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THE SITUATION ROOM

Terror Plot; Anthrax Mishap; Interview With Texas Congressman Michael McCaul; Evidence of Break-In in D.C. Mansion Murders; Baltimore Police Ask Feds for Help Amid Crime Surge; Rick Perry to Announce White House Bid; Interview with Presidential Candidate Lincoln Chafee. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 3, 2015 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:04] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now: imminent attack. Prosecutors say an ISIS sympathizer who was killed in Boston was ready to strike this week. Stand by for breaking details on his alleged targets and an apparent beheading plot.

Anthrax across the United States. The Pentagon says live samples of the potentially deadly bacteria were mistakenly sent to many more places than first revealed.

Murder clues. New court documents suggest the slaughter at a D.C. mansion may have started with a break-in. We're getting new information this hour.

And Baltimore crime wave. The police commissioner makes a desperate plea for help after the city's deadliest month in decades. What will it take to end the violence in Baltimore?

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news this hour, a chilling ISIS-inspired terror plot targeting police officers that was designed to unfold this week, possibly today.

We're getting new information about why Boston police approached terror suspect Usaama Rahim and then killed him after he waved a large military knife. Authorities now say he was plotting to behead someone, but then changed his plans to randomly kill -- quote -- "the boys in blue."

An alleged accomplice who was arrested overnight just appeared in court. And now a third person may be connected to the case as well. I will ask the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Mike McCaul, what he's learning. He's standing by live. And our correspondents and analysts, they're also standing by with all the breaking news.

First, let's go to our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown. She's in Boston. She has the very latest -- Pamela. PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're learning

from law enforcement officials that the terrorism suspect killed yesterday, Usaama Rahim, along with David Wright, another suspect arrested, and a third person had been plotting to behead a prominent person in New York, someone who was not in law enforcement or the military.

And we're learning from officials that Rahim changed his plans yesterday morning and allegedly wanted to attack and kill police officers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, newly released court documents allege Boston terror suspect Usaama Rahim was about to go on a rampage to randomly kill police officers and he also was planning to behead someone in another state.

These were plots Rahim and a second suspect arrested yesterday, David Wright, were planning. An FBI-recorded phone call between Rahim and Wright lays out their plan to kill police officers using code words. "You're attempting to go on vacation, I see."

"Yes, I'm going to be on vacation right here in Massachusetts."

The FBI says Wright confirmed the attack was to take place yesterday or today. Last Wednesday, Rahim allegedly had a large black knife delivered to his home. He brags to Wright that he got himself "a nice little tool, good for carving wood and like."

They also separately planned to behead a victim in another state, according to authorities, using words such as "like thinking with your head on your chest." Law enforcement officials believe that is a direct reference to terrorist-beheading videos.

Authorities had monitored Rahim for over two years and believe he was radicalized by ISIS. The FBI recently put him under 24/7 surveillance.

WILLIAM EVANS, BOSTON POLICE COMMISSIONER: This guy required 24/7 surveillance. So we thought the threat was severe enough that we had to approach him. We never expected what happened.

BROWN: With this information and a recent change in Rahim's behavior, officers and FBI agents approached Rahim. He suddenly turned around with a large black knife and lunged at them, authorities say. Police ordered him to drop the weapon before officers opened fire, killing him.

Wright appeared in federal court today to face conspiracy charges. His neighbor told me this.

ANA CALARI, NEIGHBOR: The months that we have been here, every time we would say hi, he just would look at you. He just would not say anything to you. It's just very eerie.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: We're told from law enforcement officials that there is a third person believed to be a part of this network mentioned in court documents, and we're told that person has not been arrested yet. We know authorities raided the home of that person and they're trying to build a case as we speak.

This is still a very active investigation. Authorities, Wolf, want to see who else may have been associated with this group.

BLITZER: Pamela, do authorities know, have a name of the so-called prominent person who was allegedly going to be beheaded by this Usaama Rahim in another state, in New York? Do they have a name of this individual?

BROWN: Authorities might know the name of that individual, but, Wolf, at this point we don't know the name of that individual. Of course, this is something we are still digging on.

BLITZER: All right. Pamela Brown, we will stay in touch with you. Thank you.

Usaama Rahim apparently was radicalized by ISIS online. The terror group is getting more aggressive than ever in its use of the Internet to recruit and train would-be attackers.

Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is here in THE SITUATION ROOM with more on this disturbing development.

[18:05:02]

What are you learning?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: They're getting more aggressive, but they also have more tools at their disposal.

And we heard the FBI today pleading for help. They're concerned that potential terrorists are now using encrypted communication. And the FBI says it doesn't have the legal power to stop it, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee calling this -- quote -- "a tremendous threat to the homeland."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL STEINBACH, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF COUNTERTERRORISM: We're past going dark. In certain instances, we are dark.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): That is the warning from the man leading the FBI's efforts to stop ISIS-inspired attacks here in the U.S., the new threat, encrypted communications offered more and more by Internet and phone providers to customers eager to protect their privacy, including potential terrorists.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: Do we have any idea how many communications are taking place in the dark space? STEINBACH: No, we don't. And that's the problem. The ability to

know what they're saying in these encrypted communication situations is troubling.

SCIUTTO: U.S. officials say contact on the Web alone can be enough to recruit, train, and activate terrorists on the homeland, the gunmen killed in Garland, Texas, last month and the man shot by law enforcement in Boston Tuesday all believed to have been radicalized by ISIS, all highlighting the threat.

JOHN MULLIGAN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER: What they're telling them is, here is some easily available, readily available information online that you can exploit. In other words, they believe that they can provide them everything that they will need to undertake some kind of lone act or attack.

SCIUTTO: ISIS' tremendous social media prowess gives the group an unprecedented digital force multiplier, 2,000 core ISIS supporters pushing the message out, approximately 50,000 people retweeting the message, and more than 200,000 then receiving and reading.

MCCAUL: How many of those followers are actually in the United States, in your estimate?

STEINBACH: There's hundreds, maybe thousands. It's a challenge to get a full understanding of just how many of those passive followers are taking action.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: Hundreds, maybe thousands here in the U.S., and the challenge for law enforcement is distinguishing between lukewarm supporters and potential terrorists.

And the FBI's counterterror chief saying today it is taking no chances, as in this Boston shooting -- the moment, he said, when they saw any hints of mobilization, that's when they moved in. The trouble is, you don't always see those hints before something happens. And, of course, you have to distinguish then between the folks who aren't real threats and the ones who are.

BLITZER: And they're now saying this plot was imminent, could have happened today, yesterday, the next day. It was about to go forward.

SCIUTTO: They said June 2 or June 3, so -- well, yesterday or today.

BLITZER: Yes.

SCIUTTO: And they had to move in when they did, yesterday.

BLITZER: All right, Jim Sciutto reporting, thank you.

Joining us now is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Mike McCaul.

Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for joining us. First, do you know who this so-called prominent person in New York who

was apparently being targeted by this group in Boston for beheading, do you have a name? You don't have to necessarily share the name, but is there a name that law enforcement knows about?

MCCAUL: Yes. I'm not at liberty to mention the name, but it's top law enforcement.

And this is very consistent with what ISIS has been doing recently, their calls to arms of followers in the United States, when they Twitter these messages, as your reporters talked about, from Syria into the United States to attack both military installations and law enforcement.

This is the new wave, the new generation of terrorism. It's gone viral. It's very dangerous and it's very hard to stop.

BLITZER: The only thing we're hearing is this prominent person who was supposedly going to be beheaded, if they had their way, was not in the military, not in law enforcement, but a civilian.

Can you give us a little bit more detail, without necessarily revealing the name of this person?

MCCAUL: You know, actually, I can't. It's part of this ongoing investigation at this time, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Let's...

MCCAUL: But, yes, if that's all right.

BLITZER: But this was a serious plot, I assume?

MCCAUL: It's a serious plot.

Mr. Rahim has been under surveillance, both physical and technical, for a while. Law enforcement usually, as I knew as a federal prosecutor, gathers information, intelligence, and when they see something more imminent getting ready to occur, that's when they step in and stop it. And that's what happened in this case.

They entered into the scene to interview the subject, and he pulled a knife out and he was shot and killed.

BLITZER: That military-style knife -- and we're showing a picture of it -- similar at least to what Jihadi John in Syria, the ISIS killer over there, was using to behead hostages, including Americans. No coincidence that those two knives looked alike. Is that right?

MCCAUL: No coincidence at all, well-designed, well-thought-out.

All this has been transmitted online from several top ISIS recruiters out of Syria that send their Twitter messages out. You know, we heard from the FBI assistant director today, Homeland Security officials about what a big threat this does pose, because there are thousands of followers of these top ISIS leaders in Syria online that they talk to every day in the United States. And all they have to do is activate one of these sleeper cells to pull off something like this.

[18:10:20]

We saw Garland not that long ago, and now we just saw Boston yesterday. This is, unfortunately, Wolf, going to be a trend I think you're going to see more and more of.

BLITZER: He was apparently, and I'm quoting now from court documents, part of what they called an ad hoc terror network.

It was planning to randomly kill police officers in Massachusetts, then go ahead and behead this prominent person in New York. Do we know specifically how he was inspired or motivated or actually even instructed by ISIS?

MCCAUL: It's an online conspiracy. I mean, I was a prosecutor.

There's a conspiracy going on online every day between these top U.K. individuals within ISIS leadership out of Syria. There's a top one out of Somalia sending Twitter messages into thousands -- you know, there are 200,000 ISIS tweets per day going into the United States. That gives you a little bit of a sense of the volume and the traffic going on. And it's very difficult for our law enforcement to monitor and track that in real time.

I commend the FBI and Homeland on the job they did to stop this one. But it's the ever-evolving threat. And, as you mentioned earlier in your broadcast, the idea that they can jump out of what would be the public domain, where we can monitor, into other spaces that they call dark space, that, even if we have a warrant, and have a court-ordered warrant, we cannot monitor that communication or that activity, because it's gone into what they call secure com into dark space.

That is something I'm -- as -- I think members of Congress and certainly the FBI and Homeland officials are very, very concerned about.

BLITZER: When you talk about dark space or dark communications, they have new ability to encrypt their messages on social media, right?

MCCAUL: They encrypt them, but they also go into platforms that we have no access to. And I think that's part of that -- they say, go into the message box, and if we have coverage, we can pick that up.

But then they go into these other platforms that we -- even if we had, say, a wiretap or FISA wire on them, we could not pick that communication up. So they are communicating securely in a dark space with thousands of Americans per day, sending out directives, calls to arms to hit military installations, to behead police officers, hit government officials.

It's one thing for someone to travel over to Syria and Iraq and come back. But, boy, it's a lot easier if they activate someone who's already here.

BLITZER: You say thousands of Americans out there may be -- but we heard Michael Steinbach, the FBI counterterrorism chief, say hundreds, maybe thousands.

Give us a little bit more detail on this, that there may be thousands of Americans out there part of this kind of ISIS-inspired conspiracy?

MCCAUL: Well, the foreign fighters who have left the United States are in the hundreds. Those who have come back are at a classified level much lower than that. But what Mr. Steinbach, I think, was talking about are the followers of the ISIS recruiters online, the ISIS recruiters sending out over Twitter accounts, tweeting messages every day to activate followers that they have on their accounts.

And those are -- I have seen them myself -- in the thousands of Americans who are not only followers, but following, if you know a lot about Twitter. The people that are following are the people that are actually having active conversations and communications with online.

When they jump out of that space into the dark space, we don't have the ability, law enforcement doesn't have the ability to track that communication. And I think that's something that lawmakers need to be taking a look at to try to fix, so we can better protect Americans.

BLITZER: Mr. Chairman, I want you to stand by, if you can. We have a lot more to discuss, including this plot in Boston, one suspect dead, another arrested. Were more individuals involved? How broad of a plot was this?

Much more with the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Mike McCaul, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:19:24]

BLITZER: We're back with the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Mike McCaul.

Congressman, the breaking news, as you know, prosecutors say that ad hoc terror network in Boston was plotting to randomly kill police officers, behead someone else, supposedly a prominent person in New York.

You saw what happened in Boston, and the assistant director for FBI counterterrorism, Michael Steinbach, he testified before your committee. He says upwards of 200,000 individuals are receiving, as you describe, extremist messages online sent out by these ISIS terror propagandists.

So what's the current strategy to destroy this kind of propaganda that's targeting the United States?

[18:20:05]

MCCAUL: That's a great question.

I mean, and you're right. There are about, on average, 200,000 ISIS- related tweets per day going out into the United States. And there are thousands of followers receiving these messages, directives, calls to arm to take up arms against our military, our law enforcement and government personnel.

I think the FBI and Homeland has done a -- so far a phenomenal job stopping this from happening by monitoring some of these communications. And that's either through public domain space or through other means of surveillance through a court order, which they did in this case, this particular case, the Boston case.

The question, again, I think arises when the communications go beyond that public domain, beyond what we can see with a court order, and into this sort of what we call dark space, secure com space, that has, I think, the FBI, Homeland, and people like myself most concerned because they can communicate freely about plots, terrorist plots against Americans in the United States without our having any ability to pick up those communications.

BLITZER: We know that Boston plot, one of the suspects, Usaama Rahim, he was shot by local law enforcement and the FBI yesterday. David Wright, another suspect, he was arraigned today. He's captured. They're now looking for a third individual.

But how big, how broad is this plot? Are more individuals out there part of this terror conspiracy?

MCCAUL: Well, right now, we think it's really the three. And Mr. Wright obviously was tampering, obstructing justice by destroying cell phone records, laptop information.

And they erased a lot of the laptop information, as I understand it. I hope we can retrieve some of that information, because that would be very valuable. They were under surveillance, as I mentioned before, both physical and technical. Law enforcement usually waits and gets as much intelligence as they can, until they see a more immediate threat and then, at that time, move in to stop whatever that threat may be. And, in this case, they did it very successfully.

BLITZER: Is he talking, David Wright, this suspect, to law enforcement and the FBI?

MCCAUL: I don't know the answer to that at this point in time. I do know that we have gathered a lot of the electronic communication and they're trying to retrieve that information as we speak.

But I know some of these guys are pretty savvy. The thing is, Wolf, you know, al Qaeda, bin Laden, it was caves and couriers. Now we're dealing with a younger generation of terrorists that are very, very savvy with computer skills, very savvy over the Internet and very savvy with social media of the likes that we have never seen before.

So, this is a whole new threat that law enforcement and the FBI and Homeland has not really had to come to terms with and is trying to do so in a very fast, evolving way.

BLITZER: Mike McCaul is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.

MCCAUL: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead: The identity of the key figure in the mansion murder mystery here in Washington, D.C., is revealed, along with new clues in the case. Did it all begin with a break-in?

And a new plea for help by Baltimore police after the deadliest month in decades -- why is the city reeling from a violent crime wave right now?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:28:15]

BLITZER: We're following breaking news.

Just getting in some new details of the investigation into the murders of a Washington family and their housekeeper whose bodies were found inside a burning mansion.

Our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, is here. He's got new information.

What are you finding out, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, at the start, police did not call this a case of home invasion, but, tonight, newly released court documents suggest that may be closer to what happened. And we're also learning that cell phones of the victims were not recovered from the house when police got there, two pieces of the puzzle as the search continues for possible accomplices of Daron Wint, the man they're holding on first-degree murder charges.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): In newly released court records, police seem to lay out how they believe the crime that ended with this fire began, with a break-in at the Savopoulos home.

Investigators say they found evidence suggesting whoever held the family and their housekeeper hostage before shaking them down for money may not have been invited in. Court documents say side doors on the house had -- quote -- "a single broken window pane. The door is broken near the lock and a shoe or boot print is visible on the exterior, suggesting forced entry.'

Tonight, D.C., police are still holding 34-year-old Daron Wint, who was arrested two weeks ago while apparently on the run. Court records say, in addition to Wint's DNA found on a pizza crust at the scene, they found blood of at least one of the victims on Wint's shoe. Wint remains the lone suspect, but police say they believe he had help.

HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I'm sure that the police, although they're tight-lipped, have some other suspects involved that they believe are involved in this case, and they're trying to track information down to link them to Wint. And that's why it's probably taking some time.

[18:30:02] JOHNS: Court documents also suggest investigators continue to be interested in Savopoulos's assistant, who allegedly dropped off $40,000 in cash at the family's home in the hours before the fire.

For the first time tonight, police are identifying that man as Jordan Wallace, who was hired in recent months as a driver for Mr. Savopoulos.

Police say after Wallace changed details of his story surrounding the drop-off of that money, they got a court order to retrieve his telephone records.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Investigators also got court orders to retrieve the phone records of Mr. and Mrs. Savopoulos and of the housekeeper, Vera Figueroa, all of which, police say, have not been recovered. Still unclear who police believe may have helped commit these crimes -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Joe, thank you.

Let's get some more on the story. Joining us, our CNN justice reporter Evan Perez; and the former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes. He's our law enforcement analyst.

Evan, what are you hearing about this new development police believe that Wint could have had help from others, that there may be some others involved in this who may still be on the run?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, long-time investigators who do this kind of work have all along told me that there's no way Daron Wint did this by himself.

And what you're beginning to see from these court documents is the focus on this assistant, Jordan Wallace, whose picture we showed just now in Joe's piece. He is key to this.

And they've now filed search warrants to get all access to his devices, his home phone, his cell phone, because they believe that's the key to solving this case.

Also mentioned in that document is that the second person who was involved in getting -- procuring the money, the $40,000 that day, Wolf, was the Savopouloses' accountant. That person is not named in court documents. But again, those are the key people who are going to be able to tell police more information about what might have happened.

BLITZER: So Tom, when they go through the phone records, the telephone records, what are they looking for specifically?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Connections. Who's calling who? How long are they having conversations? And at what time during the event of the home invasion, while people were in that house, while the family was being held hostage, who was calling at that time.

Because the family, if they're bound up and not allowed to make calls, who was using their phone to somebody else? And among the suspects, who was calling each other? Especially the individual that delivered the money, later admitted that he lied to the police. He would still be a prime individual.

BLITZER: That's not hard for law enforcement, whether the FBI or a local, to get this information, through the records, the phone companies?

FUENTES: No problem. In a murder investigation, no problem at all.

BLITZER: OK. Stand by, guys. We've got more to talk about.

I also want to talk about another breaking story we're following right now. The Baltimore Police Commissioner, Anthony Batts, is asking for more federal law enforcement help right now to help with the city's surging crime rate. It's up dramatically since the violence that followed the death of Freddie Gray in police custody.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is joining us now. He covered the violence in Baltimore extensively. The commissioner asking for more help. What are you learning, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, he is in the hot seat, certainly. This is a commissioner who has come under fire, not only for the response to the riots but in the violence that has happened afterwards.

In May in Baltimore, 43 deaths. That's the most in 40 years. And keep in mind, 40 years ago Baltimore was 300,000 people bigger. So per capita basis this is probably the deadliest month Baltimore has every -- ever seen.

For the year, murders are up about 40 percent. There were 119 people killed so far. Police commissioners saying that they have arrested several people since those riots, that many pharmacies were also trashed and attacked; and the drugs, the prescription drugs out of them were taken. And he makes the claim that that is helping fuel the violence. Many point to street-level violence, turf wars between gangs and drug dealers, as well, as driving a lot of the violence there.

But this police commissioner making an all-out pitch, saying it's all hands on deck. Curiously and interestingly, the two entities that were not represented at that police commissioner were anybody from the mayor's office or anybody from Baltimore City's state's attorney's office. Marilyn Mosby, of course, is taking six police officers to court, has charged them in the death of Freddie Gray.

BLITZER: And as you noted, the crime rate, the death rate has really gone up. The "Baltimore Sun" saying May was the deadliest month in Baltimore in more than 40 years. This -- as of this past Sunday with 43 homicides recorded.

Let me play, in fact, the request. Here's the sound bite from the commissioner, making this request for federal help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMMISSIONER ANTHONY BATTS, BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT: I am submitting a request to ask for more federal prosecutors and more federal agents to move to the city of Baltimore to assist us in this battle against the violence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, that kind of request, is that -- is that legitimate? Appropriate? What's going on?

FUENTES: It certainly is. It's been used before. I know right here in Washington, D.C., when I was still in the bureau, a request was made by Washington for the FBI to treat street gangs here like the J Street Gang as an organized crime family, use the RICO statute, use all the tools, including wiretaps, to take them out. It's been done in many other cities all over the country.

So yes, that's possible to do. And you know, the federal government will help when requested.

BLITZER: All right, guys. Stand by, because we're going to stay on top of this story.

Evan, you want to make a quick point.

PEREZ: Yes, Wolf. Real quick. I mean, this is actually a strategy that has worked before in Baltimore. They've brought in the U.S. attorney's office there. They've brought in the ATF, the FBI to tackle some of these big gangs that were driving some of the murders, and that's how the -- that's partly how the murder rate actually went down in recent years.

And now we see that part of the problem has become the fact that the police and the state's attorney are not really communicating with each other. They don't -- the cops say they don't know when they're able to arrest people because of these charges. And so now, finally, you see an effort to try to bring all of these three sides together to try to tackle what is a serious, serious problem for Baltimore.

BLITZER: Important point indeed. Evan, thanks very much.

Tom Fuentes, Miguel Marquez, guys, thank you.

Just ahead, the Texas governor, Rick Perry, he's about to launch his second presidential campaign. His wife now speaking to CNN, sharing her reaction to the debate blunder that torpedoed his first run for the White House.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:41:16] BLITZER: The field of presidential candidates is growing. Former senator and former Rhode Island governor, Lincoln Chafee, has just announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. He's standing by for his first official campaign interview with us.

But first, Republican Texas governor, the former governor, Rick Perry, he will announce his second White House bid tomorrow. His first campaign in 2012, that race flamed out after a promising start. This cringe-worthy debate moment was the beginning of the end.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK PERRY (R), FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: And I will tell you, it's three agencies of government when I get there that are gone -- commerce, education, and the -- what's the third one there? Let's see. Oh, five. OK. So commerce, education, and the...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: EPA?

PERRY: EPA. There you go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seriously? Is EPA the one you were talking about?

PERRY: No, sir. No, sir. We were talking about the agencies of government -- the EPA needs to be rebuilt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you can't -- but you can't name the third one?

PERRY: The third agency of government I would do away with, the education, the...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Commerce.

PERRY: Commerce. And let's see. I can't. The third one I can't. Sorry. Oops.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: CNN political reporter Sara Murray is joining us from Dallas right now. Sara, you had a chance to speak with Governor Perry's wife, Anita. She played a central role in his first White House run. What did -- what did she tell you?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Anita Perry sounds almost apologetic now that she pushed her husband so hard to run in 2012 when he clearly was not ready. Even though she's a former nurse, she says she did not recognize that he was still in so much pain following his back surgery. And then the "oops" moment happened. Take a look at what she had to say about that night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MURRAY: When did you know that something wasn't right, that something was off? ANITA PERRY, WIFE OF RICK PERRY: You know, it just didn't click. It

wasn't the Rick Perry -- I was sitting in the audience that night in Michigan. I myself was going, oh, my gosh, what is that third agency? You know, I kind of went blank at the same time.

That wasn't the Rick Perry that I knew, that I know now, up on that stage. And to be honest with you, he's different, so much different now than he was then. And I think America's really seeing what a promising person he could be. And I think America's a great place for a second chance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MURRAY: Now, Anita Perry says this time will be totally different. Her husband is healthy now. He's been working out. And most importantly, he's been studying, brushing up on all different kinds of policy issues for years now. And like she said, she wants voters to give her husband a second chance -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You also, Sara, had a chance to speak with Mrs. Perry about Governor Perry's appearance. I want to play a little clip from that part of the interview. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MURRAY: Your husband has spent a lot of time brushing up on policy. I think that the biggest outward sense of that we've gotten is his new look. He's got these new glasses that have gotten a lot of attention. What do you think? Did he need a new image?

A. PERRY: No. He needed the glasses to see. I mean, this really just tickles me. It makes me laugh. He needed those glasses from a childhood injury when he was, I think, 16 or 17 years old. And the vision in one eye deteriorated to such that he had to have the glasses. So I picked them out.

MURRAY: You picked them out?

A. PERRY: I picked them out. Really, I like him without the glasses, but he had to have them to see.

So he studied with some of the best, and we have some great people on our team, some great strategists and consultants like Avik Roy and Abby McCloskey. They're there.

[18:45:03] So, it's not just about the glasses.

MURRAY: So, what did you think when people started saying oh, Rick Perry's wearing his smart person glasses now, he's trying to look smarter?

PERRY: I'm like, oh, come on, get a life. He is smart. My goodness. He's one of the smartest people that I know. And really what makes him smart, he studies so much too.

It's unfair that people categorize him just because of those glasses, silly glasses. But --

MURRAY: So, what do you like better, the glasses or the cowboy boots? Can you pair those together? Is that a good look?

(LAUGHTER)

PERRY: Well, let me see. Probably the cowboy boots.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Clearly, she's a good asset to have on the campaign trail. He's going to announce tomorrow, Sara.

MURRAY: Yes. He's going to announce tomorrow. And you are definitely going to get a much more serious Rick Perry this time around.

BLITZER: Certainly will. All right. Thanks very much. Good work, Sara Murray, reporting for us from Dallas.

Let's get some more with our chief political analyst Gloria Borger and our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

Dana, is he going to be a stronger contender this time?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think because he's got Wolf Blitzer glasses. I mean, there's no question about it. Let's get real. That's really why he got those glasses.

He is a dark horse. That's what his people say. He has nowhere to go but up. I think what you just heard from his wife, the fact that he is a different person this time, the fact that Americans like second chances, that's what they're banking on. I know that. I've been down to Texas. I've talked to him when he was still in the governor's mansion.

And they are really hoping that the fact that he has been studying, he has been under the radar, means that he's going to be a surprise to a lot of people.

BLITZER: What do you think, Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: He came out of the box like a rocket last time. Remember? And he just catapulted to the top of the polls.

They understand that's not going to happen this time. He's at 5 percent. He's at 3 percent in Iowa. But in talking to other Republican campaigns, they say slow and steady is really the way he should be right now.

And take a look at him in Iowa, not only because as Dana says he's sort of a great politician. He is really good at retail politics. He is a dark horse. OK to be there in Iowa right now.

And his brand of kind of down-home politics really plays well with Iowa caucusgoers. So, the other campaigns are kind of looking at him because Iowa likes dark horses.

BLITZER: Let me show you this other poll on another candidate, Hillary Clinton. Her approval rating according to our new CNN/ORC poll is down to 45 percent. More striking maybe, George W. Bush's favorability ratings now reached a 10-year high, 52 percent of those polled have a favorable impression of him, 49 percent of those polled have a favorable impression of President Obama.

Gloria, what are we seeing here?

BORGER: Look, I think the less you hear from a politician the more you like them. That's just the way it is. And he has stepped back from the stage. People like that. He didn't take every opportunity to criticize President Obama in the way, for example, Dick Cheney has been out there. People like that.

When you're the president, you know, you're on the hot seat.

BASH: And to that point, remember when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and she was out of the real game of politics? Her approval rating was really pretty high. I mean, it's plummeted now that she's back to being a politician. And that's to your exact point, that people don't like politicians.

BLITZER: All right. We've got a lot more politics coming up, guys.

BORGER: You have to elect one president.

BLITZER: Thank you. There's other breaking news we're following. He's just announced his bid for the White House. The former senator, the former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee. He's joining us live for his first campaign interview. That's coming up next. There he is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:53:17] BLITZER: We've got some breaking news. The CNN key race alert: the former Republican senator, independent Rhode Island governor, Lincoln Chafee, has just announced his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. And the governor is joining us now live from Arlington, Virginia.

I believe this is your first campaign interview, Governor. Thanks very much for joining us.

Let's talk about your uphill struggle. Right now, according to our CNN poll, you're less than one-half of 1 percent in the race for the Democratic nomination. Hillary Clinton is up at 60 percent.

Bottom-line question is, why are you running? Do you really believe you can win the Democrat nomination?

LINCOLN CHAFEE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The biggest reason I'm running is I don't think the next president of the United States should have made the big mistake of voting for the Iraq war, and particularly, the next Democratic nominee should not have made the big mistake of voting for the Iraq war. And I think there should be a campaign issue for Democrats coming into 2016.

This is a Republican war, a Republican war that cost us 4,000 dead Americans, a Republican war that cost us $6 trillion or is going to cost us $6 trillion that we could have spent so much better -- one of the biggest mistakes in American history.

I don't think the Democratic nominee or the next president should have made that mistake.

BLITZER: So, you voted against that resolution at the end of 2002.

CHAFEE: Absolutely, absolutely.

BLITZER: Hillary Clinton, when she was senator, she voted for the resolution. So, you believe that disqualifies her, even though she says that vote was a mistake?

CHAFEE: Absolutely. It's too big of a mistake just to brush off with saying it was because I didn't get the right intelligence, which was false. I had the same intelligence and 23 of us made the right call there.

[18:55:01] And the ramifications we live with today are just so enormous, ISIS and everything that's happened with Boko Haram, and in Yemen, and the chaos that's in the Middle East, all because of that terrible mistake made back in 2002.

BLITZER: So, if she were to get the Democratic presidential nomination and you didn't, would you be able to vote for her for president?

CHAFEE: We'll cross that bridge if we come to it.

BLITZER: Well, you're dodging the question, because you're basically saying she's not qualified. You're saying you are more qualified because you voted against the resolution and you don't believe that there should be someone, a Democrat or a Republican, who voted for the resolution should get the nomination. So, it is still possible you might vote for her?

CHAFEE: If -- considering all of the issues that are occurring, I'm not convinced that she's going to be the Democratic nominee. So, as I said, we'll cross that bridge if we get to it.

BLITZER: If she's not going to get it and, let's say, you're not going to get it, who might get it?

CHAFEE: We'll see. It's a long way. It's very, very early. We all know that.

BLITZER: You were a Republican in the Senate. I think the only Republican to vote against that resolution. Then you went back home to Rhode Island, you became the governor as an independent. Now, you're running as a Democrat.

Let me ask you this question: what would you do about ISIS right now if you were commander-in-chief?

CHAFEE: ISIS is we're still learning exactly what's occurring with them. They've just taken over Palmyra. They have not destroyed the antiquities as best we know right now. Some of the atrocities that have previously occurred have not occurred in Palmyra.

So, kind of learning about this group and what they stand for. So, I just think that we have to understand what's happening, learn and who knows what might occur in the future.

I will say that certainly what's happened in the Middle East, the huge mistake made back from 2002 and all these issues we have to deal with now. Your question, how do you deal with them now -- wouldn't have happened if we hadn't made the mistake back in October 2002.

BLITZER: Well, they may not have destroyed the antiquities in Palmyra, at least not yet, but they have committed a lot of atrocities, killed, slaughtered a lot of people, including a lot of beheadings. Do you think ISIS represents a serious threat to the United States?

CHAFEE: Well, I'd like to go back to how we got in there and how we got into this intractable chaos and morass that we're in. I just don't think that the next president should have made that mistake. And I don't think that the Democratic nominee should have made that mistake.

So, all of these questions you're asking, there are no easy answers. But we wouldn't be asking the questions and struggling with the answers because there are no easy answers if we hadn't made the mistake. It's one of the biggest mistakes in American history.

BLITZER: A lot of people will probably agree with you on that. But let's look forward. What do you do about the threats, the terror threats specifically facing the United States?

CHAFEE: Well, we have to work collectively. We have to work with all of our nations around the world. And the 70th anniversary of the United Nations is June 26th, the 70th anniversary. And the preamble says to unite our strength to provide peace and security.

And so, let's reinvigorate the United Nations. I know there's a lot of criticism. Let's reinvigorate it and have a better 70 years in front of us.

Nations coming together as they did after World War II to prevent thermonuclear destruction. That's what we all want.

BLITZER: There was -- at the end of your announcement today, your speech at George Mason University in Arlington, you said this. Let me play the clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHAFEE: Earlier, I said, let's be bold. Here's a bold embrace of internationalism. Let's join the rest of the world and go metric. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. So, go ahead and explain why the United States should go metric.

CHAFEE: Well, this is just one piece, as I said, of becoming internationalist as a country and getting away from the unilateralist approach, that muscular approach to the world that I don't think is working in our best interest. I think it would be good for our economy. That's the bottom line.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: But it would cost a lot -- it would cost a lot of money. It would cost -- it creates some chaos at the same time, right?

CHAFEE: I lived in Canada when they made the transition. They wouldn't have done it if it -- if the benefits didn't outweigh the costs. No country wouldn't do it if the benefits didn't outweigh the costs.

So, yes, there's some cost involved but the economic benefit that's would come in would surpass those costs of putting up new signs and the like.

BLITZER: You've got a campaign slogan out there, "go metric", huh?

CHAFEE: Well, it's one piece. The campaign slogans, let's wage peace. Then use those peace dividends to better build our country. I want to wage peace in this new American century.

BLITZER: All right. Lincoln Chafee, the newest Democratic presidential candidate -- Governor, thanks very much for joining us.

CHAFEE: My pleasure. Thanks for having me on.

BLITZER: Good luck on the campaign trail. It's getting crowded on there.

Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Please tweet me @wolfblitzer. You can always tweet the show @CNNSitroom.

Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.