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THE SITUATION ROOM

Chinese Hacking Threat; President Obama Visits New Jersey; Interview With Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers; 'Staggering' Hacking of U.S. Weapons Designs; Weiner Gains Ground in Political Comeback; 9- year-old Takes on Chicago's Mayor Over School; What It's Like Inside a Tornado; Delivery Guys Who Couldn't Resist

Aired May 28, 2013 - 18:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, inside the burned-out Caribbean cruise ship. Passengers return home early and tell us stories of freaking out during the fire.

And brave or crazy? I will ask a storm chaser about the remarkable way he shot video inside a tornado.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ears are popping.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I am Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're getting an extremely troubling new look at a growing threat to America's military security. Chinese cyber-spies reportedly are hacking into blueprints for sensitive Pentagon weapon systems in a much, much bigger way and more dangerous way than we ever realized. Some defense experts now say the amount of cyber-spying that's been revealed is staggering.

CNN's Brian Todd is breaking all of this down for us.

And it really is enormous what's going on.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is enormous, Wolf.

The U.S. has traditionally had a technological advantage over China in military capability, but the Chinese are catching up. And a new report bolsters accusations that they have hacked their way closer to the top.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): They're America's most advanced combat weapons and defense system, the F-18 fighter jet, the Littoral combat ship, the Aegis ballistic missile defense system.

According to a new report, the designs for these and other high-tech weapons have been breached by Chinese hackers. A confidential version of the report from the Defense Science Board made up of government and civilian experts was given to "The Washington Post." The report doesn't accuse China of stealing entire designs, but if they didn't steal them, how did they compromise them?

We spoke with Kevin Mandia, a top cyber-security expert who did a separate report this year on Chinese military hackers.

KEVIN MANDIA, CEO, MANDIANT: And bits and pieces of things will be taken from many different sources, different laptops, different computer systems that have been compromised. But it is hard to take a lot of these pieces and gel them into one comprehensive picture of what might be being built or what the designs are.

TODD: CNN couldn't independently verify the latest report's findings. Several members of the Defense Science Board who we contacted declined to speak to us. U.S. defense and other officials downplay the report, saying some of the information is dated, that they have taken steps to address the concerns, one saying -- quote -- "The idea that somehow whoever the intruders were got the keys to the weapons kingdom is a stretch."

But the Pentagon has recently accused China trying to extract information from U.S. government computers, including military ones. If the Chinese even got into parts of a combat or missile defense system, how could they have gotten past the safeguards?

MANDIA: There's a lot of engineering that gets done in an academic setting. There's a lot of engineering that gets done in at defense industrial base. And a lot of these places have been compromised for over 10 years.

TODD (on camera): China's military ambition has have been off the charts in recent years. They have launched a satellite killer missile into space. Just over the past two years, they have deployed their first aircraft carrier, and they have test-flown their first stealth fighter jet. One expert told me the technology for that was taken from the U.S.

(voice-over): And China's alleged hacking could be deadly for U.S. forces on the battlefield. I asked one expert about the publicly released part of this latest report on the consequences of the cyber- snatching of weapons technology.

JAMES LEWIS, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: If you mess with the software, the airplane won't fly, the missile will miss its target, and the ship might not get to where it was intended to go.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: China's embassy in Washington has not responded to our calls and e-mail about this latest report. China's government, though, has repeatedly it doesn't conduct cyber-espionage on U.S. agencies or companies -- Wolf.

BLITZER: The Chinese, though, apparently they have done this for years now. And you have been speaking to analysts and experts. How can the U.S. stop this if the U.S. can?

TODD: Experts say there's no way to completely stop them. But what the top defense contractors have to do is reduce their target area in cyberspace, and a lot of them are good at doing that right now. And if they sense a breach, pounce on it immediately, limit the impact of it. That's what they have got to do.

BLITZER: Because the U.S. spends billions, maybe trillions of dollars on these high-tech weapons.

TODD: Absolutely.

BLITZER: The Chinese go ahead and just come in, get the blueprints, study this, and they spend a pittance in exchange for that.

TODD: Little by little by little, they get little bits and pieces and they can piece together what the whole system looks like. And the aircraft carrier, the stealth fighter jet, they have got that technology now. They're catching up because of all of this.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much. Later this hour, by the way, I will speak live with the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Mike Rogers. We will talk about this threat from the Chinese cyber-spies and what the United States can do to stop it, Mike Rogers here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's go to Baltimore right now, where more than 2,000 passengers are returning from a cruise nightmare. They're telling dramatic stories about the fire that erupted Monday night and their panicked dash to the decks for safety.

CNN's Erin McPike is joining us from Baltimore right now.

What are you hearing, Erin?

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines said they hoped to get all of those 2,200 passengers back to Baltimore today. So far, from what we know, just two of the 11 chartered flights that they have made it back.

And for the passengers that have arrived so far, they seem to be in pretty good spirits given the ordeal they have been through.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCPIKE (voice-over): More than 2,200 vacationers started making their way back to rainy Baltimore on a fleet of 11 chartered flights. They cut their trips short, thanks to an early morning panic after a fire broke out Monday on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, pretty terrifying at first.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scary just trying to get them together, and not knowing what was going on, and what to grab, and just to make sure they were safe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The bad thing is we had to stand for four hours, but we didn't realize how bad the fire was. So...

MCPIKE: The ship, Grandeur of the Seas, isn't in as good shape as those passengers, and will be dry-docked in the Bahamas for repairs. Royal Caribbean says it will be awhile before they can determine the cause of Monday's fire. But the inspection is under way.

RICHARD BURKE, GLOBAL MARITIME CENTER: This type of fire, it was reported to be a class A fire, so it didn't involve electrical components or flammable liquids, so it is kind of unusual, yes.

MCPIKE: Despite the circumstances, cruisers gave kudos to the crew.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The captain, the officers and the crew could not have handled this incident any better.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were great. They were fantastic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was pleasantly surprised in how it ended.

MCPIKE: And industry experts say Royal Caribbean has responded appropriately so far to this challenge.

ERNEST DELBUONO, LEVICK: They have to be able to show them that even though there was a fire on board the ship, because of the high quality of construction on board that ship, as well as the training of the crew, that cruising is a very safe vacation.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCPIKE: Now, Wolf, a number of those passengers told CNN that they would be happy to take cruises again, but travel experts told us that because of the recent string of P.R. disasters for the cruise industry, they expect that prices may go down for awhile, Wolf.

BLITZER: Erin McPike in Baltimore for us. Erin, thanks very much.

We are also just getting some new video in to CNN from that fiery train crash and explosion just outside of Baltimore. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoa!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Holy moly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Pretty dramatic. A freight train and a tractor trailer collided, setting off that explosion, and triggering a fire that has burned most of the afternoon. Officials aren't sure what chemicals the train is carrying, but the railroad companies told them there are no toxic inhalants aboard.

A 20-block section of the mostly industrial area has been evacuated. The truck driver appears to be the only person hurt. We will update you when we get more information.

President Obama is sending a message today that disaster victims can and will recover on his watch. He joined Republican Governor Chris Christie in touring the New Jersey Shore seven months after superstorm Sandy hit. They visited shops the boardwalks, shops, the arcades that have been rebuilt and reopened. All of this comes just days after the president got a firsthand look at the tornado devastation in Oklahoma.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Part of the reason I wanted to come back here wasn't just to send a message to New Jersey, but send a message to folks in Oklahoma. When we make a commitment that we have got your back, we mean it. And we're not going to finish until the work is done, because that's who we are.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Superstorm Sandy caused billions of dollars of damage along the East Coast.

Up next, two very different people who claim they were set up. We will have the latest on a Mormon mother from Arizona who is being held on drug charges in Mexico.

And the mayor of Toronto, he is now firing back at the news media and his own staff as he denies allegations he smoked crack.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: As political scandals go, Toronto has a whopper going on right now. The city's mayor is accused of smoking crack cocaine. We can't show you the evidence. For that matter, hardly anyone has actually seen it.

Tom Foreman is here to explain what's going on.

What is going on?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the middle of the Stanley Cup, the biggest event in Canada right now, is, is there a video or is there not a video of Toronto's mayor doing something wrong?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN (voice-over): Mayor Rob Ford is on the ropes, but still punching as Toronto's City Hall reels from blow after blow. It started when two reporters from "The Toronto Star" and an editor from the Web site Gawker said they were approached by men trying to sell a video purportedly showing the mayor smoking crack with drug dealers.

One of those reporters, Kevin Donovan, is one of the few to have seen the alleged tape.

KEVIN DONOVAN, "THE TORONTO STAR": He was rambling and he seemed to be high. I mean, there's no real other way to describe it than to say the mayor was high.

FOREMAN: But "The Toronto Star" reporters didn't buy the video, which is allegedly still being offered for around $200,000. And the mayor is attacking.

ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO: There has been a serious accusation from "The Toronto Star" that I used crack cocaine. I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine. As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or does not exist.

FOREMAN: Wait. It gets better.

QUESTION: Did this come as a shock to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

FOREMAN: Since the video broke, the mayor has fired the chief of staff and two top press aides quit after he went on the radio and called the media:

FORD: Bunch of maggots.

FOREMAN: Yes, maggots. He later apologized.

FORD: I am sure you understand this has been a very stressful week for myself. That doesn't justify using the terminology I did.

FOREMAN: But wait. It gets better still. "The Star" now reports police are looking into possibilities that someone else from the mayor's office tried to hunt down that video, and the deputy mayor who also at first said the video did not exist now tells "The Star":

DOUG HOLYDAY, TORONTO DEPUTY MAYOR: I think, if we could just get the video, then we could analyze the video, and see if it is doctored, or if it is real, and we can go from there. That would clear up a lot of things.

FOREMAN (on camera): Mayor Ford was in trouble before, accused of conflicts of interest, but he has remained popular with voters, who like his policies and his common man approach.

(voice-over): In Washington, D.C., that formula led Mayor Marion Barry back to power after he was caught on tape with drugs. So amid the uproar, Ford tweeted a picture of a birthday cake with the message "Thanks for all the support," and passed out pieces to reporters, many of whom clearly wonder if he will wind up being served.

FORD: Who wants a piece?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: So, there are really just two views here, Wolf. There either is a tape out there, and if it surfaces, the mayor is cooked, or there is not a tape or one may never surface, in which case many people think he is popular enough, he can still survive these accusations.

BLITZER: Or if the tape does exist, if the tape really proves conclusively that he was doing it...

FOREMAN: Exactly.

BLITZER: ... because the way he was described by the reporter could be that maybe he was drunk or whatever, too.

FOREMAN: Many other possible interpretations of this. And it all comes down to this question about this tape which allegedly exists that that reporter told me today he has seen, but precious few have.

BLITZER: Yes. All right, we will stay on top of this story as well. Tom, thank you.

In Arizona, it's been a long, anxious day for the family of a Mormon woman, the mother of seven who is being held on drug charges in Mexico. We reported this story yesterday. Her family insists she's innocent and a victim of a setup. They have just received word about a court hearing that's been going on today.

CNN's Casey Wian is joining us now from her town, the Phoenix suburb of Goodyear.

What's the latest, Casey?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the latest is this hearing you're speaking of has been going on since 10:00 local time this morning, according to a family spokesman.

He says that four different witnesses have testified so far, including Yanira Maldonado's husband, Gary, her father, and the person who drove them to the bus station, was of course on that bus where Mexican authorities claim they found 12 pounds of marijuana under Yanira Maldonado's seat.

They have taken her into custody. She has been in custody since Wednesday of last week. The family was hoping that she might be released from that Mexican jail as early as today. Authorities say that's not going to happen because the military officers who took them into custody at that checkpoint in Mexico will be testifying or at least are scheduled to testify tomorrow.

Here's what the family had to say to CNN earlier this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY MALDONADO, WIFE JAILED IN MEXICO: It's been tough, but Yanira seems to be strong and holding up. She's not happy where she's at, but she has high hope that she will be free of this falsely accused accusation against her. I got to see her yesterday.

QUESTION: Gary, can you tell me what do you think happened here? You got on this bus. You were coming back from your wife's aunt's funeral. You were going back to the United States on this bus. And what do you think happened here? Do you think someone else put a package of marijuana on that bus? What do you think happened?

MALDONADO: It was either that the packages were already on the bus or they were never on the bus and we were just framed, set up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIAN: More specifically, Gary Maldonado said he was specifically asked, Wolf, to pay a $5,000 bribe to get his wife out of jail. While he was trying to raise the money, she was sent into custody. They say they're optimistic that she will be released some time this week, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, you will stay on top of this. Casey, thanks very much.

Coming up, we have frightening new details of a teenager's alleged plot. You're going to hear part of what police say is his minute-by- minute plan for bombings and murder.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

BLITZER: Up next: We have seen storm chaser video before, but not like this, this one. I'm going to speak to a man who was inside a tornado.

And I will ask the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Mike Rogers, about a new plan to try to help the Syrian rebels reportedly under consideration at the White House, that and Chinese cyber-spying -- much more coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now: designs for some of America's top defense systems compromised by Chinese hackers. The House Intelligence Committee chairman is standing by live to talk about the growing danger from cyber-spying.

Also, I will ask a storm chaser what it felt like to be inside a tornado and shoot this remarkable video.

And the 9-year-old boy that took on Chicago's mayor, I will talk to him about his fight and the way he fires up a crowd.

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

Let's get back to our top story this hour, a disturbing new report about Chinese cyber-spying on some of America's most advanced weapons and aircrafts -- aircraft. It lists more than two dozen defense systems whose secret designs were targeted by hackers.

Joining us now, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Mike Rogers.

Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming in.

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIR, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Wolf, thanks for having me.

BLITZER: You saw the story in "The Washington Post," that Chinese hackers have gone through all these plans that the U.S. spent maybe trillions of dollars on to develop some of the most sophisticated weapons and they stole it. How significant, how serious is this problem?

ROGERS: Well, it is tremendously serious.

And this is something the Intelligent Committees have seen for a while, our intelligence community has been trying to get ahead of for awhile. But the viciousness in this, the volume of attacks, not only by the Chinese, but Russians and others, trying to get the blueprints of our most sensitive material is just breathtaking.

And they're getting better, so their capability for getting into systems and getting that kind of information. It is not just government networks, Wolf. They're also doing the supply chain. Anybody that is connected to any of our defense industry is really vulnerable to this type of attack.

BLITZER: Can you confirm that just "The Washington Post" story, that it was Chinese military hackers, if you will, that stole all this material?

ROGERS: I can't confirm what they have gotten, but I can tell you that it was the Chinese military, and they have been aggressively pursuing it.

And I will tell you this. And for folks at home, well, what does this mean to me? We in some cases have to go back for any material that may have been stolen, as you can imagine, and redesign it. It costs more money. It costs billions and billions of dollars extra to try to make sure that we are staying ahead of our adversaries with technology.

When they steal it, they leap ahead. That means we have to invest more and change that technology. It is a serious problem.

BLITZER: In the real world, though, you can't blame the Chinese for trying to steal it. You can't blame the Russians or others for trying to steal this kind of stuff, but you can blame the U.S. national security infrastructure, if you will, if it can't protect this kind of information.

ROGERS: Well, here is something to think about.

So, about 10 percent of the networks are government networks. And so we ask our intelligence agencies to go overseas and find out what the bad guys are up to. They bring information back and do a pretty good job about protecting government networks. It is that 90 percent. There's a common myth that the government or the NSA, the National Security Agency, CIA, others, are monitoring the private network. They're not. And so what happens...

BLITZER: They should be. I mean, if you have these private defense contractors, and their security is not good. And they're getting access to all of this sensitive material and Chinese hackers are stealing it from one of these big defense contractors, that's a -- that's a major problem.

ROGERS: Well, it's a huge problem. We think we have a separate answer by just allowing the government to share malicious source code with the private sector and the private sector to share back. That should happen. It hasn't yet.

BLITZER: Why hasn't it happened?

ROGERS: Well, it passed the House. We're awaiting action in the Senate. I think we're going to get a bill this year, a bipartisan bill sponsored by myself and my ranking member -- that's Lucas Berger (ph) -- that will pass in some form this year. I think that will happen.

But remember, you don't want your government monitoring the 90 percent of those private-sector networks. I think this is a uniquely American problem, but we have to have a uniquely American solution.

I think we have that, and part of that is -- is making all of the supply chain, everybody who makes the screws for a particular weapons system, to putting it together in its final form. And some of those have exceptionally good defenses. It's the weakness of that supply chain.

BLITZER: It's one thing trying to steal blueprints and steal technology. It's another to use that hacking ability to undermine a power grid or telecommunications network, to do something like that that could grind a big chunk of this country to a halt. Is there any evidence the Chinese, for that matter the Russians, want to do that?

ROGERS: Absolutely. We've seen -- it's now and forever more part of military planning. We saw that in Estonia, where the Russians went in, because they took a statue of a Soviet soldier down from a square. They did a very vicious and effective cyber attack. They prepped the battlefield, if you will, before they went into South Pacefia (ph) in Georgia with a cyber attack before they sent their takes in.

We know that now this is part of nation-state military planning. They will launch an aggressive cyber attack when we're in conflict. Now what should worry people is, yes, Chinese have the capability. Yes, the Russians have the capability, but now who is creeping up are Iran, South Korea. They're still a little ways behind.

BLITZER: South Korea, an ally?

ROGERS: Excuse me, North Korea. Apologize. I should have brought...

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS: Well, we hope they have a defensive capability anyway.

BLITZER: So, what you're saying, you're saying that Iran and North Korea have what?

ROGERS: Well, they're gaining in capability, and they're not rational actors. China isn't going to necessarily shut down our electric grid unless we're in conflict. You can't say that about Iran or North Korea.

What's happening is that you've seen that the Iranians are here on our shores. They have been probing our financial institutions. We know that they have been probing certain electric grids and whatnot. That's a real problem for us because again, there's a cyber war going on now. Most Americans are aware of it. And it is not one that we're well-prepared to handle from the private sector's perspective.

BLITZER: Let me shift to Syria for a moment while I have you. This report out now that the U.S. is, the president asked the Defense Department to take another look at a no-fly zone over Syria to try to deal with Bashar al-Assad. To go ahead and maybe arm some of these Syrian rebels. What do you think?

ROGERS: We have to do something. It's destabilizing the region. This is not just about getting involved in a conflict. Lebanon has started to deteriorate. The crush of refugees, the humanitarian crisis on Turkey, on Jordan. The pressure it's putting on Israel when you have now every flavor of terrorist now operating in Syria.

The problem here, Wolf, is that if it deteriorates, if it falls apart, if there's nothing left, you have all of those terrorist groups who want to get a hold of chemical weapons and very sophisticated conventional weapons. This is turning into a disaster beyond its borders, and we need -- I think we need to take some serious steps.

BLITZER: So you would support a no-fly zone?

ROGERS: I would but not necessarily the way some have called for with planes. We can use our Arab League partners to push down in the north and then from the south, and have weapon system capability that would not allow helicopters and airplanes to cause havoc.

BLITZER: What about arming the rebels? Because there's a lot of concern some of those weapons could get in the hands of el Misra (ph), for example, the al-Qaeda-oriented kind of terror group.

ROGERS: Well, the problem is those groups are being armed already. So the Arab League folks have been in there for a year providing weapons. And the one thing that's been missing, I think, is U.S. leadership to make sure that those weapons get into the right hands.

So we have the unique capability -- this is not about troops on the ground. This is not about engaging our Air Force. We want to use the Arab League, and then we can vet the folks who should be getting these weapon systems, train them, and give them intelligence packages to make them...

BLITZER: So I hear you saying -- I'm going to wrap it up -- you would support a limit, some sort of no-fly zone and some sort of provision of hardware, weapons if you will, lethal weapons to the rebels?

ROGERS: I would, in the cases of which we just talked about.

BLITZER: Under those circumstances. It's a tough, tough situation. You've got to be concerned if those weapons wind up in the wrong hands, which they easily could be.

ROGERS: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.

ROGERS: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, I'll ask a storm chaser about the special vehicle that kept him safe while he shot this wild video inside a tornado.

And the zingers fly as Anthony Weiner takes a new step in his bid to return from the political scandal and be the next mayor of New York.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: There were plenty of jokes about Anthony Weiner's attempt at a political return after the lewd photo scandal that forced him to quit Congress. But there's now evidence that New Yorkers, they are taking his mayoral campaign seriously.

Our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is in New York for us.

All right, Jim, what's the latest?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Anthony Weiner has said he just wants a second chance from the voters. And judging by the latest polls on the race for mayor here in the Big Apple, he may get one.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): To the political pundits writing off Anthony Weiner in the race for New York City mayor, don't say "forget about it" just yet.

ANTHONY WEINER, NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: You can have a safe classroom where teachers can teach and students can learn.

ACOSTA: The former congressman, who resigned in disgrace after posting lewd photos online, received a warm welcome at his first candidates' debate, and he's getting a serious look from the voters. The latest mayor's poll shows he's gaining fast, just five points behind the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. What's more, 53 percent of voters say Weiner deserves a second chance, while 39 percent say he lacks the character to be mayor.

(on camera): Are you getting a second chance? Is that what this means?

WEINER: Look, I have said from the moment I got in this race that I, you know, honor the right people have questions for me. But for the most part, the questions people have been asking have been about the things that affect their families.

ACOSTA: Citing a scheduling conflict, Quinn dropped out of the debate at the last minute, even though the event's organizers insist she helped set the date.

ZAKIYAH ANSARI, NEW YORKERS FOR GREAT PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Of course we're disappointed in that, but you know, it's her loss, unfortunately.

ACOSTA: But Weiner didn't seize on Quinn's actions in his typical bombastic style.

WEINER: Well, I can't speak for any other candidate, but look...

ACOSTA: At least publicly, Weiner has changed. Now the subject of tabloid punch lines, he often talks about lessons he's learned the hard way.

It's almost the same approach used by Congressman Mark Sanford in his successful bid for redemption in South Carolina.

But in New York, the zingers fly fast, many now aimed at the bulls-eye on Weiner's back. Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told a newspaper, quote, "Shame on us if Weiner is elected." Cuomo told reporters he was only kidding.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK STATE: That was my comment on the mayoral race, and we'll now let them run their race and see what happens.

ACOSTA: At the debate, Weiner joked he can handle the governor.

WEINER: Honestly, he started it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And while Anthony Weiner has good reason to be encouraged by the polls, he shouldn't get too excited just yet. If no candidate in the Democratic primary field gets 40 percent of the vote in the primary election this fall, there would be a runoff, and in a head-to- head matchup, according to this latest poll, Christine Quinn, the frontrunner, crushes Anthony Weiner by 15 points.

BLITZER: But there's still a lot of time, as they say, in the world of politics. Jim Acosta, working the story for us in New York. Thank you. The Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, may prefer taking on Republicans back here in Washington. Compared to the political fury, the 9-year-old who doesn't want the mayor to close his own elementary school. Check this out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASEAN JOHNSON, THIRD GRADE STUDENT: Come into our schools (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You don't care about these kids. He is not caring about our schools and caring about our safety. He only cares about his kids. He only cares about what he needs. He does not care about nobody else but himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Listen to this. A couple days after that speech and that rally, Chicago's Board of Education voted to close dozens of schools and transfer thousands of students, but Asean Johnson's school is one of four that received last-minute reprieves and will stay open.

And Asean in joining us live from Chicago. This is very impressive, Asean. How do you feel about that? How did you decide to get involved and speak so directly to the mayor?

JOHNSON: Well, I got involved by when I first heard about the school closing, which is like -- like when I was at school, and my teacher told us. And they asked me did I want to speak, and I said, "OK, I would speak so I can fight for my school."

BLITZER: Did you prepare a speech? Did you practice it? Did you write it? Tell us how you came into that rally?

JOHNSON: I came into the rally. I didn't know I was going to speak, because it was, like, really last minute. First they asked my mom if I would speak, then they was like no. It was like no. My mom was like no, I didn't want to speak.

And then they asked me did I want to speak, and I said, OK, I will speak. So it was pretty last minute, but I didn't have no script written or nothing. I just spoke from my heart.

BLITZER: And you certainly did. Your school was almost shut down, but at the last minute it survived. Have you heard from Mayor Rahm Emanuel?

JOHNSON: No.

BLITZER: Not yet?

JOHNSON: I did not.

BLITZER: Maybe you will after this show, because I know he watches this show. If you could speak to him, what would you say to the mayor?

JOHNSON: I would say the mayor should not be coming -- the mayor should not be coming in, closing these schools without you, yourself looking into these schools.

And if you already know what is happening in these schools, why wouldn't you invest in them, because you know how CPS and the mayor already knows about this. So why wouldn't you invest and help these schools out from what they need, but then you want to close them. That's why I didn't understand. You're closing schools that are like maybe underutilized and don't have everything that you want, but you never invested in them.

BLITZER: That's a fair point, Asean. I know a lot of people look at you. You're only 9 years old. And they're already asking, someday do you want to run for president? But I'm told that would be your second choice, is that right? There's something else you would rather be when you grow up?

JOHNSON: Yes. I want to be a football player, but for now I want to get back into acting and modeling.

BLITZER: Acting and modeling, and football player, and maybe someday after all that, you could run for president. You know, the current president is from Chicago, so there is a history of people coming from Chicago and winding up president of the United States. You never know what could happen.

But you've got a huge future, Asean, no matter what you do. Thanks so much for joining us. We really appreciate it. Good luck.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

BLITZER: Asean Johnson. We're going to be hearing a lot from this young man in years to come. He did a great, great job in Chicago. Thank you.

Up next, amazing pictures from inside a tornado. We're going to talk with one of the men that survived this. Look at it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We've all seen frightening pictures of tornadoes, always taken from outside the funnel cloud. Now you're about to see and hear what a tornado is like from the inside. This amazing video was shot by a pair of storm chasers Monday in Smith County, Kansas. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(WIND SOUNDS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Brandon Ivey, one of the storm chasers who was inside that tornado, is joining us on the phone right now from Wichita. What does it feel like being inside, literally, being inside a tank as you were right in the middle of a tornado?

BRANDON IVEY, STORM CHASER (via phone): It was pretty intense. It was -- it was pretty exciting to try to get in there. We're in a reinforced tank. It's basically a storm shelter on wheels, if you will.

Our mission is to try to get close and intercept some of these tornadoes to document them and collect information on wind speeds and temperature, barometric pressure in these tornadoes. But there's always fear in the back of your mind that, you know, what we're doing's risky.

And there is an element of fear any time you go into any of these tornadoes, especially a large one like the one we intercepted yesterday. Your ears pop. It's noisy. It sounds like a jet engine roaring overhead, and what we intercepted yesterday was probably about the strongest tornado that I'd ever want to be in.

BLITZER: Tell us about this tank-like vehicle you use. How does your tank not get blown away? When I was in Moore, Oklahoma, last week, cars, even SUVs were clearly seen. They were strewn around. It looked like a war zone. How does your tank survive?

IVEY: Well, this tornado is an open country, and those are the tornadoes we're looking for. We don't want to intercept a tornado that has any major flying debris or flying projectiles, so this was going through open farmland. Didn't have a lot of debris in it. It had, like grass, rocks, dirt, and that was about the gist of what was inside the tornado.

The vehicle we have is a 16,000-pound tank developed and designed by Sean (ph) Casey, who is an IMAX filmmaker. And it will lower down to the ground. We have flaps that go down to block the wind from getting underneath the vehicle. We have four spikes on the vehicle that go into the earth a little over three feet that basically help keep us anchored and planted. So the vehicle we're chasing in is designed to intercept tornadoes up to EF-4 strength. As long as they're in open country and they have little in the way of debris inside that vortex.

BLITZER: The tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, was an EF-5. I've got to tell you, Brandon, we have a lot of people look at the video. They hear what you're doing and they say, "You know what, Brandon? You're crazy." What do you say to these folks?

IVEY: Well, I've been very passionate about severe weather and tornadoes since I grew up as a kid in Wichita. We had a lot of really nasty storms in the late '90s. And even in the early '90s that tracked through Wichita, and that's what really sparked my interest.

I got a degree in meteorology, and I've been chasing storms since I was in high school. And every year you kind of, I guess, push the envelope a little bit further.

But, you know, the goal and the mission behind what we're doing is trying to collect information to better understand these tornadoes so hopefully, in the future we can give more warning, lead time when tornadoes are going to occur in these storms and also try to reduce the amount of warnings that are based solely on Doppler radar and this storm failed to produce tornadoes. BLITZER: Brandon, thanks very much for doing this. Be careful. We'll stay in touch with you. We appreciate it very much.

IVEY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Up next, a very, very different story. Jeanne Moos with a special delivery. Get this: pizza minus a few toppings.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Whether you're at the ballpark or just ordering at home, Jeanne Moos has a story that will make you think twice before taking that first bite.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's bad enough when you pick off the toppings from your own pizza, but when the delivery guy helps himself to your toppings using his fingers...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ew, gross.

MOOS: This special delivery was captured by an elevator security camera in St. Petersburg, Russia. The delivery guy took a total of eight bites, then closed up the box, straightened his outfit and presumably made his delivery.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh. He's licking it, too.

MOOS: Viewers recognized the box as being from a chain called 2 Coasts, and they fessed up saying, "Friends, we realize that our pizza is so tasty that even couriers cannot resist! But all the same, we decided that it was necessary to protect our clients from gluttonous staff." They showed a mock-up of a locked up pizza and said from now on the boxes will come sealed.

Some jokingly suggested a more innocent version of events.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe they ordered no peperoni, and he was trying to quality control.

MOOS: The chain's idea of quality control was to fire the delivery guy.

And if it isn't pizza, it's snow cones. Video of a snow cone vendor in a men's room stall at the stadium where the Houston Astros play is all over the Web. The vendor was seated in the stall when a fan captured this image of his snow cones resting on the floor next to his feet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. That's disgusting.

MOOS: Jay Leno called it -- "Health Code Violation of the Day." Like the pizza guy, the snow cone vendor was fired. (on camera): If you had to eat one or the other...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I'll have the pizza.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I would have the pizza for sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I'd eat the snow cones.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eww!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because he had his hands in the pizza.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the snow cone's in the bathroom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it's in a Styrofoam.

MOOS (voice-over): But what was the pizza guy eating? Olives? Sausage?

(on camera): It gives a whole new meaning to hold the pepperoni. Who knew it would be a delivery guy holing it?

(voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: That's totally, totally gross. The pizza company, by the way, reports sales are up since the incident went viral. A spokesman says they've apologized to the people who received the tampered with pizza and that that customer has since reordered twice.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. You can always follow us and what's going on in THE SITUATION ROOM on Twitter. You can tweet me, @WolfBlitzer. Tweet the show, @CNNSitRoom.

I'll see you later tonight. I'm filling in for Anderson Cooper on "AC360." Until then, thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.