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War Funding Bill; Iraqi Parliament to Go On Vacation; Queen Elizabeth II Visits Virginia; Democratic Opponents
Aired May 3, 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, fears of a backlash after Democratic leaders apparently blink.
Will plans to drop an Iraq withdrawal timetable widen the party's divide?
Plus, the top U.S. general in Iraq reveals a deadly booby trap plot.
Also this hour, in Ronald Reagan's shadow -- the Republican presidential candidates gather for their first debate.
Will they embrace the 40th president and distance themselves from the current one?
And a bow to the queen. Elizabeth II begins her first state visit to the U.S. in more than a decade. We're going to carry her royal remarks.
All that coming up live.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
It's back to the drawing board and the bargaining table in the showdown over the Iraq War funding bill. Right now, Democratic leaders are struggling with the harsh reality that enacting a timetable for withdrawal simply a lost cause.
Let's bring in our Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.
She's learning about a new move by a senior Democrat to take this debate in a certain direction -- Dana, what are you picking up?
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're hearing, CNN has learned, Wolf, is (AUDIO GAP).
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
BASH (voice-over): It was the first bargaining session. The president's chief of staff and the Senate's top Republican meeting with the Senate majority leader in his office.
Afterward, Harry Reid called the meeting constructive and comfortable, telling reporters: "The ball was in the president's court. He voted it and they had to come forward with some proposals and they did, and we're going try to work through them."
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We owe it to the American people to find our common ground.
BASH: While the Senate's top leaders directly negotiate a new war funding bill with the White House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi delegated that task to her appropriations chairman, David Obey.
Some Republicans found that odd.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: That was her decision, to -- to appoint Mr. Obey as her point person. I'm not quite sure I understand how well this will work.
BASH: Pelosi's decision to keep some distance from White House talks perhaps a telling illustration of her precarious position. Democrats have privately acknowledged they will have to drop a timeline for troop withdrawal to get the president's signature. They also know that will mean angering anti-war voters and defections by Democrats.
Minnesota's Keith Ellison may be one of them.
REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: For me it would be tremendously difficult. I don't know -- I don't think I can do it.
BASH: He was elected in November on a wave of anti-war sentiment. An editorial in his hometown newspaper this morning said Ellison and others must continue opposing a continuation of this colossal blunder.
ELLISON: And I agree wholeheartedly with what was written in that editorial and I -- but I think that they are right.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: And I want to apologize for that technical audio problem at the top of Dana's report. I think we've cleaned that up.
Dana, you were telling our viewers about a new move by a senior Democrat in the Senate to take this whole debate in a certain direction.
Tell our viewers what you've learned.
BASH: Well, what CNN has learned, Wolf, is that Robert Byrd, the senator from West Virginia, is going to go to the Senate floor later this hour and offer legislation that will essentially nullify the use of force authorization that Congress passed back in 2002. It would sunset that provision by October of this year.
What is interesting is that Senator Byrd, who voted against that authorization, is going to do this along with somebody else -- Senator Hillary Clinton. Senator Clinton voted for that legislation and, of course, has had -- has had problems with that vote on the campaign trail as she has been embarking on her run for president, certainly for the Democratic primary.
Now, this is an interesting wrinkle, Wolf, as we look at how the Democratic field and their positions on the war in Iraq, how that is playing out here in the Senate because, of course, many -- in fact, most of the Democratic candidates are senators.
They're trying to navigate not only their positions on the war, but how they take critical vote after critical vote here in Congress when it comes to the war.
But once again, Senator Byrd and along with Senator Hillary Clinton are going to offer legislation momentarily, even, on the Senate floor that would sunset or essentially nullify the authorization for war that Congress passed back in 2002.
BLITZER: But in practical terms, Dana, would that just be a symbolic political statement or would it have any real impact on the president's conduct of this war?
BASH: Likely, at the end of the day, it would possibly be symbolic, Wolf. You know, you never know where these things are going to go. The idea of changing the use of force -- because the premise of this is that the authorization for war was based on toppling Saddam Hussein, which is done; getting rid of weapons of mass destruction, which didn't exist.
So the idea here is that the war in Iraq has changed fundamentally and that this will be a way to make that clear in terms of legislation.
But it's also, politically, it's very critical to point out that this is something that Hillary Clinton is pushing while this other track is going on, negotiations in Congress, as we speak, on this funding bill, which probably will not have a time line for withdrawal. And she, the senator, has not said how she would vote on that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Dana, thanks very much.
Dana will work this story for us.
A key negotiating point between the White House and Democrats, those new benchmarks for Iraqi political and military leaders to meet.
Let's go to our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux.
Lots of talk about these benchmarks for the Iraqis to accept.
What is the White House saying about all of this?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, it's too early to say whether or not they're going to agree on these benchmarks and whether or not they'll actually tie them to reconstruction aid, aid from the United States. That is the big question here.
But there's a controversy, as well, and that is the idea of the Iraqi parliament considering taking a two month vacation here, not completing a lot of these benchmarks.
The Democrats are mad. The Republicans are mad. And the White House essentially in a very awkward position here, twisting -- trying to explain all of this.
But we've heard the president talk about how important it is for the Iraqis to meet those goals, those benchmarks, political progress, including sharing oil revenues, bringing back some Saddam loyalists inside of the government.
Democrats, Republicans, we have heard from Republican Representative Chris Shays. We have heard from John Warner, many others who are saying that this is not the time to go on vacation.
Press Secretary Tony Snow put in a position to try to explain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Trying to draw broad conclusions about something that is rumored possibly to happen in two months is a great parlor exercise, but it is not a particularly useful diplomatic exercise.
QUESTION: But I mean if somebody talking about it...
SNOW: All I know, everybody...
QUESTION: ... on the ground...
SNOW: ... everybody talks about it every time they go. Surely you want to talk about this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Wolf, you can see physically struggling here, awakened to try to explain all of this. The president, who has regular conference calls with the Iraqis prime minister, Nuri Al-Maliki, they may be in discussions privately saying look, this is not a good idea here, while members of Congress saying certainly U.S. soldiers are not going to be taking a break in those two months, perhaps fighting and even dying during that time -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Suzanne, thank you.
Suzanne is watching all of this at the White House.
A vivid new shift today in U.S. relations with Syria.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets with Syria's foreign minister in Egypt on the sidelines, as the diplomats call it, of a conference involving Iraq.
It's the highest level contact between Washington and Damascus in more than two years. Afterward, Secretary Rice sat down with our own State Department correspondent, Zain Verjee.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: The Bush administration really criticized Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she went over to Syria and met with President Bashar al-Assad, essentially saying that you're rewarding bad behavior, you know?
Did you just do that?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: OK, it's one thing to go to Damascus and to have those pictures that suggests a relationship that doesn't exist with Syria, a relationship that would have to be built differently, to have broad scale talks.
This was really very -- very limited to Iraq. We talked about nothing else.
I did say to the Syrians that we had no desire to have bad relations with Syria. Of course, we'd like to have better relations with Syria, but it has to be built on the basis of something concrete.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: We're going to have a lot more of Secretary Rice's interview with Zain Verjee. That's up later here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Zain is in Sharm-El-Sheikh for this conference.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Democrat Tom Lantos of California, is weighing in on the secretary's decision to go ahead and have this meeting with a top Syrian leader. Lantos issued a statement today, saying, among other things, this. He said: "This is a marked improvement in the administration's ostrich policy approach and a tacit admission of how wrong it was last month in criticizing the speaker of the House and Congressional colleagues, including myself, for going to Damascus.
Let's go to New York right now and Jack Cafferty.
He's joining us for The Cafferty File.
I guess it's OK for the secretary of state to meet with the Syrian foreign minister, not necessarily OK for the speaker of the House to go to Damascus and meet with the Syrian foreign minister and the president, Bashar Al-Assad, at least -- am I missing something -- Jack?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's, you know, we need the government to put out a book of rules and regulations for who can go to Syria and Iran and meet with what level government officials. It's all very confusing to me. This isn't. Prince Harry is scheduled to go to Iraq with the British Army. The head of the Army has said the third in line to the British throne will serve with a combat unit in Iraq. The prince's regiment, The Blues and Royals, is supposed to begin a six month tour of duty soon, despite reported threats by Iraqi insurgents to kill or kidnap the prince.
Right now, there are about 7,100 British troops in Iraq, most of them around Basra. A couple of months back, you'll recall Tony Blair announced they're going to pull about 1,600 of those out.
Compare that to the U.S. where our president recently announced an increase of tens of thousands of troops. And consider this -- only about nine members of our Congress have sons or daughters who have served in Iraq. That includes people like Senators Jim Webb, Kit Bond, Tim Johnson and Congressman Duncan Hunter.
What if that list was longer?
Congressman Charlie Rangel has suggested that his colleagues were out of touch when they authorized this war. He wrote last fall, quoting now: "I continue to believe that decision-makers would never have supported the invasion of Iraq if more of them had family members in line for deployment."
So here's the question -- Britain's Prince Harry set to be deployed to Iraq.
Would America's war policy be any different if more lawmakers had children serving there?
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile.
We've got to credit one of the production assistants in the Washington, D.C. news bureau with that idea. They sent it to me this morning and it's a good one. So give us your thoughts on that -- Wolf.
A good question.
Thank you, Jack, for that.
Coming up, who's up and who's down among Republicans who want to be president?
Hours before they debate in California, we've got some surprising new poll numbers.
Also, officials are calling it a death trap -- a school being built for young girls in Iraq rigged with explosives. I'll talk about it with the chief military spokesman in Iraq, Major General William Caldwell. He'll join us from Baghdad.
And Queen Elizabeth is in Virginia right now to mark a 400-year- old anniversary. We're going to tell you what that is, why it matters so much to the founding of the United States.
All that coming up.
We're standing by to bring you her remarks, live, as well.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Look for the war in Iraq to be a key issue when 10 Republican presidential candidates take part in their first debate tonight. The face-off in California comes as the GOP race appears to be tightening a bit. That's mostly because Rudy Giuliani has lost a little bit of ground. An average of eight national polls taken in April shows Giuliani's lead over John McCain has shrunk to 12 points from 14 points in our so-called poll of polls back in March.
Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is standing by at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, the site of tonight's Republican debate -- Candy, the candidates, the Republican candidates, what do they need to accomplish?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously they have different needs depending on who they are.
If you're the frontrunner, Rudy Giuliani, what you really need to do tonight is show that you have much more in common with the party, especially the party base, than you have different from them. As we all know, he is more liberal on the social issues. He needs to show his conservative side, and that will be the fiscal side.
John McCain -- the pressure may be greatest on him. This is a man everyone had thought would be the frontrunner, but he has lagged third in money -- fundraising. He has not done all that well in the polls, still 12 points behind Rudy Giuliani. He needs to show some spark, some passion tonight, so that people believe that his head and his heart are really in this.
If you're Mitt Romney, we talked to his folks tonight. What they want to do is introduce him to the country. This is a chance to be on a national platform.
The rest of them -- Brownback, Gilmore, Huckabee -- they need to be standing on this stage with the frontrunners and show that they're presidential material.
BLITZER: Hovering over this debate is the current president, himself a Republican, George W. Bush.
How does he factor into this debate tonight?
CROWLEY: Well, he certainly factors. But we -- we've sort of officially entered the post-Bush era in some ways.
What this -- what they have to do as a group is show themselves as what they would do next. As we know, in those generic polls that we've seen, when you ask would you rather have a Republican president or a Democratic, the Democratic president wins.
What this group has to do is show what life would be like in the post-Bush era without getting too far away from him, because, as you know, conservatives, at this point, are still solidly behind George Bush.
BLITZER: Candy, you'll be watching this debate for us out in California.
Democrats already preparing to respond to whatever Republicans have to say in tonight's debate.
Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner.
The Democrats are getting ready online -- Jacki.
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: They are, Wolf.
They sent out an e-mail to some three million Democratic activists directing them to a new portion of their Web site that's titled democrats.org/republicans. And on this portion of their Web site they have broken down the positions of all the Republican presidential candidates. They have also managed to tackle one who is not a Republican presidential candidate at this point, former Senator Fred Thompson.
They say that they're addressing these candidates' positions on all of the issues, everything ranging from ethics to immigration reform to the war in Iraq.
What they're also going to be doing is be out on the ground in California. They're handing out a 40-page research document called "The Real Republicans," and this targets specifically the three frontrunners -- Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Senator John McCain.
Now, we spoke to the RNC about the DNC's effort, and they basically say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. They say they have been defining the Democrats for months and they consider this effort the DNC just catching up -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It seems everybody is online nowadays.
Thank you, Jacki, for that.
The next big Democratic debate happens in early June, when CNN, WMUR TV and the "New Hampshire Union Leader" host a face-off in the lead-off primary state. That's on Sunday night, June 3rd. And we'll sponsor a Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire two days later, on June 5th. All the candidates of both parties have agreed to attend both of these debates.
Still ahead, officials are calling it a death trap -- a school built for girls in Iraq rigged with explosives. I'll talk about it with the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, Major General William Caldwell, in Baghdad.
And we're also standing by for live coverage of Queen Elizabeth II's trip to the United States, marking a milestone in America's historic break with Britain. We're going to have her remarks. That's coming up this hour live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Stick around for that and a lot more.
BLITZER: Our Carol Costello is monitoring the wires. She's keeping an eye on all the video feeds coming into THE SITUATION ROOM from around the world. She's here in Washington for -- with a closer look at some other important stories -- hi, Carol.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
In a controversial case involving work and romance, he says he didn't intend to mislead anyone. That would be World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz. Some are calling for him to resign after he approved a pay raise and a promotion for his girlfriend. Today, Wolfowitz released a letter he sent to the World Bank group probing the matter. In it, Wolfowitz says he did not ignore bank ethics policies and he did not act improperly.
One of the real space cowboys has died -- Wally Schirra. NASA announced he died today. Schirra was one of the original astronauts in the Mercury 7 project. He was the only astronaut who flew in all three of the nation's space progress -- Mercury, Gemini 6 and Apollo 7. Schirra co-authored the book, "The Real Space Cowboys." He was 84 years old.
Baton-wielding police pushing and shoving protesters.
Was it appropriate or excessive force by some Los Angeles police officers?
That's what Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton wants to know. Today, he told CNN that: "Something went wrong" at Tuesday's immigration demonstration in Los Angeles. Bratton says he has serious concerns that police fired over 200 rounds of rubber bullets during the event, but made no arrests. A probe is underway, needless to say.
And could another presidential veto soon be coming?
The White House does not like a hate crimes bill making its way through Congress, so the administration is threatening to veto it. The bill would expand federal hate crime law by applying it to attacks motivated by the victim's gender or sexual orientation. Coming up, I'll tell you why some Republicans and conservatives are against that.
Back to you -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Carol, thanks very much.
We'll get back to you shortly. Now to a plot to kill Iraqi schoolchildren, a plot that would have been devastating if not uncovered.
I spoke about that with U.S. Army Major General William Caldwell, the chief spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
Joining us now in Baghdad, Major General William Caldwell, U.S. Army, the chief spokesman for the Multi-National Forces in Iraq.
General, this Huda Girls School, this plot that has apparently been thwarted, these propane tanks we're showing our viewers -- we're going to show them some pictures of what -- what you've made available to us.
Talk -- walk us through what we know.
MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: Wolf, what we found out was our troopers from our 1st Cav Division just this past week found some detonating wire across the street from the school, picked it up and started trailing it. And it led into the school.
And once they got into the school and started unraveling what was obviously a very sophisticated, premeditated attempt to inflict just massive casualties, you know, on our most innocent victims -- young children, girls in this case -- we found artillery shells that were being literally built into the ceiling. We found artillery shells, again, all hooked up with the wires being built into the floors. We found propane tanks, two very large propane tanks built into the floors under the stairwells.
Somebody had clearly taken and planned to take this school, a place of learning for these young children, and turn it into an absolute death trap.
BLITZER: This was a school -- who was building this school?
CALDWELL: We had Iraqi contractors building it and, obviously, as you can imagine, we're looking at that very closely right now.
BLITZER: But this was U.S. money. U.S. taxpayers were building a school for girls in Iraq and it was supposed to eventually bring in hundreds of girls and this plot, if it had gone forward, once the girls were inside the school, it was operating, they were going to ignite these propane tanks and the other explosives.
Is that what you're suspecting?
CALDWELL: Absolutely. And, Wolf, as we've gone through and removed these artillery shells from the school, we -- as I said, they were in the ceilings, which would have caused, you know, the explosion down and caused the other floors to cave in. They were found in the floors. They were at the doors to the classrooms, where the children -- the girls -- would have been in. I mean it was truly just an incredibly ugly, dirty kind of vicious killing that would have gone on here by al Qaeda.
BLITZER: Oh, you suspect al Qaeda was responsible for this plot?
CALDWELL: Well, we do. We do, because of the nature in which this thing had been put together, the sophistication in which it would have been pulled and laid out. I mean it was so well done and so well placed in the school area. So we're just fortunate these young troopers happened to stumble across the wire crossed on the other side of the street.
BLITZER: I want to move on, but the girls in this school predominantly Iraqi Shia girls, is that right?
CALDWELL: They are. I mean, obviously, it's a school for young girls without regard to sect. But, obviously, you can look at the area upon which these children were going to go to school.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: U.S. Army Major General William Caldwell speaking with us just a little while ago from Baghdad. Thank god that plot was thwarted.
Up next, more on the Republican debate tonight and how the candidates are likely to stake their claim to Ronald Reagan's legacy.
And Hillary Clinton taking some shots from the Democrats' left flank for her stance on Iraq. Paul Begala and Terry Jeffrey -- they're standing by for our Strategy Session.
Much more of our coverage right after this.
BLITZER: Happening now: The Israeli foreign minister says he should go -- now thousands of everyday Israelis demanding he should resign. There's more protest in Israel over the prime minister, Ehud Olmert's, handling of the war against Hezbollah and Lebanon last summer. We're watching this story.
Also, what is Syria's role in the scores of foreign fighters who cause death and destruction in Iraq? We look at this on a day that the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, delivered a strong message, in her words, to the Syrian foreign minister, a direct face-to-face meeting between the two.
And an exclusive list that no one wants to be on regarding records from alleged D.C. madam -- many in Washington worrying if their reputations will be ruined or their secrets exposed.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Many of them hope they can emulate both his unique brand of conservatism and his level of support. That would be Ronald Reagan -- the Republican presidential candidates only hours away from a debate that is on sacred ground for many Republicans. Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is joining us in Simi Valley, California.
This is sacred ground for a lot of Republicans, Bill, because?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Because this is the Ronald Reagan Library. And 10 Republicans have shown up here in Simi Valley, California, for what you might want to call a kind of religious pilgrimage.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): For Republicans, the Ronald Reagan Library is sacred ground.
DUKE BLACKWOOD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, REAGAN PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY: All of the candidates are trying to align themselves with Ronald Reagan. And we thought, what a great place to have a debate.
SCHNEIDER: For decades, conservatives had fought and sacrificed and suffered and bled to realize their goal of gaining control of the Republican Party. When Reagan became president, their dream came true.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thirty years ago, in this very conference, one man stood up and told America what was needed. It was conservatism.
SCHNEIDER: For conservative Republicans, 1980 was the year won.
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I campaigned for him, because I said, that guy is right. And he was true to principles, and he said it with a smile.
SCHNEIDER: All Republicans now call themselves Reaganites.
RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: He is, in fact, one of my heroes.
SCHNEIDER: Reaganism is not just conservatism. It's also leadership.
GIULIANI: Ronald Reagan was a leader, which is a combination of being a visionary and a practical person who can achieve results.
SCHNEIDER: We asked the director of the Reagan Library, what was the secret of Reagan's political success?
BLACKWOOD: Communication. Again, you have got to be able to know what your vision is. You have got to communicate that vision.
SCHNEIDER: Reagan could reach out to his political adversaries, whether it was the Democratic speaker of the House or the communist leader of the Soviet Union.
A few days before the Republican debate, the featured guest at the Reagan Library was Senator Edward Kennedy.
BLACKWOOD: What we're trying to emulate here at the Reagan Library is to reach across the aisle and say, you know, Senator Kennedy, we may not agree with everything, but it's a good, constructive debate that we're looking for. And we're proud to have Senator Kennedy here.
SCHNEIDER: The Reagan legacy persists in other ways, too, like actors turning into politicians, Fred Thompson, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The director of the Reagan Library told us -- quote -- "There is just -- there is just no way I could put my mind around what Ronald Reagan would think about Arnold Schwarzenegger" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Bill, thank you very much.
Queen Elizabeth II is visiting the United States right now. She's speaking in Jamestown, Virginia, on this, the 400th anniversary of the founding of that colony -- that settlement.
Let's listen in.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II, UNITED KINGDOM: Thank you for your generous welcome to Virginia.
Prince Philip and I are delighted to be here in your state capital today, designed by that great Virginian Thomas Jefferson, and so painstakingly restored over recent years.
I would like to congratulate everyone involved in this most impressive project. As a state, and as a nation, you are still coming to terms with the dreadful events at Virginia Tech on the 16th of April. My heart goes out to the students, friends and families of all those killed and to the many others who have been affected, some of whom I shall be meeting shortly.
On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom, I extend my deepest sympathies at this time of such grief and sorrow.
I visit the United States this week to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the landing of a small group of British citizens on a tiny island in what is now called the James River here in Virginia. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that, in that event, the origins of a singular endeavor, the building of a great nation, founded on the eternal values of democracy and equality, based on the rule of law and the promotion of freedom.
But we should always be cautious of hindsight; 400 years ago, it was by no means preordained that this venture would succeed. Recent archaeological work has modified our understanding of the original settlement at Jamestown, about the choice of its location and the kind of people who came.
While it remains difficult to say what it was about those early years which caught that vital moment in the evolution of this great country, it must surely have had something to do with the ingenuity, the drive and the idealism of that group of adventurers who first set foot on this fertile Virginia soil, and the will of the Powhatan people to find ways to coexist.
When I visited 50 years ago...
QUEEN ELIZABETH II: .... we celebrated the 350th anniversary largely from the perspective of those settlers, in terms of the exploration of new worlds, the spread of values, and of the English language, and the sacrifice of those early pioneers.
These remain great attributes, and we still appreciate their impact today. But, 50 years on, we are now in a position to reflect more candidly on the Jamestown legacy. Human progress rarely comes without cost. And those early years in Jamestown, when three great civilizations came together for the first time, Western European, Native American, and African, released a train of events, which continues to have a profound social impact, not only in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom and Europe.
Over the course of my reign, and certainly since I first visited Jamestown in 1957, my country has become a much more diverse society, just as the Commonwealth of Virginia and the whole United States of America have also under gone major social change.
The melting-pot metaphor captures one of the great strengths of your country and is an inspiration to others around the world as we face the continuing social challenges ahead. It is right that we continue to reassess the meaning of historical events in the changing context of the present, not least in this, the 200th anniversary in the United Kingdom of the act of parliament to abolish the transatlantic slave trade.
But such reassessments should not obscure one enduring consequence of Jamestown. This 400th anniversary marks a moment to recognize the deep friendship which exists between our two countries. Friendship is a complex concept. It means being able to debate openly, disagree on occasion, surmount both good times and bad, safe in the knowledge the bonds that draw us together, of history, understanding and warm regard, are far stronger than any temporary differences of opinion.
The people of the United Kingdom have such a relationship with the people of this great nation. It is one of the most durable international collaborations anywhere in the world at any time in history, a friendship for which I certainly, in my lifetime, have had good cause to be thankful.
That is a lasting legacy of Jamestown that is something worth commemorating. And that is why I am pleased to be here today.
BLITZER: Queen Elizabeth II speaking at Jamestown, Virginia, on this, the 400th anniversary of the founding of that settlement.
Our man Richard Quest is there on the scene for us.
Richard, talk a little bit about how important this event is in terms of U.S.-British relations?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There -- in the world of state visits, Wolf, there is nothing that Buckingham Palace considers perhaps more important than a state visit to the United States. It ranks up there right at the top.
And that's why it's appropriate of where I am at the moment. You heard her majesty, the queen, talking about the 400th anniversary, when those three ships came. This is where it happened, Wolf. This is the James River. And this is the place where the original fort was positioned.
In that speech, Wolf, her majesty talked about the reassessment of what had happened. She was talking about archaeological change, Wolf. That is the archaeology that her majesty was talking about. This is the recent digs that have reassessed what took place in Jamestown, Wolf, the people who were involved, what their motivation was, as the queen put it, the inspiration, the drive.
But she also warned, finally, Wolf, about the caution of hindsight.
BLITZER: Talk a little bit about what else she has on her agenda during this historic visit to the United States.
QUEST: Well, the key point about what she has done, one thing to just get out of the way quickly, everybody wondered, was the queen going to apologize for slavery? Well, you have just heard what she said. No, there's no apology. It was in classic Queen Elizabeth phrases: diverse society, metaphor for change, inspiration, social challenges, caution of hindsight.
This is what we expected. This is what we got, no "I'm sorry." You will never get that.
Now, on the other thing, the other thing to keep in mind, what is the queen doing? The queen is going on her lifelong dream. She's going to the Kentucky Derby, Wolf. She loves horses. She adores horses. She races horses. She would probably sell most of us for horses.
And she's going to the derby for the first time. That, for her, will be an absolute high point.
BLITZER: And she will also be here in Washington on Monday for a meeting and a visit with the president of the United States, a state dinner, all that.
Richard, stand by. We are going to have you back shortly. We have got a lot to talk about, about Queen Elizabeth II's visit here to the United States. Richard Quest is going to be covering every step of this journey.
Coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM: the Republican presidential candidate sharing a stage, as their horse race gets tighter -- the stakes and the showdown in our "Strategy Session."
And the anxiety is building, as some of the alleged D.C. madam's client list soon may be exposed. We will tell you what's going on.
Stay with us. We will be right back.
BLITZER: Now an update and a clarification on a new development in the presidential race.
The Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama is being placed under the protection of the U.S. Secret Service. The agency says the request came from the Obama campaign. The Secret Service would not divulge why. We are told there is no -- repeat, no -- specific threat, although earlier reporting indicated there was -- no specific threat, but he will get U.S. Secret Service protection.
Joining us now from Chicago, a former Democratic presidential candidate himself, the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
What's your reaction to word now that Barack Obama is going to be getting this kind of protection, Reverend Jackson?
REVEREND JESSE JACKSON, FOUNDER, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: Regrettably, it is a fact of life. Fear and bigotry and violence still stalks those who will dare to be change agents.
I recall, in 1984, the very first day I announced, the threats were so severe, the Secret Service started right then, and they never stopped. And, so, those who would be change agents, who represent a change of the status quo, often must be -- face wounds for the transgressions.
But the cost of that leadership, we are often healed by those stripes.
BLITZER: I remember, when I covered your campaigns back in '84 and '88, there was a high level of security, obviously. You did receive a lot of threats.
How did that impact you at that time, in terms of your own campaign?
JACKSON: Well, you know, I just kind of had to make a decision to suck it up.
My greatest anxiety was what it meant for my family at that point. And this stuff is so real, because you have evidence that people who do threaten do kill, whether it's Dr. King, for example. Or, remember, Colin Powell considered running for the presidency. And one of his factors in not running was the severity of the threats. And, so, it becomes the burden of those who would dare lead to be prepared to accept those -- those threats, even bear those wounds, to be a transformative force. And it's an extra burden, but it should give one an edge of courage, not a twinge of fear.
BLITZER: What advice do you have for Senator Barack Obama right now?
JACKSON: To remain prayerful and to remain focused, and do not let -- that he will go through valleys and shadows of death. He ought to fear no evil.
This is a time he calls upon his faith to go forward by hope, and not backwards by fear. And, so, I say, in his bid to be a transforming agent, those who are there to be change agents on the field have green grass stains and sometimes blood on their uniforms.
But only those on the bench have clean uniforms. And, so, take the risk, because the reward can be gratifying, if, in fact, you are able to make America better.
BLITZER: Reverend Jackson, thanks very much for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
JACKSON: Thank you.
BLITZER: And coming up next: A presidential candidate breathes some fiery words about her political opponents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know better than this. Talk to your representative. Talk to your senator. Tell the Republicans to stand with us to end this war now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Democrat Hillary Clinton trains her fire on those she says are not doing enough to end the war. We will talk about that in our "Strategy Session."
And Queen Elizabeth II's grandson Prince Harry off to Iraq -- what would happen if the children of more American lawmakers went to serve in Iraq? Would that affect the country's war policy? Jack Cafferty with your e-mail, all that -- still to come.
BLITZER: Is Hillary Clinton the most conservative of the Democratic presidential candidates? One author thinks so. That's among the items in our "Strategy Session" today.
Joining us, our CNN political analyst and Democratic strategist Paul Begala, and Terry Jeffrey, the editor at large of "Human Events."
That author being Bruce Bartlett, quoted by Howie Kurtz in "The Washington Post" as saying this: "To right-wingers willing to look beneath what probably sounds to them like the same identical views of the Democratic candidates, it is pretty clear that Hillary Clinton is the most conservative, John Edwards is the most liberal, and Barack Obama is somewhere in between."
Is that right?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, no, frankly.
First off, those labels really have lost a lot of their currency. I looked at the "National Journal" ratings, which is a nonpartisan publication. The most conservative member of the Senate, they said, Chuck Hagel. And, yet, Chuck Hagel is siding with the so-called liberals to try to stop the war.
But Hillary's rating comes in from "The National Journal" at 70.2, Barack Obama 86.2 -- 86.0. Chris Dodd and Joe Biden are slightly less liberal than Barack, John Edwards much closer to Hillary Clinton. So, what does that mean?
You know, she's a child of the suburbs. She's actually liberal on these ratings on social issues, pretty conservative on fiscal and foreign issues, which means she's like a lot of suburbanites, as she grew up there. If she wins, she will be the first American president to grow up in those post-war suburbs, and I think she reflects the demographics she grew up in.
BLITZER: Terry, you are a good conservative. What do you think?
TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR, "HUMAN EVENTS": If the word conservative means anything, it cannot be applied to Hillary Clinton.
Bruce Bartlett, who wrote that, is really more of a libertarian. I think, basically, he was just trying to be provocative. Talking about the ratings, the American Conservative Union gives her a nine out of 100 on its lifetime rating. She had an 8 percent last year.
This is a lady who voted against the ban on partial-birth abortion. She voted against the Bush tax cuts. She voted against confirming Sam Alito to the Supreme Court. Whether it's fiscal policy, whether it's cultural policy, or, really, whether it's foreign policy, Hillary Clinton is not a conservative.
BEGALA: See, here's the problem. John McCain voted against those tax cuts, too.
BEGALA: And now he's trying to pretend that he's a so-called conservative.
JEFFREY: But that's McCain's problem, not Hillary's.
BEGALA: That's right. JEFFREY: Right.
BEGALA: No, but that makes it an interesting race.
Rudy Giuliani used to support so-called...
BLITZER: In other words, you can't really look at these labels and necessarily see them, although opponents will see them, obviously, for -- on the left and the right.
JEFFREY: Well, Hillary -- there's irony for Hillary.
I think one of the things Hillary has tried to do in her years in the Senate is create the impression that she's more to the center and a little bit more conservative, because she was looking ahead to a general election, where it's difficult for an East Coast liberal to get elected.
BLITZER: All right.
JEFFREY: Now she's having trouble in the Democratic primaries.
BEGALA: She's got now a seven-year history in the Senate of casting votes every single day. And they are very moderate.
JEFFREY: ... left-wing voting record.
BEGALA: That hurts her in the primary process. She is more moderate than some of the others.
BLITZER: Let's look at this new Quinnipiac University poll.
Among Republican choices, registered Republicans or those leaning Republican, Giuliani, nationally, gets 27 percent, McCain, 19 percent, Fred Thompson, who is not even running, 14, Gingrich, who is not running, 8, Romney, 8.
What's your reaction?
JEFFREY: Well, first of all, Giuliani is dropping. And so is Hillary, dropping.
JEFFREY: So, I think it's clear that, on both sides, this is a wide-open race. There isn't anybody who clearly has a path to the nomination.
Another interesting thing in that poll, Wolf, is, even though people generally would prefer to see a Democrat president, when you match Hillary Clinton up against any of the potential...
BLITZER: We are going to get to that in a moment.
JEFFREY: All right.
BLITZER: Let's take a look at the Democrats in this Quinnipiac poll, Hillary Clinton at 32 percent nationally, Obama at 18, Al Gore, who is not running, at 14, John Edwards at 12. Biden is down at 2 percent.
What do you think?
BEGALA: You know, it's -- first off, there is no national primary -- closer this season than ever before, because around about February 5, a whole lot of big states will be voting.
But those polls are not instructive, for that reason, because we have a lot of -- if you looked at Iowa, for example, John Edwards would not be in third. He would be in first.
BEGALA: And Hillary would be in second, and Barack a very close third. So, I don't know that they're that predictive.
I think the Democratic race -- Hillary is the front-runner, but she -- there are a lot of opportunities for her opponents to catch her.
BLITZER: They're important for candidates to show if they are doing well in those national polls for raising money...
BLITZER: ... for example.
Look at this, though. Terry referred to it. In the same poll, in a hypothetical matchup between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, Giuliani gets 49 percent. Hillary Clinton gets 40 percent.
How do you explain that, this hypothetic -- why would she lose nationally to Rudy Giuliani?
BEGALA: Well, I think we know all the good about Rudy and none of the bad, right? Most people believe he did quite a good job on 9/11. Very few people know about the really slimy business deals that he's been involved in. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, we know all the bad and not all of the good. So, the new information we get is likely to be more favorable about Hillary, more negative about Rudy. She's going to win the race...
BLITZER: When Republicans see Giuliani in this hypothetical matchup decisively beating Hillary Clinton, does that help him, even among those conservatives who don't like his views on some of the social issues?
JEFFREY: Well, among those conservatives who are trying to promote Giuliani, that's the argument they make -- they make: This guy may not be a good conservative, but he's a better candidate in the general.
I don't buy that, because I think the swing vote in national elections are cultural conservatives in the Midwest. I don't think he can win them.
One thing Hillary needs to be very concerned about in this poll, Wolf, she was the one candidate whose negatives were higher than her positives. That's why I think she loses these candidates in a general matchup.
BLITZER: Terry Jeffrey and Paul Begala, we have got to leave it right there. Good discussion. Thanks, guys, for coming in.
Let's go to New York and Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Britain's Prince Harry set to be deployed to Iraq, will probably serve with a combat unit there. The question is: Would America's war policy be any different if more of our lawmakers had children serving in Iraq?
Andy writes in Alabama: "Yes, sir. You bet it would. Nothing hits home any closer than having your children in harm's way. Some of our leaders have never been anywhere without the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths. A dose of reality would be good for all our leadership."
E.J., Granville, Ohio: "If Jenna and Barbara Bush were serving in the military, the war would be over yesterday, or maybe the day before that."
Ashley writes: "The answer to the question, most definitely yes. My brother and uncle simultaneously deployed to Iraq for a year. If our lawmakers had to go through the sleepless nights, the weeks filled with tears, and a year full of terror and grief, they would have a different perspective on this war."
Gerry in Raleigh, North Carolina: "I believe we would be in the same or worse situation if lawmakers' children were in the service. The progeny of the U.S. government would be serving in juicy positions, far from the combat, while the John Does would be placed in the field to eat the bullets of the enemy. Power protects its own, always has, always will."
Bill in Florida: "Not only are very few politicians' sons and daughters not serving in Iraq; we never hear any of them encourage the men and women of the U.S. to do their patriotic duty and enlist. Why? Because they know the war is wrong."
John in Tennessee: "Jack, if more of our lawmakers had family members in line for deployment, would they have voted for the war? Get real. They would be getting them all deferments. I think it's great that the English prince is serving his country."
And Joe writes from Washington: "It would be as different as economic policy would be if the policy-makers were on welfare" -- Jack.
BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.
And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: face to face with a foe. The Bush administration blasted the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, for talking to Syrian leaders. Now Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice does the same thing.
The White House threatens another veto, this time for a bill ...
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