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Interview With John Bolton; Presidential Contenders Release Fund-Raising Numbers

Aired April 2, 2007 - 19:00   ET


Happening now, a stunning new threat in the showdown over Iraq, more deadlines, the top Senate Democrat says he is ready to pull the funding trigger unless President Bush blinks. Also this hour, the house speaker in the Middle East and under fire. Is Nancy Pelosi's trip to Syria a diplomatic danger? I'll ask the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton.

And money talks -- we'll tell you which presidential contenders are bragging about their first quarter cash hauls and shattering records along the way.

Wolf Blitzer's off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It's the political equivalent of the nuclear option, and it was thrown today into the already high stakes Iraq battle between the Democratic-controlled Congress and the president. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid now is threatening a vote to cut off most war funds if President Bush vetoes legislation that includes a timetable for withdrawal.

Our White House correspondent Ed Henry joins us. Of course, the White House, as you know, Ed, cannot be happy about this showdown.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Good evening, Suzanne. You know the White House is fired up whenever they roll out the big gun, Vice President Cheney, and today he was the one firing the missiles. It's usually almost a good cop/bad cop strategy. So while the president himself today was laying low, had a low profile on this story, it was the vice president who was blasting away.


RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's time the self-appointed strategists on Capitol Hill understood a very simple concept. You cannot win a war if you tell the enemy when you're going to quit.



HENRY: Now Senator Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley (ph), today fired back saying quote, "the only thing that has shifted is the public's opposition to the war in Iraq as more and more Americans demand to see the troops get out of clearly what is a civil war. This administration stubbornly continues to stick its head in the sand." That coming from Senator Reid's office.

Now both sides were already girding for this veto showdown over the war funding bill, now the second battle breaking out over a second bill on Iraq. This only raises the stakes. The White House believes they have a political opening here because as recently as last month Senator Reid was insisting and vowing to the American people he would not cut off funding for the war in Iraq. Now he is. The difference Democrats say is that the situation on the ground has only gotten worse -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And Ed, as we know, part of the White House strategy critical is who speaks and when they speak. When do we expect to hear from the president?

HENRY: You're absolutely right and that's why we're going to hear the president come out tomorrow morning in the Rose Garden. Just had a late add to his schedule, 10: 10 a.m. Eastern Time. You're going to see the president come out, make a statement on this Iraq funding controversy. That is a clear sign the White House believes they are going to get some more political mileage out of this. They would not bring the president out unless they felt like they were scoring some points here -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Ed, thanks so much. We'll be watching for that for tomorrow.

Of course, it comes as Congress does approve legislation -- if Congress does approve legislation cutting off almost all funding for the Iraq war, what would happen to the Iraqi people in harm's way?

Joining us now, Michael Ware. Tell me, you're on the ground, the situation there, what would happen if the U.S. government pulled most of the funding out for U.S. troops by March of next year?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, it would be an American nightmare. If Congress decided to cut off the flow of finances, if America decides to stop paying for this war and the fight grinds to a halt, then the people that will benefit will be the enemies that America has identified -- al Qaeda and Iran particularly. Because there's no one else to pick up the mantle of the fight and carry it forward.

Within Iraq there would be unimaginable bloodshed. And as the former chief of central command, General Abizaid forewarned, there would almost certainly be regional warfare within the broader Middle East that without a shadow of a doubt would not only produce more terrorists but would ultimately eventually blow back on the United States of America.

MALVEAUX: Could the Maliki government survive such a pullout in reducing those funds? WARE: Not at all, not at all. If these funds are cut off, not only does it rip the carpet out from underneath the feet of the American troops here on the ground but given that America is underwriting the Maliki government certainly in terms of finances, it would see this brittle administration here in Iraq crumble as well. Again, who would be the victor, no one but Iran.

Iran already has much greater political influence here in this country than Washington does. So if the pipeline of money stops, there's nothing to stop Iran consolidating its power. Now while I understand the Democrats and their posturing like this on the finance issues in Congress reflects the mood of America, here on the ground it just means trouble and a nightmare end to this war.

MALVEAUX: Meanwhile, some of the 9,000 troops headed to Iraq as part of the scheduled troop rotations will be going there sooner than expected. Many are back before they are able to spend a full year at home. Today the Army said about 7,000 troops will deploy between June and November with two units deploying before their full year at home is up.

While Britain is working for the release of its sailors and marines being held captive in Iran, there is new concern about an American missing in that country. He is a former FBI official who has not been heard from for several weeks, prompting the State Department to take action.

CNN's State Department correspondent Zain Verjee has those details -- Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, the U.S. is hunting for a missing man. He's an American in Iran.


VERJEE (voice-over): Officials tell CNN the missing American disappeared several weeks ago from the resort island of Kish, off the southern coast of Iran.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: He is a private citizen. He was there on private business.

VERJEE: The State Department insists he's not currently working in any way for the U.S. government. The FBI confirms he retired 10 years ago. As an agent he followed organized crime in the U.S., but did not work in an intelligence capacity. Officials say he was working for an independent author and producer and was in Iran trying to arrange an interview.

It's been weeks since he's been in touch with the employer or his family. The U.S. is treating this as a missing person's case and has been monitoring the situation. But after coming up dry is now taking action, formal contact with Iran.

MCCORMACK: Today we are sending to the Iranian government through the Swiss channel an inquiry as to whether or not they have any information on his welfare and whereabouts.


VERJEE: Officials say they have no indication at this point that this man is being held by Iranians. CNN has placed calls to Iranian officials hoping to get some response -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thanks -- Zain Verjee at the State Department. The State Department says there is no link between this case and those captive British sailors and marines. In fact, this man disappeared before the British forces were seized.

Jack Cafferty joining us now from New York -- what are you looking at this hour, Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Some British schools are avoiding teaching history lessons about the Holocaust and other controversial topics so that Muslim children are not offended -- ready for that? Alter the teaching of history so as not to offend anyone.

A study conducted by the Historical Association funded by the British government found some schools specifically avoid teaching about the Holocaust because they're afraid it will stir up anti- Semitic sentiment among Muslim students. Other topics that teachers shy away from include the crusades because, once again, balanced lessons may not match up to what's being taught in the mosques.

And teaching about slavery is avoided as well in some schools because it may isolate black students. The report found that schools are staying clear of these lessons so they don't appear insensitive to individuals or groups in their classes. Political correctness at the expense of historical accuracy -- what are we becoming?

Here's the question. Should schools drop the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils? E-mail your thoughts to or go to -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: So, Jack, what do you think? Do you think political correctness is out of control?

CAFFERTY: I think it's nonsense. You know, you don't teach about things like the Holocaust, then they happen again sometime.

MALVEAUX: OK, Jack. We'll get back to you very shortly.

And coming up, the president's former U.N. ambassador standing with Mr. Bush against the house speaker. John Bolton weighs in on Nancy Pelosi's impending trip to Syria and the threat to White House diplomacy.

If he runs for president, Newt Gingrich may have already alienated a big block of voters by talking ghetto language.

And take a look at this -- presidential hopeful Barack Obama as a sculpture and possibly a savior? It's Jeanne Moos' story. You won't want to miss this one.


MALVEAUX: It's among the highest-level defections ever from President Bush's inner circle. A former top adviser now is voicing his disappointment and disapproval of the president's leadership.

CNN's Brian Todd joins us live. Brian, I've spoken to a lot of White House defectors who will criticize privately but not publicly. Tell us about who this is.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is rare, Suzanne. This man's name is Matthew Dowd, one of the architects of the president's re- election in 2004. This is indeed a significant break because for the first time an inside player from Mr. Bush's Texas-based political team has turned on him publicly.


TODD (voice-over): As a strategist for President Bush's 2004 re- election, Matthew Dowd was second only to Karl Rove.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're all in this together.

TODD: Now Dowd tells "The New York Times" he's disappointed in his former boss. Citing the Iraq war, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and other issues, Dowd says George W. Bush has quote, "become more in my view secluded and bubbled in." A scripted coordinated response from the White House, first from counselor to the president, Dan Bartlett.

DAN BARTLETT, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: He's going through a lot of personal turmoil but also he has a son who is soon to be deployed to Iraq. That can only impact a parent's mind as they think through these issues.

TODD: Then from Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESWOMAN: Well I think that he's had some personal hardship and also he has a son who has volunteered to serve in our armed forces and he's going to be deploying to Iraq. And I can only imagine that that affects a parent's thinking.

TODD: In addition to Dowd's son going to Iraq, they're loosely referring to the death of a daughter and his divorce. Dowd issued a statement saying Bartlett is a friend and he believes he meant to be kind. But another friend of Dowd's tells CNN it's inaccurate to peg this to personal problems. And Republican strategist Vin Weber says something else is at play.

VIN WEBER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The people that came with George Bush, if you will, in 2000 whether directly with him or as part of his political support team really saw the presidency transformed into something other than they had expected when they backed him.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD: Meaning says Weber that some Bush loyalists never thought the president would be so fundamentally changed by 9/11 and the Iraq war -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And is there anything else that Dowd's friends or associates are saying about White House reaction today?

TODD: Well Dowd's friends who I spoke to, in addition to some Republican strategists say that despite the somewhat moderate tone taken by White House officials that they are fuming behind the scenes. One strategist said quote, "there is smoke coming out of the White House over this."

MALVEAUX: Well Brian, not surprising, certainly, a typical strategy of this White House. Thank you very much.

TODD: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: Some Hispanic critics have called his words hateful. That would be comments from Newt Gingrich, the Republican and former House speaker is blasting bilingual education and he's doing it by using a very controversial reference.

Our national correspondent Bob Franken reports.



BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In a speech this weekend, former Speaker Newt Gingrich called for English to be the official language of government at all-public schooling.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and so they learn the language of prosperity not the language of living in a ghetto. We should establish...

FRANKEN: The phrase language of the ghetto was vintage Gingrich, and so was the outraged response to it.

CHRISTINE NEUMANN-ORTIZ, VOCES DE LA FRONTERA: Three words came into my mind. Ignorance, eliticism (ph), and racism.

FRANKEN: Mr. Gingrich's office declined to comment on whether the line was part of his prepared speech.

GINGRICH: The elites in the city will go crazy. They'll say you're not allowed to talk about that. Well, we just did.

FRANKEN: If Gingrich does run for president, he might have to find support somewhere besides any block of Hispanic voters.

ROSA ROSALES, LULAC: It was just very offensive and I would say to him that I heard he might run for president. That if he expects any kind of support from the Latino community in the United States that he needs to do much better.

FRANKEN: Many Republicans including President Bush have pushed hard to win over Latino voters. In 2004, George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. Last year's street demonstrations showed that supporters of immigration can turn out high numbers. But English only advocates say that while Gingrich's choice of words was not ideal, his positions on the subject and English emergent could be a winner with those on the other side.

JIM BOULET, ENGLISH FIRST: Official English has 80-percent support. The mystery is not that Newt Gingrich has endorsed it but every other candidate, Republican and Democrat, has not.


MALVEAUX: Again, that was our national correspondent Bob Franken.

CNN asked Gingrich's office if he'll apologize for his remark. His office declined to comment, but a review of past speeches shows Gingrich has supported English only and opposed bilingual education.

Ahead in THE SITUATION ROOM, Hillary Clinton breaks records and the bank, but another presidential candidate's new cash haul may be a bigger bombshell.

Plus, we're getting new information this hour about what powerful tsunami and the extent of its devastation. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


MALVEAUX: Brianna Keilar is monitoring the wires, keeping an eye on the video feeds from all around the world. She joins us with a closer look at what's happening this hour. Brianna, what are you chasing?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Suzanne, Chicago's police superintendent Philip Cline is stepping down. He had been expected to retire later this year. Cline's announcement comes amid allegations an off-duty police officer pummeled a female bartender and six other officers beat up several businessmen in two separate incidents caught on tape. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley says he did not ask Cline to leave but he says the scandal has tarnished the police department.

And in Ohio an escaped inmate led police on a six-hour chase before he was captured today. Authorities say Billy Jack Fitzmorris overpowered a hospital security guard. He allegedly robbed two banks before holding up inside a suburban Columbus house and taking a woman hostage. A man and another woman in the house got out safely. Fitzmorris finally surrendered to police. The hostage is OK and Fitzmorris is awaiting sentencing on drug charges.

It's called the New Hope Amish School and it marks a new beginning for young Amish students who survived a horrifying shooting last year. The one-room school house opened today in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. It's a few hundred yards from the spot where a gunman shot 10 of their classmates last fall killing five girls. The old school house, you may recall, was torn down after the shootings.

And the baseball season got off to an emotional start in New York. The widow of New York Yankees' pitcher Cory Lidle and their 6- year-old son Christopher threw out the ceremonial first pitches in the Yankees' season opener against Tampa Bay. Lidle was killed in a private plane crash in New York City last October and his teammates are going to be wearing black armbands this season to honor him -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: That's very nice, very special. Thanks, Brianna.

Just ahead, the Senate majority leader now threatening to cut off funds for the war in Iraq.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a winning strategy now. We can start with that. Fifty-seven percent of the country is against this. I think what Senator Reid is doing is reflecting what public opinion is in the United States.


MALVEAUX: But many Republicans disagree. We'll hear both sides in our "Strategy Session" with James Carville and Terry Jeffrey.

Plus, is it a mission for peace or dangerous diplomacy? New developments on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's controversial visit to Syria.

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


MALVEAUX: It's another shot fired in the battle of the branches. More on our top story.

The Senate's top Democrat threatening a vote to cut off nearly all funds for Iraq. That's the focus of our "Strategy Session". A short while ago I spoke with CNN political analyst and Democratic strategist James Carville and Terry Jeffrey, editor-at-large of "Human Events."

Now both of you I'm sure are aware of the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, putting forward this threat of legislation. He says, look, if the president vetoes our bill, we're going to put something forward that basically pulls out most of the funds for the troops by March of next year. I don't think that there's any Democratic candidate who is going to sign on to that. I mean who would possibly say, OK, that is a winning strategy?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, what we're doing now is not winning. We have a winning strategy now. We can start with that. Fifty-seven percent of the country is against this. I think what Senator Reid is doing is reflecting what public opinion is in the United States and in the caucus. This is obviously people are negotiating the position here because the Democrats have passed a funding bill that funds through...

MALVEAUX: But they barely did. He can't get the kind of support...


MALVEAUX: He cannot get the Democratic support or the two-thirds majority to override.

CARVILLE: He probably is doing it a little bit, but this war is a very unpopular war. This war has not gone well. This administration has had over four years to conduct this war. It did it with insufficient troops, insufficient armor, insufficient planning. And you're right. There are a lot of -- a majority of the country has now turned against it and that's...

MALVEAUX: But how is this any more than a political stunt here?


MALVEAUX: We've already got a...


MALVEAUX: ... bill on the table. The president...


TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "HUMAN EVENTS": ... political stunt. I invite anti-war Democrats right now to go to Russ Feingold's Senate Web site, which I did before I came over here because I wanted to know what this bill said. And right at the top of Russ Feingold's Web site -- I looked at it this afternoon -- the explanation of what this bill does, it says they're going to keep troops in Iraq to fight al Qaeda. They're going to keep troops in Iraq to protect our personnel and our embassy people there and they're going to keep troops in Iraq to train Iraqi forces. That's what Reid and Feingold are calling a pullout. That's what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recommended to President Bush before President Bush fired him...


MALVEAUX: Let me ask you about this. Of course, you are a supporter of Hillary Clinton. You do not work for her campaign...

CARVILLE: That's correct.

MALVEAUX: ... but you said that you support her.


MALVEAUX: Is she the kind of candidate that would sign on to this legislation?

CARVILLE: Well you know I don't know if she'd sign on the specific legislation, but she's already said she wants to get the troops out in '08. This war has gone badly. It's unpopular. The Democrats are reflecting that in the Congress. And you have this punditocracy here in Washington sitting there pontificating about nothing. It's not going well and the Democrats are going to shove to get a pullout in '08. That's a fact.

JEFFREY: The problem that Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid has, if they were actually to affect a real pullout of U.S. troops in Iraq, the Democrats are responsible for the consequences of what happened in Iraq. I invite people to read Feingold and Reid's bill. They are not actually calling for a pullout.


JEFFREY: For them to claim they're calling for a pullout is false advertising. Read their bills.


MALVEAUX: I want to wrap this...

CARVILLE: Senator Clinton has already said that she would keep people there to fight al Qaeda. The responsibility for the conduct of this war rests solely on the administration. Don't blame...


CARVILLE: Don't blame the Democrats. She didn't conduct this war. She didn't do the strategy. She didn't send insufficient troops. She didn't fail...


CARVILLE: She didn't...


MALVEAUX: Let's give Terry a chance. Real quick.

JEFFREY: Wait. Wait. If James thinks the U.S. troops should be pulled completely out of Iraq and Hillary believes that and Harry Reid believes that, why have they proposed a bill that actually says it would keep U.S. troops in Iraq? The press ought to read what Feingold's bill says.


JEFFREY: He's not calling for a pullout.

MALVEAUX: James is wearing that hat, of course, opening day (inaudible) Washington, a big Nationals fan.

You are in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, an American citizen is missing in Iran. The former FBI agent is believed to have been working for an independent author/producer. State Department officials say he was on the tourist island of Kish but hasn't been seen for several weeks. Officials say they have no reason to believe Iran is holding him.

Also in Iran, regarding those 15 British sailors and marines being held, Iranian media says all have confessed to entering Iranian waters illegally. But British officials say those so-called confessions were coerced.

And the Supreme Court hands a global warming victory to environmental groups. In a 5-4 ruling, the court gives states the right to sue the Bush administration to force officials to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new vehicles. The court also ordered the government to rethink its conclusion that CO2 is not a pollutant.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in the Middle East tonight. She is shrugging off White House criticism of her plan to visit Syria, and she's accusing the Bush administration of singling her out, while ignoring recent stops in Syria by Republican lawmakers.

In Lebanon, Pelosi spoke of improving the role Syria plays in the region.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Of course, the role of Syria in Iraq, the role of Syria supporting Hamas and Hezbollah, the role of Syria in so many respects, that we think there could be a vast improvement.

So, therefore, we think it's a good idea to establish the facts, to hopefully build some confidence between us. We have no illusions, but we have great hope.


MALVEAUX: We're going to go back to our White House correspondent, Ed Henry.

Obviously, both of us know this White House very well -- clearly an embarrassment to the administration.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Clearly. And they're frustrated, Suzanne, as well. And that's why they have been firing away at Speaker Pelosi since Friday over this matter.

Today, the White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino, hitting Pelosi yet again, saying that, basically, she is providing some cover, if you will, to President Assad in Syria, that this helps undermine the U.S. efforts to stop Syria from supporting terror -- Perino also charging that basically these photo-ops only help undermine various efforts, and also that these photo-ops are really used to the advantage of President Assad.

Some tough talk. Take a listen.


DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Syria uses these opportunities to flout -- to flaunt photo opportunities around its country and around the region and around the world to say that they aren't isolated, that they don't need to change their behavior. And it alleviates the pressure that we are trying to put on them to change their behavior.


HENRY: And, as you heard, Pelosi made no apologies for this visit today, saying she still has great hope that, by opening the door to actually talking with Syria, that this could actually get them to stop supporting terror. And she has some political cover in that.

As you know, late last year, the Iraq Study Group also said it was time for the Bush administration to open a new diplomatic initiative with Syria -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And, Ed, does Pelosi have a point here? Do we know about Republicans on this trip?

HENRY: Certainly, there are a couple of Republican lawmakers. There's a bipartisan congressional delegation traveling with Speaker Pelosi.

Also, there was another delegation in there this weekend with Republicans who met with President Assad -- Democrats trying to charge it's hypocrisy by the White House -- Dana Perino saying, look, the White House has a blanket policy against Democrats and Republicans going to Syria, meeting with President Assad.

But there's no doubt -- you're absolutely right -- we have heard a lot more vocal criticism from this White House directed at the Democratic speaker -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Ed, thanks so much.

And, tonight, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, is echoing the White House criticism of Nancy Pelosi's trip to Syria.


MALVEAUX: The first question: You have worked for the president. You have put in a lot in foreign policy here.

What we're seeing is, Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she is going to Syria to deliver a message from Israel to open up negotiations.

Has the president lost control of his foreign policy? JOHN BOLTON, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: I don't think he's lost control. But this is a very confusing thing to do.

And I think it's naive, at best, and -- and possibly quite counterproductive. I'm at a loss to understand why Speaker Pelosi wants to do something like this.

MALVEAUX: The White House has said, and it has asked her, essentially, that, look, this is not helpful, in terms of our stand. I know the Iraq Study Group says, talk to Syria, talk to Iran. They say, don't do this.

How would you approach her, if you were still in the administration in your ambassadorial kind of -- in your position?

BOLTON: Well, I don't think it's productive for her to go to Syria, at all.

But to pretend to be an envoy not just for the United States, but for Israel, has to be sending, at best, very confusing signals to the dictator in Damascus. So, I would simply hope that people would understand that, under the Constitution, the president conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House.

MALVEAUX: But what's strange here is that the prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, I mean, he knows where to go if he wants to have talks, negotiations. Go to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Instead, he goes to Nancy Pelosi here.

I mean, what does that say?

BOLTON: Well, I hope that isn't exactly what he's done. And, if he has, then, I think we need to talk to him, too.

This is not the time for people to misunderstand who speaks for the United States, particularly in the Middle East. So, I think there are a lot of mistakes being made here. And, hopefully, we will have this visit get past without more mistakes being committed.

MALVEAUX: It's hard to believe, because the prime minister really is -- he is very close to the Bush administration. They like the president here. Do you think that we are seeing maybe some back- channel talks that are going on, that perhaps there's a tacit approval from the White House: OK, let this happen?

I can't imagine that he would allow this to go forward, perhaps without a wink and a nod from the administration.

BOLTON: If this is a back channel, it's a pretty public back channel. So, my guess is, there's confusion. And, hopefully, once the trip is over, we can get it straightened out, because, if it's not straightened out, it can only be counterproductive.

MALVEAUX: Do you think that this also perhaps portends to something that might happen in the future? I'm being somewhat flip. But, you know, Syria today, Iran tomorrow, I mean, where does it end?

BOLTON: I think that's part of the problem.

I think, when you have members of the House and Senate who are out, essentially, freelancing, it gets competitive. The governor of New Mexico is now about to go to North Korea to conduct some diplomacy. So, I think this is a mistake. I think people ought to let the debate in this country take place and let the president conduct our diplomacy overseas.


MALVEAUX: Up ahead tonight: White House hopefuls show us the money. You might be surprised at who's ahead and who is behind in the race for campaign cash.

And we will get some expert advice for those candidates from someone who's been there.

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


MALVEAUX: Tonight, there is a new way to measure the 2008 candidates' early success or failure, their fund-raising estimates for the first three months of this year.

Look at this. Democrat Hillary Clinton reports a whopping $26 million in contributions in the first quarter. Republican Mitt Romney comes in second in this cash contest. He estimates raising nearly $21 million. Republican Rudy Giuliani reports $15 million in the first- quarter contributions. Democrat John Edwards is a close fourth with an estimated $14 million raised. Republican John McCain is in fifth place, with $12.5 million in donations -- no word yet on Barack Obama's cash haul. Other contenders report raising far less.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is putting all of these numbers into perspective.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Suzanne, the first-quarter fund-raising figures are starting to come in. Time to show us the money.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Records are shattering as we begin to tabulate fund-raising for the 2008 campaign.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS (singing): Money, money, money, money, money, money, money.


SCHNEIDER: Senator Hillary Clinton, a cool $26 million in contributions for the first quarter, nearly three times as much as the previous record-holder, Al Gore, for money raised at this point in the campaign.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I'm proud that I have such strong financial support from across the country.

SCHNEIDER: John Edwards reports an impressive $14 million.

Barack Obama, his numbers have not come in yet, but they're also expected to be strong.

Even the candidates farther down in the polls are posting good results.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Someone like Bill Richardson's ability to post $6 million in the first few months of the fund-raising cycle is quite amazing.


SCHNEIDER: Big surprise on the relationship side.

PRESTON: I think that the quarter goes to Mitt Romney. The former governor of Massachusetts raised more than $20 million.

SCHNEIDER: Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani's $15 million is not too shabby.

John McCain's $12.5 million looks healthy. But the McCain campaign says, "We had hoped to do better."

Altogether, candidates from both parties have raised more than $100 million so far. That dwarfs the $27.4 million raised in the first quarter of 1999, the last time both parties had competitive races.

Why so much money? With no incumbent president or vice president running, the race is wide open.

CLINTON: But, eventually, I think we have got to look toward public financing.

SCHNEIDER: Most of the leading candidates in both parties have concluded that public financing will not be adequate this year, so they're raising money for both the primaries and the general election. We could be looking at the first billion-dollar election in the nation's history.

(on camera): All that big money does not come from a small number of fat-cat contributors. The most an individual can contribute to a candidate is $2,300 for the primaries and $2,300 for the general election. It looks like a lot of people out there who are willing and able to do that -- Suzanne.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MALVEAUX: And, also, what's very interesting is, online donations are playing a huge role for Democrats in the race for campaign cash.

Internet reporter Abbi Tatton has been following that aspect of the story.

What are you seeing online?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Suzanne, that Hillary Clinton is also leading in terms of online donations, $4.2 million.

But close behind is John Edwards. The $3.3 million that he's raised online this quarter represents almost a quarter of the total that he's raised.

Now, this comes at a period where these fund-raising pitches have been deluging people's in-boxes for the last three months, these e- mails going out right until Saturday's deadline, and, after that, the Web sites of Hillary Clinton and John Edwards touting their online fund-raising success.

As for Senator Barack Obama, we don't know a dollar amount at this stage online or otherwise. But what we do know from his Web site is that 83,000 people have donated. How much cash they have handed over, Suzanne, is what we're still waiting for.

MALVEAUX: Abbi Tatton, chasing the case, thanks so much.

Senator Barack Obama is in the leadoff primary state of New Hampshire right now. The Democratic presidential candidate is holding a town meeting at Keene State College. He will campaign in the Granite State again tomorrow.

Former Democratic Senator Bill Bradley called Senator Barack Obama the rock star of the campaign. Bradley's new book is called "The New American Story."

I asked him earlier today about Senator Obama and the other White House hopefuls.


BILL BRADLEY, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that Barack is actually touching what I tried to touch in 2000, which is the inherent sense of idealism in the American people and the hope that you can build a better country and build a better day.

MALVEAUX: Would you endorse his candidacy?

BRADLEY: Well, no. He's got to do a couple of things. No, I'm under no illusion that my endorsement means anything. I wrote the book trying to build a consensus around some issues, to get people to focus, again, on the real issues that affect people's lives, which are jobs, pensions, health care and education.

MALVEAUX: Which candidate...

BRADLEY: The other issues are peripheral. Focus on the issues. Barack needs to take the rock star status, transfer it into three or four key issues that he has specific proposals on.

The other thing he needs to do is, when that light is shone on you, like it's now shining on him, he's got to reflect it back on the people and empower them, so that they know they're the ones that will bring change to America.

MALVEAUX: What does Hillary Clinton need to do?

BRADLEY: I think she's got to show her soul. I think that she's got to show a certain vulnerability. That's what I think her challenge is.

MALVEAUX: Are there any candidates that are out there that you would endorse, that you would publicly support, that are running the kind of campaign that you argue for in your book?

BRADLEY: Well, I -- as I said, I'm not expecting much from an endorsement, but...

MALVEAUX: But who would you endorse?

Has anybody approached you for endorsements?

BRADLEY: No, I have talked to a number of the candidates. I mean, I think, in terms of who's offering specific proposals, John Edwards is offering specific proposals on health care, on energy, on poverty.

And I think that that's, ultimately, a necessary prerequisite to being taken seriously, at a time where people want to hear the truth, they want to have country ahead of party, and they want to be told exactly what someone is going to do to make their lives better on the issues that affect them every day.


MALVEAUX: Up ahead: new developments in that recall of killer pet food. It stretches all the way to China. We will have the latest for you.

Plus: art, controversy, and Barack Obama. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes the "Moost Unusual" look.

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


MALVEAUX: Jack Cafferty now joins us from New York.

Jack, what's on your plate?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Suzanne, the question this hour is: Should schools drop the Holocaust from their history lessons in order to avoid offending Muslim pupils? Some schools in Britain are actually doing this.

Rosemary writes from Groton, Connecticut: "No. Rewriting history is not the solution. Refusing to admit the veracity of provable history will probably result in the repeat of the tragedy. And who died and left the Muslim extremist bigots boss?"

Dan in Melville, New York: "If Muslim kids are being taught by their parents to be offended by talk of the Holocaust, that's all the more reason to bring up the subject."

L. in Baltimore: "How could this be a serious question? Obviously, if schools dropped curriculum material that could possibly offend an ethnicity, race, religion, et cetera, we might as well just close the schools and live in well-deserved ignorance. I don't understand why learning about the Holocaust would be offensive to Muslims. Denial of the truth is not one of the tenets of their religion."

Leah, Medford, Oregon: "My uncle was with Patton in Germany and helped to liberate a camp, you know, the ones that didn't exist. Until the day he died, he cried when he remembered what he saw. Has anyone considered, those who don't learn from their mistakes are destined to repeat them? Yes, teach about it in school. Yes, everyone must remember what happened, even if it causes tears."

R. writes from Gainesville, Florida: "As a teacher, one of my deepest convictions is that, sometimes, we must disturb our students, even if they're offended. Learning does that. It shakes your convictions, makes you reevaluate your beliefs. To do less is to grotesquely shortchange our students, the people who will shape our collective future."

And Sammy writes from Boston: "Yes, drop the Holocaust stuff. Drop all that stuff about the American Revolution to avoid offending Native Americans. Drop slavery studies to avoid offending blacks. Drop talking about the KKK, so we don't offend Southern rednecks. And, for God's sake, drop math, so we don't offend cheerleaders and football players."


CAFFERTY: If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to, where we post more of them, along with video clips of "The Cafferty File" -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Jack, how was the response? A lot of people weighed in on that question?

CAFFERTY: We got a lot of mail, yes. It's -- I mean, almost across the board, people take issue with revisionist history. That's the crap they did in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. They rewrote the history books. Didn't work out too well in either of those places, and it probably won't work out well in any place that undertakes it as a steady diet. MALVEAUX: OK. Jack Cafferty, thank you so much.

Let's find out what's coming up the next hour on "PAULA ZAHN NOW."

Rick Sanchez is filling in for Paula tonight.

Rick, great to see you.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Great to see you. Good show, by the way.


SANCHEZ: We're going to be talking about something really interesting here at the top of the hour: Newt Gingrich's suggestion that Spanish is a language of the ghetto.

It has sparked a firestorm of controversy. Now, his office has been silent all throughout the last two days, since the speech, until now. You're going to hear the reaction in a few minutes right here.

Also, a Walt Disney classic that you may never see. It's "Song of the South," horribly outdated, many would argue, even racist, many would argue. It should never come out of the Disney vault, some would say. Others say, maybe not. It's out in the open. It's at the top of the hour as well.

Thanks, Suzanne. We will have that for you in just a little bit.

MALVEAUX: Great. Very provocative, Rick.

Up ahead: Powerful earthquakes spawn a killer wave. Thousands are left homeless by another Pacific tsunami.

Plus: Religion and politics collide in the art world. CNN's Jeanne Moos has a "Moost Unusual" look.

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

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And this is important. Don't underestimate, even with all the disadvantages -- or all the advantages that the wealthy and powerful and the special interests and the lobbyists have.


MALVEAUX: Brianna Keilar is monitoring the wires and keeping an eye on the video feeds from around the world. She joins us with a look at the very latest.

What are you tracking?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, a state of emergency has been declared in the western Solomon Islands, after an undersea earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami. At least 13 people are dead, and the death toll is expected to rise.

Tonight, a government official says more than 900 homes were destroyed. Thousands of people have fled to higher ground. And disaster teams are trying to get to hard-hit remote areas.

The United States is blocking imports of wheat gluten from a company in China. This comes, of course, after an investigation found a chemical contaminant in wheat gluten in recalled pet food. The chemical, melamine, is suspected in the deaths of a number of pet cats. The FDA says it's been found in wheat gluten from a single manufacturer in China.

Well, what do you do if you have the record for the world's fastest train? You break it, of course. That's what France is going to try to do tomorrow. Its new TGV bullet train will race along a new rail line from Paris to eastern France. It can go up to 335 miles an hour.


KEILAR: And that would beat the record of 320 miles an hour, which was set by another French train back in 1990 -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Brianna, thanks for keeping us updated with the latest.

In other news, some say it's no sweet Jesus, no matter what it's made of.

Our Jeanne Moos is in New York with the "Moost Unusual" take.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There have been Jesus action figures, and wax Jesus, and Jesus bobbleheads. But look what's bobbling heads the weeks before this Easter, Obama Jesus.

And, in a separate controversy:

(on camera): It's Jesus made out of chocolate.



MOOS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not the way you want to see Jesus naked, as a chocolate.

MOOS (voice-over): Brought to you by the same artist who once covered a hotel room in melted cheese.

For his latest artistic fling, Cosimo Cavallaro chose to make an anatomically correct Jesus out of chocolate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, this is the first time I'm seeing him.

MOOS (on camera): In all his glory?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The problem is the chocolate, and the idea that you should eat something like that. I even have trouble eating chocolate bunnies.

MOOS (voice-over): Actually, this Jesus was meant to be displayed, not eaten. But the New York hotel that was supposed to display it in a gallery backed out, after the president of the Catholic League went ballistic.


WILLIAM DONAHUE, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: I mean, we have a lot of these loser artists

COSIMO CAVALLARO, ARTIST: He's actually acting like a Nazi. We have a lot of these loser artists.

DONAHUE: You're accusing me of being like the Taliban; is that right?

CAVALLARO: You're not that intelligent.

You're going to see statues from Michelangelo that are nude.

DONAHUE: First of all, Leonardo, you're not.

You put your middle finger at the Catholic Church, and we just broke it, didn't we, pal?

CAVALLARO: No. You're wrong.

You're acting like a 5-year-old.


MOOS: It sort of makes Obama Jesus seems tame. A student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago created this sculpture called "Blessed."

DAVID CORDERO, ART STUDENT: I think some people might see him as a savior.

MOOS: David Cordero is actually an agnostic, though, politically, he supports Obama.

The senator put out a statement saying, "While we respect First Amendment rights and don't think the artist was trying to be offensive, Senator Obama, as a rule, isn't a fan of art that offends religious sensibilities."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is offensive, but I'm not offended. MOOS (voice-over): Do you see Rudy as Jesus or Hillary?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not even Mary Magdalene.


MOOS (voice-over): As for chocolate Jesus, he's been spending time in a refrigerated truck, and is now at an undisclosed storage space, while the artist decides where to display him, saying there have been plenty of offers.

Tom Waits has a song...

TOM WAITS, MUSICIAN: Kind of an immaculate confectionary.

MOOS: ... actually called "Chocolate Jesus."

WAITS (singing): A chocolate Jesus will never satisfy, satisfy my soul.

MOOS: But some aren't so satisfied with Cosimo the artist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he wouldn't do that about another religion, because, you know, he would get his head cut off.

MOOS: By the way, bite-sized chocolate Jesus already exists at a Web site called Chocolate Fantasies. But, when it comes to larger- than-life-size...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to eat any of it.

MOOS (on camera): All right.

(voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


MALVEAUX: Here's a look of some of the "Hot Shots" coming in from our friends in Associated Press, pictures likely to be in your newspaper tomorrow.

In Hungary, Orthodox Jews make unleavened bread in this synagogue -- in the basement of a synagogue, celebrating the Jewish holiday of Passover.

On the West Bank, a Palestinians woman marches in support of fellow Fatah students in this year's student council elections.

In Afghanistan, a woman walks over a footbridge on her way home.

And, in Milwaukee, a member of the Dixie Barons band plays his sousaphone at the opening day game. The Brewers beat the L.A. Dodgers 7-1.

And that's this hour's "Hot Shots," pictures often worth 1,000 words.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

Next up, "PAULA ZAHN NOW." Rick Sanchez is in for Paula.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much, Suzanne.


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