Return to Transcripts main page
The Situation Room
Immigration Bill Killed; Supreme Court Rules on Role of Race in School Assignments
Aired June 28, 2007 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, the Senate drives a stake through the immigration reform bill. It's a major blow to one of President Bush's biggest legislative wishes.
Does it signal the deepening of a lame duck presidency?
We're watching the story.
Also, it might affect where your child goes to school. A U.S. Supreme Court decision some are applauding, but others suggesting has brought "shame" to the Court.
And it's dinnertime for millions of Americans.
Might the fish you eat be dangerous to your health?
The federal government has a new and important alert that's just come out. We'll tell you what it says.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
He stakes his prestige on it, battled with members of his own party on it, but in the end, President Bush's efforts for an immigration reform bill fell short. He needed several more votes. He couldn't get those votes. As a result, the bill faced a crushing death today, partly dealt by the hands of some fellow Republicans.
Let's go to our White House correspondent, Elaine Quijano.
She's watching this story for us.
It's a very tough moment for the president right now in terms of his dealings with Congress.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. Absolutely. A very difficult moment for this White House. You know, President Bush has said in the past he intends to sprint to the finish line in his second term. Well, today, there were several reminders of an altogether different political reality.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
QUIJANO (voice-over): The disappointment was written on his face.
GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn't find common ground. It didn't work.
QUIJANO: Just weeks after boldly throwing his remaining political capital behind immigration reform...
BUSH: And I believe we can get it done. I'll see you at the bill signing.
QUIJANO: ... only 12 Republicans took the president's side amid GOP criticism the bill amounted to amnesty. The vote marked a painful defeat for President Bush on what was to have been his signature domestic initiative.
BUSH: I thank you for your time.
QUIJANO: The president also clashed with lawmakers looking into the dismissals of federal prosecutors. Mr. Bush exerted executive privilege for just the second time in his presidency, rejecting lawmakers' demands for documents and setting the stage for a possible constitutional showdown with Congress. The White House accusing Democrats of "grossly overreaching." And the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee accusing the president of "Nixonian stonewalling."
But the president is also facing a bipartisan backlash on Iraq. At Rhode Island's Naval War College, President Bush tried countering a growing chorus of GOP doubts.
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R), INDIANA: A course change should happen now.
QUIJANO: Pushing back against recent criticism from Republican Senator Richard Lugar that the so-called surge is not working.
BUSH: It's a well conceived plan by smart military people and we owe them the time and we owe them the support they need to succeed.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
QUIJANO: Now, there was a potential bright spot for the Bush administration. The Supreme Court ruled today that race cannot be a factor in assigning children to public schools. And the conservative majority that made the decision was, of course, partly shaped by President Bush, a mark, Wolf, of one of his legacies -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Elaine, at the White House.
Some are hailing it as the right thing to do. Other say it's brought shame to the Supreme Court.
Today, as Elaine just noted, the Court issued what will likely be a landmark decision, one that some say threatens the historic decision a half century ago that outlawed racial segregation in schools.
Our Brian Todd is over at the Supreme Court.
He's standing by -- Brian, this is a very contentious ending to the court's term.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf.
The Court very sharply divided along political and even personal lines. Experts say the decision handed down today could define for decades how school system deal with the question of race.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
TODD (voice-over): For years, students like Howard Brim have benefited from Louisville, Kentucky's controversial school choice program.
HOWARD BRIM, BALLARD HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Ballard High School has a much higher educational standard than my home school.
TODD: But the Supreme Court strikes down the plan that helped Howard get into Ballard High, ruling that Louisville's method, and one in Seattle, are unconstitutional, because when popular schools start to fill up, they use race as a key factor in deciding who gets in and who doesn't.
Chief Justice John Roberts, for the 5-4 majority: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."
Parents of different races joined in lawsuits to stop these plans and believe the courts made the playing field a little more even.
DEBORAH STALLWORTH, PLAINTIFF: I agree with integration, but not at the cost of my child's education.
TODD: Those who had favored race-based admissions see ominous clouds building. Justice Stephen Breyer, his voice halting with emotion, says in dissent: "This is a decision the Court and the nation will come to regret."
Others believe this rolls back gains made by the Court's historic "Brown v. Board of Education" ruling in 1954, ending school segregation.
THEODORE SHAW, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: If the result is that schools resegregate even more quickly and more profoundly, then what we are facing is not only racially separate, but financially unequal schools.
TODD: Analysts say this is part of the Court's ongoing struggle with race in schools, with the balance now tipped to the conservative majority.
EDWARD LAZARUS, AUTHOR, "CLOSED CHAMBERS": Over time, they've tightened and tightened and tightened the rules and made it more and more difficult for schools to use affirmative action. And I think today's decision walks right up to the water's edge of saying never.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TODD: So what will public school choice programs do now to make close calls on admissions?
Well, experts say they're going to have to use factors like neighborhood geography, economic situations, other factors. But if they're going to use race, they're going to have to be very, very careful -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I take it, Brian, it got sort of contentious inside there?
TODD: It really did. On a personal note, it was very striking. Experts say that this is more personal than it's been in decades because the liberal and conservative wings on the court are so sharply split.
Justice Stephen Breyer, when he read his dissent today, very emotional. He made a comment that many observers believe was directed right at new Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito. He said: "Rarely in the history of the law have so few undone so much so quickly."
Observers say that got a visible react from Alito and Roberts.
BLITZER: Tough words from Justice Breyer.
Thanks, Brian, for that.
Let's go to Jack Cafferty once again in New York for The Cafferty File.
Major decisions at the Supreme Court. You can say what you want about George W. Bush, but his legacy for the next 20, 30, 40 years, maybe, is going to be felt on that bench.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, and if -- if something would happen and he would name one more conservative justice to the Court before his term expires, the -- the footprint might last even longer.
You may want to make a note of the date because it doesn't happen often. Once in a blue moon, our government actually listens to the voice of the people. And it happened today when the U.S. Senate handed President Bush a huge defeat on the issue of amnesty for illegal aliens.
It wasn't so long ago, you remember, the president was full of optimism -- I think when he was meeting with the president of Bulgaria. He was saying that he was going to get that immigration bill through Congress and he said: "I'll see you at the bill signing."
Well, there ain't going to be one.
Today, the Senate effectively killed the immigration bill, coming up 14 votes short of the 60 needed to move it forward. And in the end, ironically, it was conservative Republicans that led the opposition. They said over and over that the government has to secure the border before giving amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. And that's exactly what the people in this country have been saying for a very long time.
Senators in both parties say this issue is so volatile now that they're unlikely to visit it again any time soon, especially with the 2008 election getting closer.
Remaining undecided, of course, is the question of what happens now to the millions of illegal aliens in this country, estimated, in some cases, as high as 20 million?
What happens to our borders that still aren't secure almost six years after the attacks of 9/11, despite all the talk and all the money being spent in the war on terror?
Here's the question -- now that amnesty for illegal aliens is dead, what should the government do about illegal immigration?
E-mail email@example.com or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile.
This failure on immigration will also be part of that legacy, as will the failure to reform Social Security, as will the rather dismal undergoings in Iraq, this war that he started. So, he's got a bunch of stuff that will be in the books.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you for that.
Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, if you love catfish, eel, shrimp, other fish -- beware. Some of it may -- repeat -- may be dangerous for you. The government is announcing some new worries. We'll tell you specifically what's going on.
Also, when is the vice president part of the executive branch of the government and when is he not?
One important Congressman wants to withhold money for Dick Cheney and his office until it's all sorted out.
And major asset or major baggage -- just how valuable is Bill Clinton to his wife and her campaign?
The answer depends on which presidential candidate you support.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Let's get some more now on one of our top stories, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that public schools cannot -- repeat -- not consider race in deciding which schools children attend.
Our senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin, was in the Supreme Court chambers for the announcement of the opinions and the decision.
He's joining us now.
What do you suspect the long-term legal fallout from this decision is going to be, practically speaking, on public schools across the country?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Big, Wolf.
I mean, that was really what was at stake. You know, at the end of a Supreme Court term, emotions often get kind of ragged. The justices are tired. I counted five justices who looked like they needed haircuts today. I mean they had been -- they have been working very hard.
And Stephen Breyer, you know, who is kind of the Mr. Congeniality of the Court, was so angry, his voice was practically breaking as he read his dissenting opinion. And this isn't really just about whether school boards can consider race. This is about whether affirmative action can exist at all, whether the use of race is permissible.
It was just 2003 when Justice O'Connor wrote her famous opinion in the University of Michigan case saying, yes, race can be considered.
But today's decision may be the beginning of the end of that.
BLITZER: Justice Breyer, as we reported earlier, he said "Rarely in the history of the law have so few undone so much so quickly."
What is he suggesting that we're going to go back to the bad old days of segregation?
TOOBIN: And he's suggesting that it's because of Roberts and Alito. When Stephen Breyer said that -- which is an unusually personal attack -- you could see the chief's justice's jaw muscles starting to vibrate a little. Justice Alito, who's a very kind of low key presence on the Court, sort of turned across the bench and looked at Breyer as he said that.
That's something justices don't say about each other very often. But this is the end of a term where the conservative majority reversed or cut back on a lot of precedents that the court thought were fairly stable. And Breyer was pissed.
BLITZER: And this was a 5-4 decision.
So what I hear you saying, if Sandra Day O'Connor was still on that court, it might have been a 5-4 decision going the other way.
TOOBIN: Absolutely. And, on the abortion case O'Connor was with the other side. And on the church/state issue. And on campaign finance. All of these 5-4 decisions in the past couple of months have flipped because Alito is more conservative than O'Connor. Simple as that. A big impact.
BLITZER: And in terms of the practical impact on a -- let's say there's a school district right now, there's a magnet school. A lot of kids would like to attend this magnet school. The education, presumably, is a lot better, maybe some of the facilities are a lot better.
What does this mean in terms of trying to have a diverse student body -- races and ethnic mixture?
TOOBIN: It means a big difference because in many magnet schools, one of the factors a school takes into consideration is well, we want to preserve some racial balance in this school. We will accept a certain number of minority kids to make sure this isn't an all-white school.
What today means, they can't use race. They have to use some other measure.
BLITZER: Academic standards, if you will?
TOOBIN: Academic standards, whether you have a sibling in the class, whether you live near the school, whether -- economics. I mean that's something you may start to see, that they will -- they will ask economic data on -- on families. Families tend not to want to provide that, but it does seem permissible that they could use affirmative action on the basis of class. But race seems to be out.
BLITZER: And even though this decision involved only two cities, what, Louisville and Seattle...
BLITZER: ... it's going to immediately have fallout all across the country?
TOOBIN: Every school in the country that uses race as a factor in anything will have to look at this decision. And many of them, I think, will have to say, look, we can't do it anymore.
BLITZER: Jeff Toobin, thanks very much.
An important day here in Washington.
Meanwhile, House Democrats have thrown down the gauntlet to Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney's office isn't cooperating with Congressional requests for specific information, so Congress may vote this hour, in essence, to cut off part of the vice president's allowance.
Let's go to Jeanne Meserve.
She's watching this story.
What is this all about -- Jeanne? JEANNE MESERVE, HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the issue is whether Vice President Cheney's office has to comply with an executive order examining how it handles classified documents.
Lawyers for the vice president first said no, they didn't have to; as president of the Senate, he is not part of the executive branch.
But now they have a different reason. Cheney, like the president, they say, isn't covered by the order.
Congressman Rahm Emanuel doesn't like either explanation. So to put on a little pressure, he introduced an amendment withholding almost $5 million in funding for the vice president's residence, vehicles and entertainment. The debate today over the vice president, his shifting rationales and the amendment was fast, furious and kind of fun.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RAHM EMANUEL, (D), ILLINOIS: At every step of the way, he has chosen secrecy over sunshine, obstruction over accountability.
REP. ROY BLUNT (R-MO), MINORITY WHIP: This amendment is an amendment in search of a press release. In fact, let me take that back. This -- actually, this amendment is an amendment that's following a press release.
REP. ROBERT ANDREWS (D), NEW JERSEY: Everybody -- everybody in our system is accountable. It doesn't matter what you call yourself. It doesn't matter how you define yourself.
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: This is a raw grab for power to de-fund an essential constitutional office. And it is wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: Issa said he would be ashamed if the amendment passed. We don't know yet if he'll have to hang his head, but the final vote on the amendment is expected shortly -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And we'll bring it to our viewers as soon as we get the outcome.
Thanks very much, Jeanne, for that.
Coming up, in Iraq, who is causing more chaos and carnage? Would it be the insurgents or would it be Al Qaeda?
Michael Ware is standing by in Baghdad.
Also, his movie is getting a lot of talk and it hasn't even been released nationwide yet. But just how exact is Michael Moore's "Sicko" when it comes to health care in Cuba?
We're doing a fact check on the ground, not only in Havana, but the rest of Cuba, as well.
We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Bombings, bodies and beheadings -- Iraq exploding with violence right now. Bombs and mortar rounds killing at least 28 people in Baghdad. Police found 15 bullet-riddled bodies across the capital and they're investigating the reported discovery of 20 decapitated bodies near Baghdad.
All this comes amid a stepped-up effort by coalition forces to try to halt the violence.
And joining us now, our correspondent in Baghdad, Michael Ware -- Michael, this new military strategy that's been unfolding over the past few months in Iraq, is it primarily at the old line Iraqi insurgents, the Sunni militia groups, the Saddam loyalists, if you will, or Al Qaeda, the so-called foreign fighters and Iraqis who are part of Al Qaeda, that threat there?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, to be honest, Wolf, it's all of them wrapped up into one hideous bundle. I mean the point of the surge is not to target one particular enemy of the many that America has in this country. It's essentially to bring stability.
Now, if that means killing Al Qaeda or if that means marginalizing the Shia militias, which own this government, then the surge is meant to blunt all of these factors. Basically, the surge is hoping to just stop as many people dying on the streets of Baghdad as it possibly can. Yet already this month, we see 540 tortured or bullet-riddled bodies showing up in Iraq in the mornings and being collected by the government officials.
We still see the spectacular suicide bombings punching through here into the capital and also into other parts of the country.
So there's no one single focus. It's only hope is to bring some modicum of stability, to give this ramshackle throw together of disparate militias that the administration insists on calling the Iraqi government, a moment to breathe.
BLITZER: Michael Ware reporting from Baghdad.
General David Petraeus, by the way, the top military commander in Iraq, is promising to give an honest assessment of the situation there when he reports to Congress in September. This is what General Petraeus says: "We are going back to present the truth, to provide a forthright comprehensive assessment of the situation at the time."
Let's check back with Carol Costello.
She's monitoring stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- hi, Carol. CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
The House is defying a White House veto threat and moving forward on a bill to relax restrictions on agricultural trade with Cuba. Member approved by voice vote an amendment blocking the Treasury Department from enforcing a rule that limits agricultural sales to the communist nation. Republican Representative Jerry Moran of Kansas sponsored the measure. He says the current restriction is disruptive to the U.S. economy.
There is word that legendary opera diva Beverly Sills is gravely ill with lung cancer. Her publicist says the 78-year-old Sills has been hospitalized since Monday. At the height of her career, the red- haired Sills wowed fans worldwide with her sparkling soprano and her down to earth, unassuming personality. She later served as chairwoman of New York's Metropolitan Opera.
Sills, incidentally, has never smoked.
August is expected to be a busy month for space travel, so NASA has moved its next shuttle launch up two days, to August 7th. Mission managers are trying to avoid any conflict with the August launches of a robotic mission to Mars and a military communications satellite. The new launch date will give the Shuttle Endeavor and its crew more chances to liftoff without interfering with those other projects.
And in news affecting small business, the Federal Reserve is holding steady with interest rates. The Fed today decided to leave its key federal funds rate unchanged at 5-1/4 percent. The short-term Fed funds rate influences rates on consumer and corporate loans. This is the eighth consecutive meeting during which the Fed opted to leave the rates alone.
Back to you -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Carol, very much.
Coming up, a story you'll want to hear about before you eat fish any time soon. There are new worries over seafood. Some types may -- repeat -- may, be contaminated.
And a major asset to some, a political target to others -- does Bill Clinton's stature help or hurt his wife's campaign?
We're watching the story. Carl Bernstein standing by to join us.
Stay with us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, a wildfire on Maui. The fast-moving fire destroyed one home, forced the evacuation of several others and left about 300 people stranded on Hawaii's second largest island. The fire, pushed by 30 miles per hour winds, jumped a highway. No injuries are reported.
More rain, more evacuations and more misery in Central Texas, where flooding is blamed for 11 deaths in the past week -and-a-half. Dozens of homes and businesses are damaged or ruined. Flash flood warnings remain in effect.
And the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, is in Russia. He met today with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, at his retreat outside Moscow. Talks were to center around economic affairs and military cooperation.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Pet food laced with chemicals, tainted toothpaste and now fish containing medicines blocked from the U.S.
The list of contaminated imports from China is growing.
Let's turn to CNN's Carol Costello.
She's watching all of these alerts come in.
How concerned should we be -- Carol?
COSTELLO: Well, you know, Wolf, I wish I could give you a definitive answer. It is hard to say.
The FDA says it's banning seafood from China. But if you have it in your freezer, go ahead and pop it in the microwave.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
COSTELLO (voice-over): It's enough to knock the seafood lover right out of you. The FDA has issued an import alert on shrimp, catfish, eel, basa and dace shipped in from China.
DR. DAVID ACHESON, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: There is -- there is fish out there that most likely does contain these very low levels of drugs. What we're doing here is -- is preventing that from continuing.
COSTELLO: Chinese farmers use these drugs to reduce disease in fish, but their use is banned here in the United States. Scientists here say they have caused cancer in mice if consumed over a long period of time.
So what does this mean for humans?
Well, the FDA isn't sure, but says the levels of these antibiotics in the Chinese fish are so low, you should not worry about that fish already in your freezer.
ACHESON: The concern is really long-term exposure from some of the drugs in these types of seafood. It's not a short-term exposure issue. You don't need to worry about what is on your dinner table tonight.
COSTELLO: Yet, the FDA is now requiring Chinese importers to prove that their incoming fish are drug free by inviting an independent third party to conduct tests on the fish.
CAROLINE SMIT DEWAAL, CTR. FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: I think the FDA is taking the gamble that consumers don't generally eat enough seafood anyway. Our consumption of seafood products are quite low compared to other types of meat.
COSTELLO: The FDA has been wrestling with a number of Chinese imports. Take a look at what it has recalled from American store shelves in just the last few months. Everything from toothpaste to dog food to chicken feed. Consumer groups say it's time for the FDA to discover these problems before Chinese goods hit American soil.
DEWAAL: The FDA needs to have a comprehensive program for insuring the safety of imported foods. This includes not only checks at the border, but also checks in the country of origin.
COSTELLO: Now, if you are wondering how you can tell if the fish you are eating comes from China, well, the FDA does not require companies to label where the fish is coming from. The only way you can find out is to ask at the supermarket, or if you're eating at a restaurant, ask your server.
Back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Carol. Thanks for the update.
Carol Costello watching the story for us.
He feels he's helping diagnose a sick society. Michael Moore's film, "Sicko" tells what he says are horror stories; Americans getting sick, or even dying, because they can't afford quality health care. Moore compares the U.S. to countries that offer universal health care, including Cuba. But how exact are the comparisons? CNN's Morgan Neil is in Havana.
MORGAN NEIL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, in Moore's new movie, Cuba is painted as a sort of health care paradise compared to the United States. We took a look at just how the picture holds up.
NEIL (voice over): In Michael Moore's "Sicko" when a group of ailing 9/11 workers can't afford treatment in the U.S., they head to Cuba. First, to the U.S. base at Guantanamo. MICHAEL MOORE, FILM DIRECTOR: Permission to enter! I have three 9/11 workers. They just want some medical attention. The same kind that the evil-doers are getting.
NEIL: Turned away, the group then heads to Havana, where they're treated for lung and dental problems and sent on their way, free of charge.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the same kind of care we got here, the difference is, there's no bill.
NEIL: Is that really how it works? Just about.
(on camera): Actually, foreigners, or at least those of us not involved in making movies, we usually do have to pay for our care. And it's worth pointing out there are separate hospitals, like this one for non-Cubans.
Nevertheless, Moore's central point is valid. For Cubans, health care is universal and it is free.
(Voice over): And it's provided with a modest public health budget. How do they pull it off? Gail Reed, and American journalist who lives here co-produced a documentary on Cuba's health system.
GAIL REED, CO-PRODUCER, "SALUD": They concentrate on prevention. They concentrate on bring services closer to people's homes, so that the big ticket items don't really take up, don't sponge up all that small budget they have.
NEIL: Critics say Moore's picture of the Cuban health system doesn't show the conditions ordinary Cubans face. In this video posted on YouTube, Cuban-American film maker Lewis Mauro blasts Moore.
LEWIS MAURO, CUBAN-AMERICAN FILM PRODUCER: How dare you lie to the American people under the pretext of making a documentary.
NEIL: He then shows images he says show the real conditions in Cuban hospitals.
Health facilities are certainly rudimentary compared to the U.S. The government decides where doctors will work and how much they earn. Typically around $20 a month. Patients often supply their own sheets and their own food while in the hospital.
And some hospitals are in conditions that would appall most Americans, but Cuba's health care achievements are impressive. According to the World Health Organization, life expectancy on the island is 77.1 years, compared to 77.3 in the U.S.
And infant mortality rates are actually lower in Cuba. All of that while spending roughly 9 percent of what the U.S. spends on each citizen per year.
(END VIDEOTAPE) NEIL: As you can tell, anything involving Michael Moore -- or Cuba, for that matter -- sparks angry debate. And this latest movie is no exception -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Morgan. Morgan Neil, our man in Havana.
The president, today, had this to say about the Cuban leader. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One day, the good Lord will take Fidel Castro away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Asked whether the president was wishing Castro dead, the White House National Security Counsel spokesman, Gordon Johndroe said, and I'm quoting now, "The president was commenting on an inevitable event."
Tomorrow, you can hear directly from Michael Moore. He'll sit down for a one-on-one interview. He'll also be taking your phone call ones on "Larry King Live". Tomorrow night, 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.
Still ahead, Jack Cafferty is asking now that amnesty for illegal aliens is dead, what should the government do about illegal immigration? He's collecting your e-mails. He'll be joining us shortly.
Coming up next, the veteran journalist, and Hillary Clinton biographer, Carl Bernstein. He's standing by live. What does he think Bill Clinton's role will be in a possible Hillary Clinton presidency. I'll ask him. Stick around, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Former President Bill Clinton is being put to work in his wife's White House effort. Her campaign clearly considers him a huge asset, but political rivals are seizing on his presence as well. Let's got to Mary Snow. She's watching all of this unfold.
How does the former president, Mary, come into play on this whole issue of his wife's wanting to become president?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Bill Clinton is ramping up his supporting role in his wife's presidential campaign. Some say it can be both a plus, and a minus.
SNOW (voice over): He added star power to Hillary Clinton's "Sopranos" spoof campaign video.
BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How's the campaign going?
SNOW: Next week, another first: He plans to campaign alongside her in Iowa. As Bill Clinton becomes more visible in his wife's presidential campaign, her rivals are also elevating his status. Republican Rudy Giuliani, for one, targeted Bill Clinton over his handling of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The United States government, under then-President Clinton, did not respond. Bin laden declared war on us, we didn't hear it.
SNOW: The comments grabbed headlines. The Democratic National Committee shot back saying Giuliani's arrogance has gotten the best of him.
Giuliani later clarified, saying, he wasn't laying blame.
GIULIANI: I say, completely, that we shouldn't blame prior administrations. I don't think it's fair to blame people before September 11th.
SNOW: And it's not just Republicans injecting Bill Clinton's name on the campaign trail. Fellow Democrat Barack Obama brought up the former president while taking a jab at Hillary Clinton's experience.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The only person who would probably be prepared to be president on day one would be Bill Clinton, not Hillary Clinton.
STUART ROTHENBERG, THE ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: It's natural that the other candidates are going to either take a shot at him, particularly in the case of the Republicans. Or, in the case of Democrats, compare his performance, his readiness, his background with his wife's.
Some Clinton supporters say, though, there is one area where Bill Clinton can't be compared.
NOAH MAMET, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: He's the greatest surrogate in the history of political fundraising. I think any campaign would love to have him involved, at any level.
SNOW: But even as Bill Clinton appeals to donors in the final days of the second quarter, he admits opponents may raise more money. Hint: Barack Obama. It underscore the fierce competition in the 2008 race. As the former president gets pressed into service, strategists say the balancing act for is for him to not overshadow his wife.
SNOW: And just today, the Clinton campaign, touts President Clinton's role in a new message on its website, calling him a huge asset in this race. Now the campaign estimates that it has raised about $27 million this quarter. Still, it says it expects to be out- raised by the Obama campaign, which has not yet released and estimate -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Mary Snow watching the story. Thank you.
Joining us now is the journalist and author, Carl Bernstein. His latest best-selling book is entitled "A Woman In Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton."
Carl, it's good, as usual, to have you, here, with us in THE SITUATION ROOM. What do you think? Is Bill Clinton -- when all is said and done, an asset, or a liability, for her campaign?
CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST, AUTHOR: He's the biggest factor of all. And presumably, that means he's an asset, unless something untoward happens. And certainly no one in the Clinton campaign expects anything untoward to happen.
He's the greatest campaigner in modern political history. He's been the president. He's the elemental part of Hillary Clinton's process. He loves that she's running for president. He's the key adviser, the key decision maker, as he would be in the key adviser in the White House.
It would be a kind of co co-presidency if she were elected. They wouldn't call it that. He tried that once, and it didn't fly. But he would certainly be the great presence in the White House in terms of heft, advice, and also having a role, as she said, as a kind of ambassador at large.
BLITZER: But she's got to get to the White House first. As a strategist, how important is he? Everybody knows he's very talented out there. Do you think he's involved on a day-to-day basis in helping to plot strategy?
BERNSTEIN: Absolutely. I think he's the smartest strategist, probably, around; as well as the smartest campaigner on the ground. And one of the things -- I was listening to Giuliani there, for a minute, and it -- what he needs to remember here is, after the Bush presidency, the Clinton presidency looks awfully good to many, many Americans. He's held in great affection.
And he's definitely an asset in that regard. There's excitement about him. Also, we're talking about generous territory. We have never had a husband and wife running for president, after her husband has already been there. She's lived in the White House for eight years. She was an elemental part of that presidency. And by no means a successful part for a long time. Then her stature became enhanced toward the end of it.
So, there's a kind of almost soap opera drama to what we're seeing here that captivates people. I don't mean captivates in the sense of necessarily love it all, but they're fascinated by it. It has its own dynamic. We've never seen it.
BLITZER: You spent seven years researching this book. Tell us a little bit about the relationship that Bill and Hillary Clinton have. BERNSTEIN: Well, it's like any married couple. It's as complicated as can be, and only the two people in the relationship really know all of the truths about it. What we do know is -- and especially since I have been able to talk to so many people who have figured in their lives, and know them best.
This was a great love affair from the time they met. I think it's still a love affair. He thinks she's the brightest star in the constellation. Always has. Whatever his wanderings, or affairs have been, even to the point where at one point he wanted to leave the marriage, there's no question about that. I was able to find out about that. And then Hillary wanted him to stay in the marriage and wouldn't give him a pass, as Betsy Wright, Bill's chief of staff said to me, and they put it back together again.
BLITZER: How do they make sure, Carl, that he doesn't overshadow her, especially on the campaign trail?
BERNSTEIN: I think there's a natural dynamic at work here. She's the star right now. He's a different kind of star, but she's the candidate. No woman has attracted this kind of attention in our history. It's kind of a little bit Paris Hilton phenomenon, and meeting in the popular culture, and a little bit Eleanor Roosevelt phenomenon. It's a kind of crazy mix. So, it's totally unlike anything we have seen.
BLITZER: Would it be smart for the two of them to go out together on the campaign trail, or should he go separately, she go separately, and work their respective crowds.
BERNSTEIN: Let me tell you. I'm a pretty good journalist and I have written a biography that I really think finally tells us who this woman is, but I'm a lousy political adviser. You wouldn't hire me for 20 cents to advise a campaign on what to do.
I -- my guess is they will find times that they will be advantageous for the two of them to be together. And they will find probably more times where it's advantageous to be separate. I can't imagine there won't be times when we're going to see them together, and when we do, there's going to be pandemonium on one side, and there also is going to be from the other side -- particularly if she's the nominee -- we're going to hear a lot of references to there they go again.
And there are going to be reminders and placards and everything else about the Clinton circus, or whatever the Republicans care to call it. They're going to do every damn thing they can to paint the Clinton years as an abhorrent chapter in American political history. That's going to be harder after the disaster and catastrophe of the Bush years.
BLITZER: Carl Bernstein is the author of "A Woman In Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton". It's a best-selling book right now.
Carl, thanks, as usual, for coming in.
BERNSTEIN: Good to be here.
BLITZER: Lou Dobbs is getting ready for his show that begins right at the top of the hour.
Lou, I know you're going to tell us what's coming up. But give us your thoughts, a historic day today.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: Right.
BLITZER: The collapse of immigration reform; it's unlikely to come back. Next year, a presidential election year. Probably 2009 is the next time Congress is going to get around to dealing with this issue. How do you feel?
DOBBS: First, I feel gratified that the Senate did the right thing. I'm still just delighted that today -- you know, Senator Lindsey Graham, Wolf, said today that -- trying to warn his colleagues to vote for it. He said, remember this day if you vote, no. I think we should remember this day. Because this is the first day, going back many years in which I truly believe that the voice of the American people was heard in the United States Senate.
And this could be the beginning of an extremely important change in the direction of this country. I have to give great credit to those senators who voted against closure, who killed this bill, who rejected the lies, the deceit, the duplicity of the special interests, the ethnocentric special interests, corporate America.
The Senator Trent Lott, aligning with Senator Dianne Feinstein to berate and to castigate talk radio show hosts. I mean, my God, what a spectacle -- what a sorry spectacle for them. And their nonsense and their fear was just rejected by their colleagues and certainly by the American people. I think it's a wonderful, wonderful day.
BLITZER: Lou Dobbs going to have a lot more on the story coming up in about 12 minutes, at the top of the hour. Lou, thanks very much. We will be watching.
Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, is your place the place to be for many Americans? We're going to tell you what parts of the country more people are flocking to.
And coming up in the 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour, don't let it be you. Just before the 4th of July, officials are using objects that look like humans to warn you about fireworks. Jeanne Moos standing by. She'll take a closer look. A Moos unusual. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: This house is hot. I'm not talking about the weather. Census Bureau estimates show a sunbelt population surge, while New York City, L.A., Chicago, remain the three largest cities. Phoenix has passed Philadelphia to gain a spot in the top five behind Houston. McKinney, Texas, by the way had the largest percentage increase, nearly doubling in size since 2000. Four of the five cities in this category are in the southern half of the country.
Population losers, were the five cities with the largest percentage decreases are in the North, such as Detroit. But New Orleans lost more than half its residents after Hurricane Katrina.
Is your teenager safe from threats and harassment online? A new survey says there's a chance your child has been a victim of what's been called "cyberbullying". Let's bring in our Internet Reporter Jacki Schechner.
Jacki, what exactly is cyberbullying?
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Easy, Wolf, it's when one kid harasses another using interactive technology. It can be anything from setting up a mean website, to hijacking somebody's password and then setting up a profile that is not consistent with what they would do.
Now, this new study from the Pew Internet in American Life Project says that one third of teenagers report being cyberbullied at some point. They say girls are more susceptible than boys. And as are people who use social networking sites, like Myspace and Facebook.
But I spoke to Terry Aftak (ph) today, who is an Internet security expert, and she said actually the numbers are much higher than that. She says it's no less than 85 percent of teens who have been cyberbullied, at some point. Only 5 percent will actually report it to their parents, because they're afraid of consequences.
She said the goal here is to set rules. Parents should set rules for the kids and also that their kids should know what is happening online, Wolf.
BLITZER: Jacki, thank you for that.
Still ahead, let the eagle soar. There's major news regarding a bird that has long been on the list of endangered species.
And what should the government do now about illegal immigration? Jack Cafferty with your e-mail. All of that when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ASHCROFT, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL (SINGING): Let the mighty eagle soar --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The former Attorney General John Ashcroft singing his famous song, "Let The Eagle Soar". Well, today the federal government removed the American bald eagle from the endangered species list. There are now almost 10,000 mating pairs of bald eagles in the 48 contiguous states, where they were nearly extinct back in 1963. They will still be protected by state statue. A 1940 federal law making it illegal to kill a bald eagle.
Fortunately, they're back. Good for them. Jack Cafferty is back, as well.
We love those bald eagles, don't we, Jack?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: I have a question.
CAFFERTY: Would it have been possible to report the bald eagle story without being subjected to the John Ashcroft vocalization in --
BLITZER: He's got a beautiful voice, don't you think?
CAFFERTY: You didn't answer my question.
BLITZER: It would have been possible but it wouldn't have been as beautiful.
CAFFERTY: All right. The question this hour is, now that amnesty is dead for illegal aliens in this country, what should the government do about illegal immigration?
Larry in Kansas City, Missouri, "What should be done? That's easy. How about enforcing immigration laws currently on the books and see what happens. It just might work. It's worth a try.
Steve, "After today's vote on the immigration bill, say goodbye to the Republican Party. The Hispanic vote will definitely go to the Democratic side. This means it's a sure win for Hillary or Obama in 2008. Say bye-bye conservatives...today was the nail in your coffin."
Carolyn in York, Pennsylvania: "Dear Jack, a no-brainer. Build the fence." That's number one. "(Israel's looks good)," she says. "Two, enforce existing laws. Three, thank the American people who made their voices heard."
Kathy in New Mexico writes: "Now we should secure the boarders, punish businesses that hire illegal aliens, deport alien criminals and develop a plan to legalize aliens who have been here for the past 20 years."
Bruce in Anaheim, California: "Answer to your question is simple, secure the borders. That's what Americans want. And for the life of me, I cannot figure out why our elected officials refuse to do so." Sure you can, Bruce, just think about it.
Jaegan in Baltimore, Maryland: "Congress should do something. Or nothing. I'm not sure which is worse anymore."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to CNN.com/caffertyfile, where we post more of them online, along with video clips of the "Cafferty File".
BLITZER: We may want to post this online, too. On the "Cafferty File".
Listen to this, Jack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASHCROFT: Let the mighty eagle soar, only God, no other king ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You want more?
CAFFERTY: Could you cue up the Paris Hilton interview? I'd rather watch that.
BLITZER: We'll see you back here in an hour. That's it for us, we're in THE SITUATION ROOM weekdays. Let's go to Lou. He's in New York.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com