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The Situation Room

Obama's Afghanistan Plan; Sarah Palin Speaks Out

Aired November 11, 2008 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And happening now: Barack Obama is urging President Bush to act now to save jobs tied to one struggling industry. And there are other details about this massive transition, including how much money it could cost you. Stay with us.
Obama's allies in the Congress issuing their own ultimatum, essentially telling the president, help automakers before you leave office, or they will.

And Sarah Palin calls U.S. politics a brutal beast. She reveals how she survived and talks about if she will enter the arena again.

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

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

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

Barack Obama is not yet president, but he is still trying to get things done. We have learned that, during his meeting with President Bush, he urged the president to do something to stem the losses affecting one American industry, losses that ultimately could affect you.

Let's go straight to our CNN senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley in Chicago. She's in Chicago.

Candy, other details emerging right now about Obama's transition to power.


Pretty quiet on the Obama front today. He did a brief ceremony, but we are now learning more details about that meeting yesterday between President Bush and president-elect Obama and lots of things about what Barack Obama thinks are urgent.


CROWLEY (voice-over): Seen but not heard, Barack Obama honored veterans in a brief ceremony in Chicago, while the chatter about his meeting Monday with the president got more specific.

Sources on the Obama transition team say, the president-elect urged President Bush to take quick action to help the auto industry. Obama suggested that the move could be coupled with appointment of a car czar, someone with the authority to push for and oversee the sorts of reforms Obama spoke about recently.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I have made it a high priority for my transition team to work on additional policy options to help the auto industry adjust, weather the financial crisis, and succeed in producing fuel-efficient cars.

CROWLEY: According to a source who got a readout of the private session, the incoming also told the outgoing president about other priorities, aid to homeowners under threat of foreclosure, and the urgent need for a second stimulus package.

Asked for President Bush's reaction, an Obama source said Obama is -- quote -- "not under any great illusion that Bush would support another package." But the White House and Obama aides say President Bush listed his own priorities for what is left of his term, and top on that list, a free trade deal with Colombia, which the president argues would help the U.S. economy.

Both sides denied stories that the president said he would consider Obama's suggestions if Congress approved the trade deal. More precisely, one Obama source said, President Bush did not specifically suggest a quid pro quo. Stories that Bush was bargaining upset the White House and briefly threatened to break up all that happy talk about the smooth transition. It is now back on track.

Vice president in waiting Joe Biden was effusive about it in his Veterans Day salute to those who have served.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It is a remarkable testament to what you all fought for that there is absolutely, absolutely total, complete, unadulterated cooperation and movement as if it is seamless.


CROWLEY: So, so far so good, it would seem, but so expensive. According to John Podesta, one co-chairs of transition, this entire affair moving from one administration to another will cost about $12 million and take about 450 people to do it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: That is democracy in action, from one administration to the next.

Any indication that between now and Thanksgiving, Candy, some of these Cabinet spots are going to be filled?

CROWLEY: Not so sure about between now and Thanksgiving, but we are certainly being told that we can expect Cabinet appointments earlier than usual. Usually, we see some time in December. We do expect a couple before the end of this month.

BLITZER: Candy is in Chicago for us. Stand by, Candy.

President-elect Obama is not alone in urging help for the U.S. auto industry. Some Democratic lawmakers are making their own demands right now.

Let's go the Brianna Keilar. She is working the story for us.

Brianna, there could be a political showdown of sorts, because the stakes are enormous.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there could be, Wolf. It could be a face-off between Democrats, Republicans and a Bush administration in its final days.


KEILAR (voice-over): One week after big wins on Election Day, Democrats are flexing their muscles, issuing an ultimate to President Bush: Include struggling automakers in the $700 billion bailout plan approved last month, or we will.

In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, failure of a major American automobile manufacturer would have a devastating impact on our economy. She is making plans for a so-called lame duck session of Congress next week to tackle the issue.

Democratic Congressman Sander Levin's congressional district is in Michigan, just north of Detroit, where the big three automakers are based.

REP. SANDER LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: There is an urgency here and it can't wait for an Obama administration. The president-elect has said that auto industry is the backbone of manufacturing in this country, and we have to make sure that that backbone is not splintered the next couple of months before there is a new administration.

KEILAR: The $700 bailout was originally intended for financial institutions. Privately, President Bush has expressed skepticism about taxpayer money for automakers on the heels of a string of government bailouts for other industries.

A Senate Republican leadership aide says shipping off some of the bailout package for automakers would encourage other industries to grab for a piece of the pie. Putting it this way, automakers today, airlines tomorrow. Where do you stop?


KEILAR: Senator Reid late today promised, Senate Democrats will also push for aid to automakers during next week's lame duck session.

And he pointed out, Wolf, President Bush and congressional Republicans can still block their efforts. This is, after all, still a Congress where Senate Democrats have a slim 51-49 majority. And that is not enough to overcome Republican objections if they choose to block Democrats -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brianna, thanks very much -- Brianna Keilar here in Washington.

Let's check in with Jack. He has got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: President-elect Obama said he wants to establish a civilian security force to assist our already-taxed military.

He described it as a national security corps that would be as powerful and well-funded as the U.S. military and would take on a national security burden. Obama made mention of this idea in a speech he gave in Colorado in July. The speech has been circulated widely on the Internet.

For some reason, the concept scares people. Republican Congressman Paul Broun from Georgia told the Associated Press that such a move could lead to Marxism. He said -- quoting here -- "That is exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany, and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he is proposing to have a national security force that is answering to him that is as strong as the U.S. military, he is showing me signs of being Marxist" -- unquote.

Broun also said he thinks Obama will move to ban gun ownership if he does build a national police force.

Here is the question: Is Barack Obama's civilian security force a good idea? Go to You can post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you for that.

Jack will be back shortly.

Just days before he won the presidency, I spoke with Barack Obama, and he hinted -- hinted of the danger of leaving the capture of Osama bin Laden to locals.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: But it may get murky in terms of who are potential allies, who are enemies in that situation.


BLITZER: So, what changes will the president-elect make in the war on terror? Stand by. We have new information.

New insight into that Oval Office meeting between Barack Obama and President Bush. Heidi Collins got that information in an exclusive interview with President Bush.

And one of Obamas' first big decisions, where to send their children to school.

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


BLITZER: As soon as he takes office, Barack Obama will face a daunting challenge in Afghanistan, where violence is on the rise, the Taliban are getting stronger, and NATO is unwilling to commit more troops.

Let's go to our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre.

It is a tough strategy he's going to have work out, Jamie. What are you hearing?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Barack Obama is sending some pretty clear signals. Once he is sworn in, Afghanistan will be the forgotten war no more.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): During the campaign, Barack Obama accused the Bush administration of taking its eye off of the war in Afghanistan, and promised, if elected, to refocus the faltering mission.

OBAMA: I will focus on what Secretary Gates and others have indicated is our number-one security threat. And that is bin Laden and al Qaeda. We will go after him. We will kill him, or we will capture him.

MCINTYRE: But, as president, Obama will inherit a strategy already overhauled by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his top commanders, including General David Petraeus, credited with the turnaround in Iraq.

The revamped plan calls for sending up to 20,000 additional troops next year. That is four combat brigades. It puts new emphasis on talks by Afghan tribal leaders with so-called reconcilable members of the Taliban, but not al Qaeda.

The U.S. also plans to Americanize the NATO mission, quietly easing U.S. commanders into key positions and replacing reluctant forces from some NATO allies with battle-tested American troops. And it advocates adopting a more regional approach, including better cooperation with and more assistance to Pakistan.

OBAMA: We're going to have to have cooperation from Afghans and Pakistanis. But it may get murky in terms of who are potential allies, who are enemies in that situation.

MCINTYRE: While Obama has endorsed those initiatives in broad terms, as commander in chief, he will now want to shape the details and add some ideas of his own.

OBAMA: We also need more training for Afghan security forces, more non-security assistance to help Afghans develop alternatives to poppy farming, more safeguards to prevent corruption, and a new effort to crack down on cross-border terrorism.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MCINTYRE: Should Barack Obama decide to ask Robert Gates to stay on as defense secretary -- and, Wolf, the reports are getting stronger that he is leaning in that direction -- he won't have to worry about issuing orders to change course. When it comes to Afghanistan, Obama and Gates appear to be on the same page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. It sounds like he's on the same page with General Petraeus, who oversees that entire region right now. Is that what you are overhearing, as well, Jamie?

MCINTYRE: Yes, though I think he's going to -- president-elect Obama has said going to want to have some quick consultations with General Petraeus and put his stamp on the way forward in Afghanistan.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Jamie McIntyre, watching this at the Pentagon.

While public policy dominates the discussion as Barack Obama prepares to take office, one key decision for the first family is very, very personal, involving their daughters' education. This is by no means easy for any incoming first family.

They have to make serious decisions, not only about the education of their little kids, but also about the security of their kids. And that is by no means an easy matter. If you look at the history of this, this has to be at the top of their agenda right now.

In fact, Kate Bolduan has been looking into this part of the story.

Kate, what are you discovering?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, what we're hearing is that some of the things they are considering are possibly going to well known private schools, like Georgetown Day.

But they could also go to one of D.C.'s public schools. There are many of them. It is a big decision that many parents have to make, especially when tuition for private school here in D.C. can run close to $30,000 a year. And that decision of course becomes even bigger when you are talking about the young daughters of the president-elect.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): Michelle Obama checked out two of the most prestigious private schools in Washington while on her trip to visit the White House, leading many to wonder, what schools will the first daughters attend after the big move?

Chelsea Clinton attended the private school Sidwell Friends, but President Carter made a point of sending his daughter, Amy, to D.C. public school. The issue has sparked debate. Some, including journalist and D.C. public school parents Stephanie Mencimer, are pushing for public. Mencimer even posted a letter online pleading with the first family to stand by public school education. STEPHANIE MENCIMER, "MOTHER JONES": I think it really says, we're all in this together. It's one thing to say, I'm in favor of school reform, but I don't really want to be part of that with my own family.

BOLDUAN: The whole school question has returned D.C. public schools to the national spotlight. Mayor Adrian Fenty, an Obama supporter, has made it his big issue, improving a system that's received a failing report card for decades, plagued by underperformance and poor student achievement.

Obama even talked about it during the final presidential debate.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: The D.C. school system is in terrible shape, and it has been for a very long time.

BOLDUAN: And public school may be out of the question anyway. Both fifth-grader Malia and second-grader Sasha now attend a private school in Chicago. And, along with concerns over privacy and security, some say private school, where many children of politicians and the famous attend, is the best option.

SALLY QUINN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": ... will understand the whole idea of the celebrity and the media and the Secret Service in a way that most other schools wouldn't.


BOLDUAN: Now, I am told from an Obama spokesperson there would be no confirming, nor denying the schools Michelle is considering for the girls here in D.C. The spokesperson says, simply, Wolf, it is a private decision, and they are keeping it private.

BLITZER: I guess that is the way it should be.

Thanks very much for that.

President Bush, meanwhile, giving his first interview since the election to CNN.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The election of Barack Obama is a historic moment for the country. There are a lot of people in America who did not believe they would ever see this day.


BLITZER: And what else he thinks about this historic election, Barack Obama, and how he feels about his dismal rating in the approval polls. More of this exclusive one-on-one that the president had with Heidi Collins today.

And a major new plan by the Bush administration that could have some homes -- could have saved some homes, that is, but will it be enough to end the mortgage crisis? Plus, a black president, a diverse team, but will that make any difference in your workplace? You're going to find out why it might -- right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: President Bush now speaking exclusively to CNN, his first interview since the election. He is speaking about his meeting, his historic meeting, in the Oval Office yesterday with Barack Obama. Stand by for details.


BLITZER: As the Republican Party tries to regroup after the election, it is asking for feedback online. Today, the GOP launched a new interactive Web site, asking for input about the direction of the party.

Let's go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton. She is working this story for us -- Abbi.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, in the last few days, conservatives online have been urging the Republican National Committee to do more on the Internet, to reach out to the voters more.

Well, here is one step forward. New from the RNC, a Web site, Republican For a Reason. This is urging people to give their input online about what has been going right for the party and what has been going wrong. Well, they asked for it.

One of the earliest submissions here, a link to a popular YouTube video from a self-described Christian conservative.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of conservatives may not like what I have to say. John McCain, you know we got mad respect for you. And you know you got mad respect coming from even the other side of the aisle.

But I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that John McCain was not my first pick. And I backed John McCain, against my better judgment. My feelings for Sarah Palin haven't changed, though.


TATTON: Those videos are coming in, as well as text submissions to this Republican Web site. Wolf, it looks like they are about to get an earful online.

BLITZER: And, Abbi, you were telling me about a very popular show that was on when you were a little girl growing up in England. What was the name of that show?

TATTON: Well, it was called in England "Dynasty," Wolf.

BLITZER: Really? Because we called it "Dynasty" here.

TATTON: So I hear.

BLITZER: All right, Abbi and Zain. Wow.

President Bush's disapproval ratings hitting an historic high, how does he feel about that? CNN asked in an exclusive interview. Heidi Collins sat down with the president. You may be surprised what he says about his unpopularity.

And Sarah Palin is not quite ready to exit the national stage. Instead, she says she is ready to plow through an open door. Does opportunity knock for 2012?

And with a racial barrier broken down for the White House, might more racial barriers be broken down at other places of employment, your jobs, for example?

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


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

Happening now: a CNN exclusive. President Bush gives his first interview since the election. He gives it to CNN. He talks about how he feels about leaving office in the middle of two wars, and he also has strong words of praise for Barack Obama. Stand by.

Sarah Palin may be laying the groundwork for another run. You are going to hear her latest remarks on her possible plans for 2012.

And John Kerry says, Joe Lieberman should not be published -- punished, that is, for supporting John McCain, but a lot of other Democrats in Congress are angry with Lieberman.

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

Sarah Palin calls U.S. politics a brutal beast, and likens herself to a survivor.

Let's bring in Brian Todd. He is looking at this story.

She is giving some high-profile interviews right now, and certainly not anxious to fade away.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not at all, Wolf. She seems intent on getting the last word in campaign '08. And she may also be laying the groundwork for another run as well.


TODD (voice-over): A media blitz for the former vice presidential candidate -- on CNN, Alaskan media, FOX, and NBC, Sarah Palin is giving her view on why Republicans lost last week and whether she will run again for president or vice president. She tells FOX News Channel this.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: I'm like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere -- this is what I always pray -- I'm like, don't let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is. And even if it's cracked up a little bit, maybe I will plow right on through that and maybe prematurely plow through it, but don't let me miss an open door.

And, if there is an open door in '12 or four years later, and if it's something that's going to be good, for my family, my state, my nation, an opportunity for me, then I will plow through that door. But I can't predict what's going to happen.


TODD: Palin says she was disappointed on election night when she came prepared with her own victory speech and concession speech, but was barred by McCain campaign aides from taking a turn at the podium.

Two McCain sources have told CNN that Palin was not familiar with the protocol of a concession speech. In light of reports questioning everything from her clothing to her competence, she was asked by NBC how she feels about the rough-and-tumble of campaigning.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If your skin isn't thick enough to take it as a candidate, really, you've got no business running for public office, because it is pretty brutal, you know. And you take the good with the bad. And it is, like Todd says, all a part of this -- this beast called politics in America.


TODD: After this impromptu media tour, if she is planning another run, one admirer has this recommendation.

MATT LEWIS, TOWNHALL.COM: I think that I would advise Sarah Palin to really go to school. And there's no doubt that she has the charisma and the talent and the intelligence, but she does lack some knowledge. And -- but that can be corrected.


TODD: Now tomorrow, Sarah Palin arrives at the Republican Governors Association Conference in Miami, where she has a scheduled speech and press conference Thursday, Wolf. Also, in your interview she's going to get a chance to turn the page, probably.

BLITZER: Yes. We'll be talking to her tomorrow.

Brian, thank you very much. Sarah Palin will be right here in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow. I'll be interviewing the Alaska governor and you can be part of the interview. If you have questions for John McCain's former running mate, send them to us. To upload your video questions for Governor Palin, go to My interview with tomorrow in Miami. We'll be doing the show from there, as well.

President Bush today marked his last Veterans Day as commander- in-chief at the rededication ceremony of the USS Intrepid -- the aircraft carrier turned into a floating museum in New York. He then took time for an exclusive interview with CNN's Heidi Collins.

Take a listen to this excerpt.

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a good conversation. I was very pleased. And I remember the conversation I had with my predecessor, Bill Clinton. As a matter of fact, I called him yesterday and, you know, I said, Bill, I'm getting ready to meet with the new president and I remember how gracious you were to me and I hope I can be as gracious to President-Elect Obama as you were to me.


In fact, you said you didn't have to do this.


That's right. It was -- it was interesting yesterday. You know, one impression I can share you is that one of the things that President-Elect Obama was really interested in, after we had our policy discussions, was his little girls -- how would they like the White House.

And it was interesting to watch him go upstairs. And he wanted to see where his little girls were going to sleep. And, clearly, this guy is going to bring a great sense of family to the White House. And I hope that Laura and I did the same thing. But I believe he will. And I know his girls are on his mind. And he wants to make sure that, first and foremost, he's a good dad.

And I think it's going to be -- I think it's going to be an important part of his presidency.


This is your first interview since the election.


Yes, it is. It is.


So you know I'm going to ask you, how did you think that turned out? What was your impression?


Well, my choice didn't win. I was for John McCain. I felt he battled hard. But I meant what I said after the election, that the election of Barack Obama is an historic moment for our country. There are a lot of people in America who did not believe they would ever see this day. And it is good for our country that people have hope in the system and feel vested in the future.

And so President-Elect Obama has a great opportunity. And I really do wish him all the best. I mean, I am just as American as he is American. And it is good for our country that the president succeeds.

And so the transition that we're working with him on is a genuine effort to help him be able to deal with the pressures and the complicated issues of the presidency.

COLLINS: I have heard you say many times in the past that I don't like to look at polls, they don't really affect me.

BUSH: Yes, they don't.

COLLINS: I do what I want to do.

BUSH: Yes.

COLLINS: The polling -- and I'm sure you have people who brief you on it -- are up and down all over the map a lot.

BUSH: Yes.

COLLINS: Do you ever get disappointed?

Does it make you a feel a certain way if those numbers are low?

BUSH: I think a president who tries to be popular is a president who could fail the country. And I remind people, popularity is fleeting. Principles are forever.

And there have been times when I have been popular and times when I haven't been popular. But the job of the president is to make good, tough decisions based upon solid principles that are etched in his soul.


BLITZER: And you can watch Heidi's full interview -- the exclusive interview with President Bush -- tomorrow, 9:00 a.m. Eastern in the CNN "NEWSROOM." That's coming up tomorrow.

Senate Democrats are outraged that their former vice presidential nominee backed John McCain over Barack Obama.

Take a listen to what the Senate majority leader told our John King.


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Joe Lieberman has done something that I think was improper, wrong. And I'd like -- if we weren't on television, I'd use a stronger word of describing what he did.


BLITZER: But now some Democrats want Lieberman punished. But others say they're ready to throw him a lifeline.

Plus, Hillary Clinton still has $8 million in campaign debt.

Should Barack Obama pay it off?

The best political team in television is here to discuss.


BLITZER: Should Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut be kicked out of the Democratic Caucus for backing John McCain for president?

Let's discuss this and more with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; our senior political analyst, Roland Martin; and our CNN political contributor, Steve Hayes, the senior writer for "The Weekly Standard."

It's a big fight going on. You just heard Harry Reid, Gloria.

What's going to happen?

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think the Democrats have to caucus. There's a lot of really, really bad feelings about Joe Lieberman, particularly his speech at the Republican Convention, where he took on Barack Obama, saying that he voted to cut off funding for the troops.

However, there's an old saying, my mother always used to say to me, don't cut off your nose to spite your face. And I think they want to keep him in the Democratic Caucus, but they don't want to reward him with the chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee.

So somewhere in there, there may be a compromise, but they don't want him to leave the party.

BLITZER: Roland, John Kerry said this -- and I'll read it to you. He said today: "I think we need to be thoughtful about it so we're not, you know, setting a tone that just somehow almost mars what we're staring at here, in terms of the bigness of it, if you will."

So he's saying, you know, keep Lieberman inside the Democratic Caucus.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't know what in the heck that statement even says.


MARTIN: I mean, so John Kerry, you might want to be -- have some clarity when it comes to that.

Gloria, I understand what you said. Where I come from, you cut them and you cut them deep.

The bottom line is he made comments consistently that was attacking your Democratic nominee. It was very unsettling to many Democrats. I'm sorry, he has to be punished. You don't set a trend...

BORGER: But Obama says don't punish him.

MARTIN: Well, of course...

BORGER: Obama says you want to keep him in the party.

MARTIN: Well, of Obama says don't punish him. That's like my mom telling me to my dad, don't beat him so much. You know, my dad said I will beat his behind. So that's nice, but you know Obama what Obama is going to say.

But I'm sorry, Democrats will take out revenge against him because he has to pay for what he did.

BORGER: So take his chairmanship.

MARTIN: That's the way it works in politics.

BORGER: Take his chairmanship.


BLITZER: All right, Steve.

HAYES: Wolf, I agree with one thing that Roland said, and that was -- that is that I have no idea what John Kerry actually was trying to say in that comment.


HAYES: But otherwise, I think he's got it exactly backwards. I mean, this is a time, I think, when Democrats need to look like the big party. And maybe that's what John Kerry meant when he said the bigness of it all.

I mean, they need to look like an adult party that's coming in, ready to govern. And, I think, in the spirit of the way that Barack Obama ran his campaign -- at least sometimes -- try to be this post- partisan entity...

MARTIN: Hey, Steve...

HAYES: ...and try to reach out to people. MARTIN: I remember when Tom DeLay -- when he was running the Republicans in the House. They made fellow...

BORGER: But that's over.

MARTIN: No, no, no, no. But now follow me here, Gloria. They made fellow Republicans pay who got out of line. I'm sorry, that's how it works in politics. It may not be pretty, but that's how it also works.

HAYES: So you want Democrats to be like Tom DeLay. That's -- it's interesting advice.


HAYES: It's interesting advice.

MARTIN: Well, first of all, I am from Texas. Maybe that's how members of Texas think.

BORGER: That's a bad role model, though, Roland.


BORGER: It's a really bad role model. And as Steve says, it's not what this president-elect wants to do right now. He wants -- you know, he wants to get as many votes as he can. He doesn't want to kick anybody to the Republican Party, particularly somebody who, by the way, votes most of the time with the Democrats.

HAYES: Right.

MARTIN: Well, he sure didn't act like it.


BLITZER: All right. Let me just bring in some poll numbers, because we love poll numbers, in our brand new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. We asked about the fact that Democrats will be in control of the Congress and White House, is that good for the country?

Fifty-nine percent of the respondents said yes. Only 38 percent said it would be bad for the country.

Steve, what do you make of that?

HAYES: Well, I think it's sort of a natural number to see at this point. I mean you've had a lot of positive coverage now for an entire week about Barack Obama and you've had, you know, him giving speeches. You've had sort of a feel good atmosphere in Washington.

I think, you know, the American people are basically saying, look, we want to give this guy a shot. And he's got his party.

The most interesting thing will be to see what those numbers look like in a year. I expect they won't be quite that high. BLITZER: Well, Roland, take a look at this number, because I'm going to put another question that we asked up on the screen. It's a question that asks, would you rather see Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats A, pay little attention to the GOP; or B, include the GOP policies in legislation?

Thirteen percent said A, but 86 percent said they'd like to see Barack Obama and the Congressional Democrats include the GOP policies in legislation.

So they want to see some cooperation, Roland.

MARTIN: Of course. I mean, I recall when George W. Bush ran for president about bipartisanship, that everybody wants to hear that. We don't -- American people don't want to see constant fighting coming out of Washington, D.C. .

And look, when you're broke and when you're downtrodden, you want answers. You don't want more acrimony.

BLITZER: Gloria, let me move on to a different subject, quickly.

Should Barack Obama -- he's a got a lot of campaign cash, presumably, still left over -- use -- and it's legal -- use some of that to pay off Hillary Clinton's own presidential campaign debt?

What, she has about $7 million or $8 million or $9 million that she still owes.

What do you think?

BORGER: Sure. I think -- I think Barack Obama can help Hillary Clinton. There are some Hillary Clinton people who believe that he hasn't done enough.

When you talk to the Obama people, they say, you know, we've really tried. We've done something for her. And when you talk to her chief fundraiser, Terry McAuliffe, who might be running -- it looks like he's likely to be running for governor of Virginia -- he says don't worry about it, I'm going to raise the money, we're going to retire the debt, Obama shouldn't have to worry about it.

So, sure.

MARTIN: How about Mark Penn forgive some of that debt for his sorry work?

BORGER: Well, you know, that's why a lot of fundraisers don't want to do it.


BORGER: They don't want to pay Mark Penn's bills.

BLITZER: All right, guys. We'll leave it right there. I suspect he'll -- he's going to help Hillary Clinton's pay off that debt, because a lot of his own people say he owes her for what she did in helping him get elected to the White House.


BLITZER: Guys, thanks very much.

Barack Obama breaks the ultimate color barrier, inspiring millions of people around the country.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get out there, get jobs, get an education, you know, make a change.


BLITZER: And now some are predicting broad changes in the American workplace. We have a close-up look at the Obama hiring impact.

Plus, fashion and the new first daughters -- even at their age, they're having an impact.

Jeanne Moos is standing by.

You're going to want to see this.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Let's check in with Lou to see what's coming up right at the top of the hour.

What are you working on -- Lou?


We're reporting tonight on President-Elect Obama's battle with the Bush administration to bail out the automobile industry. Billions of dollars of emergency aid at stake. We'll have the latest from the president-elect's headquarters in Chicago.

I'll be joined by presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. He'll be here to assess the president-elect's path to power.

Also, CNN founder, yachtsman, philanthropist Ted Turner joins me here tonight. We'll be talking about his revealing new book, "Call Me Ted." You don't won't want to miss that.

And we'll all our veterans on this Veterans Day and the hundreds of thousands of men and women who serve this nation in uniform all around the world. We'll have a report tonight from the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum in New York.

Join us for all of that at the top of the hour right here on CNN for all of that, the day's news and much more from an independent perspective -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: See you in a few moments, Lou.

Thank you.

DOBBS: You've got it.

BLITZER: Some experts are predicting that Barack Obama's White House win will fuel diversity in American workplaces.

Let's go to Deborah Feyerick.

She's working this story for us.

You've talked to some experts.

What are they saying -- Deb?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, with Barack Obama in charge, many wonder how the face of Washington will change and whether hiring practices around the country will also reflect this new dynamic.


FEYERICK (voice-over): When Barack Obama introduced his interim economic advisers, many people were struck by the diversity -- nearly half the team women, Hispanics and African-Americans.

MARC MORIAL, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE, NEW YORK CITY: That sends a message, when the leader of the country has assembled a competent, diverse team, to business leaders across the nation that they ought to do the same.

FEYERICK: Some experts who track diversity say the election of the first black U.S. president will change dynamics in the workplace. They say white people who have never worked for an African-American boss will likely develop a new trust, while black people, they believe, will gain a new sense of new possibility.

Luke Visconti heads DiversityInc, a business publication.

LUKE VISCONTI, DIVERSITYINC: Having a president who's black is going to open the minds of people to say you know what, I can do this, too. I can be a leader. I should be a leader. I have the talent, I'm working hard. This is a very positive thing for our country.

FEYERICK: On election night in Harlem, many people felt they, too, could succeed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get out there, get jobs, get an education. You know, make a change.

FEYERICK: That spirit was not lost on the head of the National Urban League.

(on camera): There was a real sense of motivation, that they were going to...

MORIAL: A sense of responsibility, a sense of wanting to be involved. That's a positive thing. That's a good thing. And I think that's what happens when people feel that they have a stake in the American dream. There are hundreds of thousands, indeed, millions of young Barack Obamas out there -- men and women who are very skilled, highly talented, articulate and prepared to contribute to the future of this nation. They need to be at the table. The old closed club of governing, I hope and I believe, is over.


FEYERICK: Now diversity experts say studies show that the faster companies adapt and hire a wider, more inclusive talent pool, the sooner those companies will become even more profitable -- Wolf.

BLITZER: That's a pretty optimistic, positive outlook.

But is there a down side of that that you're seeing?

FEYERICK: Well, you know, Wolf, the biggest factor is the economy. So many people are losing their jobs, diversity experts say it's a real change in dynamics. But whether it holds up down the line, well, that's another matter, especially with what's going on in the economy.

BLITZER: Deb Feyerick, thanks very much for that.

Let's go back to Jack.

He's got The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour -- is Barack Obama's proposed civilian security force a good idea?

Ryan in Sacramento: "A national civilian security force -- national implies it's answerable only to the federal government and that sounds abusable. Maybe Obama won't abuse it, but that doesn't mean some future administration won't. So I have to give this idea a resounding no."

Michael in Florida: "Actually, it sounds like a militia -- not a bad idea when you consider our airports, trains and ports are just as vulnerable as they were on 9/11. Add unsecured borders, drug trafficking and gangs, and we have a winner, as long as there are checks and balances."

Ann in Newton, New Jersey: "I remember the air raid wardens during World War II. I'm sure there would be enough volunteers willing to do their duty to help with the security of our country."

Micah in Canton, Ohio: "It sounds like the National Guard, doesn't it? It just shows how far off track the Bush administration got us."

John in New Jersey: "If the security force is meant to help shore up our open borders and exposed ports, then absolutely. The National Guard is too thin. Many states have sent their Guard forces overseas. We have seen how weak our response can be to natural disasters in recent years. This force will not only add security, but also a helping hand in the face of a crisis."

Becky in North Carolina: "I don't think the security force is a good idea, and not because it may or may not be Marxist. Any funds should be used for our existing military National Guard. Why do we need another layer of security? Let's concentrate on making what we have the best it can be."

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: Will do.

See you tomorrow, KENNEDY: .

Thank you.

Michelle Obama isn't the only member of the family sparking fashion trends.



JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What's this dress called now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we're calling it Sasha now.

Why wouldn't we?



BLITZER: And here's a look at some of the Veterans Day Hot Shots coming in from our friends over at the Associated Press -- pictures likely to be in your newspapers tomorrow.

In Florida, a man reaches out touch the name of a family member who died in the Vietnam War.

Also in Florida, a woman writing on a Veterans Day float holds a sign that reads, "Thank you."

In Philadelphia, a Vietnam War veteran gets emotional at a veterans memorial.

And in Ohio, a National Guard member hugs his daughter at an elementary school -- take a vet to school day.

Some of this hour's Hot Shots -- pictures often worth a thousand words. The fashion spotlight isn't only going to focus on the incoming first lady, Michelle Obama. What her daughters wear is also getting some attention.

Jeanne Moss has a Moost Unusual look.


MOOS (voice-over): Only seven years old and already she's got something named after her?

(on camera): What's this dress called now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we're calling it Sasha now.

Why wouldn't we?

MOOS: After all, millions saw her wearing it. Oh, sure, it was Mrs. Obama's dress that caught everyone's eye and lots of flak, described by one blog as "hell-colored." A critic posted that she was probably just dressing a moose backstage.

But the kids are also casting fashion shadows, albeit little ones. The designer of Sasha's dress watched President-Elect Obama make his victory speech on TV without recognizing her dress until a co- worker showed her a photo the next morning.

CAROL HICKS, COWORKER: Brenda, can you believe this?

Look at this. Is your dress.

BRENDA EDWARDS, DESIGNED "SASHA" DRESS: That's what she did, but it was a little bit louder.

MOOS: And how did designer Brenda Edwards react?


MOOS: Here at Gerson and Gerson, overlooking Macy's in New York City, they're now creating Sashas in colors other than black for next season.

(on camera): Ivory Sasha. We've got pink Sasha.

(voice-over): There are Sashas everywhere. The company says they believe the Obamas bought the dress at Nordstrom's or Dillard's for about 75 bucks.

BARBARA ZEINS, PRESIDENT, GERSON & GERSON: I've shed a few tears over this. I think we all did. We come to work every day and, you know, we're just sort of your average schmos making dresses here in the back room.

MOOS: As for Malia's red dress, its maker, Visconti Inc. says it retails for about $110, leading one person to post on "The Wall Street Journal" blogs: "So does this mean Obama is going to add an extra $110 tax credit to each child so we can buy them designer clothes that they will outgrow in a year?"

Hey come on, it's a dress for the night her dad was elected president.


MOOS: Visconti's co-owner is volunteer to dress the girls for the inauguration. When their mom wore this on "The Tonight Show"...


MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA'S WIFE: This is a J. Crew ensemble.




MOOS: J. Crew used ads to take advantage of the Obama connection. The kiddy clothing companies say they don't expect to make much money from the girls. But, boy, are these models cute.


OBAMA: Hey, sweetie.

MOOS (on camera): Do you have this in a size 12?

(voice-over): Nah. It helps to be small enough to pick up to qualify as a first kid fashionista.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: Thank you, Jeanne.

This programming note, an important one for our viewers. Tomorrow, Governor Sarah Palin will be right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm going to be interviewing her.

And guess what?

You can be part of the interview, as well. If you have any questions you'd like John McCain's former vice presidential running mate to answer, this is what you can do. You can send us those questions. And you can upload your video questions for Governor Palin, as well. It's very simple. Go to We're going through them right now. Lots of questions that you want her to answer. And we're going to try to get some of those questions to you.

Stand by. The interview tomorrow with Governor Palin, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. And we want you to check out our political pod cast, as well. To get the best political team to go, you can subscribe at

Thanks very much for joining us.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- Lou.