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THE SITUATION ROOM

Forced Cuts Reality Check; The Battle to Win Back the House; Crane Demolishes Sinkhole Home; Full Plate For Secretary Kerry; Mark Sanford Reportedly Asks Ex-Wife To Run His Campaign; Surrogate Defies Wishes of Family; Bush 41 on Bush 43

Aired March 4, 2013 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, those forced spending cuts are official. The first work week is now underway after all the dire warnings.

So what's the real impact so far?

A heartbreaking battle between a defiant surrogate mother and the parents of a baby with severe medical problems.

And Bush 41 writes about his relationship with Bush 43. First on CNN, an advanced look at the papers released by the first President Bush.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

After a steady drumbeat of ominous warnings, dire predictions and nightmare scenarios, those forced spending cuts are now official.

So where is the damage or is this just a lull before the real storm?

Lisa Sylvester is checking the impact so far.

What's going on now and down the road -- Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Wolf, you know, it wasn't quite the fiscal cliff that we all thought it would be. It was more like a downhill slope.

So the immediate impact of the forced budget cuts, or sequestration, as we like to call it here in Washington, well, not much.

But that doesn't mean that it won't have an effect on you in the coming weeks and months.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER (voice-over): Lots of warnings of doom and gloom.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: It's March 1st. It is a day that the indiscriminate across the board spending cuts that will cause unemployment, instability and uncertainty in our economy takes place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER: But the first Monday after sequestration looks a lot like the day before sequestration. Not much has visibly changed.

At Los Angeles seaports, no major problems or backups reported.

In Chicago, the Aviation Authority tells CNN no immediate problems at O'Hare.

No real slowdowns for passengers traveling through Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport, either.

But those budget cuts will start showing up, just not yet.

LOUIS MILLER, AVIATION GENERAL MANAGER, ATLANTA AIRPORT: You know, Monday morning is our busiest days and it went very well this morning. So we're not anticipating any problems in the next little while. My biggest concern, to be very honest with you, is the furlough issue. And they've talked about the furloughs possibly happening between -- and they wouldn't take place until into April, because if they have to give 30 days notice.

SYLVESTER: What will those cuts look like?

Well, it will vary agency to agency. Customs and Border Protection says furlough notices will start going out at the end the week. They will take effect some 30 days later. Overtime has already been eliminated. That means those traveling internationally may have a longer wait and it may take longer for shipping containers to be processed at U.S. ports.

The IRS says workers will face one furlough day per pay period, but not until after the filing season. That could last from summer to the rest of the year.

Low income families receiving nutrition assistance through the Women's Infant and Children's Program, or WIC, could be impacted, as well, but not until after March. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says there is enough funding to last at least that long.

Popular tourist spots may be affected. And the Smithsonian Institution is looking at $40 million in budget cuts. A spokesperson tells CNN it will put off repairs and will implement a hiring freeze, but keep the doors of its museums open.

JACQUELINE SIMON, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES: It's 20 percent cuts. One day, a week, only 80 percent of the people are there providing the services that they provide. So it's a gradual reduction. Over time, you'll notice.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

SYLVESTER: Now, the biggest impact will be on the Defense Department's civilian workforce. Eight hundred thousand of them are expected to get furlough notices. And that will have a ripple effect throughout military towns in the United States.

The public will also notice other changes, the military's popular air demonstration teams, the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy's Blue Angels, well, those shows will be canceled for the rest of the year -- Wolf.

BLITZER: At least for now.

All right, thanks very much, Lisa, for that.

So did the Obama administration go overboard in warning about these forced spending cuts?

Let's discuss with our chief national correspondent, John King, and our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger -- Gloria, let me start with you.

And I want to play a clip. This was the president meeting with his cabinet earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, my agenda, obviously, is broader than just the sequester, because I laid out, both in the inauguration and during the State of the Union, a very robust agenda to make sure that we're doing everything we can to grow this economy and to help families thrive and expand their opportunities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: It certainly looks to me, and to a lot of other folks, he's walking back...

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

BLITZER: -- some of the dire warnings that he delivered oily a couple of -- or three weeks ago.

BORGER: It -- it's a -- it's a little less armed good Armageddon today, wouldn't you say, than it...

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot less.

BORGER: -- than it was -- than it was a few week ago. Look, I think there's a sense among some that the president was saying these cuts are going to start right away, it's going to be dire. And when that didn't happen at the stroke of midnight on Friday, that they worked against themselves, to a certain degree. And so now I think the White House is waiting for the effects to snowball, as Lisa was pointing out, so that more and more people feel them. And then they believe they can possibly get Republicans back to the table.

KING: It's a reminder of how last week was all about politics and not about finding a solution to this. The president was making his case. He may have been raising the expectations of dire consequences far too high.

Republicans were saying let this play out.

Wolf, the interesting test now is the president, as he waits for these consequences to kick in and maybe give him more political leverage, he's in a race against time in the sense that in Congress, especially in the Senate, you have Democrats and Republicans, the appropriators, already talking about a continuing resolution -- meaning to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year -- keeping things at sequester level. So meaning keeping the $85 billion in place with no tax increases.

So you have Democrats and Republicans, just beginning -- this can go off the tracks easy. But they're beginning a process that could say, hey, look, we're making progress on this, Mr. President, without restoring this funding. They may give him more flexibility on how to implement it, but he may not see the money.

BORGER: OK. And then I want to add a little bit of good news here, which might be if they get this deal to keep the government running at the end of March, say through September, then, in September, there's a possibility, I believe, that the Democrats can say, OK, we got our tax increases, Republicans got their spending cuts, then maybe room for some kind of a grand bargain.

BLITZER: Well, that...

BORGER: Just saying.

BLITZER: -- would be good.

BORGER: Just saying.

KING: A little bit of a circuit breaker.

BORGER: Yes.

BLITZER: John, you saw that story in "The Washington Post" over the weekend suggesting that the president is now obsessed with 2014, getting a Democratic majority not only in the Senate, which he has, but in the House of Representatives, as well. And that's what his -- his real goal is right now.

KING: And we've talked about this a bit in the past.

Is that his real goal? The White House says well, he's trying to advance policy and good policy makes good politics and of course he'd love to have a Democratic majority. The White House would insist probably that's not what all this is about.

However, remember, John Boehner said right out of the box at inauguration time, the president is trying to annihilate us. That is what the House Republicans think.

So whether it's 100 percent true, 60 percent true, 50 percent true, somewhere in the middle, that is the mind set of everybody involved here. Democrats think we have a chance.

Why do you think Nancy Pelosi hung around?

A chance to have Nancy Pelosi be speaker, to give the Democrats back control of the House one more time. And the Republicans think everything the president says, even when it's not true, the Republican calculation is this is all about 2014, about taking the gavel away from our speaker.

That is why the Republicans, Wolf, under no circumstances, they agreed to a tax increase seven weeks ago. They're not going to give the president a second tax increase now, even if it's those loopholes, and then get into grand bargain negotiations where they might give him a third one. In a word, that's suicide if you're a Republican.

BORGER: Right.

KING: That's why it wasn't happening this time.

BORGER: Yes. And that's why the White House probably sort of miscalculated when they came up with this whole sequester deal, because it included tax increases, closing loopholes that Republicans would never buy onto.

KING: Right. Right.

BORGER: I think the White House is trying to do this, clearly, win the 17 seats they would need to take over the House. They're playing against history. Usually, in the sixth year of a presidency, the president loses seats. The exception to that rule was Bill Clinton, who won seats in his sixth year.

But he was at a 65 percent approval rating when he did that. Right now, President Obama is at 49 percent.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: But he does want that House back.

KING: And how do you get Republicans to lose seats?

You get the incumbents to vote for tax increases.

BORGER: Right. Exactly. KING: Other things that anger the conservative base.

Then they face primary challenges. The more conservative candidate wins. And maybe, if it's in those few swing districts, maybe you can't win in November.

BLITZER: And the Democrats need a net gain of 17 seats...

KING: That's right.

BORGER: That's right.

BLITZER: -- in the next election...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: -- in the House of Representatives...

BORGER: What -- what this...

BLITZER: To get the majority.

BORGER: What's interesting to me about President Obama is that he's never been known as sort of Team Democrat cheerleader. He's got his own independent brand. He raise -- he's raising money for his independent group, which will, of course, help Democrats. The money is not going to the Democratic National Committee, which it always did with Bill Clinton...

KING: Yes. In this...

BORGER: -- as you'll recall.

KING: -- in this case, helping them helps him.

BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very much.

President Obama today announced more changes to his second term lineup card. He's nominated a businesswoman, the Walmart Foundation chief, Sylvia Matthews Burwell, to head the Office of Management and Budget. That's a tough job these days, as President Obama battles with Congressional Republicans over spending.

The assistant EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, is the pick to move up to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

And Ernest Moniz, an MIT scientist, is the nominee to lead the Energy Department.

If approved, they'll join a cabinet that already includes a number of new faces in top posts.

Just ahead, an ex-governor goes through a bitter divorce, but reportedly asked his ex-wife to run a new political campaign.

And, also, the first -- first, the deadly sinkhole destroyed part of a Florida house. Now authorities take the -- take down the rest of the house to see what they are up against.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A huge crane today demolished the Florida home sitting over a huge sinkhole. And while it smashed the home into pieces, it also exposed the raw emotions for the family of the man who died.

CNN's George Howell is joining us now from Seffner down in Florida. That's not far from Tampa.

What's the latest -- George?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, right now, all that is left here is the foundation of this home. And you can see that work still going on. And crews are still in the process of filling the sinkhole with gravel to try to stabilize the ground around it.

All of this work today, Wolf, done with the greatest of care, because, remember, this is the place where a man lost his life. And family members wish that more could have been done.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL (voice-over): Slowly and carefully, crews tore down the walls of this home. They tried to spare the pictures, the family furniture and even an American flag.

But the search for Jeffrey Bush, who died here after being swallowed by a sinkhole, has already ended.

And for Bush's brother Jeremy...

JEREMY BUSH: I feel that they -- they could have tried harder to try to get my brother out of there.

HOWELL (voice-over): The memories this family is able to salvage here will never be enough.

JEREMY BUSH, VICTIM'S BROTHER: It's really hard. You lose somebody so closely you're with everyday. He lives with you, he works with you, around him 24/7. The only time -- was when you were sleeping or in the shower or in the bathroom. You know, it's hard. It's really hard.

HOWELL: Wearing his brother's hat, Jeremy Bush watched with family and friends as heavy equipment tore through the house, revealing the place where Jeremy heard his brother screaming and tried to save him. From the air, you can get a glimpse of the sinkhole believed to be some 50 feet deep.

And on the ground, you could even see the 80-foot arm of the machine plunge down deep, past the foundation, pulling up debris.

WILLIE PUZ, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SPOKESMAN: The goal is to get the house removed, the slob remove, so we can see the sinkhole. We don't know if the house is going to fall in, but we're going to take every precaution to remove that debris if we can.

HOWELL (on-camera): When you look at what's happening here, it's very delicate work, because on either side of this home there, two homes that have to be evacuated, because crews are concerned the sinkhole could continue to grow. They say that the ground nearby is just too unstable for people to get to close. But Jeremy Bush disagrees. He believes crews should be able to do something to get his brother.

BUSH: They had a hard time pulling concrete up. If he's in the ground and still stable right there, why couldn't you -- get that long arm, have somebody hanging from that arm, trying to dig my brother out.

HOWELL (voice-over): The day ended with a burial of sorts. The family gathered the memorials left by will wishers, dropping them into the claw the backhoe. The backhoe then gently dropped those memorials into the sinkhole that has now become a grave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL (on-camera): We're back live with a picture here in Seffner, Florida where you see the work continuing at this home. And, Wolf, we did confirm another thing. We learned that there was another sinkhole situation in a nearby neighborhood at a home. In this case, no one injured, but, again, this is a reminder of just how scary, how common, these sinkholes are here in the state of Florida, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. George, thanks for that update. We'll stay in close touch with you.

Meanwhile, royal watchers can rest a bit easier right now after the queen's release from a London hospital. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. What's the latest with the queen?

SYLVESTER: Some good news. The queen was released today after being treated for symptoms of a stomach bug. The 86-year-old monarch was admitted yesterday as a precaution. She had the stomach flu and an inflammation of the lining of the stomach and intestines. It's the first time the queen has been hospitalized in a decade.

And in Kenya, there are hopes that sporadic violence isn't a sign of things to come after today's presidential election. An ETV correspondent said she came across the bodies of five people in one coastal town while two bomb attacks were reported at polling station in a border town. A police station came under fire last night leaving ten people dead. Observers for the carter center say they've had no reports of intimidation.

And cardinals at the Vatican are deciding when to hold the conclave that will choose the next pope. More than 140 cardinals met today, but not all will get to vote on the next leader of the Catholic Church. A Vatican spokesman says a new pope could be in place before March 15th. That would give him more than a week to prepare for Palm Sunday. And new Harvard grads will hear a commencement address by one of the world's most successful women. Yes. You see here there, Oprah Winfrey. She will deliver that address May 30th. Harvard's president said Winfrey is one of the, quote, "great American success stories." It's the school's 302nd graduation ceremony.

So, I am not surprised. I think she's done Stanford. She's done Princeton. She's done some other places --

BLITZER: Soon, she'll get an honorary degree as part of that as well.

SYLVESTER: Usually they do, but I have no confirmation of that, but I can tell you what, that's going to be an interesting speech. It's going to be -- especially just you know, she had that Lance Armstrong interview --

BLITZER: Oprah's amazing.

(CROSSTALK)

SYLVESTER: I'm a big Oprah fan.

BLITZER: She deserves an honorary degree. Would you let me know?

SYLVESTER: I will. I will. I'll check in and let you know, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Coming up, Washington has spent months pressuring Iran to end its nuclear program. With a new diplomatic team, could this strategy finally be working?

And a surrogate refuses to back down after a family changes its mind about the baby she's carrying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They said that I should try to be God-like and have mercy on the child and let her go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what did you say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And told them that it wasn't their decision to play God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Secretary of state, John Kerry, has a full plate of problems in the Middle East, trying to bring Israelis and Palestinians together, looking for a solution to the Syrian civil war. And now, there's a new twist coming in from Iran. Our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, is traveling with the secretary.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, on this leg of his international trip, Secretary Kerry is stepping right into the thick of Middle Eastern politics and that troubled triangle, the United States, Israel, and Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DOUGHERTY (voice-over): In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a surprise addition to secretary of state, John Kerry's, schedule, a working lunch with Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm going to have a meeting with him. I look forward to the meeting. And, it's part of the process of moving through this region.

DOUGHERTY: Kerry is trying to breathe life back into the peace process, but had to skip Israel on this trip as Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, struggles to form a government. The Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, speaking to a pro-Israel conference in Washington, says Israel has to try to reach some kind of an agreement with the Palestinians.

EHUD BARAK, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER: We need a dating peace initiative with the Palestinians. A two-state solution is the only viable long-term solution.

DOUGHERTY: Back in Riyadh, another hot-button issue for Kerry, Iran and its nuclear program.

KERRY: The talks will not go on for the sake of talks. And talks cannot become an instrument for delay that, in the end, make the situation more dangerous. So, there is a finite amount of time.

DOUGHERTY: The Saudi foreign minister was more blunt. Iran, he said, has not proven to anyone it is sincere in negotiating. It's stringing out talks, he said, while it builds a nuclear weapon.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All options including military force are on the table.

DOUGHERTY: In Washington, the tough talk continued.

BIDEN: Well, big nations can't bluff. And presidents of the United States cannot and do not bluff. And President Barack Obama is not bluffing.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: He is not bluffing.

(APPLAUSE)

DOUGHERTY: Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, singled out Biden and said Iran is ready for direct talks with the U.S. but not if it's being threatened.

MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE, IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: The most important point is that some officials in United States should understand how to speak with Iranians.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOUGHERTY (on-camera): All of this, a prelude to President Barack Obama's own trip to the Middle East later this month -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jill Dougherty traveling with Secretary Kerry, thank you.

Some pretty bold statements by Iran's ambassador to the United Nations. Let's hear a little bit more from Fareed's interview with Mohammad Khazaee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KHAZAEE: If we see (ph) that United States is serious and is honest about its proposal for negotiation, cooperation, talks with Iranian, Iranians will accept it and we will welcome it definitely. There's no doubt about that. I can confirm it here with you and also for your distinguished audience that Iran welcomes negotiation and direct talks with United States provided that we make sure that U.S. is serious and do not act differently.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's discuss what's going on. CNN's Fareed Zakaria is joining us. He's also editor at large of "Time" magazine, along with Richard Haas, the president of the consul on foreign relations, the author of the forthcoming book "Foreign Policy Begins at Home."

Fareed, let me start with you. How significant is this latest exchange of verbal blasts, shall we say or views from the Iranians, the U.S., and the Israelis?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN'S FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: I think significant within the context of a very complicated relationship. So, to play the history back, Vice President Biden makes an offer where he says -- this is two weeks ago, let's try to have direct talks between the United States and Iran. The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini a couple of days later, seems to dismiss that.

It isn't clear he's directly addressing it, but he says, you know, the Americans keep threatening us, we don't want to talk to them. Then we get approached. We have good relations and maintain constant communication with the Iranians.

And so, we get approached by them and they say -- they offer to come on the program and the ambassador says, you know, I can confirm for you we are ready for direct talks and he goes on to parse Ayatollah Khomeini's speech saying he didn't mean to say no talks, he just said, you've got to respect us, you've got to talk straight to us. So, it does sound within the context of this very complicated business, it does sound like they're trying to say, look, there are circumstances in which we will do direct talks with the United States.

BLITZER: I wanted you to weigh in, Richard, but also in the context of what Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said today as well. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We have to stop its nuclear enrichment program before it's too late. And I have to tell you, from the bottom of my heart, with a clarity of my brain, words alone will not stop Iran. Sanctions alone will not stop Iran. Sanctions must be coupled with a clear and credible military threat if diplomacy and sanctions fail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. So go ahead, Richard. Go ahead and weigh in.

RICHARD HAAS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, what this all tells you is how extraordinarily difficult it's going to be to avoid an armed confrontation. You essentially have multiple clocks running at different speeds. You've got the technological advance of Iran, day in, day out, towards getting closer and closer to a nuclear weapons capability.

You've got the negotiating clock, which is barely running. And then, you've got the decision-making clock in Israel, and the Israelis are very concerned that if they don't act sooner rather than later, their moment for ever acting will have disappeared.

So, somehow synchronizing these three different time clocks, if you will, I think is going to be, as I said, extraordinarily difficult for the United States, which wants to avoid either having to go to war, on one hand, or on the other hand, live with an Iran that actually has nuclear weapons or something awfully close to it.

BLITZER: You remember, Fareed, when the president was campaigning back in 2008, he was repeatedly reaching out to create a dialogue, even after he took office. He wanted to create a dialogue with Iran. Nothing happened. Is it realistic to think there could, right now, be direct U.S.-Iranian talks on the nuclear issue?

ZAKARIA: Well, you know, it's a tantalizing prospect. These two countries have not spoken to each other for 30 years. They have not been direct conversations between Iranians and Americans at the governmental level. But yet, one day, it does seem as though that is the only prospect to break the logjam.

If you think about Nixon and Kissinger when they went to China, it had been about 30 years that no Americans and no Chinese had ever spoken. And in fact, Nixon took an even bigger risk politically because the whole Republican Party was lockstep in favor of relationships with Taiwan. Taiwan was China, it had China's veto in the security council. And yet Nixon did that.

So part of the problem here is the politics everywhere is an additional complication to the clocks that Richard was talking about. If Obama talks to the Iranians, you know what the Republicans are going to say.

It is also true Iran has its own politics, and there is going to be opposition to talking to the United States. They have their hard- liners too.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting when you listen to what the Israelis say, obviously, what Joe Biden said today, Richard. But you know, you also listen to what the Saudis say. They are as hard line on opposing an Iranian nuclear weapon as the Israelis are, it seems to me. But what do you think?

HAASS: The Saudis and some of their neighbors are against an Iranian nuclear weapon. More broadly against what they see is this Iranian push for regional primacy. It's one of the reasons they're so upset about what is taking place in Syria.

But the question we have to be careful about is just because the Saudi leadership and others say you can't allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon, what would happen if the United States were ever to use force. And Wolf, you know this part of the world, as obviously does Fareed. I don't think the United States can be assured that the people on the streets of Saudi Arabia or in any other Arab country would rally around the United States or Israel if force were to be used, as much as they dislike the idea of Iran having a nuclear weapon. So, one of the dozens of considerations we have to take into account would be what would be the implications for regional stability of an American use of military force if it were to come to that.

BLITZER: Before you guys go, I want both of you to weigh in. Extraordinary interview that George Stephanopoulos did yesterday on ABC with Dennis Rodman, the former NBA star, just back from a visit to North Korea, where he became, I believe, the first American to meet with Kim Jong-un, the new North Korean leader. Listen to this exchange that Rodman and George had.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA STAR: And one thing, he asked me to give Obama something to say and do one thing. He want Obama to do one thing. Call him.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOUS, ABC HOST: He wants a call from President Obama?

RODMAN: That's right, he told me that. He said, if you can, Dennis, I don't want to do war. I don't want to do war. He said that to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. First, Fareed and then Richard. Very quickly to both of you, what do you think of this?

ZAKARIA: Well, I don't ask - I don't try to watch John Kerry playing basketball, and I don't take seriously Dennis Rodman on geopolitical issues. I think what he did was very important, and I think it has a positive effect in terms of creating relationships between the two societies, between opening up North Korea. But as to specific negotiating and diplomatic advice, I think he's a great basketball player.

BLITZER: Richard.

HAASS: I look forward to George Stephanopoulos playing for the Knicks about as much as I look forward to Dennis Rodman continuing his new career in diplomacy. This is not serious stuff. It's a distraction. The real question is whether China will use the influence it has over North Korea to rein them in. But if we're going to depend upon former basketball players to carry out our diplomacy, we're in even worst shape than I thought we were.

BLITZER: Richard Haass and Fareed Zakaria, two smart guys joining us. Thanks very much to both of you. Fareed, excellent job with that interview yesterday as well. Always good to see news being made on GPS. Appreciate it very much.

Coming up, after a divorce, most people don't want anything to do with their partner. Mark Sanford, however, isn't most people. Ahead, you're going to find out why the former governor of South Carolina wanted to hire his ex-wife for a make-or-break job.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Talk about politics and strange bedfellows. When he was the governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford disappeared from the state, said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, what was really in Argentina to visit his mistress. Sanford and his wife went through a bitter divorce, and he's now engaged to that one-time mistress.

Three years later, Sanford is running for Congress, and it's reported he asked his ex-wife Jenny Sanford to run his campaign.

Let's bring back our chief political analyst Gloria Borger, who has been looking into this story. Originally reported in "New York Magazine" with the punch line that said Sanford said to his ex-wife, I'm quoting, "I could pay you this time." What's going on here?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he gives new meaning to the notion of being self-involved, don't you, Wolf? From my reporting today, it's very clear to me that Jenny Sanford was pretty taken aback by this request.

But when you look at it for political reasons, you can understand exactly why he asked her. First, she'd run some previous campaigns of his. So, she's got the experience. But also, it would not only amount to an endorsement, but it would also be telling the people of the state that I think my ex-husband, no matter what else occurred in our marriage, has an awful lot to offer to the state. So she turned him down, Wolf, as one might expect, but the offer was made.

BLITZER: There is some speculation, correct me if I'm wrong, that she might even decide to run for that seat.

BORGER: That's right. There was, and she's a former banking executive. She's got considerable personal wealth, as I said before. She's also got a lot of political experience. So, there were people who were coming at her saying, you know what? You could clear this field if you ran. And I was told today that she's got -- they have four boys. She's got a couple of sons who are still at home, and that may have been part of her calculation in deciding not to get involved politically. I wouldn't say that it's out forever, but certainly this time around.

BLITZER: Any reaction from the former governor?

BORGER: About her --

BLITZER: About this notion of inviting her to run the campaign?

BORGER: Well, I did not speak with the former governor, but I did speak with some people who were working on his campaign. And I said, does this aLl affect this campaign? You know, it's a crazy race to begin with, wolf. There are 16 people running in a Republican primary to replace now-Senator Tim Scott, so it's a crazy race. The primary's going to happen at the end of the month.

So, I asked some people, is there a gender gap in this race, given his own personal history? The answer was, we have no polling to indicate that there is a gender gap. I asked, does it come up a lot on the campaign trail? Are these questions asked? And I was told, no, no, no, these questions are not asked.

That doesn't mean that people aren't thinking about it. You know, it's not that long ago, Wolf. And Sanford hasn't kept his private life all that private. He talks about it quite a lot.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens in that special election for the Republican nomination.

BORGER: We will. Interesting, interesting race.

BLITZER: Can't make this kind of stuff up.

BORGER: No, you cannot.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Just ahead, a family faces a brutally tough decision, whether to have a child with severe birth defects. The surrogate they hired to carry the baby made her own decision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't tell you how many people told me I was bad, that I was wrong, that I should go have an abortion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're just getting this in. An extraordinary chain collision on a Colorado highway as a massive winter storm sweeps across the country. Interstate 70 in Vail, Colorado, is closed in both directions because of a 30-car accident and blizzard conditions. Authorities have not been able to find out if there are injuries or fatalities. A state transportation official says it will be a fairly lengthy closure. Let's hope for the best.

When a couple hires a surrogate, they entrust that person with their hopes and their dreams for a baby. For one couple, the journey turned into an anguished ordeal. CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us now from the CNN Center with more on this very, very painful story. Elizabeth, what happened?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you know, surrogacy stories usually have happy endings. The couple gets the couple they've been longing for and the surrogate gets her fee.

But in this case, the arrangement went horribly wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COHEN (voice-over): Crystal Kelly was thrilled when a couple hired her to be their surrogate and carry their baby. The husband and wife were ecstatic, too. Finally, they'd have the child they'd been longing for.

CRYSTAL KELLEY, SURROGATE MOTHER: And she said be pray for a little girl. I want a little girl.

COHEN (on camera): And she got a little girl.

KELLEY: And she got a little girl.

COHEN: Was it the little girl she wanted?

KELLEY: No.

COHEN (voice-over): Ultrasounds halfway through Kelley's pregnancy showed the baby girl growing inside her had severe heart defects. A brain abnormality. And other medical problems.

KELLEY: They said she had a less than 25 percent chance of being able to have a normal life.

COHEN: Inside the Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, the parents, heart broken, ask Kelley to have an abortion.

KELLEY: I refused. I couldn't do it. I was the one who was feeling her kick and squirm. I knew she had a fighting spirit. And I wanted to fight for her. COHEN: But the parents pleaded with Kelley. Genetically, this was their baby. She was just carrying her.

KELLEY: They said that they didn't want to bring a baby into the world only for that child to suffer. They said that I should try to be God-like and have mercy on the child and let her go.

COHEN (on camera): And what did you say?

KELLEY: I told them that it wasn't their decision to play God.

COHEN (voice-over): Strong convictions. But would she betray them for the right price? Kelley was a single mom. Money was tight. Through the surrogacy agency, the parents said they would pay her $10,000 to have an abortion.

(On camera): And when you saw that $10,000 figure, did you think, maybe I'll do it?

KELLEY: In a weak moment, I asked her to tell them that for $15,000, I would consider going forward with the termination.

COHEN (voice-over): The parents refused her request. And Kelley says she quickly regretted asking for the extra money anyways. Deep down, she knew she could never abort under any circumstances. Once again, they were at a standoff.

CNN reached out to the parents. They didn't respond to repeated calls or e-mails and we're not naming them. Legally, they couldn't force Kelley to have an abortion so they proposed, if you have this baby, we'll give her up and she'll become a ward of the state.

KELLEY: I'm not going to let her become one of those forgotten disabled kids. That gets lost in the system.

COHEN: Kelley made a bold decision. Informing the parents at the last second she left the state. Pregnant with their baby.

KELLEY: Packed up my van with everything that I could carry, threw my kids in the car. And we drove for two days to Michigan.

COHEN: Under Michigan law, Kelley would be the baby's mother.

(On camera): You were making a decision for a baby that was not genetically yours.

KELLEY: I can't tell you how many people told me that I was bad, that I was wrong, that I should go have an abortion, that I would be damned to hell.

COHEN (voice-over): She spent the final months her pregnancy in Michigan and gave birth last June.

And here's the baby today. She's 8 months old. To protect her privacy, we're not naming her or the family Kelley found to adopt her. Along with her cleft lip and palate and a misshapen ear, she has severe brain and heart problems. She'll need several risky surgeries to survive. But in many other ways, she's developed like other babies. She smiles, babbles and grabs for toys.

(On camera): Some people would say, why bring a child into this world who you know is going to have such huge medical problems.

KELLEY: And I say that it's not fair to not give them a chance to overcome them.

COHEN: What if she doesn't walk though? What if she doesn't talk?

KELLEY: She's still a happy little girl who's going to bring joy into the lives of everyone who knows her.

COHEN: When you see here now, how does that feel?

KELLEY: It gives me a lot of joy. And I know that every single thing that I did was worth it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Elizabeth joining us now. What an amazing story, that is, Elizabeth. Anything could have been done to avoid this situation?

COHEN: You know, Wolf, I've been talking to lawyers about this. And they said, look, a surrogate and the people who want to hire her should have an honest discussion beforehand. What are we going to do if something is wrong with the baby. And Crystal Kelley, the surrogate, said that discussion never happened.

BLITZER: What a story. All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very, very much for that report.

COHEN: Thanks.

BLITZER: When we come back, Bush 41 writes about his relationship with Bush 43. First on CNN. We have an advanced look at the letters by the first President Bush.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Now first on CNN. The former President George H. W. Bush has never written an autobiography, but he's now coming a little bit closer. Tomorrow he releases an updated collection of nearly 700 pages of letters and other writings. They talk of his time in retirement, his love of his family, and his relationship with the second President Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm thankful to the American people for the great privilege of being able to serve as your next president. BLITZER (voice-over): They are the words of a father about the day his son took over a family legacy. "The fat lady sang. The ordeal ended." Words by George H. W. Bush never before seen by the public. Part of the just released collection.

"And now a huge new chapter in the lives of the Bush family opens up." It's a letter to a close friend, "TIME" magazine's Hugh Sidey, celebrating his son's victory in 2002 after a bitter court battle and sympathizing with his son's challenger, Al Gore.

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I accept the finality of this outcome.

BLITZER: Shoes George H. W. Bush had stood in in 1992. "I suddenly felt for him. Saw him as a man whose disappointment had to be overpowering. I knew he must be hurting. I suddenly felt quite different about Al Gore. The anger was gone. The competitive juices stopped flowing."

Like on that night for the next eight years, Bush would watch from afar. Staying out of the media spotlight. Privately frustrated as his son was attacked about September 11th.

"I talked to George. I did tell him the sooner he got back to Washington the better. He totally agreed with that. I noticed in today's press that the vultures are already circling, saying he should have come back sooner."

Criticized over Katrina. "I am really down about the way the president has been attacked over and over again. The networks attacked him. First for being late in moving, then for overflying Louisiana on the way back to Washington. Then on the snail-like pace of relief. And attacked during the 2004 election. Liar was often used to describe the president. Hatred filled the airwaves and oozed into the print media, too."

ANDREW CARD, G. H. W. BUSH CHIEF OF STAFF: I think part of it was empathy, part of it was just a father sticking up for his son.

BLITZER: The newly revealed writings also show Bush as the proud father. One e-mail sent to George W. on the day Saddam Hussein was overthrown, subject line, "Very personal for POTUS."

"It was pride, yes, but it was also an overflowing of joy from all that you have given your mother and me over the years. Bar and I are at your side. I hope you can feel it. We will stay out of the way but I am there beside you. My heart overflowing with happiness on this day of vindication."

He'd end that 2003 e-mail with a prediction. One only history can judge. "No doubt tough times lie ahead, but hence worth here and abroad, there will never be any doubts about our commander in chief about his leadership, about our boy, George."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And tomorrow, a closer look at George H. W. Bush's relationship with another president, Bill Clinton.

In our next hour, stunning a breakthrough in the treatment of HIV. I'll speak with the nation's point man on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's "Hot Shots" in Kenya. A woman's finger is marked after casting her vote in the national election. In Indonesia, lightning strikes over the Jakarta skyline. In Israel, a sand cloud passes through a coastal city. And in the Dominican Republic, revelers perform during a carnival parade.

"Hot Shots," pictures coming in from around the world.

Happening now, budget cut reality check from the airports to your kitchen table. Who is feeling the pinch?

First, rifts revealed. The Obama-Clinton relationship listed as warm and fuzzy, as we were told.

Dennis Rodman gets a reaction. The White House weighs in on his strange relationship with North Korea's leader.

Medical breakthrough. AIDS expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and a child who was cured by HIV -- of HIV.

And a retirement home horror. An elderly woman denied CPR, is dead, and the audio recordings tell the story.