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This Week in Politics

Iraq Is Up the Next President; Why Isn't Oil Paying for Iraq?; Wikipedia Wars; Perils of Pennsylvania; Candidates Speak on Faith and Politics

Aired April 12, 2008 - 18:00   ET


TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's spring and thoughts turn to the national pastime. Baseball? No. Politics.
Some advice for Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania as legendary pitcher Satchel Page once said, don't look back someone may be gaining on you. Foul ball. Why are you paying twice for the war in Iraq in taxes and at the pump? That was only one of the curves thrown at General Petraeus this week.

And how wild pitches on the Internet are sparking a Wiki war.

"This Week in Politics" swinging for the fences right after a look at what's in the news right now.

TONY HARRIS: And hello everyone, I'm Tony Harris.

Here's what's happening right now in the news. Senator Barack Obama admits it was a poor choice of words. The fallout continues this hour over comments Obama made about America's bitter working-class voters who, in his words, cling to guns or religion. Presidential rival Senator Hillary Clinton calls Obama's remarks elitist and out of touch.

Sorry for the inconvenience, those words again today from American airlines top brass. The apologies after five days of chaos with the airline canceling more than 3,000 flights to inspect its fleet for possible faulty wiring. A spokesman says the airline will return to its full service no later than tomorrow despite about 200 flights being scrapped today.

Bloodshed, protest and an ousted government official in Haiti. For days Haitians had been engaged in deadly riots over the rising cost of food. The most recent casualty a U.N. soldier shot and killed in the melee. As a result, Haiti's parliament has voted to dismiss the country's Prime Minister with the president's blessing.

Those are the headlines this hour. I'm Tony Harris.

Now back to "This Week in Politics" and Tom Foreman.

FOREMAN: Much of this week in politics was all about the war. And with tax day looming, a very tough question, why are Americans paying the bills twice while the Iraqi government socks away billions? We'll explain that shocker in just a bit. But the most urgent question, who is going to end up running this war and what will they do about it. For lawmakers this week it was as Yogi Berra said, deja vu all over again.

General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker stepped into the batter's box on Capitol Hill, a replay of their September testimony where they said that the U.S. should not pull out of Iraq. Six months later, they say there is significant progress, but the war is definitely heading for extra innings.


GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: We haven't turned any corners. We haven't seen any lights at the end of the tunnel. The champagne bottle's been pushed to the back of the refrigerator, and the progress, while real, is fragile and it's reversible.


FOREMAN: Among those listening to the testimony, all three of the senators who would like to be commander-in-chief and here is what they had to say.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our goal, my goal, is an Iraq that no longer needs American troops. And I believe we can achieve that goal perhaps sooner than many imagine. But I also believe that the promise of withdrawal of our forces, regardless of the consequences, would constitute a failure of political and moral leadership.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The administration and supporters of the administration's policy often talk about the cost of leaving Iraq yet ignore the greater costs of continuing the same failed policy.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that increased pressure in a measured way, in my mind, and this is where we disagree, includes a timetable for withdrawal. Nobody's asking for a precipitous withdrawal. But I do think that it has to be a measured but increased pressure and a diplomatic surge that includes Iran.


FOREMAN: To sort it all out, CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley joins us now from Terre Haute, Indiana. And with me in Washington, Anna Mulrine, senior editor and defense correspondent for U.S. News and World Report.

Candy, did any of the candidates get a leg-up in this testimony this week?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think insofar as the pressure I think is on Barack Obama to show that he has the experience and the knowledge. He needed to go toe-to-toe with General Petraeus who knows more about the situation in Iraq than probably anyone else, at least on the ground.

And I think Barack Obama got a lot of credit for some nuance questions and for some nuance statements. Insofar as he had something to gain. But I think overall, kind of an even playing field, each of them sort of pulled out of the testimony something that buttressed their point.

FOREMAN: And it seems like one of the problems is that all the candidates have said we will trust the generals. Doesn't that remove the decision from their hands largely? Because the general is going to say what he thinks is right.

ANNA MULRINE, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: I think to a great extent. That's the tricky thing, staying above the fray, looking like commanders-in-chief as they go through this process. And I think what you heard kind of a common refrain, particularly on the Democratic side with Obama, with Clinton, was the idea of opportunity costs. To what extent --

FOREMAN: What do you mean by opportunity costs? What is it?

MULRINE: Well, if you look at -- I don't think they wanted to get down and dirty with, ok, has the surge worked, has it not worked? Putting that aside for a moment, what is the cost of all this?

FOREMAN: They kept asking really is it worth it?

MULRINE: Exactly, is it worth it essentially? You heard even on the military side Admiral Mike Mullen, he's the chairman of the joint chiefs, chief military adviser to the president, you heard him saying the same thing which was striking in testimony.

FOREMAN: Let's take a look for a moment at the plans that these candidates are putting forward. John McCain starts this off because he is the one that most talks about continuing some version of what we've seen so far. If you look at it, he's saying that the U.S. cannot lead by power alone, must consult allies in this. The threat of radical Islamic terrorism transcends all others. Success in Iraq is creation of a peaceful, stable democratic state. He says the surge is working and he thinks it would be reckless if there were to be premature withdrawal and would lead to a terrible defeat.

Hillary Clinton's plan here and this is all quite in depth with -- pay attention because it is important. She wants to have the military draft a plan to begin withdrawals within the first 60 days, withdraw one to two brigades a month along with allies and the United Nations. They would press for political deals on refugees and other issues there. And replace the military force with intensive diplomatic initiatives.

And Barack Obama, the last one to listen to here: he would begin troop withdrawals immediately; withdraw one or two brigades a month, very much like Clinton in that regard. With allies and the U.N. pressed for political deals and resettling refugees. Put more troops and resources into Afghanistan and confront Iran. Boy, Candy, this gets awfully complex when you look at it between the two Democrats and figuring out which one has a different plan.

CROWLEY: Well, and I mean essentially, the plan is not that different between the two of them. Certainly within the Democratic Party, they have made up their minds that both these candidates will begin on a different path, and that is the focus will be on the withdrawal of troops. But I'll tell you something interesting because what you are seeing here is just a slight shift not in policy but in emphasis.

You heard Barack Obama say in that sound bite, nobody's asking for a precipitous withdrawal. You heard Hillary Clinton say, listen, I will in concert with the military leaders, begin the process of withdrawal. So they are now emphasizing we're not just going to go in there and start willy-nilly bringing out troops.

And I think in large part that is in response to John McCain who keeps warning about calamity on the ground. And both these Democrats know that nobody -- no American voter wants a debacle on the way out.

So we hear Barack Obama on the campaign trail, often saying we need to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. So there's a shift in emphasis here which I think you saw yesterday and you're certainly hearing out here on the trail.

FOREMAN: And Anna for all of the emphasis on George Bush and how the war started, the simple truth is the next president will be in office presumably trying to end it for good or for bad and it's going to be their war then.

MULRINE: That's correct. I mean, what was clear this week is that it's highly unlikely the troop level is going to get down below 140,000 before the end of the year. Certainly not to the 100,000 that Secretary of Defense Gates had said during previous testimony that he was hoping for. That was something that I think they drew around in hearings this week.

FOREMAN: So the simple truth is they have to be careful about what they say because they are going to have to deliver in some fashion?

MULRINE: Absolutely. And I think, too, the common refrain that you've been hearing this week is this strain that this is taking on U.S. troops over in Iraq. I mean, you saw Hillary Clinton saying that about 27 percent of noncommissioned officers are suffering from posttraumatic stress.

FOREMAN: They're talking about the cost; the human cost, the money cost.

Candy, let me ask you this, these senators were also listening though and one of the things they heard is that there are commitments being made to Afghanistan and to Iraq. How much do they have to go back now and consider those and say, ok, if the commitment's been made, if people are counting on it, how free am I to have my own policy?

CROWLEY: Well, absolutely, but you heard General Petraeus say -- or perhaps it was Ambassador Crocker -- we're not doing anything that's going to tie the hands of the next president but certainly this is all something --

FOREMAN: They certainly said that, but at the same time they did say, but they're counting on us.

CROWLEY: That they're going to push forward on the agreement with Iraq that they're trying to work out about the long-term presence of U.S. troops or giving permission for U.S. troops to be in Iraq. So yes, they have to -- I mean, the situation on the ground does change.

The situation in diplomacy does change and I would remind you that in a debate recently, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton refused to commit to having all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of their first term. So there is plenty of stuff there that allows them to kind of re-jigger what a lot of voters, I can tell you, think will be sort of an immediate, you know, and constant withdrawal of troops. They usually say one brigade per month.

So I think there's a lot of room in here for the next president to wiggle through in terms of campaign commitments although not much, as you just noted, there are going to be 140,000 troops there.

FOREMAN: Facts on the ground they are going to deal with.

CROWLEY: Absolutely, they're going to have to deal with it.

FOREMAN: Thanks so much Candy and Anna. Appreciate your being here.

Gas prices are skyrocketing. So why are the Iraqis banking their oil profits while U.S. taxpayers pay all their bills? That is straight ahead.

Later, the battle in cyberspace over political reality.

And the x-factor that could doom Hillary Clinton's chances in Pennsylvania.

But first, some of the other events in "This Week in Politics."


FOREMAN: John McCain's running mate, the talk shows and blogs were buzzing this week with speculation that the Republican VP slot could go to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Many thought it was a great idea. Ms. Rice, however, was not among them.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm going back to Stanford, back to California, west of the Mississippi.

FOREMAN: President Bush and the First Lady took time out to replace a tree that fell on the White House lawn late last year. The original tree was planted by our 23rd president, Benjamin Harrison. And some of Harrison's descendants were on hand for the ceremony. And as you can see, campaign politics isn't the only thing in Washington that can get downright dirty. We'll clean up and be right back.


FOREMAN: Once upon a time, way back in 2003, the Bush administration said Iraq's oil would pay for the country's reconstruction. Since then, the U.S. has spent nearly $600 billion on Iraq and it's a double play.

As American tax dollars go overseas, taxpayers are being hammered by record gas prices at home. At the same time, those high prices are bringing Iraq billions of dollars in oil profits. So why aren't they using that money to rebuild?

CNN's international U.S. affairs editor Jill Dougherty is in Baghdad. And senior business correspondent Ali Velshi is up in New York.

Jill, let's answer that question first. Why aren't the Iraqis spending more of this money?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN INTERNATIONAL U.S. AFFAIRS EDITOR: I asked that very question and the government officials say, number one, we used to have a command economy. That's changing. We have a huge bureaucracy. We have corruption. But other people, especially one expert from the United States is saying a lot of what they did in order to rebuild the country is build a bureaucracy. That the money isn't getting to the people. And they're not spending the money that they have.

FOREMAN: Isn't this one of the worst fears we would have, Jill, that all of this effort would go into nothing but propping up a new government that is just bloated in overpaying itself?

DOUGHERTY: Well, politically it's very bad. And I think quite significant, at least back in the United States, because they actually although it's small, they have a budget surplus when the United States, of course, has a gigantic deficit. So when you look at it that way, it's very bad.

But it's very bad for Iraq, too because until they can start spending that money, the people are not going to be living well and that breeds a lot of problems.

FOREMAN: And Ali, when you look at the amount of oil money that's moving right now, if you have a country that has as much oil as Iraq does, they ought to be getting rich.

ALI VELSHI, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Tom, I've got a lot of money. I need to borrow $100 from you because I can't get to the ATM and when I get to the ATM, sometimes it doesn't work and things like that. That's what the Iraqi government's problem is right now.

They've got that money coming in, as Jill's reported. The problem is there's no budgeting infrastructure in that country. No infrastructure to get the money spread around, particularly electronically. So the accounting is done by hand and there's a physical problem with these guys getting the money out. America would do well to invest some money in training the Iraqis specifically on budgeting, disbursements and making sure that the electricity works so that they can have a computerized distribution system and get that money out there as soon as possible.

They are growing that pile of money, which is quite remarkable. This is a country that's putting out more than 2 million barrels of oil a day, not where it was in 1980 but it's getting up there and with oil prices at $110 and more a barrel, Iraq can start sustain itself if it can get it done.

FOREMAN: Ali, this could become a very wealthy country.

VELSHI: Absolutely it could. They've got the one thing everybody needs in the world. If you are an oil-rich country today, the world is your oyster and no one thinks oil is going down substantially from where it is. It might go to $80 a barrel. But a country that has got that much oil can do very, very well.

There is something to be said, I mean, I don't think our viewers can understand that there's a country that can't spend its own money because we all are so familiar with countries that spend too much of their own money.

Iraq has just got to figure out they have got to have a system. It's mired in bureaucracy. Jill was been talking about this -- she's been talking about this a lot. They're mired in bureaucracy and they can't seem to get around this to spend this money.

FOREMAN: Well, certainly our lawmakers here were furious over this this week during the hearings. Listen to an exchange between Ambassador Crocker and Susan Collins over this very issue.


RYAN CROCKER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: The era of U.S.-funded major infrastructure projects is over.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: You mentioned that the era of our paying for major reconstruction is over. But we're continuing to pay the salaries of the Sons of Iraq in many cases. We're continuing to pay for the training and equipping of Iraqi forces. I'm told that we're even continuing to pay for fuel within Iraq.


FOREMAN: Jill, when you talk to Americans who are there, do they see this on the ground every day? Are they outraged by this? What do they think?

DOUGHERTY: Well, you know, it's something that a lot of people really haven't been paying attention to up until now. So the outrage, I would say a lot of the people here are on a mission. They're either in the military or in business, something like that. So they're not really outraged. It would have to be, I think, more a domestic concern. But the numbers really are large. We're looking -- Ali was talking about how much they're making. You know that they're pumping and exporting more oil than at any time in past five years. And some of the estimates are that this year alone, they could have $60 billion coming in.

But don't forget that people who are running the government now are a lot of people who don't know how to run the government, specifically in those technical ways of getting the money out. So that is one of the problems.

FOREMAN: Ali, you have to be asking the question, though, in the middle of all this; that it's awfully convenient to say, we can't get we can't get the system to work, we can't take care of this so we'll just keep the money close. Doesn't that just open the door for more fraud and problems?

VELSHI: This is a fantastic opportunity for the United States that has been involved in so much of the decision-making. Part of it is that we have to switch from a paternalistic position. We can't -- if the Iraqis are going to handle their budget, they're going to have to learn to do it. Maybe we need to bring the right number of people over to schools here and train them in that very quickly. Or we need to set up an infrastructure for them to distribute their own money because that is awfully convenient.

As Jill has pointed out, we have ramped up to a point where there's more oil coming out of there than there has been in five years. It wasn't that way two years ago. So you can understand that until then, the Iraqis couldn't take responsibility.

But this is a centralized economy where Saddam Hussein and the people around him made all the decisions. There simply is not a class of people who have been brought up making decisions about how you budget, how you distribute money and how you actually get it there. We need to fix that problem as a priority. The sooner America can help fix that, the sooner America can start backing out of Iraq.

FOREMAN: And we won't be spending our money over there. You can bet your hat this is going to become a big deal out on the campaign trail. Ali, Jill, thanks for being here.

Still to come on "This Week in Politics," the mouse that roared -- a war in cyberspace that could alter this election with a click.

How Hillary Clinton's husband could hurt her chances again.

And speaking of marriage, that leads off our weekly political sideshow.


FOREMAN: What is going on in Arkansas? For the past few months, a male and female of any age there, say 3 or 4 years even, could have legally married. The problem was a new law that was supposed to keep anyone under 18 and not pregnant from tying the knot. But that law was written with an extra "not" in it. So what it actually did was approve marriage at any age. It's now been repealed and there have been no reports of grooms in onesies.

The muzzle awards are being handed out. The Thomas Jefferson Center for free expression picks a handful of dishonorees each year for muzzling free speech. Among the winners this year, the Scranton Police Department for filing criminal charges against a woman who cursed out her toilet when it overflowed.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, remember that fake press conference they staged?

And a Lifetime Achievement Award went to the Federal Communications Commission for its tireless efforts to limit communication.

Short on campaign cash? Give Stephen Colbert a call. U.S News and World Report says a study has found that campaign contributions skyrocket whenever a Democratic politician appears on "The Colbert Report." Of course, they do have to watch out for those trick questions.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": You said if you hadn't won the race for congress, you would have studied to become a mortician.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct, I would.

COLBERT: If you could embalm anyone in congress, who would it be? (END VIDEO TAPE)


FOREMAN: The most intense debate of this campaign does not involve the candidates, not directly. Rather, it's about millions of their followers. The goal - to get your candidate's version of the truth out and the battleground is that online user-edited dictionary called Wikipedia where the Wiki war is raging.

300 million times a day people click on Wikipedia for information about chameleons, catastrophes and presidential candidates. And that is where it gets tricky because for months, supporters of all three have been furiously changing Wikipedia entries to -- industries to make their choice look good and the opponents look bad.

Andrew Rasiej is studying the impact on this election.

ANDREW RASIEJ, FOUNDER, TECHPRESIDENT.COM: The people who are watching over those pages have to basically act as vigilantes to make sure that the information remains as unbiased as possible. It's a very difficult thing to do.

FOREMAN: It's a difficult thing in part because of the very nature of Wikipedia. It works like this. Users post information and cite their sources. Other users add to it or make changes and gradually everyone agrees on the facts; unless they don't. That's when super volunteers who have earned special privileges, editors like Dan Rosenthal, must step in.

This is something of an intellectual war.

DANIEL ROSENTHAL, WIKIPEDIA EDITOR: Yes, you could characterize it like that.

FOREMAN: Over and over users try to change Obama's page, for example, and make him a Muslim. He is not. They've tried to label Hillary Clinton a white supremacist. She is not. And they've accused John McCain of starting a huge fire on an aircraft carrier that took more than 100 lives. He barely escaped with his life in that incident, but he did not cause it.

But some in the Wiki war will try relentlessly to get a false fact to stick.

ROSENTAL: They bring it up time and again.

FOREMAN: Even though it's not true.

ROSENTHAL: Even though it's not true. They want it in the article. It's important for people who consume all this information online to remember to check the source and make sure that the source is credible.

FOREMAN: Folks like Dan post warnings, sometimes they even have to lock the sites down. And with the worst offenders --

ROSENTHAL: We'll warn them first. And if they just absolutely persist and won't listen to reason, we'll revoke their editing privileges.

FOREMAN: Can you have them like deported?

ROSENTHAL: Deported - no. There's really no place to deport someone from the Internet.

FOREMAN: And truth be told, even in the midst of these Wiki wars, they would not want to because they say the overwhelming number of users are well-intentioned and changing politics for the better.

RASIEJ: We're going from top-down politics to bottom-up politics and the powers that control the future of our country are being realigned around a more participatory citizenry. And the Internet is facilitating that.

FOREMAN: Amid the lies and accusations, they see engaged voters doing something that is important in any campaign season.

ROSENTHAL: On the whole, they are helping us get to the truth.


FOREMAN: Our crack |CNN election team is hunting truth in the wild of Pennsylvania. The latest keys to the Keystone State in a moment. But luckily, in Philadelphia it is true politics goes well with the search for a great sandwich.


DAN FERRIOLO, ANAGER, DI BRUNO BROTHERS: Came up with two different sandwiches. Since Hillary's a New York senator, we did a big city pastrami, it's a classic New York favorite sandwich. And since Obama is from Illinois, we tried to do something that is inspired from Chicago. So we did a Barack bratwurst with chili.

Some of the campaign offices are actually in the next couple of blocks so they actually do stop by and they check the store every once in a while. And it seems like they'll call to the headquarters and six more people will come down and buy the other sandwich when the other one's winning. So that's -- it's a pretty close battle right now: 147 for Barack, 144 for Hillary. It's very close.

Hillary was up in the polls. After the weekend, Barack's made a surge in the sandwiches.



TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening everyone, I'm Tony Harris. Here's what's happening right now in the news.

Senator Barack Obama admits it was a poor choice of words. The fallout continues this hour over comments Obama made about America's bitter working class voters who, in his words, cling to guns or religion. Today, this clarification from the presidential hopeful.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So I said, well, you know, when you're bitter, you turn to what you can count on. So people, you know, they vote about guns, or they take comfort from their faith and their family and their community. And they get mad about illegal immigrants who are coming over to this country. Or they get frustrated about how things are changing. That's a natural response. And now, I didn't say it as well as I should have.


HARRIS: Presidential rival, Senator Hillary Clinton, calls Obama's remarks elitist and out of touch.

New developments in the Texas polygamy case tonight. Texas Rangers met with but did not arrest the man suspected of sexually abusing a teenage girl at a Texas polygamous ranch. His name is Dale Evans Barlow.

Barlow's attorney confirmed the meeting and that his client was not arrested. Barlow pleaded no contest in 2007 on charges of conspiracy to have sex with a minor. He was sentenced to 45 days in jail and placed on three years' probation.

And those are the headlines this hour. I'm Tony Harris. Now, back to "THIS WEEK IN POLITICS" and Tom Foreman.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: In the 1955 hit musical "Plain and Fancy," there was a song that went "Pennsylvania, where anything grows."


MUSIC: Plenty of Pennsylvania, no pastures green, the likes of plenty of Pennsylvania where anything grows.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Anything grows but Hillary Clinton's once invincible lead over Barack Obama.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is me in Scranton where my father was raised and my grandfather worked in the waste mill.


FOREMAN: Clinton is touting family background and her Pennsylvania roots, but something a world away from Scranton could be what takes her out -- a free trade treaty with Colombia.

CLINTON: No trade deal with Colombia while violence against trade unionists continues.

FOREMAN: She opposed it but a top campaign adviser's PR company was working for it. He's been demoted.


FOREMAN: It's harder, however, to get rid of this adviser. The former president, her husband, was paid $800,000 to make speeches in Latin America, money from a company widely reported to support the agreement. The campaign says there is no connection and anyway, free trade is not something the Clintons agree on.

H. CLINTON: I have a long record of being on a different attitude toward trade than my husband does.


FOREMAN: So will Pennsylvania be the final ending of this endless Democratic primary? Dick Polman, political columnist of the "Philadelphia Inquirer" joins us from the City of Brotherly Love. And Charlie Mahtesian, "Politico"'s national politics editor from their Virginia headquarters.

Let me start off with you, Dick. Hillary Clinton has tried very hard to appeal to the working class people there as she did in Ohio, and say NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, was a bad thing for you, let me fix it. Is it working?

DICK POLMAN, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, "PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER": I don't think it's particularly working. I mean, first of all, she's bashing NAFTA. Barack Obama's bashing NAFTA. So neither of them really are getting any -- there's no real difference there and I think some of the things that you just mentioned in the broadcast are probably going to potentially undercut it.

I mean, the fact is, Bill Clinton didn't just make speeches in Latin America for $800,000. He signed NAFTA and she is saying, well, you know, I have a different attitude about NAFTA, and she has tried to indicate that she's made -- had objections behind closed doors in the White House during the '90s. But as we also know, when she's been asked in the past, you know, to detail her conversations with her husband on policy in the White House, she says her conversations are confidential.

And I think in terms of Mark Penn, you know, Mark Penn, her chief strategist who was doing this deal with Colombia, you know, they've known for a long time that Mark Penn's has been wearing this other hat as head of Bursten-Marsteller. And ever since last year -- they could have indicated a year ago that they wanted him to reduce (ph) himself.

FOREMAN: Well, let's explore that business of NAFTA a little bit more. Let's look at the positions they have here, Charlie, and I want your reaction.

Hillary Clinton has said this about NAFTA. She supported NAFTA while first lady, but now she believes it should be changed. She would end the tax breaks that exist in the tax code for outsourcing jobs, and she wants trade agreements that are enforceable with labor and environmental standards we can enforce.

Barack Obama would immediately call leaders of Mexico and Canada to try to amend NAFTA. He would eliminate tax breaks for companies that are moving overseas, and he supports government assistance to communities "burdened by globalization." Charlie, does an average voter make any sense out of that or see any real difference between the two of them?

CHARLIE MAHTESIAN, "POLITICO": Well, I think there's a couple of things to keep in mind here, Tom. First of all, yes, I think the average voter notes that there are some inconsistencies in the positions of both candidates. But it's important to remember that Pennsylvania is a very different state than Ohio and NAFTA is not going to resonate in the same way that it did in Ohio. Job growth in Pennsylvania while not, you know, incredibly strong there, you know, they're not pulling out the doors in Pennsylvania. But it is better than in Ohio and better by a decent clip.

And you have to remember, Pennsylvania rebounded a lot better than Ohio did in many ways. It has a thriving, you know, southeastern Pennsylvania economic base there with a very diversified economy. And Ohio doesn't have that same kind of thriving economy in its big metropolitan areas. And so, there are vast differences between the two. The animosity towards NAFTA that exist in Ohio is just not there in Pennsylvania.

FOREMAN: Well, Dick --

MAHTESIAN: Trade matters but not to the degree as in Ohio.

FOREMAN: Dick, let me get you another part of this picture then. One of the things that Hillary Clinton has been selling is this notion of, I'm a person like you. I understand the world like you do. Does it hurt her that they've had these tax returns come out recently showing the Clintons made more than $100 million, this picture of them being big high-money rollers which certainly doesn't work in her favor.

Meanwhile, Obama is out there drinking beers and saying, you know what, I'm a guy like you. I was raised by a single mom. Is that going to resonate?

POLMAN: Right. Well, I mean, I think that's the problem that she has is that all these stories that they come out as you've just referenced, you know, threatens and sort of paint her as just part of the democratic establishment. And, you know, it lends itself to a short hand that can hurt her, which is basically how well they've cashed in since his presidency and that creates that distance.

Now, having said that, and Obama is doing I suppose what he has to do to at least get known in Pennsylvania, where they don't like the unfamiliar. They like politicians who they've known for a while. So by going out and drinking beers and doing that, he's doing what he needs to do as initial spadework. But I think what may actually help her frankly is that, to some extent, is the familiarity.

I mean, we can't get forget, she's not going to draw blue collar votes because of NAFTA or because of these other ways of saying that I'm just like you. She would draw a lot of blue collar votes because the Clinton brand is somewhat familiar, and she does have some childhood and family links.


FOREMAN: Right. And Dick, there are -- there are people clearly look back on the Clinton years, and they say those were good years.

POLMAN: Absolutely.

FOREMAN: They would like to revisit that.

POLMAN: Yes, absolutely. I mean, look, he did -- they made a lot of trips. They don't expect necessarily that politicians are going to be just like them in the sense that, you know, they're going to be, you know, struggling for every dollar like the average person. I mean, we've had rich politicians in the past that have been very popular.

FOREMAN: I have to jump back to Charlie and give him the last 10 cents on this whole thing.


FOREMAN: Very quickly here, Charlie, really Obama has been coming on. In the end, you look at this long break between the last contest and this one, did it help him or her more? MAHTESIAN: Well, it helps him because, you know, as we've seen from him in the past, he's a closer. He does very well. The more time he has, the more time he has to familiarize himself with voters. He can close a gap as he did in a place like Texas or Ohio. And to have this six-week period here, he's clearly done well. But having said that, we've reached some equilibrium with the numbers and they're not changing beyond a small Clinton lead.

FOREMAN: And we've reached the point where we're out of time. Dick and Charlie, thanks much for being here.

Still ahead, the world's coolest cops take on the torch. Our top five moments in the Olympic flames.

And keeping faith in politics with the devil in the details. But right now, our favorite pics of this week in viral videos for politicos.


MUSIC: I will be there.


FOREMAN: Enough with girls dancing for Barack Obama. Venetian Princess's sympathy song for Hillary Clinton hit number one on YouTube.


MUSIC: With this friendship bracelet, our friendship will never end. So Hillary, won't you be my best friend.


FOREMAN: We are still trying to figure out if these guys are for or against Obama.


MUSIC: Barack Obama, is how you say his name. He used to look good to me but now I find him, Barack Obama-sistible.

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


FOREMAN: And finally, a video that strikes pretty close to home. has squashed Wolf Blitzer and Monday's entire "SITUATION ROOM" down to a single minute.


BLITZER: And joining us now, Jesse Ventura.

JESSE VENTURA, FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: Minnesota Ralph Nader, chicken hawk. Minnesota, the two-party dictatorship. Minnesota, the libertarian, the Green Party.

BLITZER: Thanks for coming in.


FOREMAN: And we, too, will be back in a flash.



FOREMAN (on camera): Do you think that the religious beliefs of candidates should matter?


FOREMAN: In what way?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it speaks to the core of their belief system.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't believe it does. It doesn't have anything to do with their politics necessarily.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, all religions teach good things to people. So I think that all candidates are good and their religion would not matter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think everyone has their own belief and that's fine. It's what makes America America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's important that a candidate has some form of religion, some faith, something they believe in. But I don't think it should be a leading fact on the decision they make.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do care what they believe because I do think religion matters. You know, what they're religion is. You know, what if they worship the devil? You know, don't you think that matters if they're running the country.

FOREMAN: I don't think that it puts that on the campaign poster.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, but I mean, I think it would matter, you know.


FOREMAN: At 10:00 Eastern time tonight, CNN's John King will host a special coverage of "Faith and Politics." And on Sunday night, CNN is presenting "The Compassion Forum," a probing discussion of moral issues with both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Pew studies the subject as closely. "The Washington Post" reporter Sally Quinn, who along Newsweek editor Jon Meacham moderates an online forum called "On Faith" at It is a busy site, Sally. You're kept very busy because voters are still very interested in faith and politics, even if the campaigns aren't talking about it that much.

SALLY QUINN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, and they should be interested in it because religion is about everything. If you care about foreign policy, then you have to know about religion. If you care about national politics, you have to know about religion. If you care about immigration or the environment or stem cell research or gay marriage or abortion, it touches everything in our culture, not only in this country but around the world. And so, to not understand about religion is to be deficient.

FOREMAN: Only one of these candidates was really sort of preaching from the pulpit at this point and that was Barack Obama. Then he got burned by his association with his pastor. Now, when you look at the field of these three, do you think they want to talk about religion now or do they think because it's about everything, they'd just as soon keep it on the shelf.

QUINN: Well, Barack Obama gave a speech two years ago to the Sojourners Convention, which was an extraordinary speech in which he outlined his own faith, but also talked about how he believed in pluralism. When the Jeremiah Wright story broke, we only saw a few little sound bites, 30-second sound bites of this man out of 36 years of his career. And some of the things he said sounded appalling to particularly white people who had never been into a black church.

But the fact is, that if you look at John McCain's supporters, Hagee, who talks about the Catholic church as being a cult of devil worshippers, Rod Parsley who talks about the purpose of America is to destroy Islam. John McCain himself who said he would not be comfortable with a Muslim president. Jerry Falwell --

FOREMAN: We're losing (INAUDIBLE) on nearly as long.

QUINN: Pat Robertson -- I mean, people who are talking about lesbians and witches taking over the feminism and the country. There are a lot of very strange attitudes out there. And I think that it's interesting Hillary Clinton has stayed away from religion because I think that she sees that it's a dangerous --

FOREMAN: And yet, she's paid something of a price because some people have looked at her and said, if you believe something, speak up. She said, I wasn't raised that way. We don't talk that much about it. And yet, she paid something of a price with the faith community.

QUINN: Although she did talk about it in the Clinton administration, she talked about her faith a great deal, and I've been surprised that she had shied away from it. But I think she's seen what happened with Obama. And I can't believe that if he's the nominee that McCain will go after him on the Wright thing because McCain is so vulnerable himself on this issue.

But I also think that you have to -- you really have to be very careful when you're talking about religion and you have to seem authentic. And it matters because in order to be elected, you can't be an atheist obviously in this country. You have to have a religion. But you also have to be pluralistic because you have to welcome everyone's religion.

I think Hillary got in a little trouble when she was asked if Obama was Muslim and she said something to the effect of not that I know of, or not that I'm aware of --


FOREMAN: Right. Exactly. It seemed very --

QUINN: ... which she would not have said if someone said is McCain a Muslim, or is George Bush a Muslim. She knows perfectly well that Obama is not.

FOREMAN: What do you think --

QUINN: But there is a prejudice against Islam, as McCain will testify.

FOREMAN: How much do you think then, though, that the overall values vote will matter this time?

QUINN: Well, I think there are two different issues here, religious values and regular values. You can talk --

FOREMAN: But they're tricky because they're often intertwined?

QUINN: They are often intertwined but often not. I mean, if you look at some of the great -- some of the religious leaders, Jimmy Swaggart, for instance, who had "religious values" but didn't have personal values, there is a huge distinction there. And I think that when you look at the candidates, you have to separate out whether their values are religious or whether they're personal, and whether they live their faith by their values.

FOREMAN: It will be interesting to see how it plays out in the elections. It's an important task. We'll keep in touch with you, Sally.


FOREMAN: Thanks for coming and joining us here.

And once again, on Sunday night, don't miss the "Compassion Forum". Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama face the hard questions on faith and politics. Campbell Brown leads the CNN special event Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Don't go anywhere. "Fast Track," all you need to survive next week at the water cooler, is coming right up.


FOREMAN: It's time for "Fast Track." Everything you need to get through the "Next Week in Politics." And who better to guide us than CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider who joins us now. Look, tax day is upon us. What will that mean to voters?

BILL SCHNEIDER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the voters are expecting those rebates, but they don't think that that's big a deal. But they will take the money. They plan on using the money to pay off debts, not to spend it. So it won't mean that much economically either.

FOREMAN: The Pope is coming to town. Always big news. People excited about it. Will it resonate within the campaign this time?

SCHNEIDER: Religion was a very big deal in 2004. John Kerry's Catholism was an issue mostly to the Catholic church. This year I don't think religion will be that big a deal. McCain doesn't run on social issues, and the Democrats have been going out of their way to prove their credentials to Americans of faith.

FOREMAN: Summer vacation is coming up on, and you're headed off to Puerto Rico. What's that all the about?

SCHNEIDER: Well, Puerto Rican primary, June the 1st. Who knew there is one? They can't vote for president, but they can vote for presidential nominees. They got 55 pledged delegates to the Democratic Convention. That's more than 34 other states and territories. So believe me, it will be an important primary. Both candidates may go there. But you know what, neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton speaks Spanish.

FOREMAN: Gracias Senor Bill. We appreciate you stopping by.

In a moment, we will turn up the torch. But right now, let's turn down the lights for our "Late Night Laughs."


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO: John Edwards announced this week he will not accept the nomination for vice president. That's what he said. He will not accept the vice presidential nomination, to which a cashier at Wendy's said, you want to frosty with this?

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN: Last night in New York City, Elton John held a big fund-raiser for Senator Hillary Clinton. Yes, it was big, yes. Things got off to an awkward start when Hillary and Elton showed up wearing the same pantsuit.

LENO: While Barack Obama was in North Dakota, he was greeted by what they're calling the largest crowd, the largest crowd ever to see a political candidate in North Dakota. Over 17 people.


FOREMAN: Police and protesters this week took part in the first event of the Olympics, a transcontinental game of cat and mouse, as the Olympic flame headed for the controversial Beijing Olympic Games. And here are our top five moments.

First, right after the ceremonial lighting of the flame in Greece, protesters crashed the speeches. In London, we saw creative use of a fire extinguisher and a fight for the torch that looked a little bit more like a rugby scrum in the end.

Protesters in San Francisco ups the ante, way, way up. The mayor responded creatively by changing the route avoiding protesters and supporters alike.

But the best moment, number one, French policemen on rollerblades swooshing the flame through the streets of Paris. Ah, the French.

That's it for THIS WEEK IN POLITICS. Until next week, we'll carry the torch for you.