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THE SITUATION ROOM
Typhoon Slams Philippines; A Female Challenger for Clinton?
Aired November 11, 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: Thanks very much. Happening now, unthinkable devastation, millions of people affected and a death toll that could easily reach 10,000. One survivor calling it worse than hell. CNN is on the ground in the Philippines. We'll show you the terrifying moments when one of the strongest storms on record hit. Our crew was in the middle of it all and carried out a dramatic rescue.
With vast areas battered and isolated, people around the world are desperate to learn the fate of loved ones. We'll speak to an American woman who is trying to reach her family. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The bodies are everywhere in the rubble of towns that no longer exist. Three days after a record typhoon pounded the Philippines with a storm surge up to 20 feet and winds over 200 miles an hour, close to 1,000 people are officially listed as dead, but officials fear the death toll will reach at least 10,000.
Survivors are desperately trying to find food, water and their loved ones. More than 9.5 million people -- that's a tenth of the population of the Philippines -- have been affected. More than 600,000 people have been forced from their homes.
On this Veterans Day, U.S. Marines arrived to help a country where Americans once fought and died. The United States is sending shelter and hygiene supplies to aid 10,000 families and 55 tons of emergency rations, which can feed 20,000 children and 15,000 adults, at least for a few days.
Seen from the air, the scale of the devastation is breathtaking, almost unimaginable. On the ground, the grim reality -- entire towns turned into rubble, stunned survivors scavenge for food and water amid the stench of bodies.
Let's go live to CNN's Anna Coren.
She's on the island of Cebu for us, which took a direct hit -- Anna, you traveled with the military to a remote group of islands devastated by the typhoon.
Tell our viewers what you saw.
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we are here at the Cebu Air Base, which is very much a staging ground for this massive military operation to get food, to get water, to get those desperately need supplies to the people who need it.
As you say, we joined the military and went to one of those really hard-hit areas. I mean you're talking town after town and village after village absolutely decimated. No place was spared. And authorities, Wolf, are telling us that some 90 percent of these towns have actually just been demolished. So this is what we are facing.
For the survivors, it is now up to almost day five in which they have been without food and clean water. So it really is a race against time, Wolf, in getting those supplies to the people who so desperately need it.
BLITZER: You spoke with some of the survivors on the ground, I know, Anna. What -- these must be heartbreaking stories.
But give us a little gist.
What are they telling you?
COREN: For sure. Wolf, these people are getting off these C-130 Hercules planes here at the Cebu airfield. And they have come from this disaster zone. They are shaking their heads in amazement as to how they absolutely survived this horrific super typhoon, Haiyan.
You know, they are shell-shocked. Some of the people that we spoke to yesterday spoke about the stench of death everywhere, about how they knew that this typhoon was going hit the Philippines. There was plenty of warning. You know, the president took to the air and warned everybody to take precautions and to take necessary evacuations.
But, Wolf, no one expected the storm to be this ferocious.
So let's have a listen to what some of those people had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've experienced a lot of typhoons, but this is the worst thing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of people are dead.
Our friends are dead. Some of our family members are dead. So it's really devastating.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am the only survivor of the family and I want to know then if they are still alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Absolutely excruciating, Wolf, for those people. And as you can imagine, they're holding onto hope that many of the missing are presumed dead. Obviously, the death count at this stage is still quite low. But we've been hearing from people on the ground, from authorities, from officials, that it could rise to as much as 10,000.
Now, Wolf, I want to bring in Lieutenant Commander Mark Enriquez from the armed forces of the Philippines, who's very much involved with the military operation to get that aid and supply to the people who desperately need it.
Lieutenant Commander, tell me, we're going to be seeing a lot of activity here over the next few hours, aren't we?
LT. CMDR. MARK ENRIQUEZ, CENTRAL COMMAND, ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES: Yes. Starting from now, planes will be coming in to carry relief goods to the remote areas. Actually, one of our planes has already departed to somewhere that -- one of the provinces that was badly hit by the typhoon.
COREN: Now, we can see that there is aid already packed up on the runway. It's in boxes. It's on pallets, ready to go.
Is there enough aid?
Do you need more?
ENRIQUEZ: Definitely, we need more, because we are expecting an increase of families without homes and without basic necessities. So we definitely need extra help, if anybody can assist us.
COREN: Tell us the logistical problem of getting this aid out to the people, because the Philippines is an archipelago. It's made up of thousands of islands, to it's very difficult to get to these places where runways have been washed out, where roads have been washed out.
Tell us the challenges that you're facing.
ENRIQUEZ: OK, so because of the archipelagic nature of the country, we have problems with our logistics. And we also have limited numbers of naval crafts and flying assets like aircrafts. So we are doing our best to deliver the goods as fast as possible to the remote areas of the affected families.
COREN: Now, we know that the U.S. Marines are now on the ground helping. The U.S. is obviously sending in aid, as are other countries.
Tell us how dire is it, how bad is it on the ground in those badly hit areas?
ENRIQUEZ: We all know that it's almost five days from when the typhoon hit the Philippines. So some of the families there have no medicines, basic necessities like food and water. So we are bad -- they are in badly need of some assistance.
COREN: Yes, most definitely.
Lieutenant Commander, we appreciate your time and all your efforts.
So, Wolf, as you know, it really is a race against time for the survivors. And as you can probably see behind me, too, the dark looming storm clouds. The weather bureau, Wolf, is predicting more rain, if not a typhoon. So this is obviously the last thing that the people of the Philippines and the people in those hard-hit areas need.
BLITZER: Anna Coren, we're going to get back to you.
Thanks so much.
Thank the officer for us, as well.
The devastation and the misery defy the imagination, one survivor calling it "worse than hell."
CNN's Brian Todd is here with us -- Brian, the pictures, the images are totally devastating.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They really are, Wolf. All day we've been bringing in some incredible video, gathering information and getting accounts of what some of the victims are going through as the world gets its first significant look at this devastation.
We have to warn you, some of these images could be disturbing to some viewers.
TODD (voice-over): In Tacloban, some bodies are covered, placed on the sides of the streets. But many others remain where they died. A tourist from New Zealand describes what he saw in that devastated city.
MURRAY ATWAAD, NEW ZEALAND TOURIST: We saw five dead bodies just wrapped up in plastic and one other child probably eight or nine just being carried in a plastic bag, who had drowned. Most of them are drownings.
TODD: Here, two responders remove a body from a massive field of debris.
Relief officials are worried the decaying bodies will create health risks for survivors, many of whom are drinking water from wells, not knowing if it's contaminated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, we don't have enough water. Even though we are not sure that it is clean and safe, we still drink from it because we need to survive.
TODD: In Tacloban, a city of more than 200,000, survivors walk the streets shell-shocked, scavenging for anything to sustain them. This video shows the incredible power of the storm surge -- massive tankers picked up and carried ashore in Tacloban. Some of these vessels slammed into homes.
Before this storm, hundreds of thousands of people had been evacuated, moved to sturdy shelters. But the brick and mortar was no match for the 20 foot surge that hit Tacloban. In some places, people are lining up for water and gas in an orderly fashion. But there are also reports of looting. One witness was asked if looters were just trying to get food. RICHARD YOUNG, BUSINESSMAN: I saw them, two people, three people are carrying brand new refrigerators, brand new washing machines, motorcycles, brand new, you know, all of I mean appliances. They can't eat it.
TODD: New video in to CNN shows the first moments when the storm hit early Friday and scenes of desperation in the hours immediately afterward.
Some of these people can barely keep their heads above water. The mayor of Tacloban and his family were inside this structure, stood on tables to avoid the surge, then had to punch holes in the ceiling and climb to the rafters to survive. The mayor now says, quote, "I have not spoken to anyone who has not lost someone."
And his constituents are desperate.
MAGNA FERNANDEZ, VICTIM: Get international help to come here now, not tomorrow, now. This is really, really like bad, bad -- worse than hell. Worse than hell.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TODD: Massive amounts of aid are coming in from Philippine authorities, the United States and elsewhere. The U.S. Agency for International Development is sending emergency shelter materials and basic hygiene supplies that can service 10,000 families, as well as 55 metric tons of emergency rations that can feed 20,000 children and 15,000 adults for up to five days.
But, Wolf, it's a logistical challenge. The airport is a long way from the town of Tacloban. It's about nine miles away, debris all over the road. And as Anna mentioned just a moment ago, they're getting another storm. It's a tropical depression on the way. That's going to complicate things.
BLITZER: It certainly will.
All right, Brian, thanks very much for that report.
To learn what you can do to help these storm victims in the Philippines, go to our Web site, CNN.com/impact.
Up next, a CNN crew in the Philippines keeps the cameras rolling as one of the most powerful storms in history bears down on them. You won't believe just how loud the storm sounded as it hit the city.
And a massive rescue effort to find survivors now underway. We're going to speak to a woman here in the United States who's desperately trying to find her family in the Philippines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like a tornado just passed us. And the tornado lasted for four hours. The hotel was just crumbling, you know. I mean...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- at first, it was the ceilings that went off. And then the roofs just started to fly in all directions. And then the water just started coming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That's just one of the many terrifying stories emerging from survivors of the powerful super typhoon that slammed the Philippines.
CNN's Andrew Stevens was right in the path of the storm when it hit.
He's joining us now live from the City of Tacloban in the Philippines -- Andrew, explain to our viewers what it was like being in one of the strongest storms ever recorded.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you were actually one of the -- or the last contact we had with the outside world for about 27 hours. We were trying to do a live cross with you. We could barely hear you and it was just getting so intense. The winds were getting so intense, we decided to withdraw. And we got out of there, where we were standing, just in time. It really was quite an experience.
So take a look at what we went through.
STEVENS (voice-over): This is what the inside of a super typhoon looks like. A 250 kilometer an hour plus winds slamming into a city, a white haze of screaming noise, smashing windows, tearing metal, water, and flying debris. Just minutes after we finished our live shots telling headquarters that we were moving to safer ground, cameraman, Brad Olson shot this in the place we just left.
As the destruction there continued, the floor below, terrified residents huddled together, finding protection against the flying spray and mind-numbing noise. Some prayed for their safety.
(on-camera) We're sheltering in the corridor. It's a relatively secure area, I think, where we are. It's a very substantial hotel this, and we are away from windows. But all around us, you hear the sounds of windows breaking. You hear the sounds of large objects falling and crashing to the floor. And underfoot, it is now just a deluge.
And if you look behind me, I don't know if you can see it, the staircase behind me is now basically a waterfall.
(voice-over) And then a torrent of black water began pouring into the hotel. The storm surge had begun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go upstairs.
STEVENS: Within a few minutes, it was at ground floor window level. A panicked family now trapped in their room smashed the window and screamed for help. We managed to get the mother across to safety using a phone mattress (ph) and it immediately became clear the cause of their panic. Their daughter was severely disabled. Storm chaser, Josh Morgerman, and I went back across to get the terrified girl to safety.
And CNN producer, Tim Schwartz, had rescued the rest of the family. The waters only rose a little higher. The height of the storm, in fact, had passed. Two hours later, the winds had lost their lethal strength. Our live position was a ruined shell. But as we walked outside, it was immediately clear that so much of the city had suffered so much more than we had.
STEVENS (on-camera): Wolf, I can say that the family that we got out of that room, they're all absolutely fine, which is a great relief to everybody. But one of our initial frustrations was once we got out of the storm, that storm lasted, I guess, for about five hours, we were holed up there. Once we got out, the winds were still pretty strong, but we had massive equipment failure. Both of our computers, we had a computer and then a backup computer which we sealed, those went down.
The camera worked for about ten minutes but went down. The backup camera was also down. So, we couldn't contact anybody at all for more than 24 hours. It gave us a sense of what sort of frustration in that city must have been having to everybody else. Nobody in the outside world knew how bad it was for at least 24 hours.
BLITZER: Andrew, tell us what's going on behind you.
STEVENS: OK. I'm at Tacloban City airport. The first plane has actually just landed just a couple of minutes ago. You can see behind me, there are a couple of hundred, 200, 300 people here. They've been -- they've either been sleeping here all night, camping here all night or have come through during the dark hours. As you can see, this place is just a shell of what it was.
We came through this airport about 12 hours ahead of the storm. It is unrecognizable. The ceiling's gone, all the walls are blown out. There's masonry walls down and right around the car park outside here, I don't know if you can see it, but it's just debris really everywhere. This is actually, though, now a functioning airport.
The marines who arrived for the first time yesterday are going to be in here actually turning this into a 24-hour operation. For that, you need runway lights, you also need radar. So, we're going to get both of those in the very, very near future. Meanwhile, people are also using this as a place to get relief supplies, the stuff that's coming in here, the food, the water that's coming in here is getting to the main part of the city by helicopter.
People are choosing now to walk those 14 kilometers from downtown to get out here to get their bags of rice, to get their bottles of water rather than wait for it to be delivered. It gives you an idea of just how critical the timing has become in this rescue operation, Wolf. BLITZER: Wow. All right. Andrew, thanks very much and thanks for all the good work you and the entire team have done there, literally, saving lives. Andrew Stevens on the ground for us. Appreciate it.
Turning now to the story of hope in the middle of tragedy. A baby was born in a makeshift medical center right in the rubble of what was once an airport in Tacloban, Philippines. The "Associated Press" reporting the mother had to swim through flood water and cling to a post to survive. There are also reports that the baby is safe after being evacuated from the city.
In the wake of this killer storm, the relief needs are truly staggering. And children are especially vulnerable. Tomoo Hozumi is the Philippines representative from UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, and he's joining us on the phone from Manila right now. So, what is the latest? How bad is the situation over there, Tomoo?
VOICE OF TOMOO HOZUMI, UNICEF REPRESENTATIVE: Yes, the situation on the ground is very serious. Children are the most among the most vulnerable in such disasters. Their immediate needs include food, shelter, clean water, and sanitation, basic services and medicines, and also protection from unsafe and uncertain conditions. All of them are in a severe in a shortage at the moment on the ground.
BLITZER: You've sent us these pictures courtesy UNICEF, the important work you're doing. Have you ever seen anything like this before in all your years working on these kinds of disaster relief projects?
HOZUMI: I think the closest that comes to my mind is tsunami, Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. Many of, you know, our staff, you know, who go there, they say that it reminds them of that. Nothing -- no, you know, complete structure standing intact and the amount of debris and other damage, that's how bad it is.
BLITZER: Well, good luck over there and thank you for all the important work you're doing. Tomou Hozumi, I appreciate it very much, representing UNICEF right in the middle of this disaster.
Coming up, we'll speak to an American woman who's desperately trying to reach her family in the storm-battered Philippines. Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: People are missing all across the Philippines right now because so much of the country is without electricity, finding loved ones is a very, very difficult task. Joining us now from Atlanta is Donna Culler. Her aunt, uncle, and three cousins are all missing in Tacloban in the Philippines. Donna, thanks very much for joining us. I know this is an awful time for you. How long have you been trying to contact your relatives?
DONNA CULLER, FAMILY MISSING IN THE PHILIPPINES: We've been trying to reach them since Friday and Saturday, hoping that we'll hear from them. BLITZER: Is there any luck whatsoever?
CULLER: No. We haven't had much luck. And we're a little bit concerned because usually our cousins are very active in the social media platform, but we have not heard a single thing from them, so that's a little bit mind-boggling for us.
BLITZER: Have you been able to get in touch with any of their friends or acquaintances in Tacloban?
CULLER: That's what we've been trying to do. Like I said, we haven't had any luck or any lead at all for where they are.
BLITZER: When was the last time you spoke with them?
CULLER: We've heard back from them as, you know, last Thursday. Like I said, you know, my cousins are very active in Facebook. We've seen posts from them. But after that, we have not seen any update at all from any of the family members.
BLITZER: What did they say, though, on Thursday just as that storm, that typhoon, was beginning to hit the Philippines?
CULLER: They didn't seem to be concerned about it. So, we thought that they were trying to find ways, you know, and we're just a little bit concerned if they're being stubborn or not, but hopefully, they were able to find some place, a safe place to be.
BLITZER: Do you know if they had supplies, food, water, protection, if you will?
CULLER: We don't know that.
BLITZER: And you don't know if they tried -- you assume they didn't try to evacuate before the storm hit.
CULLER: We're assuming right now, because we were hoping that if they did evacuate, that we would have heard from them now. So, they might have stayed at Tacloban City.
BLITZER: Donna, when you see the pictures, the video coming out of the Philippines right now, this must be such a horrendous, awful thing for you as you have to endure these images.
CULLER: Definitely. It's scary to think that it could be one of your family that's going through this. So, it's definitely a bit concerning for us. And we're hoping that this would be a way for us to hear from them.
BLITZER: Have you reached out to authorities, whether U.S. or Filipino embassy officials, international organizations, relief organizations? Have you reached out to any of these groups that are on the ground now trying to help?
CULLER: Yes, we have. We have utilized a website that's been trying to locate victims. We've put in and entered their names and hoping that they will be in the data base.
BLITZER: Well, Donna, please keep us informed. Hopefully, everything will be all right and your relatives, your three cousins, your uncle, your aunt, will be OK, maybe just the power -- no electricity, they can't communicate with the outside world. Let's hope it's simply that. But good luck to you.
CULLER: Thank you so much. That's what we're hoping for.
BLITZER: I'm hoping for that as well and all of our viewers are. Donna, thank you.
Please be sure to tune in at the top of the hour for all the latest news coming out of the Philippines. We will have more harrowing stories just as the storm hit, plus all the latest ongoing right now in the rescue operations. It's a SITUATION ROOM special report, "Deadly Typhoon," and it begins right at the top of the hour.
Coming up, other news we're following, including this. From breakthrough to blame game. So, what happened to the nuclear talks between Iran and the West?
Plus, is Elizabeth Warren Hillary Clinton's worst nightmare? Why some say the senator could give Hillary Clinton a run for her money in 2016.
And at the top of the hour, once again, we'll have the latest on the powerful storm that struck the Philippines. A SITUATION ROOM special report, "Deadly Typhoon."
BLITZER: The United States and other world powers may have been very close to a deal with Iran on its nuclear program, but not anymore, at least for now. Our national -- our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The other day, everybody thought there was a deal. Kerry was going to Geneva, it looked like a done deal. Not so fast.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, it looks like they got close, but the now the finger pointing starts. You have diplomats blaming France. Secretary of State John Kerry blaming the Iranians. The Iranian foreign minister blaming the West on twitter. They came close but no deal.
Now, there was one deal struck today between Iran and the U.N.'s nuclear watch dog, the IAEA. They met in Tehran and agreed to inspect some of Iran's nuclear sites. But a bigger picture, longer-term agreement will have to wait.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): After leaving Geneva without a deal, Secretary of State John Kerry insisted today that the U.S. and its allies were together, and that it was Iran that walked away. JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There was unity. But Iran couldn't take it at that particular moment. They weren't able to accept that particular agreement.
SCIUTTO: That didn't sit well with his Iranian counterpart, foreign minister Mohammed Zarif, who fired back a different version of events via Twitter. He pointed the finger firmly at the West. "Mr. Secretary, was it Iran that gutted over half of the U.S. draft Thursday night?" he tweeted, "and publicly commented against it Friday morning?"
The missives came after signs this weekend of a split between the French and everyone else, with the French insisting on more concessions from Iran, including a stop to the construction of a heavy water reactor capable of producing plutonium. The two sides will meet again in Geneva later this month, but the delay gives opponents such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu time to mobilize against any deal with Iran.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: There are many, many Arab leaders in the region who are saying this is a very bad deal for the region and for the world. And you know, when you have the Arabs and Israelis speaking in one voice -- doesn't happen very often -- I think it's worth paying attention to us.
SCIUTTO: And the opposition is mobilizing on Capitol Hill as well. Republican senator Lindsay Graham vowing on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" Sunday to move forward with additional sanctions on Iran.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I have never been more worried about the Obama administration's approach to the Mideast than I am now. We seem to want deals worse than anybody else in the region. Thank God for France and thank God for push-back.
SCIUTTO: Secretary Kerry will be testifying before the Senate banking committee this week with the goal of trying to convince them to hold off on new sanctions. The chairman of that committee, Senator Tim Johnson, says he won't decide until he hears from Kerry. We do have the next round of talks already set for November 20, but Wolf, those are going to be at the political director level, not the ministerial levels, not the foreign ministers or secretary of state. A sign we could maybe we have some time before they reach a deal.
BLITZER: Yes, John Kerry will not be going back to Geneva. At least at the beginning of these November --
SCIUTTO: Unless his aides say there's a reason for him to go back and they're really close.
BLITZER: Yes, all right. Jim Scuitto, thanks very much for that report. Let's dig a little deeper right now. Joining us, Fareed Zakaria. He's the editor-at-large of "Time" magazine. Also of course, the host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS." Fareed, thanks very much. I was watching your show yesterday. You had a very provocative comment there and I was wondering if you want to explain. You were suggesting -- and I want to be precise -- that some of the critics of this potential deal think that no deal is better. Are you suggesting that maybe they want the military option as the only solution here?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": Well, look, any kind of deal, Wolf, will still leave Iran with a very serious nuclear establishment. We know that. Iran has over 1,000 scientists who are working on its nuclear program, and they are allowed by the IAEA to do that kind of thing.
So I think a lot of people look at this and say yes, you can have inspections, yes, you can have certain kind of constraints, but at the end of the day, that still leaves Iran with what is called a breakout capacity, the ability within a few months or maybe within six months to achieve weaponization. That is a capacity that Japan has, that many countries that have nuclear, civilian nuclear energy programs, have.
For those kinds of people, and I am thinking of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, they are really worried that any kind of capacity is too much. And in that circumstance, I think they would rather have a kind of crisis, road to a crisis, which would force either the United States or perhaps Israel to take military action.
BLITZER: But you know, Fareed, it's not just Israel -- and the Israelis obviously, if you listen to Netanyahu, deeply, deeply concerned about what the U.S. and the others are trying to do. They are more in line, let's say, with France, which was a little skeptical, much more skeptical. But if you speak to the Saudis privately or if you speak to the Emirates -- United Arab Emirates or the Kuwaitis or in Qatar, they are almost as nervous as the Israelis about these negotiations.
ZAKARIA: So the political backdrop behind which all this is happening, as you well know, Wolf, is a very deep schism in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis. The big Sunni powers are Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, all the countries you mentioned, that are very suspicious of Iran, view it as a (INAUDIBLE) Shiite power. And this schism is playing itself out in Syria, in Iraq, where each side supports militias of their sect. And so Iran is seen as the ultimate Shia power.
My own view is that the United States and the West should not get caught in fighting local battles for these people. We should be looking at this from the point of view, is Iran going to be a threat to the world, to the region, and how do we prevent that. We can make a deal on nuclear weapons. We can't change the complexion of Iran and make it Sunni or Shia, and we shouldn't get into that battle. So, the Saudis have deep anxieties about Iran that go back centuries before its nuclear program.
BLITZER: Fareed Zakaria, as usual, thank you very much.
ZAKARIA: Pleasure, wolf.
BLITZER; President Obama paid tribute to veterans of the United States military today by laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery. He also hosted a Veterans Day breakfast over at the White House for those who have served and their families. At the wreath laying, the president spoke about ending the war in Afghanistan and improving veterans' health care. And he took a moment to recognize one of the nation's oldest veterans, 107-year-old Richard Overton from Texas, who attended today's ceremony. Thank you to all the veterans.
Up next, we're continuing to follow other political news, including this. Could Hillary Clinton face a tough challenge for the Democratic presidential nomination from another woman?
And at the top of the hour, don't forget, we'll have a SITUATION ROOM special report, "Deadly Typhoon." We'll have the latest from the disaster zone.
BLITZER: Hillary Clinton hasn't declared a White House run yet, but the Democrats' odds-on favorite could face a potential challenge from another woman, an outspoken progressive who is not afraid of a challenge.
CNN's Erin McPike reports.
ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With fundraising and speaking engagements from coast to coast, Hillary Clinton continues to dominate the 2016 presidential speculation.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Thank you.
MCPIKE: But there's an unapologetic liberal who could stir things up.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: You don't get anything you don't fight for. But if you fight, you've got a chance to win.
MCPIKE: First-term Massachusetts senator, Elizabeth Warren.
WARREN: I don't want to go to the United States Senate to be there for women some of the time. I want to go to the United States Senate to be there for women all of the time.
MCPIKE: She's another fast-rising star who could make history and might threaten a Clinton Democratic coronation if they both run for the White House three years from now.
NOAM SCHEIBER, SENIOR EDITOR, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Hillary has run once before, is the inevitable nominee. Another new fresh face came along with an issue and was able to kind of excite passions among the Democratic rank and file, was able to do it. So I don't think it's crazy. MCPIKE: Warren is a former Harvard professor, a progressive populist who burst on to the scene in 2008 when Harry Reid tapped her to oversee the controversial bank bailout. Next she urged President Obama to create a government entity to protect consumers and their finances. The left wanted her to lead it but banks and Republicans balked.
WARREN: It is so good to be here with so many progressives. I love it.
MCPIKE: Instead, she took on Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown in 2012 and won after a sharp and expensive campaign. In the Senate, she got right to business, grilling financial regulators like at this Senate Banking Committee hearing which produced a video that became an Internet sensation earlier this year.
WARREN: Tell me a little bit about the last few times you've taken the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street all the way to a trial. Anybody?
MCPIKE: Now there's one snag to this whole idea. A Democratic source tells CNN that North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan said all the Democratic women in the Senate, and that of course includes Warren, has signed a secret letter to Hillary Clinton encouraging her to run. Now while that might leave progressives looking for another option, Warren has not yet declared her support for Clinton and she has yet to publicly discuss her own intentions for 2016 -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Interesting stuff. Erin, thank you.
Let's dig a little bit deeper right now. Joining us, our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger and Noam Scheiber, he's the senior editor of the "New Republic." You just saw him in Erin's piece.
What about that last point that all -- supposedly all the Democratic women, senators, signed a secret letter that endorsed in effect Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination?
SCHEIBER: Well, I think the door is overstated. They encourage her to run in 2016, and that's about as uncontroversial a proposition in the Democratic Party today as motherhood and apple pie. So I don't -- I don't read a whole lot into it. I think the opposite scenario, had Elizabeth Warren been the only female Democratic senator to not sign it, she would have effectively signaled she's running for president today. She couldn't afford to do it. There was no way not to sign it.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But I think it's a hard thing to back out of, don't you? If you sign a letter encouraging someone you may eventually against to run, you know, just think of the debate. Well, Elizabeth, you were the one encouraging me to run for president. So I think that her signature on that is more meaningful than maybe you do. SCHEIBER: I think people have backed out of more constraining commitments. Barack Obama on "Meet the Press" in 2005 was asked by Tim Russert, will you be a candidate for president in 2008? He said, I will not be. And so time has changed. People change. Warren can always say look, I'm an admirer of Hillary's. I think she should run. She's earned it. She's qualified but I just happen to think she's wrong on the subset of issues.
BLITZER: And this is the cover story in the "New Republic" that you wrote, "Hillary's Nightmare: A Democratic Party That Realizes Its Soul Lies with Elizabeth Warren Instead."
Does she have what -- I mean, Barack Obama, he was unknown, and he challenged Hillary Clinton, and he got the Democratic presidential nomination. He won the presidency. Does she have that in her instinct? Is she a great politician like that?
SCHEIBER: Well, look, she has an enormous apparatus. Right? $42 million in a U.S. Senate race. It's just a preposterous amount of money to raise. She excites liberal passion like nobody. I would say even including Barack Obama back then.
Obama's only real sort of ideological, you know, case against Hillary was the war, the vote, and what that symbolizes. Warren has a full coherent world view that really is where Democrats are these days. If you look at the way the party has evolved since 2008, I mean, much more skeptical about the power of business, much more skeptical about Wall Street, much more frustrated about the plight of the middle class. Those are Warren's issues.
BORGER: So -- the question is whether she's learned the lessons from her last campaign because it was a far-from-perfect campaign. Hillary Clinton 92 percent popularity within the Democratic Party. Some of those people are Elizabeth Warren supporters, obviously. And the question is whether Hillary would position herself to run against Wall Street. I would presume that she would.
I would presume the Republican candidate would run against Wall Street this time. And so it seems what Warren has been about so -- in her Senate run here is about her -- building her profile because she cares about those particular issues. She has really stuck to that issue set. If Hillary Clinton were to say, I'm with you on this, I'm with you on that, Hillary Clinton has disappointed her in the past, I could see Warren endorsing her if Hillary ran.
BLITZER: It's a good political conversation. Quickly I want to get your thoughts, and Gloria, you first, the "Wall Street Journal" reporting that so far since October 1st fewer than 50,000 people have managed to successfully enroll in the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare. We got a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services saying, "We cannot confirm these numbers. We always anticipated that initial enrollment numbers would be low and increase over time."
But that's a small, small number, especially if you conclude that, what, a lot of these people are probably Medicaid recipients as opposed to people actually paying into those -- into the system. BORGER: When they first said -- did their estimates before the Web site was messed, they expected 800,000 to enroll by the end of this month. So this number is far from that, no matter which way you look at it, and they've been lowering expectations. Every day they say to us the numbers are going to be low, the numbers are going to be low.
What they're hoping is that once they get the Web site up and running, people will say, OK, I don't have to spend five hours doing this anymore, that younger people whom they need for the risk pool will actually start to enroll toward the end of the deadline, but of course, Wolf, this is disappointing, and they're kind of getting us ready for these bad numbers.
BLITZER: First thing they've got to do is fix that Web site. Let's see if they can do that.
All right. Guys, thanks very much.
Noam, good article. The cover in the "New Republic."
Gloria, always good to have you in the SITUATION ROOM as well.
SCHEIBER: Thanks for having me.
BLITZER: Coming up, all the latest on that powerful storm that struck the Philippines from the frantic rescue efforts to the harrowing stories of what it was like when the storm hit.
A SITUATION ROOM special report, "Deadly Typhoon," is coming up.
BLITZER: Coming up in 90 second, a SITUATION ROOM special report with the latest on the deadly typhoon. But first some scenes from the last few shocking and very scary days in the Philippines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All around us you hear the sounds of windows breaking. The staircase behind me is now basically a waterfall.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The water reached the second story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot say anything yet. I'm still in shock.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm so sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am the only survivor of the family. And I want to know them -- if they are still alive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is really, really like bad, worse than hell. Worse than hell.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: American boots are now on the ground here. BRIG. GEN. PAUL KENNEDY, U.S. MARINE CORPS: We're working hand in hand with the Philippines, both with their Armed Forces and national police, and we will help them in their need.
ANNA CORREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Many say hope is all they can hold on to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)