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Elizabeth Edwards's Cancer is back; Senate Panel has Approved Subpoenas in the Probe over Fired U.S. Attorneys; Tom DeLay has New Book; House Democrats are Determined to Change Course in Iraq.
Aired March 22, 2007 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, a heartbreaking announcement from presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife. Elizabeth Edwards' cancer is back. The candidate says he'll be there for his wife any time, any place, despite the presidential campaign. Yet John Edwards says that campaign will continue.
Also, another shot fired in the showdown between the White House and the Congress. A Senate panel has now approved the use of subpoenas in the probe over those fired U.S. attorneys, inching both branches of government closer to a constitutional collision.
And the man formerly known as "The Hammer" pounds away. The former House majority leader, Dick Arm -- Dick -- Tom DeLay -- excuse me -- Tom DeLay has a new book. In it he calls Bill Clinton, and I'm quoting now, "slimy" and claims Clinton cheats in life and in golf. And Tom DeLay says Newt Gingrich secretly cheated on his wife all during Bill Clinton's impeachment. Tom DeLay is here in THE SITUATION ROOM this hour.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
It's a very painful moment for presidential candidate John Edwards and his family. Today we learned that Elizabeth Edwards' cancer is back.
Our Mary Snow is in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where the couple made the announcement -- Mary, update our viewers who may just be tuning in what we learned.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, John Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards decided that they wanted people to hear from them the sobering news. And that news is that Elizabeth Edwards' cancer is back. It is not curable, but it is treatable.
This came in a news conference where the couple came here, to Chapel Hill, nearby where they live, to make that announcement.
However, they also said they talked yesterday and they have decided they are going forward with John Edwards' presidential campaign, saying that they are committed to doing this.
Now, in terms of going forward with that campaign, Elizabeth Edwards said she is certainly ready. She said she had the press conference because she wanted people to see that she is not sickly and she will be going through treatment, but the couple says the treatment will not affect the campaign.
This is some of what she had to say today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, JOHN EDWARDS' WIFE: John was saying that last week, people asked him how I was doing and he said she's cancer-free. It turned out not to be the truth. But it was the attitude of, you know, we're going to always look for the silver lining.
This is what happens to every cancer survivor, not that you ultimately get a bad diagnosis. But every time you get something suspicious, you go into alarm mode. And that's all -- every cancer survivor that you know personally has exactly that experience of knowing that that pain they feel in their side, the ache they feel some place could be the sign of something worse.
This turned out to be -- and I'm actually very lucky that I cracked this rib, because if I hadn't cracked it, I wouldn't have gotten the chest x-ray that identified the suspicious place.
The only thing that hurts me on my whole body is my rib right here, and, honestly, I bluff it, because that's the reason that I'm able to -- to stand before you with a smile.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SNOW: Again, Elizabeth Edwards' doctors saying that this is stage four breast cancer but is largely confined to her bones -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Well, what did they say? What kind of treatment did the doctors say she is going to have to endure right now and what did they say about her prognosis?
SNOW: Well, in terms of the treatment, they say over the next week or two, they'll have a clearer idea. They're still doing tests, so they don't know the exact treatment. They do say, though, that surgery is not an option at this point. She's going to be having some form of chemotherapy.
In terms of the prognosis, the doctor was not as specific, but said that there are people who live with this kind of cancer, that it is treatable, but didn't really go into a more specific prognosis than that.
BLITZER: All right, we're going to have a lot more on this story coming up.
Thank you for that.
This is not the first time, this is not the first time that this family has faced this kind of hardship. The couple's first child, 16- year-old Wade, died when the car he was driving flipped over several times then caught fire. After that accident back in 1996, Elizabeth Edwards quit her law practice. She stopped exclusively using her maiden name and instead took her husband's last name.
Also, as Mary noted, she underwent treatment for some breast cancer just after her husband's 2004 campaign.
The couple often talks about their proudest moments. They have three surviving children. They married back in 1977 after meeting in law school.
We're going to get back to this story.
But let's get to some other important news we're following here in Washington. A Senate panel does not back down in its stare-down with the White House. Regarding the probe into those fired U.S. attorneys, the Senate Judiciary Committee signals it's ready to go to the mat, the same way President Bush says he is.
Our Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is on Capitol Hill with more on today's developments -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we now have what amounts to a double barreled threat coming from both sides of the Democratic-run Congress. And today it may have been frustration, it may have been a negotiating tactic. But the Democratic Judiciary chairman, he sounded angry.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Well, wait. No, no what we're told we can get is nothing. Nothing. Nothing. We are told that we can have a closed door meeting with no transcript, not under oath, a limited number of people and the White House will determine what the agenda is.
That, to me, is nothing.
BASH (voice-over): Like the House did a day earlier, Senate Democrats authorized subpoenas for Karl Rove and other Bush aides to testify about why federal prosecutors were fired. The subpoenas won't be sent yet. Democrats just wanted a bargaining chip.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): It'll only strengthen our hand in getting to the bottom of this.
BASH: Senators sparred over the prospect of a constitutional clash with the White House. Most Republicans calling it too soon to threaten subpoenas.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Do the informal interviews that they have suggested, and if that is not sufficient, then we would be in a position to articulate with specificity, perhaps, a basis to justify a subpoena.
BASH: The committee's top Republican suggested sending the White House a counter-offer.
But the Democratic chairman said why bother, since the president's offer seemed to be take it or leave it.
LEAHY: They made it very clear...
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: And...
LEAHY: ... through a spokesman...
SPECTER: And, and...
LEAHY: ... that it's non-negotiable.
SPECTER: ... a press secretary getting tough doesn't mean that he can't be softened up. If you mean a senator getting tough, now that's another matter.
LEAHY: Do you mean that the president would purposely mislead us?
BASH: That led to this observation.
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: This is high school. This is about who can make somebody bloodied, who can make somebody look bad. A no is not always a no. My wife said no the first four times I tried to take her out on a date.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BASH: The question now is when will these Judiciary chairmen in the House and the Senate who have the authority to issue subpoenas actually send them to Karl Rove and others. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, said today that he thinks if there isn't some negotiation, some compromise by the time Congress gets back from spring break, he thinks that the chairmen should actually issue the subpoenas then -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And Harry Reid also had some tough words for Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser.
What did he say?
BASH: You know, if you had any doubt about how the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, feels about the president's top political adviser, you won't after you read this quote. Check it out on the wall next to me.
Here's what he said.
He said: "When you're dealing with the cast of characters we have, you might consider putting people under oath. Karl Rove is an example, who came within this close of being indicted for involvement in the Valerie Plame case. So I certainly think people should be under oath, at least Karl Rove."
Now, Democrats kind of loathe and revere Karl Rove all at the same time. They kind of think he's the mastermind of politics, but also the master of dirty tricks. And I think you can pretty much see how Harry Reid feels about him. Maybe the latter in this particular case.
BLITZER: Dana, thank you.
We want to take a closer look now at what would happen if Congress takes on the White House.
Step one, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees issue subpoenas in hopes of forcing testimony from White House officials.
Step two, if President Bush stands by his assertion he'll go to the mat, Congress could pursue contempt citations.
Step three, those citations may require a full vote of the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate.
Step four, with Congressional approval, the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C. could empanel a grand jury to seek the indictment of administration officials for refusing to testify.
Dana Bash and Mary Snow, as you know, are part of the best political team on television.
And remember, for the latest political news at any time, check out our Political Ticker at cnn.com/ticker.
let's go to Jack Cafferty.
He's in New York with The Cafferty File -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It sounds like there's a lot of good stuff to look forward to here.
CAFFERTY: Parts of Iraq are no more dangerous than Detroit or Chicago. So says Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg. In a radio interview, Walberg, a Republican, said that troops coming back from Iraq tell him that about "80 to 85 percent of the country is reasonably under control, at least as well as Detroit or Chicago or any of our other big cities."
Well, needless to say, some people in Detroit and Chicago are none too happy about that. A spokesman for Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick says it's absurd to compare Detroit and Iraq. And the state Democratic Party chairman has demanded an apology from Walberg, calling the comparison unconscionable.
In another interview this morning with a Detroit radio station, Walberg attempted to make nice. He said his comment was not meant to be negative about Detroit, but, rather, meant to be encouraging, expressing what the troops want the American public to know about the successes in Iraq.
Walberg says he grew up in Chicago and has spent a lot of time in Detroit.
How much time he's spent in Iraq, we don't know.
Here's the question -- what's your reaction to a Michigan congressman saying that parts of Iraq are no more dangerous than Detroit or Chicago?
E-mail your thoughts on that to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I guess the new U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, he learned that maybe Baghdad is a little bit more dangerous than New York today.
CAFFERTY: Well, I don't think there are a lot of IEDs and car bombs and suicide bombers running around America's major cities, at least not today.
BLITZER: Thank god for that, Jack.
BLITZER: Thank you very much.
We want to get back to our top story.
John Edwards and his wife making an appearance earlier today, announcing that her cancer has come back.
I want to play this emotional statement that the senator made, the former senator made, the Democratic presidential candidate, in explaining what was going on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The campaign goes on. The campaign goes on strongly. Elizabeth and I have talked at length about this already. We talked with our children about it. Basically, as I mentioned earlier, we've been confronted with -- with these kind of traumas and struggles already in our life and we know from our previous experience that when this happens, you have a chance. You can go cower in the corner and hide or you can be tough and go out there and stand up for what you believe in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And coming up, we're going to have much more on this sad story.
John Edwards standing by his woman, Elizabeth Edwards standing by her man. Much more coming up. Bill Schneider we'll have more on the political fallout of what's going on.
Also, Tom DeLay is back with a new book. He's hammering away at some top politicians. We'll tell you what he has to say about some top Democrats and Republicans.
All that coming up. The former House majority leader standing by here live in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Plus, the battle back home on the war in Iraq. We're going to go live to Capitol Hill, where the political fight is quite fierce today.
Lots more coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: My next guest is known for not -- not mincing any words. The former House majority leader is out with a new book. It's entitled "No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight."
And he trains his fire on both Democrats and Republicans.
Tom DeLay is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Thanks very much for coming in.
TOM DELAY (R), FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: My pleasure.
BLITZER: All right, almost every page something jumps out at you.
Let me read page 125, this -- these two sentences: "Newt Gingrich was having an affair with a staffer during the entire Clinton impeachment crisis. Clearly, men with such secrets are not likely to sound a high moral tone at a moment of national crisis."
Did you know that was going on...
BLITZER: ... during the height of impeachment?
DELAY: Well, I had no idea. But Newt was acting strange. Newt, during that period of time, didn't go on television very much, didn't rant and rave about things, you know, like he normally does.
He chewed me out at one time when I told him that I was going to call for Bill Clinton's resignation. It was strange and yet we -- we went ahead and did what we thought we had to do. And...
BLITZER: So the other day when he acknowledged that he was having this affair during the entire impeachment process, you were not surprised, then?
DELAY: No, I knew it afterward. That -- it's been public knowledge, the affair, after -- the next year it came out. It wasn't as public.
BLITZER: How do you feel about him if he decided to run for the Republican presidential nomination? Is he qualified, from your perspective, to be president?
DELAY: Well, it depends. If he has repented and he is now a different person, if he's learned management style, he is a brilliant man. I say it in the book. He's a brilliant man. He has great ideas. He's very articulate in putting those ideas forward.
I didn't go after anybody, Wolf. What I did was I talked about my strengths and my weaknesses and everybody else's as it relates to what was going on. This book is about an in-depth account of the history of the Republican majority...
DELAY: And it's a challenge to those to stand up for what they believe in.
BLITZER: What I'm hearing, in contrast to Rudy Giuliani, who you couldn't support because of his views on some of the social issues like abortion, potentially you could support a Newt Gingrich.
DELAY: No. What's going on here is the Republicans have time to wait for a leader to emerge. I think it's really interesting, the media has already picked the Republican frontrunners, when the polls say that 50 to 60 percent of those who are going to vote in the Republican primary are doing what I'm doing. We're sitting back and we're waiting for and begging for a leader to emerge in the next few months.
We'll see if that happens.
BLITZER: Here's what you write on page 115 in the book, "No Retreat, No Surrender": "Then there was Dick Armey, a gifted man, but a man so blinded by ambition as to be useless. Dick was a poor leader who also was contaminated by the academician's dysfunction. There were few fresh ideas coming from his direction."
He was a powerful leader in the House, but you didn't have very high regard for him.
DELAY: But I also say in the book that he was -- he was wonderful at putting together the Contract With America. He did a fantastic job in writing the homeland security bill. He brought conservative ideas to our legislation.
Again, I was pointing to strengths and weaknesses, as it related to history.
BLITZER: Lest there be no doubt, you don't only go over -- after your fellow conservatives. You have some harsh words for liberals and for Democrats, including Bill Clinton: "The truth is that Bill Clinton was slimy. Rumors of his vile language," you write, "ill treatment of workers and general slovenliness arose from the stewards on Air Force One, from the staff at Camp David and from White House personnel."
You don't like this guy at all, do you?
DELAY: It's not a matter of liking him, it's a matter of pointing out that he is character challenged. We all know that. Anybody that cheats at golf, it tells you a lot about his character. BLITZER: Is it -- is it your sense that he will be a major player if his wife, Senator Clinton, becomes president of the United States?
DELAY: No doubt about it. Listen, they have -- the Democrats and the Clintons have put together the most powerful political coalition that I've ever witnessed in my career. They've taken five to six years to put this coalition together. The Podestas, the Ickes, the Halperins, the Blumenthals.
And that coalition is Hillary's. If the conservatives don't get their act together, Hillary Clinton, in my opinion, will be the next president.
BLITZER: The book is entitled "No Retreat, No Surrender." But a lot of people have already commented you retreated, you surrendered when you decided to give up your job as the House majority leader.
DELAY: Well, I don't see it that way. I see it as fighting in a different arena. When I decided to resign, I knew I had to do two things -- push the conservative cause and support Israel. And I knew that if I got reelected, I'd just be a rank and file member. I couldn't be a leader.
So I could push the conservative cause and support Israel in a much more meaningful, constructive way outside of Congress.
BLITZER: Why is supporting Israel your -- I can understand, you're Mr. Conservative -- why is supporting Israel such an important issue for you?
DELAY: Oh, I've been the number one supporter of Israel my entire career. It started with me joining the Refusenik movement and getting persecuted Jews out of the Soviet Union in the '80s. I have been, as a leader in the Republican majority -- and it's all in the book -- I've been the number one guy to defend Israel against all comers and make sure that America stands strong in support of Israel.
BLITZER: The book is entitled "No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight."
Tom DeLay is the author.
Congratulations on writing the book.
DELAY: Thank you very much.
BLITZER: Well, hopefully you'll be back here soon.
Thanks for coming in.
DELAY: My pleasure.
BLITZER: And still ahead, her cancer is back.
What impact with Elizabeth Edwards' new health crisis -- what impact will that have on her husband's presidential campaign?
Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is standing by to show us.
Plus, new arrests in a deadly terror attack.
Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Let's check in with Carol Costello.
She's monitoring all the feeds coming into THE SITUATION ROOM, the wires.
What are some headlines -- Carol.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I've got them right here, Wolf.
Three men are now in custody in connection with the 2005 London transit bombings. Fifty-two commuters and four bombers were killed in the attacks. No one has ever been charged. British authorities say two men were arrested today at Manchester Airport as they prepared to board a flight to Pakistan. The third was arrested at a house in Leeds, where police had been searching five homes.
Four people are dead after a second day of fighting in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. Government forces clashed with Islamic insurgents who are trying to oust Somalia's Ethiopia-backed interim president. Scores of residents have been fleeing their homes. Somalia's deputy defense minister blames the fighting on what he calls terrorists, including al Qaeda agents. He pledges that the Somali government will defeat them.
New developments in the case of a former astronaut, Lisa Nowak, who is accused of trying to kidnap a romantic rival. Today, Nowak's attorneys formally entered a not guilty plea on her behalf. Nowak has been charged with attempted kidnapping, battery and burglary of a vehicle with a weapon. Her trial is set to begin on July 30th. She is now free on bail and did not appear at today's arraignment in Orlando.
Back to you -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you very much, Carol.
Up ahead, Elizabeth Edwards in her own words. She spoke recently, very candidly, with our own Zain Verjee about her battle with cancer. We're going to have some excerpts for you. That's coming up.
Also, House Democrats calling for U.S. combat troops to be out of Iraq by next summer. But can they muster the votes they need?
Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Poor planning for reconstructing Iraq -- that's the finding of a report by the Pentagon's inspector general. It says inadequate foresight led to the current problem of providing services for the country and it calls on Congress to come up with a better plan for a better coordination of future nation building missions.
We're going to have a lot more on this story coming up in the next hour.
Also, the former Israeli prime minister, Shimon Peres, tells an inquiry he would not -- repeat, not have launched last summer's war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. The conflict is seen as a failure by many Israelis. A government appointed commission is looking into how the current prime minister, Ehud Olmert's government, handled the war. The report is due out next month and it could determine Olmert's political future.
And new developments in that massive recall of pet food linked to more than a dozen animal deaths. A class action lawsuit has now been filed against the manufacturer, Menu Foods, Incorporated. Attorneys say more than 95 people have joined the lawsuit. Menu Foods has no comment on the lawsuit, but expresses sympathy for pet owners.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
John Edwards is standing by his wife and sticking to his presidential campaign.
Let's get some more now on our top story, the heartbreaking announcement that Elizabeth Edwards' cancer is back. How might that affect the presidential race?
Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is joining us with more on this part of the story -- Bill.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, the personal is political. We hear that all the time. But, today it seemed especially true.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Elizabeth Edwards has been called John Edwards' greatest campaign asset. That may have been true today with her display of courage and confidence.
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF JOHN EDWARDS: We're going to always look for the silver lining. It is who we are as people, and we will continue to do it.
SCHNEIDER: Was she making a political statement? Of course. Just by showing up.
E. EDWARDS: One of the reasons to do a press conference as opposed to a press release so that you can see, I mean, I don't look sickly, I don't feel sickly.
SCHNEIDER: Her husband was making a political statement, too, by not saying anything about his campaign, until he was asked.
QUESTION: ... suspend any activities, fund-raising, travel?
JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No.
SCHNEIDER: A campaign is a series of tests. Edwards portrayed this as one more.
J. EDWARDS: The maturity and the judgment that's required of the president, especially in these historic times, requires the president to be able to function and focus under very difficult circumstances.
SCHNEIDER: This proves something about him, his wife said.
E. EDWARDS: He has an unbelievable toughness, a reserve that allows him to push forward with what needs to happen.
SCHNEIDER: Edwards hopes success in the early contests, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina, will propel him to victory. Success in those contests depends on personal campaigning, something Edwards was very good at in 2004.
KATHY SULLIVAN, CHAIRWOMAN, NEW HAMPSHIRE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: People in New Hampshire, when they got to know John Edwards, really started to like him.
SCHNEIDER: That could be even more true this time.
J. EDWARDS: We will be in this every step of the way together.
SCHNEIDER: Edwards has been criticized in the past as a rich populist who lives in a mansion. But it's going to be very hard for anyone to portray him as isolated from the real-life problems that ordinary people face -- Wolf.
BLITZER: This is a family, clearly, that has endured a lot, the loss of their 16-year-old son, now her cancer.
I thought -- and a lot of our viewers who were e-mailing me thought that they way they handled this announcement, as heartbreaking, as heart-wrenching as it was, that they did about as excellent a job in handling it as possible.
Give our viewers -- give me your sense, a little bit, of how they did in breaking this awful news to the American public.
SCHNEIDER: Well, I thought they did a very effective job of explaining what had happened to them, of appearing to be strong and resolute.
The fact that his wife was there was very important, because, you know, he didn't talk about her. He let her talk for herself. And he made it clear that she was very much behind his decision to continue with his campaign. Otherwise, if he had just gotten up and said, "I'm continuing with my campaign; we will put out a statement," he might have gotten a lot of criticism that he's doing it without regard for his wife's problems.
But the fact she was there made -- made all the difference in the world.
BLITZER: I think it goes without saying, we certainly wish her only, only -- only the best, Elizabeth Edwards. And we hope she comes through this speedily and well. Thank you, Bill.
Zain Verjee interviewed Elizabeth Edwards during a much less worrisome moment.
Zain is joining us with a little bit on that conversation. You met with her a few months back, Zain, and you spoke about cancer.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we did, Wolf.
I met her when she thought that she was cancer-free. She talked about her health, how it would affect her husband's political career, and just how supportive he was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
E. EDWARDS: He just said nothing, can happen to you. And, you know, he was -- he wanted to take care of me. He wanted to make certain that we did whatever we could to fight this.
VERJEE: Does he want to be president?
E. EDWARDS: I think he has important things that he thinks need to be accomplished for the country. And he wants to see them done. I -- you know, I think that he's capable of doing them.
VERJEE: Did you ever think of being first lady? Does that idea sort of cross your mind? Do you entertain that?
E. EDWARDS: Yes, I -- I -- honestly, I think that it's such a bubble of existence, that it's sort of hard to imagine what it would be like to be in that bubble.
There are a lot of things that I like, that I advocate for now, and it would be great to get a huge megaphone to talk about those things.
VERJEE: Would your health condition be something that would influence the decision?
E. EDWARDS: He has -- he has repeatedly said that -- that he wants me to be healthy. You know, that would be part of the decision he would make, that I would be healthy enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERJEE: And, Wolf, throughout the interview, she mentioned how strong and supportive her family and friends were when she was first diagnosed, and also just how lucky she was that she has that.
BLITZER: You interviewed her last September. You had a chance to spend some time with her, Zain, as well. What struck you most about this woman?
VERJEE: I was struck essentially about how strong she was. I mean, here was a woman who lost her son, Wade, in an accident when he was only 16 years old. She had to do battle with cancer. She's facing it again. And really what came out, Wolf, was that she's a woman with a really positive attitude. And it comes off when you talk to her.
BLITZER: I have met her on several occasions. I can second that, Zain. Thank you very much.
Let's go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.
Abbi, there are new words from Elizabeth Edwards. They're just coming in online. What is she saying?
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, Wolf, this is a site that right now is slammed with traffic at John Edwards.com, where Elizabeth Edwards, in the last couple of hours, has gone on to thank supporters, calling them her dear extended family.
Now, this is a Web site that is set up very much like a community, where people could go online and weigh in, express their thoughts and prayers. And that's what's been happening today -- the sentiment from these online supporters very much that, we are with you, that they, too, are going to be keeping on with this campaign -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Internet activists, as you know, they have been very central to the whole Edwards campaign. How is this playing out online?
TATTON: Well, Elizabeth Edwards, herself, is in fact quite a celebrity with these liberal online activists -- the reason, they say, that she gets it. She interacts with this community, with the netroots, as they are called. She engages with them.
Elizabeth Edwards has talked about how much time she spent online. She reads blogs, she says. She posts on them. You will even see her occasionally showing up at conferences and discussions featuring bloggers -- and, today, this kind of interaction no different, Elizabeth Edwards going online to blog her thanks to supporters -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Abbi, thanks.
Abbi Tatton, Zain Verjee, Bill Schneider, they are all part of the best political team on television. And, remember, for the latest political news at any time, check out our Political Ticker at CNN.com/ticker.
Coming up: Can House Democrats scrape together the votes they need for a bill calling for U.S. troops to be out of Iraq by next summer? We will take you live to Capitol Hill.
Plus: the looming showdown between Congress and President Bush over testimony by top White House aides. We're going to talk about it in our "Strategy Session." Donna Brazile, Rich Galen, they are standing by live.
Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: House Democrats are scrambling right now to come up with enough votes to pass their version of the Iraq emergency funding bill. It includes a provision to have U.S. combat troops out of Iraq by next summer.
Let's turn to our congressional correspondent Andrea Koppel. She's joining us with more from Capitol Hill -- Andrea.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, and that debate has just, within the last 15 minutes, gotten under way on the House floor.
House Democrats say they are determined to change course in Iraq. But, as of late today, Democratic leaders are still trying to change minds -- top Democrat Rahm Emanuel telling CNN they are still one or two votes short of the 218 needed to pass the bill.
KOPPEL:(voice-over): The biggest resistance isn't coming from the other side, from Republicans, who are mostly united in opposition, but, rather, from a handful of undecided Democrats, including freshmen Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Indiana's Brad Ellsworth, and Georgia's Hank Johnson.
That said, the list has grown smaller. In the last day or so, anti-war Democrat James McGovern of Massachusetts, who had been on the fence, agreed to vote yes.
REP. JAMES MCGOVERN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I have come to the conclusion that defeating the supplemental bill before us today would send a message to George Bush and Dick Cheney that they will continue to have a free pass from this Congress to do whatever the hell they want to do.
KOPPEL: And McGovern's not the only one. Maryland's Elijah Cummings, another anti-war Democrat in his seventh term, who sits on the Armed Services Committee, says he's been getting mixed signals from his constituents. Cummings insists Democratic leaders didn't twist his arm, and says he's now ready to vote yes. REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: And I have also come to the conclusion that I do not have the right to remain silent on this war. And a vote against the supplemental would cause us to have a -- what I would call a stripped-down bill, and there would be no voice saying, Mr. Bush,, please stop this war immediately.
KOPPEL: Now, debate on the House floor today is supposed to last four hours. It could carry over into the morning, Wolf, with a vote slated to happen Friday morning.
And, as you know, today, the Senate Appropriations Committee also passed this legislation, this emergency war funding bill, out, and it could land on the House -- on the Senate floor next week -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, we will stay on top of this with you, Andrea -- Andrea Koppel on the Hill.
Rudy Giuliani tops today's "Political Radar." The Republican presidential candidate says Alberto Gonzales should get the benefit of the doubt in the fired federal prosecutors controversy. Democrats and even some Republicans are calling for the attorney general to resign. Before becoming mayor of New York, Giuliani was a federal prosecutor. He currently tops all national polls in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
There are also new developments today in that controversial Web video that's the buzz of the political world. As we first reported yesterday here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the man who put together the takeoff on that famous 1984 Apple ad worked for an Internet consulting firm that does business with Senator Barack Obama's campaign. He's now been let go.
The Obama campaign says they had no knowledge of the video, had nothing to do with its creation. We are going to have a full report on this story coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM in the next hour.
Also coming up, we're watching John and Elizabeth Edwards. We will have a lot more on that.
But there's another story just coming in to CNN right now. Want to go to Carol Costello for that -- Carol.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, it's a disturbing story.
Broadcast reports out of Chicago, there have been -- says there have been multiple stabbings at Stroger Hospital. That's in Cook County. This is a gigantic facility, 1.2 million square feet.
According to these broadcast reports, the attacker may have been detained by authorities. Supposedly, he got on to a shuttle bus and stabbed several people there, including a corrections officer. According to this report, two of the victims are in serious condition, two in fair condition. We don't know the status of the attacker just yet.
When I get more information, of course I will pass it along. But -- but, again, multiple stabbings reported now at Stroger Hospital in Chicago -- back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Very worrisome. All right. when you get more, Carol, we will share it with our viewers.
As I said, up next: John and Elizabeth Edwards, they are vowing that a new health crisis won't derail their White House ambitions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. EDWARDS: The campaign goes on. The campaign goes on strongly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We're going to talk about that and more in our "Strategy Session." Donna Brazile and Rich Galen, they are standing by.
And, in our next hour, the United Nations secretary-general experiences Baghdad's relentless violence first-hand. We are going to check in with our Michael Ware. He's in Baghdad.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: The nation's attention focused on presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, after a dramatic and very sad announcement today -- they told reporters, indeed, they told the nation, her cancer has returned. His campaign, though, will continue.
Joining us now in our "Strategy Session," Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and Republican strategist Rich Galen.
How do you think -- this is about as sad and as emotional as it gets. How do you think they did?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I thought they did very well under the circumstances.
Elizabeth Edwards has been a pillar of strength. She is a role model for women who are breast cancer survivors. Her struggle is one that she's told people all over the country. She's been an asset to Senator Edwards' campaign. And, clearly, our hearts right now and prayers are with her to -- to recover and to continue this battle.
But I think, overall, because she was there, they didn't just issue a statement, it came across authentic, that, you know, he expressed concern for his wife. At the same time, he said that the campaign would move on.
BLITZER: Let me play, Rich, this little clip of what Senator Edwards said, among other things. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. EDWARDS: Any time, any place that I need to be with Elizabeth, I will be there, period. It doesn't matter what's happening in the campaign. If she needs me -- if she's not with me, which she will be most of the time -- I will be there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And he was getting phone calls, not only from Democrats, but a lot of Republicans. His former colleagues in the Senate were reaching out to him and to Elizabeth, his wife.
What -- what do you think?
RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, you know, that's one of the things that people, too many people, don't understand about politics.
They see the kind of high points of the bitter battles. But the fact is, politics is a pretty good place to be, if you are in trouble and if you need help, that -- that we're -- we all do this stuff, and we -- we are not afraid to reach out to each other.
I think one of the things that Senator Edwards demonstrated today is, this is what happens to real people. They have to go on. You can't say, I'm not going to work anymore because my wife is sick or my husband is sick. You have to do what you are going to do. And you kind of balance those things.
I thought it was a very powerful moment.
BLITZER: And did he make the right decision by announcing he wasn't going to drop out, wasn't going to suspend this campaign? They stood there together, and they said, we want this campaign to go on.
BRAZILE: I think, under the circumstances, it's the right decision at this moment. But who knows what will happen a month from now, as she begins her new treatment and to see if things will work out.
Senator Edwards is a very courageous man as well. And I'm sure that he would stop the campaign if he thought that this was going to, in any way, affect Elizabeth's health.
BLITZER: They have been married for almost 30 years, and together even longer than that.
Let's talk a little bit about the other political subject that's consuming a lot of Washington right now, this eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between the White House and the Democrats in the House and the Senate.
I want you to listen to Senator Pat Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was very forceful on this whole issue of testimony and subpoenas.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I -- I have had enough of these closed-door meetings. We have had them up here, where they come up and tell you one thing one day. Two days later, in the press, we find, whoops, that wasn't what the real story was. And then they call up and say, oh, yes, I guess we were -- we left some key things out, or we were misleading. Can we have another one of those private meetings?
I'm tired of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is there still room -- and, Rich, you have been around Washington for a long time -- for a compromise that will avoid any court battles and subpoenas, that these two sides will be able to get together and get what they both want?
GALEN: Sure. And that is the highest likelihood of what will happen.
The lowest likelihood of what's going to -- the other side of the bell curve is that this thing -- that there will be a subpoena, that -- it will be ignored; there will be a contempt citation voted by one house or the other; they will go to court, and -- that's not likely to happen.
But let me just say, I talked to a really smart guy in town, a guy named Alan Baron, who you may know, from Holland & Knight today about all this. And he reminded me that this happened -- started way back in the beginning.
George Washington refused, in essence, a subpoena from the very first Congress. The House wanted some documents, and he wouldn't give them up.
BLITZER: And the Clinton White House, they didn't want to give up documents. They don't want to let their officials, including Bruce Lindsey, a deputy White House counsel, testify. But they lost all those battles in the earlier eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation.
BRAZILE: And if you look at a Congressional Research Service document, they testified over 30 times. They came up to Capitol Hill. They had to testify in the public.
And, if the administration has nothing to hide, if this is just a personnel matter, which they said initially, they should come and tell the truth.
GALEN: I think the president -- well, that may be. But I think the president -- again, another old example is, Thomas Jefferson was ordered by Chief Justice Marshall to turn over some documents. He refused, but then voluntarily said he would do it, because he wanted to preserve the -- what was -- what now we call executive privilege.
So, he -- he did comply, but he first refused, and then said, I'm doing this voluntarily.
So, these -- these things have a way of working themselves out. But you know what? By the time we get down to next November, nobody is going to remember...
BRAZILE: But Democrats believe they were misled. And one of the reasons why the Democrats will not allow the White House to stonewall is, they believe that the White House continues to shift its story.
BLITZER: And the Democratic base would be they outraged if Senator Leahy or any of the other Democrats decided to blink on this one.
GALEN: And the Republican base will be just as outraged if the president blinks back.
BRAZILE: But, at some point, we all need to serve the American people. And I think they want to know the truth.
BLITZER: Is Alberto Gonzales safe, at least for now? What do you think?
GALEN: Apparently, he appears to be.
The thing that I'm -- I don't understand is why the White House hasn't unleashed the RNC, and they don't have every Republican Hispanic leader in the country out there speaking on his behalf. You don't hear Republican Hispanic members of the House speaking out on his behalf.
I think they have missed a beat here. This is an example of a White House that's...
BLITZER: But, Donna, you know, there are some conservatives who never liked Alberto Gonzales to begin with.
BRAZILE: Well, that's true.
But, look, this is an issue of competence. And I think, on this score, the administration would be better served if they just gave the Democrats and the Republicans what they are asking for.
GALEN: No. What will happen is, the Democrats will go after -- if they get Al Gonzales, then they will go after the VA. Then they will go after -- they will just go after -- one at a time, they will go after everyone. BRAZILE: Well, they are finally doing their job. And that's something we pay them to do.
GALEN: They are not there to be just -- being ugly all the time.
GALEN: ... pass something.
GALEN: They're still two votes short.
BRAZILE: Well, Wolf, I want to say happy birthday.
I won't sing because I...
BRAZILE: I refuse to be on YouTube.
But, as you know, you cover all America. And this is all the 50 states.
BLITZER: Thank you.
BRAZILE: And happy birthday on behalf of all of your pundits.
BLITZER: Thank you very much. Thank you. You guys are the best. Thank you very much.
BRAZILE: Thank you, sir.
GALEN: Happy birthday.
BLITZER: And coming up in our next hour: He's a critical U.S. ally in the war on terror, but can Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf survive politically? We are going to show you why some say he's losing his grip on power.
And straight ahead, Jack Cafferty wants to know this: What's your reaction to Michigan -- a Michigan congressman saying parts of Iraq are no more dangerous than Detroit or Chicago? Jack standing by with "The Cafferty File."
And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack Cafferty once again for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the question this hour is: What is your reaction to a Michigan congressman who said in a radio interview parts of Iraq are no more dangerous than Detroit or Chicago?
Charles in Lansing, Michigan: "It means our troops ought to be back here, patrolling Detroit and Chicago, and Miami, and New Orleans, and Los Angeles, et cetera. That's a perfect reason to get them out of Iraq."
Paul writes: "Anyone with a whit of knowledge knows that northern Iraq is in great shape, peaceful and rapidly rebuilding, since this area is far safer than a lot of Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, or Birmingham."
Lois in Scottsdale, Arizona: "When he is discharged from rehab, you know, where all the public mis-speakers must go to repent and give the public some time to forget how stupid they are, he should go and live in Iraq for a year, but be banned from the Green Zone. I feel sorry for the district and the people he represents."
Thomas in Florida: "Well, Jack, I don't think the congressman was saying that there were IEDs in Michigan and Illinois. What he said was, 85 percent of Iraq is basically trouble-free, by and large, according to urban center standards. Heaven forbid it be true, Jack. Why, it might mean the sky is not really falling, like so many people claim it is."
Tom in Maine writes: "I would ask the congressman to go to Iraq, and try to buy life, homeowners, auto or personal injury insurance, and see if he still feels the same way."
And Bruce in Massachusetts checks in with this: "That's like saying some parts of hell are not as hot as other parts" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thanks.
And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: shell-shocked in Baghdad. The U.N. secretary- general gets a close call. Where are the insurgents getting all their weapons? Did the U.S. leave the arsenals unlocked?
And a CNN exclusive: A former intelligence operative takes you inside the most secretive and perhaps most dangerous nation in the world. But is the U.S. taking the wrong approach to North Korea?
And John and Elizabeth Edwards face a very serious new crisis, but they vow to press on with his presidential campaign and her battle against breast cancer.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
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