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The Situation Room

Obama's "Deliberate Haste"; Democrats Vow to Pass Bailout for Auto Industry; Interview with Sarah Palin

Aired November 12, 2008 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, Barack Obama is in no rush to pick his cabinet. Mindful of past presidents' messy mistakes, the president-elect wants to get it right, right from the start.
Also, some Latinos want the New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson, as the next secretary of State. But when that long time Clinton friend jumped on the Obama bandwagon, Democratic strategist James Carville likened -- likened him to Judas.

So what does James Carville think about all that right now? James standing by live this hour.

And my interview with Governor Sarah Palin. I asked the former vice presidential candidate if she'll run for the top job in 2012.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you see opportunity and preparation meet, that's how you know that a door is open and you're ready to go through it.


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

Barack Obama is being picky about his cabinet picks. The inauguration right around the corner, but if the president-elect is feeling any pressure, it's pressure to get it right.

Let's go straight to our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley -- Candy, what's behind the caution right now?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, you wonder what's going on in that transition office when Barack Obama goes there and spends five or six hours inside. We get very little readout. What we do know is that part of is the selection of his cabinet. And there are many, many reasons that they are taking their time.


CROWLEY (voice-over): Barack Obama made history. But as he puts together his cabinet, he doesn't want to repeat it.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I want to move with all deliberate haste. But I want to emphasize deliberate as well as haste.

CROWLEY: What is deliberate haste? This moment, said one Obama aide, the definition is not this week.

It looks more like deliberate than haste, in part, because the president-elect wants a clear runway taking off January 20th -- nothing messy, no drama Obama. That is, no Zoey Bairds, Bill Clinton's first choice for attorney general; no Kimba Woods, his second choice for the same job -- both jettisoned for different reasons. And no Linda Chavezes, President Bush's top choice for Labor secretary. She went down in flames over an undocumented immigrant who lived in her house.

It is history not to repeat -- no mis-picks to send a fumbling first impression or taking up valuable time in the all-important first 100 days, when new presidents begin to brand their era.

OBAMA: I think it's very important in all these key positions, both in the economic team and the national security team, to -- to get it right and not to be so rushed that you end up making mistakes.

CROWLEY: Another part of the deliberate side of deliberate haste, the Obama team sees the cabinet as an ensemble cast. "I know it sounds like kindergarten," said a top adviser, "but you need people who can work together, not a collection of individuals." Historical reference, 2001 -- George Bush taps Colin Powell as secretary of State and Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. Their disagreements were the stuff of headlines.

But holed up in Chicago transition headquarters, the president- elect is most concerned about this and this and this. A close adviser noted the selection of a Treasury secretary nominee will send unbelievable signals throughout the economy. Others, Defense secretary, secretary of State and the national security team, will send signals across the world. It is crucial they get it right.


CROWLEY: The truth is, however, if Barack Obama were to select a cabinet right now -- or at least a couple of cabinet posts -- it would be early. And we have been led to believe over the past week or so that there may be some cabinet announcements at the end of this month. But clearly, there is no timetable that Barack Obama is following except his own -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And we're going to be speaking to one of his closest advisers, Valerie Jarrett. That's coming up later here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll get her take on what's going on right now. Thank you, Candy.

No deliberate haste from Barack Obama's fellow Democrats. They're sounding an urgent call right now to rescue America's battered auto manufacturers. CNN's Kate Bolduan is joining us now live from Capitol Hill -- Kate, the Congressional Democrats say they'll take matters into their own hands. Update us on the latest. KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is what they're saying, Wolf. Now, today, we hear from one key Democrat that Congress could be looking at legislation and a vote next week.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): Democrats are ratcheting up pressure on President Bush to go along with bailing out the American auto industry, despite fresh push-back from Congressional Republicans and the White House.

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We will pass the bill and then he can decide to veto it or not.

BOLDUAN: Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is the man tapped to craft the automaker bailout bill. It could be ready as early as Tuesday -- perhaps $25 billion coming from the Wall Street bailout package, money Frank says is need.

FRANK: In this weakened condition that the economy is in, the total collapse of the American automobile industry would do more damage than not doing anything.

BOLDUAN: This may make next week's lame duck session one last showdown with President Bush. Conservative Republicans are finding it hard to stomach the idea coming hot on the heels of a string of government rescues.

REP. RANDY NEUGEBAUER (R), TEXAS: Members of Congress all have these voting cards. Right now, we're using them as credit cards.

BOLDUAN: Republicans like Alabama Congressman Spencer Bachus ask, where do the bailouts end?

REP. SPENCER BACHUS (R), ALABAMA: And I'm afraid if we don't answer the question very soon -- when does this stop -- that it's going to stop when we run out of money. If we don't, I think the American people will simply rise up and stop us.


BOLDUAN: One big question is what happens in the Senate. Democrats maintain a slim voting majority and there is some Republican opposition. But the question is, is that Republican opposition enough to block this bill -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll watch with you, Kate. Update us on late-breaking information. This is a critically important subject right now.

Let's check back with Jack right now for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the $3 bill with the $400 haircuts is back. Former senator, vice presidential candidate, presidential candidate and an adulterer, John Edwards, gave a speech at Indiana University yesterday. He was paid $35,000 for the appearance.

He talked about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, politics -- everything except his adulterous affair with campaign filmmaker Rielle Hunter. After the speech, there was a question and answer session. No press. And the questions that he agreed to answer had to be submitted in advance. That way he could avoid anything that made him uncomfortable.. Edwards is very careful -- except when he's sneaking in and out of hotel rooms in the middle of the night to meet his mistress, while his wife is home suffering from breast cancer. The "National Enquirer" caught him at that red-handed.

Edwards was expected to follow up last night's speech with an appearance today in San Francisco and an upcoming debate with Republican strategist, Karl Rove, at the American Bankers Association. Gee, I wonder if you can still get a ticket. Why Indiana University would even want Edwards on their campus is a separate issue.

But for now, here's our question: Can John Edwards make a comeback?

Go to and you can post a comment on my blog. Maybe he can run with Sarah Palin in 2012. Oh, yes, they're in different parties.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you for that. Jack Cafferty with "The Cafferty File."

And speaking of Sarah Palin, we're going to have more of my interview with the Alaska governor. I'm asking her some tough questions, but our viewers are also asking some tough questions with their I-Reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Palin, before the election you were speaking with James Dobson and you said you were confident that God would do the right thing for America on November 4th. Did God do the right thing for America?


BLITZER: We're going to hear her answer. She answers that question. Plus, she has some advice for Michelle Obama.

And Bill Richardson and James Carville had a very public falling out when the New Mexico governor backed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. Now there's a push for Richardson to be named Secretary of State. James Carville is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll get his reaction live.

Plus, a disgraced former Congressman breaking his silence on the sex scandal that ended his political career. Mark Foley's tearful apology -- you'll hear it and you'll see it right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: She may yet have a big role to play in 2012. But for now, the former vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, is joking she's a "has been." That's what she said to me. In my interview, the Alaska governor calls Barack Obama's election "historic." Here's part two of my sit-down with Sarah Palin. And I asked her if she thinks it's time to get rid of affirmative action now that there's an African-American president-elect.


PALIN: I am one to believe in equal opportunity for everyone. And there probably are some specific policies that it is time that America can kind of turn that page, understanding that with the intent of treating everybody equally and providing equal opportunity in the workplace and in education, there are some specific policies that I'm sure we can move beyond.

And here again, you know, as Barack Obama prepares to take this office of Washington and of Lincoln, what progress our nation has made in not allowing race to be prohibited at all -- a prohibitive factor in an election.

I'm so proud of America and very happy to see what Barack Obama -- he accomplishes for himself, but also for our nation, for our children to know that race is not a factor. It cannot be a factor. There cannot be a ceiling or a prohibition toward progress.

BLITZER: Let's talk about some of the other issues. And we have a question. One of our I-Reporters sent this in.


BLITZER: Eric Olson of Savage, Minnesota. He says he is a Democrat. He voted for Barack Obama, but he has this question.


ERIC OLSON-SAVAGE, MINNESOTA: Governor Palin, before the election, you were speaking with James Dobson. And you said you were confident that God would do the right thing for America on November 4th. Did God do the right thing for America?


PALIN: I don't know if that was my specific quote, but I do believe that there is purpose in everything. And for me personally, you know, I put my life in god's hands and ask him to -- you know, don't let me miss some open door that he has for me. And I will travel through that. And I think the same thing for our nation. As we seek god's guidance, his wisdom, his favor and protection over our nation, that, at the end of the day, that the right thing is done.

And, you know, I do believe that prayers were answered -- others who prayed across this nation in the election that, you know, that this nation would be protected, that we would be safe, that we would be prosperous and favored. I believe that that prayer is answered. BLITZER: All right. Fair enough.

What does Barack Obama have to do right now, in your opinion, to show that he's going to reach out to Republicans and Independents and work in a bipartisan way?

PALIN: He needs to do what I did when I was elected governor of Alaska. And that is, you don't use a litmus test of partisanship. You do not look to someone's party affiliation, but you look to fill your cabinet positions, especially, with the best of the best. That's what I did as the governor of Alaska, appointing Democrats, Independents, Republicans -- all to work in a team effort, really walking the walk, not just talking the talk. Not just that rhetoric of, you know, an ability that's preached to reach across the aisle. But he's really going to have to walk that. And he can do that by appointing others who are not just a member of his own Democrat Party. And I think we're going to see that.

BLITZER: Here's another question from Dan Waun of Lansing, Michigan.


DAN WAUN, LANSING, MICHIGAN: What would you propose the GOP do to reconcile this ideological shift, in order to regain moderates and Independents, who so convincingly voted for President-Elect Obama?


PALIN: Well, if there is some kind of perception that conservatives and those who maybe represent a conservative base are not pragmatic and are not thinking along those lines, that you put obsessive partisanship aside, then, you know, I beg to differ with the whole premise of his question. Certainly, this is an opportunity, though, to bring people together, to unite and start finding the solutions to America's great challenges. But as you read these viewers' questions, you got any -- have you got any questions from anybody who voted for McCain?

BLITZER: I think we do.

PALIN: Well, good.

BLITZER: But that's --


BLITZER: We're going to get to that. Another question, what are your new ideas on how to take the Republican Party out of this rut that it's in right now? Give me one or two new ideas that you're going to propose to these governors who have gathered here in this hotel.

PALIN: Well, a lot of Republican governors have really good ideas for our nation, because we are the ones there on the front lines being held accountable every single day in service to the people whom have hired us in our own states. And the planks in our platform are strong and they are good for America. And it's all about free enterprise and respecting equality.

BLITZER: Is there anything new that you want to come up with -- a new Sarah Palin initiative that you want to release right now?

PALIN: Nothing specific right now, sitting here in these chairs, that I'm going to be proposing. But in working with these governors, who, again, on the front lines, are forced to -- and it's our privileged and obligation to find solutions to the challenges facing our own states every day; being held accountable, not being just one of many just casting votes or voting present every once in awhile.

We don't get away with that. We have to balance budgets. And we're dealing with multi-billion dollar budgets and tens of thousands of employees in our organization; that executive experience that every governor has and must have being put to good use now, as we work together as governors, to help reach out to Barack Obama's administration, being able to help him make good decisions based on the solutions that we already see. For me, specifically, of course, energy independence that is doable here in this country. We have the domestic solutions because we have the domestic supply.

BLITZER: I know that's a huge issue for you.

Here's another question from Chris Plumstead (ph) of Cumberland, Maine.



I was wondering how you plan on dealing with a convicted felon and senator of your state.


BLITZER: He's referring to Ted Stevens.

PALIN: Right.

BLITZER: He may or may not be re-elected. We don't know. But what are your thoughts?

PALIN: Well, and after the four counts -- the felony counts and the judgment came down --

BLITZER: Seven. Seven.

PALIN: Seven. Yes.


PALIN: After that came down -- and I called for him to step down and he chose not to. Now it is in the hands of the U.S. Senate. It takes two-thirds vote to expel. It's up to the U.S. Senate to decide what to do. But the voters of Alaska, the will of the people was that he would be representing Alaska. And whether some of that vote's intent was that he would win the election and then we would have a special election and still have a chance to hold onto that seat in the Republican Party, maybe that was some intention there of some of the voters. But it's in the U.S. Senate's hands now. It's not in my hands.

BLITZER: So if he's still re-elected -- and they're still counting ballots, I take it, up there -- and the Senate goes ahead and kicks him out of the Senate, is that something you might be interested in? Could you name yourself, for example, to succeed Ted Stevens?

PALIN: I suppose if you were that egotistical and arrogant --

BLITZER: Do you have any desire to serve in his --

PALIN: -- you'd name yourself.

BLITZER: Do you want --

PALIN: -- but I'm not one to name myself --

BLITZER: Do you want to be in the United States Senate?

PALIN: You know, I believe that I have -- I feel I have a contract with Alaskans to serve. I've got two more years in my term. I'm going to serve Alaskans to the best of my ability. At this point, it is as governor. Now, if something shifted dramatically and if it were -- if it were acknowledged up there that I could be better put to use for my state in the U.S. Senate, I would certainly consider that. But that would take a special election and everything else. I'm not one to appoint myself or a member of my family to take the place of any -- any vacancy (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: All right. So you're not going to name yourself, but you're not ruling out the possibility of some other way of becoming a United States senator?

PALIN: I just don't want to close any doors at this point. I'm very, very happy, privileged, blessed to serve as governor.

I want to continue to do that. But I'm not going to close a door in the future here, if Alaskans decide that, perhaps, I could be put to better use for them in another capacity.

BLITZER: You're not ruling out a run in 2012 for president of the United States, are you?

PALIN: I'm not ruling that out. But there again, that is based on my philosophy of it's crazy to close a door before you even know what's open in front of you. You travel in this road in life. And as you turn a corner and there may be something there that -- circumstances change. You've got to call an audible (ph) and you decide to shift gears and take another direction. I'm always open for that. But you've just got to be prepared. And when you see opportunity and preparation meet, that's how you know that a door is open and you're ready to go through it.

BLITZER: You have five children.


BLITZER: Michelle Obama and Barack Obama, they have two sweet little adorable girls --

PALIN: Sweet.

BLITZER: -- as you know.

Do you have any advice for Michelle Obama right now, who's about to become our first -- first lady?

PALIN: Oh. Oh, we --

BLITZER: Our first lady, I should say.

PALIN: Right. Right. Well, she is -- as I do in the governor's mansion in Juneau, also, man, let the kids be kids. Let them have their friends come over. Let them hold onto that childhood, despite the fact that they are going to be in the public eye and in more formal settings and everything else.

Bring spunk and life into the White House. You do you that via children being allowed to have fun and just be who they are. And they're just going to have a blast there. And it's going to be good for the country, also, to see that young wife in the White House. I think it's going to just brighten up our entire country.


BLITZER: All right. There's much more of the interview with Governor Sarah Palin coming up. As you just heard, she's not ruling out a presidential run in 2012. In fact, an online movement from her supporters is already pushing to make that happen.

Let's go right to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton -- Abbi, what are they doing?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, for some people, it is never too soon. There are already more than a thousand of these designs for "Palin 2012" on the online store Cafe Press. Look around Facebook and you see people trying to start a movement. And then there's the draft Web sites -- a handful of them, including this one, which is already claiming more than 50,000 members.

Now, there's some online precedent here -- a different Web site that was started in 2007 is this one -- Draft Sarah Palin for Vice President, started by a 21-year-old blogger, Adam Brickley. And he's already posted his support for 2012. Now, why the rush for all this?

Well, we spoke to the owner of this Web site, Draft Sarah Palin for President, Richard Bernier (ph), who says that he watched Obama's online movement, calling it a machine. And he says they want to get organized so they can compete -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Abbi.

The full interview, by the way, including parts you haven't yet seen -- that's going to air in the next hour right here in THE SITUATION ROOM -- the full interview with Governor Palin.

James Carville called Bill Richardson, as a lot of you remember, Judas for backing Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. Now there are some Latinos out there pushing very hard for Bill Richardson to be named Secretary of State. So here's the question -- is James Carville ready to bury the hatchet? He's standing by live -- James, that is -- and I'll ask him.

And help wanted by the Obama administration -- it has thousands of positions to fill. You're going to find out how much and how little some of them pay.

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


BLITZER: All right. Let's check back with Zain. She's monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What's the latest -- Zain?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, same-sex couples can now get married in Connecticut. Today, a judge upheld a state supreme court ruling that allowed gay and lesbian couples to wed. Just minutes after that ruling, state officials began issuing marriage licenses. Connecticut now joins Massachusetts as the only two states where gay couples can marry.

Thousands of people in Nepal are lining up to be blessed by a teenager they believe is the reincarnation of Buddha. Followers claim that this 18-year-old has been meditating in the jungle without food or water for years. He re-emerged just this week to meet with his devotees and bless them with a tap on the head that they call the touch of the divine.

And, Wolf, take a look at this. Fists were really flying today in Ukraine's parliament building.

What happened was -- look, a fight broke out between lawmakers right before a vote on whether or not to sack their speaker. In the end, they did dismiss the speaker, who was a close associate of President Victor Yushchenko. Yushchenko is locked in a bitter power struggle with his prime minister and her supporters in parliament. It's a good thing that we don't do business like that over here, Wolf -- or do we?

BLITZER: Yes. That's not the House of Lords, either.


BLITZER: All right, Zain. Thank you very much. Zain Verjee will be back.

A top post in the incoming Obama administration -- how much will the next Defense secretary make?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like a pay raise, but, frankly, I would have served at that job whatever it paid.


BLITZER: Large paychecks for some, but a comparative pittance for others. There are thousands of positions to be filled by Barack Obama. So who's going to be making what in Washington? We have the details.

Also, we revisit the war of words between James Carville and Bill Richardson now that Richardson is being talked about as a possible secretary of State. James Carville is standing by live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM to weigh in.

Plus, Mark Foley breaks down as he apologizes for the sex scandal that ended his career on Capitol Hill and reveals new details about his own history.


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

Happening now, Iran announced today that it successfully tested a new surface to surface missile -- a move the U.S. opposes. Tensions between Iran and the United States just one of the many challenges Barack Obama will face come January 20th.

Other pressing issues are on his plate right now, as well. We'll tell you what they rely straight ahead. Stand by.

And the Republican Party licking its wounds after its dramatic Election Day losses. GOP governors meeting to hash out what went wrong and trying to figure out how to get their party back on the right track.

And Obama's campaign was air tight, but there were leaks about his meeting with President Bush. What will it be like when he's in the White House? We're talking to James Carville about that and much more.

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

Two wars, a continuing terror threat, and ominous developments in so-called rogue nations. Let's go right back to our State Department correspondent Zain Verjee. Zain, it all adds up to enormous pressure on Barack Obama as he tries to put together a national security team.

VERJEE: It really does, Wolf. The game in Washington right now is jockeying for jobs in the Obama administration. The U.S. foes may take advantage of the transition distraction.


VERJEE (voice-over): A dangerous world won't wait for presidential transition. Iran Wednesday testing a missile that can hit Israel and U.S. bases. Word North Korea is stalling on nuclear inspections.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Men and women both in uniform and civilians who are on the frontlines and they can't afford that there's any slip between the team that is coming in and the team that is leaving.

VERJEE: Prime office space awaits the Obama team at the State Department. A thick manual outlines the nuts and bolts of policy as thousands try to land an Obama administration job any advantage helps.

DAVID ROTHKOPF, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTL. PEACE: They're going to people they know in the transition. They're writing op-eds, giving speeches, trying to be seen as noticed and sizing up the competition.

VERJEE: Hispanic leaders are openly pushing the New Mexico governor for secretary of state, Bill Richardson. Just one of many being mentioned for the job.

ROTHKOPF: In a city full of lots of lies, the most common right now is I'm not interested? Reporter.

VERJEE: The top diplomat spot is just one piece of a jigsaw puzzle.

ROHKOPF: If your first three picks are old white guys, then you've got to stop and say, well where are we going to find the rest of the diversity? So it becomes complicated. It does become a game of three dimensional chess.


VERJEE: Wolf, this isn't all just about people jockeying for jobs. We are also witnessing a shift of ideas that will be led by a new group of people -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Fascinating stuff going on. Zain, thank you.

Let's get some more now on what Zain just reported. Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico as a possible secretary of state. We're joined by our CNN contributor, the Democratic strategist James Carville. He's joining us from beautiful New Orleans. And from New York also, a beautiful place, Republican strategist Rich Galen.

James, you and Bill Richardson, you know, you weren't necessarily pals during the campaign when he endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. You likened him that the point as all our viewers remember to Judas. What do you think about him becoming secretary of state right now? JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Me personally, I've not changed my opinion of him. I don't know -- I understand the Hispanic leaders have endorsed him. They're perfectly right to do that, but my sense is he doesn't have his support is not very deep for that position. We'll see what the president-elect does.

BLITZER: Are you still angry at him?

CARVILLE: I haven't changed my opinion of him. You know, but the election is over. I think the same thing I did as when he did it. But the president-elect has to make his choice. I don't sense that there's a lot of support for him. You know, I can understand the Hispanics have endorsed him. I think when he looks it over, so far, he's made very competent appointments. I suspect that tradition will continue.

BLITZER: How do you like at appointments so far, Rich?

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think Rahm Emanuel is a great choice. Rahm and I have been political opponents for a long time but I respect him. He's one of the smartest guys next to James probably in the Democratic Party.

Going back to Bill Richardson, I think before he becomes secretary of state, he's got to change his look. He looks like he's the lounge act on a casino cruise. I don't think that's going to fly.

BLITZER: Is the beard -- is there something wrong with guys who have beards.

GALEN: Beards that look like that I think, yes.

CARVILLE: I'm not going to criticize anybody's looks here.

GALEN: I'm trying to help you, pal.

BLITZER: All right. Let's talk a little bit about the incoming White House. James, you know, during the campaign, the Obama team, they were pretty good in avoiding leaks and embarrassing leaks. They were well disciplined from the top down. But right now, President Bush seems to be irritated at least according to some sources there over some of the leaks coming out from his private one-on-one chat in the Oval Office the other day with Barack Obama.

CARVILLE: Right. I think that President Bush has every right to be irritated. I think there's an expectation of an outgoing president and an ingoing president can sit down and have a conversation, not have a leak. By the way, I'm almost positive that President-Elect Obama is furious about this, too. Let that be a good lesson. When you're in government, you know, when you tell somebody a secret, they can keep a secret. It's just the people they tell that can't keep a secret.

I'm really kind of sympathetic to President Bush on this. As an American, I expect that the outgoing president, who I don't think very highly of, an ingoing president who I like a lot better can have a conversation without me knowing about it.

BLITZER: It's really embarrassing when you think about it, Rich.

GALEN: One of the things that happens is, this happens especially amongst mid level staffers, low level staffers don't know enough to do this. Mid level staffers I think unfortunately may be trying to "make their bones," with the high level Washington press corps by showing they're on the inside and the Washington press corps understands that the only way you can prove that is to tell them something that's on the inside.

I think my guess is that James is right, that President-Elect Obama is probably knocking some heads together right now and saying this better not happen. You don't want to be on the wrong side of Rahm Emanuel. That part we all know.

CARVILLE: I know a lot of Washington reporters and most I know would take the information and report it but wouldn't think very much of the person that gave it to them.

GALEN: That's right. It's like a stool pigeon on "Law & Order."

BLITZER: James, take us behind the scenes right now in this transition. We're going to be speaking with Valerie Jarrett in the next hour, one of the top inside advisors to Barack Obama. But what's going on right now?

CARVILLE: Oh, man, everybody in the world. Obviously, they're being inundated and they're being flooded with people who want to be a part of this administration. John Podesta, who is -- I think this is another thing. I actually did give President Bush credit for this. I don't know why I'm being kind to him today. They set this thing up in advance which was a good idea. John Podesta is probably the most competent person in Washington. I think they have a pretty good handle on it. One can't even imagine the number resumes, the number of phone calls that are being made. The number of it people that want to be part of something new and fresh.

I think that they have a pretty good idea what they want to do, you know, pretty whittled down the names at the senior level. Remember, there's thousands and thousands of appointments they have to make. This is going to take awhile. They'll not get it all done by the 20th of January.

BLITZER: I think that's a good point. Rich, how does he avoid, Rich, the mistakes that were made, James certainly remembers, there were some mistakes made as Bill Clinton was getting ready to become president during that transition. How does Barack Obama avoid those kinds of mistakes?

GALEN: I think he's showing that he is avoiding that. He used the phrase all deliberate haste, which I was not amused by but interested in because it harkens back to the Brown versus Board of Education famous ruling which called for integration with all deliberate speed which turned out to be more deliberation and less speed. But I think the Obama transition team and the Bush transition team are working very closely together. Josh Bolten, as I understand it, the current White House chief of staff, issued orders that he wanted these transition plans to be robust, to be complete, and to be completed well in advance so that they were ready to go on election day. And the president issued orders that President-Elect Obama could suggest people not nominate them, of course, but suggest people who needed to get going with their clearances so that those clearance, the clearance process which can take five, six, eight weeks are, completed by January 20th. So his team will be ready to go. I think he's on top of this.

BLITZER: All right. Guys, we've got to leave it right there. Good discussion. It looks like that transition by all accounts despite an embarrassing leak is moving along very, very smoothly. James Carville, Rich Galen, thank you.

Thousands of people hoping to work for the Obama administration. You just heard James talking about it. There's a book out there that lists the jobs and how much they pay. It's just been released. We're going to tell you how you can get it, where the most money will be, where not so much money. All that coming up.

Plus, two years ago he resigned from Congress amid a sex scandal involving instant messages on a computer. Now for the first time, Mark Foley is talking about it all. You're going to hear the emotional interview ahead.

MARK FOLEY, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I'm sorry. I apologize I don't even want to be crying on set.


BLITZER: President-elect Barack Obama has hung out the help wanted sign. Thousands of positions are now listed for the incoming administration. The only hitch? You can't earn more than the president of the United States. Let's go to Brian Todd working the story -- Brian, what are you discovering?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, you can find out a lot about the jobs and how much money they'll pay from this plum book which is going to trigger an avalanche of resumes.


TODD (voice-over): No pressure here, Mr. President-elect. Along with all those other things on your plate, you've got thousands of jobs to fill, many are found here titled "Policy and Supporting Positions," it's also called the plum book. Nearly 8,000 of the top jobs in government are listed here; most of them politically appointed and many salaries are also listed. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, more than $191,000 a year.

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: It looks like a pay raise, but frankly, I would have served at that job whatever it paid.

TODD: William Cohen, defense secretary under Bill Clinton, says he couldn't put a price tag on the honor of serving. Cohen, Gates, Donald Rumsfeld, others in that job have made a lot more money in the private sector. But for perspective, the lowest salaries in the plum book are for administrative assistant jobs paying between 32,000 and $39,000 a year. There are millions of government jobs overall. Many paying in the teens and 20s.

PROF. JEREMY MAYER, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: The median family income is around 60k. From the average American perspective, these look like good numbers.

TODD: Some salaries are at the administration's discretion like the White House press secretary and chief of staff. They can't make more than the president's 400,000. Some eye poppers, the deputy public printer makes more than $158,000. A board member at the Vietnam education foundation $139,600. Those jobs could go to political supporters of the incoming president but Cohen says any of these positions could prove valuable later.

COHEN: They gain an expertise and knowledge in how to manage budgets, people, and that's a very high value to the private sector when they leave.


TODD: Important to remember here, this book is just a snapshot of the top positions in government right now. Come January 21st, President Obama comes in and some agencies in here may be smaller and others may not even exist by then -- Wolf?

BLITZER: A lot of jobs out there and a lot of people want them. Thousands of folks. We'll watch this.

The nation's Republican governors are all meeting right here in Miami just one week after the party's sweeping defeat at the polls. The question on a lot of people's minds right now, how to pick up the pieces? Dana Bash is here with us. She's working the story. And have been walk the halls, Dana, and finding there's a lot of depressed Republicans.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You can say that again. Obviously, that's true. But actually, Republican governors that's the one bright spot of the Republican Party. That means there is a lot of jockeying going on, not just for how to lead the party but who's going to lead it.


BASH (voice-over): Republican governors gathered in Miami agree on one thing, their grand old party is in crisis.

GOV. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think this is a remarkable time for in essence an after action review where people say what did we get right and wrong. I think this is a chance to really define what our party is about.

BASH: Yet wander the halls of the Republican Governors' Convention and get very different answers to that question. The struggle to lead the GOP out of this ditch on display. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford wants to return to the fiscally conservative dales of the Reagan revolution.

SANFORD: The bible says be hot, cold, but don't be lukewarm. I think that the Republicans have been absolutely milquetoast with regard to standing for a lot of principles they're supposedly about.

BASH: But Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty says looking back 30 years is precisely the problem. Republicans must adapt to a changing electorate.

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY (R), MINNESOTA: I think you can be conservative and be modern at the same time in terms of keeping the principles and values but applying them to the issues of our time. Ronald Reagan was a great leader but he was president a long time ago. A lot has happened since the 1980s.

BASH: Florida's Charlie Crist is in that will camp, too. He's a popular GOP governor in a state Barack Obama turned blue and says Republicans must look beyond the base to issues that drive swing voters.

GOV. CHARLIE CRIST (R), FLORIDA: We need do better with Hispanics. We need to do better with African-Americans and work harder to convey that message of hope and opportunity and the fact that this is a party of Abraham Lincoln that understands we need to be very inclusive.


BASH: Now, Governor Sarah Palin is going to speak here tomorrow. And talk about the future of the Republican Party. It was very interesting, Wolf, talking to several of the governors today. They kind of bristled at the thought she might be the voice of the Republican Party in the future. Many of them said no, there are a lot of voices.

BLITZER: It's interesting to see the fascination with her. I'll take viewers behind the scenes because there's a rock star crowd around her. Not necessarily for some of these other governors. We'll talk about that. Dana, thanks.

A major scandal. A Congressman caught text messaging young men.

FOLEY: It's an innocent thing going back and forth. You know, I wasn't out soliciting people.

BLITZER: Now for the first time, Mark Foley is talking about what happened. You're going to hear it in his own words. He breaks down. Stand by for that.

And Barack Obama in closed-door meetings today, among the topics, a potential new key position in the White House. What it is and how it might help. That's coming up ahead, as well stay with us.


BLITZER: Former Republican Congressman Mark Foley is talking about his sex scandal publicly for the first time. Foley was forced to resign his seat after public revelations of sexually explicit messages he exchanged with underage Congressional pages. Foley, who's openly gay, says he was molested by a priest as a child, leading him to addiction and what he calls a momentary lapse of judgment.


FOLEY: When I was 12, I was abused. So I recognize that pain and the suffering. I wish I would have confronted those demons. But there was a lot of hesitation because my parents had such deep faith and I didn't want to let them down. I didn't want to let them believe that a man of God could have done this to their son. And so you keep it inside yourself. You hide it from everyone.

Because you feel like it may have been my fault. And you try your best to move forward, ignoring that it happened. When you're 12 years old and the priest is telling you this is healthy, this is good. And if you tell anybody, I'll kill myself. So your life is instantly changed. It doesn't make it right. I regret to this day that incident and what I've done. But I can't change history.


BLITZER: Foley also is apologizing to his former constituents in Florida, calling this behavior profoundly, profoundly regrettable.

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

CAFFERTY: Pretty powerful stuff.

The question this hour is: Can John Edwards make a comeback? He made a speech at Indiana University yesterday, for which he was paid 35 grand but refused to answer any questions about his extramarital affair.

Ann in Seattle, Washington says: "Apparently, he's made a comeback with his wife and family, where forgiveness is appropriate. Coming back politically, though, is another thing. It's not a matter of forgiveness. It's a matter of trust. I feel when the majority of Americans look at him now they see someone who acted without integrity, lied and tried to do both his fellow Democratic candidates and American voters. The man has every right to clean up his act and move on but not to expect trust from the voters."

Ken in North Carolina: "I live here, North Carolina. He was my senator. And I supported him until this thing with the girlfriend. It damaged my faith in him. And then when I found out he claimed to have ended the affair but continued it, well, that was it for me."

Dana writes: "I think people can reform and become better people. He seems to be generally repentant -- genuinely repentant, and hopefully, he's learned how much hurt can be caused by one bad decision. He will definitely be under closer scrutiny in the future, but I do believe in his ability and his potential."

Rob writes: "I don't know. Cheating on your wife who's dying of terminal cancer is a pretty tough sell, even in politics."

Pete in New York writes: "The guy lied to a wife with a terminal illness. He lied to his party. And he lied to the American people. If you're a Democrat, you should be furious. He ran for the phenomenon-nation. Suppose Barack Obama hadn't been around and he got the nomination over Hillary Clinton. Even the economy couldn't have saved him if this came out during the campaign. Was that an action deserving of future trust?"

And Annie in Florida: "No sympathy. He's a sleaze ball, and he ought to be ashamed of himself. He should work for nothing, not this latest speaking fee, and reflect on what a lousy human being he is." That's a little harsh, Annie.

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: Thanks very much, Jack.

Her former rival, soon to be the commander in chief.


PALIN: Our boys, our girls that have boots on the ground, you know, they're looking to -- their lives, my son's life is in his hands.


BLITZER: The former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin speaking about her son serving in Iraq. And she's also offering to do whatever she can to help the incoming Barack Obama administration. What might she be doing for the president-elect? Is there anything she could be doing for him? I'll ask one of Barack Obama's closest advisers. All that and a lot more coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Another dismal day on Wall Street. Lou Dobbs is standing by. Lou, what happened on the bailout today, it's rattled investors' nerves, I take it. What's the latest?

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the latest is that the treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, had to reverse himself and say that his original plan and the basis -- you remember the urgent necessity of passing that $700 billion Wall Street bailout, it turns out that he has changed his mind entirely about what will work, what he should be doing, and what will be done. It's as if he does not understand that a trillion dollars is real money and doesn't understand that we don't have time for phonies and frauds in the Treasury Department acting as if they've got answers when they don't even understand the questions. And the markets are reacting to this. They discerned very clearly that this treasury secretary and this economic team have no clue what they're talking about.

BLITZER: And Lou's going to have a lot more in one hour on his show, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." That's coming up. Lou, thanks very much.