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THE SITUATION ROOM
War for Wisconsin; Castro Daughter Proposes Prisoner Swap; "It Was Like a Schoolyard Fight"; "Sex And The City" Star Touts Obama; Biden versus Clinton; CNN Unveils New Electoral Map; Bloomberg Backs New York Pot Plan; Where's Obama's 2008 Magic?
Aired June 4, 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: Happening now: the war for Wisconsin, voters getting ready to decide whether to recall controversial Republican Governor Scott Walker and replace him with a Democrat. It's labor unions vs. Tea Party in a fight that's attracting some big money, and it could be a dry run for the presidential election in November.
Raul Castro's daughter tells CNN about a scenario for a possible U.S.-Cuba prisoner swap. Our own Christiane Amanpour is here with an exclusive interview.
And how two top Obama administration officials supposedly stood -- quote -- "chest to chest" like a schoolyard fight. A new book tells of tensions in a White House caught up in a war against terrorism.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We're only hours away from a critical vote in Wisconsin, an extraordinary attempt to dump the Republican governor, Scott Walker. The recall effort was sparked by Walker's severe belt-tightening moves, which included stripping most public unions of collective bargaining rights.
This war for Wisconsin pits unions against Tea Party loyalists, and it's attracted millions of and millions of dollars in outside money. It's also seen as a dress rehearsal for the November presidential vote.
Let's go live to the scene, Madison right now.
CNN's Ted Rowlands is joining us with the latest.
Ted, what is going on?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as you can imagine, a lot of anticipation until tomorrow when the voting will take place. They're expecting record numbers in here in Wisconsin. Voters have been inundated for months, 16 months of ads and money being spent in their state. And, as you mentioned, the core of this is about unions.
We talked to two teachers who are on opposite sides of this vicious battle.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): Michelle Ritt and John Radamacher are teachers in Madison. Craig Klumb is a teacher in Milwaukee. They are opposite sides of the political showdown in Wisconsin.
We met Michelle and John 16 months ago protesting at the state capitol. They were furious with then new Governor Scott Walker and his new bill to cut education funding and unions' collective bargaining rights.
MICHELLE RITT, TEACHER: Our lives were turned completely upside- down. Emotions were raw. It was shocking.
ROWLANDS: Craig saw it from the other side. He thought Walker's plan had merit.
CRAIG KLUMB, TEACHER: I think in the long term, it will be good for the state and for education.
ROWLANDS: Despite weeks of protests, Walkers budget bill known now as an Act 10 passed. Craig says he's only one of a handful of teachers that supported it.
KLUMB: I'm scared, OK? But I think fundamentally what Scott Walker is doing is going to improve the state of Washington in the long term and education in the long term.
JOHN RADAMACHER, TEACHER: I don't know of any teachers in Madison or anywhere who would want larger class sizes, who would want less resources being poured into the classroom.
NARRATOR: The difference is jobs.
ROWLANDS: Governor Walker is in a recall election between Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. People of Wisconsin have been bombarded with political ads, largely funded by out-of-state interests, both pro- and anti-union.
JEFF WAGNER, RADIO HOST: News Radio 620, WTMJ. So glad to have you with us.
ROWLANDS: Milwaukee talk radio host Jeff Wagner says the last 16 months have divided the state like never before. He says there doesn't seem to be any middle ground.
WAGNER: People are down to their last nerve. Everybody is just so intense about this. I mean, you hear it from the callers. You hear this anger, and it's out there on both sides.
ROWLANDS: Wagner says at times the rhetoric has been ugly. Listen to how our teachers both blame the other side for getting out of control.
KLUMB: I have heard him referred to as a Nazi. RITT: It's the other side, Governor Walker's side, who comes in and does taunting and poking and trying to incite fights.
KLUMB: Colleagues of mine make reference to Republicans and Tea Party types as the barbarians at the gates.
RITT: Using like the word Nazi, yelling at any children: You're Nazis. You're communists. You're socialists.
ROWLANDS: The recall election is Tuesday, but whether Scott Walker keeps his job or not, the political battle over unions is far from over. Other states are keeping a close eye on what happens in Wisconsin.
ROWLANDS: Well, both candidates, Wolf, are canvassing the state today, a last-ditch effort to get voters out to the polls. That really will be the key, as it is in any close election. Right now, the polls show Walker with a slight advantage, about three points above the margin of error, so it will come down to voter turnout.
BLITZER: We will of course have live coverage tomorrow night of the results once the polls close.
Here's a question. The president of the United States, a Democrat, he was in the neighboring state of Minnesota the other day. He then flew over Wisconsin to go to his home state of Illinois, didn't bother to show up in Wisconsin any time during these past several weeks and months.
So what's the explanation. Why didn't the president get involved and try to help the Democrats?
ROWLANDS: Well, we saw Bill Clinton here over the weekend, but not President Obama. And a lot of people here have brought that up. Why didn't the president come and lend some support to Tom Barrett? It is a close election. There is a lot at stake.
The reason being, well, we don't know for sure why they decided not to get into this, but this is a state issue. And at this point, it looks like Walker is going to retain his job if the polls show that, and maybe the president decided not to dip his toe into this for political reasons, because in the event that Walker did go on to win, it may not translate as a political -- a good move for him.
But a lot of people in Wisconsin were expecting a possible individual sit from the president, didn't happen at all and it doesn't look like it's going to happen today or tomorrow. In fact, he has said very little about this whole thing.
BLITZER: We will have live coverage 9:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night once the polls close in Wisconsin.
Thanks very much for that. The Obama campaign today is launching a tough new ad in battleground states, doubling down on its attacks against Mitt Romney's record as governor. The latest ad offers some grim statistics from Romney's term in Massachusetts. And it's warning his economic policy didn't work then and won't work now. Those are direct quotes.
Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is joining us now. She has got more details.
What do you know, Jessica?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
In this new ad, the Obama campaign tries to take a two-by-four to Romney's claim that he was a jobs creator when he was governor of Massachusetts and it includes some striking choices, beginning with the first case you will see in this ad here.
NARRATOR: Instead of hiring workers from his own state, Romney outsourced call center jobs to India. He cut taxes for millionaires like himself while raising them on the middle class, and left the state $2.6 billion deeper in debt. So now, when Mitt Romney talks about what he would do as president...
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know what it takes to create jobs.
NARRATOR: ... remember, we have heard it all before.
ROMNEY: I know how jobs are created.
NARRATOR: Romney economics,it didn't work then and it won't work now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: Wolf, so the message is clear. The story is a bit more complicated.
First, on outsourcing as governor, Romney vetoed a part of a budget that basically said that the state cannot do business with companies that in turn outsource jobs. He didn't necessarily think it would save the state money, and those jobs could still go to other states.
On the claim that Romney built up debt when he was governor, well, you know, states do have to balance their budget every year, unlike the federal government. So, when a state goes into debt, it's not quite the same thing as when the national government goes into debt. But you get the picture. What they're trying to say is that the governor, as governor, his record was not as clean as he claims it is. So, big picture, this is a huge ad buy for the campaign, roughly $10 million, we're told, in nine battleground states. That's a real commitment to try to tear down that claim by Governor Romney that he was a jobs creator -- Wolf.
BLITZER: The Obama campaign also trying to play what is called a hypocrisy card against the team Romney right now. What is happening on that front?
YELLIN: Absolutely. The campaign's chief strategist, David Axelrod, saying there's breathtaking hypocrisy, that's a quote, by the Romney folks because some of his supporters are insisting that we should not, reporters should not look at Governor Romney's first year in office when calculating how many jobs he created. They say he inherited a terrible economy.
Well, of course, when the Romney people are evaluating President Obama's term in office, they count the president's first year, when he inherited a terrible economy. So David Axelrod saying that's an extraordinary double standard, and trying to drive that point home, why are they trying to live by this double standard?
One point I make, Wolf, is that I'm told by campaign sources they would like to get beyond the finger-pointing and get beyond all this, so that they could finally have a debate over ideas and different visions for the future. Clearly, we're not there yet.
BLITZER: Yes. We should hold our breath waiting for that other debate to get going.
Thanks very much, Jessica.
Jack Cafferty is joining us right now with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: That jobs report on Friday wasn't exactly a glowing testament to the policies of the current administration.
What a difference four years makes.
When Barack Obama ran for president against Hillary Clinton and then John McCain back in 2008, boy, he was unstoppable.
He generated the kind of excitement and enthusiasm among voters that is usually reserved for rock stars or Hollywood celebrities, not politics. People couldn't get enough of him and his messages of hope, change and "Yes, we can."
Four years later, a lot of that optimism and excitement are gone.
"How the mighty have fallen" is the title of a Maureen Dowd column in "The New York Times" called "Dreaming of a Superhero" -- quote -- "The president who started off with such dazzle now seems incapable of stimulating either the economy or the voters. The economy remains weak. Friday's dismal jobs report triggered a sell- off, where the stock market has now erased all its gains for the year."
As for the voters, a lot of them are disgruntled, including many in the president's own base.
A "Forbes" column describes how President Obama is being left behind by the left wing of his own party.
They're frustrated the president didn't follow through on key promises like closing Guantanamo Bay, completely ending the wars in the Middle East or getting tough on Wall Street.
There are anti-Obama e-mails coming from the left that talk of a "psychopathic megalomaniac" in the White House and a -- quote -- "cancer in the presidency." These are from liberals.
Part of this is due to the ugly reality of governing, of course, but you can even see it in the president's campaign events.
There were more than 4,000 empty seats in an Ohio arena that seats 18,000 when the president actually officially launched his reelection campaign.
That wouldn't have happened four years ago.
Here's the question: When it comes to President Obama, what happened to the magic of 2008?
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.
The daughter of the Cuban president says she backs President Obama. CNN's Christiane Amanpour is here. She has got details of her exclusive interview with Mariela Castro.
Also, a shocking report of a near brawl in the White House between two top administration officials, David Axelrod and Eric Holder. What happened?
Plus, you're going to find out which major Democratic leader is hoping Hillary Clinton runs for president in 2016.
BLITZER: My recent interview with the American Alan Gross imprisoned in Cuba cast his name back into the limelight. Now the daughter of Raul Castro is proposing a prisoner swap. She spoke to CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
Christiane is standing by. She'll join us live for a moment.
But, first, listen to what Mariela Castro told Christiane.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL: As you know, there are many issues that caused problems between Cuba and the United States. One of the issues right now is Alan Gross, who you knew very well. You know obviously about his case. You've been asked about it many times.
Let me play you something that he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN GROSS, AMERICAN JAILED IN Cuba (via telephone): I have a 90-year-old mother who has inoperable terminal lung cancer and she's not getting any younger, and she's not getting any healthier. I would return to Cuba, you know, you can quote me on that. I'm saying it live, I would return to Cuba if they let me visit my mother before she dies. And we've gotten no response.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARIELA CASTRO, RAUL CASTRO'S DAUGHTER (through translator): Alan Gross has been granted everything he asked for. He's been able to see his wife. He's been able to have matrimonial conjugal visits and he has been treated with respect and dignity the way we always treat prisoners in Cuba. We haven't received the same treatment on the other hand for our five prisoners who have very long sentences that must be right. I think that the six must be released, both the five Cubans and Alan Gross.
AMANPOUR: Is that what you're saying, that Alan Gross should be released and the Cuban five?
CASTRO: Of course, I'm referring to the five Cubans and Alan Gross. I believe this would be the happiest solution for all involved.
BLITZER: Christiane is joining us now live in New York.
Christiane, did you get a sense she was speaking on behalf of her father, speaking on behalf of the Cuban government, just throwing out these ideas on her own?
AMANPOUR: Well, look, I don't think she was throwing out ideas on her own. She made it perfectly clear that she's speaking to an international, a U.S. audience and she's here if not officially, which she was not. She's not representing the Cuban government. But she obviously has the ear of the president, I mean, he's her father.
And so, what she's saying is clearly going to have been at least run by Raul Castro. And that is their position.
I asked her about a humanitarian visit, humanitarian dispensation, she said, you know, we're not talking about partial solutions, you heard what she said. But she kept saying, I want to see all of them released, that would be the best thing.
BLITZER: Well, the U.S. government, as you know, State Department, including the secretary of state, they've rejected any swap, any exchange of these five Cuban prisoners held in United States for Alan Gross. I don't know if that's going to have an impact, at least they're talking about it to a certain degree.
Another part of your interview, Christiane, was really fascinating when you spoke to her about -- not only U.S.-Cuban relations, but also the impact of President Obama. Let me play this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Did you expect more from President Obama or has he gone as far as you expected him to go on the Cuban issue? Do you think he wants to lift the embargo and that there could be proper relations between Cuba and the United States under a second Obama term?
CASTRO: I believe that Obama is a fair man and Obama needs greater support to be able to take this decision. If Obama counted on the full support of the American people, we could normalize relationships. We could have better relations than what we had under President Carter.
AMANPOUR: Do you want Obama to win the next election?
CASTRO: As a citizen of the world, I would like him to win. Seeing the candidates, I prefer Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Did she give you any sense of what Cuba would do -- this is by the way an endorsement, I suspect, the Obama campaign is not thrilled necessarily to have. But did she give you a sense of what might happen over the next five months if the Cubans wanted to do something to improve their relationship with the United States?
AMANPOUR: Well, look, I think like many people around the world, nobody really expects anything to get done about these massive significant issues anytime before the election. So, just about everything, as you know, is on hold in that regard.
However, we pressed her not necessarily on what might happen between the U.S. and Cuba, although she said that she thought that the parameters were there to improve relations and frankly to mend relations. She put everything as many Cuban officials do in the parameters of the embargo, this 50-year economic blockade that the Cubans use as a reason and a justification for just about everything.
So she says when that is gone, and as you know that policy has spectacularly failed if the idea was to get rid of the Castros, it hasn't worked. And, as you know, the demographics are changing so much in the Cuban-American community and younger people don't have the same hard line attitudes of the old people, but I also pushed her on what's going on inside Cuba, the space that she's opened up in gay rights.
And remember, in Cuba, gays used to be put in reeducation camp. During the AIDS crisis, gays were put into quarantine and isolation. And so, this machismo culture in Cuba has changed, to accept gay rights now. And she says that for instance, the idea of civil unions and accepting that is going to be brought up by the Cuban parliament.
But I asked her about democracy and political pluralism and dissent, and again, she said these are the things that we need to be working on. She point to what Raul Castro has done since he became president, which is open the economic sphere to a certain degree, a little bit of free enterprise, ability to buy your farms and properties and vehicles and things like that and have small businesses, but on the political side, saying that that too needed to be worked on and to be expanded.
Interesting also in the issue of travel, as you know very well, Cubans can't leave without special permission to leave and come back, she said that too needs to be changed and this immigration ideas she thinks is going to come up in the Cuban parliament this year.
So, it's interesting.
BLITZER: Very interesting, I think behind the scenes, some stuff is unfolding, especially in connection with the Alan Gross case, but we'll stay on top of that. Christiane, thanks very, very much. Christiane Amanpour here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The war on terror and the soul of the Obama presidency. We're going to talk to the author of a brand new book about the president's willingness to go after bad guys around the world and we're also go to ask him his shocking account of an alleged fight, almost a fistfight that broke out between the Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder and the top Obama official in the White House, David Axelrod.
What happened? What really happened? Stand by.
BLITZER: A new book tells us of the tensions in the Obama White House during the campaign against al Qaeda.
Joining us now is the author of the book, Daniel Klaidman. The book is entitled "Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency".
Daniel, thanks very much for coming in.
Let's talk about one chunk of the book that's getting some attention out there, a supposed battle between the Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder and David Axelrod, who was then a senior advisor of the president. Let me ready from kill or capture.
"The two men stood chest to chest, it was like a schoolyard fight back at their shared alma matter, Stuyvesant, the elite public high school for striking students from New York City. White House staffers caught in the cross fire averted their eyes. Jarrett, talking about Valerie Jarrett, White House aide, whose office was nearby, materialized as things got hot. Petite and perfect put together as always, she pushed her way between the two men, her sense of decorum disturbed, ordering them to 'take it out in the hallway'."
Wow. All right. Tell us what the background was? What was going on? What did you learn in your reporting?
DANIEL KLAIDMAN, AUTHOR, "KILL OR CAPTURE": Well, this is really an extraordinary scene. But, you know, there's always a sort of tension between the Justice Department and the White House, even a healthy tension. You got an attorney general who's supposed to be dealing with the law and staying out politics. You've got a White House that needs to protect the political interest of the president.
At this particular time, the sort of policy backdrop is that that the White House is very preoccupied with the economic recession that we're still n they want to get health care passed. The attorney general is trying to fulfill the president's promises on some of these counter terrorism issues -- closing Guantanamo, dealing with detainees, trying Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other 9/11 defendants in civilian court. And so there is kind of tension over these issues.
The other issue is that Eric Holder had stepped of message a couple of times. The last thing the White House wants is distractions when they're trying to focus on their priorities. What happened was that David Axelrod, really at the behest of Rahm Emanuel, the sort of powerful and volatile chief of staff from the White House summons Holder to media training at the White House. It turned out to be kind of a murder board where you prepare a principal, a cabinet secretary for going on television or congressional hearings.
And he brought him in and then they started firing questions at him. This made Holder not particularly happy. He felt like he was being humiliated. He felt like they were saying, look, you can't do politics and you have to learn how to do politics.
But attend of this meeting, David Axelrod said, look, we want to put someone on your staff, we've got someone on your staff. We've got who has tuned political ear and you need someone who can communicate and coordinate better with the White House. Holder was not very happy about this and he didn't --
BLITZER: Are you saying, Daniel, that they actually, you're right they were chest to chest, were they about to start physically exchanging some punches? Is that what you're implying?
KLAIDMAN: Look, I think it's doubtful that they were going to start throwing punches. What happened after that murder board meeting was there was a cabinet session, a cabinet meeting in the White House.
And Axelrod came out in the meeting, he had heard that Holder and his aides were spreading the word that Axelrod was trying to interfere with the operations of the Justice Department, which would be a real no-no. No evidence that that's case, but he confronted Holder and he said, look, I'm not interfering with the internal operations of the Justice Department. I'm no Karl Rove, who had been accused of that during the Bush administration.
Holder was taken back by the accusation, he protested vehemently. They were right up against each other and they were yelling at each other. And Valerie Jarrett suddenly materialized and thought this does not look very good and she told them to take into the -- take out of the hallway. Unlikely, they were going to start throwing punches.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, that would have been not necessarily either one of their style. But Axelrod was on "Face the Nation" yesterday with Bob Schieffer and he said this about what you write in the book.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN CHIEF STRATEGIST: Eric Holder was a great friend of mine. We actually went to the same high school so we may have gone chest to chest back in the day. But, you know, we have a strong relationship.
And I'm not going to get into the details of that other than to say I respect him. I obviously never tried to interfere in anything that he did. Never talked to him about a governmental matter or a Justice Department matter in all the years I was in it White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Do you want to respond to what we just heard?
KLAIDMAN: Well, to me that sounds like confirmation, certainly not a denial and it's what I would have expected him to say. Let me put this in a little context, because I think it's important.
The attorney general, the White House, they were dealing with brutally difficult issues. You know, these are issues that involve security versus liberty, politics, versus principal and in some ways, you know, both sides are right or neither side is right.
They're very, very difficult issues and when the issues are that difficult. There tends to be a little more personal animosity than there would be if everyone was on the same page. I think it's natural, I think it's even healthy.
What the surprising is, you know, we all heard about no drama Obama during the campaign. There was much more of this kind of personal animosity and drama in the White House than there was when I started reporting this book.
BLITZER: Daniel Klaidman, I want to just let you know. A senior Justice Department official tells our producer at the Justice Department that they really declined to answer specific questions about this reported confrontation between Holder and Axelrod.
The Justice Department official simply noting in his words that Holder and Axelrod are friends. They enjoy a great working relationship, but really wouldn't confirm or deny the report when given a flat chance.
Let me just repeat the name of the book, "Kill Or Capture, The War On Terror in the Soul of the Obama Presidency." The author, Daniel Klaidman. Dan, thanks very much for coming in.
KLAIDMAN: Thanks for having me, Wolf.
BLITZER: A "Sex and The City" star in a controversial fundraising ad for President Obama, is that the right way to win voters? Our strategy session is coming up next.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II marks 60 years on the throne and that's triggering a worldwide celebration. We'll have live special coverage coming in our next hour.
BLITZER: Let's get right to our strategy session. Joining us our CNN contributors, the Democratic strategist, James Carville and the Republican strategist, Alex Castellanos. Guys, thanks very much for coming in.
If you were watching, I don't know if either one of you were watching the MTV Awards last night, you would have seen this commercial pop-up with Sarah Jessica parker from "Sex and The City," watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, the guy who entered the war in Iraq, the guy who said you should be able to marry anyone you want, and the guy who created 4 million new jobs. That guy, President Obama and Michelle are coming to my house for dinner on June 14th.
And I want you to be there too, but you have to go to joinobama.com for your chance win and the contest ends tomorrow night so go right here right now because we need him and he needs us.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We ask James Carville first, what do you think about the strategy, George Clooney, Sarah Jessica Parker, the Romney campaign has a dinner with Donald Trump? What do you make of this as a former top presidential political strategist?
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I think it's about more about trying to get the image that young people, that they really need to get the young vote of. I don't think it's anything that's going to change the direction of the campaign at all.
But I think on the margins, it can be helpful and if you look at that ad, it was not so much to get people to vote for Obama, but to get people that were already for Obama to get more excited about it and to feel like they're a part of something.
I think it was a slight positive, if it were Romney, it wouldn't drive me crazy, but I would rather have it than not.
BLITZER: What about that, Alex? What do you think of this technique, if you will, in presidential commercials?
ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's probably a smart thing to do. It's not necessarily going to help him with voters, it might drive up intensity of younger voters a little bit and he's looking for that.
But it's going to help him with fundraising, getting a lot of young people out there active on social media, active on the internet, building a community of those folks, getting them to throw in a few dollars each helps.
And campaigns would rather have the fundraising than pay a little bit of a price I think politically. What the president doesn't want to do is look like a show horse instead of a workhorse when you're facing critical times.
He doesn't want to look like all gift wrapping and no president inside the box. And this does look a little more glitzy than substantive and I think that does hurt him. But he would rather have the money and the support.
BLITZER: What do you think of these Democrats, James, already starting to encourage Hillary Clinton to think about running for the presidency in 2016?
Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, saying it over the weekend. Ed Rendell is suggesting it even her husband, the former president of the United States not necessarily ruling it out. You know the secretary of state rather well, what do you think? Is she going to run in 2016?
CARVILLE: I wanted her to run in 2008, so obviously I want her to run in 2016, but we have an assignment and that's to get the president re- elected.
A lot of Democrats, me being one of them would like to see her run again. But my guess is she'll finish out her term as secretary of state and take a breather.
BLITZER: Yes, she's worked very, very hard as all of us who have covered it know. Alex, our new CNN/ORC poll, we have these new favorability numbers that just came out. Right now, her favorability is at 67 percent.
Joe Biden, the current vice president is at 41 percent. Now Biden has already speculated a little bit publicly about maybe he would think about running for president in 2016. She hasn't. When you see these numbers, what do they say to you?
CASTELLANOS: I think there's something beyond the numbers, Wolf. Biden actually said I'd think a bigger asset to the Obama ticket. He grounds that ticket. You know, Obama is an academic elite. He's aloof. He's distant from voters in many ways.
Joe Biden is Joe six pack. He is a working class guy. He can go into states like Ohio and Pennsylvania and help that ticket. So I think he's an asset and I think he's a force of the Democratic Party in the future.
And James, I thought Hillary Clinton was running this time. Just to hear President Clinton the other day saying that look, Mitt Romney is a sterling businessman. I think it shows you there's a divide in the Democratic Party between pro-business Democrats and anti-business.
BLITZER: Do you agree with that, James?
CARVILLE: No, I think Romney was a good businessman. He made a lot of money for the people that invested in his company. What he didn't do was create 100,000 jobs as he claimed.
You see when you claim something when you run for president then people will claim the other side. He did create wealth for his investors. He created few jobs net for the people who are there.
So if he would just had run as being someone who created wealth in investors, he would have told the truth, but job creator, I don't think too much.
CASTELLANOS: Wolf, if I could just help James with that a little bit. James probably has more business experience than his president does. But if you're a business guy, what you take home every day at the end of the day is a ledger and it doesn't have jobs in it.
What it has is profits, what you owe, what people owe you and what you have in the bank. In other words what it has is profits because that's what allows you to hire people and create job.
CARVILLE: May I say, Alex, when you're in a campaign, if you claim you created 100,000 jobs, if you put your job creation record at the center of it. You shouldn't criticize people when they call you out on it.
You see that's the difference. In a campaign you can't do that kind of thing. I know about a ledger sheet, I also know you can't do this kind of stuff in a campaign and that's what Romney did. If he said I gave a 22 percent return on my investments, it would have been fine.
CASTELLANOS: We should have this debate in Staples where the jobs are.
CARVILLE: We can have it at that steel mill too.
BLITZER: We got -- debate is going to be played out many, many times. Appreciate it very much. This note to our voters, don't miss my one-on-one interview with the former President Bill Clinton. That's this coming Thursday right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Please make sure to send me your suggested questions on Twitter @wolfblitzercnn or to THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page. Looking forward to getting some of your suggested questions.
We're unveiling CNN's new electoral map right now as well. Let's bring in our chief national correspondent, John King. John, we're five months from Election Day so here's a question, how does the map look right now?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's 155 days, five months as you put it. The reasons those debate between James and Alex are getting more feisty is because we have a map right now that looks much more like Busch versus Gore than Obama versus McCain.
And that is we have a very, very competitive map. Remember you need 270 electoral votes to win. We start with President Obama at 247. Governor Romney at 206. The dark blue states, those are strong Obama states, the light blue states, the lean Obama states.
The same for the Republicans, dark red, solid Romney, light red, lean Romney. So what do you have here? You have seven tossup states, New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Colorado and Nevada.
Of these seven tossup states right now, Wolf, 85 electoral votes in those seven states. If nothing else on this map changed, President Obama only needs 23 of those 85 electoral votes, and he's the next president of the United States.
He wins four more years. He could do it just by winning the state of Florida. Let me turn off the talister. Just Florida would get Obama the presidency. Of course, this is unlikely to be the map in the end. Governor Romney has to get 64, if you do the math, so he has a harder climb from where we are today to get to 270.
He would, for example, probably win Florida, probably win Ohio then you get to a point where you're here, got to pick up Ohio, got to pick up New Hampshire, maybe it's out west.
Both campaigns will try to change the map. Let's go back to where we were in the beginning, put Florida back where it should be. Put Ohio back where it should be. What does Governor Romney want to do?
He wants to see what happens in Wisconsin tomorrow. He would love to turn that back to a tossup. Right now, it's 10 electoral votes we have for Obama. He would love to say Michigan is in play. I don't buy it right now. I have to see the polling change and other things change.
That's 16 electoral votes. Same with Pennsylvania, you remember George W. Bush twice said I'm going to get Pennsylvania. Well, he never did. That's another 20 electoral votes if Governor Romney could put it in play.
Democrats have similar scenarios. Arizona is the state to watch, Wolf. Right now we lean at Romney. It's 11 electoral votes, the Obama campaign thinks it might pull that into tossup category so.
A number of fascinating scenarios, they may break another way in the end, but now you have a very competitive electoral race with a slight advantage for the president.
BLITZER: We're going to constantly be updating this map as well. John is going to have a lot more on that coming up at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "JOHN KING USA." John, thanks very much.
Decriminalizing marijuana, why New York may soon stop going after small time pot smokers. Stand by, new information coming up.
BLITZER: New York may soon stop going after what are described as small-time pot users. The Governor Andrew Cuomo is urging lawmakers to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
CNN's Erin Burnett is going out front on this story tonight. Erin, Mayor Bloomberg, is he not backing the Cuomo proposal?
ERIN BURNETT, HOST, CNN'S "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT": He is, he is. And this has been a highly controversial situation in New York. A disproportionate number of minorities have been frisked in part due to drug possession, and most of them have been completely innocent.
So that's part of the reason why some say the mayor the jumping on board with this. But we're talking about 25 grams or less of marijuana that it's in public view.
It's an interesting proposal because it puts New York, one small step, when you look at the line we're crossing here it could be one very big step towards legalizing marijuana and drugs.
And you know what, Wolf? In this case we like to say do the numbers add up and in this case they really do. It's pretty stunning. We did some numbers here. I just want to say the bible report on this is done by Kato Institute, conservative think tank.
Three other economists have signed on to the 50-page study on decriminalizing drugs. It must have been an interesting study to do, but if you look at marijuana alone, if we were to legalize it in this country. We would save according to the report $8.7 billion in money currently used now for things like stop and frisk and police enforcement.
Then you tax it the same as you tax, say, alcohol or tobacco and you get another $8.7 billion. That's $17.48 billion in revenue a year for this country. It's significant and the study goes on to look at what, well, what if you did legalization not just for pot, but for other drugs.
Obviously much more controversial and not actually going to happen, but the numbers still are worth showing. The total $41 billion saved from police, $47 billion or just shy of it in revenue from taxation, $88 billion if you were to legalize harder drugs like cocaine, heroin in addition to pot.
So it is big number, but for pot, Wolf, the numbers really do add up. It would make sense at least from a pure police and enforcement situation to go ahead and legalize it. Obviously, it's not all about the numbers, but they work in this case.
BLITZER: So if Mayor Bloomberg have his way, you could walk around with a small amount of pot, but if you get busted with a soda that's 32 ounces you could go to jail.
BURNETT: That's right. He can be a tough man to read sometimes, but I don't know, which of those things is less healthy, that might be an interesting question. It may be the big gulp, Wolf.
BLITZER: The big gulp or a little bit of pot. Thanks very much for that, Erin. We'll see you at 7:00 p.m. Eastern later tonight. Erin Burnett "OUTFRONT."
A senior Chinese official is reportedly arrested for allegedly spying on the United States. So how much damage might he have done to China's own intelligence operations?
We've asked Brian Todd to investigate. And 60 years on the throne for Britain's Queen Elizabeth. There's a worldwide celebration underway right now. We're going to bring it to you live in our next hour. We'll have special coverage coming up in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Jack's back with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the question this hour is when it comes to President Obama, what happened to the magic of 2008?
Eric writes, "With the Democrats holding majorities in the House and Senate back then, President Obama had a blank check. And a rare political opportunity in the hands of a more qualified individual, this would have guaranteed him a second term. What we got was an up popular health care bill, an effort to save GM and Chrysler and a hike on the debt ceiling. Leaders overcome these kinds of problems. President Obama just points the finger and blames someone else."
Earl writes, "The Republicans made it impossible for him to do anything. Do you think that the first black president was going to have an easy go of it?"
Tom in Utah writes, "Entitlements are killing us. So Obama added another one. He piled $5 trillion on to the mountain of death we already owe. And if he's re-elected, he'll add $5 trillion more. Budgeting is a foreign term to this administration. But why budget when you can borrow. Future generation also look back at us and wonder how we would have let this happen to them. Debt is killing Europe, it's killing us and it's killing the Obama magic."
Gerome in California writes, "It's simple he ran on change and things went back to business as usual. Unless he does something drastic, he just might lose."
Joe writes, "There never was any magic. A good public speaker is not necessarily a good leader. This guy never had the leadership quality that a lot of people thought he had."
JP writes, "He's still a magician. He makes money disappear with nothing to show for it." And David says, "Magic is all based on illusion. Obama's magic was just that, an illusion."
If you want to read more about this, it's on the blog, cnn.com/caffertyfile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page.
Wolf, we're all happy to know you haven't lost your magic.
BLITZER: Thank you. And you have a lot of magic as well.
Meanwhile thousands of fires are burning across Britain right now with Queen Elizabeth herself lighting what's called the final beacon. We're going there live, it's a dramatic part of the jubilee celebration.