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How Are Wounded Veterans of Earlier Wars Being Treated?; Schwarzenegger Versus Limbaugh
Aired March 21, 2007 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening right now, allegations of filthy facilities, bed sores and a rising number of deaths.
Are aging American veterans of earlier wars being treated like the wounded from Iraq?
We're going to get a firsthand look.
Democrats moving closer to ordering White House aides also to testify about the firing of those federal attorneys.
But are they just cooking up a scandal?
We'll speak about it with Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer.
And it's round two between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rush Limbaugh -- they take their war of words to the air waves today. We'll tell you what they both had to say.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But first this, there are new developments this -- today -- in the scandal over military care facilities here in the United States. This time, reports of deplorable conditions at a military retirement home right here in the nation's capital. And they come just weeks after revelations of similar problems at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center here in Washington, a scandal that cost some top U.S. military commanders their jobs.
CNN's Brian Todd is standing by live with the latest.
What are the specific allegations in that complex behind you here in Washington right now -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, they -- these allegations came in this letter from the GAO to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. This letter from the GAO's comptroller general from two days ago to Mr. Gates cites health care professionals who have worked at this facility as saying that there is a rising number of deaths here at the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Among the other charges, that residents admitted to Walter Reed with the most serious types of pressure sores were -- were observed in one admission with maggots in the wound. Another of these observations by health care professionals who have worked here, observations of blood, urine and feces spattered rooms in the living quarters among residents who live alone.
Now, we came here today. We were met by the chief operating officer of this facility, Timothy Cox. He took us on a tour of this place.
But essentially the bottom line was he ratified these charges emphatically, point by point.
Here's what he had to say about the overall charges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIMOTHY COX, COO, ARMED FORCES RETIREMENT HOME: We have done everything that we can to provide very good quality care with realizing that we're stewards of our trust fund, on which we've run off of. So we make sure we spend that money wisely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Mr. Cox took us on a tour of the facilities. He did show us, really, only the pristine areas of this facility, rooms where people were getting very good attended care.
And we asked him if we could go to some of these living quarters on our own, unescorted. He said because these are private living areas, we could not go unescorted. So that's the way we left it with him, Wolf.
But we'll be looking a lot more into this later on today at 7:00 and in the next coming -- in the coming days.
BLITZER: What is the Pentagon saying about all of this, Brian?
TODD: Well, the Defense Department actually had an official here while were here a short time ago. He said that they have started looking into these accusations, as of yesterday. He said they had a four person team on the ground here today and that they will be investigating it.
Clearly, they don't want another Walter Reed scandal on their hands.
BLITZER: We'll watch it with you.
A lot more coming up in our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour.
President Bush may now be on a collision course with Congressional Democrats. They've moved a step closer to ordering White House aides also to testify about the firing of those federal attorneys.
Let's go to our Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash -- Dana, what are the Democrats doing right now?
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're essentially saying that the White House is -- that if the White House really is sending this offer to them and saying it is their final offer, Democrats are saying no deal. And what they did today is they took a step in this high stakes game of chicken to prove they mean it.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
BASH (voice-over): Hours after the president warned them not to do it, House Democrats defied him and authorized subpoenas for Karl Rove and other top White House aides also.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it.
BASH: Democrats flat out rejected the White House proposal for baas to talk to lawmakers in private with no oath and no transcript. But the House Judiciary chairman promised not to issue the subpoenas unless he has to. He called it leverage -- a backup plan.
REP. JOHN CONYERS (D), MICHIGAN: To hold these subpoenas in abeyance and hope that we will continue the discussions. So far, the discussions have been very disappointing.
REP. LINDA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: We must prepare for the possibility that the Justice Department and the White House will continue to hide the truth.
BASH: Republicans opposed authorizing subpoenas now, saying it was premature and political.
REP. CHRIS CANNON (R), UTAH: The only purpose of subpoenas issued to the White House now is to fan the flames of -- and photo-ops of partisan controversy for partisan gain.
BASH: But in the Senate, some of the president's fellow Republicans are siding with Democrats. They, too, have complaints about the White House's take it or leave it offer.
John Conyers, a staunch Bush ally, tells CNN: "I'm a little bit dubious about an interview behind closed doors. If there is going to be information provided, it best be provided in public."
The Senate Judiciary Committee's top Republican agrees, and says he's worried having no transcript or formal record could create conflicting accounts of what Rove and others say.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: It would be very helpful to have a transcript. My own preference would be to have it open so that people see what -- what is going on.
There is a tremendous amount of public interest. (END VIDEO TAPE)
BASH: Now, what Specter also said is that if this does get stuck in the courts, it could be there for at least two years. That's why he is arguing for Democrats and the White House that it is in everybody's interests to really come back to the table and try to figure out a way to get through this, beyond the courts.
He also said that he is going to send a letter, along with the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to the White House.
So, Wolf, the White House is saying this is our final offer, but they may be getting a bipartisan counter-proposal very soon.
BLITZER: You're suggesting the White House could have some serious problems with fellow Republicans on the Hill?
BASH: Well, something that surprised us that we picked up today, Wolf, in talking to Senate Republicans, they had a -- they huddled in a closed door meeting earlier today -- Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, trying to figure out what's going to happen tomorrow. Because in the Senate Judiciary Committee, they're going to have the same vote, on whether to authorize subpoenas.
And we're told by several senators coming out, they didn't have consensus. And what does seem to be coming out from some Republicans is that they're uncomfortable with this idea of not having public testimony because they say look, it is better for everything that goes on in government to come out and be in the public sphere.
So, there is some -- a little bit of uncomfortableness, if you will, by some Republicans on that issue.
BLITZER: All right, Dana...
BASH: We'll see how it plays out in terms of votes, though.
BLITZER: You'll keep us informed.
Dana is on the Hill.
They can talk, but they can't testify, certainly not under oath. The White House is sticking to its guns about what kind of access Congress will get to administration officials.
Listen to this exchange between our White House correspondent, Ed Henry, and the White House press secretary, Tony Snow.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These are not actually interviews. That's your word. The senators, like Senator Leahy, say they want testimony. Testimony, there is a transcript. This is not an interview.
You want it to be an interview, but it's up to the Congress. They're the ones investigating. And they say they want testimony...
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, no this is...
HENRY: ... not interviews.
SNOW: Ed, what we're doing is we're trying to be accommodating to Congress by offering them extraordinary insight into a deliberative process. You also know that everybody who goes there -- the president expects everybody who talks to Congress to tell the truth and so does the law. And they know that it would be illegal not to tell them the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The White House press secretary says Congress must ask itself whether it's trying to create a political spectacle.
Let's go back to Jack Cafferty for The Cafferty File -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you're not under oath, how does anybody know if you're telling the truth?
BLITZER: And if there's no transcript...
BLITZER: ... if you're lying, how do you prove that you lied?
CAFFERTY: Somebody in an earlier e-mail on the last hour's question asked if this was the Politburo that we're dealing with here.
On to another topic.
The planet is headed for disaster if Congress doesn't do something about global warming. So says Al Gore, who testified on Capitol Hill today.
It was the former vice president's first trip to the Hill since January of 2001.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This problem is burning a hole at the top of the world in the ice cover that is one of the principal ways our planet cools itself.
If it goes, it won't come back on any time scale relevant to the human species. We do not have time to play around with this. We do not have the luxury of making it a political football and exercising politics as usual.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAFFERTY: That was about as electric as it got there today.
Gore asked members of Congress to adopt an immediate freeze on greenhouse gasses. He advised them to cut carbon dioxide and other warming gasses 90 percent by 2050.
He also pushed for tougher fuel economy standards, he tried to say, for cars and trucks.
So here's the question -- Al Gore says global warming is going to destroy the planet.
What are you personally doing about it?
E-mail your thoughts on that to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile.
What are you doing about global warming there, Mr. Blitzer?
BLITZER: I'm trying to avoid it. I'm trying to...
CAFFERTY: There you go.
BLITZER: I'm trying to save the Earth.
CAFFERTY: Well, and good for you.
BLITZER: Thank you, Jack.
BLITZER: Up ahead, military aircraft in Iraq now facing a dangerous new threat.
Is the Pentagon ready with a plan to combat it?
Also, lost in translation -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tries to explain the gaffe that stunned Cuban Americans.
Plus, more on the constitutional showdown between Congress and President Bush. The ball now in the Senate's court. I'll talk about what comes next. Senate Judiciary Committee member Chuck Schumer is standing by live.
Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Helping to lead the charge over the federal attorney firings is Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.
But he's also taking some heat.
Chuck Schumer chairs a committee which tries to help get more Democrats elected to the Senate.
Is he cooking up a scandal for political purposes?
That's the charge being leveled against him by Republicans.
Senator Schumer is joining us from Capitol Hill. Let's get to that in a moment.
But let's talk about the news of the day first.
The White House says flatly you can take it or leave it. If you subpoena White House officials, their offer to cooperate is over.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Yes?
Oh, sorry, Wolf.
I thought you were doing a cover-over.
BLITZER: No, no, no. No.
BLITZER: The question is...
SCHUMER: Yes, here's the bottom line...
BLITZER: The question is they say they're going to withdrew their offer to...
SCHUMER: Yes, yes, yes. OK.
BLITZER: ... cooperate if you issue subpoenas.
SCHUMER: Yes. The bottom line is this. To paraphrase "The Godfather," they have made us an offer we can't accept. It's not simply the subpoenas that they're -- they want. They want no oath, no transcript, nothing in public.
And Jack Cafferty summed it up well -- how do you know if someone is telling the truth?
Now, we've had the White House and the Justice Department say oh, we didn't say it right this time and we didn't say it right that time. With no transcript and no oath and hearings, conversation, as they call it, in the dark of night, we're never going to get to the bottom of this.
So the president says he wants to get to the truth.
Well, then what's wrong with an oath and what's wrong with transcripts?
BLITZER: The president's basically saying you want a show trial.
SCHUMER: Absolutely not. We just want to get to the bottom of it. And we can -- if they want to set some parameters on how these hearings ought to go, I think we'd welcome that.
But certainly let them show their good faith by saying we're willing to do transcript and oath even if it's in private.
BLITZER: Well, so far they're saying that's not going to happen.
What do you do next, if they say absolutely, positively no?
And yesterday the president said he's willing to go to the mat on this.
SCHUMER: Well, presidents usually do. But remember, there's tremendous pressure on them. Many Republican senators, congressmen and leaders have been very upset with what's happening. The public is overwhelmingly on our side. And that may be their starting position.
I hope it's not their final position, because it's an untenable position. And I think just about all the commentators and editorials except those on the hard right think that the White House has not given us a very fair offer.
BLITZER: The House...
SCHUMER: We want a fair offer.
BLITZER: The House Judiciary Committee today said they're going to go ahead with a subpoena. They haven't done it yet. Your committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, I take it, is supposed to act tomorrow.
What's going to be -- what's going to be the decision?
SCHUMER: Yes, well, both houses are going to authorize the use of subpoenas, but not issue them. And I think the White House has said that it's the issuing of the subpoenas that they hoped wouldn't happen.
So I would hope we can negotiate. I would hope that we could come to a fair agreement. Our goal -- get out the facts, get to the bottom of it.
But let me just give you two examples of what they are trying to prohibit.
First, they want no transcript and no oath. So Karl Rove says black and somebody else says white. There is no way to prove the truth. There's no way even to prove what he said, except by people's recollections, which often differ. That's why we have transcripts in just about any -- even the most minor legal proceeding.
Let me give you another one. They don't want to give us any documents that are internal in the White House. So let's just say -- and this is hypothetical -- that Karl Rove said to Harriet Miers we have to get rid of Prosecutor Lamb because she's working on a political case that makes us uncomfortable. But come up with an excuse.
And then Miers comes up with the excuse of immigration, sends an e-mail out to the Justice Department, oh, we're getting rid of Lamb because of immigration. Well, we would get the second e-mail, but not the first one.
BLITZER: Well, is there an underlying crime here that you -- you're suspicious of?
SCHUMER: Well, I don't know if it's a crime. What has happened -- and it's happened already -- there is so much out there about the politicization of the U.S. attorneys that that strikes a severe blow. Remember, Wolf, people -- we need people in America to believe, as they always have, that the law is issued without fear or favor, that we're not some Third World country where some person can shift the law for his or her own political or economic gain.
And when U.S. attorneys believe that they were fired because they wouldn't prosecute a case that would benefit the White House or that they would prosecute a case that would hurt the White House, we have a serious problem.
So whether it's a crime or not -- and it's too early to tell because we don't have the evidence -- it's certainly done some real damage to the view rule of law without fear or favor.
BLITZER: You're being slammed by some Republicans, including Arlen Specter, who was here in THE SITUATION ROOM on Monday; Senator John Cornyn of Texas, another member of the Judiciary Committee; that you have a partisan stake. You're the chairman of the committee that's trying to get Democrats elected to the Senate, and that you're no objective observer. You're trying to politicize this.
What do you say to those Republican...
BLITZER: ... colleagues who want you to give up your political hat if you want to be serious about investigating...
BLITZER: ... this judicial matter?
SCHUMER: Well, every one of us wears both a political hat and a substantive hat. When you run for office, you do, etc.
But let me make three points here.
First, our investigation is totally focused on the executive branch -- the Justice Department and the White House. And so we have nothing to do with any wrongdoing of legislators, senators or congressmen, and that's up to the Ethics Committee.
So there's no conflict whatsoever because we're focused on the executive branch.
Second, when names of legislators -- congressmen, senators -- were brought up, it wasn't by me or any other Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. It was brought up by the U.S. attorneys. So the idea that we're doing this to go after them, we didn't -- when I started this investigation, under Senator Leahy's leadership, we didn't know where it would lead. We didn't know anybody else would be involved.
And third and finally, the M.O. of the White House and their allies, not just in this investigation, but in every other, is when they get bad news, when they get things they don't like, they start calling names at the bearer of the bad news instead of solving the problem.
So I would ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle -- stop the name calling. It's not going to deter us or divert us. This is too important. But, rather, join us so we can get to the bottom of this in a fair and non-partisan way.
BLITZER: Senator Schumer, we've got to leave it there.
Thanks very much for coming in.
SCHUMER: Thank you, Wolf.
SCHUMER: Nice to talk to you.
BLITZER: Chuck Schumer of New York.
Coming up, a horrifying new twist to those bombings in Iraq. Insurgents now using children to get past U.S. forces.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an evidence that the checkpoints are becoming more effective, but it's just an absolutely despicable tactical change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So what can U.S. troops do?
My interview with Rear Admiral Mark Fox.
That's coming up. He's in Baghdad.
Plus, Arnold Schwarzenegger on the Rush Limbaugh story.
Are they calling a cease-fire in their war of words?
Rush hosted Arnold Schwarzenegger today on his radio show. We're going to update you on what emerged.
Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Let's go back to Carol Costello for a closer look at some other important stories making news -- Carol.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
Hello to all of you.
Tense protests in the streets of Pakistan's largest cities by thousands of lawyers. They're angry over the suspension of the country's top judge by President Pervez Musharraf, the man who appointed him in the first place. He accuses the chief justice of misusing his powers. The judge was at odds with the government in recent terror and human rights cases.
The West Virginia mine that was the scene of a deadly drama is shutting down for now. Twelve miners died after a methane gas explosion trapped them deep inside the Sago Mine in January of 2006. Now, the owners say they're temporarily idling the mine because of rising operation costs and weak coal prices. They say the decision is unrelated to the disaster.
The bottom line on Wall Street -- all three major indexes enjoying healthy gains. The Dow up more than 154 points. That is the biggest single day surge this year.
And the bottom line on interest rates -- they are not changing, at least for now. Federal Reserve policymakers have decided to leave the benchmark federal funds at 5 1/4 percent. That's rate that affects what you pay on your credit card, your home equity loans and other loans.
Back to you -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you, Carol.
We'll get back to you shortly.
Coming up, they've used roadside bombs to terrorize U.S. troops. Now Iraqi insurgents are using runway bombs to target coalition aircraft. We're going to show you the latest.
Plus, a Republican presidential candidate tries to explain why he quoted Fidel Castro on the campaign trail.
Are Cuban Americans buying his explanation?
Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, President Bush now scheduled to sit down with the heads of America's troubled big three automakers. The White House announcing a meeting next Monday. Mr. Bush postponed two similar meetings with the executives last year, before finally meeting with them after the election. Also, tough new talk from Iran's supreme leader. The ayatollah warning that his country will take what he called "illegal actions" if the United States -- if the United Nations continues to insist Iran stop enriching uranium. He didn't clarify what those actions are.
And an investigation underway right now into a deadly accident on a British nuclear submarine in the Arctic Ocean. Two sailors were killed, another injured, in an incident involving a piece of air purification equipment. Officials say the sub's nuclear reactor was not -- repeat, not -- affected.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Air power has given the United States and its allies a significant edge in Iraq.
But have the insurgents figured out a way to narrow the odds?
Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
Barbara, there seems to be a new insurgent tactic that is being used right now.
What's going on?
BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you and I have talked a lot about insurgent tactics over the last couple of days. But this is a new one.
A couple of weeks ago, a British C130 landed in southern Iraq, 30 people on board, sensitive communications gear. It landed at a dirt air strip.
There was an explosion upon landing. The British investigated and said they believe that their plane hit an IED upon landing at this remote air strip.
Wolf, that would be bad enough. But now there is a new development. After further investigation, by all accounts, this was a very preplanned, sophisticated attack. It now looks, our sources tell us, like the plane hit two strings, two daisy chains of IEDs that were planted in the dirt.
The plane was so badly damaged, Wolf, they had to call in an air strike to basically destroy it. After they took the people off the plane, they couldn't get in there to get the plane out. It sustained that much damage.
U.S. intelligence now looking at this strike very carefully -- Wolf.
BLITZER: A very worrisome development.
A few weeks ago, we were focusing a lot of attention on that rash -- those rash of helicopters that were going down. We haven't heard about a helicopter going down in a while now. What's going on?
STARR: Well, you know, you're right. It's been about a month since -- thank goodness -- since we saw a U.S. military helicopter go down in Iraq. There are some reasons.
U.S. military officials tell us they have adjusted some of their tactics and procedures. They've taken a hard look at some of those no fly zones, expanding the hostile areas that they don't fly over unless they have to. They are flying at night more. But there is another development, Wolf.
U.S. military sources telling us there was a key air strike a couple of weeks ago. They took out three trucks that they found with heavy machine guns on board and Iraqi insurgents manning them. Apparently, they had been rolling around the countryside going after U.S. helicopters. They have taken out that target. They now feel that that is a significant bit of progress against the people that were shooting at U.S. helicopters -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.
And we can also see some images of chaos and carnage. New ones. In fact, they are coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM every single day. But is this violence in Iraq about to get potentially, at least, even worse?
From poison bombs, releasing clouds of chlorine gas, to children being sent as decoys and then slaughtered, Iraq's insurgents may have found some deadly new weapons, and some horrific new tactics.
BLITZER: And joining us from Baghdad, Rear Admiral Mark Fox. He's the communications director for the multinational forces in Iraq.
Admiral, thank you for joining us.
A very worrisome development, the use of these children in these suicide car bombings. What can you tell us about this latest incident?
REAR ADM. MARK FOX, MULTINATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: Wolf, it's a reprehensible and barbaric tactic that's being used right now. It's trying to get through the checkpoints that the Iraqi security forces have established. It's in evidence that the checkpoints are becoming more effective, but it's just an absolutely despicable tactical change.
The strategy is the same though. They're trying to -- the terrorists are trying to raise the level of fear and sew terror amongst the Iraqi people.
BLITZER: What we've heard is that a couple of kids are in the back seat, the suicide bombers, they pull up. They then escape themselves, pull some trigger, some remote device, blow up the car, killing the kids. And from their perspective, killing other people nearby.
Is that what they are trying to do?
FOX: Well, it seems to me that what happened was, it was at a checkpoint -- you know, the effectiveness of the new checkpoints that the Iraqi security forces are using, I think this is evidence of that kind of working. They are changing the profile.
Typically you would expect a single person, a single male to be in a car that's going to -- you know, a car bomb. And so to put children in there is going to change their kind of profile.
But -- so it's a change in tactics. It's not unlike the things that we've seen where they have used chlorine tanks and then put them inside of a car bomb, as well. They are just trying to -- these crude attempts to try to raise the level of terror. This is a good example and a great contrast, I would say, between those who are trying to sew division and create terror within Iraq and those who are trying to unite the country and move forward.
BLITZER: And this is mostly the work, correct me if I'm wrong, of al Qaeda in Iraq? These are Sunnis going after Iraqi Shia. Is that right?
FOX: Well, yes, but we've also seen them going after -- in south of Falluja just last week, this -- one of those chlorine bombs was actually going in a -- it was in a Sunni part of the country. So, we actually see cases where al Qaeda was going after Sunnis, as well.
BLITZER: What's the latest information you have on the radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr?
FOX: The most recent information I have is he is still in Iran. Actually, though, you know, the people that we're dealing with here and the different factions, what we are doing is we're looking at the people who are interested in working in a future Iraq, in a political process, in a peaceful way. And if anyone will be reconciled and moved forward in a political process, I think they will be welcomed. Anybody who is irreconcilable will be targeted or will be dealt with the full force of the law.
BLITZER: A few weeks ago, when I interviewed General Odierno, one of your commanders, he said it's going to take at last six to nine months to see if this new strategy is working.
Is that still your estimate?
FOX: Yes, sir. I think that, you know, we're still in the very early stages of this thing, and not even half of the forces that have been identified to flow into -- into the country from the United States have arrived.
We have two of five brigades that are in country and a third one en route. And then the last flow of the forces will be here in the latter part of May, beginning of June time frame. So this will take months. It's not a days or weeks kind of evolution, but a months kind of effort.
BLITZER: Admiral Fox, thanks very much for joining us. Good luck.
FOX: Thanks very much, Wolf. I'm glad to be with you tonight.
BLITZER: And up ahead, a possible truce in their very public feud. Arnold Schwarzenegger going on Rush Limbaugh's radio show. We're going to have details of what was said.
And coming up in our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour, who is in charge in Cuba? Fidel Castro has been ailing for months, but is he still pulling the strings of the government in Havana?
Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: They still can't believe he said that. When Cuban- American Republicans heard presidential candidate Mitt Romney speak in Miami, many say they thought they were listening to Fidel Castro.
CNN's Mary Snow has this story.
Mary, what is this all about?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this stems back to a speech earlier this month. Romney was speaking to a packed House, but his attempt to sound familiar, say some Cuban-Americans, fell flat. The Romney camp says Romney was misunderstood.
SNOW (voice over): Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was trying to make an impression with Cuban-American Republicans in Miami earlier this month. He made one, just not the kind he wanted. After using a communist catch phrase made famous by Fidel Castro, the crowd took notice.
ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: The phrase is (SPEAKING IN SPANISH). In translation, it basically means, "Country or death, we shall prevail."
SNOW: Why did Romney use it? Romney's staff and supporters say Romney was trying to make the point that the phrase should belong to a free Cuba, not Fidel Castro, and his supporter, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
AL CARDENAS, FMR. FLORIDA REPUBLICAN CHAIRMAN: The theory was that these kind of phrases should be used by liberators, not by oppressors, and that both Castro and Chavez had been proven to be oppressors. And that was the context of the substance.
SNOW: But some Cuban-American Republicans say they were shocked and Romney's explanation fell flat.
NAVARRO: He was just parroting words that had been prepared for him, and he obviously does not know enough to know that these words are wrong, and are offensive, and are just inappropriate.
SNOW: Florida Republicans say Romney is not as well known among Cuban-Americans as other candidates, and leaving a good impression could lead to strong bonds, as Ronald Reagan found out in 1983.
RONALD REAGAN, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Cuba, si. Castro, no.
SNOW: But political observers say Cuban-American voters have grown in numbers and sophistication.
BETH REINHARD, "MIAMI HERALD" POLITICAL REPORTER: They want to see a little more. They want to hear more substance about, well, what do you want to do about the embargo? What are you going to do about travel? You know, just sort of yelling out some catch phrases is not going to cut it anymore.
SNOW: And political observers say there is fierce competition for Cuban-American votes and money -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Mary, thanks.
Politicians, by the way, who overlook the Latino community do so at their own peril. Check this out.
Census estimates put the Latino population of the United States at roughly 40 million. Forty million Hispanics, making this the nation's largest minority. About one in 10 U.S. residents -- that would be about 29 million -- speak Spanish at home. And the impact is felt in the voting booth as well.
Back in 2004, John Kerry got 53 percent of the Latino vote, compared to George W. Bush, with 44 percent. But last November, the gap was even wider. Our exit polls showed Democratic House candidates received 69 percent of the Latino vote. Republican candidates got only 30 percent of that vote.
Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, first came the mysterious video on YouTube portraying Hillary Rodham Clinton as big brother. Now another video attacks Barack Obama. Our Internet team has traced the source. They've got new information for you.
And Al Gore says global warming will destroy the planet. Jack Cafferty wants to know what you are doing about it.
Stick around. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Now a CNN exclusive. Military combat search and rescue units training for every possibility, including water rescues, even far from sea.
CNN's Alex Quade shows us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who would have thought when we left for the war that we'd be doing water rescues in the desert? But the PJs train for that stuff.
ALEX QUADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): PJs, or pararescuemen, like Mark (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do have dive missions going on in Iraq. Humvees into the canals. Helicopter crashes in the canals.
QUADE: At sea level, PJ Mark (ph) shows me how they handle a mass casualty situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rescue, rescue. Spider 71.
QUADE: From helicopters, the PJs drop bundles, boats (ph), assemble, then fast rope in. The scenario: 13 crewmen scattered in the water after their aircraft went down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good.
QUADE: They gather the survivors...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll pick up another guy, all right?
QUADE: ... triage them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're also -- you're checking to make sure that they're -- they're OK as far as physically, they are not injured, suffering from hypothermia.
QUADE: And, PJ Kyle (ph) says, hoist them out according to the severity of their injuries.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You might have to, you know, restrain them, just to keep them above the water. And as you can tell, when the wind is beating on you like that, it can get tough.
QUADE: Then, my turn, as a reporter embedded with a unit whose aircraft went down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We brought around the helicopter with two PJs on it, located her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One PJ out. Two PJs out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They come into a hover over -- over the top of us, so, then it gets real stormy. That's a hurricane there for you. QUADE: I'm gulping for air, but PJ Nate (ph) reassures.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes folks get a little bit combative in a situation like that. They get very desperate and they just start to fight you. So, you have to be careful of how you handle the survivor.
It helps, too, to tell them what's going to happen. You say, look, don't worry about it, it's going to suck a little bit, but I'll get you through it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger.
QUADE: PJ Kyle (ph) hoists me up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we're going up, I'm just making sure that you are inside the -- secure with the device, that you're not slipping out. Making sure that the hoist cable isn't getting wrapped around us. So I'm trying to make sure that that's not getting wrapped around anybody's neck.
The helicopters drift and it can get wrapped all around. And try to make sure that, you know, you're not going to hit your head on the underside of the aircraft.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's coming in.
QUADE: Their job doesn't end once we are in the helicopter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's just the beginning. Now we have to figure out if there is anything wrong with you. And if there is, then we've got to fix it. Or at least stabilize it.
QUADE: It isn't just a drill. The next time you see this...
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: We are just getting word in to CNN...
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Another Marine helicopter, a CH-46, made an emergency landing in a lake in Al Anbar Province.
QUADE: ... think of them.
Alex Quade, CNN, Key West.
BLITZER: A former pro-football player enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, and he's heading toward Iraq. He says he was inspired by the late Pat Tillman.
Jeremy Staat played for the Steelers and the Rams. He was also Tillman's college roommate. Tillman, as you'll remember, was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan back in 2004, after giving up a lucrative NFL contract in the wake of 9/11.
Lou Dobbs getting ready for his program that begins right at the top of the hour. Lou's standing by to tell us what he's working on -- Lou.
LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Wolf, thank you.
Coming up here at the top of the hour, we'll be reporting tonight on corporate America's aggressive campaign for wide open borders and amnesty for as many as 20 million illegal aliens in this country.
And Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, he went to Mexico. There to support Mexico's efforts to export its poverty to the United States. He's in full accordance.
We'll have that special report.
Also tonight, startling new testimony in the courtroom battle between the small town of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and the well-funded national illegal alien open borders lobby. Illegal aliens involved in almost a third of all drug and gang activity in that small town.
We'll have the story.
And the national crisis over drug abuse and alcohol abuse in our schools. Should there be random drug testing of all public school students?
We'll have a special report for you.
And Congressman Dana Rohrabacher is among our guests here tonight. He's demanding the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. And he accuses, this Republican, the Bush administration of what he calls a pattern of arrogance.
Please join us, 6:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.
Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: We'll see you in a few moments, Lou. Thank you.
It's the YouTube video making headlines worldwide: Hillary Clinton as big brother, attacked by a Barack Obama supporter. Now a new video attacking Senator Obama is hitting YouTube, drawing tens of thousands of viewers already.
And our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner, knows who is behind it -- Jacki.
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: I do, Wolf. His name is Seth Sonstein (ph), and he's an amateur filmmaker. He says that this is 100 percent parody and not at all politically motivated. But he flipped the script, and this video attacks Barack Obama.
It's gotten more than 250,000 views on YouTube so far. But the big mystery online is still, who created the original anti anti- Hillary video? Who is ParkRidge47, the anonymous creator?
There are some theories circulating online. One of them is that it is a professional political operative who is out to get Hillary. Another theory is that it's a Republican operative that is trying to cause discord between the top Democratic candidates.
And the evidence that supports this theory is a comment on a local conservative blog in Colorado. The comment has an anti- Democratic slant to it, and it was posted by somebody named ParkRidge 47. Of course, there's no way to tell if this is the same ParkRidge47 that's on YouTube, but we are looking into it.
Another theory says this is not a Republican at all. To support this, one blogger has posted an exchange that ParkRidge47 had on YouTube in which he attacks conservatives.
This is all still obviously a big unsolved mystery. We actually put in a note to ParkRidge47 ourselves on YouTube, but, Wolf, we haven't heard anything back yet.
BLITZER: And Hillary Clinton was born and raised in Park Ridge, Illinois, adding another intriguing little element there.
Thanks, Jacki, for that.
Barack Obama, by the way, denied on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE" his campaign has anything at all to do with that Web video.
Up next, Jack Cafferty wants to know, what are you personally doing about global warming? Jack standing by with "The Cafferty File."
And are Rush Limbaugh and Arnold Schwarzenegger ready to bury the hatchet? We're going to show you what happened today when the California governor went on Rush Limbaugh's radio show.
Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, Al Gore says global warming going to destroy the planet. We asked, what are you personally doing about that?
Stephanie in Las Osos, California, "My husband and I have become a one-car family. We keep our car's engine in good condition. We recycle, compost, reuse as much as possible, wear sweaters instead of turning up the heat. We have planted native, low-water plants in our yard and garden without pesticides."
"None of this is a big deal. We don't suffer or feel deprived by doing any of it, and I'm sure we could do more."
Chris writes, "Like every other American, I'm doing almost nothing. Human beings are stubborn. We won't act until we suffer some giant environmental disaster that kills millions. And by then, it will be far too late."
Steve in Maryland, "What am I doing about global warming? I'm attempting to educate as many people as possible about the greatest sham in the history of mankind. Closer scrutiny of the science, minus the absurd hyperbole, reveals a ridiculous non-issue. It's the sun, stupid."
Jim in Georgia, "Jack, I drive a hybrid car that gets about 65 miles to the gallon, and I have a solar-powered House. I'm open to additional ideas, if you have any."
Sean in Portland, Oregon, "We have replaced our light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, we walk, ride bikes and enjoy Portland's amazing public transit system. We also cut the grass with a push reel mower, no gas or oil, recycle all plastic, glass, metal, paper cardboard. We use a composter for all food scraps. Every little bit helps."
And Chris in New Port Richey, Florida, "What am I doing about it? The same thing I'm to doing about the ongoing alien abduction problem. Al Gore needs to take up shuffleboard or checkers. Leave the science to the scientists."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to cnn.com/caffertyfile. We post more of them online there, along with video clips of "The Cafferty File." So now apparently you can go there and watch me again if you want -- Wolf.
BLITZER: A lot of people will, Jack. Thanks very much.
See you back here in an hour.
New developments, by the way, in that very public war of words between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rush Limbaugh. The California governor was a guest today on the conservative radio talk show host's program. Did they call a truce?
CNN's Carol Costello is live in New York with more -- Carol.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, it's a beautiful thing -- Republican reaching out to conservative talk show guy. But instead of showing the love, the two actually showed the split in the Republican Party.
COSTELLO (voice over): Call it round two in the battle between Arnold and Rush. This time, gentle jabs were thrown on Limbaugh's radio show.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You probably get a little flustered. Every time you go on these shows, they throw my name up at you.
COSTELLO: Was Hollywood movie star, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, flustered? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rush Limbaugh is just one of many Republicans out there who are saying that you're not really a Republican. You are a Democrat pretending to be a Republican.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: All irrelevant.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Rush Limbaugh is irrelevant. I'm not his servant. I'm the people's servant of California.
COSTELLO: It was a shot aimed at Limbaugh's loaded term for Schwarzenegger, a "closet liberal". But if Schwarzenegger he was flustered that first time, he isn't now.
SCHWARZENEGGER: I pay very little attention if someone criticizes me, or calls me, you know, that I'm turning left, that I'm selling out, or whatever. I have to stay focused on results.
LIMBAUGH: Your compromise looks more like agreeing with liberals than maintaining your national conservative beliefs.
SCHWARZENEGGER: It's not selling out, it is just doing the work for the people. I can understand from where you are coming from, where you look at it, just the ideology of, maybe, you know, just more the conservative way, and I have always said during the time I was running, if I become governor, I will be the people's governor.
LIMBAUGH: I believe conservatism is the best way to provide the most opportunity of success for the vast majority of people. It's (ph) still accepted the premise of liberalism that minimum wage is somehow going to improve people's lot in life, and it doesn't.
SCHWARZENEGGER: I have had many, many, I would say hundreds, of hard-working people in California come up to me and say it did improve their lives.
COSTELLO: Some political observers say the conversation between these two very different Republicans is a beautiful metaphor for the state of the party.
LARRY SABATO, UVA CENTER FOR POLITICS: The Republicans are divided. They are polarized into two factions that can't agree even on the basics. And it's going to mean that it's much more difficult for Republicans to get elected to the presidency in 2008.
COSTELLO: By the time the conversation ended, both had promised to smoke a stogie together. But Limbaugh couldn't resist one last jab aimed at Schwarzenegger's famously Democratic wife.
LIMBAUGH: I also want to apologize to Governor Schwarzenegger. After this interview, I'm not sure Maria gets a word in edgewise in their house.
COSTELLO: And that is how the battle ends. For now.
COSTELLO: It's a beautiful thing, isn't it?
You could look at it like this: this is the year of the pragmatic conservative. Do you want to win or do you want to be right?
BLITZER: We had Governor Schwarzenegger here in THE SITUATION ROOM last week. We invited Rush Limbaugh to join us. We hope he will join us. We've interviewed him in the past. It's always a good interview. Our viewers like to watch that.
COSTELLO: Offer him a stogie. He'll probably come.
BLITZER: I'm not a big cigar smoker myself, but I know he likes to smoke a cigar from time to time.
COSTELLO: He does.
BLITZER: Good reporting as usual, Carol. Thank you very much.
And remember, we're here in THE SITUATION ROOM weekday afternoons from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern. We're back in one hour for another hour of important news, 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
Until then, thanks for joining us.
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