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CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer
Interview With Tony Blair; Interview With Senators Dodd, McCain
Aired November 04, 2007 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's 11:00 here in Washington, 8:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, and 9:00 p.m. in Islamabad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us for "Late Edition."
We'll get to our exclusive interview with the former British prime minister Tony Blair in just a moment, but we're keeping close eye on what's happening in Pakistan right now.
Let's go straight to CNN's Fredricka Whitfield for an update on what is the latest information we're getting from Pakistan. Fred?
WHITFIELD: Well, thanks, Wolf. This is the latest information. No end in sight, actually, for martial law in Pakistan. Police are rounding up hundreds of lawyers, judges and activists.
This comes one day after President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency, suspending the constitution and dismissing the chief justice. He is also forbidding journalists from writing reports on -- against the government, rather, that may be critical.
And U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in Israel this morning and has just told the press that the United States would review financial aid to Pakistan in light of recent events.
The White House is calling the actions of Pakistan, quote, "disappointing," saying, quote, "President Musharraf needs to stand by his pledges to have free and fair elections in January."
And all this coming as Pakistanis hear news of more than 200 kidnapped Pakistani soldiers being set free. The army spokesman says militants kidnapped the troops near the Afghan border two months ago. They were freed through the efforts of a tribal council of elders.
That's the latest from the update desk. Now back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Fred. We'll get back to you as soon as we get more information coming in from Pakistan.
Although the crisis in Pakistan and the war in Iraq tending to overshadow other events in the Middle East, efforts clearly moving forward right now to try to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Later this month, the United States is supposed to sponsor a Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland. And the former British prime minister, Tony Blair, is laying groundwork for renewed peace efforts, as the special representative to the Middle East for the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, the so-called quartet.
Tony Blair is joining us now, live from Jerusalem.
Prime Minister, welcome back to "Late Edition." Thanks very much for joining us.
Before we talk about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, I want to get your thoughts on what's happening, the crisis unfolding in Pakistan right now.
As you know, "Late Edition" is seen live around the world. What would you like to say to the president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, right now?
BLAIR: Well, I think it's obviously a tragedy for Pakistan. It's a fast-developing situation, this. But the sooner that we return to the pledges to restore democracy that we set out, the better.
But it's a very, very, very difficult situation, this, indeed. And it's a situation that, if it's not resolved in the right way, I think, is extremely worrying for the whole of the world, not just for Pakistan.
Now, obviously, this is not the issue I'm working on, and so I'll leave others to comment on it, but I think that's pretty obvious, really.
BLITZER: Do you have anything special you'd like to say to President Musharraf and/or to the people of Pakistan?
BLAIR: No, just to say that I obviously support the statements that I have been made by the British and American governments today. And I'm sure and I hope he will take account of those.
BLITZER: Let's talk about your mission, right now, which is as a representative of the so-called quartet, in trying to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
A lot of people look at this; they throw their hands up in the air; and they say, this is really "mission: impossible." It's been tried for so many years, unsuccessfully.
What makes you think, Prime Minister, that there's a chance, now, to get serious Israeli-Palestinian peace talks off the ground?
BLAIR: There is no other option. I mean, if we are to bring about peace in the wider Middle East, if, actually, the struggle that's going on, fundamental struggle that's going on with Islam, within Islam at the moment, between moderates and extremists, is to be resolved in favor of those voices of moderation, then it's important not just for Israelis and Palestinians who suffer from this conflict, but important for all of us that we resolve it. And so we've got no option but to succeed. And I think that there is a sense of momentum back into this process again. There is a sense of possibility.
But the next couple of months are going to be absolutely crucial to reinvigorate the credibility of the process, get it back on track, and give people who are moderate people, who do want to see two states, Israel, confident of its security, a viable Palestinian state, up and running and in existence, and put this long-running dispute to rest.
And the fact that it hasn't succeed before, as I found with Northern Ireland, is not a reason why it can't succeed in the future.
BLITZER: Is this conference that the U.S. wants to sponsor in Annapolis, Maryland, supposedly at the end of this month -- is that going to happen?
BLAIR: I believe it will happen. And I think it can and should be successful. And I think what it's got to do is to give people a sense that we can reach agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians. It's got to give a sense that the peace process is now renewed, back on track.
And then it will be followed by a conference in December, where the Palestinians will set out their plans for future, how they will reform the Palestinian institutions, build proper security apparatus, make sure that they have the qualities there available for proper statehood for the institutions of statehood.
And that's something that, then, the international community can come behind and support. So I really think there's three things that have got to happen.
We've got to renew the political perspective and get a political process back on track, number one. Number two, the Palestinians have got to set out their plan for statehood, how they're going to reform their institutions so that they're capable of running and governing a state well.
And number three, we've got to get the economy moving, economic projects on the ground, facts on the ground changing, so that ordinary Palestinians, as well as ordinary Israelis, can see some chance of prosperity and peace and hope for the future.
Now, all of that is a tall order, I agree. But it's got to be done in order to make this thing work.
BLITZER: You've got pretty weak leaders out there. The Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert is very unpopular, according to the public opinion polls in Israel, right now.
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, has got huge problems. He's got Hamas in control of Gaza. He's clearly not all that popular amongst the Hamas supporters.
And you've got President Bush, right now, who's not all that popular right here in the United States. Given the fact that there are these leaders who aren't all that popular, what makes you think they can make these -- make the tough decisions that clearly would be required to break through in the peace process?
BLAIR: Because what is popular, whatever the positions of various leaders, what is popular is the idea of a two-state solution, with Israel properly protected in its security and the Palestinians able to live in decent prosperity and create their own state.
And so even though, obviously, all the political leaders are under tremendous pressure at the moment, nonetheless, the one way, in a sense, to relieve some of that pressure is to show people there's a way forward, there's some hope, there's some prospect of a better future.
And you know, I keep saying to people when they say to me, this is so difficult -- I say, then what's the alternative?
The alternative is to continue with a situation where not just Israelis and Palestinians are worried about their future, but the whole of this region has this issue, and the uncertainty that comes with it, hanging over the region and where the extremists, who are trying to exploit this issue, exploiting the situation in Iraq, in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East, where those extremists gain even more traction on the political process.
And so, for all sorts of reasons, strategic, tactical, immediate, long-term, we've got to just make this work. And however difficult it is for the leaders, in a way, this is the toughest option at one level for them but also the surest way to show people the leadership they want to have shown.
BLITZER: Is there a role for Hamas, for the Palestinian group in Gaza?
They still have some support, obviously, in the West Bank, as well. Is there a role they should be playing in this peace process?
BLAIR: Well, here's the situation as I see it. In the end, what is important is to get this process moving again with all of those people who say they believe in two states. You can't say I believe in two states, Israel and Palestine, but then say, but incidentally, I don't think one of those states, Israel, should exist.
So the process is open to all of those people who are prepared to say, OK, we're going to pursue this by peaceful means and on the basis of two states. Now, I think if we get that process moving again, then it will be important to be able to say to people in the Gaza, who are suffering, ordinarily people, look, there is a way that you can be reconciled with the West Bank on the Palestinian side, and we can move forward together.
But I think we're not to that stage yet. So it has to be handled with immense amount of care. It's a very delicate, difficult situation. But let's be very clear, no one disputes that Hamas won that election. But if they want our help, then the terms upon which we can help are terms that accept the existence of Israel as well as the existence of the Palestinian state.
BLITZER: Prime Minister, I want to take a quick break, but we have more to talk about, the effort to try to revive the Israeli/Palestinian peace process. But I'll also ask the prime minister about Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. Will they be invited, and should they attend this conference in Annapolis, Maryland? That's coming up.
Also, we'll get perspective on the crisis involving Pakistan. A journalist with very close ties to the former Pakistani prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, Arnaud de Borchgrave, he's standing by to join us live with his thoughts on what's going on.
You're watching "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition." I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting from Washington.
Coming up later this hour, special insight into what's happening inside Pakistan with the state of emergency. But right now we're continuing our conversation on the Israeli/Palestinian crisis with the special Middle East peace representative, the former British prime minister, Tony Blair. Let me read, Prime Minister, from a Chicago Tribune editorial on October 16th: "But this won't get done with the U.S. alone playing matchmaker. All the Arab states that have urged such a solution need to step forward and at least attend the conference. Well-placed nudges from European capitols would help, too."
Will Saudi Arabia, for example, a major player in the Middle East, participate in the upcoming Annapolis conference on the Israel/Palestinian peace process?
BLAIR: I think the Saudi position is absolutely clear that they'll participate if they think there's real substance to it, in other words if they think that a way that as a result of the conference, we can see our path toward the two-state solution.
And after all, the Saudis themselves put forward the plan with -- King Abdullah put forward several years ago, which is the two-state solution. So, I don't think there's a problem actually with the Arab states coming behind this process, provided, of course, that it's substantial. Provided it offers a real and proper way forward.
That's where I think it all comes back to the same thing. And I think, you know, the editorial is right in a way. And what we need to do is to have a situation where it is clear there is a political perspective that leads to two states, where the Palestinians are helped to build the institutions of statehood and where in the meantime we give some people some hope of prosperity by changing the facts on the ground and getting the economic projects going. You know, things like, for example, the development of the land around Jericho, which could be done, and Japan, for example, has agreed to come in and put a major set of projects there. There are industrial park projects. There is lots we can do in the meantime as we're sort the politics and the state-building out to get the thing moving. So, I think of all these things that are in the mix, I don't think there's a problem getting Arab countries to come behind it.
BLITZER: The Jerusalem Post in an editorial of its own on October 26th wrote this: "The greatest danger, however, is that Annapolis might be considered a substitute for, or become a distraction from, the overarching requirement for any peace process to have a chance: forcing Iran to back down."
How worried are you that Iran and its supporters in the region, whether Hezbollah or Hamas or Syria, for that matter, will play an undermining role in trying to derail what you're trying to achieve?
BLAIR: Well, again, to be frank, I don't think there is any doubt that those people who are hostile to reconciliation in the Middle East will try to play a spoiling role, whoever they may be. But that's all the more reason for us to make sure they don't succeed.
And as I say to people, pose this question: Do those people who are opposing us in the Middle East want us to succeed? Answer, no. What's our response? Succeed. And that's the way I think we should handle it. And, you know, the interesting thing, now I've been here some time and actually talking to ordinary Palestinians on the West Bank and in different parts of the Palestinian territory, they are desperate to get some proper hope for the future, for them, their families, for their communities.
They want the same as the rest of us. They want to be able to raise a family with some prospects of their children doing better than they did. I mean, it's as simple as that. Therefore, I don't think the people themselves want to carry on engaging in this conflict and violence and stand-off.
What they actually want is for us to give them the framework within which peace becomes a real possibility and they can get some hope for the future. You know, that is the best answer to the extremists, whether in Iran or anywhere else, who want to hold up the prospect of peace.
BLITZER: President Bush recently raised the specter of really a dire circumstance developing as a result of what he says Iran is up to. Listen to this little clip, Prime Minister.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: If you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. And I take this -- I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You're deeply involved in the Middle East right now. The specter of World War III erupting there, are you agreeing with the president on that?
BLAIR: Well, I think he's absolutely right that the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is a strategic threat for the whole of the region, which is why we should make sure it doesn't happen. But the way to do that is for the international community to take a strong and united position and to make sure that we lift the pressure points that, in a sense, Iran is applying around the region, whether it's in Lebanon or in Iraq or in this issue here, in the Israel/Palestine question.
And the best response to the extremism is systematically to take away the pressure points that they are using to try and exert, if you like, some support for the extremist message.
BLAIR: Now, we here in this dispute, if we're able to show there is a way forward, if we're able to get some credibility back in the process, if people on the Israeli and Palestinian side think, well, now I can see how this can work and how we could live side-by-side in peace and in two states, that is the best way that you can show those forces of extremism in the region that they're not going to win.
They will be defeated, not just by military means, but also by the strength of a peace process in which ordinary people are backing the politicians in taking the tough decisions for peace.
BLITZER: Last Sunday on this program, I interviewed the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, who made no secret of his concern about Israel's recent air strike against a suspected facility, nuclear facility in Syria. And he said Israel should not have done that. Listen to what else he said in that interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMED ELBARADEI, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY: To bomb first and then ask questions later, I think it undermines the system and it doesn't lead to any solution -- to any suspicion because we are the eyes and ears of the international community. It's only the agencies and inspectors who can go and verify the information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Do you want to comment on whether Israel did the right thing or the wrong thing in attacking that site?
BLAIR: Well, I'll certainly make the very obvious point that Israel, as I think we know, will do what it believes it needs to do to protect its security. But the best long-term security is to resolve the dispute in the region. That is the best way that we will provide security, not just for Israelis but for others within this region as well. And you know, over these last few months, I've had the opportunity to talk to many people on both sides of this dispute. I think if you pose to Israelis or Palestinians the question, do you want peace, based on two states, both of them would say yes. If you pose them the question, do you think you'll get it at the moment, both would say no.
Our task is to get them to answer that second question yes, that they have some faith back in the process. And in the end, that will be the best security, even when dealing with countries like Syria as well.
BLITZER: Well, on that last point, are you trying to revive Israeli-Syrian-Palestinian talks just as you're trying to revive Israeli/Palestinian peace talks?
BLAIR: Well, I think we have to wait a little for that. But on the other hand, there is absolutely no reason if people desire to have peace in this region that they can't have it. I mean after all, it's -- if you take the issue at the heart of the Israeli/Syrian dispute, which is the Golan Heights, it is not impossible to find a dispute (sic) to that, provided it's on the basis that everyone accepts Israel's right to exist and to have security.
So in the end, you know, if the -- the strange thing about this situation, Wolf, in a way, and this is in one sense makes it very different from the Northern Ireland peace process that I was involved in for many years, is that in that process it wasn't clear what the eventual solution was. But in this situation, it is clear. On every track. It is that Israel is allowed to exist and be sure of its security, and the states around it, including a Palestinian state, live in peace.
Now, if that solution is there and we all agree on it, I'm not saying the rest isn't immensely difficult, but it is. But it is essentially how do we get there? But the vision, the final outcome, if you like, is something that most sensible people can accept. So our task now is to get the thing going again, so that whatever the obstacles down the path to achieving that vision, we systematically, one-by-one remove the obstacles in that path and get them there.
BLITZER: Tony Blair is the former prime minister of Britain. He's now a special representative of the so-called quartet. Good luck, Prime Minister. A lot at stake in your effort right now.
BLAIR: Thank you very much, Wolf. Thanks.
BLITZER: And coming up next, a state of emergency in Pakistan. Is a key U.S. ally in the war on terror on the brink of collapse? We're going to talk with a veteran journalist with inside knowledge about what's going on right now. "Late Edition," we'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition." A grave situation unfolding in Pakistan right now, with the president, Pervez Musharraf, declaring a state of emergency, suspending the country's constitution and firing the chief justice of the Pakistani Supreme Court.
This is happening just days before the court was to decide whether President Musharraf's re-election was, in fact, valid. And there's word this morning from the Pakistani prime minister that any election could be as much as at least a year away.
It also follows the return from exile of Musharraf's political rival, the former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. Here with some special insight into what's happening in Pakistan is a reporter who's covered the story for a long time, Arnaud de Borchgrave. He's also with the Center for Strategic and International Studies here in Washington. Arnaud, thanks very much for coming in.
Just before President Musharraf declared the state of emergency, you were in e-mail communication with Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister. And she wrote to you this -- and I'll put it on the screen: "The fact that militants hold open meetings without fear of retaliation proves that the Musharraf regime is totally inept, unwilling or colluding in their expansion. Our rapprochement talks with Musharraf have foundered in the quicksand of his failing promises."
First of all, give us some context of what she's talking about and how worried you are right now about what's unfolding in Pakistan.
DE BORCHGRAVE: Well, what's unfolding is a failing state that is also one of the eight nuclear powers in the world, Wolf. This is the worst nightmare that anybody can think of. Doesn't mean that the nuclear weapons are going to be used by bad guys tomorrow against us among the terrorists, but there is that danger.
BLITZER: Right now the arsenal is controlled by the military.
DE BORCHGRAVE: The arsenal is controlled by the military, and the warheads are separated from the launchers in different parts of the country, which is their security system. But beyond that, I don't know how they're controlled.
What we do know is that two of the four provinces in Pakistan are controlled by people who are pro-Taliban and pro-Al Qaida. The Red Mosque in downtown Islamabad has been retaken by the bad guys, by the pro-Taliban people. We know that Osama bin Laden is -- has got almost a 50 percent approval rating in Pakistan out of 160 million people. And that Musharraf himself is in the single-digit approval.
BLITZER: But Musharraf is pro-west, pro-U.S. He's cooperated since 9/11 with the U.S. in the war on terror. So does he have a point in declaring this national emergency in order to deal with this terror threat with the Islamic fundamentalists?
DE BORCHGRAVE: I don't think so. I think he could have done that and returned to democracy at the same time with Benazir Bhutto, elections in January.
DE BORCHGRAVE: I think her party, the PPP, would have obtained a majority and she would have been the next prime minister. But there's something in the constitution that says you cannot serve as a prime minister more than twice, which she has done in the past, and that's why it was put in the constitution, to prevent her from coming back.
But, no, I don't see how democracy would prevent a return to sanity in that country. Right now, it is out of control. The military, as you know, have been defeated in the federally administered tribal areas, in the north, especially North Waziristan and South Waziristan. Several hundred soldiers were captured without a fight. I mean, this is a very bad situation.
BLITZER: But the stakes, for the U.S., right now, in that part of the world, given the nuclear arsenal, the terrorist potential, Al Qaida, Taliban, getting some real strength over there, are enormous.
What should -- you've been watching this situation unfold for many years. What should the U.S. be doing right now?
DE BORCHGRAVE: Well, right now, there's not much the U.S. can be doing, given the fact that we're hopelessly involved in the Middle East and in Iran and this is crisis number three.
There's not much the U.S. can do, given the fact that Musharraf...
BLITZER: So, does President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Gates simply throw their hands up in the air and say, Musharraf, do whatever you want?
DE BORCHGRAVE: No, absolutely not -- "Musharraf, return to democracy as quickly as possible."
Unfortunately, right now, the noises coming out of Islamabad is that elections will probably not be held for another year. That will be a very dangerous situation because, inside the military, don't assume that they're all pro-West or pro-the United States.
Quite the opposite, they've got a lot of hard-lining colonels and majors in the army who don't like what they've been ordered to do.
BLITZER: But what about Musharraf and his prime minister right now, Shaukat Aziz?
DE BORCHGRAVE: Well, they will stay in power, and... BLITZER: But they are pro-West and they're aligned with the U.S.
DE BORCHGRAVE: Yes, absolutely. But, in the West, there's a, sort of, apprehension about, can ISI, for instance...
BLITZER: The intelligence service.
DE BORCHGRAVE: The intelligence service -- can ISI derail the whole thing?
And I think they can. There are plenty of pro-Taliban and pro-Al Qaida people inside the Inter-Service Intelligence Agency. BLITZER: Another element, very worrisome, of the e-mail you got from Benazir Bhutto, which you shared with us, and I'll put this up on the screen as well.
They claim, in two years, they can push NATO out of Afghanistan and replace President Karzai with one of their own, betting that the U.S. will be caught up in presidential elections for one year and will take another one year for the new administration to settle in.
So what is she worried about, that elements in Pakistan will overthrow Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, and put some ally of Pakistan in control of Kabul?
DE BORCHGRAVE: Yes. Because ISI is still very active all over Afghanistan. And Taliban, as I just pointed out, and Al Qaida have virtually won against the Pakistani army on the border, which enables, of course, the ISI to repenetrate Afghanistan and in effect, turn against -- I mean, counteract India's influence, which has grown quite strong, in Afghanistan, in recent times.
BLITZER: A very, very dangerous situation unfolding right now, arguably, the most dangerous in the world. Would you say that?
DE BORCHGRAVE: Without any question. Just think of Pakistan as one of the eight nuclear powers and out of control.
BLITZER: Arnaud de Borchgrave, an old friend. Thanks for coming in.
DE BORCHGRAVE: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up next, Senators Arlen Specter and Dianne Feinstein. They're standing by, live, with their take on the troubles plaguing this important U.S. ally in the war on terror.
And you won't want to miss Nic Robertson and CNN's special investigations unit. They have a special report on Pakistan and where it fits into the war on terror. That airs tonight, in North America, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. You're watching "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition." I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Coming up in our next hour, conversations with a pair of presidential candidates, John McCain and Chris Dodd. That's coming up on "Late Edition."
But joining us right now with their take on what's unfolding in Pakistan and a lot more, two key members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
In Philadelphia, the panel's top Republican, the former chairman, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, and here in Washington, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. She's also a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Thanks to both of you for joining us. Senator Feinstein, let me start with what President Musharraf of Pakistan said yesterday, in explaining why he declared this national emergency in his country. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN: Pakistan comes first, and anyone else's considerations comes after that. I look at it from this point of view. Whatever I do is for Pakistan. And whatever anyone else thinks comes after Pakistan. With all my sincerity, whatever I'm doing is in the interest of Pakistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now, as you know, Senator Feinstein, a lot of analysts are suggesting it's in the interests of president Musharraf to be doing what he's doing, to keep his grip on power, to suspend the judiciary over there, the supreme court which was about to rule on whether his re-election was in fact legal.
What should the U.S. be doing about this right now?
FEINSTEIN: Well, the question is what can the U.S. do?
There's no question it's a major crisis. As I look at it, this next week is crucial. Will a peaceful situation be maintained?
Will there be extraordinary violence?
Will it lead to civil war within the country?
Is the military strong enough to withstand this?
I think the popularity of Al Qaida in the country, the fact that these two provinces have major Taliban and Al Qaida influence creates the perfect storm for him.
I was surprised that he overthrew the supreme court that's they're under house arrest, that he won't go forward with the election. But there's no question that this is a major crisis. And the fear, of course, is that the country disassembles, and therefore, its military power, namely its nuclear power, becomes a huge, huge risk.
BLITZER: What should the U.S., Senator Specter, be doing right now?
SPECTER: I think the United States should take the lead, with other world powers, in putting the maximum pressure on Musharraf to return a democracy.
I think it's not enough that Secretary Rice speaks out. I think the president has to speak out, and in more specific terms. We have bolstered Musharraf with billions of dollars in recent years, and military support, and we ought to be specific that it's not going to continue. And then, on the terrorism front, with Al Qaida and Taliban having control in provinces, we have to give some consideration to perhaps some unilateral action. That would be very strong. But have you those sanctuaries where they're posing a real threat to United States security.
BLITZER: Because the argument, Senator Specter, has often been made that, yes, President Musharraf may not be perfect and he's taking these draconian steps right now, but at least he's cooperating with the U.S. in the war on terror. He's pro-U.S.
BLITZER: He's been a reliable ally since 9/11. And to go ahead and suspend military assistance or economic assistance to Pakistan right now could lead to a whole worse scenario unfolding.
FEINSTEIN: That's right.
SPECTER: Yeah. It's hard to find a worse scenario, Wolf, than there is now. And more recently, he hasn't been cooperating with us in those provinces. He's been too weak to do it.
BLITZER: So, let me just make it clear, Senator Specter, because I want Senator Feinstein to weigh in as well. Right now, given what you know, if there were a vote that you would have to cast on appropriations, defense or economic assistance, to Pakistan right now, you'd be a "nay."
SPECTER: Absolutely not.
BLITZER: What do you mean? What would you do? You'd say...
SPECTER: I wouldn't support Pakistan with U.S. aid here. He's doing everything which is against democracy. Seizing the Supreme Court is just outlandish. What he's done is declared himself the dictator.
BLITZER: All right.
SPECTER: And he hasn't been helping us enough on terrorism, so that I think we ought to get very tough with him and try to drive him into line.
BLITZER: All right. Senator Feinstein, what do you think?
FEINSTEIN: I think before we get entangled in what could be another military operation, we ought to give this some thought. I mean, this is less than 48 hours old right now. It's true, it's a deteriorating situation. But to say that we should jump in militarily, I mean, we've got...
BLITZER: What about military aid...
FEINSTEIN: ... Afghanistan...
BLITZER: ... military assistance, appropriations? Are you ready to say how you would vote? FEINSTEIN: Look, I think you could put a moratorium on military assistance at this time. I think you can -- the president ought to come forward. He ought to call for the resumption of the Supreme Court. He ought to call for the elections next year. But I think we ought to keep our counsel.
It's one thing to talk with all of the nations. It's one thing to use diplomacy fully, which we have seldom done in recent years. It's another thing to say, look, we're going to jump in this thing militarily. I think that would be a big mistake.
BLITZER: There's a statement...
SPECTER: Wolf, Wolf, I...
BLITZER: There's a statement -- Senator Specter. Hold on, Senator Specter. I want to read to you a statement that a Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, released earlier today, saying, "The recent developments in Pakistan are unfortunate and the situation is being closely monitored. That being said, Pakistan is an important partner in fighting extremists and in the global war on terror. At this time, there is no change to our military coordination and collaboration."
Obviously, underscoring this alliance that has developed since 9/11, military to military, between the U.S. and Pakistan.
SPECTER: Well, I'm not about to suggest military intervention. But I'm not in favor of giving him a free pass, either. I don't think we can continue to support a Musharraf government which ousts the Supreme Court and which seizes dictatorial control and leads them in a path which is even more destructive and more against the U.S. and world interests, the interests of peace and fighting terrorism, than it is now.
I don't think we can sit back and twiddle our thumbs. I think we have to let Musharraf know exactly how we feel about it.
BLITZER: And what do you think?
FEINSTEIN: I don't think anybody's talking about sitting back and twiddling our thumbs. I think not to just jump explosively is important. To understand what all of the options are is important. At this stage, we don't know. At this stage, it is an imprecise situation. Nobody knows what's going to happen on the streets.
And I think what Musharraf is saying is that his first priority is to try to secure the country. Let's see whether he can do that or not. I don't like -- I don't think it's right for him to suspend the Supreme Court, to put justices under house arrest. And, you know, to say that to him I think is an important thing.
BLITZER: All right. Senator Feinstein, Senator Specter, both of you please stand by for a moment. We're going to take a quick break. Much more coming up with the two senators.
We're going to turn around and talk about the attorney general nominee, Michael Mukasey. Will he win confirmation in the U.S. Senate? Should he be the next attorney general of the United States? And later, two presidential candidates, John McCain and Chris Dodd. They'll weigh in on this and a lot more. "Late Edition" will be right back.
BLITZER: We're back on "Late Edition" with the Republican senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California.
Senator Feinstein, you're a member of the Judiciary Committee. So is Chuck Schumer from New York.
When you both announced on Friday you will support the confirmation of Michael Mukasey to be the next attorney general, that effectively guaranteed that he'll not only get out of the committee but eventually will be confirmed as the attorney general. Even though he's taking what some are calling a wishy-washy position on waterboarding or torture, why do you believe he should be confirmed?
FEINSTEIN: Well, first of all, because he is a bright, independent figure. Well-steeped in national security law, presided over some of those trials. In the 172 pages of written questions and answers, the independence of thought comes through.
He's not going to wear two hats like Gonzales did. He'll wear one hat, and that will be an independent attorney general for a department which right now, today, is in disarray. Twenty-three out of 93 U.S. attorneys are not filled with permanent confirmed U.S. attorneys. The 10 top positions are vacant.
What I believe this president would do if Mukasey was -- failed to be confirmed was put in an acting, also make recess appointments. That would bring about diminished transparency, diminished Congressional oversight and would not be for the benefit of the department. So this is a strong independent figure. I'd be happy to talk about my views on torture, if you want.
BLITZER: Let me bring back the ranking member of the judiciary committee, Senator Specter. Here was the exchange, Senator Specter, that the former judge, Michael Mukasey, had with your colleague, Sheldon Whitehouse. Listen to this exchange on this sensitive issue of waterboarding, which a lot of people believe is torture. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE, D-R.I.: Is waterboarding constitutional?
MICHAEL MUKASEY, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL CANDIDATE: I don't know what's involved in the technique. If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Now that answer was not satisfactory to the chairman of your committee, Patrick Leahy, who announced's he going to oppose the nomination. Listen to what Leahy said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK J. LEAHY, D-VT.: I don't believe he should be attorney general. It's not anything against him personally. It sends a signal to the rest of the world that the United States will not say waterboarding is torture and illegal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now, usually -- very often at least, you and Senator Leahy are on the same page. Are you on the same page as far as Mukasey is concerned right now?
SPECTER: I'm going to support him. I voted to declare waterboarding illegal. The Congress did not vote waterboarding illegal in the Military Commission Act.
SPECTER: And I think that Judge Mukasey went about as far as he could go, considering any declaration beyond that would put a lot of people in the administration at risk.
And he has said, in response to questions to -- from Senator Schumer, as reported, that, if Congress declares waterboarding to be torture, that the president will not have the authority, under Article II, to supersede that.
Now look here. He could have said a lot of things which would have given me more assurances. But he is intelligent; he's really learned in the law. He's strong, ethical, honest beyond any question. He's not an intimate of the president.
And you have to balance it off with where we are today. The Department of Justice is dysfunctional. It is not performing. And every day that passes, we do not have someone in charge of the investigation against terrorism, the fight against violent crime.
And it is very important, in the national interest, that we have a strong attorney general.
So I would have liked better assurances. And I think Congress ought to take a firm stand on waterboarding.
BLITZER: Well, let me ask Senator Feinstein, why not, if there's consensus in the Senate, pass legislation that would make waterboarding illegal?
Because, as you know, the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies believe there are those handful of cases, rare cases, where you need this; for example, a Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, an Al Qaida operative, to get timely information to stop terrorist attacks from occurring against Americans.
FEINSTEIN: Well, let me, first of all, say, I believe it is illegal. Under the Geneva Conventions, under...
BLITZER: Would you support a resolution barring it?
FEINSTEIN: Absolutely. Absolutely.
BLITZER: Because the Senate's had its chance.
FEINSTEIN: Let me...
BLITZER: The House has had its chance. They haven't done it.
FEINSTEIN: All right. Let me speak for a second. The Detainee Treatment Act specifically makes waterboarding illegal for all military use. It makes the field manual the document. And that prohibits waterboarding.
There is an exception, because the detainee act doesn't cover it, and that's the CIA. We should promptly pass a law which clearly places all military and nonmilitary personnel under the field manual.
There is legislation. Senator Kennedy has a piece. Senator Biden has a piece. I believe it should be added to the FISA bill which is now before the committee.
BLITZER: All right. Let me ask Senator Specter. Would you support that legislation, to bar the CIA from using waterboarding under any circumstances?
SPECTER: I would, and I did, in the Military Commissions Act, and it failed 53-46.
So we have to be very definitive about it, and hold Judge Mukasey to his commitment that that's an appropriate area for congressional action, and the president's Article II powers as commander in chief would not supersede it.
BLITZER: All right. Senator Specter, Senator Feinstein, I want to thank both of you for coming in on Sunday, here on "Late Edition." Thanks very much.
SPECTER: Nice to be with you. Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And we're going to have a lot more coming up, including a look at the race for the White House, with some of the best political team on television. "Late Edition" will continue, right after this.
BLITZER: Let's take a look and see what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines in the United States.
Time Magazine has "The Best Inventions of 2007."
Newsweek Magazine looks at Michael Bloomberg, "The Billion Dollar Wild Card."
And U.S. News and World Report takes a hard look at No Child Left Behind.
We'll have an update on the latest news out of Pakistan, right at the top of the hour. That's coming up. Also, much more coming up on two men who are running for president of the United States, John McCain and Chris Dodd.
Plus, Hillary Clinton's rivals, are they just piling on the Democratic front-runner?
We'll assess the race for the White House with some of the best political team on television. "Late Edition" continues right at the top of the hour.
BLITZER: This is "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk. Crunch time on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I believe I can outcampaign the other candidates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Republican presidential candidate John McCain discusses his run for the White House and more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DODD: I'm confident about where we can end up in Iowa and New Hampshire. I believe we'll prevail in these contests.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: A conversation with Democratic presidential candidate Chris Dodd. From Hillary Clinton's debate stumble to Mitt Romney's Iowa edge, we'll assess the week's developments with three of the best political team on television. The second hour of "Late Edition" begins right now.
Welcome back. In just a moment, my wide-open conversation with Senator John McCain. But first, the emergency situation unfolding in Pakistan appears to have become even worse this morning. So, for the latest let's go to Fredricka Whitfield at our update desk at the CNN Center. Fred?
WHITFIELD: And it's being measured in many different ways, Wolf. In Pakistan, hundreds of judges, lawyers and political activists have been arrested, all just one day after President General Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency and suspended the constitution. The prime minister this morning said that January's parliamentary elections could be delayed now up to a year.
A power grab, that's how opposition leader and former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto sees it. She says Musharraf acted out of fear the Supreme Court would rule invalid his recent re-election as president. Bhutto returned to Pakistan yesterday from a visit to Dubai.
And there were reactions this morning. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States would review financial aid to Pakistan in light of recent events. And the White House called the actions quote "disappointing," saying, quote, "President Musharraf needs to stand by his pledges to have free and fair elections in January."
And that now is the latest on Pakistan. We'll stay on top of that story, Wolf, and let you know if anything else breaks.
BLITZER: All right, Fred, thanks very much. And we'll get back to Fred as soon as more comes in.
Meanwhile, Senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain has never been known for evading tough questions about very sensitive issues. Right now here in Washington, there's the issue of torture and whether the former federal Judge Michael Mukasey should be confirmed as the next attorney general of the United States. I spoke to John McCain on Friday.
BLITZER: Senator McCain, thanks very much for joining us. Welcome back to "Late Edition."
MCCAIN: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's talk about Michael Mukasey's nomination to become the next attorney general of the United States. The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, says: "No American should need a classified briefing to determine whether waterboarding is torture."
And he says as a result, he is going to vote against his confirmation, even though only a few weeks ago he was glowing about this nominee. You say you're going to vote for the nomination, even though you are strongly opposed to torture, strongly opposed to waterboarding.
Explain to our viewers why.
MCCAIN: Well, first of all, I believe that presidents should have the right to appoint their nominee unless there is an overriding reason for them not to. The second thing is that in response to a question -- a written question, Mr. Mukasey said that he believes that the president does not have the authority to violate existing law concerning treatment of prisoners.
That means clearly that waterboarding is illegal. He also has said that he found -- finds waterboarding repugnant. And so Senator Graham and I have written him a letter saying then there is no doubt that once you get briefed then you will declare torture -- this waterboarding as torture and therefore in violation of the Detainee Treatment Act, the War Crimes Act, the Military Commissions Act, and Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.
And so I am confident that he will declare that practice illegal, and therefore I will vote to support his nomination.
BLITZER: Senator Kennedy, another member of the Judiciary Committee, says: "Waterboarding is torture, torture is unacceptable, period. If Michael Mukasey won't stand up to President Bush and tell him that, then he doesn't deserve to be attorney general."
But you yourself say waterboarding is -- there is no doubt about it, it is torture.
MCCAIN: It is torture. There's no doubt about it. Mr. Mukasey will get briefed on the specific procedures that are being used. And I have every anticipation that he will say that it's illegal and that it is torture.
There's no doubt about it being torture, Wolf. Pol Pot used it in acts of genocide. Burmese monks today are being afflicted by this terrible torture -- practice of torture. And it's a violation of the Geneva Conventions, of which we are signatories.
The question is, is my view, is whether as the attorney general of the United States, this nominee will not allow waterboarding. And I am confident he won't.
BLITZER: Because you know that there are those within the U.S. government, at the CIA and the intelligence community, who say they need this option on a handful of occasions. It's an extreme option, because they get very useful information. Supposedly they got useful information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other Al Qaida higher-ups.
And they don't want to completely forgo the option of using waterboarding. What do you say to them?
MCCAIN: Well, I say listen to Colin Powell. Listen to Jack Vessey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Listen to former military leaders who say that if we do that to people who are held captive, that when our servicemen and -women are in the custody of a foreign government or entity, then they will be subjected to the same thing.
Look, we're going to win this war the same way we won the Cold War, ideologically. And we have to have the moral high ground. The moral high ground is that we adhere to the Geneva Conventions.
And I say to those people, let's say you may, quote, "need" to do that, who have been watching Jack Bauer too often, that then you then should advocate that we withdraw from the Geneva Conventions, which specifically prohibit this kind of treatment of people who are being held prisoner. So there's no doubt about it. It's morally wrong and repugnant. There may be a one-in-a-million situation where that may -- something may have to be employed. If the president of the United States has to do that, I would take that responsibility.
But it is repugnant. It's hurting our image in the world very badly. BLITZER: Let's talk about Iran. The president raised the specter of all-out war the other day. And last Sunday on "Late Edition," I interviewed Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
And he had a very different assessment. I'm going to play both of those clips for you. Listen to this.
(INSERT VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: If you are interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having knowledge for making a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELBARADEI: I am very concerned about confrontation -- building confrontation, Wolf, because that would lead absolutely to a disaster. I see no military solution. The only durable solution is through negotiation and inspection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And Mohamed ElBaradei, Senator, went further in saying he hasn't any hard, credible evidence right now that Iran is, in fact, pursuing a nuclear weapon. What do you want to say on this? Because I know you are pretty strong in your conviction that the Iranians are building a nuclear bomb.
MCCAIN: I wonder if Mohamed ElBaradei knew that the Syrians were, with the help of North Korea -- according to published reports -- were building a facility that might be used -- would be used for the construction of nuclear weapons.
There's many times Mohamed ElBaradei and his organization have missed these activities, including one in North Korea some years ago. So, I respect his view and I respect him. The facts are that if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, the other countries in the region will acquire them as well.
If they acquire a nuclear weapon, they have dedicated themselves to the extermination of the state of Israel. That's their statement, not mine. They are, in the view of many other experts, within a couple of years of having enough fissile material and technological capability that they have passed the tipping point on acquisition of nuclear weapons. We need to get the Europeans, who they seem to be interested in joining us in meaningful sanctions, whether it be diplomatic trade, economic and others, and put enormous pressures on Iran.
But to think that Iran, one, is not moving forward with nuclear weapons, as they have bragged that they are, and to think that somehow they are not a threat to their neighborhood -- their neighbors and destabilizing, I think is a very different view of the Middle East than most of us have.
BLITZER: Well, as you...
MCCAIN: Iran cannot have nuclear weapons.
BLITZER: You know, the Iranians deny that their nuclear program is designed for nuclear weapons. They say it's for peaceful purposes. And in fairness to Mohamed ElBaradei, before the war in Iraq, he was rejecting this notion that the Iraqis under Saddam Hussein had revived their nuclear program in the face of statements about mushroom clouds coming from Condoleezza Rice and President Bush and others.
BLITZER: So on that specific, very narrow point of whether there was a nuclear weapons program under Saddam just before war, he turned out to be right.
MCCAIN: Well, he turned out to be right, and he is going to turn out to be wrong on this one, as he has been wrong on others. But look, I'm not interested in getting on McCain versus Mohamed ElBaradei.
The evidence is overwhelming that they are on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons. And that's accepted everywhere in the world. And I accept it as well.
They have expressed their determination to exterminate their neighbor. They are arming Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, as we speak. They have supported Hamas and other terrorist organizations.
There is no question about that, no matter what Mr. ElBaradei says.
BLITZER: Well, let me point...
MCCAIN: There is no question about what they are doing. And so, they are a state sponsor of terror. And that's agreed to by most people in the world. And that's my position. And you can quote to me all of the quotes you want to, but I have enough information, my own knowledge and background and information that they are supporting -- they are a nation of state-sponsored terror.
BLITZER: On the issue of the Israeli air strike against what was suspected to be some sort of nuclear facility in Syria, ElBaradei goes pretty far in -- on "Late Edition" last week, he said the Israelis had no business doing this; if they had evidence that there was some sort of nuclear program, they should have come to the IAEA; they should not, in his words, "take the law into their own hands." And he adds this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELBARADEI: They will bomb first and then ask questions later. I think it undermines the system and it doesn't lead to any solutions to any suspicion. Because we are the eyes and ears of the international community. It's only the agency, the inspectors who can go and verify the information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. That's tough words against Israel. What do you say?
MCCAIN: Sure. And they certainly shouldn't have hit the reactor in Iraq, according to him, and everything can be resolved peacefully. I'm not going to get into a contest with him, as I said.
This is my last response, no matter how many questions you have about Mr. ElBaradei. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism. They are supporting Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, who attacked Israel within the last several months.
There is very little doubt, if they acquire a nuclear weapon, they will probably be moved to give them to a terrorist organization.
I respect Mr. ElBaradei. I respect the job he is doing. But I also believe that the Iranians are of great threat to peace in the region. And they are exporting, as we speak, across the -- from Iran, into Iraq, the most lethal explosive devices that are killing young Americans.
That may not upset Mr. ElBaradei, but it upsets the heck out of me.
BLITZER: In just a moment, more of my conversation with Senator McCain. We'll turn to politics and how his come-from-behind campaign is doing right now.
"Late Edition" will continue right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition." I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Let's get more of my interview, now, with Senator John McCain and his uphill run for the White House.
All right. Let's talk about your race for the White House right now. You have got a new mailer, an ad in South Carolina in which the announcer says "McCain, the only conservative who can beat Senator Clinton."
And in fact, in a Quinnipiac University poll that just came out, a hypothetical race between Senator Clinton and Senator McCain, the answer is 44 percent for Clinton, 44 percent for McCain. Why do you think you can beat Hillary Clinton better than, let's say, a Rudy Giuliani or a Mitt Romney or a Fred Thompson?
MCCAIN: Well, I think I have the experience and the background and the credentials to debate Senator Clinton, whether it be her position on mandated health care for all Americans, or whether it be her vote to cut off funding for the troops in Iraq after we knew that they -- our troops would be there for a long time; for her continued condemnation of the surge, which is succeeding, something that is getting through to the American people, that we are succeeding and that the war is not lost, as she and Harry Reid and others have alleged.
And I think that I can debate those issues with her because I am a right-of-center, proud conservative, and she is a liberal. I respect Senator Clinton, and I respect her views. I just disagree with them and I look forward to the debate.
BLITZER: And in that mailer, it also says "McCain, a consistent 24-year pro-life voting record."
But a lot of conservatives are nervous, as you well, know, Senator McCain, about you. In the American Research Group poll in Iowa, in New Hampshire and South Carolina, right now, you come in third in New Hampshire; you come in fourth in Iowa and South Carolina.
Why are conservatives worried, at least some of them suggesting they're not convinced you're the best conservative to run as the Republican nominee?
MCCAIN: Well, Wolf, those polls have been going steadily upward while Fred Thompson and Giuliani and Romney have been going down. I'm pleased with the progress we have.
It's well-known that we had a significant problem last summer. The fact is that, since Labor Day and in the debates, which I have clearly won, and in campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina, that we've got a long way to go, but we are in the mix.
And I'm very pleased with the progress that we are making. And it's -- I believe I can out-campaign the other candidates. And I am also convinced that my experience and my background, to take on the challenge of radical Islamic extremism, warrants their consideration.
And I need no on-the-job training. And I think it's great to have been a mayor. I think it's great to have been a governor. I've been involved in national security issues for the last -- well, literally, all of my life in one way or another.
BLITZER: Is the fund-raising improving?
MCCAIN: Yes. Yes, it is.
BLITZER: Because there is some suggestion that you don't have enough money to compete with Romney, who has probably unlimited sums; he can put a lot of his own money into it; and Giuliani, who is doing a lot better, at least so far this year.
MCCAIN: Well, I have never won a campaign on money, but we have certainly sufficient money. We're up on television. And we're going to, hopefully, get more. And I'm very happy, as I say, with the way the campaign is run.
If it was just about money, as you said, Governor Romney can spend unlimited amounts of money. Other candidates have in the past, and they haven't won. And I think I can prevail this time, particularly, as you well know, Wolf, the type of campaigning in New Hampshire and South Carolina is retail politics. That's what people want, and in Iowa, the same way.
BLITZER: What about Iowa?
MCCAIN: It's very tough.
MCCAIN: As you know, I don't support ethanol subsidies. But we've got a good organization on the ground. We're gradually moving up. I will be there a lot between now and January the 3rd.
And so we've got a lot of work to do. We have got a lot work to do all over America. But again, I'm pleased at our forward progress and our upward progress. And I'm confident that we can do very well.
BLITZER: I'll let you get back to work. Senator McCain, thanks for joining us on "Late Edition."
MCCAIN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Up next, we'll turn from the Republican race for the White House to the Democratic race for the White House, and speak with Democratic presidential candidate Senator Chris Dodd.
Also, our panel coming up, part of the Emmy Award-winning best political team on television. A wide-open discussion of what was a pretty surprising week on the campaign trail. "Late Edition" will continue right after this.
BLITZER: Now to the Democratic race for the White House. The crisis in Pakistan and the battles among Democrats both came up in my interview with Senator Chris Dodd earlier this morning.
BLITZER: Senator Dodd, thanks very much for joining us. Let's get to the immediate crisis involving Pakistan. If you were president of the United States right now, what would you do?
DODD: Well, this is a tremendous problem here. And obviously, we've got to keep working with Musharraf. You know, I joining, obviously, others who are condemning this action here of declaring a state of emergency and suspending the constitution.
But this is a problem that was created by this administration. This was loading up Musharraf with too much for him to probably carry as a result of our sort of withdrawing from Afghanistan, or at least not putting the kind of emphasis on Afghanistan after 9/11 that we should have, deciding to have a war of choice in Iraq and placing all of our emphasis there, rather than providing the kind of support that was needed to really go after the epicenter of global terrorism, of certainly of Osama bin Laden.
So this is not surprising in some ways that this is occurring. And obviously our -- at this juncture here we've got to work with this. I've said, as I did the other night in the debate, that this is really the center of our major problems there -- a problem area for us in the region.
Pakistan poses some significant issues for us here. And the worst thing that could happen at this juncture is for us to have that country become one that's held in the hands of extremists, a fundamentalist state with obviously nuclear weapons capability.
BLITZER: Senator, would you start putting some pressure on President Musharraf, for example, by reducing U.S. military and/or economic assistance?
DODD: That is something you should consider. Obviously, at this point here, you need to make sure that the country is not going to fall apart. And so, working with him to find out how we can move from the position he has put himself in today to a more open process here that allows for possibly a coalition government to emerge here.
But we need a stable and strong Pakistan here. And again, I emphasize to you, Wolf, I think the mistake began some time ago when we decided we were going to engage in the war of choice in Iraq and not the war that needed to be waged more aggressively, and that is in Afghanistan, thus loading up Pakistan with greater responsibilities than I think General Musharraf was capable of handling.
Thus you reach the point where we did last evening, in a declaration of a state of emergency occurring. So I would emphasize all of those points here. But we had better do it aggressively. We had better start reshifting our emphasis here or we are going to find ourselves in a much larger problem that exists already.
BLITZER: And just when you think that whole region can't get more volatile, this crisis unfolds in Pakistan. Let's talk about Iran for a moment. Are you among those who believes, for example, like Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency who was here on "Late Edition" last Sunday, that only through diplomacy, only through non-violent means can this issue of Iran and its reported nuclear weapons program be resolved?
DODD: Well, I believe that's where the emphasis ought to be. And I think the best evidence of that is what has happened in North Korea. Obviously the administration for years resisted the idea of trying to resolve that matter diplomatically. Today we see that's beginning to work. We hope it succeeds. And I would join with those who emphasize that diplomacy is probably going to produce the best results in Iran for us.
But we are retreating from that approach almost daily, it seems here, by some of the aggressive talk, the drumbeating that is going on. The resolution that was adopted back on September 26th in the Senate, regretfully, was a huge mistake, in my view, and now is going to be used by those who are beating the drums of war within the administration to give them a justification for the use of military force in Iran. And I'm deeply, deeply concerned about that.
BLITZER: But you would not necessarily completely rule out the use of U.S. military force in order to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, would you?
DODD: I would not. I would not eliminate that option here. We've all said that. My problem is here with this administration is that they sort of lurch to that option every single time. And that's a great disappointment to me and one of greater concern all of the time. That's what that resolution on September 26th seems to invite.
And therefore I'm concerned about it. But I don't rule out the possibility that we have to use that option. But I believe it is -- we are capable of resolving this issue without going to that option.
BLITZER: Here is what the Democratic presidential front-runner, Hillary Clinton, said about it at the debate -- the Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I am not in favor of this rush for war, but I'm also not in favor of doing nothing. Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is in the forefront of that as they are in the sponsorship of terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Do you agree with her on that?
DODD: Well, again, I think, you know, listen, this is a -- the idea that we are going to -- that resolution pretty much excluded diplomacy and sanctions. That language was stripped out of that resolution. That language originally existed. It was taken out.
That is why Jim Webb and Dick Lugar and Chuck Hagel and myself and Joe Biden and only a handful of others objected to it here. That was a very bad resolution that I'm convinced we're going to see again and again by this administration.
So you are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts on these matters, Wolf. And that resolution I think was a dangerous one. I regret that it was adopted.
BLITZER: And you obviously are referring to the fact that Senator Clinton voted for that resolution.
DODD: That's correct. And I think that was a mistake. Look, you know, burn me once, your fault, burn me twice, my fault. I don't want to hear the words once again, "I wish I had known then what I know now," in a sense. What more do you need to know from this crowd and what their intentions are, in my view. I hope I'm wrong about that. But we need to learn from history here, and this administration, clearly in my view, at least key elements of it want to move in that direction. I think that's a huge mistake, and I do believe that you can resolve this issue with aggressive robust diplomacy. I think that could work.
BLITZER: Here is what the vice president, Dick Cheney, said this week about the war in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
U.S. VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: The big debate in Congress has been whether to cut off the mission in Iraq. These proposals rest on of two flawed premises. The first is that the war is over and by implication that America lost it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And specifically he and other administration officials are looking at these numbers showing U.S. military deaths in Iraq over the past several months. In May, 126; in June, 101; July, 79; 84 in August; down to 65 in September; 40 last month in October.
They're saying things are moving in the right direction, and give this strategy that General Petraeus has begun a little more time. Are you with them on that?
DODD: Not at all. And it's such a false premise here to make in a sense here. This was never about winning or losing this war. From the very beginning we said there was no military solution in Iraq, there was only a political one.
And then after the ouster of Saddam Hussein, the rationale was to create space for the political and religious elements in Iraq to reach reconciliation. It's now gone on endlessly it seems, and no indication that's occurring whatsoever.
DODD: In fact, this summer, during the surge period, the parliament took a month-long vacation. Despite the efforts of the president, the vice president, our military leaders, members of Congress, they are no closer to reconciliation today than they were several years ago.
So I don't believe this is working. And this policy has isolated us terribly.
Going back to your first question to me, Wolf, on Pakistan. Our ability to build the kind of international support for dealing with the Pakistani problem today has been limited because of our continued military presence in Iraq. We've done all we can do there. It's time to redeploy our troops out and begin to use those other tools in our arsenal to make a difference regionally in Iran, in Iraq, in Pakistan. This administration has made a colossal mess of all of this and put us at great risk.
In fact, General Petraeus, when asked by John Warner the very simple question, are we safer today, he said, I just don't know. In fact, I think he did answer it by suggesting we're not.
We're not safer. We're not more secure. We're more vulnerable. And we're a lot more isolated. This is dangerous. And the culpability rests with this administration.
BLITZER: Let's talk, in the minute or so we have left, a little bit about the political situation right now, your bid for the presidency. In the latest Quinnipiac University national poll, you're way at the bottom with 1 percent.
In the state polls, in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Senator, American Research Group numbers that were just released this week, you're at 2 percent in Iowa, 3 percent in New Hampshire, 1 percent South Carolina.
Fundraising has not been great, compared to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. What is motivating you, Senator, to keep on going?
DODD: Well, because, if history teaches you anything, Wolf, those numbers mean almost nothing. Four years ago, John Kerry was 19 points behind Howard Dean on December 23, and, two weeks later, became -- or, three weeks later, became the nominee of the party. This is about expectations. People are just beginning to really focus on this. Right now, we have been faced with a lot of celebrity, a lot of notoriety, a lot of money in all of this.
But people in Iowa and New Hampshire, where I think these first two contests that will occur, I think, are beginning to focus their attention, and historically -- and historically, decide in the end about who is best to lead, and make those decisions carefully and with patience.
About 80 percent of the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are truly undecided, based on all of the work we've done, the phone calling, the phone banking, the surveys that have been done. This is very open.
In fact, it's more wide open today, I think, than it even was a month ago. There's a great concern about electability. You don't get to govern if you don't elected. And there's deep concern about the ability of some of the leading candidates to be elected in November.
And people are paying a lot more attention to that issue right now than they were even a month or two ago. So I'm very confident about where we can end up in Iowa and New Hampshire. I believe we'll prevail in these contests and go on to win the nomination.
BLITZER: Senator Dodd, good luck to you. Thanks very much for joining us.
DODD: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And up next, our freewheeling discussion of all things political with three of the best political team on television.
And a reminder: On November 15, I'll be in Las Vegas, Nevada to moderate a debate in that key western state among the Democratic presidential candidates.
"Late Edition" continues, right after this.
BLITZER: It's been a very busy and surprising week in politics. So let's get right to it with CNN's senior political analysts Bill Schneider, one of our CNN contributors Amy Walter of the Hotline and CNN's White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.
She seemed, Bill, to stumble, Hillary Clinton, in that Democratic presidential debate. It was, really, a lot of the experts suggesting, the first serious mistake she may have made since this whole operation began.
SCHNEIDER: Well, it was her answer on the issue of illegal immigrants and whether they should get driver's licenses. And she seemed to indicate that she supported the idea but she didn't support Governor Spitzer's plan. And immediately, her opponents pounced on her and called it waffling, that she was evasive, that she's too cold and calculating and cautious and she wants to have it both ways. And so they saw a vulnerability there, immediately, and they jumped on it.
Let's listen to that vulnerability. We'll play that little clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Well, what Governor Spitzer is trying to do is fill the vacuum left by the failure of this administration to bring about comprehensive immigration reform.
I just want to add, I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So the accusation was she was speaking out of both sides of her mouth.
MALVEAUX: This is something that they've been waiting for, both of these camps, for quite some time, to be able to open up, particularly when you saw Senator Edwards jump on her with this.
We have seen, in this past week or so, all of the ads, all of the interviews, just really going for it. And I haven't even heard this, kind of, harsh language before, but, really, the rhetoric has jumped up significantly, when you look at the language that Obama's using; Edwards, when they're talking about double-speak and referring to her in these ways that really suggest that she doesn't have integrity, that she's not honest.
BLITZER: And you know, Amy, and she referred to that, suggesting, when she went back to her alma mater, at Wellesley, an all women's college, that that, in effect, prepared her to deal with these kinds of issues. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: In so many ways, this all-women's college prepared me to compete in the all-boys club of presidential politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So what do you think?
WALTER: Well, the real question, in my mind -- there's no doubt that the vulnerability was exposed. Whether her opponents can actually take advantage of it is really the question.
So she's opened up this tremendous lead in the national polls, built, in large part, on, being at Wellesley, her support among women, which I don't think that, at this point, any of her opponents have been able to knock her off into that.
The only poll that I saw, taken since this debate, Newsweek came out with a poll this weekend. She still doesn't look like it did any damage -- again, at least, nationally in the polling.
But the problem, of course, when Obama and Edwards go on the attack, it raises their negatives; it opens them up to, then, charges that they may have done some of the same things, in terms of saying one thing and then changing their mind on that position.
But more importantly, what I'm going to be fascinated to see is, in this debate that you're hosting, whether the Hillary Clinton campaign decides to strike back.
BLITZER: Because she really didn't strike back as forcefully, Bill, in this debate as she could have. Let's play another clip from Senator Clinton. Listen to this.
All right. Well, we do have this clip, from Senator Edwards, who was lashing out at Senator Clinton. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I did is make it clear that, from my perspective, it's important for the next president of the United States to be honest and sincere, be trustworthy, given what's happened with Bush, over the last seven years. And there was a lot of double-speak in the campaign, political double-speak in the debate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. So he hasn't given up, by any means, and he's pounding away.
SCHNEIDER: He is pounding away. Ever hear of the word "triangulator?"
That's what they're trying to pin on Hillary Clinton, that, like another famous politician she's very close to, she is a triangulator; she's trying to split the difference on the issues. I'm not sure that's poisonous among Democrats. They like her husband. They like Bill Clinton. So I'm not sure it will have that big of an impact.
BLITZER: Here's what Kate Michelman, Suzanne, said on Saturday. She supports Edwards. She's an adviser to Senator Edwards. "It's trying to have it both ways, walk the fence, something Senator Clinton's good at, at one minute the strong woman read the lead, the next, she's the woman under attack, disingenuously playing the victim card as a means of trying to avoid giving honest, direct answers to legitimate questions."
BLITZER: So she's getting really attacked from a lot of quarters. Obviously on the -- among her Democratic rivals. The Republican rivals goes without saying. They're going after her as well.
MALVEAUX: And we also heard from Barack Obama when he was saying -- he alluded to it as well, that look, if he gets tough questions he is not going to say well, it's because I look different than the rest of the candidates, essentially saying I'm not playing the race card here. But I think everybody is playing all cards that they have, essentially, that's on the table here, whether it's the gender card or the race card.
She came out afterwards, Clinton, saying that it's because I'm tough, because I'm winning that they are attacking me, which, by all accounts, I mean, that seems very accurate. But I think all of them are kind of playing it both ways.
BLITZER: Here is a memo her campaign released after the debate earlier in the week. Sadly, Senator Obama caved to the pressure of the pundits and fund-raisers who demanded that he go negative, and abandoned the "politics of hope" message that sparked so much interest in him early in the campaign. Meanwhile, Senator Edwards doubled down in his effort to become the guy best known for attacking other Democrats. Not to be outdone, the rest of the pack followed suit and piled on in the hope that they'd get some media attention."
If anything, the Clinton campaign, they have some smart strategists out there who know how to spin things in a certain direction. WALTER: And you know, really what it gets back to is this question because they're going to make -- the attack on Hillary Clinton really is one that is trying to, as we're all saying here, go -- it's less effective among Democrats as it is among independents, this idea that she's polarizing, that she's not as electable as she says she is.
The problem for somebody like Barack Obama, though, is that what's holding him back, we say there's a hurdle for Barack Obama right now, it's this idea that he's not experienced enough. And that that is what, if you're an undecided Democrat or sitting there wanting to make that choice, you're waiting for him to prove to you that he has the experience to take the job, by making the focus, again, on her vulnerabilities, he hasn't yet addressed his own. SCHNEIDER: Barack Obama has a real problem. He's got to show some fight. That's what Democrats actually like about Hillary Clinton, and they don't see that. They're tired of getting punched in the nose by the Republicans. They want somebody who's going to punch back.
But every time Barack Obama tries to get tough and tries to punch back, the other campaigns, especially Hillary Clinton's campaign, says, hey, what about his politics of hope and politics of aspiration? His inspirational campaign? Now he's going negative. It's hard to have it both ways.
WALTER: Well, and he never looks very comfortable doing it, either. And that's what we saw in the debate, that Edwards is much more comfortable.
BLITZER: Obama's not that comfortable doing it. What's amazing, and we'll take a quick break, is how consistent -- we have these poll of polls on a national level -- how consistent it's been with Hillary Clinton on top going back to March. And it really hasn't changed at all, all of these months. We'll see if this last debate had any impact here in November.
Pakistan was certainly a lot topic on most of the Sunday talk shows in the United States this morning. We're going to tell you what was said on our "in case you missed it" segment. Much more of our political panel coming up as well. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: More of our political panel in a moment. But now in case you missed it, let's check some of the highlights from the other Sunday morning talk shows here in the United States. On NBC and CBS, presidential candidates Fred Thompson and Joe Biden weighed in on the state of emergency in Pakistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED THOMPSON, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What he's doing, I'm afraid, is alienating those in that country who might be on the fence, who might be somewhat moderate, when he in effect declares martial law and suspends the constitution. He's working against his own interests perhaps. But again, he knows his own country, he knows those radical elements there, he knows that terrorists tried to kill Bhutto when she was there recently. And it's too early to be making broad pronouncements about that part of the world right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., D-DEL.: Musharraf has pretty firm control of the military. The military has pretty firm control of their nuclear arsenal. And right now what they have to the best of my knowledge, Bob, is they have their nuclear weapons and the delivery systems, that is the missiles, in separately. They are in separate places, guarded by their military. But what I worry about is that the total degeneration of that country and who know what will come out of the military as well if this thing gets out of hand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: On ABC, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards had some tough words about his rival, Senator Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARDS: She defends a system that doesn't work in Washington, D.C. She thinks it's fine to continue taking lobbyists' money, she thinks it's fine to be the biggest recipient of, you know, health insurance money, health industry money, defense money, et cetera. And she says she will be the agent for change. Well, I just don't think that's going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And on Fox the former president, George Herbert Walker Bush, had this observation about senator Clinton and all of the Democrats hoping to succeed his son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: She's a formidable opponent, and she's done very well in my view. Now, would I be for her? No.
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": The fact that...
BUSH: Would she be for the president? No. You know, I listen to these debates. Everything, George says everything wrong. The president, it's his fault. Tide's going out. His fault. He ought to keep it from going out. The fires, it's his fault. He ought to do something about that. And you know, every one of these people standing there on the debate when they didn't have an answer they go to the president, it's his fault. I get a little tired of that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Highlights from the other Sunday talk shows on "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk. Coming up, more of our political panel. We'll talk about McCain, Romney, the Republicans, what's going on, right after this.
BLITZER: We're back with our political panel, our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, and Amy Walter of The Hotline. Amy, listen to what Senator McCain told me earlier here on "Late Edition." Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I believe I can outcampaign the other candidates. I need no on-the-job training. I think it's great to have been a mayor, great to have been a governor. I've been involved in national security issues for the last -- well, literally all my life in one way or another.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, so can he come back? He really needs to do well in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Almost everybody realizes -- agrees he's not going to do that well in Iowa.
WALTER: Well, yeah, and it's not looking like he's doing that well in South Carolina now, either. Most recent polls that come out of there, he's in the single digits. So, the hope is that he does well enough in New Hampshire to give him some sort of bounce beyond that.
We all know what John McCain's problem, of course, is that he has a lack of money to be able to get him from point a to point b, and so could this bring money into the coffers. The interesting thing I think for John McCain right now is, in some ways he's best positioned, much better positioned than all of the other Republicans, if the debate among Democrats continues and if the media continues to focus on this sort of who's doing the political double-speak. Here's the straight talk express that theoretically could come out and make that contrast clear.
BLITZER: Mitt Romney, Bill, is doing well in Iowa and New Hampshire. You spent some time with him in Iowa this week. You were with the CNN Election Express. He's got a new ad also that's running. Let me play this little clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hillary Clinton wants to run the largest enterprise in the world. She hasn't run a corner store, she hasn't run a state, she hasn't run a city. She has never run anything, and the idea that she could learn to be president as an internship just doesn't make any sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now, he's spending a ton of money on commercials, on ads in Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina, and it's paying off in those states for him.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, it is. And it was a mystery to me. What has he got? What is his issue? What is his theme of this campaign that's catching on? Is it just that he's spending time and money?
And when I went there and I talked to people there -- I talked to Romney as well -- it's what he -- just what he talks about in the ad. His background is his issue. It's personal.
It's not an ideology or an issue. It's his business experience, the fact that was a successful businessman, he ran the Olympics, he governed a state that's not very friendly to Republicans. And he doesn't come from Washington.
That is McCain's problem. A lot of people think, vote for McCain and you're voting for a third term for George Bush.
MALVEAUX: And also, what really created a lot of buzz, of course, is how he said it when he said the internship, having an internship in the White House. A lot of people thought that they were really referring to kind of a slap to Hillary Clinton about the intern situation...
BLITZER: The former intern, Monica Lewinsky...
MALVEAUX: ... the former intern who we know about.
BLITZER: ... as many of us remember.
BLITZER: You want to make another point?
WALTER: Yeah. Well, you bring up a good point about, sort of, what is Mitt Romney's message here? And that seems to be something that he's still struggling with. If he's going to make it really a referendum on Mitt Romney and what my experience is, that's tough going up against somebody like Rudy Giuliani, who everybody know who is that is, so selling himself is hard.
And then he wants to be the consensus conservative candidate on the one hand, but he's also talking now about how he's the experienced candidate. There's nothing that seems to really be gelling around him. At the same time, he's spending enough money to move himself up in the polls, but they're still so fluid that this thing could change, especially in New Hampshire and South Carolina. BLITZER: Newsweek magazine has Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, on the cover, the billion-dollar man, as he's called. He's worth a lot more than $1 billion, but he could theoretically spend a billion if he wanted to run as a third-party candidate. I spent some time with him in "The Situation Room" this week, and I tried to pin him down, absolutely positively, Shermanesque would he run, would he not run. Here's a little bit of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: This country does not need another candidate, and I am not a candidate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: It was not exactly a Shermanesque statement. What do you think? Because if he decided to run as a third-party candidate next year, he certainly could self-finance it.
SCHNEIDER: Yes. He could just write a check, and that would be the end of it. There is an opening for a third-party candidate because there is so much anti-Washington feeling. It's tremendous now, as high as it was when the former President Bush was thrown out of office in 1992.
But he is exactly the opposite of Ross Perot. Ross Perot was a populist. Michael Bloomberg is an elitist. His whole message is, trust us, we know what we're doing. And in New York, he's doing pretty well. But how it would sell in the country would be quite different.
BLITZER: Let's wrap this up with a little clip from "Saturday Night Live" last night, because it was very cute. Let's watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.: Hello Hillary. Hello, Bill.
DARRELL HAMMOND, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE," AS FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Nice to see you.
AMY POEHLER, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE," AS U.S. SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON: Nice to see you, Barack. So you dressed as yourself.
OBAMA: Well, you know, Hillary, I have nothing to hide. I enjoy being myself. I'm not here to change who I am just because it's Halloween.
POEHLER/H. CLINTON: Well, that's great.
OBAMA: And may I say you make a lovely bride.
HAMMOND/B. CLINTON: She's a witch.
OBAMA: Live from New York, it's Saturday night!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Yeah, he's got maybe a future if the political thing doesn't work out. He could dance on Ellen's show and he could do a little acting on "Saturday Night Live."
MALVEAUX: Well, anchors are getting into the business of comedy as well, as you know, Wolf.
BLITZER: That's right. Brian Williams I thought did well last night. Guys, thanks very much. We have to leave it right there. Now you know why they are part of the award-winning -- Emmy Award-winning best political team on television.
If you'd like a recap of today's program, you can get highlights on our "Late Edition" podcast. Simply go to cnn.com/podcast.
And coming up at the top of the hour, a live report on the latest on the situation unfolding in Pakistan. And then for our North American viewers, "This Week at War" with host Tom Foreman. We'll be right back.
TOM FOREMAN, HOST, "THIS WEEK AT WAR": In Iraq, the numbers look good now. Military casualties down, civilian casualties down. But in the streets and alleys, soldiers are still fighting and dying, and this war is far from over. We'll give you the real picture on "This Week at War" right after a look at what's in the news right now.
BLITZER: For our international viewers, "World News" starts right now. For our North American viewers, "This Week at War" with Tom Foreman.
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