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THE SITUATION ROOM

Obama: GOP Trying to "Blackmail" Me; Urgent U.N. Consultation on Syria; Extra Security for U.S. Embassy in Nairobi; Interview with British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg; $250,000 for a Private Space Flight; Willie Nelson's Armadillo Mascot Stolen

Aired September 26, 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, only days before millions of Americans become eligible for new health insurance coverage, President Obama angrily calls out his critics and leads an all-out campaign to defend his controversial health reform law. The White House Press Secretary Jay Carney is standing by live. We'll talk about Obamacare and much more.

A global alert for the so-called white widow, a British woman whose husband was a suicide bomber, she's wanted in Kenya on explosives charges. Could she be tied to the mall attack?

And a quarter million dollars for a private flight into space. Hundreds have already signed up, including some big name Hollywood celebrities. We will show you what they're paying for.

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

A fiery President Obama isn't holding back with two potential showdowns looming here in Washington, one of them now only four days away. He's sounding a lot like Candidate Obama in his latest Obamacare event, the president accusing Republicans of blackmail, and worse, vowing he won't negotiate when it comes to last minute GOP attempts to stop his controversial health care legislation from taking effect in exchange for a deal to keep the federal government from shutting down.

Our senior White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is joining us now from the White House. She's got the very latest. What a day it's been, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Sure has been, Wolf. President Obama trying to escape the beltway politics, just barely going outside the beltway to a community college in Prince Georges County, Maryland, pushing his signature health care reform law as the online marketplace for Obamacare is set to open on Tuesday.

Now, this comes, of course, as some Republicans have been threatening a government shutdown if funding for Obamacare is included in that spending bill that's currently working its way through the Senate. Well, now, House Republicans in what is a shift are talking about how they want to instead refuse to increase the debt ceiling, a different thing, if they cannot delay the implementation of Obamacare. House speaker, John Boehner, calling on President Obama to negotiate on this today and President Obama fired back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To suggest America not pay its bills just to try to blackmail a president into giving them some concessions on issues that have nothing to do with the budget. I mean, this is the United States of America. We're not a deadbeat nation.

We don't run out on our tab. We don't not pay our note. We are the world's bedrock economy, the world's currency of choice. The entire world looks to us to make sure that the world economy is stable. You don't mess with that.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: You don't mess with that. And that's why I will not negotiate on anything when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: And this sort of ups the ante, Wolf, because the economic ramifications of breaching the debt ceiling, of course, far surpass the economic damage that would be caused by a government shutdown. You could see a government shutdown Monday night going into Tuesday if the House doesn't take up that senate bill which we're expected they'll have a final vote on probably on Sunday.

The debt ceiling is expected, we've learned from treasury recently, to be hit on October 17th. That is when the treasury department says it will no longer be able to pay the United States' debts as they come due -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brianna Keilar, our White House correspondent, thanks very much.

Let's dig a little deeper right now. Joining us now to discuss the president's all-out push to sell Obamacare with only five days left before Americans can begin signing up, the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, is joining us.

Jay, thanks very much for coming in. Let's go through some of the criticisms of Obamacare, give you a chance to respond. Here's what the president said in selling Obamacare back in 2009.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: First of all, if you've got health insurance, you like your doctor, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. As you know, a lot of people are not going to be able to keep their doctor or their plan under this new system. What do you say to them?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, Wolf, when you say a lot of people, that's simply not true. You have employer provided health insurance. That health insurance will not change when Obamacare takes effect and the marketplace is open on January 1st. And the options that you have will not change unless your employer decides to change them, but that won't have anything to do with --

(CROSSTALK)

CARNEY: Wolf, hold on. The marketplaces are in place to allow individuals who do not have insurance through their employer, to purchase affordable health insurance for them and their families. And the affordable health insurance that they'll be able to purchase has not been available until the Affordable Care Act because they've been priced out of the market. They've been blocked from getting insurance because they have a child who has a pre-existing condition.

You know, you have families of four now making $50,000 in states like North Carolina and Florida and Colorado and California, who will have an array of options available to them to buy health insurance at extremely affordable prices and premiums that were never available before.

BLITZER: All of that is true. Hold on a second, Jay. All of that is true, but you know that there are companies like UPS or Home Depot and a lot of other companies now that are taking full-time employees, making them part-time employees, eliminating their health care benefits.

They will have an opportunity to go to these health care exchanges and get new health insurance programs, but they won't be able to keep what they had and they might not be able to keep the doctor they used to have.

CARNEY: Wolf, first of all, employees are making a choice about whether or not to provide -- I mean, employers are making the choice about whether or not to provide their employees insurance. That has always been the case. And there has been a long-term trend in this country as you know that long predates the legislation called the Affordable Care Act in which employers have been dropping people from their employer provided insurance.

That is a trend that long predates of the Affordable Care Act, and it was a trend driven by the incredible increases in health care costs, one. Two, the implementation of the employer mandate does not even take place for another year and a quarter, OK? So, if companies are saying they're making these changes now because of the Affordable Care Act, the Affordable Care Act does not even affect them now. So, I would question that assertion.

BLITZER: But that's what they are saying. That's what they're saying. They're saying they're moving people to 39 hours instead of 49 hours or 29 hours, precisely because of Obamacare. That's what they're saying.

CARNEY: Well, when you say "they" again, there is zero data to back that up, OK? What we've seen is that in jobs that have been created since we began climbing out of this recession, more than 90 percent of those jobs have been created, that have been created are full-time, not part-time. And a large portion of those jobs, millions of those jobs, have been created since the Affordable Care Act passed.

If employers enmasse across the country were saying because of the Affordable Care Act we're cutting workers to part-time, that would show up in the data. I'm not saying there aren't anecdotes where individual employers claim that they are doing this because of the Affordable Care Act, but the data doesn't back that up. In fact, the opposite is true.

BLITZER: All right. Well, I was just talking about some big companies like UPS, Home Depot, among others. Let's move on.

CARNEY: Again, for years -- hold on, Wolf. It is important, one other point that I think is essential to make. The reason why employers for a long time now have been changing the way they provide insurance, making it more expensive or dropping their employees is because of the dramatic rise in the cost of health care.

What has happened in the last three years since the implementation or rather the passage of the Affordable Care Act? Health care costs are growing at the slowest pace in half a century. Slowest pace in half a century. So, if you're a company that was making decisions five years ago based on what the projections were for the health care cost curve, you were looking at costs that far exceeded what you're looking at now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

BLITZER: All right. Let's talk about the other part of this story right now, the debt ceiling. The president once again affirmed today he is not going to negotiate with Republicans when it comes to raising the debt ceiling. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: And that's why I will not negotiate on anything when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. So, if he holds to that, he'll be the first president in a long time who won't negotiate with the opposition to try to raise the debt ceiling. He, himself, did it, Clinton did it, Bush did it, Reagan did it. They've all done it. So, why is the president so firm right now in saying he doesn't even want to talk to the speaker or any of the Republicans to work out a deal to raise the debt ceiling?

CARNEY: Wolf, I know because you've been covering Washington for a long time that you know that what happened in 2011 when Republicans threatened default if they didn't get what they want, had never happened before. Not under Clinton, not under Reagan, not under either of the Bushes had never happened.

It is simply categorically false to say that any party in any negotiation over budget priorities had ever said if I don't get what I want, I'm going to default on the full faith and credit of The United States. Had never happened before. And the mere flirtation with it in 2011, the threat of it, caused this country economic harm, caused harm to the American middle class.

This president will not allow that to happen again. He will not allow Republicans to, what they're saying now, basically attach a laundry list of partisan objectives to their responsibility to raise the debt ceiling saying if I don't get what I couldn't get through the legislative process, what I couldn't get at the ballot box, what I couldn't get out of the Supreme Court, if I don't get that, we're going to crash the economy and the American middle class is going to pay. That is totally irresponsible.

BLITZER: So, the president says he will not make any concessions to raise the debt ceiling, is that right?

CARNEY: Here's the deal. He's not asking for anything to raise the debt ceiling. It's Congress' responsibility to raise it. He's not saying, oh, I will only sign an increase in the debt ceiling if Congress attaches one of my priorities. Only the Republicans are saying that they will threaten the full faith and credit of the United States if they don't get some partisan objective, some other item attached to the debt ceiling.

We're not asking for anything. We're not asking for, you know, any legislative agenda item to be attached to raising the debt ceiling. We're just saying that we agree we should never default, we should never even contemplate default and Congress ought to raise the debt ceiling. Only one party is asking something else.

BLITZER: Very quickly, remind us why the president as a senator voted against raising the debt ceiling.

CARNEY: The president voted against raising the debt ceiling as a senator to make a point about what he believed were wrong fiscal priorities of that administration. What then Senator Obama never did was say I will vote to default if I don't get what I want.

And that was part of a process where, as you know, because you've covered this, Wolf, you know, cycle after cycle, presidency after presidency, you know, we saw the debt ceiling raised again and again without delay, without default, without drama, and without ever the threat that we would trash the world economy if one party didn't get what it wanted.

It's just unprecedented, and look, talk to business leaders, talk to business leaders who generally agree often with Republicans and their priorities, and ask them if they think that this strategy is good for America and good for our economy and good for the middle class. To a person, they'll say no.

It's terrible. It cannot be the right way to go. And, you know, what we have here is a faction of one, you know, House in Congress driving an ideological train in a very dangerous direction.

BLITZER: Jay Carney is the White House press secretary. A lot going on. We'll be working over these next several days and weeks. Hopefully, there'll be no government shutdown, the debt ceiling will go up, business will continue. We'll see what happens. Thanks very much.

CARNEY: I hope you're right, Wolf. I hope you're right. Thank you.

BLITZER: I hope I'm right, too. I hope it all works out for the sake of the country and the sake of a lot of Americans, the sake of the economy. Appreciate it very much.

CARNEY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead in our next hour, by the way, I get Republican reaction to all of this and a whole lot more. The New York congressman, Peter King, will join us live.

Up next, as the White House digs in, we'll dig deeper into what we just heard from the president's press secretary. Our own Candy Crowley and Gloria Borger, they're standing by.

And a global alert now issued for a British woman known as the White widow. Her husband was a London suicide bomber. Could she be tied to the Nairobi mall massacre? I'll ask Britain's visiting deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg. He's here in the SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right. Some breaking news, important news coming in. CNN has learned the United Nations Security Council members are now being called to a consultation on an actual text for a Syria resolution just a few hours from now. Let's bring in our senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh. He's over at the U.N. This is important stuff, Nick. What happened?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Eight o'clock tonight, the full 15 members of the U.N. Security Council will meet. Now, that suggests that the U.S. and Russia have overcome their differences on a draft resolution for the issue of disarming Syria of its chemical weapons, for enforcing what they agreed in Geneva. You wouldn't really call those 15 together, unless, you had something that was pretty much finalized and pushed through.

Of course, we could still have issues here, but I am hearing from one diplomat things are quote, "moving very fast" and it's possible we could see a vote on this resolution by the weekend. The fact they're able to put this text together also suggests they've overcome the technical hurdles they were facing with the U.N. monitoring group that had to decide how Syria would be in violation or work out exactly what you'd have to do to determine that during this disarmament protocol.

But the fact this meeting is being called tonight at such short pace, thus, suggests things are moving very fast here. And that when Kerry and Lavrov met a few hours ago, they pretty much ironed differences out -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's see how it works. Very important stuff. All right. Thanks very much, Nick Paton Walsh.

So, let's get back to our other top story. The president of the United States facing two huge potential showdowns with Congress over spending. Will he be able to negotiate? Will he continue his position of not negotiating with the Republicans to find some common ground as far as raising the nation's debt ceiling?

Let's bring in our chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, the anchor of CNN "State of the Union," also our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. Listen -- look at this new Bloomberg National poll, Gloria. The debt ceiling should be raised without conditions, 28 percent, raised with spending cuts, 61 percent.

You just heard Jay Carney. You just heard the president earlier. They're not negotiating as far as raising the debt ceiling. What's going to happen?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, this is why Republicans believe they're on firmer ground when they talk about delaying Obamacare, for example, on the debt ceiling because if you look at that poll, people sort of think and it's intuitive to think, you know what, we're going to raise the debt ceiling, but at the same time, we ought to kind of pay attention to how much money we're spending.

And if you believe that the president's health care plan is going to, in the long run, cost more money, then, you know, you might think this is a decent time to do it. However, people do not want to shut down the government so they don't want to see Obamacare attached to that. But the president, as you point out and as Jay Carney pointed out, believes that it's extortion to do that to him.

He used the word blackmail today in his speech. So, he's not going to negotiate on this debt ceiling on Obamacare.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: There are ways not to negotiate. You can have tandem bills. You can say give us this, we'll put this on the floor. I mean, there are ways around this that will ensure that the debt ceiling is raised certainly before it does great damage. Now, obviously, the Democrats and others are arguing that it's already doing damage, just the thought of it.

But there are ways around it. But the president has been as definitive as I've heard him on anything out there saying I'm not negotiating on this. I'm not negotiating on this. Now, he said it last time. But again, there are some tandem things going on and they can get around it that way. BLITZER: Because even if they work out a deal, Gloria, in terms of keeping the government operating after October 1st, they fund the government, there's no defunding of Obama care, these issues are going to be huge by October 17th, when they have to raise the debt ceiling. Otherwise, the consequences for the U.S. economy, America's credit rating, it will be awful.

BORGER: Well, and if by the way, it could be awful for everybody politically. I mean, the Republicans may feel they have the public with them more on the debt ceiling issue, but if you see the full faith and credit of the United States being put on the line, as you did by the way a couple years ago, when we went through this, the polls actually flipped because people were nervous. We got downgraded, right?

And they don't want to go through that again. And it's embarrassing. They think it's not working in Washington, and generally, when voters think things aren't working in Washington, they kind of blame everybody and the president's the leader.

BLITZER: But if the republicans -- last time we had a government shutdown in 1995-1996, the public blamed the Republicans.

CROWLEY: Well, they don't want to have a government shutdown and they haven't from the beginning. John Boehner, who's kind of the pivot guy in this. I mean, he is key --

BORGER: Poor thing.

CROWLEY: Poor thing is right. He needs another job, I'm sure. But he had to find a way to say I took this to the barricades for you guys. I did as much as I could. I pushed and pushed. They're continuing to push it even when they get back a clean bill from the Senate. They're going to try to put something on it.

So, he needs to push it just as far as he can push it, but in general, what they're going to have to do is carve it out of the middle of the House with Democrats and Republicans and giving those on the right and those on the left a free note.

BLITZER: It will be dramatic as the clock ticks for all of us. All right. Thanks very much. It would be dramatic, but the stakes are clearly enormous. Guys, thanks very much.

Up next, the global police alert for the British woman known as the White widow. Her husband was a suicide bomber. Was she involved in the Nairobi mall massacre? And why did Britain fail to stand by its closest ally when the U.S. called for military action in Syria? Britain's deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, he's here in the SITUATION ROOM. We'll discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Following the devastating terror attack on that Nairobi mall, the American embassy there is getting extra protection right now. U.S. officials say more U.S. marines from a special security unit are now on hand, and as Kenyan authorities dig for clues in the ruins of the mall, they have asked Interpol to put out a global wanted notice for a British woman known as the white widow.

Could she be tied to the Nairobi attack? Brian Todd is here in the SITUATION ROOM. He's been investigating this part of the story. What are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, she may or may not be tied to that attack, but there is no doubt Samantha Lewthwaite has run in terrorist circles in that region. It's a far cry from her background as a young girl in the countryside of Southeastern England.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): She's been photographed as a British school girl with a soft-faced innocent smile. She is now called the White widow, is believed to be a committed jihadist, and Interpol has just issued a worldwide red notice trying to track down Samantha Lewthwaite. That's at the request of Kenyan authorities who've implied but presented no evidence that she may have been involved in the Nairobi mall attack.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Al Shabaab, the terrorist group on a Twitter handle which appears to belong to them, have denied that any women were involved in this attack.

TODD: But a senior Kenyan official says a woman was there and Kenyan leaders clearly believe Samantha Lewthwaite has had bad intentions. Born in Buckinghamshire, England, she had by all accounts a normal, even innocent upbringing. As a teenager, she married Jermaine Lindsey (ph). She was pregnant when Lindsey blew himself up in the 2005 London bus and train attacks that killed more than 50 people. It's not clear if that event radicalized her. She initially condemned those bombings.

CRUICKSHANK: Subsequently, she's thought to have traveled to East Africa and connected with militants linked to the group al Shabaab.

TODD: Authorities say Lewthwaite has raised money and run logistics for terrorist cells. She's also been elusive, known to travel on a fake South African passport under the name Natalie Webb. In 2011, Kenyan authorities raided three homes in Mumbasa, including one allegedly used by Lewthwaite.

There, they found similar bomb making materials to those used in the London bombings. They arrested people for plotting to bomb tourist areas but they were too late to catch Samantha Lewthwaite. Do those pieces add up to her potential involvement in the Westgate Mall attack with al Shabaab? CNN national security analyst, Peter Bergen, doesn't think so.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It doesn't fit with how these groups operate. They're real misogynists. They think that women should be at home in a body veil.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: But Samantha Lewthwaite wouldn't be the first western woman to be involved in a well-known terrorist plot. In November 2005, Muriel Degauque, a Belgian who would join al Qaeda blew herself up and injured a U.S. soldier in a suicide bombing in Iraq. There's a picture of her. And in 2011, Colleen Larose from Pennsylvania, who called herself Jihad Jane pleaded guilty to plotting the murder of a Swedish cartoonist who had drawn an insulting image of the prophet Muhammad, Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Thanks very much. The so-called white widow is a British national. Her husband died in the London suicide bombing. Does the U.K. have any new information about her?

Let's discuss this and more with Britain's deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, who's joining us right now. Minister, thanks very much for coming in. Do you have any idea about her whereabouts right now?

NICK CLEGG, BRITISH DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: No. Of course, we don't. Absolutely none. And it's fitting Interpol to explain the alert that it has issued. I have no evidence linking her to the events in Nairobi. That is all still something that needs to be investigated. But clearly, she is someone of interest to Interpol and I think it's important we allow Interpol to get on with the work.

BLITZER: Have British authorities specifically been on the lookout for her? Is she wanted in Britain?

CLEGG: She's obviously someone who's well-known to the authorities in the U.K. and elsewhere, but as I say, at the moment, she's now -- this alert has been put out by Interpol. It's not been specifically linked to the events in Nairobi. She has some of the history that your earlier piece described, but the key thing now is to let Interpol get on with its work.

BLITZER: Let's see if they can find her, if she's still alive or -- where she is.

Let's talk a little about Syria. Now you may have heard the breaking news this hour. It looks like there's a resolution now going to be on the table at the U.N. Security Council worked out by the U.S. and Russia.

I assume if that's true, Britain, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, is on board. Dealing with chemical weapons and their eventual destruction in Syria. What can you tell us about this?

CLEGG: Well, I think we're close to getting a U.N. resolution on this. We've certainly been very, very supportive as one of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council of the -- of translating the American-Russian agreement into something which is -- which is binding in the United Nations.

Exactly when and in what form that will take, I think we have a few more steps to go through. But the intention is very clear, is to make sure that this agreement now has some teeth, is internationally recognized and that if the Assad regime seeks in any way to escape from its commitments under that agreement, there will be consequences.

BLITZER: When you say consequences, including the U.S. -- the use of force whether by the U.S. or others, would those be acceptable consequences?

CLEGG: Well, my own view is that I don't think we would have got to this point in the first place if there hadn't been a credible threat of deterrent force on the table, and clearly -- I mean, I very much hope this won't happen, I very much hope that the agreement and the commitments that are entered into by the Assad regime will be followed so that we can take chemical weapons out of the equation all together.

These are heinous illegal weapons which have been prohibited to close for 90 years. But if that were not to occur, I do think that the international community and obviously the United States and the president of the United States has been clear about this, should retain the right to be able to take action to deter any or to stop the temptation for any further use of these horrible weapons.

BLITZER: A lot of us were stunned when the parliament voted against allowing Britain to participate to support the United States in the use of force in Syria. It was a stunning event. I remember anchoring our coverage when that roll call in the parliament was going on.

CLEGG: Yes.

BLITZER: A lot of members of your own party, the Liberal Democrats, voted against you on this. Why was there such opposition in Britain to aligning itself with President Obama and the U.S.? Because I don't remember a time when the U.S. and the U.K. were on such different pages.

CLEGG: I think there are a number of explanations but I think what was very obvious to me as I sat through the debate in the House of Commons, I sat pretty well through all eight hours of the debate, it was -- it WILLIS: obvious to me that MPs from all parties, members of parliament from all party, were, to be fair, reflecting a very widespread public anxiety and skepticism about the wisdom of being entangled in a new conflict in the -- in the Middle East.

And much as myself, the prime minister and others sought to explain that all we were trying to establish was a principal consent for participating in any eventual deterrent action led by President Obama, I think the memories of the Iraq conflict 10 years ago were so strong still that I think that really did prompt very profound skepticism on the part of many MPs and reflecting in many ways the views that they were hearing from their own constituents.

I heard -- I've heard from my own constituents in my district, in my constituency in Sheffield, profound public skepticism about all that. So I understand all of that. I recognize all of that and I certainly don't begrudge people of those views. My view is well known then, which is that the case that President Obama was making at that time which is that it might be necessary to take military steps to deter the further use of these weapons because the use of the weapons are an international war crime under international humanitarian law, I thought -- felt was a strong case. But it was not as you know a case that carried the day in the House of Commons.

BLITZER: One quick question on Iran before I let you go.

CLEGG: Yes.

BLITZER: Do you believe this new president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, is the real deal, moderate, and there's a new chapter about to develop between Iran and the West?

CLEGG: Well, there's certainly new language and the words that he's using, the tone that he is striking, the language which he's deploying, of course is encouraging. And I welcome that. He appears to be reaching out to the world. But words on their own of course do not constitute a solution to the -- to the threat and the possibility of a nuclear armed Iran which I think would be destabilizing to the region and very destabilizing to the world.

So now the thing to do is to see whether those words can be translated into action. But I think the whole international community, Britain, the Europeans, Russia, China, the United States, we've all put a very clear offer on the table to Iran, which is to recognize Iran's entirely legitimate use of civil nuclear capabilities and -- but to draw the line, if you like, at the development of a military nuclear capability.

I think if we can come to some agreement on that basis, that would be very promising for the future of the world as a whole.

BLITZER: Certainly would be, if you could do it peacefully.

CLEGG: If you can do.

BLITZER: That would be the best way out of this situation.

Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister of Britain, thanks very much.

CLEGG: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, Facebook's dismal Wall Street debut is now a fading memory as shares topped $50 for the first time ever. So what's behind the surge in the stock price?

But first, a preview of "THE NEXT LIST."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This week on "THE NEXT LIST" Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, and the cutting edge of neuroprosthetics. DR. MIGUEL NICOLELIS, DUKE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE PROFESSOR: The person wears the robotic vest and he or she will use his or her brain activity to actually control the movements directly of these vests. And the vests will provide some sort of tactile feedback to the person.

Select temperature, fine touch. The concept is to get the signals translated into a language, electrical signals, that the brain can interpret.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It went from an idea that was impossible when I was first injured 10 years ago to probable, to inevitable.

GUPTA: And designer Diana Ang melds high tech with high fashion. Using laser cutters and conductive threads, Ang lights up the showroom with her interactive designs.

Their stories on "THE NEXT LIST" this Saturday, 2:30 Eastern.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Bill Clinton was a two-term president. Hillary Clinton is a once, maybe twice future Democratic presidential candidate. So what about their daughter's political future?

CNN's Piers Morgan popped that question to Chelsea Clinton and got a political answer. You can watch the entire interview right here tonight but watch this right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PIERS MORGAN, CNN'S PIERS MORGAN LIVE: Have you ever thought of running for high office?

CHELSEA CLINTON, VICE CHAIR, CLINTON FOUNDATION: Well, Piers, people have been asking me that question for as long as I can remember. Literally. One of my earliest memories.

MORGAN: What's the -- what's the truthful answer?

CLINTON: Well, the truthful answer is thankfully -- the truthful answer, I guess, in that I'm deeply grateful for my life now. I love my life. I love being able to do this work. I love that particularly through the Clinton Global Initiative University, we're able to connect with students like Peggy and help connect her to more resources that can help advance her work and help connect her to young students who want to emulate her work. And I'm grateful that I live in a city and a state and a country where --

MORGAN: This is a brilliant politician's answer. I mean --

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: It's true. MORGAN: This is what I mean.

CLINTON: It's true.

MORGAN: This is why you would be so perfect.

(LAUGHTER)

You can talk for an entire minute without referring remotely to either yes or no.

CLINTON: Well --

(LAUGHTER)

Well, the answer is I don't know. And that is the honest answer. Because right now, I am grateful for my life, I'm invigorated by my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the other top stories we're monitoring here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon was in Washington today to meet with the Attorney General Eric Holder over settling a number of government mortgage securities investigations. Sources say proposed settlement figures could reach as much as, get this, $11 billion. JPMorgan is fresh off a $920 million settlement after a massive trading debacle.

A stunning reversal for Facebook stock which topped $50 a share for the first time today, more than a year since its disastrous initial public offering. The stock made its debut at $38 back in May 2012, then plunged more than 35 percent within a few months.

The Dow also gained ground today, by the way, after five straight days of losses.

Texas state senator Wendy Davis will run for governor next year. This according to two Democratic sources. Davis gained national attention after a monumental 13-hour filibuster over a controversial abortion bill. The move delayed a vote on the legislation designed to ban most abortions for pregnancies past 20 weeks and implements strict regulations on abortion clinics.

And take a look at this. Unexpected pictures of the former president George H.W. Bush attending a same-sex wedding in Maine, where he served as an official witness over the weekend. A spokesman says Bush 41 and the former first lady Barbara Bush attended their friends' wedding as private citizens and he signed the marriage license at the couple's impromptu request.

Gay marriage is not a platform either President Bush supported in the White House. Here's the younger president, George W. Bush, back in 2006.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman and should be defended.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Same-sex marriage became legal, by the way, in Maine last year.

Just ahead, a quarter million dollars for a private flight into space. Why hundreds, including some big name Hollywood celebrities, are now already signing up.

And at the top of the hour, U.S. investigators looking for clues in Kenya that might help prevent a similar terror attack right here at home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: One of the great comebacks in sporting history, Oracle Team USA rallied from an 8-1 deficit to retain the America's Cup, the oldest trophy in international sports. The U.S. sailors stormed back in the waters off San Francisco to win the final race against Emirates Team New Zealand.

Congratulations.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Wealthy travelers gathered in California's Mojave Desert to catch a glimpse of a spaceship. Next year some of them plan to catch a ride.

Here's CNN's Poppy Harlow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Who would spent up to a quarter million dollars just for minutes in space?

CAROLINE FREELAND, VIRGIN GALACTIC TICKET HOLDER: Seeing the spaceship here is just absolutely mind-blowing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not about the destination, it's about the journey.

HARLOW: These people, more than 600 have signed on.

(On camera): How much to charter one of these puppies?

PING CHIANG, BOUGHT SPACE TICKETS FOR FAMILY: $1.2 mill.

HARLOW: Wow. And I hear you're going to leave two seats empty? So it's just the family?

CHIANG: No, it's not empty. There's two angels coming with us.

(LAUGHTER)

HARLOW: Passengers won't just check in and hop on board. The whole experience will mean three days of training and health checks, then a few hours in the air, and three minutes weightless in space.

(Voice-over): The mother ship will carries Spaceship 2 up, then release it to glide back. Unlike NASA's rockets, it won't orbit the earth. It's Sir Richard Branson who's determined to take them there.

(On camera): Is this the new space race?

RICHARD BRANSON, VIRGIN GALACTIC: I think it's the start of a new space race. It's not been easy. It's taken us five years more than we thought it would take, but -- you know, but finally they pulled it off.

HARLOW (voice-over): That is, if the FAA gives Galactic the green light. Virgin says commercial launch is just months ago.

MICHAEL MOYER, SENIOR EDITOR, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: You're broaching into a new -- a new field in the sky. And we're going to have some mishaps that happen now. Hopefully they won't be catastrophic.

HARLOW (on camera): Do you ever fear that maybe you're putting too much at risk with this?

BRANSON: People risked a lot to get space off the ground in the first place. But unless you risk something, the world, you know, stays still.

HARLOW (voice-over): Branson is such a believer, he plans to take the first flight with his own children. David MacKay will be at the controls.

DAVID MACKAY, CHIEF PILOT, VIRGIN GALACTIC: We don't want to push too hard too quickly. It'd be nice to be the first to do it, but the most important is to do it right. Whoever is first has to do it right.

HARLOW (on camera): What is the ultimate dream for this?

BRANSON: You know, we'll start with giving people a taste of space, then we'll -- some people into orbital flights, we'll start building hotels in space. And --

HARLOW: Really? In our lifetime?

BRANSON: In your lifetime definitely. Hopefully in my lifetime.

HARLOW (voice-over): But will ever be for the masses?

(On camera): Is this a playground for the wealthiest? The 1 percent only.

BRANSON: Initially it's very much the wealthiest are going to use it, but through these wealthy people, you know, being willing to be pioneers, I think millions of people will one day have a chance to go to space.

HARLOW (voice-over): Like Mikey Oliveri, who has a dream perhaps bigger than most.

MIKEY OLIVERI, WANTS TO GO TO SPACE: I want to be the first to stay in space. You know, I don't have 200 grand, but I have a dream.

HARLOW: Hoping he may get his moment among the stars.

(On camera): If you have the guts to boldly go is one thing. If you have the cash it's another. Industry watchers warn don't expect this to become affordable for the masses anytime soon, but again, this is a concept that knows no bounds.

Poppy Harlow, CNN, in the Mojave Desert.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Up next, Jeanne Moos.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here's a quick look at some "Hotshots." In France workers demonstrate in the streets of Leone. In Italy a wine maker recovers bottles as it ages 200 feet below the sea. And in Germany, elephants enjoy some pumpkins.

"Hotshots," pictures coming in from around the world.

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BLITZER: A desperate plea from Willie Nelson.

Here's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a live armadillo, and this is a taxidermy one. It was after a live performance by Willie Nelson that his band's taxidermy armadillo was snatched. It's enough to give you the willies.

Surveillance video at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York, shows a woman wandering on to the stage as it's being dismantled. Watch her pick up the stuffed armadillo that was lying on a console. She looks around, exits the stage, even talks to a security guard while holding the armadillo behind her.

(On camera): What kind of person would stoop to stealing an armadillo? (Voice-over): And armadillo'd and dangerous one joked, joked someone on Willie Nelson's Facebook page, where Willie asked fans to help us find the woman in this video who stole him.

Ol' Dillo, as the armadillo is known, was given to Willie a few years ago and the band adopted him as a mascot. Now fans are suspiciously eyeing every taxidermy armadillo for sale on eBay listed as used but in good shape.

(On camera): Next thing you know, a restaurant chain decided to shell out the reward.

(Voice-over): The Texas Roadhouse chain has its own. Andy the armadillo mascot and business ties to Willie Nelson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our potatoes are as loaded as the folks at a Willie Nelson concert.

MOOS: And even give away Willie Nelson braids attached to a bandanna. The restaurant is offering a $1,000 gift certificate for information leading to the return of the armadillo.

TRAVIS DOSTER, SR. PUBLIC RELATIONS DIRECTOR, TEXAS ROADHOUSE: It's appalling to us. Somebody needs to armadillo up, armadillo up, return Ol' Dillo and let's put this behind us.

MOOS: Combing through surveillance video and tracking ticket purchasers, the theater says there is a suspect, though other armadillos may be alive and well, it's a taxidermy one that Willie Nelson is missing.

Ol' Dillo is wanted dead, not alive.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Happening now, growing fear that terrorist linked to al Qaeda attack in the Nairobi mall is a precursor to a similar strike here in the United States.

A disturbing split among Syrian rebels, some now turning their backs on moderates backed by Washington and vowing a more radical path.

Plus the highest-level meeting between the United States and Iran in 34 years.