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The Situation Room
President Bush's Poll Numbers Hit Historic Low; Iran Calls Clinton's Comments "Provocative" and "Irresponsible"; D.C. Madam Hangs Herself; Immigration Debate on YouTube
Aired May 01, 2008 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, a president dragged down by war -- five years after that so-called "Mission Accomplished" speech, President Bush faces historic disapproval.
Disapproval of a different kind for Hillary Clinton. We're going to show you what's behind Iranian outrage at her and a complaint that's actually been leveled over at the United Nations against her.
Plus, Michelle Obama speaking very candidly about what she calls the painful, difficult controversy dogging her husband's campaign.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
It's one of the most unpopular conflicts in U.S. history and the war in Iraq is fuelling a record spike in President Bush's disapproval rating. It now shows him the most unpopular president in modern American history -- even surpassing Richard Nixon at the height of Watergate. The news comes as the White House confronts an awkward war anniversary.
Let's go to the White House. Elaine Quijano is watching this story for us.
All right, first of all, what are they saying over there about the president's poll numbers? First of all, give us those poll numbers, which show a dramatic high in his disapproval.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, it is no secret that Iraq War fatigue, essentially, has dragged down President Bush's poll numbers for some time. But today marks a new low.
QUIJANO (voice-over): With the Iraq War now five years old and U.S. deaths rising, President Bush's standing among the American people has fallen sharply. A new CNN/Opinion Research poll puts the president's disapproval rating at 71 percent -- well surpassing those of President Nixon at 66 percent and President Truman at 67 percent.
The number represents a stark shift from when the president spoke in front of the now infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner. GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.
QUIJANO: That White House stagecraft five years ago has come to symbolize the Bush administration's miscalculations in Iraq. War critics today seized on that speech with a protest. And on the campaign trail this...
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You remember when George Bush, five years ago, put up a big sign in front of an aircraft carrier saying "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. I'm sure they thought it was good politics. Except five years later, we're still in this war in Iraq.
QUIJANO: The Bush administration argues "Mission Accomplished" referred to the sailors completing their mission, not the broader Iraq War.
TONY FRATTO, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Now, our goals today, looking forward, are to make sure that the -- that the government of Iraq and the new army of Iraq is an effective fighting force to continue the fight against those insurgents and criminals and militias.
QUIJANO: For his part, the president made no mention of Iraq, marking the national day of prayer. But he alluded to his own struggles as commander-in-chief.
BUSH: I may have been a little hard-headed at times. But I'm absolutely convinced it was the prayers of the people who helped me understood in turbulence you can find calm and strength. And I thank you for those prayers.
QUIJANO: Now, in hindsight, officials here say that "Mission Accomplished" banner should have been more specific. And aides acknowledge that the administration has paid a price for the message sent on that day -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Elaine, thank you.
Hillary Clinton is coming under fire, not from a political rival, but from Iran. The country's government is responding furiously to remarks Senator Clinton made about how she would handle any Iranian attack against Israel.
Let's to go Brian Todd. He's watching this story for us.
Brian, explain what's going on.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, in speaking about Iran recently Hillary Clinton has used words like attack and obliterate. It looks like Tehran's had about enough.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice-over): Fresh confrontations with Iran -- this time on the campaign trail. Hillary Clinton gets brush back from the Tehran regime over remarks she made the day of the Pennsylvania primary on ABC's "Good Morning America".
Asked how she'd respond if Iran gets nuclear weapons and even considers attacking Israel...
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We would be able totally obliterate them. That's a terrible thing to say, but those people who run Iran need to understand that.
TODD: In a letter to the U.N. secretary-general obtained by CNN, Iran's deputy ambassador to the U.N. calls Mrs. Clinton's statement, "provocative, unwarranted and irresponsible, in flagrant violation of the U.N. charter." He says his country has no intention of attacking any other nation. A Clinton aide points out Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called for Israel to be wiped off the map and the aide says the U.N. letter is an attempt to change the subject from that.
But on the same ABC program on the same day, Barack Obama was also critical of Senator Clinton's language.
OBAMA: Using words like obliterate doesn't actually produce good results.
TODD: Clinton's aides say what it does produce is deterrence -- making clear to Iran how serious the consequences of an attack would be. All three presidential candidates stress their first goal is to prevent Iran from even acquiring nuclear weapons.
But recently, Hillary Clinton's talked tougher than Obama or John McCain on what she would do if Tehran got them and threatened U.S. allies. Analysts say this underscores how politically difficult Iran really is for the candidates.
JON ALTERMAN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I don't think anybody is sure how to deal with Iran. And the fact is, Iran has a presidential election of its own coming up in June 2009. And that may change the tone.
TODD: Now if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is still in power after that election, the only candidate willing to meet directly with him is Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton wants to engage with Iranian regime, but won't meet with its president.
John McCain wants to keep sanctions in place and not go any further than communicating with Iran through America's European allies -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, Hillary Clinton has got some other controversial ideas in terms of trying to deter Iran.
Now, what is she referring to?
TODD: She does, Wolf. And we've reported on this. She wants to not only deter Iran from attacking Israel, she says she'll also protect allies like Saudi Arabia and Egypt from Iran, if those nations agree not to pursue nuclear weapons. The other two candidates won't go nearly that far.
BLITZER: Brian, thanks very much.
Brian Todd reporting.
Let's check back with Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: So after suggesting Israel should be wiped off the map and pursuing nuclear weapons, what is Iran's point -- that they ought to be able to acquire nuclear weapons and pose a threat to their neighbors, like Israel, without any possible repercussions from anybody who might want to defend Israel?
I mean I think...
BLITZER: I think that's their point.
CAFFERTY: Well, I think Hillary Clinton's absolutely right. If you get these weapons -- which we don't think you ought to have -- and if you even think about doing anything to Israel or any other peace- loving folks, we will make a big mess out of your situation over there. I mean mutually assured destruction is what kept the cold war cold for a whole lot of years.
All right, on to other things.
If you want to know which way the political winds are blowing, it's a good idea to look at the young. Trends in the opinions of our youngest voters are often a barometer of shifting political tides.
For the Democrats, as we approach the 2008 election, this is great news. For the Republicans, not so good -- in fact, terrible.
The Pew Research Center did a survey of young people between October of last year March of this year. And what they found was the current generation of younger voters who came of age during the George W. Bush years is giving the Democrats a wide advantage in party identification. Fifty-eight percent -- it's almost two to one -- 58 percent of voters under the age of 30 surveyed during that period of time identified are leaning toward the Democratic Party, compared with just 33 percent who identified or leaned toward the Republican Party.
In fact, the Democratic Party's current lead in party identification among young voters has more than doubled since the 2004 campaign. It was 11 points then, it's 25 points now.
In fact, the Democrats' advantage among young voters is now so broad-based, that young men are now the only age category in the entire electorate where men are significantly more inclined to identify themselves as Democrats rather than Republicans. And if you're John McCain it's a big problem.
So here's the question: Why can't the Republican Party attract more voters under the age of 30?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and you can post a comment on my blog.
And we're seeing these record registrations by young people, college kids turning out to Barack Obama rallies all across the country. It's like they've suddenly been reinvigorated. I think that's a good thing.
BLITZER: It's a great thing.
BLITZER: We want young people to get out there participate and vote.
BLITZER: Right now, old people do that. We want the younger people to do it.
CAFFERTY: Yes. Take some of the responsibility off our shoulders.
BLITZER: I'm totally with you, Jack.
A campaign fending off controversy -- now Michelle Obama speaks candidly about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Yes, it was painful. Yes, it's been difficult.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You're going to find out what she says the campaign is doing now to move forward. Michelle Obama talking one-on-one with our Suzanne Malveaux.
Also, a tragic twist in the case of the so-called "D.C. Madam". Police are releasing new details of a truly shocking development.
Plus, the Church of Scientology confronting controversy head-on on the Internet. We're going to show you what's going on. Abbi Tatton is standing by.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Police in Florida say a woman who apparently committed suicide near Tampa today is Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called "D.C. Madam". She was awaiting sentencing after being convicted last month of running a high-end prostitution ring here in Washington.
Kathleen Koch is following this shocking story for us -- Kathleen, what are you learning?
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, those who know her are calling this a tragic end for a woman who all along maintained she'd done nothing wrong.
KOCH (voice-over): Tarpon Springs, Florida police say it was Deborah Jeane Palfrey's 76-year-old mother who found her body.
CAPT. JEFFREY YOUNG, TARPON SPRINGS, FLORIDA POLICE: When she went outside, she noticed a three wheel bicycle had been moved that was normally kept in the shed. Upon entering the shed, located on the west side of the residence, Blanche Palfrey discovered her daughter Deborah had apparently hung herself using a nylon rope from a metal beam on the ceiling of the shed.
KOCH: Palfrey was pronounced dead on the scene. Police say several notes were found that described her intention to take her life. But they say Palfrey's mother had no indication she was despondent. An autopsy will be conducted, but police, who found no signs of foul play, are calling it an apparent suicide.
It was an unexpected end for
Palfrey, who long maintained she ran a legal adult fantasy service.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM MARCH 2007)
DEBORAH PALFREY, "D.C. MADAM": No promises or claims, directly or indirectly, was ever made to a client that he should expect the associate to perform illegal acts for hire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOCH: But the case drained her finances. She was found guilty last month of money laundering, racketeering and mail fraud. Palfrey was due to be sentenced July 24 and faced more than 50 years in jail. She'd served time in jail in the past and in an exclusive CNN interview in March, expressed concern about the approaching proceedings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALFREY: I am looking at 55 years in a federal penitentiary. And at my age, that's virtually a life sentence.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KOCH: Palfrey was writing a book about her experiences, which she described on CNN's Larry King.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "LARRY KING LIVE")
PALFREY: It's been quite crazy for me personally. I think it has played out somewhat the way I would have imagined.
KOCH: Though the way it ended is not what anyone imagined.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, which prosecuted Palfrey, said, "We extend our condolences to Ms. Palfrey's family" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Kathleen Koch, thank you.
Happening now, thousands of people across the country are taking part in protests against crackdowns on illegal immigration. There are rallies and marches happening this hour in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Earlier, there were similar events in cities, including Chicago, New York, Detroit and Milwaukee, with demonstrators calling for immigration reform that includes a path toward citizenship. Turnout this year is far below last May 1, when hundreds of thousands of people took part in the marches.
Two filmmakers unhappy with the immigration debate are using one of the most popular sites on the Internet to try to make their case.
Let's go to our homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve. She's watching this story for us.
What is the story here -- Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, in Prince William County, Virginia, the immigration debate rages as fiercely as it does anywhere. Last October, the county's board of supervisors directed police to check the immigration status of crime suspects -- even those stopped for minor infractions like speeding. But two filmmakers felt only one side of the argument was being heard. They are now using interactive technology to make the pro-immigrant case, sometimes with anti-immigration voices.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is about illegal aliens, which are criminals.
MESERVE (voice-over): There is passion and point of view in the 95 YouTube videos made and posted by filmmakers Annabel Park and Eric Byler. Here, an angry county resident confronts adults that speak little English.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My ancestors came here...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When's the first time...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...before there was a Constitution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got (INAUDIBLE) illegals.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before there was...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there was no government.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: (INAUDIBLE) were Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, guys.
MESERVE: Situations like this resonate with Park.
ANNABEL PARK, FILMMAKER: They were asking their children to speak for them.
ERIC BYLER, FILMMAKER: And she relates to that because, as an immigrant, she has had to speak for her parents so many times.
MESERVE: Park was nine when she emigrated from Korea and she says many of the complaints being directed at illegal immigrants from Latin America were once aimed at her.
Their YouTube channel, 9500 Liberty, selects feedback from visitors.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, if you're going to represent white people, don't do it like that.
MESERVE: The feedback can generate new films, creating an interactive town square. Park and Byler started it to counter the Web site Black Velvet Bruce Li, which has been at the vanguard of the county's anti-illegal immigrant movement.
BYLER: There was an epidemic of misinformation in the county, where people are running around screaming about things that just weren't true and we knew it. We had filmed it.
MESERVE: But Greg Letiecq, the administrator of Black Velvet Bruce Li, says it is the filmmakers who are not truthful.
GREG LETIECQ, BLACK VELVET BRUCE LI WEB ADMINISTRATOR: They're selectively editing film that they've shot in order to make everyone who disagree with them look like a racist. MESERVE: These week, as they videotaped, the county board of supervisors limited the circumstances under which police will be able to ask immigrants for identification. The filmmakers see it as a victory.
MESERVE: Ultimately, Byler and Park hope to produce a feature length documentary and persuade Prince William County that the solution to the immigration situation is not harsh laws, but in dialogue -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jeanne Meserve, thank you.
The presidential candidates have similar stances on this hot button issue. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama voted in favor of the comprehensive immigration reform bill, backed by President Bush and John McCain, who cosponsored it. But the measure never cleared the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I got the message they want the border secured first. We can do that with technology, my friends. And we can do it with walls in urban areas. We can use UAVs. We can use sensors and cameras and vehicle barriers and hiring more Border Patrol, etc.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Clinton and Obama differ on a guest worker program. She opposes it, saying it could depress U.S. wages. Obama supports it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I would say come out of the shadows. And you have a certain limited period to do that, after which, if you are found, you are deported. And we will register you. If you have committed a crime in this country or the country you came from and we can prove it, you are gone, deported, no questions asked.
And if you are willing to stay here under certain conditions, and you meet those conditions, then you can be on a path to legalization.
B. OBAMA: If you register, you pay a fine, you pay back taxes, you learn English, you go to the back of the line so that you're not getting -- you're not getting an advantage over people who are still waiting in Mexico City or waiting in Lagos to arrive here legally, then we will put you on a pathway to become legal citizens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Coming up, a terror trial yielding new video of the deadly attack. We're going to show you images you've never seen before of the London subway bombings.
Plus, a church entering some hostile territory on the Web. Find out what the Church of Scientology is doing and why.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
Carol, what's going on?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the trial of three men charged with conspiracy in the 2005 London transit bombings is underway. And today videos of the chaos and the horrified reactions were shown to jurors. Links to the videos were posted on London's Metropolitan Police Web site. On July 7, 2005, four bombs exploded on three underground trains and one double-decker bus. Fifty-two were killed, along with the four bombers.
Forty-five people are dead after twin suicide attacks today in the middle of a wedding convoy in Iraq. Women and children are reported among the casualties.
Dozens of people are wounded. The bombings took place in a market district in Diyala Province, northeast of Baghdad. Iraq's Interior Minister says one of the two bombers was a woman. This is Iraq's fourth attack involving a female suicide bomber in 11 days.
He's a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a symbol of freedom. But "USA Today" is reporting former South African president, Nelson Mandela, is flagged on U.S. terrorist watch lists. That's because in the '70s and '80s, South Africa's ruling white minority designated his party, the African National Congress, as a terrorist group. Other countries, including the United States, followed suit. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls the situation "embarrassing." Some members of Congress are vowing to fix it.
Take a look at the wide screen. You're seeing what's being called the world's longest sea crossing structure. Today, China held a ceremony to formally open a 22-mile bridge linking Shanghai to the industrial city of Ningbo. The six lane bridge cuts the driving distance between the two cities by 75 miles. Construction began in 2003 and is already done. Some of the financing came from private sources. That's a first for such a large infrastructure project in China.
I think that thing would have taken about 20 years to build here in the United States -- Wolf.
BLITZER: That's taken forever n they've still got problems with it, apparently, as well.
All right, thanks very much for that, Carol.
Fairy tales and the race for the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: I sometimes feel like the Goldilocks of this campaign. You know, not too much, not too little, just right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We're going to show you what major campaign issue Hillary Clinton is talking about and why Barack Obama says she's just wrong.
Also, one-on-one with Michelle Obama, talking very personally about trying to move on from the controversy over her family's former pastor.
And John McCain coming to President Bush's defense on this, the fifth anniversary of that so-called "Mission Accomplished" speech.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, swing states -- which Democratic candidate is stronger against John McCain in the places that some say matter the most?
We're taking a closer look.
Also, the race for North Carolina -- Hillary Clinton has the support of the governor, but does he have the political machine to help her pull off a win next Tuesday?
I'll ask him.
And global food crisis -- President Bush is asking for $770 million in emergency aid money. We're going to have the latest on the worldwide shortages.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The Obama campaign is trying to move on from the controversy over the candidate's former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. But the candidate's wife, Michelle Obama, says very candidly it's been hard.
She spoke with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. She had a fascinating interview.
What else did Michelle Obama -- Suzanne -- tell you?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, she is called the rock behind Barack and she really lived up to that name. She was funny, she was engaging and she was also adamant that they are moving forward.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MALVEAUX (voice-over): She called the rock behind Barack. Michelle Obama now barn storming across Indiana with Caroline Kennedy in tow on a mission to win over critical female voters. Talking about health care, education, and the next generation of voters.
M. OBAMA: The thing that keeps us going is understanding that we're in this because of kids. Not just our kids, but all the kids that we see out there.
CAROLINE KENNEDY, OBAMA SUPPORTER: As a parent, I know my own children and so many other younger people across this country have been turned on to politics, inspired.
MALVEAUX: Part of getting that message out is putting her family's controversial Pastor Jeremiah Wright behind them. A tough and personal decision.
M. OBAMA: Yes, it was painful. Yes, it's been difficult. But I think that, you know, the more difficult thing that this country is facing is really trying to move politics into conversations around problems and problem solving. And that's what we're going to be pretty determined to do.
MALVEAUX: Michelle Obama's determination is clear. But Obama family associates who quietly have been trying to convince Wright to lay low worry he may have more to say. Not their focus.
M. OBAMA: We are going to, with everything in our power, if allowed to by the press, to move forward. We can't speculate about what other people will do.
MALVEAUX: It's just one hurdle in a long, grueling campaign. Michelle's greatest challenge, not letting it takes a toll on the family.
M. OBAMA: The toughest thing, you know, for Barack and I is when we're not together. When he doesn't see his girls.
MALVEAUX: It's a race that's gotten nastier and more racially polarized. But Michelle Obama says they are equipped to deal with both.
M. OBAMA: We grew up in Chicago, Chicago politics, it's tough. Politics is tough. And there's nothing fair about it. You know, we're focused on people who are ready to turn the page.
MALVEAUX: And despite the ups and downs in the race, she still has faith in the outcome. Are you still confident that your husband can win?
M. OBAMA: Yes. Absolutely.
MALVEAUX: And, Wolf, she points to the fact that Barack Obama has the lead when it comes to pledged delegates that he continues to get more super delegates as we even saw today, the flip of one of those super delegates going from the Clinton to Obama camp. One thing they'll do that's a little different over the weekend, it's going to the whole Obama family including their two daughters out on the campaign trail as we get much closer to those critical primaries in Indiana here as well as North Carolina -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Suzanne. Thanks very much.
Suzanne Malveaux on the road.
Let's talk a little bit more about Michelle Obama. For that we're joined by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen. She's a supporter of Hillary Clinton. Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, he is a supporter of Barack Obama and Republican analyst Tony Blankley, he is just a supporter.
Thanks very much for coming in.
Let me start with Hilary Rosen. She's obviously very attractive woman but she said some controversial things, Hilary Rosen, we're talking to about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But Michelle Obama is she more of an asset or a liability given some of the controversial statements she's made about not necessarily being proud of her country until her husband got into this race right now.
Obviously Bill Clinton, another spouse in this campaign said some controversial things as well. Spouses can influence what voters think.
HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Usually they don't. But Michelle Obama's very impressive. I don't think that there's really any downside to her campaigning out there.
BLITZER: Do you understand the context of what she meant when she said those controversial words about not being proud of her country until now?
ROSEN: I take her at her word that she didn't intend it to mean the way it sounded, that she was just incredibly proud of her husband and that she was filled with the moment. I think that spouses generally in this campaign are doing a pretty good job. It's not easy being the spouse of a presidential candidate. You know, she didn't sort of grow up as a politician the way that the senator had planned on it for so long. This is what I'm going to take a pass on. I think she's pretty good.
BLITZER: Ron Kirk, she's getting hammered especially from the right for those remarks. What do you think?
RON KIRK, FORMER DALLAS MAYOR: I think that Michelle Obama is a remarkably strong and compassionate woman and has done an incredible job, first of all, of keeping their family together. The one thing when I've had the few occasions to talk to Senator Obama about, we always talked about our girls and our family.
I think first Michelle has proven to have been just a remarkable mother. An intellect in her own right. Over the last several days in particular, I think America has seen how comforting she is, how much of a pillar of strength that she is for Senator Obama. I think she's very much a plus and particularly on the hills of the issue with Reverend Wright.
I think she's given America a chance to see the Obama that so many of us have come to know and love and appreciate for their commitment to wanting to move America in a more promising direction. I think she's a plus.
BLITZER: Tony what do you think?
TONY BLANKLEY, REPUBLICAN ANALYST: I've always believed that if a member of the family is not being put forward by the campaign, simply, respectfully, not to talk about them. But she has been put forward. And objectively, as remarkable a woman and accomplished a woman as she is, she's made statements that you've referred to that objectively have had a negative consequence on the campaign.
America being downright mean, never proud of America. Those obviously have effects on some people. I think a fair number of people. Now, I think she's been much better in the last week, to be very careful about what she's saying. She's a potential asset. But up until now, I would argue that she's been more negative than positive. Maybe not in the Democratic primary. I'm not sure. But my sense is broadly in the country.
BLITZER: Hilary Rosen go ahead.
ROSEN: Well, I think Ron is wrong about one thing, which is that, you know, I don't think she changed the equation at all with the Reverend Wright situation. I don't think this is necessarily Senator Obama's fault. But this is going to be a problem for this campaign, for the Obama campaign going forward. No amount of wholesomeness from the Obama's really is going to make it go away because there's just too much invested in those who oppose Obama to let it go away.
I think the Republicans won't let it go away. I think the Clinton campaign has actually been pretty quiet about it. But I don't think that anything makes the Wright situation not be a problem for Obama for the rest of the campaign.
KIRK: I'm not saying -- I'm not trying to proffer it's not going to be a problem or not. I do think it helps America to understand the Obama's as the Obama's are rather than being defined through someone else's words or through the eyes of the Republican Party. That as I noted yesterday would much rather talk about Reverend Wright or anything but the sorry manner in which they have prosecuted this war on terror, their mishandling of this economy, their mishandling of our nation's security and everything from Katrina to our food change and anything else. Of course they'd rather talk about these issues.
BLITZER: Tony, go ahead and respond.
BLANKLEY: Look, I think that any time a politician, I've worked for a few, have a personal issue arise, they always want to get on to the substantive issues. But until they resolve it as well as they can, there's going to be a public interest. Obama has done a very bad job of talking about Reverend Wright from the beginning.
He obviously has a deep emotional attachment to him and he's been hesitant to be forthright. I'm not sure he is now. The only thing new he learned in the last four or five days about Wright was when he said Obama was a politician. Everything else we'd heard before. That was the issue that apparently triggered his angry statement. I'm not sure that works to Obama's advantage.
BLITZER: But Tony, does Obama deserve any credit for loyalty, for being loyal to his former pastor, his pastor for 20 years, and trying not to throw him under the bus, as they say?
BLANKLEY: If virtue were profitable everybody would be virtuous. Sometimes virtue is not profitable. And his loyalty may be admirable but it may work adversely to his interest.
KIRK: You know, for a party that's built itself on trying to hold itself out as being more steeped in Christian values we just aren't seeing any of that from any of these Republican spokespeople over the past several weeks. Michelle Obama and Barack Obama are good, decent people at their core. This was an extremely painful thing for them to go through. I don't think it had anything to do with political expediency, but it spoke more to the genuineness of their own faith.
BLITZER: All right. Hold on. Hilary, hold on. I'm going to take a quick break but we're going to continue this conversation.
Lots more to talk about including Hillary Clinton now likening herself to a fairy tale character. We'll tell you what she's talking about and more.
Also, rising food costs. Could they have more of an impact on your pocketbook than sky high gas prices? That's what one U.S. Senator is now saying. And he brought props to illustrate his point. We'll have the details.
Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Soaring gas prices. What Americans are talking about and the presidential candidates as well?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: In our nation's capital, some of the wealthiest people I know live a very short distance from where they work. They live in Georgetown. Some of the people who do really hard work and our lower- income people live as far as 40 or 50 miles away. And they drive older automobiles. Why don't we give them a little break?
B. OBAMA: For us to pretend like we're solving the problem by giving people 30 cents a day for a grand total of $28, and that's it, that's our plan to deal with gas prices and energy? CLINTON: Another reason why I'm pushing this gas tax holiday, you know, Senator Obama says we shouldn't do it and it's a gimmick and Senator McCain says we should do it but we shouldn't pay for it, I sometimes feel like the Goldilocks of this campaign. You know, not too much, just too little, just right. And I think we should have a gas tax holiday and pay for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And she wants to pay for it with a tax windfall profit tax on Exxon Mobil and other big oil companies. Let's discuss with our Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen she is a Clinton supporter, the former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk an Obama supporter and Republican analyst Tony Blankley.
Tony let me start you. What do you think? Because McCain's proposal is to pay for it just from general funds, meaning the U.S. is going to go further into debt to pay for the money that was supposed to go out there to rebuild roads and rebuild bridges?
BLANKLEY: I'm in favor of cutting taxes. But I think Obama has the better of the analysis on this. I think this is a gimmick. A three-month and then back up again. I don't think it makes much difference. I don't like Hillary's idea of raising taxes, obviously. I don't think this really addresses one way or the other the central problem, which is we're not producing enough oil. As a result, the price of oil is going up.
BLITZER: But explain Tony what's wrong with raising taxes on a company like Exxon Mobil that in the first three months of this year took in almost $11 billion in profits?
BLANKLEY: I'll tell you what's wrong with it. Which is that any oil company has to have money to invest to produce more oil. We need more and more oil to be produced. Every expert in the world knows that 30 years from now we're still going to need -- our supply will be 80 percent oil and natural gas.
Either you're going to have it done by the private sector and corporations or you are going to socialize the process. Most of the socialized oil companies are inefficient and aren't extracting oil officially. I'd like to see profit making pharmaceuticals, oil companies investing their profits and delivering the products and services we need.
BLITZER: What do you think, Hilary?
ROSEN: This is going to be a big issue, I think, going forward in the next few months. Senator McCain has opposed every single alternative fuels energy bill that's come before the Senate. What Senator Clinton has said and Senator Obama to his credit is the real energy plan is to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and to look for alternative fuels. I think Senator Clinton is doing both.
She's saying let's have a gas tax holiday. Let's put a wind fall profits tax on companies that are reporting their largest profits in history while Americans are going to the tanks with the highest prices ever. And Senator Obama I'm kind of disappointed. All he can do is sort of snark about it. He ought to come up with something instead of criticizing everybody else.
BLITZER: Mayor, she says she's like Goldilocks, not too hot, not too cold, and just right.
KIRK: In the sense that if you believe in fairy tales you can -- first of all, it would take a fairy tale of enormous proportions to believe anything's going to happen in the next three months in this Congress. It isn't going to happen.
Hilary, I didn't interrupt you.
I think Joe Andrews said it best when he announced the rational for his switching support from Senator Clinton to Senator Obama in that he saw an extraordinary amount of courage and honesty both in Senator Obama's response to Reverend Wright but particularly in Senator Obama's rejection of this just summer election gimmick in terms of holding out this false hope of a gas tax.
Senator Tony is right in that every economist in the country looked at this and said it was bad economic policy, the long terms in terms of energy not only do we have to look for alternative sources of new energy but we also have to change our consumptive behavior. In putting in a temporary gas tax would do nothing to encourage Americans to change our consumption of energy. It's a bad idea and Senator Obama is being applauded for it.
BLITZER: We get the point. Thanks very much. We'll continue this conversation tomorrow.
Hilary Rosen, Ron Kirk and Tony Blankley.
John McCain's wife tells Jay Leno that she and her husband began their marriage on what she calls a tissue of lies. We're going to tell you what she meant. We'll update you on that.
Also, the best political team on television parodied. We'll show you one popular sitcom's spoof. A spoof that you'll want to see, maybe.
Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: I'm sure you heard us mention the phrase the best political team on television at least once or twice. You heard it here in the SITUATION ROOM. It's popped up now on a popular television show, "Boston Legal." Last night.
Look at this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to comment. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I get you to talk for just a second with the best political news team on television?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the best political news team on television. You only got it here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty, I have nothing to say.
CAFFERTY: I can't follow that. That's pretty funny, actually. Except they didn't have it quite right. We're not the best political news team. You coined the phrase best political team on television. That guy was a little more animated than you are. But he looks a little like you.
CAFFERTY: All right.
The question this hour is: Why can't the Republican Party attract more voters under the age of 30?
All the new registration of young people, almost two to one, Democrats over Republicans.
A.J. writes: "It won't happen with a 72-year-old candidate who thinks we might be sending our young people to Iraq for 100 years."
Grog writes: "Simple, stop nominating tired old men with tired old ideas from a different era and find a vibrant, young, forward thinking candidate. McCain reminds youthful voters of their feeble grandfather. Even though Romney didn't connect as well as he needed to, he certainly would have been a more attractive choice for young voters. How about a candidate that has some original ideas and isn't one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence?"
John rights: "I'm a young voter. If the GOP shifted towards Ron Paul's ideas and if Ron Paul got more coverage there'd be a lot more young Republicans. They shot themselves in the foot for not treating Ron Paul like a viable candidate."
Steve in Idaho writes: "John McCain can have Hannah Montana as his running mate. Between McCain being too old to be president and Hannah Montana being too young to be president, it should balance out just perfectly. She's got a great following of young people. The trouble is most of them are only 12-years-old.
Ken in Birmingham, Alabama: "I'm not sure it matters. The youth get fired up, they go to rallies, they think their candidates is a rock star, then they to bed, proceed not to get out of bed to vote. As a group, they're reliable nonvoters. It doesn't matter.
Martha in Michigan writes: "What's up, Jack? If John M.C. wants to pull the hip hop crowd, he should adorn himself with bling and do a rap video where he's pimping hot, half naked women in a bouncing low- rider while flashing platinum capped teeth and large stacks of cash. No doubt. Peace out."
If you didn't see your e-mail here you can go to the blog at CNN.com/caffertyfile.
You should go there and read this stuff because we only get to run five or six of these each hour but there are hundreds of them on the blog site. Its terrific reading. There are a lot of creative, well informed bright folks out there.
Can you see John McCain in a low rider?
CAFFERTY: All adorned with bling, platinum teeth?
BLITZER: Enough. Thank you.
The Church of Scientology has launched a channel of official videos on YouTube, a Web site which traditionally has been sort of hostile territory for the church. Let's go to our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton.
Abbi what are they putting online?
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: There are more than 80 videos now here about the church's beliefs and testimonials from some members.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I literally want to have a pin that says I'm a scientologist. If you have questions come ask me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TATTON: These are all part of the new YouTube channel on YouTube that's run by the Church of Scientology. To answer the question, what is scientology? The thing is on YouTube there are already plenty of answers to that question, just not the kind of ones that the church perhaps wants you to see.
More than two million people have watched this video of actor and Scientologist Tom Cruise. This was put their in January him discussing his belief, the church called that pirated and edited and one version was pulled.
More people have watched this video from a group calls themselves anonymous vowing to destroy the church. A spokesman for the Church of Scientology tells me today, this is us providing information about what we are. There's no place to comment, though, on the YouTube channel. Comments have been disabled, though that spokesman tells me people should feel free to e-mail us directly -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Abbi, for that.
In Pennsylvania, Hillary Clinton got a huge assist from the Governor Ed Rendell. Now North Carolina's governor is trying to help her pull off an upset in his state. Can he deliver?
Immigration protests in cities around the country. You'll get Lou Dobbs' take on what it is all about.
Stay with us. You are in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: In our political ticker here's a new angle on the old story of John McCain's age. On the "Tonight Show" last night, Cindy McCain said that when the couple first met, they both, they both lied about their age. She was 25 but told him she was 29. He was 42 but said he was 38. Cindy McCain says they didn't find out the truth until they actually applied for their marriage license.
Let's go to Lou Dobbs. He's getting ready for his show that begins in an hour.
We're going to talk a little bit about these demonstrations, today, May 1. A lot of demonstrations, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, a lot of other places.
LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Absolutely.
BLITZER: They're calling for immigration reform for the millions of illegal immigrants. What do you think?
DOBBS: Here's what I think. Wolf, take a look around here, can you see flags everywhere. We are celebrating here -- this is simply not Immigration Day as this network and some of the shows on it have suggested. No. This is National Law Day where we celebrate law. How many news organizations did that? Well, not many.
As far as we know not any as far as on this show in one hour we're going to be doing exactly that. For 50 years this has been National Law Day, and we think that's really important. And it's sort of ironic that people went out and started holding immigration rallies and other rallies and suggesting its Immigration Day, May 1.
No, it's Law Day. We think it's a nation of laws first. We're celebrating.
I think that's the reason those rallies were down to about 10 percent of last year's turnout because a lot of people have learned since we reported a year ago it's National Law Day. Isn't that happy? Happy Law Day.
BLITZER: Happy Law Day, to you Lou.
We'll learn a lot more about it in one hour. Thank you.