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Edwards Vows to Press on With Presidential Campaign Despite Wife's Illness; Insurgent Attack Lands Inside Baghdad's Green Zone
Aired March 22, 2007 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Lou.
Happening right now, John and Elizabeth Edwards facing a major new health crisis, but they're vowing to press on with her battle against cancer and his campaign for the presidency.
Shell shocked in Baghdad, for the United Nations security -- secretary general, an insurgent attack comes way too close for comfort, right inside the green zone.
And they don't call him the hammer for nothing, but why is the former House majority leader, Tom DeLay, lashing out right now with some fellow Republicans? I'll ask him.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Heart-breaking news from one of the leading Democratic presidential candidates -- John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth say her cancer, first diagnosed after the 2004 campaign, is now back and it has spread. The candidate himself made the announcement at a news conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The thing that is true is that her cancer will not be cured now. Elizabeth have this as long as she's alive and the analogy that Dr. Carey gave us is it's like a patient having diabetes. You know the disease never goes away, the diabetes never goes away, but you treat it, you treat it with insulin, you take your medicine and that's exactly what we intend to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: There was speculation Senator Edwards would suspend or even cancel his campaign. But he's laying those rumors to rest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARDS: The campaign goes on. The campaign goes on strongly. Elizabeth and I have talked at length about this already, talked with our children about it. Basically, as I mentioned earlier, we've been confronted with these kinds of traumas and struggles already in our life, and we note from our previous experience that when this happens you have a choice. 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: CNN's Mary Snow is in Chapel Hill. She has more on what Elizabeth Edwards had to say -- Mary.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Elizabeth Edwards really seemed pretty upbeat and in her words she says she is incredibly optimistic. She said she went to the doctor on Monday because she had a pain in her rib and that is how they discovered the cancer had spread. And she said she found out her experience is not all that uncommon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, JOHN EDWARDS' WIFE: 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 every cancer survivor that you know personally has exactly that experience of knowing that that pain they feel in their side, the aches they feel someplace could be the sign of something worst. This turned out to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SNOW: And Elizabeth Edwards' doctor said that the course of treatment has not yet been determined and that will be done over the next one or two weeks, but she has diagnosed her with breast -- stage four breast cancer -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And in the meantime she'll try to stay as much as possible on the campaign trail with her husband?
SNOW: Yes, that's what she's saying. And already today she left for Boston to be with her oldest daughter. And tomorrow, she plans to join her husband on the campaign trail in California.
BLITZER: Mary thanks for that.
The American Cancer Society defines stage four cancer -- that's the kind Mrs. Edwards has -- as one that spreads to distant organs such as the bone, the liver or the lungs. It puts the five-year survival rate for this kind of stage four breast cancer at 20 percent. Elizabeth Edwards' doctor also spoke out at that news conference in Chapel Hill earlier today, giving more details of her condition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. LISA CAREY, ELIZABETH EDWARDS' DOCTOR: This is, you know is not considered curable but is considered treatable. As you can imagine, the therapies that we give have to do two things. One is they have to control the cancer and the other is they have to not make the patient sick.
Stage four breast cancer is a very heterogeneous thing, you know -- so there's you know some people that none of the treatments that we use work, and so their survival is sure. Other people can live with it for many years and exactly since it's so -- you know if you think about it, it's like taking, you know, all of you and saying what is the average age? You know -- well, you know we can give you a number but it's not meaningful for any one of you. And unfortunately we don't know until we give therapy exactly how hers will go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The doctor also says the fact that Mrs. Edwards is otherwise healthy and that there isn't a lot of cancer there both work in her favor. We wish her, of course, only the best.
Other news we're following tonight. The United Nations secretary-general got very close to Iraq's violence today, way too close. It was a terrifying moment for him, but something Baghdad residents face every single day.
Joining us now in Baghdad, our correspondent Michael Ware. Michael, there was a huge scare earlier today. I want to play this little clip of what happened when the United Nations secretary-general was in Baghdad with Nuri al-Maliki, the prime minister. Let's watch it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Well you see Ban Ki-moon, the U.S. secretary-general; he's clearly startled as he should be. In contrast, Nuri al-Maliki, he's pretty cool, calm and collected. Give our viewers a sense of what this videotape and this sound says to you, someone who has been there for four years.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's obviously of course, Wolf, that the U.N. secretary-general is new to Baghdad because this is an extraordinarily common occurrence throughout this capital. I mean, this happens in people's neighborhoods, mortars lobbed without warning, rhyme or reason, let alone the international zone, which is the heart of the U.S. embassy and the seat of the Iraqi government, which is headed by Nouri al-Maliki.
We've seen on several occasions when insurgents have taken opportunities such as this during press conferences just to throw the odd mortar or rocket into the international zone or the green zone just to let people know where they are. Look at the play they're getting from just a couple of simple mortars.
I mean, the reverberations from that one moment are spinning not just across the country but across the world. And it's extraordinary to see Nuri al-Maliki almost holding his political fight there in his hands as he refuses to flinch while the newcomer secretary-general is obviously in quite some distress, Wolf.
BLITZER: What struck me was that four years into this war and certainly several weeks into the major security crackdown in Baghdad, the insurgents can still lob a mortar into this highly secured so- called green zone, especially timed with the visit of the United Nations secretary-general. What does that say?
WARE: Wolf, it says what it's always said. It said it's been this way since the beginning. You cannot protect the green zone from what in military terms is called indirect fire -- mortars, rockets and maybe the occasional missile if they're lucky. They can lob them in from all sorts of directions.
Indeed they can do it from as close as Haifa Street just a few hundred yards away from the green zone, well within striking distance of the U.S. embassy. They can do it from across the river in Dora (ph). They can do it from Sadr City. And this isn't just one enemy, Wolf.
This is Sunni insurgents. This is al Qaeda. This is Shia militias. They all lob mortars into the fortified green zone. This is Iraq. You can't protect it. It's the way business is done.
BLITZER: Michael Ware, be careful over there. Thanks for joining us.
WARE: My pleasure. Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Insurgent mortars rain death on an almost daily basis in Iraq. At least 110 Americans have died from mortar or rocket fire since the start of the war. A 60-millimeter mortar, for example, has a range of up to two miles with a blast that can kill a human being.
An 81-millimeter mortar has a much bigger range, about three miles, and that can also kill on impact but may not be necessarily able to penetrate a lot of roof tops, 120-millimeter mortar is a much heavier weapon with a range of more than four miles. A direct hit can devastate urban targets.
Jack Cafferty is in New York with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Pretty scary stuff. Thanks, Wolf.
Well maybe they thought nobody would notice. Then I'm sure Richard Nixon probably didn't plan on anybody discovering those missing 18 minutes of tape in the Watergate affair either, but they did. It turns out that those more than 3,000 pages of documents that were released by the Justice Department on the firings of several federal prosecutors have a rather large omission, a rather glaring omission.
For 16 days between November 15 and December 2, 2006, right before the prosecutors were fired, there are no e-mails between the White House and the Justice Department relating directly to the firings. More than two weeks -- a lot of e-mails before, a lot of emails after, but nothing for the two plus weeks immediately preceding the pink slips.
Do you really think everybody in the White House and the Justice Department just simply dropped the subject during that time? Justice Department insists there was no lull. But even if you're a little bit cynical about our government being honest with us, well you might be inclined to doubt that statement about there being no lulls, so here's the question.
Do you think we'll ever really know what happened to those fired U.S. attorneys? E-mail your thoughts to CaffertyFile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile. It begs the credibility of this whole willingness to be transparent on the part of the White House, Wolf. They handed over 3,000 pages of e-mails but for 16 days preceding the firing, nothing.
BLITZER: I may be overly optimistic, but I sense one of these days we'll get all those e-mails one way or another. I just suspect that will happen.
CAFFERTY: Somebody will provide them. You wait.
BLITZER: All right, Jack. Thanks. See you soon.
Coming up, speaking candidly and not always kindly, the former House majority leader, Tom DeLay names, names in an interview with me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newt was acting strange. Newt, during that period of time, didn't go on television very much, didn't rant and rave about things like he normally does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You're going to find out why Tom DeLay has some really nasty things to say about Newt Gingrich. Stick around. You'll want to hear this.
Also, he's a critical U.S. ally in the war on terror, but can the Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf, survive politically? We're going to show you why some say he's losing his grip on power.
And the man behind that anti-Clinton YouTube video speaking out saying he's proud of it. So why did it cost him his job?
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: He's a critical ally in the war on terror, but his nuclear-armed nation is rocked by some serious unrest. Can Pakistan's leader hold on to power right now?
Let's put that question to our Brian Todd. Brian, I know you're looking into this part of the story. It' got huge ramifications.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. Pervez Musharraf has already survived two assassination attempts in Pakistan, but now some believe his own efforts to consolidate his power could cause him to lose it.
TODD (voice-over): Are these protesting lawyers the beginning of the end for Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's lightning rod president, who rules a volatile country armed with nuclear weapons. A top Pakistani journalist says this demonstration over an ousted Supreme Court justice is just one sign that Musharraf is losing his grip on power in this crucial election year.
VOICE OF AHMED RASHID, PAKISTANI JOURNALIST: Musharraf has become a lame duck in the sense that he cannot now fulfill his own agenda to remain president for the next five years.
TODD: Ahmed Rashid and another Musharraf critic say there's one key reason he's losing his hold.
SAMINA AHMED, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: He's made these kinds of alliances, which I think in the end are going to be very counterproductive for him.
TODD: Alliances they say with partners that no longer trust him, including one of Pakistan's most influential political parties, tribal elders near his border with Afghanistan, many of them Taliban sympathizers, with his intelligence services and the United States. Top Pakistani officials deny it, telling CNN Musharraf is on solid ground with all these groups.
But on the relationship with Washington, sources with knowledge of Musharraf's recent meeting with Vice President Cheney tell us Cheney made it clear Musharraf needs to crack down harder on Taliban operating inside Pakistan. Still, with so much uncertainty over who might replace him, experts say it's too dangerous for anyone to walk away from Pervez Musharraf.
SETH JONES, RAND CORPORATION: The idea of major violence, street demonstrations erupting in a very fragile country with nuclear weapons, I think from an international standpoint, including an American standpoint, means it's very important to walk cautiously here.
TODD: And even Musharraf's harshest critics admit Pakistan's political parties are in disarray after eight years of his rule, and when they were in power, they were corrupt and ineffective -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian thanks for that.
The terror attacks of 9/11 instantly made President Musharraf a vital ally and the United States started pouring aid into Pakistan. Take a look at this. Over the past five years, the U.S. has increased military assistance to Pakistan by 300 percent. Last year the total was $300 million. That alone could buy 15 fighter jets, like the F- 16.
Iran often shows off its latest weapons. It now has found a less deadly way to strike at the United States or will the end result be just as dangerous?
CNN's Aneesh Raman is in Tehran -- Aneesh.
ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, for the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it is a new campaign against an old enemy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
RAMAN (voice-over): It's often with anger that Iran's leader speak about the U.S.
RAMAN: But on state-run TV, the state has been trying a different tactic, mixed into the main news channel are political cartoons, often starting with a slate like this one which reads "no explanation needed." This one pokes fun at U.S. policy in Iraq. Uncle Sam running between bombs looking for an exit and when he finds three doors, no such luck.
President Bush also often gets a grilling. Here he's talking to the world about Iran's nuclear program, alleging Iran wants nuclear weapons, all while his nose grows longer like Pinocchio in front of a laughing globe. The cartoons, and there are many, have even made their way onto YouTube, varying from anti-American riffs to others about Israel that outside of Iran would be defined as anti-Semitic. As for those on the U.S., the intent is clear, at least to moderates like this professor at the University of Tehran.
PROF. SADEGH ZIBAKALAM, UNIV. OF TEHRAN: Tehran (inaudible) anti-Americans amongst average Iranians than say five years ago or certainly a decade ago, so maybe the government has realized that anti-American feeling is on the decline and they have started to make these cartoons to sort of sustain anti-American feeling.
RAMAN: But one cartoon that would have most Iranians agreeing is this one. It shows the U.S., Europe and the U.N. combing the ground for evidence of an Iranian weapons program. In the end, they missed the arsenal that Israel allegedly has.
RAMAN: The cartoons appeal to many here which is why some moderates are concerned they'll leave the average Iranian confused between American policy and the American people -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Aneesh Amman reporting from Tehran for us.
Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, he's swung his hammer in all sorts of directions and tonight the former House majority leader, Tom DeLay bashes his own. You're going to want to hear what he has to say about Newt Gingrich.
And another shot fired in the showdown between the White House and the Congress, and it's putting the pair on a collision course. We'll update you on what's going on.
Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Carol Costello is in New York. She's monitoring a lot of stories coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. What's crossing the wires, Carol?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Wolf. Hello to all of you.
Another blow to government efforts to control Internet pornography. Today a federal judge struck down a 1998 law that makes it a crime for commercial Web site operators to let children access harmful material. In the ruling the judge says parents can protect their children through less restricted means that don't limit the rights of others to free speech. He says those measures can include software filters.
You could take part in an unusual contest. It's a global competition to redesign Jerusalem in a way that fosters peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, no kidding. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will take entries from across the globe beginning on March 31. Five winners will receive a fellowship at MIT worth $50,000. They'll spend their time at MIT working together on how their ideas can be implemented.
Cosmetic surgery is booming. Last year more people in the United States than ever before got cosmetic surgery. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons says nearly 11 million cosmetic surgery operations were performed in the United States last year. That's up seven percent from 2005. The most popular procedure -- breast implants, nose jobs come in second, liposuction comes in third.
St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa is apologizing after his arrest on a drunk driving charge. Police in Jupiter, Florida say they found LaRussa asleep in his sport utility vehicle earlier this morning. They say the SUV was running and was at a stop light. Police say breath samples show his blood-alcohol level was above Florida's legal driving limit. LaRussa says he regrets the incident -- back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: That's pretty embarrassing.
COSTELLO: Yes. Maybe he was still celebrating...
COSTELLO: ... after last season.
BLITZER: Still -- all right. Thanks. Could have been worse. He could have been actually driving, gotten into an accident.
Just ahead, the man once called the hammer, pounding away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He chewed me out at one time when I told him that I was going to call for Bill Clinton's resignation. It was strained.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So who is Tom DeLay actually talking about? We'll have details of that. You're going to want to hear what he has to say.
And mystery solved, the man behind that controversial and popular anti-Hillary Clinton ad, saying he did it, so why did he wait so long to come forward? We'll be right back.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approving a $122-billion measure for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the measure also calls for U.S. combat troops to be pulled from Iraq by early next year. The White House threatening a veto.
Urging a Plan B, Amnesty International wants the U.S. to scrap its plan for trying terror detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba before a U.S. military tribunal. It says the group is urging that they be tried in U.S. federal courts. Amnesty International says the military trials don't meet international standards of fairness.
And suing one of the armed services in California. Coastal regulators and environmental groups separately are suing the U.S. Navy. They each claim that Navy sonar training exercises off the California coast are threatening marine life.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Congress one step closer tonight to an all-out constitutional showdown with President Bush, as it probes the firings of those eight federal prosecutors. The Senate Judiciary Committee rejecting a White House compromise following the lead of House counterparts. The committee authorizing subpoenas for top White House aides Karl Rove and former counsel Harriet Miers among others.
Let's go to our congressional correspondent Dana Bash. She's on Capitol Hill. Dana, give us the -- give us a little bit more on what is going on, because the tone of this discussion right now is not very pleasant.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's definitely some tension here, a good deal of tension here, Wolf, about how all of this is going to play out. But it's mixed in with some healthy bravado from newly empowered Democrats who are determined not to back down in the face of this standoff with the president.
BASH (voice-over): It may have been frustration. It may have been a negotiating tactic. But the Democratic chairman's tone was angry.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: No, we're told we can get is nothing, nothing, nothing. We're told that we can have a closed door meeting with no transcript, not under oath, 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 baas 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), AL: Do the informal interviews that they have suggested and if that is not sufficient, then who 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: I say to my dear friend from Pennsylvania, they have already rejected that. Why waste our time bidding against ourselves, when they have already said no?
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, (R) PA: Rejections eyeball to eyeball count. Rejections in news conferences don't count.
BASH: All that led to this observation.
SEN. TOM COBURN, (R) OK: 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.
BASH (on camera): And Senator Arlen Specter actually tried to test that theory today. We just learned late tonight that Senator Specter called the White House counsel Fred Fielding and offered his counterproposal.
That is no oath for White House aides, a limited number of questioners but they would still be in public and it would be on the record. Senator Specter said that the White House counsel promised to take to the president.
BLITZER: The Senate Democrats, led by Pat Leahy, they pretty seem adamant. What about the House Democrats?
BASH: It's definitely a different kind of tone coming from the house. The House judiciary chairman John Conyers sent a letter to the White House saying that he actually wants to negotiate. He's welcoming a negotiation. But I can tell you that late tonight, they got I think the best way to describe it is kind of a big fat no from the White House on that. So neither seems to be working right now. They're still dug in on both sides.
BLITZER: I know you're going to watch every step of the way. Dana, thanks.
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 actually 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, DC could impanel a grand jury to seek the indictment of administration officials for refusing to testify.
Lots of steps in this process.
In his new book, he calls Bill Clinton "slimy" and claims Bill Clinton cheats in life and golf. Those words from the book "No Retreat, No Surrender" written by the man once known as the "Hammer."
And although he goes on the attack against Democrats and liberals, the former House majority leader Tom DeLay also blasts some of his fellow Republicans.
BLITZER: 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 ... DELAY: No.
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 would 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 ...
BLITZER: So ...
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: Tom DeLay speaking with me earlier. Still ahead tonight, here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the man behind that hugely popular YouTube video against Hillary Clinton has now come forward. Does he have ties to Barack Obama's campaign? We're going to update you on this story.
And duck and cover, caught on tape. CNN's Jeanne Moos has a most unusual look at some famous flinches. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: It's a hit on YouTube it turns out that highly popular anti-Hillary Clinton video cost its creator his job. Speaking out right now, saying he's proud of it but is he tied to Senator Barack Obama's campaign? Let's go back to Carol Costello in New York. She has got more on who is behind this ad. Carol?
COSTELLO: Well, Wolf, his name is Phil and he was outed by the liberal blog huffingtonpost.com. For now he's talking but only online.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I intend to keep telling you exactly where I stand...
COSTELLO (voice over): Philip de Vellis created the anti-Hillary Clinton video sensation secretly, but now boldly blogs, "Hi, I'm Phil. I did it. And I'm proud of it."
So why not admit to it in the first place? His employer, Blue State Digital, has done Internet strategic planning for Barack Obama. For whatever reason, de Vellis ignored company policy that forbids outside political work or commentary. De Vellis has been terminated.
So, why did he do it?
ANDREW RASIEJ, TECHPRESIDENT.COM: I think it gives citizens, whether you're a political professional, or whether you're just an average voter, the feeling that you can actually be part of the conversation, that you can affect the discourse.
COSTELLO: But de Vellis is no ordinary citizen. He's part of the Internet political mafia and has done work for a number of Democratic campaigns. Fellow mafia members are buzzing about his YouTube hit, some accusing him of stealing the idea from a blogger named ConnecticutBob.
See for yourself. The difference? ConnecticutBob took aim at Joe Lieberman during his re-election campaign last year and got only 1,000 hits. De Vellis' slicker take has now attracted more than 1.8 million hits.
He says he picked on Hillary Clinton because he thinks her conversation is disingenuous and Obama represents a new kind of politics.
And what does Hillary Clinton say?
CLINTON: This is a new era of campaigning. There's new ways of communicating. I think it's exciting that it is democratizing the process.
COSTELLO: But de Vellis' ad could have hurt the candidate he aimed to help. Barack Obama's vowed to run a clean campaign, and says, "The Obama campaign and its employees had nothing to do with the creation of the ad."
He and Clinton are now trying to control a message that's out of their control. Former Senator Bob Kerrey ran for president in 1992 and is now president of The New School.
His take on all of this?
BOB KERREY, PRESIDENT, THE NEW SCHOOL: It's apt to be both disruptive and destructive of the way we've done it in the old -- in the old days, but I would say, in general, anything that rewards high quality, anything that distributes the power outward, as opposed to inward, and anything that can be done in as unregulated a fashion as possible, I think it's apt to be good.
COSTELLO (on camera): Maybe so. De Vellis did lose his job because he wasn't assigned to the Obama account. But not many believe he'll be unemployed for long. After all, Wolf, his creation has been wildly successful.
BLITZER: He certainly has some talent in that field. All right, Carol, thanks.
And the man behind the ad didn't come forward without some online detective work. Let's go to CNN's Jacki Schechner. Jackie, what have you learned?
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as Carol mentioned, Wolf, Ariana Huffington exposed de Vellis on her group blog, The Huffington Post. We spoke to her today and she says that she gathered up her team of 35 to track down leads that they figured out who was somebody who liked Obama in the political community and then they started making calls.
She wouldn't tell me exactly who confirmed that final lead, but she says by the time she found out it was de Vellis and she called him herself, she knew for a fact he was their guy.
She then posted his game on her blog and then invited him to blog for himself and that's exactly what he did, Wolf.
BLITZER: Before we knew there was some suspicion among liberal bloggers that this is the work of a Republican seeking to foment dissent among Senators Clinton and Obama. So how are the liberal bloggers reacting? SCHECHNER: General overall reaction is really mixed. There's still some holdouts online who think we probably don't know the story, but if you believe it was in fact de Vellis, there are some that say he undermined Democrats by creating this anti-Clinton ad and he should have used his considerable skill to create an anti-Republican ad instead and then there are some who do say that this was a great video and he will be employed again, Wolf, within about 30 seconds.
BLITZER: We'll see. Thanks, Jacki, for that.
Up ahead tonight here in THE SITUATION ROOM, it's the most human of reactions, the flinch. Jeanne Moos tells us about a flinch caught on camera today and some other famous flinches.
And another twist in the saga over the fired U.S. attorneys. We're going to hear from CNN's Jack Cafferty. He's got "The Cafferty File." Stay with us.
BLITZER: Let's go back to Jack in New York for "The Cafferty File." Jack?
CAFFERTY: Wolf, the question this hour is will we ever know what happened to those fired U.S attorneys? As the squabble goes on in Washington between the White House and the Congress.
Holly writes, "I certainly hope we'll find out everything. Thankfully we now have the power of the subpoena. Add that in with the fired prosecutors making a stink and I think we'll go somewhere."
Robert in Wisconsin. "I think this will be the real test for the Democrats. Have they got what it takes? And while I doubt they do, and thus we will never know, I have some hope."
Nancy in New York. "Gee, funny thing. Even with those missing 16 days of e-mail, I feel like I know exactly what happened to the fired attorneys. I feel like they were victims of an administration that's always had the hubris to do whatever it feels like doing in order to obtain its political ends.
"The missing e-mails might fill in some amusing details, but with or without them, I think the overall picture is pretty clear."
Robin in Massachusetts. "Jack, this administration has been ready to fight to the death on this kind of scenario for quite a while. Great! Finding out what was in those missing e-mails will just be a bonus compared to watching those morons go down in flames. Remember, in the digital age, nothing is ever really erased."
Juliet writes, "No, and I'm certain the Democrats could be doing something considerably more constructive like actual work."
And Janine in Birmingham, Alabama. "That's the new $64,000 question. It replaces, 'What happened to the weapons of mass destruction,' and 'Who is Anna Nicole's baby's daddy?'" If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to cnn.com/caffertyfile where we post some more of them. There are also video clips of "The Cafferty File" there as well. Wolf?
BLITZER: Jack, see you tomorrow. Thanks very much.
There are new developments tonight in that story we've been following. Poor, even deplorable conditions. It's military care facilities. Disturbing results are in from a nationwide Veterans' Administration review. CNN's Ed Lavandera is on the s story. Ed, what does it say?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, V.A. officials insist that the majority of the problems this report discovered are just part of everyday normal wear and tear. But not everyone agrees and some Democratic lawmakers say it's a sign of a bigger problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Reports of unacceptable conditions at Walter Reed triggered this nationwide review of 1,400 Veterans' Administration facilities. The report lists more than 1,000 instances of poor conditions and what's being done about them.
Most of the citations, like at this facility in St. Cloud, Minnesota, are about deterioration and upkeep -- old carpet, peeling paint, worn floor tiles or leaks.
But a few of them are more severe -- mold, bugs, sightings of mice and, in one case, even bats. The bat infestation was reported at this facility in southern Oregon. The bats are not just in the attics. They sometimes get inside the hallways.
The report says eradicating them may be too difficult, plus, the bats eat mosquitoes. The V.A. says the overwhelming majority of the citations are standard wear and tear, which are fixed on an ongoing basis, and that there is a plan to immediately fix the more serious problems.
Reaction from Capitol Hill Democrats, who now control the purse strings, was swift.
SEN. DANIEL AKAKA (D), HAWAII: It was heartbreaking for me to read the V.A.'s self-report, which uncovered conditions, as we've read of leaky roofs, deteriorating walls, moldy rooms and even bat infestation.
LAVANDERA: But one veteran hopes to broaden the issue from the buildings to the overall care.
BOBBY MULLER, VETERANS FOR AMERICA: This is not a story that's simply about, you know, mice and mold and doing the paint job. You've got to go deeper and really deal with the quality of the programs, or the lack of these programs, to treat this new generation of veterans that's coming back.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
LAVANDERA (on camera): The report also says that the majority of the problems found at the V.A. facilities occurred in areas where patients are not treated and V.A. officials tell CNN today that the V.A. health care system is still widely cited as the best in the country. Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: All right, Ed. Thanks. Let's find up what's coming up right at the top of the hour. Paula Zahn is standing by. Hi, Paula.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Wolf. Thanks so much. So the question that's "Out in the Open" tonight, how bad is that mortgage meltdown going to get and what should you do if you're in trouble? We have some answers for you coming up a little bit later on.
Also, will the promise of a better sex life get you into church? We're going to bring one preacher's sales pitch right out in the open don't and boy, the number of parishioners has gone way up. I wonder why, Wolf?
BLITZER: I'm going to wait and watch your show and we'll soon find out. Thanks, Paula, for that.
Up ahead, the company that's recalled pet food linked to animal deaths has something new to worry about tonight. We'll have details.
And some out of control moments from the past. Jeanne Moos takes closer look at some famous flinches, including the one that happened today. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Caught on tape. A look at how people react when something unexpected happens suddenly. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When things go boom and cameras happen to be rolling, you can get that videotape is going to get rolled over and over again. Everyone was comparing how the new U.N. secretary-general tended to ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Duck and cover
MOOS: While the hard-nosed Iraqi prime minister.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nouri al-Maliki really never even moved.
MOOS (on camera): The blast in Baghdad got us thinking about that most human of reactions. The flinch.
(voice-over): We in the media do a lot of flinching.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry, that scared me.
MOOS: With our clumsy mikes. With our falling lights. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A challenge that he made to his Democratic opponent ...
MOOS: There's a lot to make us flinch.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First day to allow citizens -- Excuse me, we're having some technical problems in the studio.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a fire in the studio.
MOOS: Sometimes we desert the ship, and sometimes we're the last ones to flee.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We're actually now just getting some fire, some rockets have been fired.
MOOS: Anderson Cooper doesn't flinch at mortal danger. Anderson flinches at frogs.
COOPER: That is just -- whoa!
MOOS: One of the most fearsome non-flinchers was the since executed president of Afghanistan, in the middle of an interview, his interpreter had an epileptic seizure. You will hear him scream and fall into his leader's lap.
Najibullah never bats an eye. The interpreter recovered.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN HOST: In front of the Israeli Defense Force -- as I said ...
MOOS: Coolness under fire counts except if you're seriously worried about a chemical weapons attack by Saddam.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looks like it might have been an explosion -- My apologies. He's putting on a gas mask.
MOOS: Who wouldn't flinch if you think you're under a poison gas attack?
We play childhood games that teach us not to flinch, and it becomes a test of manliness.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to flinch.
MOOS: That's what they all say, until the jet swoops by a little too low. Sometimes it pays to duck as Ann Coulter found out facing a pie thrower. The secretary-general shouldn't feel bad about ducking. It could have been much worse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ahh! Jesus Christ.
MOOS: We in the media even practice self-inflicted flinching.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, man!
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: What a piece. Let's go back to Carol, she is monitoring some other important stories. Hard to top that, but what do you got, Carol?
COSTELLO: I told you I never want to follow Jeanne Moos. All right, in the headlines tonight, the company that's recalled pet food linked to more than a dozen animal deaths is being slapped with a class action lawsuit. A Wisconsin pet owner filed the suit against Menu Foods, She says the company's food made her cat seriously ill. Her attorney says more than 95 people have joined the suit. Menu Foods has no comment on the lawsuit but expresses sympathy for pet owners.
Iran's navy today began another round of war games in the Persian Gulf. State television says the weeklong exercise will test newly designed weapons, including a submarine built by Iran's own defense industry. Iran has held several war games over the past year as tension grows over its nuclear program.
A federal judge is refusing to allow a class action lawsuit against State Farm Insurance to go forward. At issue, the insurer's denial of claims on Mississippi's Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. A woman asked the judge to allow her to join other policy holders whose homes were reduced to slabs in suing State Farm. The judge rejected that request saying there are too many factual differences between the cases.
And a bill that would give the District of Columbia a full vote in the House has now been postponed indefinitely. The bill stalled today when Republicans unexpectedly inserted an amendment that would repeal the city's ban on hand guns.
Majority Democrats put off action indefinitely out of concern that they might lose control over the proceedings. D.C.'s Democratic Mayor Adrian Fenty says the maneuver by Republicans will likely backfire on them. So another defeat for D.C., Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Too bad for them. See you tomorrow, Carol. Thanks very much.
Let's take a look at some of the "Hot Shots," pictures coming in from our friends at the A.P.
In Boise, Idaho, a city bus shoots flames nearly three stories into the air. No one was on the bus when the fire started.
In India, a girl catches water droplets from a broken pipe. Coping with water scarcity is the theme for World Water Day which is being observed across the globe today.
In Afghanistan, horse riders compete in the country's national sport in which players fight to place a goat carcass onto a circular goal. And in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a chimpanzee couple plays with their one month old little baby.
Some of this hour's "Hot Shots," pictures often worth a thousand words.
Let's go to Paula in New York. Paula?
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