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The Situation Room

Biden & Cheney Face-To-Face; Obama Gives Up Senate Seat; Private Lives of White House Wannabes; Obama Under Wraps

Aired November 13, 2008 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, the vice president- elect, Joe Biden, and his wife, visit their future home here in Washington, hosted by the man Biden has called -- and I'm quoting now -- "The most dangerous vice president in U.S. history." It could make some delicate moments coming up. These are live pictures from there, the residence here in Northwest Washington, off Massachusetts Avenue at the Naval Observatory. We're watching as Biden gets ready to meet with Cheney over here and their wives. Stand by. You'll see it live unfold in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And talk about delegate -- delicate, that is. Those hoping for top jobs in a new Obama administration face dozens of very personal questions -- the price of power and influence.

And live this hour, John McCain. He's back on the campaign trail -- his first political appearance since the election. Can he make, though, a difference in an important Senate run-off?

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

All right. These are live pictures you're seeing. You just saw the motorcade -- the back end of that motorcade begin to go into the Naval Observatory grounds over here in Northwest Washington. There's the front door of the residence of the vice president's home. Dick Cheney and Lynn Cheney presumably will be coming out to meet with the incoming vice president, Joe Biden and Jill Biden. We expect to see them as they arrive.

I think our correspondent, Brian Todd, is outside the Naval Observatory. There you see the vice president and Lynne Cheney walking out to receive the vice president-elect and Jill Biden. I assume Jill Biden is there. Well, I don't see Jill Biden. But I do see Joe Biden. Let's listen in and see if we hear anything.




L. CHENEY: Now, Joe, I was told that...



L. CHENEY: Well, it's been great. We've done some (INAUDIBLE).

J. BIDEN: Oh. Hey, folks, how are you?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you receive the new house yet before?

L. CHENEY: We're just going to do it.

J. BIDEN: Oh we've been -- I've been on the ground floor a couple of times. It's nice to see you.

BLITZER: All right. So they've gone inside the residence right now and they're going to have a little tour. The vice president and Lynne Cheney, by the way, they love giving tours of that residence. And we've seen the vice president's wife, Lynne Cheney, deliver some of those tours, especially around the holiday season, Christmas, as well. Lots of history in that residence right now.

Gloria Borger is our senior political analyst. Gloria, as we see this, there could be some awkward moments, we've been saying, although I guess both of these guys are politicians and they know that during a hard-fought campaign, candidates say things that are rather blunt.

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they are. And they've both been around Washington a long time. But, Wolf, Joe Biden did say some pretty tough stuff about Dick Cheney, calling him, if I believe "dangerous" in his role...

BLITZER: The most dangerous vice president ever...

BORGER: Exactly.

BLITZER: ...something like that.

BORGER: In his role as vice president. So I think that's something Dick Cheney probably listened to a little bit. But, you know, you also have Joe Biden, who's one of the most talkative people you'll ever meet, in with Dick Cheney, who's probably one of the quietest people you'll ever meet.

So it will be interesting, because it could be a very one way conversation.

BLITZER: Yes. But there's no doubt that Dick Cheney -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- I can't think of another vice president who was more influential, for good or for bad...

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: ...than Dick Cheney. Al Gore was pretty influential.


BLITZER: Walter Mondale was very influential. George Herbert Walker Bush was pretty influential. But Dick Cheney was a -- has been a very powerful and influential vice president.

BORGER: And, you know, when you talk to Dick Cheney about it, he says that one of the reasons he had so much impact is that he had told George W. Bush that he would never run for president, that he had no political agenda of his own and that he didn't want to succeed George W. Bush in the presidency. He kept his word on that.

Joe Biden is older than Barack Obama. One assumes that's the same way, that there would be -- that he would have no ambition beyond the vice presidency. But we don't know that there's been any agreement to that.

BLITZER: Yes. Brian Todd is outside the Naval Observatory in Northwest Washington. You saw that motorcade go into the compound, didn't you -- Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we did, Wolf. Very interesting. There were four SUVs in the motorcade. That's for security, so that, you know, potential terrorists or anybody else who might want to target that motorcade won't know which one he's in. That's typical of a presidential motorcade -- a vice presidential motorcade. It was very interesting to see that. A lot of police vehicles coming up ahead of him and police motorcycles. So security here is clearly paramount.

You know, just to be a fly on the wall of what they're talking about, who knows? I mean Dick Cheney could be telling him about some of the security operations here at the residence, you know, the undisclosed location where Vice President Cheney is said to have stayed after 9-11. He might be briefing him on some of those things, as well. So a lot to talk about between these two men, despite, you know, the well-documented level of rhetoric and tension between them during the campaign.

BLITZER: All right. Brian, stand by. I want Gloria to stand by.

Candy Crowley is out in Chicago. She's watching all of this unfold, together with the Obama campaign. The transition is headquartered there -- Candy, it was a big announcement today that -- from the governor, actually from Senator Obama, president-elect now, that he's giving up his Senate seat.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Effective Sunday, yes. We knew he wasn't going to attend the lame duck session. This puts a period on that as he moves ahead, of course, to become the president-elect. There's a lot on his plate. A Senate session was never on that plate.

It does a couple of things here. It frees up that seat for the governor of Illinois to select someone so that perhaps they could sit in the lame duck session. We'll have to see how that plays out. We also know that Joe Biden had said several weeks ago that he would give up his Senate seat when he is sworn in as vice president. There seems to be, according to sources, some rethinking of that. And it may be earlier -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And what are we hearing about staffing announcements from the Obama transition -- Candy?

CROWLEY: We had heard earlier that we may get some White House staff announcements. Those are done by paper, in general. And with -- they still are hinting that we may get that, I think, probably now Friday, rather than today, since we're moving out of the broadcast network news cycle.

BLITZER: So it's going to be -- it's going to be a while. But he's taking a relatively low key right now, isn't he -- at least in terms of the public. Behind-the-scenes, I'm sure he's very busy, Candy, going through a lot of resumes.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. And more importantly, kind of trying to put together that ensemble cast. He wants more a tableau with his cabinet than an individual here and an individual there, because it's important to him at this point, they be able to get along, that it be diverse and that, most importantly, that the signals those selections send are good ones. In particular, the Treasury secretary signal to the rest of the country that is, at this point, fearful about what's ahead with the economy. They certainly know that that Treasury secretary selection will be looked at all levels of the economy in the U.S. So, obviously, a very careful process at this point -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It will be studied around the world because it could have enormous economic implications. People will be watching it and studying it, as Candy said.

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

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: In a dramatic departure from the recent norm, we're going to actually today spend a couple of minutes talking about the vice presidential candidate who won the election. Joe Biden. Remember him?

After 9/11, one of the first things President Bush did was find that secure undisclosed location in which to store Dick Cheney, his vice president. Once he was securely hidden away, then he could begin pulling the strings for the new administration -- secret energy meetings with that fun bunch from Enron, drawing up plans to invade Iraq, as well as the lies they would need to cover it, figuring out how to operate the most secretive administration in history without being accountable to anyone.

He had his assignment pretty clearly defined right from the get go. It's always been a little bit of a problem figuring out what to do with the vice president. As long as the president's alive, his official job description is very limited -- break the ties in the Senate, sit behind the Congressional leaders during the State of the Union address and try to look like you're awake when you're out in public.

Julian Zelizer, who's a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University says that Biden could best be put to use soothing a Democratic Congress that's had a tense relationship with the executive branch in recent years. He thinks that Biden should be "a point man on Capitol Hill to help twist arms, make arguments and build voting coalitions." That's a quote.

So here's the question: How should Barack Obama make the best use of Vice President-Elect Joe Biden? Go to and you can post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Good question, Jack. Thank you.

Have any secrets? You'll have to spill them all if you want a job in the Obama administration. The seven page questionnaire exploring every detail of your life -- wait until you hear what they're asking. Stand by.

Plus, we're waiting for John McCain at his first political event since losing the election. He's campaigning once again right now -- this time for someone else.

Plus, always outspoken, always colorful -- our old boss, Ted Turner. He's getting ready to come in here, into THE SITUATION ROOM live. We'll talk about Barack Obama, President Bush and the news network that Ted founded.

A lot more coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: John McCain getting ready to deliver his first political speech since losing the presidential election. We're going to go there live shortly. It's in Georgia. We'll tell you what's going on.

So have you ever written anything potentially controversial in your own diary? Have you shared a home and bonds of affection, "bonds of affection," with someone? If you're looking for a top job in the Obama administration, be prepared to reveal all. And when we say all, they mean all. Deborah Feyerick is working this story for us.

Dozens of questions, lots of very personal information requested if you want a job -- Deb, what's going on?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, pretty much no stone will be left unturned. The last thing a new president wants is unnecessary controversy. It's distracting. It breaks the momentum. So the Obama team is asking potential hires to do some serious soul- searching, not only for themselves, but for their spouse and their kids.


FEYERICK (voice-over): Got a secret? If you want to work in the Obama White House, those doing hiring want to know about it. Anyone with anything that could seriously embarrass the president-elect need not apply.

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: It's better to be thorough and careful than sorry later. And, you know, when you think about it, it's a privilege, not a right, to be a cabinet officer.

FEYERICK: The seven page questionnaire for people seeking high level positions covers everything -- like who you know, who you've lived with, whether you keep a potentially incriminating diary, your Internet aliases and links to your pages on Web sites like Facebook and MySpace, as well as personal blogs.

SABATO: A president facing difficult problems like Barack Obama doesn't need unnecessary controversy.

FEYERICK: Remember what happened when President Bush named Bernie Kerik to head homeland security?


BERNARD KERIK, FORMER BUSH CABINET NOMINEE: It was something that I felt was just something we -- I couldn't move forward on.


FEYERICK: Kerik had to withdraw his name, citing a nanny's questionable immigration status. More embarrassing information on Kerik surfaced later.

President Clinton got blind-sided when he tried nominating sitting judged who had also hired undocumented nannies.

Even Sarah Palin's selection raised questions whether she had been vetted closely enough.

With the Obama administration, the 63 questions cover character, loyalty, family ties and potentially unlawful behavior. The vetting process among the most intense ever -- a reflection, his spokeswoman says, of Obama's desire to change the way Washington does business.

SABATO: If you want to be extremely powerful and influential in a new administration, you do have to submit to some indignities.


FEYERICK: You know, it's not only the person applying who's being vetted. The entire family is being considered. The last question asks whether there's anything at all that could embarrass you, your family or the president-elect.

And, Wolf, we were calling a lot of people today to interview for this piece. They joked that they would never get a cabinet position. And, of course, we need to withhold those names -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A sensitive issue. Will all these applications -- and most of these applications will be rejected. Will they be kept confidential, private?

FEYERICK: Well, technically, yes. But one observer did point out that if someone resigns under bad circumstances, for example, political operatives could leak private details. And that's really problematic.

BLITZER: And some have suggested that there's one question there that might have some sort of veiled reference to the '60s radical, the militant, William Ayers. What's that all about?

FEYERICK: Absolutely, it was. You know, Barack Obama was hammered on Bill Ayers during the course of this campaign. Question 61 asks if anyone has had an association with someone which could be used, "even unfairly," to impugn or attack their character. So, really, that's what happened to Barack Obama during the campaign. He's making sure that that doesn't happen to anybody else he may appoint.

BLITZER: So if you want to work in public service in this new administration, you've got to be squeaky clean, I guess.


BLITZER: And that's going to discourage some pretty qualified people, presumably, from even applying. They're afraid that there might have been something in the past that some have suggested that's a down side of all of this, because some good folks will not even apply, because they think you know what, I don't want to go through all that.


BLITZER: All right. We'll talk about that a little bit more later. Thanks very much, Deb.

Zain Verjee is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Zain, what do you know?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there was a wild ride on Wall Street today, thanks to a late session rally. The Dow closed up 552 points.

Earlier, the Dow had been down more than 300 points. The sell- offs left stocks near or at levels not seen since the spring of 2003. Some experts have pegged that mark as the likely bottom of the current bear market, at least in the short-term.

The U.S. military quick reaction force is investigating the crash of a civilian cargo plane in Iraq today. A military spokesman says the plane was carrying six crew members and a passenger -- all of them civilians. No official word yet on their condition.

All across California just a short while ago, students huddled under decks, residents dove for cover and emergency workers sprung into action. It was all part of the latest -- largest earthquake disaster response drill in U.S. history. Experts say there's about a 50 percent chance a major quake will hit the region in the next 30 years. It could cause thousands of deaths and hundreds of billions of dollars in damage -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Zain, thank you.

Barack Obama -- he's been under wraps, at least publicly. He's only had two public appearances since winning the election last week. Why are we seeing so little of the president-elect right now, during this critical transition period? We're going in depth.

And although we may not be seeing him, a growing number of people are seeing his favorite Chicago neighborhood places. We're going to go inside what some are calling the Obama tourism boom.

And we're also awaiting Senator John McCain. He's getting ready to speak at a Saxby Chambliss rally in Georgia. He's going to be delivering his first political speech since losing the election last week.

Stick around. You'll see it live -- and more, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss is speaking now at that rally for himself in Georgia. You see right behind him John McCain. He's going to be speaking in a little while. This is his first political event since losing the presidential contest last week. We're standing by. I want to hear a little bit of McCain. We'll go -- we'll go to Georgia shortly, once Senator McCain starts speaking.

In the meantime, back in Chicago, there's new competition for the Sears Tower, the Navy pier, other tourist attractions. Barack Obama's favorite haunts are in the -- are the hot new ticket in town.

CNN's Susan Roesgen shows us why -- Susan.

SUSAN ROESGEN, GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you can see a lot of cool things on this Gray Line bus tour. We just passed the city's art museum, the city's oldest house. But what many tourists really want to see these days is the Obama tour.


FRED BASSETT, DRIVER: Now, this is as close as we're going to get to his home. They don't allow us to get any closer than this now. Two weeks ago, we could go by the home. But now, we are not allowed.

ROESGEN: OK. So you can't peek into the president-elect's windows. But you can get the flavor of his life.

(on camera): What would Obama have?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The garbage pizza.

ROESGEN: What's in the garbage pizza?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, green pepper, Canadian bacon -- a mixture of things.

ROESGEN (voice-over): Cashing in on the Obama name actually started before the primaries. And now there's no stopping it.

CATHY DOMANICO, CHICAGO TOURISM DIRECTOR: Everybody is walking a little taller and people are so excited to have Barack Obama from Chicago.

ROESGEN: The Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau is already promoting Obama's neighborhood as part of a presidential tour. Want to get your haircut by Obama's barber? This is the place. And this is Obama's favorite little book shop.

TOM FLYNN, 57TH STREET BOOKSTORE: We think this is a great bookstore. And, I mean, I think he thinks it's a great bookstore. And that's why he's been coming here for so long. And if this gives it more exposure, that's -- that's fantastic.

ROESGEN: One thing you won't find on the official tour -- not yet, anyway -- is the empty store that used to be a Baskin Robbins. Why would you want to come here? Well, this is the spot where the first couple first kissed.


ROESGEN: Now, that's all I'm going to tell you for free, Wolf. If you want to know more, you'll have to get on the bus -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Susan. A lot of people are getting on that bus and visiting those tourist attractions -- the Obama tourist attractions.

And he's only a few weeks away from assuming power, so why are we seeing so little of Barack Obama? The president-elect himself offering a new clue. Stand by.

And Republican governors offering Sarah Palin only some lukewarm praise. Are they over their party's former vice presidential nominee?

Plus, Ted Turner, the man who hired me almost 20 years ago -- he's back at the network he founded. He's about to join us live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM to talk about the election, the outgoing president and a lot more. Ted here, in THE SITUATION ROOM. Stand by for that.


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

Happening now, President Bush behind closed doors -- Barack Obama has been staying out of the public eye, but he's been making major decisions that could have a huge impact on his presidency and all of us.

Also, the Democratic majority -- it could be growing even larger right now. They're still counting votes in two Senate races and heading for a runoff in another. Is a filibuster-proof majority possible after all?

And CNN's founder is speaking. Ted Turner is standing by to join us live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll ask him about his take, as a son of the Deep South, on Barack Obama's historic election.

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

In our Just In Time segment, President-Elect Barack Obama is facing an economic crisis which may turn out to be the worst since the Great Depression. "Time" magazine puts him on the cover, melded into an image of President Franklin Roosevelt, who fought the Depression with his New Deal. But Obama's keeping a relatively low profile these days.

Let's go back to Brian Todd. He's looking at this story for us -- Brian, you've been checking with a lot of sources. Why aren't we seeing more of Barack Obama in public?

TODD: Well, Wolf, the reasons range from Mr. Obama wanting to respect the current office holder to the volume of work he's got to do working on his own transition. Still, his absence over the past few days has thrown us in the news business a little bit off balance, given his high profile for so long.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: That is why I'm running for president.

TODD (voice-over): He was a presence in our living rooms nearly every day for two years. But since winning the White House, we've will only two public sightings of Barack Obama. And at one of them, he gave a hint at why he's keeping himself under wraps.

OBAMA: We only have one president at a time.

TODD: Mr. Obama hadn't planned on returning to the Senate to vote on a possible economic stimulus package and his team now says he'll resign from the Senate effective Sunday. But an aide says he's made it clear that he'll act quickly on that program as president if Congress doesn't.

He's also refused to meet with several world leaders converging on Washington for Friday's economic summit, despite the fact that many of them have clamored for meetings with him. Mr. Obama won't show up at that summit, either.

We'll see former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Republican Congressman Jim Leach there as his surrogates.

KAREN TUMULTY, "TIME" MAGAZINE: I think that he is also establishing relationships one-on-one with world leaders. He has had -- Barack Obama has had a number of phone conversations one-on-one with world leaders.

TODD: An Obama aide says vetting people for his cabinet from his Chicago transition headquarters is hard work. He's hunkered down there and has no public events planned for the moment. We asked a historian, is this unusual?

JAMES THURBER, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: This is not uncommon in this time period. For example, FDR said very few things between his election in November of 1932 and when he was inaugurated in March of '33, during a major economic crisis.

TODD: But with the current economic crisis and two wars still raging, shouldn't the president-elect maintain a slightly higher profile to show he's ready to take charge?

TUMULTY: At this point, coordination is important. And if Barack Obama is out there publicly, what is more likely to happen is conflict and confusion.


TODD: And Obama's low profile may not be just to respect the office or to make clear delineations here. Key observers say one reason he's steering clear of the political spotlight right now is that he can avoid a potential ownership stake in any mistakes or controversial decisions made by the outgoing administration -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian, love that new "Time" magazine cover, the new deal showing Barack Obama almost like FDR many, many years ago. Our thanks very much for that.

Let's talk about this with our CNN contributors, Republican strategist Ed Rollins and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile. Should we be seeing more of Barack Obama, Donna, in public right now?

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Absolutely not. Look, he has a full list of things that he must accomplish between now and when he takes the oath of office. He's sitting down with members of his transition teams. He's pouring over resumes of potential cabinet members. I think he's spending his time well right now just getting a handle on some of these issues that will confront him once he sits in the oval office.

BLITZER: What do you think, Ed?

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Same thing. I obviously agree with Donna. We've seen plenty him in the past and in the future. He's the president-elect. There's great excitement about him coming in. He's being very courteous to this president and I think come January 20th, we'll see plenty of him, he'll go full bore.

BLITZER: I want to listen in for a moment to John McCain. He's now speaking at that Saxby Chambliss rally in Georgia. Let's listen in. It's his first political event since losing.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I ran for president of the United States, a guy named Bruce Babbitt from Arizona ran for the president of the United States. I from Arizona ran for president. Arizona may be the only state in America where mothers don't tell their children that some day they can grow up and be president of the United States. So I ask your sympathy.

And it's already been said over and over a thousand times but I'd like to thank this old marine Zell Miller. Thank you. And you know, we never say former marines. We always because once a marine, always a marine. You know? Cindy and I have a son who is a lance corporal in the Marine Corps and of curse, we are very proud of him. And it's the example, it's the example of marines like Zell Miller that he and his present-day men and women who are serving follow. So thank you, Zell, and thank you for your political courage in everything you've done.

And also we have, of course, our friend from South Carolina that we've will to -- we've had to carry him through the United States Senate. It's been a tough struggle. A lot of people don't understand Lindsey very well. But he was just re-elected to the United States Senate as a classmate of Saxby. So congratulations again, Lindsey. And I might mention Lindsey is the only member of the United States Senate that still serves in the air force reserves. He's a lawyer. We let that one go, but he's still -


BLITZER: Thanking a lot of folks who have come to this rally, John McCain. We'll listen and hear what he has to say. Ed, is he really, would you say that John McCain is the leader of the Republican Party right now?

ROLLINS: No, I think you saw the meeting this morning of the future leaders of the party. We are a party that has to rebuild at the state level. I mean the governor's conference, there's 21 senators -- 21 governors and a new one from Guam. They're going to be the significant players along with Mitt Romney and Huckabee that will be the future of this party and rebuild the party at the state level. Obviously the Congress and Senate will play a role. John as a senator will be a part of that. The reality is this party has moved past him and has to redefine itself.

BLITZER: I was there yesterday, Donna, at the Republican Governors Association meeting. Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, the former vice presidential nominee, wherever she went, there were cameras all over the place, reporters all over the place. So many other governors, they walked around, nobody was watching them or doing much. She's a rock star right now. But realistically speaking, Donna, do you think she's the leader of the Republican Party?

BRAZILE: You know, Wolf, she is a celebrity right now, but the Republican party is trying to figure out a strategy to come out of the wilderness starting with many governors who sat down yesterday and painfully evaluated just the state of the party. Do you expand the base of the party? How do you grow the party in light of the fact that Hispanics and young people and others went overwhelmingly to for the Democrats. And, of course, do you get back to the basic values of the Republican Party or do you rebrand yourself? So I think Sarah Palin is part of a cast of many, but when you look at Hailey Bauer from Mississippi, Bobby Jindal from Louisiana, Tim Pawlenty from Minnesota along with Huckabee and Romney, Sarah Palin might start on top because of name recognition but she has a real tight bench of players who will try to become leaders of the Republican party.

BLITZER: Having said that though, Ed, I'm going to show you some video. It was a rather awkward moment for these Republicans, some of them that Donna was just referring to, they were all at this news conference. But the questions kept being thrown to Governor Palin and the other guys were basically standing there as props. I'm going to show this video. Watch this video right now.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R-), TEXAS: Let's have one more. Let's have one more question. Who do you want?


BLITZER: That was Governor Rick Perry. You know, basically he had to stop the news conference because virtually every question was going not to Haley Barber or some of the others who were standing there, Tim Pawlenty, but going to her. It became sort of embarrassing for the other governors, Ed.

ROLLINS: I think the bottom line, Perry is another one who may very well run for president. The bottom line is I think the president were interested in her. The other governors were not so interested in her. The other governors basically have welcomed her back in their fold but they're moving forward. Each and every one of them is a power player. Each and every one of them may think they're more experienced than she is. She got chosen. She got to move to the front of the back but she's now back in the shark pool. They're all equal. And they're all very powerful and each of them are not going to give her the baton without her earning it.

BLITZER: She made clear to me yesterday and a lot of people she's clearly keeping that door wide open for 2012, and some other Republican insiders were saying to me, you know what, they're going to work with her, want to educate her, make sure she's up to speed on the domestic and foreign policy issues because they think she has a huge future as a leader in the Republican Party.

BRAZILE: There's no question that she will be a frontrunner if she decides to run in 2012. Again, the Republican Party must find a way to come out of wilderness, get back to the basics and reach out to more voters because unless you can reach out to Americans from all walks of life, it is very difficult to win in this political environment.

BLITZER: It's a tough environment. Thanks very much for coming in.

ROLLINS: Thank you.

BLITZER: Ted Turner is back, the always outspoken founder of this network, CNN, is standing by to join us live. We're going to talk about this historic election and a potential bailout of big auto companies and much more. Ted here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And Jack Cafferty is asking how Barack Obama can make use of the best use of his advice-president-elect Joe Biden.

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


BLITZER: He's never afraid to voice his opinions, got lots of opinions and they're brilliant many times. Ted turner stays true to form in his brand new book entitled "Call Me Ted." The CNN founder is back right here at CNN right now. He's joining us from the CNN Center in Atlanta. He's in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Ted, good work. "Call Me Ted," I've gone through this book and you really pour your heart out and you tell us all the stories of what happened in your life and especially around the founding of our great network. I want to get to all that in a moment.

Let's talk about this historic moment in our country right now. As a son of the Deep South, how do you feel about an African-American elected president of the United States?

TED TURNER, AUTHOR, "CALL ME TED": Well, I think it's terrific. It's terrific for the United States and it's terrific for people of color all over the world. You can do anything you want to. The barriers are down now completely. And it's high time. It's a wonderful time to be alive to see this historic event occur.

BLITZER: Have you ever met with Barack Obama personally?

TURNER: I have.

BLITZER: What do you think about him?

TURNER: Sharp as a tack.

BLITZER: Yes? Give us a little insight into this man.

TURNER: In all fairness, I only spent a few minutes with him. It was at a fund-raiser. We chatted for probably three or four minutes. So I don't really know really much more about him than the rest of America. But obviously, we all like what we saw. And what we see. He's got a very big road to climb with financial problems. But hopefully, he can do it without getting too distracted from the major things he wanted to do like energy and nuclear disarmament.

BLITZER: And those are some of your causes that you're so involved in. If you could give him one piece of advice on one specific issue that is dear to your heart, Ted, right now, what would you want him to focus in on? TURNER: I think that the way, the best way out of the financial mess that we're in is to put our shoulder to the grindstone and really build a new energy infrastructure across the country, similar to the federal highway program and to put our energies and our resources into solar, wind, geothermal, probably biofuel, but clean locally-produced energy. That will produce jobs, millions of jobs right here, good- paying, high tech jobs that will keep the money here in the United States rather than shipping it overseas for oil.

BLITZER: Are you among those, Ted, who says that taxpayers should spend another 25 or 30 or $40 billion to bail out the three big auto manufacturers?


BLITZER: In the United States?

TURNER: I'm -- the more I think about it and more I hear about it, the less I'm inclines to do it.

BLITZER: Why is that? So many millions of jobs potentially.

TURNER: Those jobs need to be transferred. It's a smokestack industry that's dying. Certainly the large car business is dying. And Detroit made the decision years ago to stick with the large cars and anybody; I could see that they were headed for catastrophe.

BLITZER: You see this basically as good money going after bad? Is that what you're saying?

TURNER: Where do you stop? I mean, how much ever money you give them, they'll run out of it.

BLITZER: We just spent $700 billion to bail out the financial sector and so a lot of people say why not bail out the manufacturers of cars?

TURNER: Look at AIG. We gave them $100 billion and they are coming back already a month later for another $40 billion. You know, I just don't think we really know what we're doing. I think Congress is over its head and even Paulson, you know, he had this bailout program for the financial industry and he change it had yesterday. Made a major change in it and nobody understands why. And it's not very good for people's sense of well-being to have this program change before it really got under way.

BLITZER: On "60 Minutes" the other night, I'm paraphrasing; I think correctly, you suggested that President Bush is the most dangerous man in the world. What did you mean by that?

TURNER: I don't remember saying that.

BLITZER: Something along those lines. Tell us what you said.

TURNER: I don't know what I said. I can't remember. That's why I did my memoirs now. BLITZER: You don't have high regard for him.

TURNER: I think he's a nice guy but I think he's over his head. I think wasn't really up to the job. I think most of the American people agree. You know, he's done a lousy job. He's gotten us in these two stupid wars that make no sense that helped exacerbate this financial problem that we have because we spent what, a half a trillion dollars on those two wars that go on forever. I mean, you know, all we had to do was to see that the Russians got beat in Afghanistan. Why are we there in a mountainous country?

BLITZER: They're hunting for Bin Laden.

TURNER: Oh, come on. It's been eight years.

BLITZER: What do you think? Should the U.S. --

TURNER: I don't think we'll find Bin Laden.

BLITZER: Do you think we should give up on that?

TURNER: I thought the guy we were looking for was Saddam Hussein. We killed him what, four or five years ago and the war still goes on.

BLITZER: Yes, well, all right. Let's talk a little bit about your favorite network. I assume it's still your favorite network. That would be CNN. Ace pointed out to viewers a little whiling.

TURNER: Don't forget I'm here promoting my book, for God's sake.

BLITZER: You've got a great book "Call Me Ted."

TURNER: And my restaurant, Montana Grill.

BLITZER: We're a serious news organization.

TURNER: So what. I'm not getting paid anything.

BLITZER: We can't just do promotion. We've got to talk about the news.

TURNER: I'm not expecting you to just do promotion. Go back to the news.

BLITZER: Talk about CNN. This is what you write in the book. The book is called "Call Me Ted." Did I mention that, Ted?

TURNER: Yes. I don't know whether you did or not. I can't remember.

BLITZER: I did. "I'm particularly proud of creating CNN and I'm hopeful that the spread of global news will continue to be a force for good and that CNN will resist the temptation to be dragged down by the increased tabloidization of today's popular journalism." Is that what you're saying that, you're seeing that unfortunately at CNN? TURNER: A little more than I'd like. For instance, you know, after they -- after they let me go, they -- dismembered and did away with the environmental unit, which was 18 people that were concentrating on the environment. And Richard Roth, when we starred, aren't we an international network that's supposed to cover the world? Well, they've taken Richard Roth off his full-time duties as bureau chief at the U.N. he's doing other things, too. He still covers the U.N. part time. But the U.N.'s not something that an international network should cover part-time.

So -- and we don't run near as much international news on CNN domestic as we did. So those are the main things. I think they're doing a great job, you're doing a great job on the documentaries. And certainly the political coverage was outstanding. But you know what, are you going to do now that the races are over? You know --

BLITZER: Give us one nugget from this book, Ted, that you would like to highlight so that when viewers go out there and buy it, they'll say, you know what, that Ted wanted me to read this one little chunk of it. What's the most important thing you reveal in the book?

TURNER: Well, the lines that you picked out were pretty good. Those -- that's in the summary at the end. And I think those lines that you just read were as good as far as CNN is concerned as anything.

BLITZER: You had you a vision with CNN. You thought a 24/7 news operation would make it. A lot of people thought you were nuts. You took your money and you laid it on the line.

TURNER: No bail out.

BLITZER: And you didn't get any federal government help in the process. Ted turner, we're going to continue this conversation on "LATE EDITION" one of these Sundays in immediate future. Thanks for joining us and thanks for doing what you did and thanks, by the way, for hiring me, as well.

TURNER: It's a real pleasure, Wolf. I'm real proud of.

BLITZER: You I'm proud of you, as well. Ted turner, he's a genius. You're going to want to go out and get this book "Call Me Ted."

Face to face, Joe Biden pays a visit to a political adversary, the Vice President Cheney, but he has also been busy on the phones. We will talk about the world leaders that the Vice President-elect has been chatting up.

Stay with us. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: More than three dozen federal air marshals charged with crimes and hundreds more charged with misconduct. Jeanne Meserve has been looking into all of this. Jeanne, what are you discovering, because it is pretty worrisome?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this report comes from Pro Pulica, a nonprofit investigative news organization. It says that these crimes took place both before and after the air marshals took the job.


MESERVE: Sean Ramwin (ph) and Berly Sholar (ph) plead guilty to smuggling cocaine and drug money on to planes. They got past security using their federal air marshal's badges.


MESERVE: According to prosecutors another air marshal used his position to lure a young boy to a hotel room where he sexually abused a boy. He is in prison for now possessing child porn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is disturbing.

MESERVE: And yet another marshal is in prison for concealing c-4 explosives, grenades, AK47 rifles and a rocket-propelled rocket launcher in his luggage. He told investigators the weapons stolen for the military were for his work as an air marshal fire arms instructor. The head of the federal air marshals' service says that the cases are not representative of the agency.

ROBERT BRAY, CHIEF, FED. AIR MARSHAL SERVICE: There with a few bad apples, but overall, the force is professional and the vast majority of the people are great people.

REP. TED POE (R), TEXAS: A few bad apples are a few too many, because of the nature of the business, because you cannot ever take a chance on an air marshal. There shouldn't be any bad apples.

MESERVE: Court documents show that some of the marshals have smuggled weapons and drugs and other serious crimes, but somehow they got top clearance. Officials acknowledge that after 9/11 after the number of air marshals were being increased quickly, the mistakes were made, but the agency claims background checks and vetting have been improved.

BRAY: Now we have a robust process that we have a great deal of confidence in that brings good people on board.

MESERVE: That doesn't delay the concerns of everyone flying plains.

DAVE MACKETT, AIRLINE PILOTS SECURITY ALLIANCE: I'm not sure I have the airline security that I expect to have for me, myself or my passengers.


MESERVE: Although air marshals convicted of felonies are fired, some of those charged with lesser crimes like drunk driving kept their jobs. Officials say those employees deserve due process but critics say that the public deserves better -- Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. The public does. Thanks very much, Jeanne, for that.

I just want to clarify, in the interview that I just did with Ted Turner I quoted from the "60 Minutes" interview in which he said George W. Bush is the most dangerous person in the world. He said I don't remember saying that. And here is the transcript from Morely Safer, and he said, you once said that Rupert Murdoch was the most dangerous man in the world. Do you still believe that? Ted Turner responded no, I think George Bush is the most dangerous man in the world and then went on to explain. All right. So he did say it. We're going to continue the conversation with Ted Turner on "LATE EDITION," Ted Turner, the founder of CNN.

Growing dissent about the government bailout. Banks accused of hording the money and lawmakers at odds of rescuing the auto industry and all that as the U.S. economy crawls deeper into crisis.

The vice president-elect is taking a tour of his new home in Washington; the tour guide is the current Vice President Dick Cheney, a man Joe Biden once called the most dangerous vice president in American history. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Check right back with Jack with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack?

CAFFERTY: How should President-Elect Obama make the best use of Vice President-elect Biden?

Christy in New York: "I think it would be great if Barack Obama broke unprecedented ground and made him worth more than the proverbial bucket of warm spit. Biden has class a record in matters that affect the well-being of real people in real circumstances. Wouldn't it wonderful if a whole new domestic recovery project were created for him to develop?

Talar in Sacramento: "Is there any way Biden can be VP as well as Secretary of State? That would be the best use of him instead of just attending funerals and breaking ties in the Senate. Put him to work and use his expertise in foreign policy. We need it."

Jay in Belmont, California: "Biden should move into Cheney's residence as quickly as possible and get rid of all the water-boarding paraphernalia in the basement dungeon. That should help with our image around the world."

John in Georgia writes: "Joe Biden can take shifts with Barack Obama and read through the budget one line at a time."

Bob in New Jersey: "Biden should be the firefighter in chief, handle all the tactical issues that come to keep them from distracting Obama from the critical strategic issues that he must hone in on."

And some idiot in Las Vegas writes: "Stand him up at the doorway of the White House dressed up like one of those Indians they used to have at cigar stores (and I wonder why my comments are never read on the air)."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can to my blog,, or you can find other twisted missives, such as the one I just read -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

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