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Potential Democratic Convention Clash?; U.S. Troops to Leave Iraq By 2010?

Aired August 07, 2008 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: Some Democrats say, what unity? Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton supporters could clash at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. There are even questions over Bill Clinton's convention role. Stand by for details.

And there's a stunning development that could effect U.S. troops and the presidential race. Iraqi officials now say a deal's under way for all U.S. combat troops to leave Iraq by the end of 2010.

And CNN exclusively prods the U.S. Navy into revealing that a nuclear submarine has been leaking nuclear material for more than two years. And it stopped in foreign waters, as well as here in the United States.

All of that, plus the best political team on television.

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

Countdown to a show of party unity or a clash of political will?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

The Democrats' presidential nominating convention is only about two weeks away, but supporters for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton don't agree on what her role should be. And there are even questions about if her husband, a former president of the United States, should be allowed to speak at the convention. There are tensions that appear to be growing and questions Barack Obama is forced to confront.


QUESTION: There seems to be a thought that maybe Bill Clinton hasn't embraced the fact that you're going to be the nominee. Do you get that sense as well, or, I mean...

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. I spoke to President Clinton this week. He's been very supportive. I thought he showed extraordinary restraint in a fairly provocative interview while he was on his trip. I couldn't ask for him to be any more gracious than he's been and supportive since the campaign ended.

QUESTION: Regarding the convention, do you think that it would be cathartic to have Senator Clinton's name entered in nomination and that that would contribute to unity in the last (OFF-MIKE)

OBAMA: You know, I'm letting our respective teams work out the details. I don't think we're looking for catharsis. I think what we're looking for is energy and excitement about the prospect of changing this country. And I think that people who supported a whole range of different candidates during the primary are going to come out of that convention feeling absolutely determined that we have got to take the White House back.

QUESTION: Why hasn't it been settled yet? There's so much controversy. Why hasn't it been settled by (OFF-MIKE)

OBAMA: There hasn't been controversy, other than what you guys are projecting right now.


OBAMA: All I can tell you is, we're not talking to those people. We're talking directly to the Clinton campaign people and the folks who are on her staff. And it has gone seamlessly. It just hasn't been a problem.

QUESTION: So, you would not object to having her...

OBAMA: I didn't say that. I said that they're working it out, guys.

QUESTION: How hard can it be, yes or no? Get her name in or (OFF-MIKE) How hard (OFF-MIKE)

OBAMA: I don't understand. What do you mean? Just because I'm not answering your question doesn't mean that it's hard. It's getting worked out by our staffs.


BLITZER: We're going to have much more on these potential problems for the Democrats at their convention. That's coming up shortly.

But let's get to a very disturbing development now unfolding involving Senator Obama. And it's happening in Florida.

A man is being held for allegedly boasting he would kill or kidnap the senator if he becomes president, that according to a law enforcement official and court documents that have just been released. They charge that Raymond Hunter Geisel said that to his classmates recently at a bail bondsman training seminar, and he was arrested last week.

Officials also say that Geisel allegedly used a racial slur against Senator Obama.

Let's go straight to our national correspondent, Susan Candiotti. She's working this story for us.

Susan, authorities searched his property. What did they find?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they searched an SUV in the hotel room where he was staying and they seized him, among other things, a loaded .9-millimeter handgun, 40 rounds of armor-piercing bullets -- this particular type is legal in Florida -- another 50 rounds of ammo, knives, tear gas canisters, a machete, as well as police-type flashing emergency lights that were wired to his SUV.

All of this stuff, of course, has been confiscated and he remains in jail without bond.

BLITZER: And, Susan, if you take a look at some of the other issues involved in this very sensitive matter, Senator Obama isn't the only person allegedly involved in this targeting by this individual.

CANDIOTTI: That's right.

This man also allegedly made threats against President Bush himself, saying that he supposedly said according to these documents that he wanted to shoot him in the head. Now, authorities say that at the time these threats were supposed to have been made, Obama was in Florida. So, that's of particular note.

But at the time, President Bush was in Kennebunkport, Maine, and that might be -- might be why he was not charged with attempting to assassinate President Bush. However, I am told that additional charges could be filed before his arraignment, which is scheduled on August 18.

BLITZER: Susan, thanks very much for that story.

In another major story we're following right now, there's talk of a deal under way for all U.S. combat troops to leave Iraq in just over two years. If such a deal were to go through, it would dramatically alter the course of war in Iraq, likely the current course of the presidential campaign as well, at least potentially.

Let's go straight to our Brian Todd, who's been looking into all of this.

What do we know, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Wolf, there are very divergent views of how these talks are going. Just how close U.S. troops really are to pulling out of Iraq depends on who you talk to in which capital.


TODD (voice-over): In Baghdad, Iraqi officials tell CNN they have been close to a deal with a U.S. for about a week. They say that agreement would call for U.S. combat troops to leave by the end of December 2010, with the rest of the troops out a year later.

Another important date, they say, June 30, 2009. By then, the deal calls for American troops to leave the cities and stay inside their bases. But, in Washington, much more caution. Two senior U.S. officials tell CNN the two sides are close to a deal on a so-called status of forces agreement, but they say an announcement is not imminent because of unresolved issues.

In Washington, a timetable to withdraw combat troops by late 2010 is seen as an aspirational goal being floated by the Iraqis. The U.S. says any deal will pivot almost completely on security conditions on the ground. If U.S. officials aren't talking about timetables, why would the Iraqis?

MICHAEL O'HANLON, SENIOR FELLOW IN FOREIGN POLICY STUDIES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, the Iraqis have a very simple kind of political situation, not unlike our own. They want to be seen as running their own country by their citizens in the prelude to various elections they're going to be having as well.


TODD: And a big dispute in these negotiations is over U.S. authority to detain people. The Iraqis want detentions to take place only with a warrant from a judge, but that does not work for the Americans, because they often have to move on time-sensitive intelligence and detain people in less than an hour's notice, Wolf, a big point of contention here.

Another major point of contention involves legal immunity for U.S. personnel working inside Iraq.

TODD: That's right. The Iraqis want to be able to try American troops and contractors themselves, if they commit crimes there. The Americans want them to have either legal immunity or they want them to be tried by U.S. officials. It's a very sensitive point right now in the talks.

BLITZER: Very sensitive, indeed, Brian. Thank you.

All of this has some significant political implications here in the United States, most of all for the next president. We're going to talk about that and a lot more with the best political team on television.

But, in the meantime, let's check in with part of that team. That's Jack Cafferty. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's time to put down the burger and fries and think about this for a minute.

A new study says that every single American adult could be overweight, all of us, in 40 years. We're actually not that far away now. We have got two-thirds of the population already overweight. Researchers say, if the trends of the last 30 years hold up, by 2030, 86 percent of adults will be overweight, with 51 percent obese.

And, by 2048, they predict all adults could be overweight. Certain groups, African-Americans, Mexican Americans, are expected to suffer the most from weight issues. And, in fact, all black women and almost all Mexican American men could be overweight in less than 30 years.

And it's not just the scales we're tipping with this stuff. The study shows health care costs related to all this additional weight will double every decade, reaching $957 billion in about 20 years or more. Some experts doubt all of us will be obese or overweight in 40 years, but they agree the problem is getting worse. And others say it could happen if Americans keep eating more, moving around less.

Researchers call for major efforts to improve lifestyles in this country, along with social changes, like healthier food and making neighborhoods more pedestrian-friendly.

So, here's the question: What should Americans do so that we're not all overweight in 40 years? Go to Put on your weight loss thinking cap.

That's a staggering...

BLITZER: All right. I know.

CAFFERTY: ... prediction.

BLITZER: It's very worrisome. How about starting with some exercise and some healthy eating? That would help.

CAFFERTY: Yes. Well, you're a poster child for good health. You eat a decent diet. You're on that treadmill every morning, right?

BLITZER: I'm trying, trying my best. And you look pretty good too, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Yes, yes, right. Never mind. Don't be trying to suck up. ` (LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Thank you.

We have some exclusive new details about an American submarine leaking radioactive water. CNN has now learned the problem is far from new.

And the California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's bitter fight over money. We have details of his drastic new threat.

Plus, the women who fended off a lion attack with a machete.

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


BLITZER: There's a face-off under way in California -- in one corner, the governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the other, legislators deadlocked over a new state budget. Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, knows a lot about what's going on in California.

What's the governor up to right now, Bill?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he's trying to show that you can be a moderate and a tough guy at the same time.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Showdown in Sacramento, the "Governator" vs. the legislature.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: Until the legislature passes a budget that I can sign, I will not sign any bills that reach my desk.

SCHNEIDER: California faces a $15.2 billion budget deficit. And the state budget is six weeks overdue. Is this the old story of a Republican governor facing down a Democratic legislature? Not exactly. California law requires a two-thirds majority to pass a budget, which means the Democratic majority in the legislature can't pass a budget without some Republican votes.

But the Republicans won't support tax hikes, and the Democrats don't want big spending cuts.

SCHWARZENEGGER: No one can get their way, because they're too far apart. And I think that this is what I'm trying to accomplish.

SCHNEIDER: How? By imposing consequences. Governor Schwarzenegger has ordered pay cuts and layoffs for state workers. He even proposed a temporary sales tax increase, thereby breaking his promise not to raise taxes.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Everything is on the table. And I think this is the only way to really make both of the parties come together.

SCHNEIDER: Bipartisanship is difficult when you have got a legislature filled with entrenched partisans in safe seats. So, the governor faces a dilemma.

ALLEN HOFFENBLUM, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: He's the only centrist that is really elected in Sacramento. The other ones are either very liberal Democrats or very conservative Republican. And neither side wants to budge.

SCHNEIDER: So, what can the governor do? Get tough, knocks heads, keep the pressure on. Will it work?

KAREN BASS, CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY SPEAKER: I really do believe that we will have the budget signed, sealed and delivered well before the executive order would go into effect.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER: Message to the next president: When you face partisan gridlock, you need to be a tough guy to force those politicians to come together -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And the governor's a tough guy, as we all know -- Bill Schneider working the story.

John McCain facing protesters at a DHL shipping plant in Wilmington, Ohio. The Associated Press reporting it could soon be shedding as many as 8,000 jobs because of a merger which the McCain campaign manager, Rick Davis, actually worked on as a lobbyist back in 2003.

The McCain campaign says Davis had not worked with DHL since 2005, that's long before the company announced plans to move its work force.

Earlier, Senator McCain held a town hall meeting in Lima, Ohio, talking energy, and saying America needs to drill for oil offshore right now.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to open new markets to U.S. products. We need to reduce the cost of health care. We need to end the out-of-control spending that's putting the debt on the backs of our children and our grandchildren. That's unconscionable.

Senator Obama says he wants energy independence, but he's opposed to new drilling at home, he's opposed to nuclear power. He said the high cost of gasoline doesn't bother him, only it just rose too quickly.

Tell that to the people that are driving the oldest automobiles the furthest to work. Tell them that the only problem is the price of gas rose too quickly.

He actually thinks that raising taxes on oil is going to bring down the price at the pump. He's claiming that putting air in your tires is the equivalent -- is the equivalent of new offshore drilling. That's not an energy plan, my friends. That's a public service announcement.

My friends, we need to...


MCCAIN: We need to drill offshore here and now. We need to drill offshore, and it can affect the price of a gallon of oil -- of gas.

And my friends, when we exploit and find these new reserves of oil off our coast, it will reduce the price of a barrel of oil. That's just a fact. When you increase supply, obviously the price of whatever it is is going to go down. So we've got to do it, and we've got to do it quickly. We don't have to wait.

And by the way, Jim mentioned with an energy crisis, with people in this room deciding how they're going to be able to go and fill up their gas tank and do the things that they planned on doing in this month of August, Congress does what? They go on a five-week vacation. A five-week vacation, and not address the energy crisis that's facing this country.

And by the way, the speaker of the House of Representatives will not allow a vote. Will not allow a vote on offshore drilling. Is that democracy? I don't think so. I don't think so.

So, my friends, when I'm president of the United States, I will call them back into session and I will keep them there until they get the work done, get the job done for you.



BLITZER: Bill Clinton, he may be a former president of the United States, but there's no guarantee, at least right now, that he will be speaking at the Democratic National Convention. We have the latest developments coming up.

And Chinese officials say the air is safe, but the countdown to the opening ceremony continues. We're watching the air.

And an escaped lion and the unusual way a woman fought off an attack.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: No unity between some supporters for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. There are serious differences over money and how to applaud Senator Clinton's primary accomplishments.

And what if all U.S. combat troops were out of Iraq by the end of 2010, as some Iraqis want? The best political team on television on how that would change, potentially, the presidential contest.

And an American submarine leaking nuclear material, we're exclusively learning it's more serious than the U.S. military first said.


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

Happening now: a delicate dance over the Democratic Convention -- Hillary Clinton giving a key speech, but what else does she want? And what about her husband's role? Stand by.

Also, could a speech by a Democratic senator opposed to abortion help win over Catholic voters' faith in the campaign, and more, with the best political team on television.

Plus, a CNN exclusive: The American submarine leaking radioactive water, turns out it's been leaking for some years.

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

In just a couple weeks or so, Democrats will try to put on a show of unity at their convention in Denver. But behind the scenes, a clash of wills could unfold. There's an issue of whether or not Hillary Clinton's name will be placed in nomination at the convention and she's talking about the issue of allowing her name to be on a roll call vote.

CNN's Jessica Yellin has details -- Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this could be a problem because almost half of the delegates at the Democratic Convention are Clinton backers. Now, the Democratic Party leaders want everyone unified behind Barack Obama, but it's not clear that will happen.


YELLIN (voice over): Barack Obama says all is well with Senator Clinton, as their staffs hammer out plans for the convention.

OBAMA: I'm letting our respective teams work out the details. I don't think we're looking for catharsis. I think what we're looking for is energy and excitement about the prospects of changing this country.

And I think that people who supported a whole range of different candidates during the primary are going to come out of that convention feeling absolutely determined that we've got to take the White House back.

YELLIN: Senator Clinton will deliver a keynote speech at the event, and Bill Clinton's possible role is still being worked out.

Another issue remains unresolved. Will Senator Clinton risk stealing the spotlight from Barack Obama by having her name placed in nomination? Some Clinton supporters are demanding she have a roll call vote for history. Speaking to some of her most ardent backers, she suggested that she agrees.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: What will happen at the convention in respect to, you know, my putting my name in nomination, a roll call vote, and the usual kind of process that occurs at conventions...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vice president. CLINTON: Well, you know, we're trying to work that out with the Obama campaign and with the DNC. I know just from what I'm hearing, that there's just this incredible pent-up desire. And I think that, you know, people want to feel like, OK, it's a catharsis, we're here, we did it, and then everybody get behind Senator Obama.

YELLIN: If there is a roll call for Clinton, it would happen early in the day, when presumably few viewers would be paying attention. But even some Clinton backers say, it's the wrong move. One described it as a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


YELLIN: Senator Clinton is in a bit of a tight spot. Because so many of her supporters want her to put her name in nomination, they could revolt if she doesn't, in which case Clinton will be accused of being divisive. But if she does put her name in nomination, she could also be accused of dividing the party. It's sort of a no-win situation -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jessica, thank you.

Let's discuss this and more with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; our own Jack Cafferty and Steve Hayes, the senior writer for "The Weekly Standard." They're part of the best political team on television.

Gloria, I know you've been working your sources and these are sensitive matters.

What are you picking up?

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think, Wolf, that there's a lot of drama, once again, about both of the Clintons, as you're heading into a Democratic convention that's about Barack Obama. And there are a lot of Democrats who resent that. They say why should we be talking about Bill and Hillary Clinton, we need to be talking about Barack Obama.

On the other hand, the Clinton supporters I talk to say, you know what, she got 18 million votes, we need to find a way to pay due deference to her at the convention and the Obama people are not giving her her due.

So, you know, there's this party fight which, you know, could -- could linger. And that would be a problem for Obama.

BLITZER: It would certainly be a major problem if there is this division going into the convention, Jack.

CAFFERTY: What does due deference mean?

I mean do we...

BORGER: It means giving her her votes...

CAFFERTY: ...we have to kiss her ring or something?

BORGER: It means -- no.

CAFFERTY: I mean come on.

BORGER: It means giving her her vote and calling the roll for her no matter what time of day.

CAFFERTY: You know, if the Democrats can't figure out how to win this election, they may never win another one.

BORGER: Right.

CAFFERTY: And they're working hard at trying to figure out how not to win this one. This thing has the potential to get very nasty and very ugly and a big distraction. And what was the line Jessica used, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

I wouldn't put it past them. They're Democrats -- why can't they do it the way the Republicans do?

Republicans -- clean, easy, zip, zap, here's our guy to go...

BORGER: No. They're...


BORGER: Republicans have their Dick Cheney question.


BORGER: Is Dick Cheney going to speak or is Dick Cheney not going to speak?

CAFFERTY: No. They said no, he's not. We don't want him anywhere near the place.

BORGER: That...

CAFFERTY: Stay the hell out.

BORGER: That still remains to be resolved, Jack.

BLITZER: All right, what's...

CAFFERTY: You want to -- I'll bet you lunch.

BLITZER: Yes, I don't know...


BLITZER: I don't know what's happening with Dick Cheney, but I do know that there are potential dangers for the Democrats if they really have a bitterly divided convention. HAYES: Yes, you know, Wolf, I was spectacularly wrong about this when Barack Obama actually won the nomination. I assumed that this would be, as most post-primary love fests are, you know, a coming together of the Democratic Party and the different camps.


HAYES: It really just hasn't happened. I mean it's really spectacular to look back at this and realize how wrong I was.

When you think about Hillary Clinton, you know, Barack Obama not helping to erase her debts or not helping as much as the Clintons would. You have Bill Clinton in Africa sort of refusing to say that Barack Obama is qualified to be president. The Clintons keep injecting themselves into the news in a way that is certainly not helpful for Barack Obama.

BORGER: Look, I remember back when Al Gore was running for president. We were all there at Al Gore's convention. And the Gore people were very upset because Bill and Hillary Clinton were holding fundraisers there for her.

HAYES: You know...


HAYES: Wolf, if I...


CAFFERTY: Part of the problem.

HAYES: One more point...

CAFFERTY: Go ahead.

HAYES: There's a fantastic job by the editors on the piece that Jessica did and the Barack Obama comment, because what was interesting is Obama said we have no need for catharsis here.


HAYES: Hillary Clinton, in the speech to supporters, said...


HAYES: ...I believe three different times that we're looking for catharsis. So, I mean, it doesn't get more sort of directly confrontational than that.

CAFFERTY: I had characterized it earlier, because I did a question about it, as beginning to resemble some sort of group therapy. You know, here we are...

BORGER: Send them to the shrinks.

CAFFERTY: Yes. But I mean here we are...

BORGER: Send them to the shrinks.

CAFFERTY: We're talking about the Clintons. This is not -- part of it's our fault. You know, I -- because when I put a question up earlier and we said something about Hillary Clinton, the e-mails come through by the thousands.

HAYES: Sure.

CAFFERTY: I mean all you've got to do is mention the Clintons' name. So we do -- we contribute to this, we being the news media, by -- I mean we've got a three hour show and 90 days before the country votes. We've got to fill it with something. So here's a topic that generates a big response because there's a lot of passionate feelings about it. So some of this -- we drive some of this ourselves.

BORGER: Absolutely. But, by the way, why shouldn't a popular former president of the United States have a speaking role at the convention?


CAFFERTY: Because he's behaving like a jerk.

BORGER: Well, but, clearly, Hillary -- Hillary is more important at this convention and she will give an important speech that Tuesday night. And maybe Bill Clinton doesn't want to compete with Hillary Clinton at this convention...

CAFFERTY: Are you kidding?

BORGER: ...because he's a pretty good speaker.

CAFFERTY: Would you like not to be on the spotlight on national television, Bill Clinton?

BORGER: Well, we'll go to therapist on that.

CAFFERTY: Yes, sure.


HAYES: Well, the big...


HAYES: The big problem is if -- the more we are talking about this, the more everybody is talking about it.


HAYES: And everybody is talking about. Jack is right. The more Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton are in the news, Barack Obama is Mr. New Politics. They are old politics, to a large extent. This is not helpful to Obama. BLITZER: And I assume -- and we'll discuss this a little bit later -- the McCain folks are pretty happy just watching what's going on on the Democratic side.

Guys, stand by. We have a lot more to talk about, including a deal that seems to be in the works to get U.S. combat troops out of Iraq by the end of 2010. So what does that mean for the next president of the United States? Will it impact this campaign?

Plus, a possible convention speech by a Democratic Senator who opposes abortion. The race for the White House and matters of faith -- that's coming up.


BLITZER: Iraqi officials now say they're actually very close to a deal with the Bush administration that would see American combat troops out of Iraq by the end of 2010.

So what does this mean for the next American president?

Let's continue our discussion with the best political team on television.

Steve, it looks -- if these reports are true -- that the Iraqis are pretty close to what Senator Barack Obama is saying, 16 months. They're saying a little bit longer, but it looks like a hard and fast timetable they want and that the Bush administration is now ready, perhaps, to sign on.

HAYES: I think the Bush administration would say that they're further away from the deal than the Iraqis are suggesting. And, you know, I do think that some of this is attributable to the fact that the Iraqis do have their own domestic politics to be concerned with and they want to say hey, we are now in the position where we are pushing around Americans, they're not pushing us around.

BLITZER: Jack, this potentially could pull out the rug somewhat from John McCain's notion that there should not be any such timetable.

CAFFERTY: Well, John McCain keeps talking about we'll only come home when we have victory. Now assuming that this timetable holds up and that the combat troops come out of there at the end of 2010, that will have been eight years and probably over a trillion dollars. And I don't understand yet what John McCain means when he says victory.

What exactly are we going to win in this?

BLITZER: Well, what he told me when I interviewed him the other day, he said a stable Iraqi government at peace with its neighbors, at peace with itself. You know, he had a pretty -- a pretty solid definition there.

CAFFERTY: Yes. Just like the Middle East has been famous for for the last 5,000 years, getting along with each other...

BLITZER: It would be great to see all of that...

CAFFERTY: ...peace.

BLITZER: ...a stable Middle East, as well.

CAFFERTY: Well, come on.

BLITZER: Does this have -- if, in fact, there's a deal, Gloria, between the Bush administration and the Iraqi government of Nuri Al- Maliki, how does it play out in the remaining 90 or so days of this campaign?

BORGER: Well, you know, John McCain will say that this is because the surge worked and this is all because I was for the surge and it worked and that's why we are achieving victory.

Barack Obama will say it's time to leave. The Iraqis want us to leave. And, by the way, they've also got this huge budget surplus now because of oil. They need to start paying their own bills.

So, you know, I think it plays more into Obama's hands than to McCain, though McCain is going to try and turn this into something he can use to prove that his strategy was right all along.

BLITZER: Jack, Senator Casey of Pennsylvania -- Catholic, anti- abortion -- he's going to be given a prominent role, we're told, to speak at the convention. It suggests that Senator Obama is looking for a way to help them with Catholic voters out there. Senator Casey himself is a Catholic. Some of the polls have said he has a problem with Catholic voters.

What do you -- how do you interpret this?

CAFFERTY: Well, it's hard to tell exactly. I mean Catholics voted for Bush. Catholics voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. But this morning, the Labor Department's out with another record rise in first time claims for unemployment -- the highest they've been in six years.

John McCain was in Ohio today, a state that's lost 200,000 jobs. I don't think those people care if Donald Duck speaks at the convention.

Where are the jobs? Who's going to right the economy? How can I create a future for my kids?

And I really think that maybe for the first time in a long time this election is not going to be decided on gay marriage, abortion, flag-burning, yada, yada, yada -- the wedge issues. Maybe this time we get what it's really about.

BORGER: But you know, Catholics are the quintessential swing voters in this country. They're really important to both of these presidential candidates. Barack Obama has a real problem with them. In fact, I'm told that top advisers to Obama are saying general election, maybe he should pick a Catholic as his running mate because that could help him, someone like a Tim Kaine, for example, who is Catholic. They understand they've got a problem with these voters. And they're very important states -- Ohio, Pennsylvania and the Midwest.

BLITZER: Very quickly, Steve, go ahead.

HAYES: Yes, I think it's a smart move for Democrats to have Casey speak at the convention. This is something -- remember, his father was denied an opportunity to speak at a convention, I believe it was 16 years ago. And this is something that I think Republicans have used to say look, Democrats -- we allow pro-choice speakers at our convention, Democrats do not allow pro-life speakers at their convention.

BLITZER: A good memory, 1992 at the convention, when the father was denied that opportunity.

All right, guys, thanks very much.

Jack, don't go away.

Right now we have a CNN exclusive. Some foreign governments are concerned after the United States revealed that a Navy nuclear submarine that stopped in foreign and American waters has a radiation leak. It's called the USS Houston.

CNN's Kathleen Koch has more -- Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, at first, the Navy thought this submarine had been leaking small amounts of radiation since March. Now it turns out the problem has existed for more than two years.


KOCH (voice-over): The Navy says a shut valve in the USS Houston's engineering plant, first thought to have been leaking for months, has been steadily leaking a small amount of radioactive water since June, 2006. In a report on the incident, the Navy replies the seepage as "so small it was below the level of detection by personnel on the ship." The military says at no time there was a risk to the reactor plant or the safety of the crew, the public or the environment.

Still, some residents of one of the sub's Japanese ports are worried.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I didn't know there was a leak.

How scary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I don't want American ships to enter our harbor.

KOCH: During the two year period the nuclear powered submarine made stops in Hawaii, Guam, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore, the Navy says the total amount released was nine micro curies, or as much radioactivity as is found in three common household smoke detectors.

The Pentagon has notified the foreign government. Japan, in a statement, said while it appreciated the fact that the U.S. reported the leak in "a prompt manner," it still wanted a "full explanation of how it could happen."

Japan conducts its own round the clock monitoring of U.S. vessels in Japanese ports and had detected no radiation during the USS Houston's visits. The issue is sensitive because Tokyo only recently agreed to ease its bans on nuclear ships to allow a U.S. aircraft carrier to be based there.

An expert on nuclear technology says while the U.S. Navy has a good track record on nuclear matters and this leak was minor, it does raise questions.

STEPHEN YOUNG, UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS: This leak itself is probably not a huge concern. But the fact it happened over two years is a cause for concern.

If it had been a more significant leak, would they have found it?

We don't know.


KOCH: The USS Houston is now in dry dock in Hawaii. The Navy says the leak is being repaired and they insist there's no indication the problem exists in any other U.S. submarines -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Kathleen.

Thanks very much.

Kathleen Koch reporting.

John McCain and Barack Obama -- they're sounding off on pop culture, the last movies they saw, which superhero they'd like to be and more. Stand by.

Also, the sentence is in at Guantanamo Bay for Osama bin Laden's former driver. Did prosecutors get what they wanted? I don't think so.

Plus, it's a new Coney Island attraction. An artist wants to get you talking about waterboarding -- and its "Moost Unusual."


BLITZER: Carol Costello is off today.

Fredricka Whitfield is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Fred, what's the latest?

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Osama bin Laden's former driver sentenced to 66 months in prison. That decision from a military jury at Guantanamo Bay just a day after Salim Hamdan was convicted of providing material support to Al Qaeda.

The Pentagon says that even though he has gotten credit for time served, so his sentence is almost up, he will still be considered an enemy combatant, indicating that he will likely stay at Guantanamo.

And government investigators are still looking for evidence that Bruce Ivins was the only one responsible in the 2001 anthrax poisoning. Ivins was a biological researcher who are killed himself last week. Federal prosecutors were about to present their case against him to a grand jury. Case documents suggest that investigators hope two computers seized from a Maryland library will yield even more clues.

And going green while sailing the seas -- check out Al Gore's new boat -- that one right there. It's energy-efficient, of course. The boat is called Bio-Solar One and the former vice president will reportedly have to fill her up only once in a year -- Wolf, that's a serious saving of gas.

BLITZER: And very cool stuff, too.


BLITZER: All right, Fred, thank you.

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

CAFFERTY: Well, there's a new report out that says all adults in America will be overweight in 40 years -- all of us.

So the question is, what are we going to do about that?

Raymond in Greenville, Texas writes: "It could happen. With all the games around for young people to play, parents don't send them out to play anymore or exercise. Fathers and mothers no longer cook when they can buy prepared, unhealthy meals or go by fast food places."

Ozzy says: "Well, Americans don't need to be afraid of putting their burgers down just yet. Just start moving. You can eat what you like as long as you keep it in moderation. The key is to be more active. Our bodies were made to burn a lot of calories and what with our sedentary lifestyles, we don't get a lot of movement anymore."

Greg in Arkansas writes: "Gas has more than doubled in the last few years, so I drive less and I walk more. Food prices have skyrocketed because of the cost of fuel, so I eat less. If the price of gas continues to go up, oil companies will get fatter, Americans will lose weight. Problem solved. Exxon will get the credit for whipping America into shape."

Vicky in Kansas writes: "Imagine a world without double Big Macs and breakfast tacos. It would be madness."

Dave writes: "I think the study is completely ridiculous. Yes, it's true, we have a very overweight population. I mean, let's face it, our country is the only one in the world that has fat poor people. Everybody else's poor people are starving. You can't say that every will be overweight. I know I won't be. I believe our country is getting more and more health conscious every single day."

And Monty in El Paso, Texas: "We've become addicted to finger licking good greasy vittles. I can't resist the fries, the burgers, the enchiladas, the tacos and the T-bone steaks. I'm trying to eat more vegetables. It's not easy when our country is surrounded by golden arches and when we allow Burger Kings to rule our lives. Maybe revolution is the answer. But that will be right after I take my TV dinner out of the microwave."

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

BLITZER: See you tomorrow, Jack.

CAFFERTY: All right.

BLITZER: Thank you.

On our "Political Ticker," Barack Obama and John McCain want to be president, but who would they be as superheroes?

"Entertainment Weekly," the magazine, asked that and other pop culture questions -- the last movie they saw, the new Indiana Jones film for McCain. Obama believes his last film was "Shrek 3." If they could battle the evildoers as masked crusaders, McCain says he'd want to be "Batman." Obama says "Batman" or Spiderman.

And the favorite fictional president, McCain says it would be "24's" David Palmer. That's somewhat ironic because he played the first African-American president. Obama favors the president in the film, "The contender."

And too little known facts. McCain says the singer Usher, who supports Obama, is among his favorites, while Obama's children like "American Idol."

It's an attraction at an amusement park, but it's certainly nothing amusing. Coney Island fun seekers can see something that's supposed to be very disturbing. That would be waterboarding, when we come back.


BLITZER: An amusement park attraction perhaps like something you've never seen before. It's an artist's effort to get people talking about waterboarding. This one is definitely "Moost Unusual."

Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What does the Coney Island boardwalk have to do with waterboarding? Step right up to the window, squeeze in for a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was shocked. I couldn't believe what I was looking at. I said what the -- oh my god.


MOOS: In a place known for its freaky side shows, its aging amusement park rides, its odd ball games...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hottest game in Coney Island. It's called Shoot the Freak.

MOOS: You shoot a guy with paint balls. But even that seems tame compared to this.


MOOS: But it's only awful once you realize what it depicts. This is waterboarding featuring animatronic robots. It is -- what else -- an art project created by Steve Powers.

(on camera): How would you describe it?

STEVE POWERS, ARTIST: Disturbing. I would describe this as very disturbing, to say the least.

MOOS (voice-over): Steve says the music is similar to what U.S. interrogators purportedly played to upset prisoners being questioned. Waterboarding involves pouring water over a prisoner's face so that he experiences near drowning. We've seen a number of reporters having themselves waterboarded so they could describe it.

Christopher Hitchens had himself waterboarded for a "Vanity Fair" article and the tough guy journalist came out of the experience writing: "Believe me, it's torture."

(on camera): In the Christopher Hitchens article, he talked about you weren't really being boarded, you were being watered.

(voice-over): Artist Steve Powers wants to make folks think about waterboarding. For something that's not funny, he still manages to work in some humor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It says it don't get no better.

MOOS (on camera): SpongeBob.

POWERS: Yes. I...

MOOS: Waterboarding. SpongeBob.

POWERS: He can take it. SpongeBob is built for waterboarding.

MOOS (voice-over): Though the U.S. has admitted to waterboarding, there is no evidence it took place at Guantanamo.

This is supposed to mimic other Coney Island attractions. So you put in a dollar, the lights come on and you get a 15 second peek at robotic waterboarding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's ridiculous. I wouldn't pay a dollar to see that.

MOOS: A well-respected arts organization, Creative Time, bankrolled the project.

ANNE PASTERNAK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CREATIVE TIME: It is supposed to be confrontational, without question. If it's not confrontational, people won't pay attention to it.

MOOS: Though even when some folks did pay attention...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me, it looks like someone is being held in captivity and they're giving them water just to keep them alive.

MOOS: Most of the folks we asked never heard of waterboarding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's across -- it's inhumane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the ocean. If people wanted to drown, you've got the ocean out there. So you don't need this to drown.

MOOS: The artist is hoping a dummy leaves folks not quite so dumb about waterboarding.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, Coney Island.


BLITZER: We want to clarify a report earlier here in THE SITUATION ROOM about John McCain in Wilmington earlier today.

His campaign, he was in Wilmington, Ohio. He was speaking at Wilmington College there. He was not at the nearby DHL facility. DHL workers outside, some of them were protesting a merger there. But they greeted him when he came there, many of them, in fact, shook his hands -- they shook his hand.

That's just a clarification of what happened earlier. That's it for us.

I'm Wolf Blitzer here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

I want to make sure you join us once again tomorrow, every day 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Until tomorrow, thanks very much for watching. Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT".

Kitty Pilgrim is sitting in for Lou -- Kitty.