to get the benefit of being so-called born in this country. Many people did it. It was something that was done by many people even if they weren't born in the country. You know it and so do I --
BLITZER: So explain, so explain --
TRUMP: I'm sure that a lot of your viewers --
BLITZER: Donald, explain why --
TRUMP: -- you don't have too many viewers, Wolf --
BLITZER: So why did the state of Hawaii authorize that live birth certificate? Why did they do it? Are they part of this conspiracy as well?
TRUMP: Well, you know your Democratic governor who was the one that was really leading it, a lot of people say where did it come from and they're saying how come he didn't show it to John McCain, Hillary Clinton, it was only Donald Trump that got him to do it. So you know that and I know that. And you know when you say that Obama doesn't mind this, Obama hates the subject. When his publisher comes out with a statement from him made in the 1990's that he was born in Kenya, and that he was raised in Indonesia and all of a sudden it comes out, I think it's something that he doesn't like at all. Now what he says is oh, we love it, we love it, we love it --
BLITZER: Donald --
TRUMP: Because that's --
BLITZER: Let me tell you -- let me tell you who hates this subject. It is Mitt Romney who totally disagrees with you on this including today, he issued a statement --
TRUMP: I don't speak to Mitt Romney about it --
BLITZER: Mitt Romney says --
TRUMP: What I speak to Mitt Romney about is jobs --
BLITZER: Is Mitt Romney a Democrat? Is he an Obama supporter?
TRUMP: What I speak to Mitt Romney about is jobs. What I speak to Mitt Romney about is China because he's got a great view on China and how they're trying to destroy our country by taking our jobs and making our product and manipulating their currency so that it makes it almost impossible for our companies to compete. What I speak to him about is OPEC. I don't speak to him about this. You bring it up because you feel it's probably going to get a few more people watching your station which unfortunately they're not doing.
BLITZER: Here's what with Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul (ph) said today, today, not yesterday, not last week, not six months ago. "Governor Romney has said repeatedly that he believes President Obama was born in the United States." Now he's not a Democrat. He's not an Obama supporter. He's Governor Romney, the Republican presidential nominee. He says you're wrong.
TRUMP: You know what? Everybody is entitled to their opinion, Wolf. You know my opinion and you know his opinion and that's fine. We're entitled -- as you said yesterday, in the airplane, we are all entitled to our opinions and he's entitled to his opinion, and I think that's wonderful. I don't happen to share that opinion and that's wonderful also.
BLITZER: But the state of Hawaii says it's not an opinion, it's a fact.
TRUMP: No, I don't think so. I think if you look at the birth certificate, take a look and you tell me really, you analyze the birth certificate, there are many people that don't agree with that birth certificate. They don't think that's authentic, Wolf.
BLITZER: I don't know when you say many people who don't agree --
TRUMP: Many people --
BLITZER: Like who --
TRUMP: Many people --
BLITZER: Give me a name of somebody in position of authority --
TRUMP: There are many people --
BLITZER: -- in Hawaii who says -- give me a name.
TRUMP: There are many people -- I don't give names. There are many people that do not believe that birth certificate is authentic.
BLITZER: Well you know what --
BLITZER: Let me ask you this and because you said when you were thinking about running for the Republican presidential nomination, you had an exchange with Meredith Vieira on the "Today" show. I'm going to play the little clip because I want to follow up on this because it got me interested at the time, and I want to see if there is a follow up, but listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have people that actually have been studying it and they cannot believe what they're finding.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have people now down there searching --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- I mean in Hawaii --
TRUMP: Absolutely, and they cannot believe what they're finding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right tell us what your people who were investigating in Hawaii what they found.
TRUMP: We don't have to go into all news. That's old news.
BLITZER: But what did they find?
TRUMP: There's been plenty found. You can call many people, you can read many, many articles on the authenticity of the certificate. You can read many articles from just recently as to what the publisher printed in a brochure as to what Obama told him, as to where his place of birth is and that's fine, Wolf. Now it's appropriate, I think, that we get to the subject of hand which is -- at hand which is jobs, which is the economy, which is how our country is not doing well at all under this leadership, which is how are we going do something about energy, which is really the things that I wanted to talk to you about, but you like to keep going back to the place of birth. I actually think that's an important subject, but I think we've covered that pretty well now, don't you?
BLITZER: Donald Trump speaking with me just a little while ago. We're getting reaction to the interview. Donald Trump, the interview with Donald Trump and the reaction blowing up on Twitter actually within minutes of airing it. One tweet saying quote "Trump got blitzed", another "listening to Donald Trump and Wolf Blitzer duke it out over Obama's birth certificate was pretty much the best way to end my work day."
Also this tweet "Breaking, after watching Wolf Blitzer's interview with Donald Trump President Obama to award the tycoon the Medal of Freedom From Reality." Our contributor David Frum is here. He listened to the interview as well. He's a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush. Is Donald Trump helping, net, net, all the pluses and the minuses, helping Mitt Romney or hurting Mitt Romney?
DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: There is an old saying about a certain kind of person who needed to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral and that's Donald Trump. So he has now inserted himself into Mitt Romney's story, Mitt Romney's message to America is I'm a safe pair of hands. I'm responsible. I'm not the kind of Republican you don't like. I am the kind of Republican you do like. And Donald Rump has said -- Donald Trump has just said and you know that kind of Republican you don't like, over here, everybody, look over here.
BLITZER: Because you know we're spending a lot of time on the so-called birther issue and I am sure Mitt Romney would have preferred we spend a lot of time talking about the economy and jobs --
FRUM: Home prices -- home prices today dropped to -- dropped by two percent year-over-year. That's the new number from Case Shiller (ph). I think I have that right. That's a big story. Consumer confidence is trending down. That's a big story. Those are things that a responsible Republican would be talking about right now.
BLITZER: So is it just for money that Donald Trump and Mitt Romney are teaming up tonight at this big fund-raiser in Las Vegas? What else is Mitt Romney going to get out of it?
FRUM: Well I think today right now Mitt Romney is saying there's not enough money in the world to pay for this negative publicity. I think there was, with Trump, the old political imperative, keep the guy inside the tent doing his harm outside the tent, rather than having him outside the tent doing harm inside the tent. But Trump doesn't play by that rule and by -- now that he's so closely associated with Romney, the antics hurt Romney and he's giving Romney -- and he's put him in a very awkward and difficult position.
BLITZER: Because every important Republican out there, all of the other Republican presidential candidates as far as I know who were running at one point, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum and Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, they never questioned seriously the president's birth certificate or where he was born or anything. Even Karl Rove who runs this Super PAC --
BLITZER: -- the former architect as he was called for President George W. Bush, the man you worked for, he believes the president was born in the United States, so --
BLITZER: -- when I said that Trump was sounding ridiculous I actually felt it.
FRUM: I wish you wouldn't use the verb believe because that's not the right word to use about facts. But here's the thing that I think is -- really to keep in mind. There is a very good chance that Mitt Romney is the next president, he's going to have to govern this great and diverse country, and that means you not only have to win, but you have to win in a way that allows you to govern effectively, and Romney has the brains, the smarts, the decisiveness, so many of the virtues, but if the country has done damage in the interim (ph) process his job becomes as impossible as Barack Obama's job has been these past years.
BLITZER: David thanks very much. I suspect we'll some more reaction to that interview.
FRUM: Thank you.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is coming up next with "The Cafferty File". Stand by.
BLITZER: Let's check back with Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour Wolf is "What does it mean if Mitt Romney leads President Obama by 24 points among veterans?" That's in a latest Gallup poll.
John in Alabama, "it means the president and his campaign staff need to remind veterans who was president when Osama bin Laden was killed and who gave the order. Veterans need to ask themselves who got us out of Iraq. It was President George W. Bush, a Republican, who started the Iraq war. Veterans need to look and see who has done the most for them recently."
Bob, who says he's a veteran in Baltimore, "it means that there are many veterans out there who have no clue of the Republican's budget priorities that place veterans very far down on the list."
T. in Oklahoma, "it means that older veterans know what a socialist and a communist looks like. It's what they fought against in World War II, Vietnam, Korea, et cetera. My 92-year-old dad sees it, his friends see it. My Vietnam vet friends also see it."
Peter in Toronto, "doesn't mean much, the military is demographically tilted toward more males and more conservatives to start with, so it would be quite shocking for a Democrat, any Democrat, to lead over a Republican in polling."
John in New York writes "I'm a military veteran and it concerns me greatly. I support this president and how he has handled many of our military issues. I think it will mean a little toward Election Day, but it does mean that 'don't ask, don't tell' has played a factor in that percentage."
And Paul in North Carolina writes, "it means nothing. You said another poll showed Obama leading. Combine the two, it's a standoff. When you start slicing the voting public into fewer and finer pieces, all you end up with is coleslaw. Instead of trying to pigeonhole people, the pollsters ought to be looking at the major issues going into the election."
If you want to read more on this subject find it on my blog, CNN.com/CaffertyFile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page. You and Donald had a little dust up today didn't you?
BLITZER: A little bit. We'll continue to follow that story I suspect. Jack thanks very much.
A very small dog makes a very big mess. Jeanne Moos will show it all to us.
BLITZER: How big a mess could a small dog make? CNN's Jeanne Moos has the answer.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The corgi, a big dog in a small package, they say. The breed favored by the queen. But this corgi is incorrigible when it comes to attacking cleaning products under the sink.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no that's poison. That's poison.
MOOS: Hali Hudson was demonstrating Yogi's strange behavior to a camera crew from the new YouTube channel PetCollective when something happened that caused a collective gasp.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no. Are you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) kidding me, oh my gosh --
MOOS: Yogi punctured a can of spray paint. Yogi's owner is an actress, this was no act as Hali took her corgi into the bathroom to clean him up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happens whenever you do that --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The house just caught on fire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It did?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, no, no --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my gosh, please make it stop.
MOOS: Someone called 911 and firemen came.
(on camera): Turns out the spray paint ignited a pilot light on the stove. HALI HUDSON, YOGI'S OWNER: We were you know a good 30 seconds lucky. If Yogi was still standing in the kitchen when that bomb exploded, he would have gone up in flames because he was covered in that paint.
MOOS (voice-over): When the paint and the pilot light exploded, so did PetCollective.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa.
MOOS: This week is its official launch, it's a channel featuring everything pet from dogs at play to Lilly the scardy (ph) cat bulldog. She only feels confident when dressed in a turtle costume.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is an alter ego for Lilly.
MOOS: The new channel isn't moving like a turtle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The channel we've got over a million views now thanks to the Yogi video.
MOOS: And, no, Tom Maynard (ph) says there's nothing fake about what happened.
(on camera): So why exactly is Yogi so obsessed with cleaning products? Pet communicator asked Yogi himself that question for the segment they were shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yogi showed me here a broom, the broom being swept along. It was going toward -- coming towards Yogi.
MOOS (voice-over): Yogi's owner no longer keeps cleaning supplies under the sink. Hali immediately took Yogi to the vet who pronounced him fine and said let the paint shed with the corgi's coat. Three months later, Yogi's belly is still black. This isn't a story of "Porgy and Bess". This is "Corgi and Mess".
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --
MOOS: New York.
BLITZER: Thanks for that and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.