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THE SITUATION ROOM

Cruz's Talk-A-Thon Ends With Surprise Vote; The Man Behind The Obamacare Talk-A-Thon; Is Iran's New President Different?; Iranians React to Rouhani's Remarks; Can a Mall Attack Happen in America?; 21 Hours on Cruz Control

Aired September 25, 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 ANCHOR: Happening now, Senator Ted Cruz rails for 21 hours against Obamacare. Government shutdown, bring it on, he says. Colleagues call the one-man show a waste of time, but did he have something else in mind?

Is Washington broke? The former President Bill Clinton talks to Piers Morgan about a dysfunctional D.C. then and now.

Plus, his predecessor denied the holocaust ever happened. But Iran's new president makes a change in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. You need to see this, Christiane will be with me as well.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in the SITUATION ROOM.

A rare unanimous Senate vote to move ahead on a spending plan that keeps the federal government open while funding President Obama's controversial health care legislation. Despite one freshman Republican seamlessly endless mantra on the Senate floor against the Tea Party favorite, Ted Cruz, says he feels terrific after the stunning all-nighter which included a reading of the children's book "Green Eggs and Ham," a star wars impersonation and quotes from the reality show "Duck Dynasty."

But a number of key colleagues in his own party don't feel the same way. CNNs chief Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is up on Capitol Hill. She just spoke to Senator Cruz a little while ago. Dana is joining us now with the very latest. What a dramatic day it's been, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It is undeniable that it was a triumph for the 42-year-old with regard to his endurance, but the jury is really still out on whether this talk fest changed any Senate minds.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): After 21 hours and 19 minutes standing on his feet, Ted Cruz finally sat down. Much of his talkathon was against Obamacare.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: It's a red herring being used to move the country to single parasystem.

BASH: But the memorable moments were those that veered off topic.

CRUZ: I want to take an opportunity, an opportunity that I don't usually have when I'm in D.C. to read them a couple of bedtime stories. I do so like green eggs and ham. Thank you, thank you, Sam I am.

BASH: He tried his own Dr. Seuss.

CRUZ: They did not like Obamacare in a box with a fox and a howser with a mouse.

BASH: This was all about firing up the grassroots. He encouraged supporters to tweet him.

CRUZ: All right. So, let me reads some tweets. OBAMACARE, AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!!! All caps and three exclamation marks. Make D.C. listen.

BASH: Most Republicans oppose Cruz's mission trying to defund Obamacare on a must pass spending bill. They worry it could cause a government shutdown and they'd get the blame and they worry it's mired in process that's hard to explain. Case in point, in the end, he joined all senators in voting four procedural measure he seemed to argue against.

That's why only a few came to help. Some GOP veterans, but mostly, other Republicans with ambition trying to appeal to the GOP base.

CRUZ: What possibly do you have that's more important to do? No, suspect some of our colleagues at fundraising dinner.

BASH: By 1:00 a.m., he got punchy.

CRUZ: Few words of wisdom from "Duck Dynasty." Redneck rule number one, most things can be fixed with duct tape, extension cords.

BASH: When the sun came up, even more so.

CRUZ: I will confess that phrase of rebellion against oppression conjured up to me, the rebel alliance, fighting against the empire. Mike Lee, I am your father.

BASH: How do you feel standing there for so long?

CRUZ: To be honest, I feel terrific. I feel energized that the American people had an opportunity I hope to engage in this today and have their voice heard.

BASH: But back on the floor, Cruz was scorched from all sides. Democrats.

SEN. HARRY REID, (D) MINORITY LEADER: -- for lack of a better way of describing this. It has been a big waste of time. The government is set to shut down in a matter of hours.

BASH: And Republicans. John McCain was furious that Cruz likened GOP detractors to Britain's Neville Chamberlain in World War II who argued for appeasement of Adolf Hitler.

CRUZ: Let's appease them. Why? Because it can't be done. We can't possibly stand against them. And in America, there were voices that listened to that.

BASH: McCain said that insulted Americans who fought.

SEN. JON MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: Amongst them were my father and grandfather. I do not agree with that comparison. I think it's wrong. And I think it's a disservice to those who stood up and shouted at the top of their lungs that we cannot appease.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (on-camera): So, the obvious question, is now what? Well, assuming that Cruz's grassroots efforts don't give him enough Republican supporters to stop the Democrats from taking out, cutting off Obamacare funding from the spending bill, the Senate will pass this by Friday, send this government shutdown hot potato back over to the House which means that they're going to have, Wolf, three days to figure out how to deal with this before that deadline, that critical deadline, at midnight on Monday night.

BLITZER: All right. We'll see what they do in the House. They'll see what they do in the Senate. Dana, thanks very much.

He hasn't even been in Washington a year, but it's clear Ted Cruz is already making some huge waves on Capitol Hill and inside his Republican Party. It all has some asking whether he might have his sights set on something more, potentially, something in 2016.

Our chief domestic affairs correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is taking a closer look at who this freshman senator from Texas is. Jessica is joining us with more. What are you seeing? What are you hearing, Jessica?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF DOMESTIC AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he's representing Texas in the Senate for just nine months. He's come from behind victory to win that seat. It was so surprising in Texas. They now have a saying in the state to Ted Cruz someone. It means running as a Tea Party outsider to defeat the establishment candidate. So, could he Ted Cruz, the Republican, field in the upcoming presidential election? Some people think that's his next goal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CRUZ: Do you like green eggs and ham?

YELLIN (voice-over): Senator Ted Cruz, love him or hate him, he's got you talking. Check the headlines. They're calling him unpopular, "the distinguished wacko bird from Texas." That was McCain's phrase. Wait, here's a nice one, "the GOP's Barack Obama." I think that's nice. His mission, defeat Obamacare. His larger cause --

EVAN SMITH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE TEXAS TRIBUNE: I think all of us in Texas assumed that his ambitions are limitless and that most immediately, he's looking hard at a 2016 presidential campaign, although, he's been kind of coy about that.

YELLIN: A Tea Party darling, Cruz has ticked off large swaths of Washington.

REP. PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: Ted Cruz is a fraud and no onger have any influence in the Republican Party.

YELLIN: They're worried he's risking an unpopular government shutdown for which the GOP will be blamed. Karl Rove called it an ill- conceived and self-defeating strategy. Guess what? Cruz loves the hate. He told Rush Limbaugh --

CRUZ: The single biggest surprise on arriving to the Senate is the defeatist attitude here.

YELLIN: You know who else does? Conservatives in a crucial primary state, Iowa.

BOB VANDER PLAATS, THE FAMILY LEADER: What they are doing is they're elevating Senator Ted Cruz to an unprecedented level after only nine months of being a U.S. senator and is making the American people, I believe, Republican independent Democrats, take notice.

YELLIN: The Texas senator has already made several trips to the early voting states. A princeton and Harvard graduate, former Supreme Court clerk, and one-time Texas solicitor general, Cruz is used to framing the arguments in his favor.

ANNOUNCER: Ted Cruz, a proven conservative fighter who delivers.

YELLIN: His current case, he is a principled fighter in a universe of weak politicians who surrender.

SMITH: There's almost nothing he can't do under the right circumstances, politically. His ambition is enormous.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN (on-camera): Wolf, Cruz will be back in Iowa a month from tonight. He is giving the keynote speech at the Annual GOP Reagan Dinner in Des Moines -- Wolf.

BLITZER: He's obviously a very, very smart guy. Don't sell him short. I think he has a strategy. It's unclear to some Republicans and Democrats what it is, but I'm sure he has got some strategy in mind looking ahead.

YELLIN: The outsider in Washington. Yes.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, we'll see how he does. All right. Thanks very much. Good report, Jessica.

Let's bring in our political panel. Joining us, our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and our chief national correspondent, John King. Gloria, you've got a new article you wrote, a column on CNN.com. Let me read a couple of sentences from it. "None of this has been about reality. Rather, it's about cementing a new definition of leadership, positioning yourself as the spokesman for your political case by telling it exactly what it was to hear. In Cruz's case, it's the tea party base. Lucky for him there's a made for TV bully pulpit. Plenty of time to talk and the talking points are easy and oh, so predictable."

So, here's the question. As all of this about 2016 because he knows he's not going to be able to kill Obamacare, at least not now?

GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think that's predictable as well, Wolf. He's clearly positioning himself as the leader of the Tea Party base in the Republican Party. It's very much like Sarah Palin did except he's an elected United States senator who has a shot at effecting policy and also at the White House.

What he's trying to do is raise a lot of money off of this, Wolf. And he's been doing some fundraising in Republican red states and he's got a lot of conservative Republicans unhappy because they believe that he would throw him -- them under the bus if he considered that they weren't enough against Obamacare.

So, here's somebody who sort of setting up the litmus test for Republicans. And they don't like it.

BLITZER: So, does this really solidify, John, this divided Washington that we now see?

JOHN KING, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's no question, but we know that about the health care debate. This essentially elevates Ted Cruz in a divided Washington. But here, it's very interesting because I expect Democrats to copy this tactic. If you look at in the 24 hours around this filibuster, more than 500,000, that's more than a half million tweets about Ted Cruz, that's not counting the blogs.

That's not counting Facebook. This is a new way, Wolf, in the new media environment to plant your flag and establish yourself as Gloria knows. He wants to be the head of a movement. He also wants to get all those names and build a list so that he can fundraise and find out where those people live. And other groups are doing it, too.

Not just Ted Cruz and his organizations. Other groups like (INAUDIBLE) groups are tracking those names and raising money. And Democrats are criticizing this from a legislative standpoint. It was probably meaningless, maybe even counterproductive because he alienated so many fellow Republicans in Washington.

But if you're talking about building a national organization, a lot of people are going to watch this and say maybe I'm going to go to the Senate floor and stay up all night.

BORGER: And you know, Wolf, Ted Cruz wouldn't be the first politician to succeed by running against Washington while in Washington. I mean, you remember Ronald Reagan did that very effectively while he was president. He ran against Washington very well. Barack Obama was a new senator who ran against Washington who said it's time for Washington to come together.

So, you know, it's always a pretty good strategy if you can be in Washington, get that bully pulpit, and then, somehow miraculously separate yourself from the evil establishment of your own party and evil Washington and elevate yourself that way.

KING: The question we just don't know, Wolf, is how big is that slice. How big is the Tea Party? The tea party and the bigger slice. Tea Party angry conservatives mad at their own leadership slice of the Republican Party when have you a Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and potentially, ala Michele Bachmann, somebody from the House Tea Party movement, running in the next presidential election who probably doesn't have much of a shot of winning but is trying to make a name for themselves.

BLITZER: And even if they manage to score some last-minute deal before Monday at midnight, keep the government funded for a few more months, not necessarily the whole coming year but a few more months, let's say, October 17 is coming and the treasury department now says the debt ceiling has to be raised or else the U.S. can't continue to borrow money.

John, this is setting the stage would in two weeks down the road for another huge battle, maybe even the ramifications potentially for the growth of the U.S. economy more significant.

KING: Right. And so, the markets are watching this saying probably avoid a government shutdown but then have the U.S. credit rating on the line again. We know what happened last time. So, watch for jittery markets. Watch to see if Washington can function. And watch, Wolf, for Ted Cruz and those like him who want to either change or block Obamacare to go at it again.

If they can't block it completely, if they can't deny the money, they're going to try to delay the individual mandate for a year. They're going to try to take away one of the taxes on medical goods in the Obamacare bill. So, this fight is not over, by any means, even if they figure out a way to keep the government open, round two starts within seconds.

BORGER: You know, the more success Cruz has, the more it guarantees that they're going to take a second bite of the apple here as John points out on Obamacare. And by the way, they're also going to build -- bring up building the Keystone Pipeline and you've got a White House that says, by the way, we are not going to negotiate on this, period.

So, it's very hard to see at this point, Wolf, and you know we've been here before. How they get themselves out of this box?

BLITZER: Yes. The president says he's not going to negotiate on the debt ceiling. I suspect when all is said and done, there'll have to do a little negotiating, at least, if he wants to get some sort of deal. All right. Guys, thanks very much.

Up next, stunning comments about the Nazi holocaust and much more from Iran's new president in an interview with CNNs Christiane Amanpour.

And Piers Morgan, yes, Piers is here in the SITUATION ROOM. We're going to talk about his really powerful interview with the former president, Bill Clinton. Could we be looking at a new Clinton dynasty?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Who do you think might make the better president, your wife or your daughter?

(LAUGHTER)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Day after tomorrow, my wife, because she's had more experience. Over the long run, Chelsea. She knows more than we do about everything.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Republican senator, Ted Cruz, is being slammed on both sides of the aisle for his 21-hour marathon against Obamacare. But with the potential government shutdown still looming, is Washington broken? CNNs Piers Morgan put that question to the former president, Bill Clinton, in a special interview that will air later tonight, but watch this right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: There is a sense that's never been more dysfunctional, more divisive, more personally abusive. Take Cruz -- still banging on now and trying to, you know, get Obamacare defunded and so even when most of his party thinks he's crackers. What is the way -- you and -- you and Newt Gingrich --

CLINTON: Once in a while, I'm extremely grateful for your British roots.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: I couldn't have said that with a straight face and pulled it off.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: I'm happy to help, Mr. President. What is the -- and you and Newt Gingrich eventually worked it out between you. How do you get stuff done --

CLINTON: Well, it was interesting.

MORGAN: -- in dysfunctional Washington.

CLINTON: We worked it out when he was trying to run me out of town. We were still working together. I mean, I knew it was game to him. He thought, you know -- he would -- as he looked -- he once said to Erskine Bowles, the difference between us is that we'll do whatever we can and you won't do that. You think there are things you shouldn't do. And once I realized what the deal was, I let him do whatever he could and then we did business on the side.

And you're laughing but that's really -- we reached an accommodation. But at the time, because they shut the government down twice, and because they wished to hold on to their jobs, the Republicans, they wanted to maintain their majority, they believed they had to show up for work and get something done.

This reapportionment has created a climate particularly in the House of Representatives but also in some of the states where they're basically one-party states, where they believe that they don't have to get anything done. They just believe that they have to demonize the opposition and say whatever they're going to say.

BLITZER: Piers is joining us now. Pretty good stuff. I know you have a whole hour with the former president. Did he impress you? He's still strong right now, the former president. He's healthy. We know he's had some health related issues.

MORGAN: You know him well, Wolf. I mean, I was at a party last might and about half an hour in there. I had another hour then today. He's the most, to me, remains the most compelling politician of my age. He shows no sign of slowing down. He got tremendous energy, but he has to -- magnetic charm. He has this ability to make everyone in the room feel he's just talking to them.

And we talked about everything from Iran to Vladimir Putin to Newt Gingrich to, you know, to Bono, to all of it, and he just definitely handles everything with this kind of masterly overview which is incredibly impressive.

BLITZER: Because I remember even -- when he was talking about Newt Gingrich, when Newt Gingrich was the speaker and he was the president and they had two government shutdowns, but then they worked together and Newt Gingrich would always go into the White House with one position and he said, you know, when I emerged, he had an effect on me. He clearly managed to convince him about some critical issues.

MORGAN: You know what I think? I think Bill Clinton was just a consummate deal maker. It is interesting talking to him not just about the government shutdown, because he went through that. Him and Gingrich -- they would throw everybody out of the room and just get stuff done. And he talked exact the same way about Vladimir Putin who he had many dealings with.

And I said, what was it like when it was just you and him? Because Putin in the world stage is a big bombastic character. He said, well, behind closed doors, it would get very, very heated. We would go at each other, bang, bang, bang. But he said -- asked him directly, I said, did Putin ever renege on any deal that he agreed one-on-one with you?

And he thought and he said, never. So, I said, you could trust him? He said, if he gave me his word, he never broke it. I thought it was a really interesting insight into how Putin was. He said here's the key, whether it's Newt Gingrich, whether it's Putin, whatever it is, when you're the president of the United States, it's no good being verbally critical of opponents outside to the waiting world. Better to do that face-to-face and be very blunt, blunt and brutal. Outside --

BLITZER: You spoke to him about the political future of Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton. What did he say?

MORGAN: Well, I was trying to work out the best way of phrasing it which he hasn't heard a million times, which is, is Hillary going to run? So, I had Chelsea in the room. Two panels which we're going to air tomorrow night. And she's very impressive, as you know, even when she was a girl. But I said, which one would make the better president, Mr. President, your wife or daughter?

And it really made him think. And he gave a very interesting answer. He said, you know, if it was tomorrow, Hillary, because of all her experience. But if it was down the line, then Chelsea because she knows more than a pair of us. He's obviously a huge fan of his daughter as he is of his wide.

But anyone who watches this panel that I did, two of them actually, great celebrities and also great world businessmen, leader of Coca- Cola (ph), leader of Cisco. You're going to watch that and you know something, in 10, 15 years' time, Chelsea Clinton is going to be a real force to be reckoned with.

BLITZER: I'm not even sure it's going to take 10 or 15 years. I saw her in a panel discussion last night, a program sponsored by 10,000 women which is an excellent group that does important work in developing countries and she moderated a panel. She was excellent.

MORGAN: It's the way that she handles anything you throw at her. She's got her father's charm and her mother's tenacity and skill. It's a lethal cocktail. And I think America is very lucky. You've got Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton. They're all a force to be reckoned with.

BLITZER: She's got good genes.

MORGAN: Right.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: They say the apple doesn't fall far from the trees.

MORGAN: Absolutely right.

BLITZER: Let's see what she does. We'll be watching your show later tonight for the full hour of Bill Clinton.

MORGAN: One-hour special. And we also -- I have -- I gave him the chance to respond to Bono doing his big impersonation of him yesterday. And all I can tell you is that the president pulled out a pair of dark shades, put them on, and did a Bono. It is brilliant.

BLITZER: 9:00 p.m. later tonight, a special "Piers Morgan Live." Thanks very much, Pierce, for coming in.

MORGAN: Glad to be in the SITUATION ROOM.

BLITZER: You're here in the SITUATION ROOM.

MORGAN: With my leader.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Thank you.

Just ahead, a very serious story we're watching. A massive earthquake killing hundreds of people in Pakistan. And it is so powerful it's creating an island off the coast.

And we're also clearly seeing a change of style from Iran's new president, but are we seeing a real change of heart? Our own Christiane Amanpour, she had an interview with Hassan Rouhani. Christiane is standing by live.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. HASSAN ROUHANI, IRAN: I bring peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: For years, we listened to hard line, even hate-filled remarks from Iran's old president, but Iran's new president now is going out of his way to make a different impression. Hassan Rouhani delivered some stunning comments in a groundbreaking interview with our chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, who is joining us right now.

Christiane, some really good stuff you got. I'm going to play a clip on Hassan Rouhani speaking out about the holocaust. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the things your predecessor used to do from this very platform was deny the holocaust and pretend that it was a myth. I want to know your position on the holocaust. Do you accept what it was and what was it?

ROUHANI (through translator): I've said before that I am not a historian and when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the holocaust, it is the historians that should reflect on it. But in general, I can tell you that any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime the Nazis committed towards the Jews as well as non-Jews is reprehensible and condemnable. Whatever criminality they committed against the Jews, we condemn.

The taking of human life is contemptible. It makes no difference whether that life is a Jewish life, Christian, or Muslim. For us, it is the same. The taking of human life is something religion rejects, but this does not mean that on the other hand you can say Nazis committed crimes against a group, now, therefore, they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it. This, too, is an act that should be condemned. There should be an even-handed discussion.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Christian, so you -- this isn't the first Iranian leader you've interviewed.

AMANPOUR: No.

BLITZER: Compare this new leader with his predecessors, especially Ahmadinejad.

AMANPOUR: Well, in this regard, he's very different, obviously, with this issue. The holocaust, with the -- yes, idea of wiping Israel off the map. I asked the president specifically, what is this that you're saying? President Obama, the U.N. said, hey, we are not going to tolerate anybody who threatens our ally, Israel, with destruction.

And he said, no, we do not threaten. We have no intention of attack. Defenses are ready for our defense but not for attack. And any way that the Israeli-Palestinian situation is going to get resolved, he said is through the ballot box.

So in that regard, incredibly different. But I think, also, very different in other very important issues. Like willingness to negotiate with more flexibility on the nuclear issue, although not willing to capitulate as you know many would like to see Iran do. And I think certainly they told me that we can have a two-way dialogue. I have been authorized, he said, by the supreme leader to have this dialogue with the United States.

He's named his American-educated, long-time minister, Javad Zarif, as the foreign minister. As head of the negotiating team. He'll be discussing with Secretary Kerry, were who President Obama has named as head of the U.S. negotiating team.

BLITZER: Tomorrow they're meeting.

AMANPOUR: Yes. That's one meeting. But that is, you know, probably the start of what is going to be very important things.

I was really amazed to hear President Obama at the U.N. yesterday just before President Rouhani basically say that, you know, for the rest of my term there are two major issues. One is preventing a nuclear weapon and resolve this diplomatically if we can. And two, the Middle East peace process. And I think that, you know, this is -- this is the most important issue that's out there right now.

BLITZER: He was very firm on this.

AMANPOUR: Yes.

BLITZER: A lot of us thought there would be a meeting or at least a handshake, an encounter between these two presidents, President Obama and President Rouhani, yesterday. It was clear to me the president of the United States was ready for it.

AMANPOUR: Yes.

BLITZER: Rouhani apparently was. And you asked him about this, I'm going to play the clip, here's what he said to you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. HASSAN ROUHANI, IRAN (Through Translator): There were talks about it, in fact, to perhaps arrange for a meeting between President Obama and myself. So that given the opportunity we can talk with each other and preparation for the work was done bit as well. The United States declared its interest in having such a meeting and in principle could have under certain circumstances allowed it to happen.

But I believe we didn't have sufficient time to really coordinate the meeting. But speaking of the ice-breaking that you mentioned, it's already beginning to break because the environment is changing. And that has come about as a result of the will of the people of Iran to create a new era of relations between the people of Iran and the rest of the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Why didn't he -- they could have had at least a handshake.

AMANPOUR: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Was it because of political reasons back home?

AMANPOUR: I think it was --

BLITZER: In Iran he would have been criticized?

AMANPOUR: I think it was pressure. I think that -- that, you know, there's a real still hard line element that just doesn't want to see this happen. And I think that there was an article in the hard line newspaper that very day and I think in the end they just decided now is not the time.

And by the way, his comments on the holocaust to me are already causing a storm in Iran because, you know, this is stuff that the hardliners, what they want to do is discredit Rouhani.

BLITZER: To deny that the holocaust even existed.

AMANPOUR: Just the whole thing. Whatever he says, they're going to try and discredit him. Whether he says something, you know, reasonable and accurate about the holocaust, whether he says that he -- you know, is going to negotiate with the United States on important issues. There are a group of hard liners who simply don't want to it happen. So they're creating all sorts of mess inside Iran for it.

That's why his people, tell me, that if he isn't able to go back to Tehran or at least some time in the near future see that there's some reciprocity in this idea of negotiations, this window that's been opened by Ayatollah Khomeini, the so-called Supreme Leader, that is going to close.

BLITZER: And I know you asked him about the three Americans --

AMANPOUR: I did.

BLITZER: -- who were in prison and he did not give you a good answer.

AMANPOUR: He didn't. No, he basically said he hadn't heard of one of them and the others he couldn't interfere. And by the way, there is a lot of Iranian prisons here in -- Iranians imprisoned here in the United States.

BLITZER: That's what he say to you?

AMANPOUR: Yes.

BLITZER: Christiane, good interview.

AMANPOUR: Thank you.

BLITZER: People who want to see the whole interview, they can.

AMANPOUR: Yes. They can. Actually we posted it on my Web site which is amanpour.com. And you can see that, the whole transcript, the whole 56-minute video interview to go with it. And that is at amanpour.com. Linked to CNN.com.

BLITZER: A lot of people would probably want to watch it.

AMANPOUR: Yes.

BLITZER: Christiane, good work.

AMANPOUR: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Up next, we're going live to Iran. Something we don't often do. We're going to get reaction to the stunning comments from the president. The new president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani.

But first, the "American Idol" Scotty McCreery talks about his work with the charity RBI.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTTY MCCREERY, "AMERICAN IDOL" WINNER: I could have never imagined or prepared for what's going to happen to me. At 17, I was planning on just being your average high school student and all of a sudden, "Idol" happened. I love the fact that nowadays kids get to look up to me. I love that responsibility and I embrace it. And it seems like the only stories we hear on the news are of child stars now going crazy. So I want to be the opposite of that. You know right out the gate we've had opportunities to do different things for charities. I grew up have two loves in life, baseball and music. So RBI program and the MLB, it just seemed like a natural fit for me. And it's provided a lot of baseball in the inner cities.

When I was growing up, I learned a lot of my biggest life lessons from playing ball, whether it was perseverance or whether it's just competition or just hard work. You know, teamwork. You know, my best memories made there. So just making sure these kids are getting same opportunities.

And I can relate to these kids. Just handing the money, I can talk to them about what they're doing and the experiences they're sharing. And I kind of share my stories with them. So it's cool to have a kind of connection with these kids.

I'm Scotty McCreery, and together we can make an impact on America's children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Take a quick look at some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now.

The death toll from a magnitude 7.7 earthquake that rocked southwest Pakistan has risen to at least 330. Pakistani officials say the quake was so powerful it thrust the land mass to the surface of the Arabian Sea forming a small island off the coast.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is breaking his retirement silence with a remarkable statement on the pre-sex abuse scandal. In a letter published in an Italian newspaper, he says he never tried to cover up the molestation of children by Catholic clergy. A victims group rejects that saying, no one knew more or did less to protect children than Benedict.

The Postal Service says it wants to raise the price of a first class stamp, three cents, in January to 49 cents. The price of sending a post card would go up by a penny to 34 cents. The hikes could raise as much as $2 billion for the financially struggling Postal Service which has lost almost $4 billion this fiscal year alone.

You've heard the extraordinary comments from the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in his interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour and his address at the United Nations. So how are those remarks playing back in Iran?

CNN's Reza Sayah has been taking the pulse of the streets of Tehran. He's joining us right now live from Tehran.

So what's the reaction on this day after?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, let's put it this way. Right now it feels like Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, is the most popular man in Iran. So no matter what he does, what he says, where he goes, Iranians are aware and it wasn't different today.

Many Iranians aware of Christian Amanpour's interview with President Rouhani. It was covered by state's media outlets. There are conservative hard line state media outlets that are perhaps not fawning over President Rouhani but what's remarkable is that we haven't seen anyone, any faction, criticize this president. It seems like a love fest with Hassan Rouhani.

What's incredible is that he really hasn't accomplished anything tangible. He's been on the -- in office for about eight weeks. He really hasn't time to do anything. But it's this conciliatory tone and this mild-mannerism that's getting a lot of Iranians excited about the possibility of improved relations with Washington, and especially the possibility of reaching a deal with Washington over Iran's nuclear program.

So a lot of positive reception of President Rouhani's visits and the interview and his speech yesterday -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. We'll see where this relationship goes from here. The U.S.-Iranian connection.

All right, thanks, Reza Sayah, on the ground for us in Tehran.

Coming up, terrorists kill dozens of people in an upscale mall in Kenya. What's preventing a similar horror from happening here in the United States? We are taking a closer look at mall security.

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BLITZER: United Nations inspectors are now -- are now back in Syria investigating at least six more claims of chemical weapons attack and a U.N. diplomat tells CNN there is now agreement on the basic points for a security resolution. Russia reportedly denies that.

We have more news coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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BLITZER: We are getting shocking new images following the slaughtering at that shopping mall in Kenya including video from inside the building after the terrorist attack on Saturday. You can see stunned customers and staffers fleeing out, ushered out by guards. And then after slowly crawling to their hiding place, a police officer helps a terrified woman and her young children get up and scurry through the mall to safety.

And this. What is now gaping cavern where part of the mall collapsed. Cars dangling on the edge. Sixty-one civilians, six security officers, five terrorists died in the siege. Officials say the death toll will rise as bodies are recovered from the rubble.

Here's the question. Could Americans face a similar threat here at home?

Brian Todd has been investigating all of this. He is joining us live. What are you seeing, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that attack exposed the vulnerabilities of shopping malls. They are wide open. And they are -- high value targets for the psychological impact. But as we learned in Minneapolis, it certainly doesn't mean that mall security personnel and customers are helpless.

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TODD (voice-over): An attack carefully planned and executed on a soft target. A similar threat to American shopping malls according to a federal law enforcement source is, quote, "What keeps us all up at night." It's a threat Michael Rozin knows well.

MICHAEL ROZIN, SECURITY CONSULTANT, MALL OF AMERICA: It's an open environment. It's easy access environment which makes it easier for the perpetrators to carry attacks.

TODD: Rozin, a former Israeli Special Forces soldier is now a security consultant for the Mall of America in Minnesota. His job -- protecting this giant shopping center from a mass casualty attack -- is something experts say is nearly impossible for every mall.

BRIAN JENKINS, RAND CORPORATION: These are ubiquitous. The idea that we can circle each one with a perimeter is simply not realistic.

TODD (on camera): Malls by their very nature are so difficult to secure. The Mall of America here in Minneapolis has more than a dozen entrances that officials here are using another layer -- behavior detection.

(Voice-over): Undercover officers roam the concourses, eyeballing people for any signs of suspicious behavior.

(On camera): What are you looking for there?

ROZIN: Behavioral response to stress, nervousness and also physiological reaction to a present security officer, as well as potential concealment of weapons.

TODD (voice-over): And more subtle ticks in behavior.

ASHLY FOSTER, SECURITY MANAGER, MALL OF AMERICA: From the tiniest expression in the face to the way somebody walks or carries themselves, how they're looking at another person or at an area.

TODD: But their cutting-edge approach goes further. Twice a month the Mall of America holds lockdown drills for employees and customers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Attention, guests. This is a drill. Mall of America is now doing a (INAUDIBLE).

TODD: Customers are told to shelter in the back rooms of the nearest store. There are security checks for vehicles coming in with merchandise. Rozin says they even have an intelligence branch to detect potential threats before they get to the mall's doorstep.

Are metal detectors at the doors next?

ROZIN: I don't think that's necessarily a solution, but having well- trained officers, who are able to identify malicious intent at the doors, it might not be a bad idea.

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TODD: But metal detectors are a reality elsewhere. They've been in place in Israel for several years. Law enforcement officials from America have traveled there to learn more about those measures, but there is a debate here over whether Americans are ready for that step -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, reporting for us, thank you.

Coming up, White Castle, "Duck Dynasty", Dr. Seuss and more.

CNN's Jeanne Moos has the top eight moments from Ted Cruz's marathon Senate speech.

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BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's "Hotshots."

In Poland, re-enactors reconstruct a battle from World War II. In China, newborn panda cubs are displayed in a crib. In New York floating lanterns mark a Buddhist peace ceremony. And in Germany, a parade celebrating October Fest begins in Munich.

"Hotshots," pictures coming in from around the world. More news right after this.

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BLITZER: Call it 21 hours on Cruz control, CNN's Jeanne Moos has a closer look now at some of the most memorable moments from the Republican senator's all-nighter on the Senate floor.

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JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While the networks clocked him with their Cruz counters, he sighed. He beat his chest.