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The Situation Room
Pakistan's Troubles; Hillary Losing Ground; Veto Override?
Aired November 06, 2007 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much guys. Happening now, President Bush may be on the brink of an unprecedented defeat. The House of Representatives nearing a vote right now to override his latest veto. This hour the issue that many Republicans are saying could undermine the commander in chief right now and what it also says about accusations that the president getting close to lame duck status. We are watching all of this.
Plus, Hillary Clinton admitting to letting her opponents knock her off her stride. Will she accept anything less than the party's nomination? We have an exclusive interview coming up with the Democratic presidential front-runner aboard the CNN Election Express.
And Giuliani is embracing the police chief that helped him get through 9/11. But would the Republican presidential candidate be better off running away from Bernard Kerik whose legal troubles right now may be mounting? I'm Wolf Blitzer and you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
President Bush's rocky relationship with the Congress may be about to take a turn for the worse. And members of his own party would be partly to blame. Right now the House is nearing a vote that could lead to the first override of a veto by Mr. Bush. At issue, water and flood control. And the old adage that old politics is local.
Let's go to our congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin. She is watching this story for us. So where does this stand right now, Jessica?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the vote still has not taken place. But we are standing by for it and it is going to be -- everyone expect the first veto of Bush's presidency. Congress, including many Republicans, are poised to override President Bush and it is all about a $23 billion water bill which the president says is way too expensive and filled with pork.
That bill authorizes all sorts of projects that would improve infrastructure and communities all over the country. Providing more drinking water, improvements in waterways and flood control. Now supporters say these are essential and long overdue and, of course, they want to deliver for their districts. And that's why many republicans are willing to break with President Bush on this.
You know Mr. Bush is doing everything he can to show that he's tough on spending, a real fiscal conservative. But his party just not expected to stand with him and the question is this an aberration or an indication that the president's influence is diminished and perhaps a sign of more overrides to come.
BLITZER: And override requires two-thirds majority in the House and Senate. And it looks, Jessica, like both of those two-thirds of the majority are going to happen. Is that right?
YELLIN: That's correct. In both the House --Although we expect the vote in the House to happen in today. The Senate is yet to come.
BLITZER: All right. So why the delay in this actual vote? What's going on?
YELLIN: Well, get this, Wolf. They are sidetracked in the House of Representatives right now because they are voting on something unrelated. A motion to impeach Vice President Cheney. Yes. Representative Dennis Kucinich introduced this resolution to impeach the vice president and it is something he wanted to do for a while.
Well, today he finally got his time on the floor and he read a resolution which accuses the vice president, among other things, of misleading the public about the case for war. Initially a bipartisan group tried to kill it. But now Republicans are voting to try and put Democrats on the record on this and might even have a full-blown debate in the House on whether or not the vice president should be impeached. It does not mean the vice president would be impeached in any way today. It is about whether they should debate on this issue.
BLITZER: Let me get this right. It is a little confusing, Jessica. The Republicans now want, repeat, want to have this debate because they believe that it would embarrass politically the Democrats. Is that right?
YELLIN: You nailed it, Wolf. They want to make Democrats put in the awkward position of having to defend the vice president or support his impeachment.
BLITZER: Jessica will watch this part of the story for us. Update us when we know how this little development has turned out. The last two term president, Democrat Bill Clinton, by the way, had two vetoes overridden by a Republican controlled Congress. That was out of 37 vetoes that Bill Clinton cast during his eight years in office.
Two-term Republican Ronald Reagan had 9 out of 78 vetoes overridden. Most by a divided Congress. The president who had the most vetoes overridden in recent years was the one that served less than a full term, that would be Gerald Ford who had 12 of his 66 vetoes overridden by a Democratic-run Congress.
President Bush is putting the spotlight on an issue many Americans are deeply concerned about. Unsafe toys, food and other products coming in from overseas. He is proposing giving the Food and Drug Administration the authority to order mandatory recalls, a power it does not have right now. Mr. Bush is acting on recommendations from an advisory panel created to make imported products safer. Let's go to our White House correspondent Ed Henry. He is watching this story for us. Is this really all about getting consumers more protection? Is that what's going on right now, Ed?
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf the president is certainly trying to show that. But the biggest proposals such as giving the FDA the power are being kicked over to Congress. And it is highly unlikely Congress will deal with such sweeping changes by the end of the year. And that's raising questions about whether this will he really have any impact for consumers in the short term.
HENRY (voice-over): On the same day as yet another major recall, this one from fisher-price, President Bush tried to show he's getting tough with companies importing unsafe toys, toothpaste and food.
GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: We will work to increase penalties for those that violate U.S. import laws and regulations.
HENRY: But just minutes earlier on Capitol Hill, the president's own consumer product safety chief was defending her decision to take free trips from the same industries the White House claims to be cracking down on.
NANCY NORD, CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION: Faced with limited enforcement dollars, Mr. Chairman, I would much rather spend $900 on paying for more testing of toys and more resources at our laboratory than I would on airfare and a hotel.
HENRY: Nord recently insisted Democratic plans to increase financial penalties for rogue companies would spark frivolous lawsuits. Even though the president is now advocating a similar solution by hiking fines.
NORD: I don't want to be hiring lawyers. I want to be hiring safety inspectors.
HENRY: But consumer advocates say the White House's recommendations will not have teeth unless the safety commission's budget finally gets a boost.
JANELL MAYO DUNCAN, CONSUMERS UNION: It is not OK to continue to have business continue to regulate itself.
HENRY: But the chair of the president's task force, Health Secretary Michael Leavitt told reporters he's still not sure how much the White House enforcement plan will cost.
MICHAEL LEAVITT, SECRETAYR OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: We haven't gone to the point of putting a price tag but have said in our '09 budget and subsequent budgets, that will need to include those resources necessary to implement this. Think of this as a master plan.
HENRY (on camera): So what Secretary Leavitt is really saying there is it is not going to be dealt with until the budgets of 2009 and beyond. Of course, that's when president bush will be leaving office. That's why critics are already saying that this is really not about immediate action, Wolf.
BLITZER: Ed Henry reporting for us at the White House. Thank you. The president attorney general's nominee Michael Mukasey is now a step closer to confirmation. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-8 today to recommend his nomination to the full -Senate. The outcome was sealed last week when panel members Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein announced their support for Mukasey, breaking with other top Democrats who strongly oppose him.
Mukasey is likely to be confirmed by the full Senate when it votes next week.
Let's go to Jack Cafferty. He is in New York and he has got the "Cafferty File" for us today. Hi, Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: So if that happens then the United States will have an attorney general that's unable to decide if water boarding is torture.
BLITZER: He says he wants to learn more about it, learn -- once he is on the job, gets the classification status so he can have those briefings and then he will make the decision. But he finds it personally repugnant. Remember, he said that.
CAFFERTY: Yeah. I find a lot of what goes on in your town down there personally repugnant.
BLITZER: I know you do.
CAFFERTY: Ron Paul, Wolf, had a good day yesterday. A very good day. The Republican presidential hopeful raised $4.38 million online in 24 hours. That means he's raised more money in a single day than any other Republican candidate in the race. And it also means the Texas congressman ranks now only behind the Democratic heavyweight fund-raisers Hillary and Barack as in Clinton and Obama when it comes to money raised in one day. And it is believed to be one of the biggest Internet fund-raising efforts by any candidate ever.
Paul's campaign says the $4.38 million in online contributions came from more than 35,000 donors. As of yesterday, Ron Paul has raised more than $7 million since the first of October and that's more than half of his goal of $12 million by the end of the year. And that ain't too shabby as they used to say in Reno. In a new poll only five percent, though, of Republicans say they would support Ron Paul as the Republican presidential nominee. Nevertheless, by the looks of the donations, it seems like his message is getting through to a lot of people.
Ron Paul's the only Republican in the race who is opposed to the Iraq War. He's also against some of the Bush administration's security measures that he claims step on civil liberties. Some of his other ideas include pulling all U.S. troops out of South Korea and focusing less on Iran getting nuclear weapons. And realistically a addressing our national debt. So here is the question. Is Ron Paul's candidacy for president getting the attention it should. E-mail email@example.com or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile. Wolf?
BLITZER: And he is a real libertarian and ran for president as a libertarian in the president. But he has got strongly held views of cutting the size of government and would like to do with a few of those Cabinet agencies as well, as you know, Jack.
CAFFERTY: He's also running for the Republican nomination. I think we have to call him a Republican.
BLITZER: He is running, absolutely, as a Republican presidential candidate. But this is incredible. The amount of money he has gotten, the amount of support he has out there. Especially on the Web.
CAFFERTY: If I could do that, I would be so out of here.
BLITZER: In our 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour, Jack, you are going to be part of our roundtable. We are going talk about Ron Paul at length, what's going on with his campaign.
BLITZER: Thanks very much. Hillary Clinton acknowledges her critics are right about her latest debate performance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wasn't at my best the other night. We have had a bunch of debates and you know, I wouldn't rank that up in my very top list.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Coming up, Candy Crowley's exclusive interview with the Democratic presidential front-runner aboard the CNN Election Express. She's hit with tough questions about the attacks against her and whether she supports drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants.
Also coming up, if you think you have a good idea who next president, Bill Schneider says maybe not so fast. We will look at past front-runners one year before election day. Past front-runners that flopped.
And Rudy Giuliani's claims about prostate cancer. Did he mislead voters in a campaign ad? We are doing a fact check this hour right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Hillary Clinton's campaigning in Iowa today. Trying to regain her footing after a bruising presidential Democratic debate last week. The front-runner took some time out for an exclusive interview aboard the CNN Election Express. Our state of the art bus bringing the campaign out to the voters. Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley sat down with Senator Clinton just a little while ago. I take it, Candy, she's acknowledging was than necessarily her best night.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. She did do that but went on to sort of criticize the criticism. In 15 minutes what you try to do is get a lot in so we talked to her about Pakistan. We talked to her about whether she would be number two on somebody else's ticket.
And as are you say, that widely panned debate performance.
CROWLEY: Post-debate you have gotten pretty hard hit. And if you boiled down the criticism on the various subjects, it is this. She lacks candor, when the questions get tough, she dodges.
What is your reaction to that?
CLINTON: Well, I understand the necessity for criticism. We are getting toward the end of a very long presidential primary process. And I wasn't at my best the other night. We have had a bunch of debates, and you know, I wouldn't rank that up in my very top list.
But I have answered probably -- oh, I don't know, more than 5,000 questions in the last 10 months. And I have been very clear about where I stand and what I want to do for the country.
I have laid out very specific plans on how we are going to have a different energy agenda, how we are going to have a health care plan that covers everybody, how we are going to improve our education system and all of the other issues that people talk to me about, as well as what we need to do to restore America's leadership around the world.
And I have even put out how I'm going to pay for each and every one of the policies that would cost money. So I am very encouraged as I go around in these events in Iowa and New Hampshire and elsewhere.
People are hearing me. They are following this campaign. They understand the give and take of politics and the up and down of the campaign. But what I am excited about is that people are saying, you know, I really like your health care plan, or I'm excited by what you are doing with energy.
And that seems to me to be what the campaign should be about.
CROWLEY: Driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, you have said you broadly support what the governors are doing. Let me narrow that question down. If I wrote a story that said: "Absent a broad illegal immigration bill, Hillary Clinton agrees about giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants," is that correct?
CLINTON: No. What I have said is that I support what governors are trying to do. And governors are on the front lines because of the failures to get comprehensive immigration reform.
There are already eight states that issues driver's licenses without any verification of citizenship. That is a decision that the governors and legislatures and the people of those states have made. I understand ...
CROWLEY: But you see why people think ...
CLINTON: Well, but you know, Candy...
CROWLEY: ... that you are not answering the question.
CLINTON: Well, but you know, Candy, well, but I think that if you go back and look at the complexity of this issue, I don't think a lot of these hard questions lend themselves to raising your hand. And I know that that's easier in a 30 second context to try to do.
I think the fact that governors are being forced into this position is really unfortunate. They should not be making immigration policy. The federal government should be making immigration policy and that's what I'm going to try to do as president again and I do not believe that in the context of federal immigration reform that that would be an issue that governors would have to contend with.
CROWLEY: You said after the debate, I don't think that all of those men came after me because I'm a woman, but because I'm the frontrunner. Yet you have - there are two people out there who support you, Geraldine Ferraro, Eleanor Smeal, who said, it looked like the Anita Hill hearings. This is sexism.
So this is a mixed message. It's the sort of thing that people look at and say, you know, the Clinton campaign wants to have it both ways.
CLINTON: Well, I can only speak for myself. I am deeply grateful for the strong support that I have across the country and a lot of people watching it reach their own conclusions and are certainly free to speak out but I know that in a campaign where people are trying to score political points and I am ahead I'm going to be attacked. That's what happens in campaigns. I don't have any problem with that.
If they want to use their energy attacking me, that's their choice. I am going to use my energy focusing on a new energy policy and so much else. I'm not running anybody else's campaign and I love what Harry Truman said if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. And I'm really comfortable in the kitchen.
CROWLEY: Did talk to Joe Biden yesterday and he said if he didn't win the nomination he thought you would and that he wouldn't be your vice president because essentially that's Bill Clinton. He's a very strong guy and that's going to be his role.
CLINTON: Well, that's going to be news to my husband as well as to me. I really like Joe Biden. I am very fond of him and very much an admirer of his. When I get the nomination I will begin to think about who the vice president should be but I intend to use former presidents including my husband.
We have a lot of repair work to do around the world. The damage that has been done by the failed policies of this administration is heart-breaking and dangerous. So we're going to have to go about trying to restore America's leadership, restore credibility for America's moral authority and our values in the world.
I certainly am going to ask my husband to help on that.
CROWLEY: Last question. Pakistan. Nothing has changed. We're in our fourth day of a state of emergency. It seems to me that Musharraf can no longer be helpful in the pursuit of al Qaeda. Now what?
CLINTON: Well, I oppose the imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan. I think that's been a mistake.
It's important for America to stand with the people of Pakistan against the efforts to destabilize the entire country, not just the Musharraf. I think that's been a mistake. It's important for America to stand with the people of Pakistan against the efforts to destabilize the entire country, not just the Musharraf regime.
But I believe that for President Musharraf to be silencing political opposition, trying to shut down our free press, imprisoning dissidents, is a terrible mistake, both for Pakistan but also for our mutual interests in trying to root out, defeat and deter al Qaeda and related terrorist elements.
CROWLEY: Senator Clinton, thank you for sharing part of your voice with us. We appreciate it.
CLINTON: Thank you so much, Candy. It's a pleasure to see you.
BLITZER: And Candy, I know you pressed her a little bit further on the whole issue of drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants. What did she finally -- what was the bottom line?
CROWLEY: Well, the bottom line is that it still seems a little confusing. I said you think these governors are right to go ahead and give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. She said well, it depends on the state. So -- you know, again, what they are trying to do is nuance this. You heard her say listen, this just doesn't fit into a 30-second sound bite. I understand governors are under pressure. But she won't say whether she personally thinks this is a good idea.
BLITZER: Her voice did sound a little bit scratchy. Let's hope she feels better. Candy, thanks very much for that.
The CNN Election Express is on the trail bringing all the excitement of the presidential race and the issues you care about right to your backyard. From Iowa, our campaign bus heads to the Democratic convention city of Denver. Then it is on to Las Vegas for CNN's Democratic presidential debate next week. From there the bus treks to St. Petersburg, Florida, for the CNN YouTube Republican presidential debate. They will be racking up the miles on the bus.
This programming note. On November 15, a week from Thursday. I will be in Las Vegas, Nevada to moderate a debate in that key Western state among the Democratic presidential candidates. November 15.
Rudy Giuliani lived to share the story of his fight against prostate cancer. But did he get his facts wrong about the disease in a campaign ad? We are checking his numbers.
Plus one congressman's shocking explanation about why deaths in Iraq are down. Likely to stir up outrage. That is coming up in our "Strategy Session." Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring other important stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Let's go to Carol. What's going on, Carol?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Couple of things, Wolf.
They are ready to rock 'n' roll. Astronauts in Space Shuttle Discovery are listening to hard rock music to get ready the blast back into the Earth's atmosphere. Specifically they are listening to Deep Purple's "Space Trekking."
They spent a stressful 15 days in space preparing the torn solar wing at the International Space Station and completing other critical work. NASA says an early weather forecast looks good for a possible touchdown tomorrow at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Laura Bush visits the Lincoln Bedroom. Not the one in the White House but the one in the historic home where President Lincoln spent many summers. The Lincoln cottage is not far from the White House and today the first lady toured the national monument. She says preserving the old house is important to the teachings of American history.
Expensive weapons systems and things like bomb resistant vehicles for troops get the green light but not much is meant for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are part of the Pentagon's annual budget. Today the negotiators for the House and Senate advanced a $460 billion Pentagon bill.
And we have all been feeling the pains at the pump but it appears there's no relief in site. Oil prices topped $97 a barrel today. And that would be a record. This amid fears of problems in the Middle East that disrupt oil supply lines. That's a look at the headlines right now Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Carol. Stand by. We are going to get back to you shortly.
It suggests good news for Rudy Giuliani but Hillary Clinton might need to worry. Something that could improve his chances of winning the nomination but casts a bad luck cloud over her. As you are going to want to hear about this revealing information.
And to some Republican candidates the South is king. Specifically South Carolina. We are going to tell you who is pinning presidential hopes there and we'll assess the chances. Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you are in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, the people against the police. Pakistan edges closer to all-out chaos as the government clashes with lawyers and a lot of others. I'll speak exclusively with Pakistan's ousted chief justice. He talks to me while he and his family are under house arrest. That's coming up.
A stunning fall from grace -- a California sheriff who some consider a hero, but who is now accused of taking bribes, makes a dramatic reversal.
And, if you think $3 a gallon for gas is bad, what if it were $5? And what if escalating oil prices forced a military draft to fight a war? That scenario part of a war game that you need to know about. We will share the latest information on that.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Right now, Hillary Clinton should probably be worried, but Rudy Giuliani might want to smile. That's because a look at history shows presidential front-runners don't always end up where they want to be.
Let's go to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. He is in Manchester, New Hampshire, watching the story for us.
What do the polls tell us? Do they tell us anything a year before the actual election? And we are exactly almost a year before next year's election.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, they do tell us something, but you have got to be careful.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Happy new year, one year to Election Day. Polls say Hillary Clinton the clear front-runner for the Democratic nomination, and Rudy Giuliani is the Republican front- runner. So, is it all over before it even begins?
Look at the record of polls taken a year before the election. Polls predicting the Democratic nominees have mostly been wrong. Polls taken in November 1971 predicted the Democrats would nominate Edward Kennedy. In 1972, the Democrats nominated George McGovern.
In November 1975, the polls predicted Kennedy again. The next year, the Democrats nominated Jimmy Carter. In early November 1979, the polls predicted Kennedy would defeat Carter for the Democratic nomination. He didn't. In 1987, Jesse Jackson was the Democratic front-runner. In 1988, Michael Dukakis was the Democratic nominee.
Mario Cuomo led the Democratic field in November 1991, before the Democrats nominated Bill Clinton. Howard Dean looked like the Democratic nominee in November 2003, until John Kerry took over.
Only twice have polls correctly predicted the Democratic nominee, Walter Mondale in 1984 and Al Gore in 2000. Both were vice presidents.
On the Republican side, the polls have almost always been right the year before. They predicted Ronald Reagan's nomination in 1980, George Bush's nomination in 1988, Bob Dole in 1996, and George W. Bush in 2000.
Republican polls a year out got it wrong only once, in 1976. The polls in 1975 predicted Reagan. The Republicans nominated Gerald Ford in 1976.
In the past, the Republican nominating process has usually been an orderly succession, predictable. The Democrats have had a free- for-all, unpredictable. If that's still true, the message to Republicans is, it is Rudy, and, to Democrats, don't bet on Hillary. But is it still true? Don't bet on it.
SCHNEIDER: This time, the Democrats look like they are the party that may have an orderly succession, and the Republicans could have a free-for-all. It is a topsy-turvy world -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Bill Schneider in New Hampshire, thanks for that history. Good to know.
Regarding some of the Republican candidates, one state looms very large right now for their hopes of winning the actual nomination. And that would be South Carolina.
Our chief national correspondent, John King, is there right now.
John, first of all, how is the race shaping up right now, just a little bit more than two months before the ballots are counted?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, usually, there is a big leader in South Carolina by now. But, right now, all of the polls show pretty much a dead heat here in South Carolina in this wide-open race for the Republican nomination.
And, so, it is getting a lot of attention, even though Iowa and New Hampshire come first in the state today. For Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, as well as former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, we are beginning to see more and more tension in the race.
Romney earlier today, at an adoption center in Greenville, South Carolina, part of his effort to continue to reach out to social conservatives. A few years back, he was pro-choice on abortion. He has switched. And he's continuing to try to make inroads with evangelicals and social conservatives here, therefore, his focus on adoptions today at that event.
Fred Thompson was in another end of the state, Wolf. And we are getting the impression that they are getting a bit more testy in the Thompson campaign. Romney is ahead now in Iowa. He is ahead now in New Hampshire. He's close here in a state Fred Thompson must win in South Carolina.
Fred Thompson saying today that he's the true conservative, and that some of his rivals are pretenders. And he said this about Governor Romney -- quote -- "Now the governor of Massachusetts has apparently spent $20 million of his own personal fortune, and, apparently, a good chunk of it in South Carolina. All I got to say is, Governor, you can't buy South Carolina. You can't even rent South Carolina."
So, as the vote gets closer, Wolf, the tensions are rising, especially in the Thompson campaign, which knows it must win South Carolina. And Romney believes, if he can Iowa and win New Hampshire and win South Carolina, despite those national polls Bill Schneider was just talking about, it would all be over -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Well, how significant is the fact that -- that Fred Thompson is from neighboring Tennessee, not very far away?
KING: Well, that's what makes it a must-win. He has not spent as much time in Iowa, New Hampshire as the other candidates. He has to win in the first Southern primary. South Carolina is that gateway.
Another big, significant difference this time is, remember, back in 2000, John McCain stunned George W. Bush in New Hampshire. John McCain at that point was 19 points down here in South Carolina. Bush's lead evaporated overnight. But Bush had three weeks to make up the ground, and he did. And he went on to win the nomination.
Now we expect, only a week, eight days or so between New Hampshire and South Carolina. So, that close proximity could make all the campaigning going on right now a lot more important.
BLITZER: All right.
BLITZER: John King is on the scene in South Carolina. John is going to be back at -- in our 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour for our political roundtable with Jack Cafferty and Gloria Borger.
Rudy Giuliani talks about his health in a political ad. It involves his battle against prostate cancer. But does Giuliani have some of his health care facts right or wrong? Wait.
Also, you are going hear how one U.S. congressman is now explaining why deaths are down in Iraq over the past couple months. It is prompting some to ask, did he really mean that? And it is an issue affecting all our safety, thousands of people slipping into the United States at official border crossings. I will ask the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, what is going on.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Rudy Giuliani is trying to show voters he gets their concerns about health care. He highlighted his own fight against prostate cancer in a recent campaign ad. But some are now questioning whether the Republican presidential front-runner got his facts straight.
Let's turn to our medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen. She has been looking into this.
First of all, Elizabeth, tell us what Giuliani claimed and what you have learned. Did he get the numbers right?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to a lot of the folks that we talked to -- in fact, all the folks we talked to -- they said, he did not get his numbers right.
And, Wolf, this has turned into such a brouhaha. I can tell you that much.
Here's what Rudy Giuliani had to say about what happened to -- about the statistics about survivability for prostate cancer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Those figures are absolutely accurate as of the time that I had them. The report indicates that in the United States, back in the year 2000, there was an 82 percent chance of my surviving prostate cancer if it was detected, whereas, in England, there would have been a 43 percent chance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: But, according to the American Cancer Society, those numbers aren't right.
You have got to take a look, Wolf, at the statistics next to me. The ACS says that, in the U.S., Giuliani says survivability in 2000, 82 percent. They say, not right. They say that 92 percent of men who had prostate cancer survived it. So, they said he was off by 10 points.
And, in the U.K., Giuliani said that the number was 43 percent. But the -- a group called Cancer Research U.K. says it is 71 percent. They said that number was also wrong. And that group is about the equivalent of the American Cancer Society. Now, there's one thing that the doctors we talked to said we really have to emphasize. They said these survival numbers are really not the operative numbers here. They said it is actually more accurate to look at the chances that -- of men dying from prostate cancer once they are diagnosed.
And what they said is that, when you look at those men who die from prostate cancer, they said it is kind of a wash. There's no difference between the U.K. and the U.S.
We have this from Dr. Brantley Thrasher. He's a spokesman for the American Urological Association.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. J. BRANTLEY THRASHER, SPOKESPERSON, AMERICAN UROLOGICAL ASSOCIATION: You are not seeing big differences between the U.K. and the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: Now, it is interesting. Dr. Thrasher is not a political man. But he says he's so glad that people are talking about prostate cancer. He says men don't talk about it enough -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. That's true. Thanks very much, Elizabeth Cohen, for that fact-check.
On this Election Day 2007, we are following a few key races in the lead-up to the big 2008 vote. Kentucky is one of two states choosing a new governor today. The incumbent Republican, Ernie Fletcher, is fighting for his political life. His involvement in a hiring scandal helped put him on shaky ground, even though the charges were dropped.
He's being challenged by former Democratic Lieutenant Governor Steve Beshear.
In Mississippi, meanwhile, Republican Governor Haley Barbour is widely expected to cruise to a second term. Unlike many other politicians, Barbour's response to Hurricane Katrina was mostly praised. Barbour is running against John Eaves, who bills himself as a conservative evangelical Democrat.
If there's any election today that may offer clues about the 2008 vote, it is in Virginia. Democrats have a shot at winning back the state Senate and making gains in the statehouse. If they do that, it could be a sign that the once solidly red state is getting perhaps a little bit bluer.
But a bitter battle in Virginia over illegal immigration could work against the Democrats and help Republicans vowing to take a hard line on that specific issue.
In our "Strategy Session": Both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue say they are protecting the taxpayer's dollar. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And the president vetoed this bill because he felt it was fiscally irresponsible.
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MAJORITY LEADER: The president's threat to veto eight of the 12 appropriation bills, including the Labor, HHS, and military construction veterans bill, is political posturing, pure and simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: But is the showdown over government spending a winning issue for either party right now?
And wait until you hear what one congressman -- this one -- said is the reason violence is down in Iraq. You are going to want to see this.
Stay with us -- the "Strategy Session" coming up next, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: We could see -- we could soon see the first override of a veto by President Bush. It involves a bill that addresses water and flood control. And it starts off today's "Strategy Session."
Joining us, Democratic strategist Peter Fenn and Republican strategist John Feehery.
Guys, thanks for coming in.
What does this say, that two-thirds of the House, two-thirds of the Senate, Democrats and Republicans, are going to override this -- this specific presidential veto?
PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I will tell you, I think it puts the president in a tough spot. He hasn't vetoed any spending bills with the Republicans in charge. Now he vetoes this one. He gets overridden.
These are also projects people care a lot about. They are local projects. They are infrastructure projects. And they really do want to see them passed.
BLITZER: Some call that pork-barrel spending.
BLITZER: Some call those earmarks irresponsible.
The president says, it is simply too expensive. The country can't afford it. So, all of a sudden, he is going to start vetoing. He has vetoed this. But he's going to lose this specific battle. JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: This is smart, for the president to start vetoing some of these bills to kind of restore the Republican brand as being conservative on spending.
He did it with SCHIP. He is doing it with WRDA, which is the water resources bill. He will do it with a big appropriations bill.
Peter is right. Republicans, Democrats in the House and Senate love their water projects. And, for a lot of these people, it is really important to keep the water going. In Georgia, Florida and Alabama, they need these water projects.
But the fact of the matter is, for the president and branding for the Republicans as conservative on spending, it is a smart strategy.
BLITZER: But does it undermine the president's status? In effect, does it suggests maybe he's a lame duck?
FENN: Sure. He's total -- a total lame duck.
If he was doing this, Wolf, at the beginning of his term, standing up on spending, but he didn't. He spent and spent and spent. And one of the criticisms that conservative Republicans have had, as well as Democrats, is that he spends like a drunken sailor.
And it doesn't matter whether it is foreign policy for, you know, Iraq, Afghanistan or whatever, where he sends up $200 billion without -- as a supplemental. Now he's going to the draw the line. And it is $22 billion out of $3 trillion.
BLITZER: I want you to listen to what David Obey, a congressman from Wisconsin, said today about a very sensitive issue involving U.S. casualties in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DAVID OBEY (D-WI), HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I would say one of the reasons that you have had incidents of violence, of sectarian violence go down, is because you are running out of people to kill. I mean, they have killed so many in so many areas, that there are fewer opportunity targets, if you want to put it that way, for each side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right.
What do you think, John?
FEEHERY: I like David Obey personally. I worked with him when I was in the House.
But what he said was absolutely outrageous. The fact of the matter is, the terrorists are -- are losing the war now in Iraq. David Obey gets himself very frustrated. And, when he gets frustrated, he ends up saying a lot of stupid things. I think he's really frustrated with this spending fight. I think he's frustrated because the left wing is saying he's not doing enough to end the war.
But the fact of the matter is that what David Obey said there was wrong. And he should apologize.
BLITZER: But some experts have suggested, Peter, that, what, four million Iraqis have been displaced, two million refugees out of the country, two million have been displaced internally, and that Shiites neighborhoods are largely Shiite right now, no Sunnis there. Sunni neighborhoods are largely Sunni neighborhoods, no Shiites right there. And, as a result, there is less of a target of opportunity to kill each other, in effect.
FENN: Well, I think part of that is true.
Look, David Obey obviously is frustrated. We are all frustrated. Everybody is frustrated. I think what he's trying to say here -- and, then, later on in his remarks, he did -- was that this is a heck of a political problem now. This is 80 percent political war, 20 percent military war.
And, you know, we have got to win the political battles, and we are not. And David Obey is -- is -- has been as strong an advocate, you know, for a political solution as anybody in this war.
BLITZER: Let's leave it there. Peter Fenn, John Feehery, thanks to both of you for coming in.
Does the Barack Obama campaign have something against the comedian Stephen Colbert? We are learning some new details of why the funnyman was blocked from the Democratic primary ballot in South Carolina.
And Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul's pockets are much heavier right now. Get this. He's raised more than $4 million in only 24 hours. With that much financial support, why is he still lagging in support in the polls? Will that change? Is it about to change?
And a Republican senator wants to look into possible financial misconduct from some of the most famous TV ministries. We are going to show you some shocking allegations, what's going on. Remember, these are allegations.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: On our Political Ticker this Tuesday, new information about why comedian Stephen Colbert's mock presidential campaign effectively died in South Carolina. CNN has learned two prominent Barack Obama supporters called Democratic Party officials and urged them to keep Colbert off the ballot.
One member of the party executive council says, he felt pressured by an Obama backer to nix Colbert's bid. But the Obama camp is denying any link to efforts to block Colbert from the ballot. And, remember, for the latest political news at any time, you can check out our Political Ticker at CNN.com/ticker.
Right now, something Rudy Giuliani said has many people scratching their heads. Regarding fighting crime, if he becomes president, the Republican candidate suggests he would use one role model's achievement. But that role model is the focus of a criminal investigation.
Let's go to New York. Mary Snow is watching this part of the story for us.
And it involves a former police commissioner, Bernard Kerik. What is going on?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Rudy Giuliani has distanced himself from his onetime close aide. But, Monday, he praised Kerik's work as a police commissioner while he was here in New York.
SNOW (voice-over): From early on, Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign has been concerned about his former police commissioner, Bernard Kerik. Earlier this year, he was among potential problems listed on this internal campaign memo obtained by "The Politico."
Soon, the Giuliani-Kerik relationship could be an even bigger concern. Sources tell CNN a decision on whether Kerik will be indicted on federal charges is expected within the next two weeks, following a probe into allegations that include bribery and tax evasion.
Giuliani recommended Kerik for homeland security secretary in 2004. Kerik withdrew his name after tax issues and a host of other legal problems were exposed. Giuliani admits that he made a mistake.
GIULIANI: I think Bernie Kerik, I should have checked out more carefully. I have said that. I have apologized for it.
SNOW: Kerik's lawyer tells CNN: "The prosecutors are making a decision on whether to charge Mr. Kerik with various crimes. If they make the decision to charge him, we will fight it, and he will win."
On Monday, in New Hampshire, the Republican presidential hopeful touted Kerik's crime-fighting record in New York, suggesting it is more significant than his legal troubles in assessing Giuliani's performance as mayor.
GIULIANI: If you look at the combination of the mistakes I made and the correct decisions I made, I think, if I made the same balance of those as the president of the United States, the country would be in great shape.
EUGENE O'DONNELL, PROFESSOR OF LAW AND POLICE STUDIES, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: It's a true statement that, when he was the mayor, there was a dramatic drop in crime.
SNOW: Eugene O'Donnell is a former police officer and former New York prosecutor who says Giuliani can't take all the credit for the crime drop.
O'DONNELL: In terms of proving that it was him or his administration that brought crime down, that's been studied to death, and there is no conclusive evidence.
SNOW: Focusing on crime-fighting, says one political analyst, is a preemptive strike for Giuliani, as Kerik's legal troubles come into the spotlight again.
LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: He's changing the focus to try to control the focus, to also say that he's already covered the subject, that it is old news.
SNOW: Giuliani and Kerik have been keeping a distance. When we interviewed Kerik back in July, he said he hadn't had any contact with his former boss since months before Giuliani decided to run for president -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Mary, thank you -- Mary Snow watching the story for us.
Let's go back to Jack Cafferty. He's also in New York for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Why would you bring up Bernie Kerik's name, if you know that a decision on a possible criminal indictment is a couple of weeks away? That does not make sense to me.
BLITZER: I didn't understand it either, other than the fact that he's very loyal to Bernard Kerik, always has been, and some people say to a fault.
CAFFERTY: Well, I think to a fault perhaps. And the other part of the equation behind the dramatic decline in crime in this city -- and I lived here during the time Rudy Giuliani was mayor -- the credit goes to Bill Bratton, who is now the police commissioner out in Los Angeles.
Bill Bratton and Rudy came to parting of ways because of a clash of titanic egos. But Bill Bratton was a hell of a police commissioner when he was in New York.
The question this hour, is Ron Paul's candidacy for president getting the attention that it should? Every time we mention this guy's name, it is phenomenal the amount of e-mail we get. I mean, you guys just light it up. And no other candidate gets that kind of response. Granted, he has got a lot of following on the Internet, but it's still big numbers.
Hessam in San Francisco: "Ron Paul is not going to be elected, simply because his policies won't make billions for the corporations who rule this country."
Brad in Florida writes: "Of course his campaign is not getting the attention it deserves. The media wouldn't hear of it. The thing about Paul is that he's getting a lot of support from people of varied political perspectives. I'm a Democrat, and I would vote for him over Clinton any day. Heck, I even sent him $25. People want change, and the front-runners aren't going to deliver."
Joe in Wisconsin: "It absolutely isn't. He wins every post- debate poll. I see his and only his signs all over my city. He sets fund-raising records. But, alas, the media want Rudy vs Hillary, so his campaign is already dead in the water. Pathetic. Our voice means nothing."
William in Rockford, Illinois: "I would have to say no. I have seen very little coverage about him to even form an opinion."
Matthew in New Hampshire writes: "Unless Gore is drafted, this Democrat may just vote for Ron Paul. He has all the right answers and seems to be devoid of the manure that so fills his fellow candidates."
Think about that sentence for a minute.
Chas in Texas: "Ron Paul is my congressman here in Texas, should be a hell of lot more well-known than he is. He is a true man of the people, takes no corporate money, is the most accessible politician I have ever heard of. I'm a Democrat, but I will be voting in the Republican primary, so I can vote for Ron Paul."
And David in Mississippi writes: "At this stage of the game, I would vote for Ron, Paul, George, or Ringo, as long as the Republican Party and Bush are out of the White House" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I love our e-mailers. Jack, thanks very much.
CAFFERTY: That's great, isn't it?
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