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The Situation Room

Ahmadinejad Speaks at Columbia University; Interview With Donald Trump

Aired September 24, 2007 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Kitty.
Happening now Iran's anti-American leader is greeting the United States with anger and insults. The president of Columbia University blasting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a petty and cruel dictator and President Ahmadinejad is firing right back.

Also tonight, Donald Trump, he's in a fight with the president in our one-on-one interview. You're going to find out why Donald Trump suggests Mr. Bush should simply go into a corner and hide.

And new predictions about Hillary Clinton's future from the current commander in chief. Are Republicans counting on Senator Clinton to help them keep the White House?

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

Terror sponsor and hatemonger, those are only some of the names tossed at the Iranian president. Now Mahmoud Ahmadinejad finally coming face to face with New Yorkers and a university president may have topped that with a blistering in-your-face introduction at an academic forum. At least that's how it was billed. But Ahmadinejad stood his ground today on many of the most contentious issues, including Iran's nuclear program. He also made some outrageous new claims.

Let's go live to CNN's Mary Snow. She's watching all of this on the campus at Columbia University, quite a scene out there today, Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really was, Wolf, tense at times, protesters outside. Columbia had come under such intense scrutiny for extending an invitation to Ahmadinejad. When time came for him to take the stage, Columbia University's president confronted him, and he confronted him harshly.


SNOW (voice-over): It was the kind of introduction you never hear for an invited guest.

LEE BOLLINGER, PRES. COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator.

SNOW: And there was more.

BOLLINGER: It is consistent with the idea that one should know thine enemies.

SNOW: And more.

BOLLINGER: Today I feel all the weight of the modern civilized world yearning to express the revulsion at what you stand for. I only wish I could do better. Thank you.


SNOW: Then it was the Iranian president's turn.

PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (through translator): In a text read by the due gentleman here, more than addressing me was an insult information and the knowledge of the audience here.

SNOW: The Iranian leader rambled for a time on science, and then went on to question the facts surrounding the holocaust. When pressed, he acknowledged it happened, but at the same time said more research was needed.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Given this historical event is a reality, we need to still question whether the Palestinian people should be paying for it or not. After all, it happened in Europe.

SNOW: But the moment that drew the biggest reaction came when Ahmadinejad was asked about the execution of gays in his country. To that, he replied...

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country.


AHMADINEJAD (through translator): We don't have that in our country.


AHMADINEJAD (through translator): In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who's told you that we have it.


SNOW: There were about 600 students at the event inside. But that, of course, doesn't capture the size of the audience this day. Outside the hall, Ahmadinejad's words were debated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me a chance to respond.


SNOW: Some students say they were happy to hear the Iranian leader. Others say all the attention just gave a sponsor of terrorism a walking advertisement.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SNOW: And, Wolf, on some other controversial issue, Ahmadinejad insisting that his country's nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes. And on the subject of women, he said that women in Iran enjoy the highest level of freedom. Wolf?

BLITZER: Mary Snow on the campus at Columbia University. Thanks very much. President Bush is also here in New York City this week. He's trying to steer as clear as possible from the Iranian president.

Let's go to our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. She's watching all of this, as she always does. What was the administration's reaction to president Ahmadinejad today?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president ignored him, basically, but the press secretary, Dana Perino, said, giving a very brief statement, President Bush thinks that the fact President Ahmadinejad is here speaking publicly shows how confident we are in our own democracy and values.

What they tried to do today is really minimize his impact here, at the same time maximize the attention by calling into question whether or not Iran really is giving up its nuclear ambitions. The problem Wolf that they have however is that they are trying to push not for the first or the second, but this is now the third U.N. Security Council resolution for tougher sanctions, and it's far from certain whether or not that's really going to happen.

BLITZER: Without the Russians or the Chinese...

MALVEAUX: Absolutely.

BLITZER: ... there is a real problem there. He doesn't want to pay attention to the Iranians. He does want to pay attention to several other important issues, including?

MALVEAUX: Well, the Middle East peace process, obviously. I mean, this is something that he met with the Palestinian leadership today. He also met with Tony Blair, who is now the Middle East peace envoy for this. It really is about trying to combat this image, if you will, of being a warmonger to somebody who is a peacemaker. It's far from clear whether or not he's really going to be able to pull that off, but it is all about legacy at this point.

BLITZER: We'll see what he can do this week. Thanks very much, Suzanne Malveaux in New York. It's that time of the year again when some of America's biggest foes jump at the chance to take off the gloves at the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

Let's go to our State Department correspondent Zain Verjee. Zain?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the U.N. is usually considered pretty dry diplo-speak, but sometime world leaders throw curve balls or insults.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) VERJEE (voice-over): Pure political theater on the world stage.

PRES. HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELA (through translator): Today, the devil came here. Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today.

VERJEE: Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, won the prize last year for taking the biggest swing at President Bush, following podium antics of previous leaders hostile toward the U.S. In 1960, Soviet strong man Nikita Khrushchev banged his fist and later his shoe on a table, forcing the first ever halt to the U.N. session.


VERJEE: That same year, Cuba's Fidel Castro clinched the world record for a four and a half-hour speech, ranting about the U.S. His actions outside the hall made headlines, too. He said his Manhattan hotel was too expensive, threatened to pitch a tent in Central Park, and ended up staying in Harlem.


VERJEE: Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's first visit to the U.N. was dramatic. He marched in with a pistol on his hip saying he came with an olive branch and a freedom fighter's gun. Today's world leaders are just as good at showboating. Last year, Bolivian President Evo Morales held up a cocoa leaf, calling it the future of his country, directly snubbing the U.S. war against drugs.

PRES. EVO MORALES, BOLIVIA (through translator): It is not possible for the cocoa leaf to be legal for coca-cola and to be illegal for other consumptions in our country and throughout the world.

VERJEE: And last year, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, took his own swipe at his host, blaming the U.S. for the world's problems and insisting Iran has a right to a peaceful nuclear program.


VERJEE: The State Department says it allows hostile world leaders into the country because of its role as host. It's also a U.N. tradition. The State Department also adds it is part of American values to allow people to express their thoughts freely, even though they're offensive to many. Wolf?

BLITZER: Zain, thank you.

Tens of thousands of autoworkers are on the picket lines right now bringing assembly lines at General Motors to a halt. It's the first nationwide UAW strike in three decades, and both sides right now are digging in.

CNN's Susan Roesgen is in Chicago -- Susan.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the union contract with General Motors ended nine days ago, but the workers stayed on the job until today when they put down the power tools and picked up the signs.


ROESGEN (voice-over): Like all strikes, this one started with defiance. How it ends defiantly or in defeat, will affect the lives and wallets of more than 70,000 G.M. workers across the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want job security. And we want our retirees taken care of. And I'll be retiring in two years, so all of that is just very important to us.

ROESGEN: The United Autoworkers Union has been bargaining with General Motors since Labor Day. But UAW president Ron Gettelfinger called the strike, saying the negotiations had become one-sided.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's just nothing that we wanted. Nobody wins in a strike, but there comes a point in time where somebody can push you off a cliff, and that's exactly what happened here.

ROESGEN: General Motors released a statement saying "The bargaining involves complex, difficult issues that affect the job security of our U.S. work force and the long-term viability of the company".

Neither side will say exactly what the sticking points are, but everyone knows the American car business is not the proud giant it once was. Fewer than half the cars we drive in this country are made by American companies. Foreign cars now rule the road. The question is how much is the company willing to give and what are the workers willing to take?



ROESGEN: You know, many people buy cars toward the end of the year, and they might be thinking about buying a car soon. That's going to be OK, because industry insiders say that the General Motors company has enough inventory in stock to last about two and a half months, and they don't expect the strike to last any more than a couple of weeks. Wolf?

BLITZER: Susan Roesgen in Chicago. Jack Cafferty is off tonight. He'll be back tomorrow.

Coming up, harsh criticism, very harsh criticism of the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, if she worked for Donald Trump, she'd be fired.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What has she done? Has she done one thing since she's been in that position? Not one. So, it's very, very sad. The whole thing with Condoleezza Rice is very sad. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And Trump has a lot more to say about her boss, President Bush. You're going to want to see my one-on-one interview with Donald Trump. That's coming up this hour.

And speaking of President Bush, he's making a prediction about the '08 election. Find out who he says the Democrats will nominate for president.

Plus, a massive international steroid bust stretching from China to dozens of labs right here in the United States -- stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Tonight, President Bush is making some interesting predictions about Hillary Clinton's run for his job, and he may have an ulterior motive.

Let's go right to our chief national correspondent John King. He is standing by. John, why is Mr. Bush talking about Senator Clinton and a run for the White House?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, some say the president is just looking at the race to succeed him and stating the obvious, but others see a little mischief by the pundit in chief, perhaps trying to influence the outcome.


KING (voice-over): The president is adding his voice to the growing debate about the Hillary factor. She's got a national presence, and this is becoming a national primary, Mr. Bush tells journalist and author Bill Sammon in predicting Senator Clinton will most likely be the Democratic nominee next year.

Mr. Bush went on to say, I think our candidate can beat her, but it's going to be a tough race. Betting on Senator Clinton is hardly a risk. She is the overwhelming favorite at the moment. But by speaking out, Mr. Bush stokes an increasingly volatile debate within the Republican Party. New Hampshire GOP Chairman Fergus Cullen sees the Hillary factor as a major force in the GOP battle. More and more he says elect ability comes up as much as a candidate's position on abortion or immigration.

FERGUS CULLEN, N. HAMPSHIRE GOP CHAIRMAN: The more that Senator Clinton looks likely to be the Democratic nominee, the more the Republican contest becomes which candidate among us is best positioned to defeat Senator Clinton in a general election.

KING: And looking ahead to that election, pollster Neil Newhouse believes Senator Clinton would guarantee high GOP turnout even if many Republicans were less than thrilled with their nominee.

NEIL NEWHOUSE, GOP POLLSTER: There's a shared dislike for Hillary Clinton, and that motivates our base more so right now than any of our individual candidates does.

KING: There are numbers to support such talk. About half of Republicans have an unfavorable view of Senator Barack Obama, 80 percent view Senator Clinton negatively.

CULLEN: Nothing unites Republicans more than the idea of President Hillary Clinton.

KING: Senator Clinton also has higher negative ratings among independents. Four in 10 independents view her unfavorably, 13 percentage points higher than Senator Obama's negative ranking.

That could matter in swing states like New Hampshire, which went Republican in 2000 but Democratic in 2004. Democrats picked up two congressional seats in the state last year because Republican turnout was way down and independents broke for Democrats.

CULLEN: The largest political party in New Hampshire is not Republicans or Democrats. It is independents. They make up 40 percent of the registered voters here, so it's huge.


KING: Team Clinton dismisses it as wishful thinking, Wolf. All this Republican talk that nominating her would actually help the GOP, yet they do concede in the Clinton campaign that one of her top priorities even as she seeks the Democratic nomination is to try to improve her standing among independent voters. Wolf?

BLITZER: On the Republican side, John, what are you hearing about the former speaker, Newt Gingrich?

KING: Well the former speaker himself, Wolf, says he will now take another look at pursuing the Republican nomination. And I spoke to several people today who have been in contact with him, who are close to him, one who spoke to the former speaker in just recent days and he says that Newt Gingrich believes that Fred Thompson blew his opportunity; essentially that he had an opportunity to come in and consolidate the Republican base, but he has not done so, so the speaker says he will take another look at entering the Republican race.

What he wants is up-front pledges of about $30 million. Most are skeptical he will get that. Most believe he will not ultimately get in the race, but he is certainly teasing us, Wolf, and that will impact the race at least for a few weeks or so.

BLITZER: It will make it even more interesting. John thanks very much.

Just when it seemed the news cycle was ready to move on from that controversial ad in "The New York Times", the paper itself is now adding fresh fuel to the fire, admitting the liberal anti-war group was cut a deal on the rate and that the ad itself violated "The Times" standards.

Let's go to CNN's Carol Costello. She is watching this. What is "The New York Times" saying about the ad, Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: It is pretty interesting, Wolf. "The New York Times" own public editor, the guy who analyzes the paper's coverage as the readers' representative, blasted "The Times" for violating its own standards.


COSTELLO (voice-over): For two weeks, this ad has infuriated conservatives who charge "The New York Times" cut the liberal group a price break to smear the character of the man in charge of the Iraq war. Even the president weighed in on the controversy.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I felt like the ad was an attack not only on General Petraeus but on the U.S. military.

COSTELLO: "The Times" stood by its decision to run the ad and denied it had given the group a discount. But now it admits it made a mistake on the rated charge. We made an error. We apologize -- for charging $64,575 instead of $142,083. But that apology doesn't satisfy some conservative critics, like Bradley Blakeman, whose asked "The Times" public editor to investigate.

BRADLEY BLAKEMAN, FREEDOMSWATCH.ORG: This ad should have never run. They know better than that.

COSTELLO: And the ad does not seem to meet "The New York Times'" own written standards that do not permit personal attacks. In his column Sunday, the newspaper's public editor, who does not answer to management, reported that a "Times" executive did review the ad before it hit the paper and decided, quote, "while it was rough, he regarded it as a comment on a public official's management of his office."

Public editor Clark Hoyt said Jespersen thought the question mark after Petraeus made a difference. But Hoyt says he believes taking the ad without demanding the elimination of the phrase "betray us" was a mistake that could harm the reputation of "The New York Times."

HOWARD KURTZ, "WASHINGTON POST": There is this suspicion, fairly or not, that "The New York Times" was sympathetic to MoveOn because it is a liberal, anti-war group. That may be unfair, but "The Times" had a responsibility to straighten this out a long time ago.

COSTELLO: For its part, got what it calls an abundance of caution said it's sending "The Times" $77,508 to cover its inadvertent discount.


COSTELLO: Now, "The New York Times" did send us a written apology for the inadvertent price break and told us it does not accept or reject ads based on political content. So, will anyone be fired over this? Well, we called "The New York Times" today and we were going to ask that question, but we were told we're done with this. Wolf?

BLITZER: I'm sure they'd be happy to be done with it. I suspect they're not necessarily completely done with it. We'll watch the story with you, Carol Costello.

This programming note by the way. Tomorrow, a special interview here in THE SITUATION ROOM with the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. That's coming up tomorrow.

Coming up this hour, Donald Trump, he's speaking bluntly, as he always does, about President Bush and the '08 election.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think President Bush has to go into a corner and hide if a Republican is going to get elected. There's no way he's an asset. He's a huge liability.


BLITZER: And that's just for starters. You're going to find out what else Donald Trump has to say about the race for the White House and the candidates on both sides.

Plus, an ominous warning to hundreds of monks, find out why they're marching and what could happen as a result.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring some other stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What else do you have, Carol?

COSTELLO: Couple of things, Wolf. More arrests could come after a major international illegal steroid bust. U.S. drug enforcement sources say agents shut down 56 laboratories in the United States and seized more than 11 million steroid doses, plus 500 pounds of raw powder from China used to make steroids. It was the largest crackdown ever against illegal steroids, and U.S. officials say the intelligence they gained during this operation will help them fight this problem for years to come.

Violent crime though up almost two percent last year according to new numbers out from the FBI. It says it is the second year in a row the rate is up. The biggest increase was in robberies, up more than seven percent, murder also up, but rape and property crime declined.

Not getting enough sleep? Well that can kill you according to a British study. It finds people who reduce their nightly sleep over time from seven hours to five hours more than double their risk of death from heart disease, but there's also too much of a good thing. The same study says people who increase their sleep time to more than eight hours also face an increased mortality risk. An extraordinary scene in Myanmar, formerly called Burma. About 1,000 Buddhist monks leading as many as 100,000 people in a protest march. It's the latest in a series of demonstrations prompted by fuel price hikes by the military government. After the protest ended peacefully, the military warned senior Buddhist clerics if they don't restrain protesting monks, the government will. That's a look at the headlines right now, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks Carol, very much.

Web users, by the way, in Myanmar are skirting around the government's tight grip on the Internet to post video and images of the massive anti-government protest online, as well as to CNN's I- Report. Let's go to our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton. Abbi, what are you seeing?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, these pictures are coming in to us despite the tight controls of the Internet in that country. Look at the first one sent in to CNN's I-Report, you can see the view from above of the monks marching there with others alongside them. You can hear the cheers of the onlookers in the background of this video, and in a still picture sent in to CNN here the monks arriving near the home of Aung San Suu Kyi.

These videos are trickling onto the Internet despite the tight controls. Getting them out of this country is not easy. The watchdog Reporters without Borders list the military government of Myanmar as one of 13 Internet enemies they identify worldwide. They say new sites are blocked in that country, Internet cafes are monitored and access to e-mail is spotty.

However, a spokesman for Reporters without Borders tells me today that activists are beginning learn to bypass these controls, to mask their identities, where they are online and get these videos out there. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Abbi Tatton.

Coming up, the Donald -- he's firing off. Donald Trump says President Bush has been terrible and the nation doesn't need him to replace him with a famous actor.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like "Law and Order" very much, but I think you need somebody with a lot more experience in that sense than Fred Thompson. No, I don't get Fred Thompson.


BLITZER: And just wait until you hear why Trump thinks Fred Thompson and others like him will lose. I'll go one-on-one with Donald Trump. That's coming up.

And one headline screamed and I'm quoting now, "the evil has landed." Jeanne Moos takes a closer look at the strange protests of Iran's president visiting New York.

Stick around.


BLITZER: He's known for firing off, and right now Donald Trump is making it clear just how he earned that reputation. He says America's reputation is in tatters right now and President Bush should go into a corner and simply hide if his party has any chance of holding the White House. And you may be surprised here. Well, what Donald Trump says about democrats and other issues.

And joining us now here at Trump Towers is Donald Trump.

Donald, thanks very much for coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about politics 2008. The president is quoted in this new book as saying, referring to Hillary Clinton, "She's got a national presence, and this is becoming a national primary, and therefore the person with the national presence has got the ability to raise enough money to sustain an effort in a multiplicity of sites has got a good chance to be nominated." He thinks Hillary Clinton is going to be the democratic nominee. What do you think?

TRUMP: I think she will be. I know her very well. She's very talented, and she has a husband that I also like very much. I think she's going to get the nomination rather easily.

BLITZER: And then the president goes on to say this -- he says, "I think our candidate can beat her, but it's going to be a tough race. I will work to see to it that a republican wins and, therefore, don't accept the premise that a democrat will win. I truly think the republicans will hold the White House." You agree with him on that?

TRUMP: Well, I mean, the whole thing is about him. He's been so bad that I think probably a democrat has a huge advantage. Now, crazy things happen in life, but a democratic candidate, whoever wins, is going to have a huge advantage because of Bush. People don't like him. People think he's been a horrible president, possibly the worst in the history of this country.

BLITZER: You believe that?

TRUMP: Oh, he's been a terrible president.

BLITZER: You think he's the worst in the history of the United States?

TRUMP: I don't think you can get much worse. Why? Who's worse? Give me a couple of names. Who could be worse?

BLITZER: Because in the last interview we did in March, you said he was the worst. TRUMP: At least I'm consistent.

BLITZER: And the reason you think he's the worst is?

TRUMP: Well, just look at this country. We've gone from this tremendous power that was respected all over the world to somewhat of a laughingstock, and all of a sudden people are talking about China and India and other places, even from an economic standpoint. America's come down a long way, a long way. The United States has come down a long way, and it's very, very sad. We're not respected. The war in Iraq has been a total catastrophe. And the day we leave, it's going to be the ultimate revolution, and that's going to be it. Nothing we're going to do about it. It's a shame. We have hundreds of billions of dollars, and much more importantly, the soldiers, these brave men and women that went over there and come back with no arms, no legs, no face.

BLITZER: Or they don't come back.

TRUMP: And the Iraqis that are I mean you know, a million people probably if you really think about it. They say they dropped bombs on the city. And they say, oh, nobody was hurt. Oh, really? You know, nobody was hurt?

You know, the whole thing's been a big lie, from reading 60 books a year. Do you think you read 60 books a year? I don't think so.

BLITZER: A lot depends on who the republican nominee will be as far as Hillary Clinton becoming the next president of the United States. A lot of people see Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City, as the front-runner right now. First of all, do you think he is the front runner? Do you think he will get the republican nomination?

TRUMP: Yes. I think he's the front-runner. I think he's a very good man. I know him very well. And I believe that he will get the republican nomination. It's going to be very interesting. You have two very talented people running against each other, but we have two New Yorkers running for this position.

BLITZER: And if it is Hillary Clinton versus Rudy Giuliani for president of the United States ...

TRUMP: We won't get into that now.

BLITZER: Where does Donald Trump stand?

TRUMP: We won't get into that now, but I do have my opinions and we'll worry about that later.

BLITZER: Are you leaning one way or another?

TRUMP: I can tell you this. They're both terrific people, and I hope they both get the nomination and that it's going to be a very interesting race. I always go with one person. I'll make a decision.

BLITZER: I want you to listen to what the former governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack, who is a big Hillary Clinton supporter, someone that's been mooted as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton if she got the nomination, listen to what he said the other day about Rudy Giuliani.

TOM VILSACK (D), FORMER IOWA GOVERNOR: There's a lot that the rest of the country's going to get to know about Mayor Giuliani that the folks in New York City know but the rest of the nation doesn't know.


VILSACK" The thing -- well, you know, I can't even get into the number of marriages and the fact that his children -- the relationship he has with his children and what kind of circumstance New York was in before September the 11th and whether or not he could have even been re-elected as mayor prior to September 11th.

BLITZER: Those are tough words coming from Governor Vilsack.

TRUMP: Very tough words, but I know him on a very personal level, and I can tell you -- and I also know his son Andrew very much -- very well. I play golf with Andrew, and Andrew is a very, very good golfer, by the way, and he loves his father.

BLITZER: He's the one who goes to Princeton.

TRUMP: Well, I don't know where he goes now. He's going to Duke, I think, but he loves his father. And he has a good relationship with his father and he loves his father.

BLITZER: And all those stories about an estranged relationship between Andrew and Giuliani?

TRUMP: I don't think it's estranged at all. I mean I speak to Andrew. He totally loves his father and respects his father.

BLITZER: That's good to know. That's very important.

The president says he would be a political asset to the republicans next year as opposed to being a political liability. You think President Bush next year will be an asset or a liability to the republican presidential nominee, whoever that is?

TRUMP: I think President Bush has to go into a corner and hide if a republican is going to get elected. There's no way he's an asset. He's a huge liability, and he's going to have to do a big, big hiding act if a republican's going to win.

BLITZER: There's a lot of pundits out there who say if the democrats can't win the White House this time around, they might as well just hang up their cleats or whatever and go back into the dugout.

TRUMP: Well, they said that last time and John Kerry didn't do it. And amazingly, he didn't do it. I couldn't understand how that could have happened, but he didn't do it. You know I think President Bush is a huge liability, and he should just go into a corner and just say, OK, that's been -- that's it. I'm finished. It's over. In my opinion, if he comes out for somebody, it's a huge liability.

BLITZER: If he comes out for Rudy Giuliani, for example.

TRUMP: Hey, look, I don't think that President Bush is in any way, shape, or form an asset for the person that's running for president. He's been a disaster.

BLITZER: You would advise your friend, Rudy Giuliani, to run away from him if he gets the republican nomination.

TRUMP: If you get the endorsement, it's wonderful and that'll be the end of that.

BLITZER: Let's talk about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran. He's here in your beautiful city today. He wanted to go to ground zero to pay his respects to the victims. The city said not a good idea. They didn't let him. Do you think that was a good decision?

TRUMP: Well, I think it would not have been a good idea. Number one, it would have been a huge security just getting him down there and getting him back. I don't think it would have been a good idea, no.

BLITZER: What about speaking at Columbia University here in New York City?

TRUMP: Well, I think it's good for Columbia. Everyone's talking about Columbia. It's good for them.

BLITZER: Publicity.

TRUMP: The world is talking about Columbia University and they never heard of Columbia University. So, I think it's wonderful for Columbia University.

BLITZER: But some people are saying it is bad for Columbia University because a lot of alumni are going to be upset and maybe hold back some of their contributions to Columbia University in protest.

TRUMP: It's very good for Columbia University from a PR standpoint. People are talking about Columbia University.

I know Lee Bollinger from a past dealing. He made a terrible mistake on a deal that he was going to do with us. They were going to have a campus in midtown on a site that I had. It would have been the most incredible thing. He vetoed it for a terrible location. Just an absolutely terrible location.

BLITZER: He made a bad real estate deal, but what about the decision to let Ahmadinejad speak there? TRUMP: It's their decision. They talk about free press and everything else. It's their decision, a decision they made -- I think it's very good for Columbia because everybody's talking right now about Columbia University, including you and I.

BLITZER: Because the counterargument is that Iran, at least according to General Petraeus, provides weapons to their allies in Iraq that wind up killing American soldiers. State Department says this is the leading international supporter of terrorism. It's a leader that has denied the Holocaust existed, wants to see Israel destroyed. Some people are saying he shouldn't be allowed to be speaking there. They would even like to go further and have the NYPD pick him up.

TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you this -- I guess he hates us pretty much already. When he leaves New York, he's going to dislike us a hell of a lot more, and in a way that's too bad. But he certainly dislikes us and from everything I see on television between CNN and everything else, he's going to dislike us a hell of a lot more once he leaves.

BLITZER: Who do you think among the presidential candidates would be the best qualified to make a deal with Iran to stop its nuclear program? You wrote that book "The Art of the Deal." Who would you like representing the United States in a deal with Iran with this regime there?

TRUMP: Well, I think you have different people. I think Rudy would do a very good job. I think he'd be much more militant. I think Hillary would have -- Hillary's always surrounded herself with very good people. I think Hillary would do a good job. I think Mitt Romney would do a very good job. I think different people for different reasons could do the job. But the key is they have to get the right people to negotiate.

We have a bunch of third rate people doing our negotiating for us. We have diplomats that nobody ever heard of and they're not negotiators.

BLITZER: Well, you have Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Today she rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange at 9:30 this morning.

TRUMP: Give me a break. You think she's a negotiator? She's a wonderful woman, a lovely woman. I tell the story. She waves, hello. Has she made one deal? What has she done? Has she done one thing since she's been in that position? Not one. It's very, very sad. The whole thing with Condoleezza Rice is very sad.

BLITZER: Is there anybody in the current Bush administration that you think is qualified to make a deal?

TRUMP: There are many people -- not many people, but there are people within this country that are qualified that could do a great job of negotiating. And we don't use our best people. That's the problem we have in this country. They use their best people and they're against amateurs. That's why people are talking about China. They're talking about India. They're not talking about the United States anymore.

BLITZER: Hugo Chavez, the leader of Venezuela, is going to be here in New York, as well. Remember last year when he spoke at the U.N. general assembly, he referred to President Bush as the devil. What do you make of this guy, Hugo Chavez?

TRUMP: Well, he's obviously very cunning and he's obviously -- he seems to be a lot smarter than our president because he's killing him in every way. I mean beating our president at every step of the game, giving out free oil to a family in the Midwest who's having a hard time paying for their oil. I mean this guy is some great promoter.

BLITZER: And Donald Trump has more to say about the vice president Dick Cheney, the veteran journalist Dan Rather who Trump calls a loser. He'll explain why in part two of my interview with him. That will air tomorrow right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. The real estate mogul with will also explain what financially struggling homeowners can do to keep their homes. Again part two of the interview with Donald Trump airs tomorrow right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

All right. We're just getting this in over here from the Emmy Awards in New York. I'm in New York right now. And the Emmy for best -- for outstanding coverage of live breaking news long form goes to CNN. We're happy to report to you that CNN's political team has won the Emmy for our coverage of the election night political events last November.

The entire team, Carol Costello here at CNN, is thrilled that we're recognized for what we feel was really some outstanding coverage. The best political team on television really showed off its skills last November in covering the Senate, the House, all of the elections. And tonight here in New York at the Emmy awards dinner, we were recognized for that honor.

I want to thank all -- everyone who was involved in that coverage. It was really, really a terrific night for all of us, terrific night in the coverage of news.

Carol Costello, I know you're thrilled for all of us, as well, because you're part of that best political team on television.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am thrilled. It was not only honored for its content but for the technology involved. You know we had that 25-foot-wide video wall that really set the seed for THE SITUATION ROOM as it normally looks. Like when you're in Washington, folks know what we look like. But in 2006 in our election coverage, I'm telling you "The Washington Post" at the time called it Cinerama like, super screen. That's what they called CNN's massive election set. The Columbia Journalism Review said this is the future of election coverage and we're very proud to be a part of that.

BLITZER: I certainly would have been there to accept together with the rest of the team, but I got to work here in THE SITUATION ROOM. But I'm going to be going over to the Emmy dinner right after the show to celebrate with all of our team, the whole political unit, all of the correspondents, all of the producers, everyone who was involved in helping us win the Emmy for our election night coverage on November 7th, 2006.

Once again, we win the Emmy for outstanding live coverage of a breaking news story long form. Good work all around. Congratulations, everyone, at CNN involved.

Coming up, Arnold Schwarzenegger, he's at odds with the Bush administration. The California governor used a huge platform to express his frustration. You're going to find out why the governor is demanding action.

And today he was compared to a petty and cruel dictator. That's before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad even got a chance to speak. Jeanne Moos takes a closer look at the huge unwelcome mat rolled out for Iran's president.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, playing a first role at the first United Nations climate summit. He told U.N. members his state is leading the fight global warming by embracing camps on green house gas emissions even though the Bush administration won't.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: Do not lose hope. I do not believe that doom and gloom and disaster are the only outcomes. Humanity is smart, and nature is amazingly regenerative. I believe that we can renew the climate of this planet. I believe this 100 percent. So, I pledge to you, the members of the United Nations, that we in California will work with all our hearts to this end for which we all long.

BLITZER: President Bush did not take part in today's summit. The White House will hold its own forum on global warming later this week.

This programming note -- I'll speak with one of the most influential voices in the fight against global warming, the former vice president, Al Gore. That interview with Al Gore airs here in THE SITUATION ROOM Wednesday. Wednesday, Al Gore in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tomorrow, excuse me, tonight, Florida democrats are in a high- stakes game of chicken within the national party. They're refusing to back down from holding their presidential primary on January 29th even though they're breaking DNC rules and they may be punished for it.

Let's go to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. He's standing by.

Bill, why are Florida democrats doing this? BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, Florida has always has an important say in the November election, and now they're determined to have just as big a say in the primaries.

Suppose they gave an election and none of the candidates came. What happens then? Florida democrats may find out.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: I am very proud to stand here with my former colleagues and with our party leadership to firmly commit that Florida will vote on January 29th.

SCHNEIDER: By jumping the gun one week, Florida democrats are not in compliance with national party rules. So what? The national party is threatening to refuse to seek Florida's 210 delegates at the convention next year. So there. Florida democrats are calling their bluff.

DAN GELBER, FLORIDA HOUSE DEM. LEADER: Well, what really happens, we're going to be seated.

SCHNEIDER: How can he be so sure? Because the nominee controls the convention, and the nominee wants to win. And Florida is the nation's largest swing state.

So, national democrats are playing another card. The major democratic candidates have pledged not to campaign in any primary deemed not in compliance with party rules. So there. So what say Florida democrats?

STEVEN GELLER, FLORIDA SENATE DEM. LEADER: If they choose not to come pain here and they lose, not our problem.

SCHNEIDER: The candidates will still be raising funds in Florida.

GELBER: There's too much money to collect in Florida for them not to be here.

SCHNEIDER: And they can find official reasons to show up.

GELBER: Sometimes they're here making announcements.

SCHNEIDER: They just can't hold rallies or spend money in Florida. Republican candidates have not made any such pledge. They're all over Florida. If democrats boycott and republicans don't, it could give the republicans a head start in the general election.

GELBER: I think national Democratic Party should not visit any punishment on Florida worse than the republican national party is doing to their Florida republicans.

SCHNEIDER: Which is to take away half the state's delegation to the convention and not suspend the campaign. Fair is fair. So there.

Wolf. BLITZER: And congratulations to you, too, Bill Schneider, part of the best political team on television once again. Our political team won the Emmy just a few moments ago for your election-night coverage last November.

Here in New York, all sorts of people are throwing all sorts of insult at the Iranian president. Our Jeanne Moos will give us a most unusual look.

Stick around.


BLITZER: The Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proved today he knows how to can get under the skin of the New Yorkers. Jeanne Moos has been watching the insults fly.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was the big man on campus if by big you mean big target. Go to hell. The evil has landed. Monster, dog tyrant. Critics turned him into a swastika and made fun of his size.

DOV HIKIND, NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY: This madman, this little Hitler.

MOOS: One columnist even insulted his haircut. The shortest message of all was on he's shorts.

Excuse me. What's with your shorts?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My outfit today says no war on Iran.

MOOS: I didn't see the front. Her message was one of the few exceptions to the anti-Iran signs. You know how a person who introduces a speaker usually says nice things? Not in this introduction.

LEE BOLLINGER, PRES., COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Petty and cruel dictator. Quite simply, ridiculous. You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated.

MOOS: To which President Ahmadinejad responded ...

PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (through translator): Why should an academic myself face insults?

MOOS: At least no one in New York held a voodoo ceremony to jinx his trip as critics in Indonesia did when President Bush traveled there. They depicted the great Satan horned like a devil.

Back in New York, defenders and critics argued. This woman said Ahmadinejad should be feared like Hitler.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank God. There are still good men in the world. You are not your father's generation.

MOOS: The guy she was yelling at said who is the U.S. to talk about Iran getting nukes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who has used them against a civilian population? One country on the planet. Name it. The USA. Ahmadinejad is bad. Bush is worse.

MOOS: The spittle was flying even during the president's speech.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is your government providing aid to terrorists?

MOOS: He kept wiping his mouths. At least folks were saying his name right. How do you pronounce president of Iran's name?




MOOS: OK, not everyone got it right. How do you pronounce the president of Iran's name?


MOOS: Actually, even Henry Kissinger is still getting it wrong. The pronunciation was better than when we tested it a year or so ago. Some of the signs at Columbia were hard to decipher, putting the purr in Persian. Two robots in every garage.



MOOS: Even when the message was friendly and Islamic fundamentalists probably won't to approve of its placement.


MOOS: Welcome to America. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

BLITZER: Let's go right to Rick Sanchez to see what's coming up at the top of the hour on "OUT IN THE OPEN."

Hi Rick.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Congratulations on the Emmy, Wolf. I knew you could do it.

BLITZER: Thank you very much. It's a whole team effort. I'm happy that we won.

SANCHEZ: I knew you were going to say that. It was a team effort. It was a great night, great couple of nights, actually.

Just had a conversation, Wolf with Bill O'Reilly. He has some very strong things to say about some things the people are saying about him. It was, to say the very least, an extremely heated discussion between the two of us. We're going to let you know what this controversy is all about. Presentments to O'Reilly's point of view and the point of view of some African Americans as well on this issue.

Also, there's been this dramatic face-off that Jeanne Moos was just talking about. You know what Ahmadinejad said. But what about the president of this university? The guy really got into his face. He's joining us, Wolf, right here live to tell us what got him the nerve to get up and say those things.

Also, we're going to be talking about the plan to try and give illegals driver's licenses in the United States and hired guns in Iraq. All the stuff to talk about.

Mr. Blitzer, back to you.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Rick. We'll be watching in a few moments. Coming up, a human tower, an explosive car and spider's web. "Hot Shots" next.


BLITZER: Two big interviews coming up in THE SITUATION ROOM. Tomorrow, the House speaker Nancy Pelosi, Wednesday the former vice president, Al Gore.

Until then, thanks for watching. Let's go to Rick Sanchez. He's here in New York.