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The Situation Room

President Sees 'Glimmers of Hope'; U.S. Navy Releases Photos From Attack on Pirates; Appeals Court Grants Emergency Stay for John Demjanjuk; Cesar Millan Discusses the First Family's New Dog

Aired April 14, 2009 - 15:59   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, President Obama sees hope for the U.S. economy, but he's warning we're not out of the woods yet, and he's walking a very fine line near the end of his first 100 days.

Brazen new defiance by North Korea. It's booting out of the country the atomic inspectors and reactivating its nuclear sites.

And we're waiting to meet the newest member of the Obama family. Bo the dog arriving at the White House very soon. The dog whisperer, Cesar Millan, is standing by to join us and give the Obamas some tips on training their new pet.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in CNN's command center for breaking news, politics, and extraordinary reports from around the world.


President Obama today is trying to remind Americans that he's still hard at work on fixing the economy, and he's being very careful to avoid sounding overly optimistic or too gloomy about the rough road ahead. He knows his efforts are going to be judged big time when he marks 100 days in office this month.

Let's begin our coverage this hour with our White House Correspondent Dan Lothian.

Dan, a major address by the president. It was strong on substance, very, very long.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, and it really was more about the tone here, Wolf. The White House had called it this major speech on the economy, but there were no major shifts on policy, there was new initiative here today. Instead, the speech was part progress report, part pep talk.


LOTHIAN (voice-over): Economic Crisis 101. President Obama reminded Americans how the free-fall started...

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was caused by a perfect storm of irresponsibility and poor decision-making.

LOTHIAN: ... and what his administration has been doing to turn things around.

OBAMA: We've had no choice but to attack all fronts of our economic crisis simultaneously.

LOTHIAN: The president laid out what he called the pieces of the recovery puzzle: stimulus money, housing and auto plans, the bank bailout plan, unfreezing credit markets. While Mr. Obama cautioned that the nation is not "out of the woods just yet," he sounded cautiously optimistic.

OBAMA: From where we stand, for the very first time, we're beginning to see glimmers of hope. And beyond that, way off in the distance, we can see a vision of an America's future that is far different than our troubled economic past.

LOTHIAN: But the road to that destination is dotted with more hurdles. Retail sales numbers for the month of March were down more than one percent, worse than expected. At the same time, Hallmark announced it was reducing its workforce by six percent to eight percent over the next six months. And John Deere plans to cut another 200 employees by fall.

THOMAS "DANNY" BOSTON, GEORGIA TECH DEPT. OF ECONOMICS: We're not at the bottom, and we are going to see some ups and downs over the next couple of months. But the important point is that we don't see the steep declines that we were seeing towards last quarter and then the first month or so of this year.


LOTHIAN: Senior aides say that the president in his speech was trying to show Americans some optimism, but also remind them of the challenges that remain. He wanted to lay out, according to one senior administration official, "where we've been, where we are, and what lies ahead."


BLITZER: And the Dow Jones Industrials, Dan, down 138 points at closing. Stand by. We'll get back to you.

We're also getting new information right now about that daring rescue of a U.S. sea captain held by pirates. It drives home the danger of the operation and the challenges involved in trying to crack down on piracy.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence. He's working this story. He's got new pictures as well.

What's the latest, Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Wolf. We've got some new photos of what the Navy is doing off the coast of Somalia. And they give a very clear picture of the ships involved in that dramatic rescue.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): Released for the first time Tuesday, these photos show it looks like bullet holes in the lifeboat, when the Navy says SEALs shot and killed three pirates. The SEALs fired from the rear of the USS Bainbridge, which was towing the lifeboat through rolling waves 80 feet away.

CAPT. POTTENGAI MUKUNDAN, INTERNATIONAL MARITIME BUREAU: If all flag states were to take that kind of robust action against the pirates, we would not have the problems of Somali piracy to the extent that we have today.

LAWRENCE: Three died in the Maersk lifeboat, but that isn't stopping pirates from attacking merchant ships. Pirates have seized four boats in the last two days, including this Greek freighter. The Irene was taken during a rare attack at night, which suggests the pirates now have new capabilities.

CHAS HENRY, U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE: They make money from ransoms. We've seen them get better equipment. We can assume that they'll probably get better at accomplishing the tactics of piracy.

LAWRENCE: The U.S. military is considering using troops, planes and ships to go after pirates more aggressively, but some say the companies have to help protect their own ships, even if it's installing non-lethal defenses.

BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT (RET.), MILITARY ANALYST: Long-range acoustical devices, barbed wire around the edge of the decks, sticky foam, setting up safe rooms on the ships themselves...


LAWRENCE: The companies have been reluctant to spend money because, actually, pirates only seize less than one percent of all the ships that pass through the area. Something like 100 or 200 out of 33,000 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Those are really good points that General Kimmitt just ticked off.

What about the captain, Richard Phillips, and his crew from the Maersk Alabama? What's the latest, the reunion, and when they are coming back home?

LAWRENCE: Yes, the crew of the Alabama has actually been relaxing at a resort in Kenya. The captain is going to reunite with them very soon, and then they're all going to fly back on a charter flight right here to Andrews Air Force Base. Then they'll all be reunited with their families tomorrow night -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. We'll have coverage of that. We're also going to Mombasa, Kenya, for more on this story later.

Thanks very much, Chris Lawrence. North Korea, meanwhile, vowing to restart its nuclear facilities, provoking yet more fears around the world. The communist regime in Pyongyang also booting out nuclear inspectors and promising to boycott international disarmament talks for good. It's a defiant response to the United Nations Security Council, which condemned North Korea's recent missile tests.

The Obama administration says North Korea is taking a serious step in the wrong direction.


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We call on North Korea to cease its provocative threats, to respect the will of the international community, and to honor its international commitments and obligations.


BLITZER: We'll have a full report on what North Korea is doing, this latest round of defiance, the U.S. and global reaction. That's coming up later here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Coming up right now is Jack Cafferty and "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The state of Minnesota has become a joke, unless, of course, you live there and you'd like to be represented in the United States Senate.

A hundred and sixty-one days, five and a half months after the election, they are still trying to figure out who won the Senate race between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and the Democrat, Al Franken. A three-judge panel has now ruled against Coleman, saying Franken is entitled to get the certificate of election after defeating Coleman by 312 votes, but it's unlikely the Minnesota secretary of state is going to issue that certificate until all the legal challenges are exhausted.

I'm exhausted watching this thing. It's beginning to look like a "Three Stooges" movie.

Coleman has 10 days to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court, and if he loses at the state level, well, then, there's always the federal level. Coleman's lawyers says they will appeal to the state Supreme Court because the lower court's order wrongly disenfranchised thousands of voters.

I wonder if they'd be appealing if Coleman had 312 more votes than Franken. Somehow I doubt it.

Franken says he's confident he'll eventually be certified. He's calling on Coleman not to appeal and to "let me get to work as soon as possible." He added it's time for Minnesota to have two senators like all the other states have. Minnesota is starting to look like a third world country here -- the land of 10,000 lakes and a dysfunctional democracy. We send people to monitor elections in foreign countries. Maybe next time we ought to send some to Minneapolis.

Here's the question. What's wrong with Minnesota if five and a half months after the election they still don't know who the winner is?

Go to Post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It took about a month after Florida, in 2000, if you remember, Gore versus Bush, and the U.S. Supreme Court finally making a decision. Five and a half months is a long time, though. You're absolutely right, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Well, it's just ridiculous.

BLITZER: Yes. All right. Thanks very much for that.

Jack Cafferty will be back.

President Obama today is finally making good on a campaign promise to his children.


OBAMA: Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House.


BLITZER: All right. We're standing by for the arrival of that new puppy to the White House this hour. Who knows better what's ahead for the first family than the famous dog whisperer, Cesar Millan. He's standing by to join us live.

Plus, should taxpayer dollars be spent on removing tattoos? Some surprising, perhaps shocking, new details about how the government is using your money as the tax filing day approaches.

And in our "Strategy Session," did John McCain snub Sarah Palin on national television?

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


BLITZER: We're just getting word on the accused Nazi war criminal, John Demjanjuk.

Let's go to T.J. Holmes at the CNN Center.

Yet another development in this supposed deportation of Demjanjuk to Germany. T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, and that was your key word right there, "supposed."

We were watching this dramatic video earlier, thinking that he was in fact on his way out of the U.S. It appears at least he's going to stay for now. A dramatic development.

Again, this is the story of this 89-year-old man accused of helping kill thousands, 29,000, Jews during World War II. The video you are seeing there on your screen was earlier, seized today by immigration officials for that deportation to Germany.

Again, this was a little earlier today, video we just saw. But an appeals court has now, just in the past few minutes, put a stop to all that. They have stayed his deportation.

Again, the name, John Demjanjuk, born Ivan Demjanjuk, 89 years old, a frail man. You see him being taken out of his home there -- this is outside of Cleveland -- in his wheelchair.

Now, he's accused of helping in the murders of 29,000 Jews during World War II at a camp outside of Poland, or in Poland, I should say. Now, again, we were watching this play out, thought this was going to be the end to this saga today, but in fact, not the case.

German officials were expecting him -- we were expecting to possibly see a war crimes trial take place in Germany. But for now, again, Wolf, a stay of deportation.

So after all this we saw today, thought this was going to be a final chapter for this man here in the U.S., it appears it is not over just yet. Standing by to see what might be now, Wolf, the next steps in this saga. But the deportation for now has been halted.

BLITZER: It's been going on for about 20 years, this whole story.


BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, T.J. We'll get back to you.

It may seem President Obama's everywhere, taking trips, taking questions, taking criticism about the economy and his plans to fix it. And as you just saw in our top story, the president was very much at it once again today.

Our Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider is joining us now.

Bill, ,how is the president trying to get people to look at his economic program perhaps a little more positively?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, beyond recovery is what he's saying.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER (voice-over): President Obama says many Americans are wondering whether all his programs fit together into...

OBAMA: ... a single overarching strategy that will move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity.

SCHNEIDER: Are they? Fifty-eight percent of the public believes President Obama has a clear plan, 42 percent don't. How can the president convince them? He has to address their concerns.

REP. TOM PRICE (R), GEORGIA: What the American people are saying is that they are tired of the same old thing in Washington, which is spending and borrowing and spending and borrowing.

SCHNEIDER: The president can hardly deny the program includes a lot of borrowing and spending. But he wants Americans to see the bigger picture.

OBAMA: ... a foundation that will move us from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest.

SCHNEIDER: The president insists that the plan include new spending on energy, education, health care, housing, the financial industry and the auto industry. That's beyond recovery. That's for long-term prosperity.

The president used a homespun analogy to make his case.

OBAMA: Just as a cash-strapped family may cut back on all kinds of luxuries, but will still insist on spending money to get their children through college, they are thinking about the long term. So we, as a country, have to make current choices with an eye to the future.

SCHNEIDER: Republicans insist they have a better plan.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: This is a budget that is lower on deficits, lower on spending, lower on taxes, and higher on jobs.

SCHNEIDER: Does the public see it? Not so far.


SCHNEIDER: The president is resisting pressure to toss things like health care and education and energy out of his plan so that it will be cheaper and easier to pass. Well, Obama called that -- Mr. Obama called that instant gratification, and he said that's encouraged by shorter attention spans and shorter news cycles.

I think that would be us, Wolf.

The president is trying to defy that culture. He wants long-term thinking. Wow -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much.

Bill Schneider reporting.

All this week, CNN is the place for you to get the real deal on your taxes. We're digging deeper to give you the facts about what you are paying and where the money is going. One place all our tax dollars are going, what one group calls government waste. The so- called "Pig Book" lays it all out.

Let's go to our congressional correspondent, Brianna Keilar. She's on Capitol Hill. She's got a company of the so-called "Pig Book."

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Here it is right here. And according to the group that puts out this "Pig Book," they say lawmakers found more than 10,000 ways to spend your taxpayer dollars this year, and they are singling out many of those as examples of pork.


KEILAR (voice-over): Finding new ways to use wood, that's how several members of Congress are suing $4.5 million of your taxpayer dollars. Tattoo removal, at a cost of $200,000. California Congressman Howard Berman's office says it helps former gang members stay out of trouble.

Both pet projects are highlighted in the 2009 "Pig Book," released each year by the advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste.

DAVID WILLIAMS, CITIZENS AGAINST GOVERNMENT WASTE: You hear Washington officials say we all have to tighten our belts, we all have to sacrifice. Well, yes, but the politicians aren't sacrificing.

KEILAR: For peanut research, $413,000. Senator Richard Shelby, one of three Alabama lawmakers behind the earmark, says it will restore nutrient-depleted soil and stop farmers from leaving the business. But that's peanuts compared to the money former Congressman Chris Shays secured for a water taxi to Connecticut's Pleasure Beach -- $1.9 million -- and Iowa Senator Tom Harkin's rather ironic pet project, swine odor and manure management. It comes with a $1.8 million price tag that he has steadfastly defended.

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: How do we alleviate this? How do we make it possible for a very good industry, the swine industry, to meet the demand and, at the same time, be good neighbors, and to do it in an environmentally sound way?


KEILAR: It's important to note here, on Capitol Hill, Wolf, most lawmakers don't use the word "pork." They call it congressionally directed spending, and they argue who knows better the needs of a local community than those elected officials from those local communities?

Wolf. BLITZER: Cute little pink pig over there, in any case.

All right. Thanks very much, Brianna, for that report.

A dog has his day at the White House. We're waiting for Bo, the new presidential pooch, to make his debut. It will happen very, very soon, in the next few minutes, we're told. We're going to the White House for that.

And the dog whisperer Cesar Millan is standing by to join us. We'll talk to him about what's going on.

There he is.

And what if you told us this -- the economic stimulus plan is not providing real relief to the middle class? Do you agree?

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



BLITZER: We're standing by for the arrival of the new dog over at the White House. The new dog, Bo. He's about to make his official debut.

The cameras are getting ready. We'll show you what's going on. We expect to hear from the president, the first lady, and see the little daughters as well.

And we're expecting a major announcement in New York State from the governor, David Paterson. We're getting information about his plans and why it could trigger a political firestorm.

And what, if anything, did President Obama accomplish in his economic speech today? Our Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger is standing by. We'll talk about this new balancing act over at the White House.


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

Happening now, one critic of the administration's plans for Iran says, "The strategy is to shower them with hugs and kisses." The administration is being called naive for apparently considering a surprising new approach to dealing with Iran's nuclear program.

It's said to have included 12 hours in total darkness, heat and fear. We're hearing now firsthand accounts from the pirate drama that led to an American captain's rescue and three pirates' deaths. You're about to hear from those involved. Stand by.

And top dog Bo is said to bask in intense interest as he makes his first debut over at the White House. You're going to see it here. We expect it momentarily. And the dog whisperer, Cesar Millan, is standing by to join us live.

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

But first, let's get back to our top story, President Obama's newest snapshot of the U.S. economy. He sees light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel is still long and tough to get through.

Listen to the president in his own words speaking at Georgetown University, here in Washington.


OBAMA: I've talked a lot about the fundamental weaknesses in our economy that led us to this day of reckoning, but we also arrived here because of a fundamental weakness in our political system. For too long, too many in Washington put off our decisions for some other time on some other day.

There's been a tendency to spend a lot of time scoring political points instead of rolling up sleeves to solve real problems. There's also an impatience that characterizes this town, an attention span that has only grown shorter with a 24-hour news cycle, that insists on instant gratification in the form of media results or higher poll numbers. When a crisis hits, there's all too often a lurch from shock to trance, with everyone responding to the tempest of the moment until the furor has died down, the media coverage has moved on to something else, instead of confronting the major challenges that will shape our future in a sustained and focus wade.

This can't be one of those times. The challenges are too great. The stakes are too high.

I know how difficult it is for members of Congress in both parties to grapple with some of the big decisions we face right now. I would love if these problems were coming at us one at a time instead of five or six at a time. It's more than most Congresses and most presidents have to deal with in a lifetime.

But we have been called to govern in extraordinary times. And that requires an extraordinary sense of responsibility to ourselves, to the men and women who sent us here, to the many generations whose lives will be affected for good or for ill because of what we do here.

There is no doubt that times are still tough. By no means are we out of the woods just yet.

But from where we stand, for the very first time, we're beginning to see glimmers of hope. And beyond that, way off in the distance, we can see a vision of an America's future that is far different than our troubled economic past.

It's an America teeming with new industry and commerce, humming with new energy and discoveries that light the world once more; a place where anyone from anywhere with a good idea or the will to work can live the dream they have heard so much about.

That is the house upon the rock: proud and sturdy, unwavering in the face of the greatest storms.

And we will not finish it in one year; we will not finish it in many.

But if we use this moment to lay that new foundation, if we come together and begin the hard work of rebuilding, if we persist and persevere against the disappointments and setbacks that will surely lie ahead, then I have no doubt that this house will stand and the dream of our founders will live on in our time.

Thank you.

God bless you. God bless the United States of America.


OBAMA: Thank you.



BLITZER: Now let's talk about this with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger.

Gloria, the -- the timing -- why now for this long speech sort of recapping everything he's been doing on trying to stabilize the economy?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think, Wolf, you have to kind of consider this as President Obama's version of FDR's fireside chats, fireside 2.0 if you will.

We're in the middle of a crisis. Folks I speak to at the White House say that the president kind of regards himself as the national explainer. And what he's doing is, he's providing people an update about where we are in this crisis. Don't forget, he's received a lot of criticism here from some folks who say he's spending too much time abroad.

You have those tax tea parties that you're going to -- that are going to be held tomorrow. And even moderate Democrats are complaining about the spending in his budget.

So, he wanted to take a step back, tell the American public why he made the decisions he made. And we can expect, I'm told, more updates like this as the crisis continues.

BLITZER: And the political fallout, the immediate political fallout?

BORGER: Well, of course, the White House hopes that the good poll numbers stay. Fifty-eight percent of the American public, as Bill Schneider points out, 58 of the American public -- percent -- believe that the president has a good economic plan for solving the problems. They are also talking to those independent voters out there, Wolf. He enjoys a majority of support with independent voters. He wants to keep those numbers up, because that will keep Republican numbers down.

So, he's talking to those folks in the middle saying: I'm in charge. This is what I'm doing.

BLITZER: And, Gloria, we have a lot more to digest. Stand by.


BLITZER: All right, this just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM: the governor of New York on the brink of a major announcement involving gay marriage.

Let's go to New York. Mary Snow's got the details.

What are you learning, Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, New York's governor apparently wants to make New York the fifth state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Two New York state lawmakers tell CNN that Governor David Paterson is expected to introduce legislation on Thursday that would legalize same-sex marriage.

Now, this is a bill that had been introduced back in 2007 under then Governor Eliot Spitzer. It passed the assembly. It did not pass the state senate. The state senate majority leader Malcolm Smith's office says they do not as yet have enough votes for this bill to pass, but they are working and they are committed to this bill.

Now, this all comes at a time when Governor David Paterson has been struck with very low approval ratings. Let's put up the latest Quinnipiac poll. Earlier this month, you can see, his disapproval rating, 60 percent, his approval rating, 28 percent.

The people who are -- are anxious to see this bill passed say this would be a major milestone for New York State, and, as I mentioned, it would be the fifth state. Vermont became the fourth state to legalize gay marriage, along with Massachusetts, Iowa, and Connecticut.

And, Wolf, we did speak to some openly gay lawmakers in New York State, who say they are hopeful that neighboring Vermont may have an effect on New York State, and perhaps this would give New York momentum to pass this legislation -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Mary. I know you will be working the story for us.

Coming up, it's about to happen over at the White House, something dramatic that a lot of folks have been waiting for. We're standing for the debut of the family's first new dog. That would be Bo. And guess who is joining us for the big event? None other than the dog whisperer himself, Cesar Millan. He's standing by.

You're also going to be meeting Maggie (ph), not Bo, but this is Maggie. She's here in THE SITUATION ROOM. She's a real life Portuguese water hound herself. We will talk about these kinds of dogs and what the Obama family can expect.

And it wasn't that long ago that John McCain and Sarah Palin were running mates. Has Palin slipped the senator's mind, though? Our "Strategy Session" is coming up.


BLITZER: The suspense finally ending over at the White House. The Obamas are now getting ready for their new dog, Bo, this months after the president promised his two daughters they would get a pet after the election is over.

We're standing by, by the way, for the first glimpse of Bo's arrival over at the White House. We're getting our cameras ready for that.

But, first, let's -- let's go to a man who knows dogs better than most, the dog whisperer, Cesar Millan. He's the author of the book "A Member of the Family." It's in stores right now. And his show, "The Dog Whisperer," airs Fridays on the National Geographic Channel, a very popular show.

Cesar, thanks very much for coming in.

CESAR MILLAN, THE DOG WHISPERER: Thank you very much for the opportunity to help the president and his family.

BLITZER: All right, because he's going to be listening. He's going to need your advice. The first lady, the daughters, they are all going to be anxious to hear what you have to say.

And I want to let our viewers know, we have brought in a Portuguese water dog named Maggie here into THE SITUATION ROOM. It's 3 -- Maggie is 3 years old, as opposed to the 6-month-old Bo over at the White House.

But give us some tips. What does the first family need to know about raising this 6-month-old puppy?

MILLAN: Well, definitely, this dog has -- this is not his first home, so they have to adapt him to the -- to the White House, which the dog doesn't know he's going to live in the White House.

What he knows is how much common sense this family has to offer me. You know, so, it's all about training the human to fulfill the needs of animal dog, who is a Portuguese water dog, and his name is Bo. A lot of times, people use...


BLITZER: Because -- because Bo has moved around over the past six months, at least three different places. This is the fourth home that Bo is going to have.

MILLAN: Not only is it the fourth home. This is a very excited environment right now. So, everybody is very much into what is this dog going to do or what does this dog look like?

So, it's very important that they begin with adaptation, not so much training. Do not use human psychology on a dog. Use dog psychology on a dog. It's very important in order for us to help Bo to adapt himself to the new environment.

BLITZER: So, what are the new -- the two or three most important things they have to do right now, in terms of exercise or talking to Bo or feeding Bo, in terms of getting Bo comfortable in the White House.

MILLAN: You know, it's very important, a good, long walk. Make the dog tired before he comes inside the environment. Like I say, Bo doesn't know he's going to live in the White House. He's going to know how he went into the White House, so very important that he goes in there very tired.

And, right away, tell him the rules, the boundaries, the limitations. And if -- once he follows the rules, boundaries, and limitations, then you give the affection to Bo.

Very important that everybody plays the leadership role, you know, the girls, Ms. Michelle, obviously, the president. Everybody has to learn to walk the dog, to master the walk, very important for any dog in America to live with humans who know how to walk them.

BLITZER: All right, the video is about to come in right now. Here it is.

These are the first pictures that are just coming in. There you see the first family. Let's watch a little bit and see what they say if we can pick up the sound.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has he had any accidents yet?


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: We're trying to keep her from having one. That's why we're out now.


B. OBAMA: We all have to take turns.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where is he sleeping?

M. OBAMA: He's...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you bring Bo over here?

B. OBAMA: Let's see if he lets...


B. OBAMA: Let's see. Do it. Well, let's see.

M. OBAMA: It's a little...

B. OBAMA: It's a little pressure here.


M. OBAMA: We don't have a treat.

B. OBAMA: We have got no treats. That's the problem.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, they're going to need help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, what do you think?


B. OBAMA: There's too many people around.


M. OBAMA: Not yet.

B. OBAMA: It is spectacular and well-deserved.

He's a star. He's got star quality. He is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, where is he sleeping?

B. OBAMA: We have got a bunch of possible (OFF-MIKE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he going to be in a bed?

B. OBAMA: Not in...


BLITZER: All right, there you see the raw video just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. The president of the United States, the first lady, Sasha and Malia, they're having a little fun with their brand new little dog, Bo.

Cesar Millan, you're -- you're -- you are listening to the president. He says this dog has star quality. It's a star already.

They are feeding the dog. And I guess, with all those cameras and all those microphones and reporters, photographers, the dog is probably a little startled right now, wouldn't you say, Cesar?

Oh, hold on one second. We will listen to the president.



B. OBAMA: ... positive reinforcement.





B. OBAMA: That's a good looking dog, though. Let's face it.



BLITZER: Right now, Cesar, as you can only imagine -- all right, well, you were giving us some advice. You were giving the first family, actually, some advice on what they should do and shouldn't do.


B. OBAMA: Portuguese water dogs like tomatoes. Michelle's garden is in danger. So, we're going to...

M. OBAMA: I don't think we have tomatoes.

B. OBAMA: Not yet?

So, we have got to figure out...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn't know how to swim.


B. OBAMA: Yes, apparently, they have to be taught how to swim. They have webbed feet. And they -- they herd fish for the fishermen in Portugal. This is what we have heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You remember what Truman said about a dog, didn't you, sir? You have got a friend now?

B. OBAMA: My friend. I have finally got a friend. It took some time.


B. OBAMA: All right, guys. I think you guys have gotten enough.

We're very pleased with Bo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have a good day.

B. OBAMA: Thanks, guys.


B. OBAMA: No, I'm coming.


BLITZER: All right. So, there it is, the photo.

A lot of people have been wanting to see the first family with Bo, their new Portuguese water dog, six months old, finally arriving at the White House. Those girls are going to be really, really happy.

But, Cesar, I suspect the parents are going to be really happy about that dog as well.

You were giving the first family some advice on the dos and don'ts of getting this new -- new dog, Bo, adjusted to the White House. And the South Lawn, that's where the dog is right now, the South Lawn of the White House.

MILLAN: Well, you know, right away, it's best to take him for a good long walk, and really not to use a lot of excitement.

As I'm hearing, there's a lot of excitement going on, which that only makes a dog very excited. It doesn't really relax him. You want a relaxed dog, you know, who is a Portuguese water dog, because that's what's going to give you access to tell him what to do.

Excited dogs don't really listen to people as much as the calm- state-of-mind dog. So, very important to right away, after they do the media, they go into fulfilling the needs of animal dog breed Bo.

BLITZER: How smart are these Portuguese water dogs?

MILLAN: Portuguese water dogs, like any other breed who is a working type, are very smart.

But, at the same time, you have to fulfill the needs of. So, I would do is exercise, discipline, then play with the breed. The breed is what gives you access to the genetics. So, that means they're water -- that means you can throw the ball in the water, retrieve and -- on land.

But the most important part was, what gives people trouble is not the breed, as much as is the dog. So, if you don't fulfill the needs of dogs, they -- they can go into nervous behavior, excitement, digging, barking, pulling, you know, the president of the United States.

And those are the parts that can be prevented. The dog is six months old. So, in two more months, he becomes an adolescent. Very important to fulfill animal dog before we go after breed.

BLITZER: Some have suggested that the dog's name, Bo, rhymes with the no, and that could be confusing in training and getting some obedience lessons for a little puppy.

MILLAN: Well, it's not what you -- it's not so much the word. It's how -- as the energy behind the word.

So, if the "Bo" has a negative energy in it, of course, it's going to have a negative reaction to the dog. But, if you -- if you are -- if you understand the verbal conversation that you are giving to the dog, it's not going to be a problem.

The dogs don't -- don't have a problem with the words. They have a problem with the energy behind the word.

BLITZER: This dog is now going to be on the world stage right now. And that's not -- that's not normal for a little dog like this, is it?

MILLAN: Well, definitely not. There's no doubt about it.

This is definitely the most popular dog in the world right now. This is why it's very important for everybody, you know, all the Obama family, to practice the exercise, the discipline, and the affection, because it becomes a role model to the world.

So, the dad, the mom and the children can be a great role model to society how to really fulfill the needs of a dog.

BLITZER: Is it important that all four of them, the parents and the two kids, all of them are involved in -- in taking the dog outside, for example, feeding the dog, or should one person take the lead role?

MILLAN: No, I think it would be a wonderful project for the president of the United States to teach the girls and to teach Ms. Michelle, in case that she doesn't know how to lead the dog, is that everybody becomes pack leader.

You know, in my house, I teach my wife and my kids to lead my pack or to lead my dogs. So, it's a -- and it's a beautiful project, because it allows you to connect with Mother Nature. They don't see you as the president of the United States. They see you as the one who provides and fulfills the needs.

BLITZER: If the first family called on you, Cesar, for some help -- you have trained a lot of celebrity dogs over the years -- and we have all seen you on National Geographic, on TV -- would you say yes to the president if they said, we need your help, Cesar?

MILLAN: Absolutely. As you -- as you -- as you mentioned, and dogs don't know people as celebrities. There's just -- obviously, if the owners are not fulfilling the needs right.

So, I would love to help before they actually get into the wrong state of mind.

BLITZER: Cesar Millan, thanks very much for coming in.

You got -- you gave us some good advice.

MILLAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: And I'm sure the first family is appreciative as well.

MILLAN: Thank you. Thank you very much.

BLITZER: All right. Cesar Millan is the dog whisperer from National Geographic's "Dog Whisperer."

We are going to have more on the president's new pet coming up in the next hour. And some are wondering on another story, this, if John McCain actually snubbed Sarah Palin. Did you hear what he -- what he said and didn't say on late-night TV?

Our "Strategy Session" is coming up next.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I will leave that to others to determine.



BLITZER: Let's get right to our "Strategy Session" right now.

Joining us, our CNN political contributor the Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, and Republican strategist Tony Blankley, a former spokesman for the -- for Newt Gingrich.

I have got to talk a little bit about the dog.


BLITZER: I know you love dogs.

Tony, you love dogs.


BLITZER: What did you think of the way they unveiled over at the White House the introduction of Bo?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I love the fact the president and first lady and their two girls now will have a very lovely addition to their family.

He clearly looks very excited to be at the White House. And I'm sure, tonight, as they settle down and he settles down, this is going to be a joyous time for the entire family.

BLITZER: Those two sweet little girls were smiling...

BLANKLEY: Yes, well...

BLITZER: about as big a smile as you can imagine.

BLANKLEY: I have a 12-year-old daughter. And we got her a puppy a couple of years ago. And there's nothing like a child and their new dog. It's a wonderful story. There is no political angle to it at all. And...

BLITZER: No exploitation of the family.



BLITZER: The Republicans aren't going to say he's taking advantage of this?

BLANKLEY: In these gloomy days, it's lovely to have a pleasant little dog story. I love it.

BLITZER: It's the first family, and there's a brand-new story at the White House.


BLITZER: We remember Barney, and we remember all those other little dogs.

BLANKLEY: Now, maybe you want to bring in Barney to give an alternative commentary.


BRAZILE: Oh, no.


BRAZILE: But I think that Bo will provide them with unconditional love and support over the -- the -- the next few years of their lives.

BLITZER: Star quality, the president said, Bo already has it. He could determine that Bo is a star.


BLITZER: All right, we're going to have a little more on Bo coming up in the next hour. We will talk with a veterinarian and get some more insight into what the first family is going through.

But the president delivered a major speech today. At least, the White House called it a major speech. We know it was certainly a long speech reviewing everything he's done on the economic front right now.

And -- and I assume they decided, as far as the timing is concerned -- and Gloria made this point -- to do it now, because tomorrow is tax day, April 15. There's going to be all these tea parties, protests about the spending of government -- taxpayer dollars.

Is that how you -- you see the situation?

BRAZILE: Well, I don't think the timing has anything to do with the fact that the president once again wanted to lay out the framework for what he has accomplished in terms of the stimulus package, the budget, the overall state of the economy, to tell us that we're not out of the woods, but, soon, the country will see some of the impact of the stimulus, which, by the way, is being felt all over the way, as these construction jobs now get under way.

And people back in the schoolhouses are also feeling it. So, it was a good speech.

BLITZER: Listen to this I-Reporter, who sent in this commentary. We will play it for you, Tony.


STEVEN RUSH, I-REPORTER: The Recovery Act did not provide real relief to Americans that hurt the most, middle-class and small- business owners. Perhaps that's an oversight by the Obama administration. Perhaps it's just politics.


BLITZER: That was Steven Rush from Inland Empire, California.

What do you think?

BLANKLEY: Well, look, I mean, I think the speech was a superb recapitulation of the president's economic policy.

I think, here in Washington, the -- the challenge he has is to win over the moderate Democratic senators and congressmen. And their grievance is the -- the $10 trillion deficit, made up partially by the health, education, energy, and carbon.

I don't think the president advanced his -- his -- his argument for that. I don't think he's moved the ball on that. But, as far as an overall presentation, I can't imagine a better assertion of -- of what his policy is about.

BLITZER: The former Republican presidential nominee John McCain was on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" last night, and he was asked about the new faces of the Republican Party.

And listen to this.


MCCAIN: We have, I am happy to say, a lot of voices out there, Bobby Jindal, Tim Pawlenty, Huntsman, Romney...


MCCAIN: ... the -- Charlie Crist.

There's a lot of governors out there who...


MCCAIN: ... are young and dynamic. And there's -- Mitt Romney did a great job, and he continues to. There's a lot of good people out there. And I have left out somebody's name, and I'm going to hear about it.

LENO: Right. Right.



BLITZER: All right. We -- well, he's going to hear about it right now. Whose name did he leave out?

BLANKLEY: Obviously, Sarah Palin, his -- his vice presidential nominee in the -- in his campaign.

BLITZER: Deliberate?

BLANKLEY: Yes, look, I can't -- you can't look inside the -- the heart of someone else. I don't know.

I do suspect that -- that, over time, he's not going to be a supporter of hers, should she -- she run. And whether this was inadvertent or vertent (ph), I don't know.

BRAZILE: I think it was a slight oversight.

Look, in the past, he's given her a lot of praise. And maybe because he was in California, Oregon and Washington State was clearly blocking his view of Alaska. But I really do believe that he's given her a great deal of -- of wonderful praise since being on the ticket.

BLANKLEY: But -- but, you know, there's been a lot of bitterness between those two camps, between the Palin and the McCain camp. And it wouldn't surprise me if maybe it was just a Freudian slip, but there's something behind the absence of her name there.

BRAZILE: But he also missed Huckabee...


BRAZILE: ... and Mr. Romney and some others.

BLANKLEY: They -- they -- no, he mentioned Romney. But they weren't part of his ticket.

BLITZER: There was no -- no great love there, I don't think.


BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very much. We will continue this conversation.


BLITZER: But let's go to Jack Cafferty right now for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour: What's wrong with Minnesota, if five-and-a-half months after the Senate election, they still don't know who won?

Phil writes from Washington: "There's nothing wrong with Minnesota. It's Norm Coleman, you know, the man from the party of no. Give it up, Coleman. You're toast. Give the Minnesotans a chance to become represented once again. You're a sore loser and ought to be ashamed of your antics."

Charles in New Jersey writes: "Desperation sums it up. The GOP is treading water in the shark tank, with a side of ribs as a life preserver. This is their last chance at obstruction in Congress."

Shane in Boston: "Absolutely nothing. That's what democracy is these days. Rather than take the beating you probably deserved in your home state because you were never a very good senator in the first place, you fight tooth and nail to make sure you don't have to find a real job, like the rest of us."

John in Wisconsin says: "Counting isn't exactly Minnesota's long suit. The land of 10,000 lakes has 11,842 of them. It's easier for them to count their Super Bowl victories."

Jerry in Alpharetta, Georgia, "Now I know where those retirees who run Florida's election system came from."

And Quentin in New York: "Well, politics can be a little like a certain pill. If you're experiencing an election lasting longer than five months, call your courts."

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

BLITZER: All right, Jack, thank you.

And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: North Korea lashes out in anger, threatening to turn back the clock on years of supposed progress in nuclear negotiations. Will the country make good on its latest vows? We have new reaction coming in right now from the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

Also, we're learning from sources that the Obama administration may be weighing a wholesale change in the way it's dealing with Iran's nuclear program. We have new details this hour. Stand by.

And the crew members of that hijacked American ship break their silence and speak out about their harrowing ordeal at the hands of