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Tension at the G8 Summit; Missing Conneticut Gril Found; Whitewashing Castro's Regime?; Immigration Bill Discussion

Aired June 6, 2007 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Lou. Happening now, President Bush only hours away from a tense, face-to-face meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin. Are these nuclear-armed allies reverting to Cold War enemies?
Also tonight, Fidel Castro clearly in the spotlight. There's new evidence the Cuban leader may be getting stronger. Plus, questions about a banned book. Is it a whitewash of Castro's regime?

And when lightning strikes. The story behind Rudy Giuliani's illuminating debate moment.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tonight, President Bush finds himself in the middle of clashes and tension over at the G-8 summit in Germany. Police battled anti- war and anti-globalization protesters. At one point, the marchers blocked all the roads leading to the resort where the world leaders are gathering.

President Bush is bracing for a confrontation of his own, with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Just hours before those talks, Mr. Bush made a somewhat surprising statement that to some invoked memories of the Cold War and the arms race between Washington and Moscow.

Our White House correspondent Ed Henry is traveling with the president in Germany. Ed is joining us now live.

Some are suggesting, Ed, this is the start of a new Cold War. What are they saying there?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And in an extraordinary sign of the seriousness of the U.S.-Russian tensions after a decade of detente, today, the president took the extraordinary step of being forced to deny that the U.S. is about to go to war with Russia.


HENRY (voice-over): All smiles as the G-8 summit kicked off, with President Bush lunching with the host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But the pleasantries may get overshadowed by tensions between the U.S. and Russia over plans for a missile defense system in Europe.

One the eve of what could be a difficult meeting Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr. Bush told reporters off-camera, "There needs to be no military response, because we're not at war with Russia. Russia is not going to attack Europe." The president was answering a hypothetical question about whether the U.S. would respond militarily if Putin followed through on his threat to aim nuclear weapons at Europe.

Just one day after escalating the battle by publicly slamming Putin's slow progress on democratic reforms, Mr. Bush downplayed the friction, telling reporters, "Russia is not an enemy."

But former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev says he's hearing echoes of the Cold War, charging the Bush administration has sparked a new arms race.

MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, FORMER SOVIET PRESIDENT (through translator): The United States is driving itself in a corner. At this stage already, they have lost credibility in the world.

HENRY: While Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, insists there's not another Cold War, he did make clear Russia is not backing down.

DMITRY PESKOV, PUTIN SPOKESMAN: We are expecting some explanations from our American partners, what is the necessity for this being in a hurry, and what is the necessity for this entire missile shield against non-existing missiles.


HENRY: Now, Mr. Bush said today he will work hard to make sure the meeting with his Russian counterpart is not tense, but that may be easier said than done -- Wolf?

BLITZER: And amidst all of this, Ed, the rock star Bono makes an appearance at this G-8 summit. What's going on, on that front?

HENRY: Well, it's interesting, Wolf. Bono had a meeting with President Bush a couple of hours ago and a series of other world leaders after that. I sat down with him for an exclusive interview. And he's furious about this U.S.-Russian tensions, in part because he believes it's overshadowing the rest of the agenda, particularly the anti-poverty agenda that Bono is here pushing. He believes, in fact, that the world leaders are now backsliding on promises to increase aid to Africa. Take a listen.


BONO, Musician and Activist: This is not sort of rosy-tinted glasses, believe it or not. In fact, I felt like smashing my glasses today. I just want to...

HENRY: Why? What happened?

BONO: It's just because they are not keeping their promise. They are not keeping their promises. Your country, the United States, is actually doing very well, but it under-promises. It's over- delivering, great. But other countries are not. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Now, you heard Bono there. He is actually singling out President Bush, saying that the United States has done a lot more, but he's fingering Canada, in particular, saying they're not stepping up to the plate. And Bono has until Friday to try to push Canada and other nations along to try to increase this aid to Africa -- Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, thanks, Ed, very much. Ed Henry on the scene for us in Germany.

On Capitol Hill here in Washington right now, critics of the Senate immigration reform deal have their long knives out. They're eager for another shot at killing the overall bipartisan compromise legislation.

Let's bring in our congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. She's watching this story, the Senate voting to continue this dialogue, at least for now, but it's all very, very fragile, isn't it, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very fragile. In fact, what happened today, Wolf, was that backers of this compromise, this immigration compromise, really narrowly avoided what could have been a fatal blow. They defeated what the supporters of this immigration bill said would have prevented a large number of illegal immigrants from actually achieving what their goal is, and that is U.S. citizenship.

So after about two weeks of Senate debate, this immigration, as you said, fragile compromise, is still intact, but it's really down to the wire now, Wolf, as to whether or not this highly publicized, very controversial bill will live or die.

BLITZER: So what's the assessment? What are the prospects that this legislation will become the law of the land anytime soon?

BASH: It's really unclear now, Wolf, and here's why: because the Senate majority leader has said that he wants to have a final vote by this Friday, that is, of course, two days from now. And that's really infuriating opponents of this bill on both sides of the aisle, not only the president's supporters or, I should say opponents, fellow Republican opponents, but also Democrats who simply want to keep changing, have unlimited ability to offer amendments to change the underlying compromise.

So what they are doing right now, senators are behind closed doors, are trying to figure out how to work this out. But if they can't, this immigration bill could actually collapse. And, of course, what that could mean is that one the president's top priorities, domestic priorities might not happen while he's in office -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Dana Bash on Capitol Hill. I spoke about it a little while ago, this embattled bill, with the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff. He had a blunt message to GOP opponents of the measure.


BLITZER: What do you say to fellow Republicans who are outraged because they simply feel this is amnesty?

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: What I say, first of all, is it's not amnesty, because there is punishment and there is probation, which is the very opposite of an amnesty.

BLITZER: They say that's a mere slap on the wrist.

CHERTOFF: Well, I mean, I guess what they're saying is, they want more punishment. But again, I say to them: What's your alternative? What are you going to about the 12 million? Are you going to leave them there in the shadows, continuing to break the law, not paying their taxes? Or are you going to bring them into a regulated system, have them acknowledge their wrongdoing, have them pay a fine, and put them on probation?

We're offering a solution; others are offering criticism and complaint. And I think, in the end, the American public wants this problem fixed.


BLITZER: Chertoff played a key role in crafting the bipartisan compromise bill. He's lobbying lawmakers in a major way right now, trying desperately to ensure its passage. The next day or two will be critical involving the fate of this legislation.

Jack Cafferty's joining us now from New York with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: You know, the people behind this bill always say, "Well, what's your idea? What's your idea?" As though this so-called compromise is the only solution. The law says that it's illegal to hire illegal aliens. If you started punishing employers who hire illegal aliens, and if you close the border, which are both laws that are on the books now that aren't enforced, these people would start going home by themselves, because there wouldn't be any jobs here.

Onto what we're going to talk about for the question this hour, it sounded more like what you'd expect to hear from the Democratic presidential candidates. This is some of what was said about President Bush last night by the Republican presidential candidates.

Tommy Thompson, who was once a member of the president's cabinet, "I would certainly not send him to the United Nations to represent the U.S." Senator John McCain, criticism of the administration on its mismanagement of the war in Iraq. Mitt Romney, more criticism of the Iraq war. Quote, "I think we were underprepared and underplanned for what came after we knocked down Saddam Hussein," unquote.

Mike Huckabee, more criticism of the war, and he added that the administration lost credibility with its response to Hurricane Katrina. Congressman Duncan Hunter said the Bush administration has "the slows" when it comes to building a fence along the Mexican border. And from Congressman Tom Tancredo, he described Karl Rove once telling him, Tancredo, never darken the door of the White House. Tancredo says he'd tell Mr. Bush the same thing.

It's tough stuff, but the president's dismal poll numbers and his unpopular positions on everything from Iraq to immigration are forcing these Republican contenders for the White House to distance themselves from Bush. So here's our question: Should the Republican candidates for president be openly criticizing President Bush, who is, after all, the head of the Republican Party?

E-mail your thoughts to or go to -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Thank you, Jack, for that, check back with you shortly.

Coming up, Fidel Castro alive and kicking. His first major interview since he underwent surgery last year.

Plus, a brewing battle in Miami over a book about Cuba. Find out why some are suing to have it banned.

Also, quiet riot. Senator Barack Obama issuing a stern warning about the simmering rage in the black community.

And massive cyclone disrupting oil exports in the Middle East. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Cuba's Fidel Castro is back in the spotlight. Almost a year after illness forced him to hand temporary power to his brother, he's appearing now in his first full television interview. Is he ready for a comeback? Our State Department correspondent, Zain Verjee, takes a closer look -- Zain?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he's back on the air, and he looks strong.


VERJEE (voice-over): It's a Castro media blitz, a 50-minute one- on-one interview, the longest since his surgery last year. This tops off an on-camera with a visiting Vietnamese leader, a few poses for the papers, opinion columns. Fidel Castro looks and sounds better in his red, white and blue track suit, but gives no sign he's coming off the bench. His brother, Raul, will run Cuba, and the U.S. hasn't been happy about it.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Certainly, we don't want to see a transition from one dictator to another. We think the Cuban people deserve better.

VERJEE: After a number of intestinal surgeries, Fidel Castro even talked about his health, a state secret in Cuba.

FIDEL CASTRO, PRESIDENT, CUBA (through translator): There are no secrets anymore.

VERJEE: He's crediting his improvement to diet; at times he even sounds like a health buff.

FIDEL CASTRO (through translator): A very well-balanced diet really does produce good results. For the first time, I have them.

VERJEE: Most of the talk looked back, with what seemed to be references to U.S. plots against him.

FIDEL CASTRO (through translator): It's quite a coincidence that I'm here talking with all of the plans that were made against me.

VERJEE: Castro rattled off statistics, meandered between topics like education, health, conservation, an echo of the old Fidel. Ismail (ph) watched the interview in a Havana cafe and thought he looked very good and his mental capabilities were there. Watching at home, Augusta (ph) says he should come out like this, so people see that he's not dead, he is alive.


VERJEE: A State Department spokesman says that it's hard to analyze the state of Castro's health just by looking at the videotape and says it's not clear what the Cuban government is trying to accomplish -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Zain Verjee reporting.

Meanwhile, a book about life in Cuba written for children has angered a lot of adults in Florida. In Miami today, a U.S. appeals court is weighing whether to let the local school district actually ban the book. CNN's Rusty Dornin has the latest -- Rusty?

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, one ACLU representative told me it's the strangest censorship case in which he's been involved. Books are usually banned for things that are offensive to people that are written in the book, but in this case it's something that wasn't included.


DORNIN (voice-over): Juan Amador knows the repressive regime of Fidel Castro. He says he spent four years in a Cuban jail as a political prisoner. In '95, he arrived in the U.S. after he escaped Cuba on a raft. So when he saw this book in the Miami-Dade School Library, available for his daughter to read, he was furious.

"Vamos a Cuba," or "A Visit to Cuba," never mentions Fidel Castro or political oppression, but it does show a lot of happy, beaming children.

JUAN AMADOR, CUBAN EXILE (through translator): It's wrong to have a book full of lies, but what is criminal is expose children to those lies. DORNIN: Amador complained to the school board. Miami has the largest population of Cuban exiles. After a heated controversy in the spring of 2006, the school board banned the book, which targets 5- to 8-year-olds, for the sin of omission. Because it doesn't mention Castro or political oppression, they said it's educationally unsuitable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This book should never have been allowed to be inserted in our public school libraries.

DORNIN: Crying censorship, the student government and the ACLU challenged the ban, calling it a violation of the First Amendment involving free speech.

HOWARD SIMON, ACLU: If people are able to remove things from the library shelves if they find it objectionable, the library shelves are going to be empty pretty soon.

DORNIN: Last summer, a federal judge rule the school board's decision to yank the book off the shelves illegal, because it was based on political motives, not academic. The school board appealed the decision. And a federal appeals court judges focused on this page. The translation: "People work, live and play in Cuba, just like you do." "That's simply not true," one federal judge told the ACLU lawyer, adding, "There is forced labor for children in Cuba."


DORNIN: Omitting that from the book, said two of the three judges, is like having a book about Hitler Nazi Germany and not mentioning the Holocaust, but the ACLU lawyer reminded the judges that this is a book for very young children, and it's about the geography of Cuba, not about its dictator, nor its regime. It's unclear just when the judges will issue their decision -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Rusty Dornin in Miami for us, watching this story.

Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, stinging criticism of President Bush from many of his fellow Republicans who want to succeed him. Find out what they're saying and how the White House is now reacting.

And Major League racial tension. The power hitter, Gary Sheffield, says Latinos are pushing African-Americans out of baseball because they're easier to control. Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Our Carol Costello is monitoring stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Carol, what do you have?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: A couple of things to tell you about, Wolf.

A Senate subcommittee holds a hearing today on that international tuberculosis scare. Lawmakers are looking into how and why the patient with a serious drug-resistant strain of TB was able to travel to Europe and back. That man, Andrew Speaker, testified by phone from the Denver hospital where he's being treated. He says he cooperated fully with health authorities, who he says knew of his travel plans.

A critical day in court for a Georgia man who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for having consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was just 17. Lawyers for Genarlow Wilson say he was unfairly convicted under a law aimed at sexual predators and that the law has since been amended to close that loophole. The appeals court judge says he'll decide by Monday whether to throw out that sentence.

A 15-year-old Connecticut girl missing for almost a year has been found alive. Police serving search warrants in her case discovered her locked in a small, hidden room inside a home in West Hartford. Two people live in the house; they were arrested, a 41-year-old man and his common-law wife. Police say the girl has a history of drug use and running away, so it's not clear if she was being held against her will.

That's a look at what's happening now, Wolf.

BLITZER: Carol, thanks, we're going to check back with you shortly.

Fresh concerns at the Pentagon tonight that Iran is arming America's enemies. U.S. officials have long complained about weapons and explosives reaching insurgents in Iraq. Now there are evidence apparently that there's some deadly devices reaching sources in Afghanistan.

Let's turn to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr -- Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the U.S. is acknowledging it recently captured two truck convoys full of Iranian weapons, not in Iraq, but inside Afghanistan. The question now is, what's going on?


STARR (voice-over): Iranian weapons shipped into Iraq in Afghanistan are not just a threat to U.S. troops, but now are seen as an effort to stop any diplomacy between Washington and Tehran by rogue members of Iran's all-powerful Revolutionary Guard.

TRITA PARSI, NATIONAL IRANIAN AMERICAN COUNCIL: These elements are probably fearing diplomacy between the United States far more than they fear sanctions on Iran. And I think they may be somewhat concerned that the talks in Iraq may actually end up being successful.

STARR: It was just days ago that U.S. and Iranian officials met in Baghdad, the first time in nearly 30 years the two sides have sat down. The U.S. made clear the weapon shipments had to stop; they have not. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We still see them shipping weapons, money, and conducting training for extremists here in Iraq. It has not stopped.

STARR: The U.S. is finding armor-penetrating bombs, rockets, and other weapons, some with labels indicating they were made just a few months ago inside Iran. There's still no direct evidence the Iranian regime itself is behind any of the weapon shipment, but in Afghanistan, the threat of sophisticated Iranian weapons may be growing.

LT. GEN. DAN MACNEIL, COMMANDER OF ISAF-NATO: We have intercepted at least two convoys that have contained munitions or weapons, some of those munitions and weapons clearly of Iranian origin.


STARR: Those truck convoys had Iranian mortar rounds, weapons and explosives packaged to look like Americans C-4 plastic explosives, and those truck convoys were found not all that far from Afghanistan's western border with Iran -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Barbara Starr, thanks.

Just ahead, even as they bicker and snipe at each other, it appears some Republican presidential candidates can agree on one thing, that President Bush makes a tempting political target.

And as those Republicans debated, there were flashes of candor, sparks of bitterness, even some sparks of lightning, literally. Some of it involved Rudy Giuliani. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, Turkey says it did not mount an incursion into northern Iraq to confront Kurdish rebels, this despite U.S. military sources telling CNN Turkey had. Turkey says Kurdish militants have recently made cross-border attacks on citizens and police in Turkey. We're watching this story closely.

It's partly devastated Oman, and now the cyclone is headed for Iran. In Oman, which neighbors Saudi Arabia, it forced people to flee for their lives and disrupted some oil supplier operations.

And a potential breakthrough in stem cell research. Three teams of scientists say they've produced the equivalent of embryonic stem cells, at least in mice, and they didn't have to destroy human embryos. The scientists say their procedure makes ordinary skin cells behave like stem cells.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tonight, President Bush is reminded once again that many fellow Republicans see him as a drag on their party's presidential candidates. The GOP contenders laid into him on the debate stage in Manchester last night. Our Brian Todd is joining us now.

Is there a change, Brian, based on what we're seeing and how the GOP candidates are referring to the president of the United States?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. We knew, with the president's popularity at rock bottom, the top GOP candidates wouldn't exactly run on his coattails, but we have seen in recent days they have a decidedly sharper edge now against Mr. Bush.


TODD (voice-over): The top Republican candidates may not be looking to attack their unpopular party leader at every turn, but when given an opening, especially on Iraq, they're taking it.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This war was very badly mismanaged for a long time, and Americans have made great sacrifices, some of which were unnecessary, because of this management of the war -- mismanagement of this conflict.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we were underprepared and underplanned for what came after we knocked down Saddam Hussein.

AMY HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: We knew going in that the candidates were not going to be wanting to be associating closely with the president. But there was no love on that stage for President Bush last night. And they went out of their way to say Bush mishandled the war. We have heard that before, but it was a much -- much stronger last night.

TODD: Most of the GOP contenders are careful to support the Iraq invasion and the surge. But even a former Bush Cabinet secretary concedes failures.

TOMMY THOMPSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We went to Washington to change Washington. Washington changed us. We didn't come up with new ideas.

TODD: Other opportunities to attack on the subject of Republican scandals, but the candidates are careful not to say the president's name.

GIULIANI: I would establish accountability in Washington. Washington is a mess, and that's one of the reasons Republicans lost.

TODD: Lower-tier candidates are getting more personal.

Congressman Tom Tancredo bitterly recalls being asked years ago by Bush political adviser Karl Rove not to -- quote -- "darken the doorstep of the White House" because of Tancredo's criticism of the president.

Now it's payback. REP. TOM TANCREDO, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As president, I would have to tell George Bush exactly the same thing Karl Rove told me.


TODD (on camera): Now, a White House official denies Tancredo's claim saying the congressman has in fact been invited to the White House about twice a year. Analysts and GOP strategists we spoke to say it's one thing for candidates like Tancredo to attack the president strongly but the top contenders have to walk a delicate balance, going out of the way to slam the president on the campaign trail in places like Iowa, they say, could be dangerous because the president still polls well among many primary voters, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you, Brian, for that.

Tonight, meanwhile, the Republican presidential candidate John McCain, is following in Rudy Giuliani's lead, both GOP presidential candidates announced they will not compete in a straw poll held in Iowa in August. The McCain camp says, without Giuliani, the straw poll wouldn't be a meaningful test of support in the leadoff caucus state. Both Giuliani and McCain say they'll still compete in the Iowa caucuses scheduled for January. Giuliani says he'd rather spend his resources, that means money, on winning the caucuses than the straw poll.

It's what happens when you're leading the pack. Your political opponents often consider you target number one. Right now, Senator Hillary Clinton is the front-runner among Democratic presidential candidates. And that makes her a political bull's-eye. CNN's Kathleen Koch has more. Kathleen?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, if there was one name on everyone's mind last night it seemed to be Hillary Clinton. And Republicans did not hesitate taking shots at the Democrat's front- runner.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Senator Clinton doesn't understand that presidents don't lose wars, political parties don't lose wars. Nations lose wars.

KOCH (voice-over): She's fast becoming both parties' favorite political pinata. Though there are eight Democrats in the race, only one was mentioned last night in the Republican debate.


BLITZER: Thank you.

GILMORE: ... when she says that we should eliminate those tax cuts.

KOCH: And during the Democratic debate, most seemed determined to knock Hillary Clinton from her front-runner perch.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is a difference between leadership and legislating.

STUART ROTHENBERG, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "THE ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": She's the big name. Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, to some extent, you want to talk about how you are similar to or different than Senator Clinton.

KOCH: Stuart Rothenberg, editor of "The Rothenberg Political Report," says, for Republicans, criticizing Hillary Clinton rallies the base, just like Democrats do when they criticize President Bush.

ROTHENBERG: For Republicans to beat up on her, to portray her as the enemy is really, I think, a win for them. The problem comes, of course, later in the cycle, when Republicans are going to have to talk about themselves, not the Clintons, not who they don't like, not who's -- who's a big liberal, but about their own agenda.


KOCH (on camera): So what about Senator Clinton? What does all of this mean to her? Initially it certainly does increase her visibility. But Rothenberg warned that if these attacks become relentless they could begin to build doubts about the senator's electability. Wolf, she could be simply seen as being too polarizing.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Kathleen, for that. Tomorrow, by the way, we'll be speaking about Senator Clinton with Carl Bernstein, the famed Watergate reporter. He'll be updating us on his new book on Senator Hillary Clinton.

The next presidential debate, by the way will also be featured on CNN. We're teaming up with YouTube to bring you the Democrats' debate in Charleston, South Carolina. That happens on Monday, July 23'd. This will be the first debate where all of you can submit your questions to the candidates via YouTube. Stay tuned for more information on that.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama is suggesting there's discontent, that is, and a serious disconnect in the African-American community. And he's invoking the memory of the deadly 1992 Los Angeles Riots.

CNN's Mary Snow is joining us in New York. What exactly is Senator Obama talking about, Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Obama's talking about a silence sense of despair in inner cities that goes ignored and needs to be addressed.


SNOW (voice-over): He calls them quiet riots in poor black communities. Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama says unlike the L.A. Riots 15 years ago that gained so much attention, these go unnoticed.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These quiet riots that take place every day are born from the same place as the fires and destruction and the police decked out in riot gear and death. They happen with a sense of disconnect settles in and hope dissipates.

SNOW: Obama told a conference of black ministers that Hurricane Katrina exposed some of those quiet riots.

OBAMA: This administration was color blind in its incompetence, but everyone here knows that the disaster and the poverty happened long before the hurricane hit.

RONALD WALTERS, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Barack is digging down a little deeper into some of the issues that affect the black community, really responding to some of the criticism that has been lodged, not just against him, but the whole sort of presidential field of Democratic candidates.

SNOW: Criticism that issues affecting the black community are absent from the political debate. Racial issues have been a theme for Obama on some occasions, including a speech from Selma, Alabama to mark the civil rights movement.

OBAMA: Don't tell me I'm not coming home when I come to Selma, Alabama. I'm here because somebody marched for our freedom.

SNOW: Now, Obama is bringing attention to quiet riots in his efforts, say political observes, to deal with social conditions in the ghetto. And it comes amid fierce competition for black voters.

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You have got Hillary Clinton because of her long-time association with Bill Clinton, and you've got Barack Obama who are both pulling on the heart strings of African American voters.

SNOW: And John Edwards' focus on poverty is also adding to that competition.


SNOW (voice-over): And when it comes to black voters and their current choice for president, polls show among Democrats that Hillary Clinton is leading Obama. Wolf?

BLITZER: Mary Snow reporting for us. Thanks, Mary.

Still ahead tonight -- a Major League race conflict. Power hitter Gary Sheffield accusing Latinos of pushing African Americans out of baseball.

And for many people, it brings back eerie memories of an assassination attempt on pope John Paul II. Today a man leaps out of nowhere trying to get to the current pope. We'll show you exactly what happened. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: The baseball slugger Gary Sheffield is known for speaking loudly and carrying a big stick. Now he's taking a swing at Latino ballplayers and that has many people crying foul. Let's go to Carol Costello once again. She's watching this story. What's the controversy, Carol, all about?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Wolf, it's about what or who is driving African American ballplayers away from the game. Right now, only eight percent of ballplayers are African American, 24 percent are Latino in what is arguably the most American of pastimes.


COSTELLO (voice-over): He's one of the most feared hitters in baseball and one of the most controversial. Gary Sheffield says Latinos are pushing other African Americans out of the game because they can't speak English and can't talk back.

In "G.Q. Magazine" Sheffield said, "It's about being able to tell Latin players what to do, being able to control them. Where I'm from, you can't control us. These are the things my race demands. So if you're equally as good as this Latin player, guess who's going to get sent home?" And Sheffield is offering no apologies.

GARY SHEFFIELD, DETROIT TIGERS PLAYERS: They want to say it's controversial, take it that way and everything, so be it.

COSTELLO: How would you characterize Gary Sheffield's comments.



FALCON: Yes. Yes. And more disappointing because it's coming from an African American.

COSTELLO: At Shea Stadium, where the Mets were playing the Phillies, Sheffield's comments resonated. The general manager for the Mets is Latino. Omar Manaia (ph) has been accused by some fans of Latinizing the team.

Thirteen of 25 Mets are Latino.

CARLOS GOMEZ, NEW YORK METS PLAYER: Some friends tell me today, why did Sheffield say that? I said, he I can't believe he said that. He's not racist.

ABRAHAM NUNEZ, PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES PLAYER: I don't say I like it but he's speaking his mind. That's the way he feels, he's the one who has to deal with that, not me.

COSTELLO: But is Sheffield merely saying out loud what many Americans think? FALCON: There's that debate going on around immigration where there's that whole trend of many African Americans believe that Latinos are taking over jobs they should be getting.

COSTELLO: But other Latino players agree with Sheffield. Shortstop Carlos Guillen who plays with Sheffield in Detroit says Latinos are controlled by the same fear many immigrants have, being sent home.

"Latin players, if they get released, go back to their country with nothing. You lose everything. You lose your life. You're done."

As for what baseball's commissioner feels about diversity in the game.

BUD SELIG, MLB COMMISSIONER: I have known Gary Sheffield for a long time and this is America and everybody is entitled to their opinion. I'm very proud of what baseball has done.

COSTELLO: So is Sheffield's comment right or racist? On this one, it appears there's no easy answer.


COSTELLO (on camera): And consider this, Bud Selig, baseball's commissioner, just received a global diversity award from the United Nations for creating opportunities for Latinos, Japanese and eventually Chinese baseball players. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thank you for that Carol. Carol Costello, reporting.

An animated version of London's controversial 2012 Olympic logo has removed from the Web over fears it can cause seizures. Let's bring in our Abbi Tatton. Abbi, it's been a tough week for the new Olympic logo back in London.

ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. A troubled three- day history for the new logo. The latest, a British epilepsy group says they've received numerous reports of people having seizures after watching this animation that accompanied the launch of the logo.

The animation is now off the official Web page of the London Olympic Committee but the logo itself is staying put despite a tide of resentment in the British press and amongst Brits at the new logo launched Monday. Front page head leans here, "Olympics 2012, Logo Revolt." That from London.

And another one, elsewhere, "Dynamic, modern or just pants?" By way of explanation, pants is a slang term in Britain for not really very good at all. Parodies spreading across the web on video and image sharing Web sites here.

My favorite one on YouRube here, someone compares the new animation to that of "Saved by the Bell." Responding online to criticism the committee says on their blog, we said we'd be bold. We will be. Would you want it any other way? Well, Wolf, almost 50,000 people signed an online petition saying, yes, they would. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thank for the translation, Abbi, as well. Abbi Tatton reporting.

Still ahead -- a security breach at the Vatican. Someone lungs at popemobile. Was Pope Benedict XVI, though, ever in danger? We're going to show you slow mo exactly what happened.

And struck by lightning. The snap, crackle and pop that had Rudy Giuliani looking to a higher power. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: A major security breach at the Vatican caught on tape. You're going to want to see this video of a man trying to jump into the back of the open air vehicle carrying the pope. Let's go back to Brian Todd. Brian, how much concern is this incident causing?

TODD: Wolf, a great deal of concern, despite the fact that the pope was unharmed and actually didn't even seem to notice what was happening. The concern is how someone could get so close to the pope so quickly.


TODD (voice-over): In less than 15 seconds, a man with a history of mental illness is able to push back spectators in St. Peter's Square, jump on a barricade and launch himself toward Pope Benedict XVI's vehicle. He barely touches the car before several members of the security detail subdue him.

The pope appears not to notice and the event goes on without delay. A former pope bodyguard praises the reaction time but says the man should never have been able to get that close in the first place.

UMBERTO NANNI, FORMER PAPAL BODYGUARD (through translator): Someone got distracted and certainly incidents like this one teach us when you work in that position, even a split second can make a difference.

TODD: Vatican officials downplay the security breach saying the pope's life was never in danger. Since the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, when a gunman smuggled his weapon into St. Peter's Square, security has been tightened dramatically for the traditional general audience on Wednesdays.

Metal detectors, closed circuit cameras, roving plain clothed police, all deployed. Experts say, it's difficult to provide 100 percent security.

KEN WHARFE, SECURITY CONSULTANT: What can you do short of actually denying them public access? You have to reply on the security on the ground and I think on this occasion it actually worked.


TODD (on camera): Vatican officials describe the offender as a 27-year-old German student with a history of mental illness. They say he was unarmed and simply wanted to attract attention to himself. It is unclear now if that man will be charged, Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, very, very disturbing story. Thank you very much.

Let's check in with Jack Cafferty in New York. The security guards, they are always worried if somebody disrupts an operation like that that could be a decoy, something worse is waiting in the wings. So all of the agents can't simply go to that one individual.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: You know, why is he not in the popemobile? Remember when John Paul II got shot and after that they put him inside that popemobile.

BLITZER: Bulletproof.

CAFFERTY: Yeah, bulletproof bubble thing. He could see out, people could see him. And idiots like this couldn't get any where near him or cause him any harm. Maybe Pope Benedict doesn't like the popemobile but maybe he will reconsider now.

Question this hour, should the Republican candidates for president be openly criticizing President Bush who is after all the head of the Republican Party? Almost to a man they stood on the stage at the debate last night and said unkind things about the decider.

James in Utah writes, "Dear Jack, I think the Republican candidates s ought to do more than openly hammer Bush, they should call for his impeachment. He's doing more damage to the Republican Party than Nixon did. He's going to end up getting Hillary elected."

Bill in Georgia, "Why after over seven years of giving Bush everything he asked for are these Republicans bashing him now? The only reason they're doing it is to try to get a vote."

Tom in Cleveland, Ohio, "Dear Jack, President Bush is an arrogantly defiant and frighteningly delusional leader who has abused his power of his office through chicanery and secrecy. His acts should be scrutinized and challenged by Republicans, Democrats and independent as like. He's no longer deserving of public trust."

Amy in Miami, "I think the more they criticize Bush, the more the American public will feel safe voting for another Republican."

Dean in Perry, Kansas, "Since when did telling truth become criticism?"

David in Espanola, New Mexico. "If they have any chance of winning in 2008, they had better distance themselves from Bush as a majority of Americans have already done so." And Jan in Carmel, California. "Every last one of those Republicans standing on that stage has supported Bush lock, stalk and barrel every step of the way straight into this tragedy. The unimaginable level of hypocrisy among the whole party is mind boggling."

That's almost true. I don't think Ron Paul fits into that category. If you didn't see your e-mail here you can go to We post more of them online along with video clips of the "Cafferty File." Could we sell those clips? You think anybody would buy them.

BLITZER: I'm sure they would. I think we could make a few bucks. Not many, but a few.

CAFFERTY: Get our retirement fund going.

BLITZER: That's not a bad idea. Let me raise it with the executives.

CAFFERTY: Run that by the suits, will you?

BLITZER: Thank you. Jack, see you tomorrow.

Let's check in with Paula to see what's coming up right at the top of the hour.


PAULA ZAHN, CNN HOST: Thanks, Wolf, appreciate it. Coming up, just about seven minutes from now, the latest in a frightening pair of breaking stories tonight.

Two missing girls, one search ends in tragedy, but the other girl is alive among astonishing circumstances.

Also, why is it taking so long to fly out who else flew with that guy who is infected with drug resistant TB? Not the most comforting story for the hundreds of folks who flew with this man from country to country.

All that and more coming at you at the top of the hour. Wolf?

BLITZER: We'll be watching, Paula. Thank you, Paula Zahn, top of the hour.

Up ahead. Who says lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice? It did at our Republican debate. Jeanne Moos will explain.


BLITZER: Our Republican presidential debate featured a debate shocker, literally. Our Jeanne Moos has this "Moost Unusual" story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They say lightning doesn't strike twice. In the same place, it struck more than that during the same question at the Republican debate.

RUDY GIULIANI, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ultimately, as a -- there are people equally as religious, equally as moral. I respect, you know the opinion of Catholic ...

MOOS: Was it a wake-up call from the heavens for Rudy? After all, there are calls and there are close calls. But what would you call what happened at debate.

STEVE STAHL, CNN AUDIO SUPERVISOR: What I was hearing was not anything I had hear before.

MOOS: Steve Stahl was CNN's guy in charge of the audio at the debate. When he started hearing what he describes a digital squeal early in the debate.

STAHL: Everybody tenses up in the control room and the eyes all turn to me.

MOOS: Maybe they should have turned to the weather radar from Manchester, New Hampshire, that night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This question is for Governor Gilmore.

BLITZER: How much longer should the United States ...

MOOS: You're listening to the zapping of wireless mikes.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This is a wireless microphone we use on TV.

MOOS: The mikes were apparently stricken by all of these lightning strikes.

MYERS: Some of them up to 40,000 volts apiece. So, three volts, compared to 40,000. Who to you think's going to win?

MOOS: Not the man in charge of the audio.

STAHL: Steve, what's the problem? Fix it, fix it!

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Those people get put ahead in the line.

MOOS: Initially, engineers were mystified. They even covertly gave Rudy Giuliani and Congressman Tancredo new mikes when cameras were pointed elsewhere. Forty minutes into the debate, Rudy was answering a religious question about abortion.

GIULIANI: Catholic bishop any ...

BLITZER: That's the lightning having an effect on our system.

MOOS: In the words of the famous song performed not so famously by Klaus Nomi (ph).


GIULIANI: For someone who went to parochial schools all of his life this is a very frightening thing that is happening right now.

STAHL: I can't say I was praying at the time, I don't think I used those words and that type of language when I pray.

MOOS: Language seems to be the first thing to go. When lightning strikes.


MOOS: For a guy who is used to thundering, what's a bolt?

GIULIANI: As a ...

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: It was pretty disconcerting, I can testify personally. Remember, we're here in THE SITUATION ROOM weekday afternoons from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Back for another hour at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Among our guests tomorrow, the famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein. He turns his focus on the Democratic presidential frontrunner, Hillary Clinton. Until then thanks very much for watching.

Let's go to Paula in New York. Paula?


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