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The Situation Room

Interview With Bill Clinton; Obama Picks Commerce Secretary

Aired December 03, 2008 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: caution ahead. Just hours before carmakers plead for financial help from Washington, we're going to be hearing at length from president-elect Barack Obama on terms of a bailout and a new edition to his economic recovery team.

Plus, Bill Clinton warns Barack Obama to avoid the mistakes he made. An exclusive interview with the former president of the United States on what he did wrong and what he is giving up so his wife can become secretary of state.

And what police in India are now learning from the only gunman to survive the terror attacks. We have disturbing new details about his training, a possible turning point in global terror. Our Nic Robertson is standing by live in Mumbai. All that coming up, 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 says his economic rescue efforts are growing more urgent by the day. And he is promising his commerce secretary will play a very important role in trying to get the nation back on track. Today, the president-elect formally named New Mexico's governor, Bill Richardson, as his choice for that job.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is covering the transition to power to Chicago.

The president-elect made it clear that he views this job as critically important.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. You know, Commerce is a huge and multitasking department. It has more than 30,000 employees. It has oversight over the census. It is supposed to open up markets overseas for U.S. products.

But the question about the Commerce Department inside that Cabinet Room in the White House has always been one of clout.


CROWLEY (voice-over): The well-credentialed Bill Richardson's resume includes talking dictators into freeing U.S. hostages and prisoners. He wanted and was considered for secretary of state. SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Commerce secretary is a pretty good job.

CROWLEY: Secretary of commerce has never been seen as a high- profile power slot. But as a news conference featuring only Richardson, the president-elect seemed to go out of his way to talk of an elevated status for his nominee, calling him a leading economic diplomat.

OBAMA: His mixture of diplomatic experience, hands-on experience as a governor, experience in the cabinet, experience in Congress, means that he is going to be a key strategist on all the issues that we work on.

CROWLEY: Richardson is a former congressman, now governor of New Mexico, who helped bring 80,000 new jobs to the state, but put him down as a Washington insider in the Obama for change administration. Richardson was tap as secretary of energy and ambassador to the U.N. by Bill Clinton, adding a new layer to the already clinched notion of a team of rivals.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D-NM), COMMERCE SECRETARY NOMINEE: It is my distinct honor and privilege to introduce mi buen amigo, the next president of the United States, Barack Obama.

CROWLEY: Richardson's primary endorsement of Obama angered Clinton world. James Carville compared him to Judas.

RICHARDSON: There's some who speak of a team of rivals. But I have never seen it that way. Past competitors -- yes. But rivals implies something harder edged and less forgiving. And in the worlds of diplomacy and commerce, you open markets and minds not with rivalry, but instead with partnership and innovation and hard work.

CROWLEY: Richardson is the third former primary challenger brought into the Obama fold. And like many of the nominees, he has a large personality. Not the type to fade into the gray bureaucracy of Washington.


CROWLEY: Richardson is also the first Latino to be nominated by Barack Obama. There are 12 more Cabinet or Cabinet-level positions to fill, and Barack Obama hinted there will, of course, be more Latinos -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Candy is in Chicago, where it is starting to snow a little bit.

All right, Candy, thanks very much.

With today's addition of Bill Richardson, president-elect Barack Obama has revealed his choices that still remain to be filled. So far, eight Cabinet-level or other top positions within his administration have been filled, including Hillary Clinton for secretary of state, Timothy Geithner as the treasury secretary. Robert Gates, he is staying in the post of defense secretary.

Nine Cabinet posts still need to be filled, including the secretaries of labor, transportation, education, and energy, and more.

Dire new warnings today about the possible collapse of America's auto industry. A top Chrysler executive says the economy could plummet into a depression if one of the Big Three carmakers goes bust. The United Auto Workers union now is agreeing to make concessions to protect members' jobs and benefits on the eve of these make-or-break hearings on a possible bailout.

Let's go the CNN's Kate Bolduan. She's up on Capitol Hill working the story for us.

Still a lot of reservations, shall we say, Kate, about providing the $30 billion or $35 billion that the auto industry executives say they desperately need.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, that is right, Wolf. And a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just confirmed to me that the Senate majority leader says the votes are not there to pass a bailout through Congress that taps funds from the Wall Street bailout.

Now, this is reiterating a position that the Senate majority leader has had in the past over a deadlock between Democrats, Republicans and the White House. As you see, automakers face an uphill battle and some new poll numbers are not helping.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): As if things were not bad enough for Detroit's Big Three, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 61 percent of Americans, six out of 10, are dead-set against an automaker bailout, saying it won't help the economy, even in the Midwest.

KEATING HOLLAND, CNN POLLING DIRECTOR: You can imagine that in the Northeast. You can certainly imagine that in the South where they don't have a lot of auto plants, but in the Rust Belt, particularly since Michigan is the home of the automakers, to see a majority of Midwesterners saying that this is not a good idea, that tells you something.

BOLDUAN: And despite giving Congress what it demanded, specific plans to slash costs and get more efficient, the automakers' request for an even bigger bailout loan has lawmakers, like Jon Tester, skeptical.

SEN. JON TESTER, (D) MONTANA: Truth be known, going from $25 billion to $34 billion in two weeks, that's a little disconcerting for me. I mean, that tells me that the figures they came in two weeks ago weren't very good, they weren't very well thought out.

BOLDUAN: Given the PR nightmare from the CEOs' last trip to Washington aboard corporate jets, Democratic leaders from Nancy Pelosi to the president-elect are not committing, calling the next round of hearings a critical test.

OBAMA: I want to wait and see specifically what's said during those hearings.

BOLDUAN: Meanwhile, auto industry supporters like Michigan Democrat Carl Levin say the Big Three cannot be allowed to fail.

SEN. CARL LEVIN, (D) MICHIGAN: If the president and the president-elect will speak out not just take positions which they have favoring bridge loans, but actively get involved in trying to work out this difference on the source of the bridge loans, then I think that we can get this done next week.


BOLDUAN: Well, the White House is also declining to commit, saying everything depends on how the automakers perform -- sorry -- come across in these hearings starting tomorrow.

Now, leadership aides here say what happens next hinges on automakers winning over lawmakers and maybe more importantly, Wolf, winning over the American public.

BLITZER: We will get ready for these hearings with you -- Kate Bolduan on Capitol Hill -- tomorrow -- thank you.

Two top auto executives will be right here in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow as well fresh from their hearings from Capitol Hill. They will be coming over here. Do you have a question for the CEOs of General Motors and Chrysler? Send it to U.S. at We will use some of your questions for the CEOs tomorrow.

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

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Did the Ford guy say why he didn't want to come here?

BLITZER: Not yet. We would love the Ford CEO to join and we would have all three here. But so far our bookers are working. They're working really hard to get him, but we have a no yet -- a no still.


Ed Rendell is the governor of Pennsylvania. He has been in politics long enough to know that you don't stay stuff around an open microphone that can later come back and bite you in your situation.

And if you are a male chauvinist, you should be extra careful. Yesterday, Rendell was commenting on the nomination of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to be the head of Department of Homeland Security. There was an open microphone nearby. And we were treated to Rendell's musings that Napolitano would be perfect for the job because -- quote -- "She has no life. She has no family. She can work 20 hours a day protecting the homeland."

These are the mutterings of a moron. CNN's Campbell Brown wrote a commentary in which she asked, if Michael Chertoff, the current head of Homeland Security, or Tom Ridge, the first head of the Homeland Security, were hampered in the performance of their duties by the fact that both men are married and have children?

At the same time we make a giant leap forward and elect an African-American president, we have the governor of Pennsylvania dragging his Neanderthal, sexist knuckles along the ground and insulting a fellow governor.

So, here is the question: Does Ed Rendell owe Janet Napolitano an apology for saying that she has no life?

Go to and post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I think more than an apology. Maybe a dozen roses or something like that.

CAFFERTY: Dinner at a fine steakhouse, absolutely.

BLITZER: Yes, and maybe not even in Philadelphia. They will go to Arizona for that dinner, too.

CAFFERTY: He needs to make amends. This was a big boo-boo, I think.

BLITZER: Yes. I think you're right. All right, Jack, thank you.

Barack Obama responds to questions you want answered. You are going to hear what he said at today's news conference, including where he stands on a possible auto industry bailout.

And sitting down with one of the world's richest men. Bill Gates is worried about how the economy is affecting those less fortunate. My one-on-one interview with him today. Stand by.

And Bill Clinton exclusively here on CNN. The former president offers advice to the coming president: Get some rest.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Most of the mistakes I made, I made when I was too tired, because I tried too hard and worked too hard.



BLITZER: Our CNN exclusive interview with Bill Clinton coming up shortly, but, right now, let's back to our top story.

President-elect Barack Obama reveals another person he wants to help him run the country, New Mexico's governor, Bill Richardson, for commerce secretary.

Here is president-elect Obama sounding the alarm, but also sounding elements of hope about the economy today.


OBAMA: Earlier this week, we learned that the U.S. economy has been in recession since December of 2007 and that our manufacturing output is at a 26-year low, two stark reminders of the magnitude of the challenges we face.

But while I know rebuilding our economy won't be easy, and it won't happen overnight, I also know this, that right now, somewhere in America a small business is at work with the next big idea; a scientist is on the cusp of the next big break-through discovery; an entrepreneur is sketching plans for the start-up that will revolutionize an industry.

Right now, across America, the finest products in the world are rolling off our assembly lines and the proudest, most determined, most productive workers in the world are on the job, some already in their second shift of the day, many putting in longer hours than ever before.

After nearly two years of traveling across this country, meeting with workers, visiting businesses large and small, I am more confident than ever that we have everything we need to renew our economy. We've got the ingenuity, the technology, the skill and commitment, we just need to put it to work.

It's time to not just address the immediate economic threats, but to start laying the groundwork for long-term prosperity, to help American businesses grow and thrive at home, and expand our efforts to promote American enterprise around the world.


BLITZER: The president-elect also answered some other questions. One reporter asked about the possibility of modifying an existing federal loan program to help the automakers.


OBAMA: Well, there are going to be hearings over the next two days. And I want to wait and see specifically what's said during those hearings.

I think Congress did the right thing. When the Big Three automakers came before them a couple of weeks ago, they were not offering a clear plan for viability over the long term. And I think Congress was right to say that the taxpayers expect and deserve better than that before they are stepping up to the plate for any kind of bailout.

It appears, based on reports that we've seen, that this time now the executives from these automakers are putting forward a more serious set of plans.

I don't want to comment on them before I have actually heard and seen what they're putting forward. But I'm glad that they recognize the expectations of Congress, certainly, my expectations that we should maintain a viable auto industry, but we should also make sure that any government assistance that's provided is designed for a -- is based on realistic assessments of what the auto market is going to be and a realistic plan for how we're going to make these companies viable over the long term.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President-elect.

What do you think about the articles, like the one today in the New York Times, that say, or mention that the announcement of Bill Richardson for secretary of commerce are somehow the consolation prize for Latinos and Hispanic politicians and groups that are calling Latinos to be included in your Cabinet, since many were expecting -- or hoping that Bill Richardson was going to be secretary of state?

OBAMA: Well, commerce secretary is a pretty good job...


OBAMA: ... you know. It's a member of my key economic team that is going to be dealing with the most significant issue that America faces right now, and that is how do we put people back to work and rejuvenate the economy?

Bill Richardson has been selected because he is the best person for that job, and is going to be outstanding in helping me strategize on how do we rebuild America; how do we get businesses moving; how do we export effectively; how do we open up new markets for American products and services?

His mixture of diplomatic experience, hands-on experience as a governor, experience in the Cabinet, experience in Congress means that he is going to be a key strategist on all the issues that we work on.

And so the -- so I think the notion that somehow the commerce secretary is not going to be central to everything we do is fundamentally mistaken.

With respect to Latino Cabinet members, I have appointed about half of my Cabinet so far. And I think that when people look back and see the entire slate, what they will say is -- not only in terms of my Cabinet, but in terms of -- but in terms of my White House staff -- I think people are going to say, this is one of the most diverse Cabinets and White House staffs of all time.


BLITZER: All right.

A former president of the United States is asked about the incoming president.


ANJALI RAO, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: If you had to give a piece of advice to president-elect Obama and his family, what would it be?


BLITZER: We are going to get the answer from the former President Bill Clinton.

Also this: When Barack Obama starts pushing his agenda in Congress as president, what kind of Republican resistance might he face? The best political team on television is standing by.

And an update on a bizarre story no doubt many of you will recall. It is about the man involved in a bank robbery plot that ended in the bombing death of a pizza deliveryman.

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


BLITZER: Still to come: CNN's exclusive CNN interview with the former President Bill Clinton.


BLITZER: Some people are asking, will Bill Clinton be a shadow secretary of state? The former president of the United States, he is weighing in, in an exclusive CNN interview.


B. CLINTON: My involvement will be that as somebody who cares about them, knows about them, and happens to be married to the secretary of state.


BLITZER: You are going to hear what Bill Clinton is saying about his own future. What would he do in the Obama administration? We're also going to hear him talk about mistakes he made when he was in the White House. He is revealing some of the reasons that he made those mistakes. Stand by.

And it could represent a sea change in the tactics of terrorists? The shocking information coming in from the gunman who made it out alive from the India attacks. And he has now been captured.

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


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

Happening now: Bill Clinton opens up about his past mistakes while president, his wife's future as secretary of state. Stand by, the exclusive interview coming up.

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, creating somewhat of a stink on Capitol Hill. He makes an off-the-cuff comment about tourists. We're going to tell you what he said.

And a man who knows about money speaks out about those tens of billions of dollars that the Big Three automakers want from taxpayers. Does Bill Gates support an auto bailout?

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

Former President Bill Clinton is now talking openly now, for the first time, about the concessions he made to help his wife become the next secretary of state. He's also detailing how he might be involved in her new role.

Listen to what he told CNN International's Anjali Rao in Hong Kong earlier today in this exclusive interview.


RAO: You have, though, in the last few days, had to agree to make a number of concessions, since your wife, Hillary, was nominated to be secretary of state, including the idea that -- this being the first CGI conference outside of the U.S. is now going to be the last one while she is in office.

Doesn't that hurt, given everything that you have put into it?

B. CLINTON: Well, I think the -- first of all, I think that virtually everything I've agreed to do -- although it's all over and above what the law requires -- is quite appropriate. For example, if she's going to be secretary of State and I operate globally and I have people who contribute to these efforts globally, I think that it's important to make it totally transparent -- say who the donors are and let people know that there's no connection to the decisions made by America's national security team, including the secretary of State. So everything else that's part of this I have no problem with. I think it's a good idea.

I think what the Obama transition team was concerned about is not that there's something wrong with having CGI in Asia, or Latin America, for that matter, but that if you have an event like this overseas and the sponsors are largely non-American, they don't even want the appearance -- which I can see is important, the appearance of this is important -- that someone is supporting this, because they want to be viewed favorably by the secretary of State or the White House or anything else.

I think that as we go along here, what I've been thinking about is whether there's some way for the people here, who are so enthusiastic about this, to do this on their own and maybe have me help them without raising any of the questions that would be raised if we had to go raise all the money and do all of the stuff.

So I think that we may have started something here in Asia which at least the participants seem exceedingly enthusiastic about. We've gotten about -- I think almost all the participants have already made a commitment. And they seem to be thinking they want to do more things like this and involve more people. So there -- there may be a way for this to go on here without my direct involvement, where I can support them.

RAO: How involved do you think that you will get in what -- in the decisions that your wife will have to make, as far as foreign policy?

B. CLINTON: Very little. I think my involvement will be what our involvement with each other's work has always been. That is, all the years I was a governor and president, I talked to her about everything. And I, you know, found her advice invaluable. And I'm sure that we'll talk about all of this. I mean I really care about a lot of these profound challenges that our country and the world are facing.

But the decisions will have to be, ultimately, President-Elect Obama's decisions to make about what we're going to do, what our policy is going to be and then she will be a part of the team, you know, formulating those policies and then carrying them out. I'll just try to be a helpful sounding board to her.

But I don't think I will do any more than that, unless he asked me to do something specific, which I'm neither looking for nor close to. I think if you're a former president, you incur a lifetime obligation to do whatever any subsequent president asks you to do, if you can do it in good conscience.

I did a number of things for President Bush. And even though we had pretty significant political differences, we developed a very good personal relationship. And I was happy to do things on the tsunami or the Katrina relief and a number of other things that were not highly publicized.

I just think that this is part of it. But those decisions are for him and for her and for the national security team to make. And my involvement will be as somebody who cares about them, knows about them and happens to be married to the secretary of State and will be talking -- assuming she's confirmed.

RAO: If you had to give a piece of advice to President-Elect Obama and his family, what would it be?

B. CLINTON: Well, first, I think he's done a great job on his transition, so he doesn't need much advice. He's picking good people and he's doing it in a -- in the right way. It was the right thing to do under these circumstances, to start with the economic team and then go to the security team.

I think the only thing that I would hope he'd do -- and he seemed to do this in the campaign -- is to realize that the presidency is an unlimited partner. That is, you can spend every waking minute on it. But it's important to preserve your family life. It's important to be a good parent. It's important to take some time off. In my long political career, most of the mistakes I made, I made when I was too tired, because I tried too hard and worked too hard. And I think that preserving a balance so that you're always fresh is important, particularly in a president.

People hire presidents to make decisions, to win for America and win for the world. And you make better decisions when you're not too tired. So that would be my only advice.

But I think that he's done really well so far. He's done great in his transition. And I think the American people know that. I think they like the fact that he is, you know, methodically doing this, reaching out the good people. And I feel good about it.


BLITZER: The former president of the United States speaking exclusively in Hong Kong today with our own Anjali Rao. That interview earlier today.

A critical Senate win for Republicans dashing Democratic hopes a filibuster-proof majority. So what does it all mean for the Obama agenda? The best political team on television is standing by live.

Also, he's one of the world's richest men -- so what would Bill Gates do to fix the economy? The Microsoft founder speaks out. I spoke with him today about the government bailout.

And the smell of controversy -- what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today. Our own Jeanne Moos standing by. She takes a "Moost Unusual" look.


BLITZER: Democratic hopes of a filibuster-proof 60 seat majority in the Senate have been shattered with the victory of Republican Saxby Chambliss in the Georgia Senate runoff election.

Let's discuss this and more with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; and our CNN political contributors, Dana Milbank of "The Washington Post" and Steve Hayes of "The Weekly Standard".

You know, a lot of people thought it was really a long shot that the Democrats would win in Georgia. Is this a big deal or a little deal for the Obama agenda?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I think, if it turns out to be 58 seats for Democrats, any Democratic president would love to have that. And I...

BLITZER: Fifty-eight to 42...

BORGER: Exactly.

BLITZER: That's a pretty good majority. BORGER: It is. And although 60 is the magic number for filibuster, Wolf, I think we can overdo it, because there are a couple of moderate Republican senators from Maine who may very well end up voting with the Democrats a lot of the time.

BLITZER: And there are some conservative Democrats who might vote with the Republicans.

BORGER: Who might -- who might vote with the Republicans, like Joe Lieberman, for example.

So, you know, I think the number is an important number, but I think we can overdo it.

BLITZER: Yes. What do you think?

DANA MILBANK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR "WASHINGTON POST": Well, first of all, Wolf, I want to thank you on behalf of a grateful nation for not following Bill Richardson's lead in shaving the beard.


BLITZER: All right. Well, you're going to get to the serious stuff right away, right?


MILBANK: But that being said, no, I don't think it makes any difference at all. Look, Obama's approval is extraordinary -- 78 percent of Americans in the Gallup Poll think he's done a good job with this transition. Whether he has 58 or 60, he has enough political mojo to...


MILBANK: carry the votes that he needs right now, I think.

BLITZER: It's a morale booster for the Republicans that Chambliss won in Georgia. They can celebrate at least that.



HAYES: I mean, if it's a morale booster, it's only because there was so little to celebrate for Republicans on November 4th. This gives them at least something where we can say ah, this starts our comeback. I'm not entirely convinced.


BLITZER: And we're still waiting. There's that one final...

HAYES: Not entirely convincing.

BLITZER: There's one final Senate race in Minnesota. But that's going to be a while before we know who wins there. All right. I spent some time with Bill Gates earlier today at the George Washington University. He's one of the richest guys in the world.


BLITZER: And I asked him specifically about whether or not the federal government and we taxpayers should bail out the auto industry.

And listen to this response.


BILL GATES, MICROSOFT FOUNDER: You have to have some clear criteria when do you have the government come in and to what degree is the government insisting on and able to judge what -- whether there's profitability down the road. After all, you have to say if no one else is willing to invest, why is that?


BLITZER: OK. He was making a point, which is a fair point. If none of the major banks and none of the financial sector wants to help with a bridge loan to the -- to Ford, G.M. or Chrysler, why should the taxpayers do it?

BORGER: I'm -- I'm totally with him. Look, we're in tough economic times. And lots of people say if this were any other time, we wouldn't even be thinking of bailing out the auto companies. But they have to have a plan. I mean why bail out a company with a bad business plan? I mean, I totally agree with Bill Gates.

MILBANK: Look, there's a logical question, why are they stopping there? Are they going to the home builders and the retailers and the airlines, maybe the newspaper industry, I hope?


BORGER: The networks. Yes.

MILBANK: know, the market has been pretty good to Mr. Gates. You know, the question here is maybe American capitalism, the way it worked for him, has stopped working altogether.

BLITZER: What do you think?

HAYES: Yes, I don't think so. I think, actually, he -- you know, basically what Bill Gates just gave us is Economics 101. And it's what we've been missing, I think, in Washington, really, for the really past four to six weeks or however long, where everybody is getting in line for a bailout. And we all pretend that there's some fund over here that we can just pull it from. If investors don't want to bail out the automakers or invest in the automakers, the taxpayers shouldn't do it, either.

BORGER: Well, all of our businesses in the media -- we've all had to figure out how to adapt into this -- into this new world, into a changing environment. Why haven't the car companies done it?

MILBANK: And we all work for almost a dollar a year.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: We're going to have two of those...


BLITZER: ...those CEOs, from G.M. and Chrysler, here in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow. And we'll get questions to them, as well.

Let's get back to the issue that you raised, Dana -- the beard. Bill Richardson is going to be the next Commerce secretary, assuming he's confirmed by the Senate. We have a picture. There he is. You see him after the election, after he dropped out of the presidential contest. He grew the beard. And today without the beard. Let's ask the woman on this panel first, which is the...

BORGER: Who does not have a beard.


BLITZER: Yes, which is a better looking Bill Richardson?

BORGER: I'm for the beard.

BLITZER: Really?

BORGER: I've got to -- and I'm not just saying that because I'm talking to you, Wolf.


BORGER: But I like the beard. I think it hides -- it hides the extra chin.


MILBANK: I think he was going for gravitas. I think he was going for Sunday with Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: Obama, by the way, said he liked the beard, too. It gave him a rugged, wild look.

MILBANK: Exactly.

BLITZER: Out West and all that.

BORGER: Which Steve Hayes...


BLITZER: Another man with facial hair.

What do you think? HAYES: Look, I mean, you know, what do statesmen do when they have a little free time? They clear brush. How do you clear brush without a beard? I mean I know you clear brush.

BLITZER: I do it all the time.

HAYES: Every week.

BORGER: Yes, every weekend.

BLITZER: Oh, yes. In Bethesda, Maryland we've got a lot of brush in Bethesda.


BLITZER: All right, guys, we'll leave it right there. Well continue on a much more serious level tomorrow. But, you know, we can have some fun...

BORGER: We like the beard, Wolf.

BLITZER: THE SITUATION ROOM from time to time.

BORGER: Don't lose it. Don't lose it.

BLITZER: Should I lose it or should not?


HAYES: Keep it.

MILBANK: Keep it.

BLITZER: Keep it?

BORGER: Do not lose it.

BLITZER: All right, I'll keep it.

BORGER: Do not lose it. We're going to make it a poll question tomorrow.

BLITZER: As we mentioned, two top auto executives will be here in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow.

Do you have a question for the CEOs of General Motors and Chrysler? If you do, send us your video questions at ireport.comsituationroom. We'll get some of your questions to these two men.

A leftover bomb discovered in Mumbai, as new details emerge about the terror suspect in police custody. Our own Nic Robertson is in Mumbai. He's working this story. Stand by for his report.

And does Pennsylvania's governor owe Homeland Security nominee Janet Napolitano an apology for saying she has "no life?" That's Jack's question. Your e-mail, coming up.


BLITZER: Lou Dobbs is getting ready for his show that begins right at the top of the hour -- Lou, what are you working on?

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you.

The big three car makers stepping up their campaign to win a $34 billion bailout from Congress. One Detroit executive even warning of a depression if there isn't a bailout. We'll have complete coverage.

Also, the ACLU are at it again -- some of our favorite people. They're intimidating small communities to try to uphold their Christmas traditions.

And is the new Capitol's visitor center ignoring this country's religious heritage? Influential Christian conservative Tony Perkins will join me.

And one school district in Ohio has had a bellyful of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's $8 trillion bailout of all of his buddies on Wall Street. That school district wants some of that bailout money to invest in the future.

We'll examine the future of the Republican Party, as well, after the president-elect's victory. Author and former President Bush speechwriter David Frum joins me.

Please join us me for all of that, all the day's news and much more at the top of the hour, from an Independent perspective -- all of it -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Lou. See you in a few moments.

Let's go to India right now, where authorities in Mumbai located and diffused two bombs in a train station left over from last week's wave of terror attacks. It's unclear why the bombs weren't discovered earlier. And that's adding to the growing criticism over intelligence failures and bungled security.

CNN's Nic Robertson is in Mumbai with details on the investigation.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, police believe that was the fifth and last bomb that the gunmen brought ashore a week ago. They say that the gunmen brought ashore five bombs. Two were put into in taxis, one exploded, two were put into hotels and the fifth left at the railway station.

What appears to have happened, it was tidied up after the chaos when the gunmen had that shooting spree at the train station -- tidied up with the lost property. And the police have been going through the lost property there. They discovered the bomb -- high explosives, RDX. It would have been very, very damaging and caused many casualties if it had gone off. But the police successfully now defused that bomb. We've also been learning more details about the training for these attackers from the police. More details are coming out everyday. We have learned that the bomber who is now -- the gunmen who is now in police custody had one-and-a-half years of training at a terror training camp -- several terror training camps, in fact, inside Pakistan.

According to the police, he had ex -- he was given expertise and special training on handguns, on automatic weapons, on explosives, on survival techniques, on maritime training. But what they say is very important is the last three months of that training was very specialized training. The 10 gunmen were given code names. They weren't told what each of the others were being taught. They were taught individually. They were taught and showed photographs of the locations that they were told to target.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Mumbai, India.

BLITZER: All right. Let's go back to Jack in New York.

He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Wolf, the question this hour is: Does Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell owe Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano an apology for saying that she has no life?

Governor Rendell did issue a clarification today during a press conference on budget reductions. He said that what he meant to say was that Janet Napolitano is a person who works 24/7, just like him.

Nevertheless, here are your e-mails.

Lynn in Ohio: "Absolutely. The comments about not having a family being an asset to one's ability to dedicate themselves to a career are OK. But to insinuate the lack of having a family in some way translates to not having a life is ridiculous. My father-in-law is right, the guy is an idiot."

Rachael said: "This, to me, is the media blowing comments out of proportion. Somebody without family would, indeed, be able to devote more time to their job, correct? And that rule of thumb applies to males or females. Why do people always insist on declaring comments sexist or racist? I'm a female. I took no offense whatsoever at the statements made."

Diff in Maryland: "Governor Rendell is an idiot and a big mouth. I think he honestly thought he would be in the Obama cabinet or maybe the V.P. pick. It's sour grapes from a sour puss. He owes an apology to all working women."

Rob in Iowa: "Why does any politician bother to apologize? They say it because they mean and saying they're sorry doesn't change a thing."

Dick writes: "I bet if there was an open mike after news reporters finished their day, we'd hear a lot worse than Rendell's attempt at humor."

Beverly in Virginia writes: "In Rendell's world, Pennsylvanians wouldn't vote for Obama and only childless women would be qualified for positions he appears not to have been considered for. Men like him are a dying breed and God bless them, for they know not what they know not."

And Venia in Pennsylvania: "Rendell is my governor and like him or hate him, he calls a spade a spade. If he says Napolitano has no life, then she needs to get one."

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: It's not the first time Ed Rendell said something that got him into a little hot water.


BLITZER: And I'm sure it won't be the last.

CAFFERTY: No, no. Well, he's good copy for guys like me. Keep Ed around.

BLITZER: Yes. He's a very popular guy...


BLITZER: With guys like you.

CAFFERTY: With guys like me.

BLITZER: OK, Jack. Thank you.

CAFFERTY: You got it.

BLITZER: Stand by.

A top Senator says there are some "Moost Unusual" odors in the U.S. Capitol.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that people are a little -- probably a little bothered by it. I mean I felt so bad this morning I actually took an extra bath before I came out here.


BLITZER: Our own Jeanne Moss has more on the comments that are causing a stink.

And soccer fan flare-up -- that and more in today's "Hot Shots," right after this.


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

In India, mourners light candles outside Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel in memory of those killed in the recent attacks.

In London, Queen Elizabeth's bodyguards wait for the queen to arrive in parliament.

In Italy, a flair is thrown on a soccer field, forcing a firefighter to take action.

And in the Philippines, a diver dressed as Santa Claus feeds a stingray.

Some of this hour's "Hot Shots" -- pictures worth a thousand words.

What would you expect to smell in the halls of the U.S. Capitol Building right here in Washington? The scent of power, perhaps? Or maybe a whiff of controversy. According to Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, there's another common odor out there, as well. And our Jeanne Moos has more on a "Moost Unusual" comment.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Memo to Senator Harry Reid -- when you start a sentence this way...

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: My staff has always said don't say this.

MOOS: ...chances are you're going to cause a stink.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's disgusting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to admit, it's kind of an odd thing to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it's kind of a crazy statement to make.

MOOS: It was the opening ceremony for the new air-conditioned Capitol Visitors Center. No longer will sweltering tourists visiting the Capitol have to stand outside in long lines.

REID: Because of the high humidity and how hot it gets here, you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol.

MOOS: Like a stink bomb, reaction wafted across the Web. "Dirty Harry," conservative bloggers called him. "It's not the tourists that stink." "You reek." "You, sir, are the one who stinks."

We sniffed around outside the new Visitors Center. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that people are a little -- probably a little bothered by it. I mean I felt so bad this morning, I actually took an extra bath before I came out here.

MOOS: Even the "CBS Evening News" gently mocked the senator's comment.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The brand new Capitol Visitors Center -- $621 million. Not having to smell sweaty tourists -- priceless.

MOOS: Senator Reid was accused of treating the public like the great unwashed.

(on camera): Critics are making no secret of their disgust -- suggesting that people who want to stick it to Harry Reid send them their stick deodorant.

(voice-over): But the senator's spokesman says the only point that he was making was that this wonderful new facility will make coming to the Capitol so much more enjoyable. Senator Reid made the same comment once before.

REID: The people who work here joke about you can always tell when it's summertime, because you can smell the visitors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was born and raised here. I've never smelled a bad tourist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did not smell nor did I have a problem smelling anybody.

MOOS: But some who work on the Hill have. Watch heads nod in the audience.

REID: You could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol.


MOOS: Whether true or a joke, critics say the remark sure wasn't suave and repeating it should be banned.

Jim Manley


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We wear off as the day wears on.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: Leave it to Jeanne Moos.

All right, more of our interview with Bill Gates tomorrow right in THE SITUATION ROOM. Even with his billions, Bill Gates talks about losing some net worth in this current economic downturn. He also urges Barack Obama to stand by one major promise he made during the campaign. And Gates explains why financially strapped Americans should still send money to others in needy nations.

That's all coming up. Part two of the interview with Bill Gates tomorrow, here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting.

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