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Cindy McCain Releases Tax Returns; Hillary Clinton Explains Controversial Comments About Senator Robert Kennedy; Obama Tries to Sway Cuban-American Voters

Aired May 23, 2008 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, breaking news -- after promising she wasn't going to do it, Cindy McCain now releases her tax returns. We'll have a live report on just how much money she made and how many dollars she paid in taxes.

Also, we're about to hear directly from Hillary Clinton about a very controversial reference she made to Bobby Kennedy's assassination back in 1968. You're going to hear for yourself what she's now saying.

Stay with us.

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

John McCain's heiress wife has long refused to make her tax returns public. But that has changed only moments ago.

Let's go straight to CNN's Mary Snow. She's watching this story.

It wasn't that long ago -- only days ago she said she would never do this. All of a sudden, the McCain campaign does it. They've released her tax returns for 2006, filed separately from her husband.

What's going on?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and Wolf, it comes as a final hours of a Friday afternoon, before a holiday weekend, and just hours after Senator John McCain's campaign made his medical records available.

A campaign spokesman, in trying to explain the reversal -- you know, Cindy McCain had said that she would not do this because of the privacy of her children. And a campaign spokesman now is saying that while she still has those concerns, she did not want this to become a distraction from the other issues.

Those tax returns from 2006 show that she had $6 million in total income, with taxes about $1.7 million.

Now, Cindy McCain has said that in her 28 years of being married to Senator John McCain, they have separate assets; therefore, filed separate returns. And that's why she was not going to make these documents public. They had come under criticism, though, including Democrats, who said that they were troubled by the lack of transparency, saying the public should be able to see John McCain's political career and the business.

As you know, Cindy McCain is an heiress to her family's beer distribution company. Some reports say that she could possibly be worth up to $100 million.

So this is a big reversal. And asked about the timing, the campaign is saying she decided this recently. This is the first time we were able to do this, but said now they have now exceeded what the Democrats did in 2004, when Teresa Heinz Kerry was forced to release her tax returns in the final months of the campaign -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A very, very busy day for all of us.

Thanks very much, Mary, for that. We'll get back to you.

Also, on the Democratic front, very controversial comments made by Hillary Clinton. And now she's explaining what she meant.

Let's go right to Brian Todd, who's watching this story for us -- all right, Brian, give us the background. Tell us what's going on, because we're about to see some video tape from Hillary Clinton.

But give us the background.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We'll set it up in sequence, Wolf.

She was speaking to a newspaper editorial board earlier today and mentioned Bobby Kennedy's assassination when talking about the primary campaign.

Here's what she said earlier.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People have been trying to push me out of this ever since Iowa. I don't find that...


CLINTON: I don't know.


CLINTON: I don't know. I don't -- I find it curious, because it is -- it is unprecedented in history. I don't understand it. And, you know, between my opponent and his camp and some in the media, there has been this urgency to end this. And, you know, historically that makes no sense. So I find it a bit of a mystery.

QUESTION: You don't buy the party unity argument? CLINTON: I don't.

QUESTION: Why not?

CLINTON: Because, again, I've been around long enough. You know, my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June.


CLINTON: Right. We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.

You know, I just -- I don't understand it. And, you know, there's lots of speculation about why it is but...

QUESTION: What's your speculation?

CLINTON: You know, I don't know. I find it curious. And I don't want to attribute motives or strategies to people because I don't really know.


TODD: Those were comments made to the editorial board of a South Dakota newspaper called the "Argus Leader".

Now, the Obama campaign was quick to fire this off, a statement saying: "Senator Clinton's statement before the "Argus Leader" editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this campaign."

But the Clinton campaign tells us she was simply pointing out that primaries often go until June. The quote from the campaign is that she was simply referencing her husband in 1992 and Bobby Kennedy in 1968, of historical examples of the nominating process going well into the summer. Any reading into it beyond that is inaccurate and outrageous.

And just moments ago, as we heard our producer Peter Hamby, in South Dakota report, Mrs. Clinton came out with further clarification, saying, again, I was referring to my husband's campaign in 1992 and the campaign in 1968. I was referencing those to make the point that we have had the nominating primary contests that go into June. That's an historic fact.

She did voice some regret there. She said, "The Kennedys have been much on my mind in the last days because of news of Senator Kennedy and his diagnosed brain tumor." She says, "I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, and particularly for the Kennedy family, was in any way offensive."

So Mrs. Clinton, Wolf, trying to at least put all of this in context. She does say she regrets those remarks.

BLITZER: All right. And we're standing by for that video tape to be fed to THE SITUATION ROOM. As we get it, our viewers will see it, as well.

Brian, stand by. We've got more news on your front coming up, as well.

Barack Obama set to sway Cuban-Americans in Florida today. As a Democrat who says he'd sit down with America's foes, he had his work cut out for him meeting with a group that historically votes Republican and is bitterly opposed to the Havana regime.

Let's go CNN's John Zarrella. He's our man in Miami, watching this story.

John, a tough crowd. How did Obama do today?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, by all indications, he was certainly well received. You know, he came to what has traditionally been a Republican stronghold. And his hope was to wrestle Cuban-American votes away from John McCain.

Now that won't be easy.



ZARRELLA (voice-over): Cuban-Americans listened politely and applauded Barack Obama.

But the question is, will they vote for him?

The Illinois senator came to Miami to sell his vision for Cuba.

OBAMA: Together, we will stand up for freedom in Cuba.

ZARRELLA: Obama spoke at a Cuban American National Foundation luncheon. The organization has for decades driven U.S. policy toward Cuba. For Cuban-Americans, Democrats have historically been a tough sell. Obama may be even tougher. The senator has said he'd be willing to meet with Raul Castro. That does not play well here. Friday he stood by his words, saying it's time to pursue direct diplomacy without preconditions.

OBAMA: As president, I would be willing to lead that diplomacy at a time and place of my choosing, but only when we have an opportunity to advance the interests of the United States, but even more importantly, to advance the cause of the freedom for the Cuban people.

ZARRELLA: For many in his audience, any notion of talking with Cuba's current leaders makes them uneasy.

RAMON SAUL-SANCHEZ, DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT: Make sure that that dialogue happens for the best interests of the Cuban people and not to maintain the status quo or to just do business with the Cuban regime. ZARRELLA: Obama promised two things most Cuban-Americans want -- he'd immediately end current restrictions by allowing Cuban-Americans to visit relatives on the island and to send money to families in Cuba.

Will that be enough to break the Republican stranglehold here?

Bill Clinton got more votes in the Cuban exile community than any Democrat ever and he only polled 35 percent.


ZARRELLA: Now many of the people we spoke with after this speech said that Barack Obama had made a good impression and changed a lot of their opinions of him. But when we asked if that was good enough for them to vote for him, most of them said not likely -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting.

John, thanks very much.

John Zarrella reporting.

Let's go back to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: John McCain's doctor says there's no reason the 71-year-old shouldn't be president. Health records released by the campaign today show that he appears to be cancer-free, has a strong heart and is in generally good health. McCain has been treated for five skin cancers. Four of those were melanoma. That's the deadliest form of skin cancer. And he was a prisoner of war, of course, in Vietnam for more than five years.

Because he remains at risk for developing new skin cancers, he's checked every few months.

Doctors say there's been no recurrence since 2000. McCain's cholesterol levels are a potential concern. He takes medicine for that. His blood pressure is good.

McCain's been treated for a range of health issues common in older people -- things like having precancerous skin lesions removed, benign colon polyps removed. He also has degenerative arthritis as a result of his war injuries.

The Arizona senator shrugs off the age issue on the campaign trail, pointing to his stamina and his strong genes. Earlier in the race, a lot of voters said his age would be an issue. But in one recent poll, 70 percent of those surveyed say now that his age won't affect their vote.

McCain's likely Democratic rival, Barack Obama, is 46. Neither Obama nor Hillary Clinton, who I think is 60, have released their medical records. But, then again, they wouldn't become the oldest person to ever serve a first term as president, as John McCain would. He'd be 72 on inauguration day. So here's the question -- would concerns about John McCain's health prevent you from voting for him?

Go to You can post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Jack. See you in a few moments.

Terrorism and soaring oil prices -- you might be surprised at how much attacks are adding to your costs at the gas pump. You'll find out why we're so vulnerable.

Also, the happiest days of their lives turn into the most horrible. We'll show you the wedding photos interrupted by China's killer quake.

Plus, a gun's eye view of a shooting -- find out how new technology could have a huge impact on local police.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: The price of a gallon of regular gas rose more than four cents overnight, reaching a record national average of more than $3.87. Oil right now hovering around $132 per barrel.

Have terrorists figured out that this could be America's Achilles heel?

Let's go to justice correspondent, Kelli Arena. She's watching the story for us.

Kelli, is there an effort to drive prices up through violence?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, very interesting. About 10 years ago, Osama bin Laden said his target price for oil was $144 a barrel. Now, back then, that seemed pretty outrageous. But now, this could be just weeks away.

If oil does reach that level, some energy analysts say that it will be perceived as a victory for the Jihadist movement.


ARENA (voice-over): Oil is the lifeblood of the Western economy and terrorists and other militant groups are going for the jugular.

STEPHEN LEEB, LEEB CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: They don't have to worry about taking American lives. I guess maybe that's a bright spot. All they have to do is cut off oil and this economy really, really suffers.

ARENA: Violent attacks in Nigeria, explosions in Iraq -- all put pressure on oil prices here in the United States. Pipelines run thousands of miles over sparsely populated terrain. They're easy to attack, but difficult and expensive to protect.

ALI KOKNAR, GLOBAL SECURITY ANALYST: The key behind this seems to be the rising oil prices. It basically feeds the insurgents, the terrorists, to attack the oil supplies. The more valuable it is, the better idea it is, from their perspective to attack it.

ARENA: The Institute for the Analysis of Global Security estimates that attacks around the globe cut at least two million barrels a day from world oil supplies and pushed prices up about $40. Attacks are obviously not the only reason that oil prices are up, but the tiniest glitch these days can send prices soaring.

JIM LACAMP, RBC WEALTH MANAGEMENT: Any time a pipeline is affected, any time any production gets shut down, you see oil prices jump up $1 or $2 a barrel, just because there are -- there is no slack in the system.

ARENA: That wasn't always the case. The oil market used to have wiggle room to deal with occasional supply disruptions. But supply today is tight, making the U.S. and other countries vulnerable.

LEEB: This is a problem of just epic proportions and the terrorists recognize it. And if we want to basically preserve our way of life -- I'm not trying to sound overly dramatic here -- we have to recognize it, too.


ARENA: Experts say that the answer is simple and complicated at the same time. The U.S. needs to reduce its dependence on oil -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, that's a simple but complicated recipe.

Thanks very much, Kelli, for that.

Let's get some more insight now from someone who recently was a top administration official.

Joining us is the former White House homeland security adviser and a new CNN national security contributor, Fran Townsend.

She's been a federal prosecutor, a Justice Department and Coast Guard intelligence official and is now a consultant to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a member of the president's intelligence advisory board.

Fran, thanks for coming in. Welcome to CNN.


BLITZER: Well, how worried should we be about violence as a source that's causing oil prices to go up, gas prices to go up, and what can we do about this?

TOWNSEND: Well, you know, as Kelli mentioned, this has been a concern of terrorism experts over the last 10 years. Bin Laden has a habit of saying what he means and then doing it.

BLITZER: So he's trying to disrupt the oil flow by blowing up, whatever, tankers or anything else he can do?

TOWNSEND: That's right. The Lindberg going back in '02 was a tanker he blew up, a French oil tanker. We've seen attacks on Abqaiq, Yanbu and Dhahran in Saudi Arabia.

BLITZER: And every time that happens, there's going to be a jolt. There's going to be a jump.

TOWNSEND: That's right. In addition to that, you had state actors who are oil producers who are not responsible -- Iran, Venezuela -- people who play with the market in order to increase prices and decrease consumer confidence.

BLITZER: Even though they're both members of OPEC and they're supposed to be involved in maintaining some sort of stability?

TOWNSEND: That's right. And as you -- even if you look at the increase in tensions with Iran, the intelligence community worries about things like would Iran try to disrupt flow through the Straits of Hormuz, because, of course, most of Saudis' oil production is on the eastern -- in the eastern province and flows through there.

BLITZER: So what can we be -- what should we be doing, because, clearly, there's a lot more that should be done?

TOWNSEND: Well, that's right. And you saw on the president's last trip, when he was in Saudi Arabia, he signed an agreement with the king that talked about increasing cooperation on oil infrastructure security. The Saudi Arabians have a force now of over 30,000 individuals that they've hired and are training to do force protection around oil facilities.

BLITZER: Because until recently -- maybe still now -- their oil fields were pretty vulnerable.

TOWNSEND: Well, that's right. And so they've taken this threat quite seriously. I traveled to Saudi Arabia four times a year and throughout the region met with the Kuwaitis, the Amaradis (ph), the Yemenis. The Yemenis also saw an attack on oil infrastructure. And so throughout the region, they're taking this much more seriously, spending a lot more time, effort and money in this.

BLITZER: So when we hear Osama bin Laden make these threats, you say we should take him seriously, even though he may be holed up in some sort of cave somewhere without any real operational capabilities?

TOWNSEND: Well, that's right, because this is -- we've seen this -- the cell in the Arabian Peninsula launch these attacks against oil infrastructure. We know they have the capability. We know they want to do it. And so this is the whole reason we've increased our cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia has increased their own investment in security. BLITZER: And -- but the economy of this -- the economics of this are really worrisome, because one serious disruption and, what, the $4 a gallon gasoline in the United States becomes $5 or $6 or $7.

TOWNSEND: That's right. But we also know, in addition to wanting to have an economic impact, Al Qaeda continues to say they want to have a mass casualty attack. This doesn't -- imagine an attack on...

BLITZER: What's more important to them, an economic attack against the United States or a serious number of casualties?

TOWNSEND: I think they want both. What they want is the picture -- the picture of the...

BLITZER: But World Trade Center...

TOWNSEND: That's right.

BLITZER: ...that was obviously a great picture for them.

TOWNSEND: And it raises money, it increases their recruiting capability. So, for a lot of reasons, you want the picture. What we really worry about, though, in the terrorism community is that at some point, if you can't get the picture, you're going to go for just the economic impact.

BLITZER: All right, Fran, thanks very much.

And, once again, welcome to CNN.

We'll be using you a lot.


BLITZER: A near disaster at sea -- fire on board an American aircraft carrier. We're only getting -- we're just getting some dramatic new pictures. We're going to show you what happened.

And what if John McCain gets the chance to make good on his promise of a more transparent presidency?

We're going to show you what it might look like.

Stay with us.

A very busy day right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Carol Costello is off today. Alina Cho is monitoring stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Alina, what's going on?

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Wolf. Good to see you.

Here's what's happening this hour.

In Texas, child welfare officials are asking the state supreme court to weigh in on a landmark child custody case. We're talking about the removal of hundreds of children from that polygamist compound. Yesterday, you may recall, an appeals court ruled there was insufficient evidence of abuse to warrant such a drastic move. As many as 450 of the children are now in foster care as those custody hearings continue.

Overseas, Palestinian officials in Gaza say three militants were killed today. It happened when Israeli aircraft fired missiles at Hamas men on motorcycles.

Israel's military says the men were armed with anti-tank missiles. The incident took place near a border crossing during an Israeli incursion. Israel says two other militants were killed when they approached a security fence. Yesterday, the main Gaza crossing point was targeted by a suicide truck bomber.

Some eerie new images of China's devastating earthquake have emerged. They were captured by a photographer whop was shooting wedding parties just when the quake struck. He tells the Associated Press that the first thing he heard was huge chunks of stone falling from the 100-year-old church in the background. And within seconds, he says, dust made it impossible to see. The death toll from the quake has now climbed to more than 55,000 people.

And we are getting our very first look at the memorial to victims of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. Relatives and the news media were shown the site. It's being built on two acres adjacent to where American Airlines Flight 77 was flown into the building. One hundred eighty-four benches honoring the dead are arranged by the victims' ages -- ranging from three to 71.

It's hard to believe it's been almost seven years. But certainly progress being made there. Good to see. And, Wolf, I'm sure you've heard the Freedom Tower here in New York now reached street level. So a real milestone here, too. Really good to see that progress -- back to you.

BLITZER: Especially on this Memorial Day weekend.

All right, thanks, Alina, very much.

President Bush about to hit the campaign trail for John McCain. But you might miss it if you blink. We're going to tell you why.

Also, the price of gas jumps four cents in just one day, to a new record high. But there's one place where gas is a bit cheaper. We're going to take you there next.

And it's called the pistol cam. And it could mean huge changes for police across the country. It could make a big difference in your safety. We'll demonstrate the new technology right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger visits the scene of a 3,000-acre wildfire in the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco. Calmer winds are helping the crew of more than 1,000 battle the flames, but the fire is only about 20 percent contained.

Emergency officials now say at least 150 homes were damaged or destroyed by the powerful tornado that strafed 35 miles of Northern Colorado.

And the government may soon be doing something about those huge fees you have to pay when you can cancel -- when you call to cancel your cell phone service. The head of the FCC says he's open to regulating them. A public hearing is scheduled next month.

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

But first, more on the breaking news. Very controversial comments made earlier by Hillary Clinton -- comments that are causing quite a bit of a stir involving the 1968 assassination of Bobby Kennedy, who was then running for president.

I'm going to play for you the comments she made at an editorial board meeting before a newspaper in South Dakota.


CLINTON: People have been trying to push me out of this ever since Iowa.


CLINTON: I don't know.


CLINTON: I don't know. I don't -- I find it curious. Because it is -- it is unprecedented in history. I don't understand it. And, you know, between my opponent and his camp and some in the media, there has been this urgency to end this. And, you know, historically that makes no sense. So I find it a bit of a mystery.

QUESTION: You don't buy the party unity argument?

CLINTON: I don't. Because, again, I've been around long enough. My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary in -- somewhere in the middle of June.


CLINTON: Right. We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know, I just -- I don't understand it. You know, there's lots of speculation about why it is. But --

QUESTION: What's your speculation?

CLINTON: You know, I don't know. I find it curious. And I don't want to attribute motives or strategies to people, because I don't really know.


BLITZER: And just in the past few moments, she made a statement among other things saying she expresses regret. That if my referencing that moment of trauma, referring to the 1968 assassination of Bobby Kennedy, that moment of trauma for our entire nation and particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive, I certainly had no intention of that whatsoever.

Paul Begala is a long time friend of Hillary Clinton's, worked for the Clinton White House, served in the Clinton campaign back in 1992. He supports Hillary Clinton. He's our Democratic strategist here at CNN.

What do you think about all of this? It's pretty unfortunate, I would say, at a minimum, Paul.

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. I was watching the tape. It's interesting that the journalist did not take this as some sort of a specific reference except to the history. That is to say her husband's campaign in the primaries went on until June; the '68 campaign in primaries went on until June. '84, she didn't get to it, 1984 the primaries went on until June, Walter Mondale against Gary Hart.

I think any fair reading or listening of what we just heard, that's what she was referring to. I think it's wise for her to say she regrets any pain. Because, lord, this is a woman who, you know, loves the Kennedy family and would never -- I just don't understand how people read that as being anything but a reference to the fact that in our history in the Democratic Party it's very common for these primary campaigns to go through till June.

BLITZER: The statement from the Obama campaign, Bill Burton, a spokesman saying Senator Clinton's statement before the editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this campaign. What do you think of their reaction?

BEGALA: I guess I don't know why it has no place. They're in a campaign against Hillary. Hillary's in a campaign against Barack. The party will unify soon enough. It seems to me she's just making a case for the fact that the history of the party it's pretty common that these things run on until June.

Again, we're in this hypercharged environment. The definition of economic inflation is too many dollars choosing too few goods and services. Maybe story inflation is too many journalists and commentators like me chasing too few stories. It's not actually much of a story. It's Memorial Day weekend. There's not much going on the campaign trail. Maybe the media and others are hyping this. Still, nobody ought to make a mention, any sort of reference to the Kennedy assassination.

BLITZER: The concern, Paul, is that Bobby Kennedy didn't just drop out of the race. He was assassinated in June as many of us remember.

BEGALA: Right. But her husband wasn't.

BLITZER: So the suggestion that she's in this and she refers to Bobby Kennedy's assassination in June of '68, I guess that's why some people feel offended by her remarks.

BEGALA: I understand that. I respect that. You know, look, as a child growing up I had a big poster of Bobby Kennedy in my bedroom. He was my hero. She also made reference to her husband and Jerry Brown. Nothing bad happened to them. Nothing unexpected happened to them. I think when you lump those two together, if it was me I'd enter the Walter Mondale/Gary Hart precedent which also went into June.

The journalists did not jump on this. They're veteran journalists. They didn't hear it the way her critics are hearing it. Hillary Clinton has had Secret Service protection for 16 years. She knows better than most people the sort of challenges and threats that people in the public life face. I think she's highly respectful of any who puts themselves out there to campaign for office. I think she knows as well or better than anybody the challenges and the threats that people face.

BLITZER: Paul Begala, thanks for much.

We're getting the first dramatic pictures from a near disaster, a fire at sea aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. George Washington. Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is joining us with more on this very worrisome story.

Barbara, what's the latest?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the George Washington is now making its way to a port call in San Diego. Yesterday it was suffered a serious fire, according to the Navy, as it rounded the southern tip of South America. We have the first pictures to show you as the crew members fought the fire. Officials tell us one sailor treated for first degree burns. 23 sailors treated for heat stress because as the smoke spread through the ship, the temperature rose significantly. They say there were no fatalities, no injuries beyond that. The ship now making its way to southern California. But a very serious situation any time there is a fire on board a U.S. navy ship, Wolf.

BLITZER: They train for it, but they dread it. They know what they're doing. Let's hope for the best. Thanks very much Barbara for that.

The Democrat primary dilemma in Florida stirring up memories of another election controversy; the Bush/Gore fight years ago is now the subject of an HBO movie. I'll speak with one of the stars of the new HBO film Recount, Kevin Spacey, coming up.

And a gun's eye view of a shooting. You'll find out how new technology could have a huge impact on police and your safety.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Election trouble in Florida once again with the state's Democratic delegates in dispute as all of us know. It calls to mind the 2000 Bush/Gore battle in the same state of Florida. Now that ballot fiasco is coming to the small screen in a brand-new HBO film.

Our entertainment correspondent, Kareen Wynter, is joining us now live with more.

The film is called "Recount." Kareen, tell us about it.


This isn't just a rehash of history. Many say Recount will recharge old feelings from this emotionally wrenching fight.


WYNTER: A bare knuckle battle for ballots. The 2000 presidential race between former vice president Al Gore and then Texas Governor George W. Bush tested Americans. And America's democracy in the controversial Florida recount. We all know how this election ended. Now, eight years later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the net works have the wrong numbers.

WYNTER: Film makers behind the new HBO movie Recount are taking viewers beyond the headlines and inside the human drama that became history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are the real numbers?

WYNTER: The film documents the 36 day fight over votes in Florida. The legal slug fest between Democrats and Republicans that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin who wrote the book "Too Close To Call" about the 2000 election was consulted on the film.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: The Republicans wanted this so badly. And they were willing to fight harder. The Democrats had all this ambivalence, should they file lawsuits, should they seem too aggressive. That difference in temperament between the Democrats and the Republicans, I thought was true in Florida and accurately reflected in the movie.

WYNTER: Actor Kevin Spacey plays Ron Clane, a Gore aid who was demoted and rehired to lead the recount charge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hell, no. Why do we need a recount? We already won.

WYNTER: James Baker, Bush's then chief legal adviser and Catherine Harris who as secretary of state was Florida's chief election official are profiled in the film.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going to take a lot more than David Letterman making fun of my hair and makeup to knock me down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George Bush is the winner.

TOOBIN: James Baker recognized from day one this wasn't just a legal fight, it was a political fight and he had a complete strategy. The Democrats saw this as a narrow legal battle. Baker, history proves, was rite.

WYNTER: History isn't exactly repeating itself. Florida is in the political spotlight again this year along with Michigan. Both states violated party rules by moving up their primaries.

TOOBIN: Here we are eight years later, Florida Democratic primary, they're not counting the vote. Different facts, but still same crazy state.


WYNTER: We contacted the White House as well as Al Gore's communications director, Wolf. Neither would comment on the film. James Baker, who was featured primarily in the movie, had nothing but praise for the drama. We should add HBO like CNN is part of Time Warner Corporation. Wolf, Recount airs this Sunday on HBO.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Kareen Wynter for that. Earlier I spoke with one of the stars of the film.

Joining us now, the actor, Kevin Spacey stars in a brand-new HBO film Recount, our sister necessary work. It debuts Sunday night.

KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: That's right at 9:00.

BLITZER: He said the other day in an interview in 60 Minutes, you know what, get over it. It's done with. Don't start talking about this recount anymore. You've learned a lot about what happened then.

You've done a movie on it. What do you think?

SPACEY: Considering the fact that it was the first ruling in the history of the Supreme Court where you're not allowed to cite the case, no lawyer can look at Bush versus gore and use it as a symbol. It counted once. It'll never count again. I can understand why he doesn't want to talk about it anymore.

BLITZER: Why is that?

SPACEY: Who knows? Perhaps because they had a sense that even it might have been a bad law. They didn't want it to be -- they've never done it in the history of the Supreme Court.

BLITZER: Researching, getting ready for this film, what's the most important lesson you learned from it?

SPACEY: Not really one. I think that even someone like myself, who I consider myself to be sort of clued into politics and I have been involved in politics most of my life. I was really amazed about how little I knew about what had gone down in Florida. I think when people see the film they'll realize it wasn't one event and it certainly wasn't just the Supreme Court and their decision.

It was a confluence of events and personalities and people qualified for the job, some people who, perhaps, weren't, agendas. I think the movie we hope illuminates is that our electoral process in the United States is simply not equipped to handle margins of victory so small or margins of error so big.

BLITZER: I think that's a fair point. Let's talk a little about some of the controversy. You got involved in politics. You met with Hugo Chavez, the leader of Venezuela. That caused quite a stir. What were you thinking?

SPACEY: I wasn't there on a political trip. I'm an artistic director of a theater in London. I was there with a number of business leaders. They had an appointment with him and invited me to come along. It was a very fascinating. Did you talk to him?

BLITZER: Yes. We had a dinner with about 15 other people.

SPACEY: He doesn't speak English.

BLITZER: He doesn't speak English. There was an interpreter. It was a fascinating opportunity to meet a world leader.

BLITZER: Did you get the sense he hates the United States?

SPACEY: Certainly have heard more outrageous comments that he's made. He was quite passionate about his own people. I actually spent the afternoon at a film studio that they have supported through the government to give young people there an opportunity to make movies and documentaries about their own culture. I was really there looking at that. Yes, I did take some heat on it in the United States. It's interesting that some people accuse you of being anti-American if you sit down and meet somebody or shake their hand.

BLITZER: No regrets?


BLITZER: What do you think about the current election? Have you endorsed anyone? Do you like any of these candidates?

SPACEY: Living in England I don't get the sort of 24 hour news cycle my friends here --

BLITZER: You get CNN. SPACEY: I do get CNN and I'm happy to now join the most political -- what is it?

BLITZER: The best political team on television.

SPACEY: I wanted to hear you say that. Thank you. It's been fascinating to watch even from a distance. I've obviously been a long time supporter of Hillary Clinton. But, you know, I think at the end of the day like all good Democrats whoever ends up being the nominee we're going to support, get out there and do what we can to make sure a Democrat gets back into the White House.

BLITZER: You'd like to see both on the ticket?

SPACEY: Think why not? Why shouldn't the two come together? If you look at what they've both done in terms of uniting the United States and the people of this country about being no longer apathetic about politics, they've gotten so many people back to voting throughout this country, I think that together they'd be a pretty remarkable team.

BLITZER: Let's leave it on that note, Kevin. Thanks for coming in. Good luck with the film.

SPACEY: Thank you.

BLITZER: We're waiting for Hillary Clinton's comments after her own controversial comments involving bobby Kennedy. We'll bring you the statement from Hillary Clinton shortly. That's coming in soon.

Also, a new weapon that sees and records everything an officer sees. This technology that's being tested right now, you'll see how it works right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Every time a police officer fires his or her weapon it triggers an investigation. Now there's new technology that can help show what really happened from the gun's point of view.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick has more -- Deb.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is the kind of device that could provide crucial answers to some of the most controversial police shootings. Not everyone thinks it's a good idea.


FEYERICK: What if police officers could record a possible crime not from a dash board, but up close from a tiny camera mounted to the front of their gun? The Orange County S.W.A.T. team in upstate New York is hoping to do that and is testing out a mini digital pistol cam. It's seeing everything that the officer sees?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything the officer sees.

FEYERICK: Bill Desprospo is a spokesman for pistol cam and works as an assistant district attorney in the Bronx.

BILL DEPROSPO, PISTOL CAM SPOKESMAN: It obtains and preserves video documentation of exactly what happened during a shooting. It doesn't have emotion, bias, a lapse of memory, an ax to grind.

FEYERICK: So the second it's taken out of the holster the camera activates?

DEPROSPO: Video and audio.

FEYERICK: This is the angle you would see from the perspective of a police officer. Not only do you see and hear me but also see the surroundings. This would be crucial information if there's ever an investigation. The camera keeps rolling until it is holstered.

Especially says New York State Senator Eric Adams when a police action results in a death as it did in the controversial shooting of Sean Bell, an unarmed New York City man killed hours before his wedding when police fired 50 times.

ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK STATE SENATE: This is what officers have always stated. If you could have only been there, you would have understood why I made the decision that I did. This allows us to be there.

FEYERICK: But some police say that's misleading because the camera doesn't capture events leading up to a shooting.

DANIEL DEFEDERICIS, NEW YORK STATE POLICE UNION: We are putting our officers at danger to get, at best, a delayed, skewed screw of something after it occurred. That is not worth it.

FEYERICK: There's also a handling issue. It makes the gun heavier. As the officer getting closer to the target the field of sight narrows cutting out crucial details. It's also difficult to hear audio from far away. Still, sheriff's deputies from the Orange County S.W.A.T. team say they're getting over their reservations.

DEP. DUANE LOPEZ, ORANGE CO. SHERIFF'S DEPT: It's just another tool to protect us.

FEYERICK: If, that is, the use of force proving to be justified.


FEYERICK: The pistol cam costs about $700. Because it changes the weight and feel of the gun, officers would have to train with it for a certain amount of time before it is ever introduced into field -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Let's go right back to Jack with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Records released today. The question is would concerns about John McCain's health prevent you from voting for him. H. writes in Washington: "It would give me pause considering the type of melanoma he had has a ten year survival rate of 65 percent. One important thing to consider is that of all cancers melanoma has a nasty habit of recurring years or decades after the initial diagnosis. Let's hope his doctors are on board the straight talk express and not talking him or us for a joyride."

Harry in Gallatin, Tennessee: "I have heard no serious medical questions about McCain's health. Cheney's health was in really serious question before he became vice president. He's done all right getting through two terms. Reagan survived being shot while in office. He was about as old as McCain is now. So the medical treatment available to those in high office seems to be doing the job."

John in Carlsbad, California: "I'm concerned, but that isn't the reason I won't vote for him. Yes, his age is a concern. But as long as he makes a quality choice for vice president, that isn't as big of deal as his politics and his persona. I don't want another hot headed gun slinger in the White House."

Howard in Bolingbrook, Illinois: "One question. If McCain's doing so well why did it take so long to produce the records? To me it should have taken a quick trip to Kinko's. Something smells."

And Linda in Virginia writes: "His health is the least of my worries if he's elected."

If you didn't see you e-mail here go to my blog at Look for yours there among hundreds, hundreds of others -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

Controversial Pastor John Hagee speaking out today about parting ways with John McCain. You'll find out why Hagee says he's been a target of "vicious lies."

Also, Cindy McCain releases her taxes, that is, details about how much money she made coming up and a lot more. Lots of news happening today right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: It's Memorial Day weekend and gas is at a record high. The average price, $3.87 for gas today. That's 65 cents higher than last Memorial Day weekend. That means it could cost $87 to fill up a Ford Explorer, $72 for a Honda Accord.

Let's go to our senior correspondent, Allan Chernoff. He's watching the story for us.

It's really impacting a lot of people's lives, Allan.


You can see plenty of people are filling up, but a lot of them telling us it's too expensive to do a road trip this holiday weekend.


CHERNOFF: Pain at the pump to begin a holiday weekend. So painful some canceled their travel plans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This weekend I'm not supporting the gas companies. I hope everybody stays home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to stay home and save my pennies.

CHERNOFF: It's more than pennies. According to AAA data the cost of filling up a typical car jumped more than $10 since last Memorial Day, a result of the steady march towards a national average for gas of $4 a gallon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to work to buy more gas. That's what we're doing this weekend.

CHERNOFF: Deloitte & Touche says nearly one quarter of Americans have changed their Memorial Day weekend plans due to gas prices. 12 percent canceling a trip, another 11 percent vacationing closer to home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the prices keep going like this, next year might be out of the question.

CHERNOFF: Gas prices are likely to climb high at least a bit higher because they have yet to catch up to the explosive jump of the cost of crude oil. It's especially painful for this man who drives a gas-guzzling hummer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It affects everyone.

CHERNOFF: Even people who don't drive Hummers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even people who doesn't drive Hummers. Correct.

CHERNOFF: Are you going to keep this vehicle?


CHERNOFF: You love it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I love it. It was a dream, and I'll keep it.

CHERNOFF: But at eight miles a gallon, it's a nightmare at the gas pump. He drives a slightly smaller car to the office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I drive a Toyota Corolla.


CHERNOFF: Even driving a small car like a Corolla, it can still put a pinch in your holiday plans with gas prices at these levels -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Allan, thank you.