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Bush Administration Announces Support for Fatah; Surveying the '08 Field

Aired June 18, 2007 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, as Palestinians battle Palestinians, the United States taking a side. The Bush administration saying it stands firmly behind the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and firmly against the actions of the group it considers a terrorist organization. That would be Hamas. And the U.S. is showing its support right now with cash. A full report coming up.
Also, surveying the United States versus some individual states. In polls for presidential candidates which survey matters most -- the national or the state polls?

And one Republican presidential candidate now saying he's not running to be pastor-in-chief, but commander-in-chief. Mitt Romney talked about how faith figures into his campaign and answers questions about whether or not he'd pardon Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


In the show of force and test of political will unfolding in the Middle East right now, the Bush administration embraces one side while deepening its isolation of another. Just a short while ago, Condoleezza Rice made very clear whom the U.S. supports in the conflict between the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas' government, and the group it considers to be a terrorist organization, Hamas.

Let's go to our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux.

She's watching this -- the secretary of state, Suzanne, minced absolutely no words.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you're absolutely right. The Bush administration is trying to make it very clear that they are on the side of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. It was this morning President Bush called him for about 15 minutes. The two spoke. He was offering his support. And then Secretary Rice backed up that pledge with true dollars, announcing that some $86 million -- the economic embargo against the Palestinian people would be lifted.

She also talked about an additional sum of some $40 million to work with Congress to get directly to the $1.5 million Palestinians who are inside of Gaza, effectively under the control of Hamas. Now what is happening here is that the Bush administration is trying to present this chaotic situation that is embroiling the Middle East here as potentially a new opportunity to work with the Palestinian government and perhaps even jump start the peace process.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: We intend to lift our financial restrictions on the Palestinian government, which has accepted previous agreements with Israel and rejects the path of violence. This will enable the American people and American financial institutions to resume normal economic and commercial ties with the Palestinian government.


MALVEAUX: Now, whether or not that is really going to be enough, Wolf, we really don't know. The president, Bush, is going to be meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert here, at the White House, tomorrow for some serious discussions to try to figure out where to go next. The prime minister is actually here across the grounds from the White House.

I spoke with several Middle Eastern experts, one, Jon Alterman, who said he does not believe that either one of these leaders can move the process very far, because he says both of them are severely weakened -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne, even as we speak right now, there's some sort of security scare that's unfolding over at the White House, across the street from the White House, near Blair House, which is the official guest residence. Ehud Olmert, the primary will be staying there.

What do we know about this?

MALVEAUX: Well, Wolf, we're actually a couple blocks away from the White House because of that security scare. I spoke with Secret Service Spokesman Kim Bruce, who said that it was 2:50 when an Israeli vehicle, part of the Israeli delegation entering the White House at H and Jackson Place, when one of the security canines got a hit on that vehicle -- something suspicious. They don't know yet what is inside the vehicle.

But out of abundance of caution, they essentially cleared Jackson Place. That is where the temporary setup for the media is, Lafayette Park. That's right across from the White House. But we should tell you that the White House has not been evacuated. The president's schedule goes on as normal. It is very much contained. It is a couple of blocks surrounding that vehicle and it has not yet been cleared -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Because our alert viewers will notice, Suzanne, you're not at your regular location on the North Lawn of the White House.

Is that because of the security scare that unfolded there? They're not letting you go back inside the West -- the area outside the West Wing?

MALVEAUX: Well, absolutely. There was Secret Service officers who essentially approached all of us and said you have to leave. You have to leave immediately. That we went through a couple of blocks walking over on the other side here. So we are not able to actually get close to the White House. Our photographers are able to get close. Everybody has been backed off by a couple of blocks. So that's why we're not even at our normal post in front there.

But Secret Service are assuring us that the White House, as well as the president, is no danger -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, we'll stay on top of this story.

Once again, presumably out of an abundance of caution, they're clearing the area to make sure there is no problem there.

Suzanne, thanks very much.

Rudy Giuliani remains on top in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination. But the former New York City mayor's lead appears to be shrinking a little bit in a new "USA Today"/Gallup poll of Republicans.

Let's check the latest numbers with Mary Snow.

She's watching all of this unfold -- who's gaining, Mary, on Giuliani?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Fred Thompson, who is not even officially in the race, is on the rise in national polls.

However, a look at the states' surveys tell a different story.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am proud to be part of the Iowa process of selecting a candidate to become the nominee of our party.

SNOW (voice-over): He may be struggling in the national polls, but in the crucial early primary states, Mitt Romney's looking good. The former Massachusetts governor is on top in our most recent New Hampshire poll and he's neck and neck with Rudy Giuliani and Senator John McCain in Iowa.

ROMNEY: The reason I've done so well in Iowa and New Hampshire and some of these places where I spend a lot of time is that people get to know the hearts of the people that are running for office.

SNOW: Romney raised more campaign cash than his rivals -- a lot more, even if you don't count his own money. And he's put it all to good use, blanketing Iowa and New Hampshire with TV commercials.

So why isn't Romney doing better in national polls? KEATING HOLLAND, CNN POLLING DIRECTOR: Romney's decision to concentrate his ads in Iowa and New Hampshire definitely helped him in those states. But it also means that 98 percent of the country has never seen his advertising.

SNOW: Fred Thompson's also gaining ground. The former senator from Tennessee has taken the first formal steps toward a White House run and an official announcement is expected next month. But his numbers are already on the rise. He's now in second place in the national polls and in the early states. Thompson is the top choice for president in a new Mason/Dixon poll of South Carolina Republicans.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Well, it is such a pleasure to be here in Mount Pleasant.

SNOW: Among Democrats, Senator Hillary Clinton is widening her lead in national surveys. But it's a different story in the crucial early states. Senator Barack Obama tops the new Mason/Dixon poll of South Carolina Democrats and Clinton's battling former Senator John Edwards in recent Iowa polls.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Edwards is investing time and money in Iowa. Obama appears to be benefiting from the large African-American vote in South Carolina, which he's aggressively courting.


SNOW: So the question what should you believe, the national surveys or the polls in the crucial early primary states?

And the answer is both, actually. A good showing in the national polls helps candidates when it comes to media coverage and campaign fundraising. And, of course, doing well in the early states is vital to winning the presidential nomination -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We're going to have a more on these poll numbers in our Strategy Session. That's coming up later this hour.

Mary, thanks very much.

And the next presidential debate will also be featured here on CNN. We're teaming up with YouTube to bring you the Democrats' debate in Charleston, South Carolina. That will take place on Monday night, July 23rd. This will be the first debate where all of you can submit your questions to the candidates via YouTube. Think about that.

I think they'll want to do it.

Jack Cafferty is New York with The Cafferty File -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What a novel idea, soliciting questions.

Senator Barack Obama is known as Renegade. The "Washington Post" reports Obama was given that code name by the Secret Service, a tradition of the agency giving out secret names to presidential candidates and other protected dignitaries. So far, Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton are the only two presidential candidates to get Secret Service protection. Clinton is known among the service as Evergreen because she's a former first lady.

Here are some of the other Secret Service code names. Former President Bill Clinton is Eagle. John Kerry is Minuteman. Former Vice President Al Gore was first called Sawhorse and then his name was changed to Sundance. I have no idea why that is. President Bush, who has been protected since his father was president, is called Tumbler. Former President Jimmy Carter, who is a Sunday school teacher, is known as Deacon. The first President Bush, Timberwolf. President Reagan was code named Rawhide.

The Secret Service says that military officials choose all these code names so people shouldn't read too much into them. And the names don't really have all that much to do with safety anymore, since the military and Secret Service now communicate over secured lines.

But never mind that. We can name them ourselves and that's what we're going to do. The question this hour is this -- what would you suggest as an appropriate Secret Service code name for any of the 2008 presidential candidates?

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

BLITZER: I was a White House correspondent for a long time. I used to see those Secret Service guys. They were talking into their little arm over here like this and they'd be saying things like, "The package is moving."


BLITZER: And it was very, very cool.

CAFFERTY: Is Wolf a Secret Service code name?

BLITZER: It's a Secret -- yes, We're not allowed to disclose the real Secret Service name.

And Cafferty must simply be Cafferty, huh?

CAFFERTY: That's -- that's all there is.



CAFFERTY: All right.

BLITZER: Jack, thanks.

Coming up, he is a man of faith. But Mitt Romney says he's not running for pastor-in-chief. The Republican presidential candidate talks openly about his faith and a possible fate of Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Also, the Supreme Court makes a decision that could affect you. It's about passengers involved in police traffic stops.

And do members of Congress use their jobs to benefit their families?

There's a new report out from a citizen watchdog group. We'll share it with you.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: Welcome back.

One of the Republican presidential candidates said he's not running to be pastor-in-chief, he's running to be commander-in-chief. But for some people out there, Mitt Romney's Mormon faith figures into his campaign -- something he's talked about rather openly with our John Roberts, the co-anchor of "AMERICAN MORNING."

Listen to this.


JOHN ROBERTS, "AMERICAN MORNING," CO-ANCHOR: I'm wondering, how did "The Book of Mormon" define who you are as a person?

ROMNEY: Well, I'm not going to get into a discussion of "The Book of Mormon" or any other particular specific portion of my faith. I can tell you this, that I believe in god and I believe in the bible. And I believe in the divine nature of Jesus Christ. I believe he's the son of god. And I believe that he is my personal savior. But if people have questions about my spiritual upbringing or my church, they can direct it to the church itself. But I'm not a spokesman for the church. I'm not...

ROBERTS: No, I was just on wondering...

ROMNEY: I'm not running for a religious position. I'm not running for the position of pastor-in-chief, I'm running for the position of commander-in-chief.

ROBERTS: But you have said it's important that the person who is running to lead this country be a person of faith, yes?

ROMNEY: You know, I think the American people value the idea that somebody is a person of faith. And by that, I mean a person who believes that there's a creator, that there is a family of humankind, that people throughout the world are all part of our human family. I think that's something which is -- which is valued by the American people.

ROBERTS: What role would faith play in your decision-making as president?

ROMNEY: Well, certainly the doctrines of the faith don't play any role. But the values of faith -- of faith broadly described -- I think are were important -- the values of respecting the sanctity of life, the value of respecting the nature of marriage, the value of seeing people around the world as being part of the same human family, the value of recognizing liberty as a god given right of humanity.

Those kind of values, I think, are very much a part of anyone who's thinking of running for president, who is a person of faith. That's going to be part of what they bring with them to the White House.

ROBERTS: Would you do a gut check with god before you made a major decision?

ROMNEY: Oh, I pray regularly and -- and I ask a lot of questions and follow my heart as well as I can. But, you know, you use your best thinking in making the decisions you make when you when you lead a nation.


BLITZER: John Roberts is joining us now in New York.

But, John, you spent the weekend out on the campaign trail watching him in Iowa.

And I wonder what impressions you got about Mitt Romney talking about his faith?

ROBERTS: You know, he doesn't talk a whole lot about his faith, particularly the fact that he's a Mormon, on the campaign trail. He does talk about his faith as a person, his belief in god, the role that god plays in his life. But campaign officials do believe that he's going to have to talk more about this, that there's still some mystery surrounding his beliefs, mystery surrounding the Mormon Church. They don't fully understand it.

A Pew poll found that 30 percent of Americans say that they would be less likely to vote for someone who is a Mormon. So he needs -- he needs to bridge that gap.

Now what form that discussion will take, the campaign is not sure. They don't believe, Wolf, that it would take the form of a major speech, like John Kennedy did back in 1960, explaining his Catholic faith. Maybe it more might be like answering questions as you posed to him during the debate up there in New Hampshire or having a discussion with people in smaller settings.

But as the Reverend Jerry Falwell said before his death, as long as a candidate is pro-life and pro-family, he's all right with me. And we do definitely know that Mitt Romney is pro-family. The jury is still out among some conservatives as to whether or not he is, in fact, pro-life or remains as he was, as governor of Massachusetts, "effectively pro-choice." BLITZER: I want to play another clip, John, that you had, an exchange on Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's former chief of staff and the whole issue of whether or not he would consider pardoning him. Let's listen to this.


ROBERTS: At one of the debates, you were asked about "Scooter" Libby -- should he be pardoned. You said that's something I would have to think about very hard.

You'd consider it or consider it?

ROMNEY: Well, any time that someone brings forward a request for a pardon, you have to -- thoroughly evaluate it. In this case, there's an unusual circumstance and that is that the prosecutor who investigated "Scooter" Libby knew at the time of the investigation that "Scooter" Libby was not the source of the leak.


ROMNEY: He knew it was someone else. And so he was on the quintessential fishing expedition -- an entrapment proceeding, if you will. And...

ROBERTS: But he was convicted by a jury.

ROMNEY: Oh, he was -- absolutely. Quite the...

ROBERTS: And you said, as Massachusetts governor, you prided yourself on the fact that you did not issue a pardon or commute anyone's sentence, because you said you didn't want to overturn a jury decision.

ROMNEY: And what was unusual here was not the jury's decision. It is, instead, the decision of the prosecutor to prosecute a case and to investigate a case when he knew there was no crime that had originally been committed. That's...

ROBERTS: Yet the jury looked at the evidence and decided that he was a guilty of a crime.

ROMNEY: The jury decided that he was guilty of the -- of changing his story and the perjury. What the jury did not consider is whether the prosecutor entrapped him and pursued the course out of a political vendetta as opposed to pursuing a real crime. And the reason this is, in my view, a subject for careful review is because of the unusual circumstances associated with the prosecution of this case.

ROBERTS: Is he any more deserving of a pardon than Anthony Circosta, this fellow who, at the age of 13 in Massachusetts, was convicted of shooting a buddy in the arm with a B.B. gun, went on to serve in Iraq, won the Bronze Star leading a platoon, wants to become a police officer but can't because he has this on his record, would need a pardon from you and you refused? ROMNEY: You know, you look at each case individually and you make your best judgment as to which cases are appropriate. I must admit that when someone has committed a firearms offense, that's something which has to be considered as you think about giving them another firearm.


BLITZER: All right, John, the U.S. Army gave him a firearm.

Why wouldn't Romney give him a firearm?

ROBERTS: Well, the campaign and people who worked with Mitt Romney while he was the governor of Massachusetts weren't particularly sympathetic about this case. They say he was convicted of a felony firearm offense. The guidelines that Mitt Romney laid down as governor of Massachusetts for a pardon or clemency recommended against letting anyone who had been convicted of a firearm felony ever carry a gun, even though this fellow wanted to go into a police force and carry a gun. It wasn't like he wanted to go out hunting.

But, you know, the bottom line really is the guidelines are not -- Mitt Romney did not pardon or grant clemency to anyone during his term as Massachusetts governor, which makes it all the more curious, Wolf, why he would be willing to consider a pardon for Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

BLITZER: John Roberts is the co-anchor of "AMERICAN MORNING."

John, thanks very much for doing this for us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

John, as you know, is part best political team a television.

More curious, Wolf, why he two be willing to consider a pardon for Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

John Roberts is the co-anchor of "AMERICAN MORNING."

John, thanks very much for doing this for us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

John, as our viewers know, is part best political team on television.

And remember, for the latest political news at any time, you can always check out our political ticker at

Still ahead, after that killing spree in Virginia Tech, there is a new chapter. The school takes a major step as it continues to leave -- try, at least -- the past behind.

And they're among the most powerful members of Congress. But why are they reportedly putting some of their relatives on their campaign payrolls?

Stay with us.



BLITZER: The death of a brother in the September 11th attacks has set one man on a political mission he did not expect.

Our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, has his story -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Jim Ogonowski's story inspires sympathy.

But will it inspire votes?


MESERVE (voice-over): Among the thousands killed on 9/11, John Ogonowski, pilot of American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to plow into the World Trade Center.

JIM OGONOWSKI, 9/11 PILOT'S BROTHER: And if John was here today with us, he would tell us to be strong, because he would be strong.

MESERVE: John Ogonowski's death helped propel his brother, Jim, into a race for Congress.

J. OGONOWSKI: And it is part of my history. It's part of the history of this country.

Nice to see you. I need your help.

MESERVE: Jim Ogonowski, a Republican, is often asked about his brother as he campaigns. But he rejects the notion he is exploiting his brother's memory. So does his brother's widow.

MARGARET OGONOWSKI, SISTER-IN-LAW: Wouldn't it be odder to ignore it? I don't think that you can ignore who Jim is and who his brother was and how that impacted all of us.

MESERVE: Jim Ogonowski manages his brother's hay farm when he isn't stumping for votes and talking, not surprisingly, about weaknesses in aviation security, particularly air cargo screening.

J. OGONOWSKI: The global war on terrorism is not a bumper sticker slogan. It is real.

MESERVE: Since his recent retirement from the Air Force, he is also speaking out on Iraq. Going in was a mistake, he says. But he opposes deadlines for withdrawal.

Massachusetts 5th Congressional District, a mix of old immigrants and new, has sent Democrats to Congress for decades and analysts are skeptical Ogonowski's family story will be enough to elect him. DAVID KING, KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT: This district is blue as blue can be. A Republican has virtually no chance at all, unless there is a perfect alignment of the stars.


MESERVE: Ogonowski is considered a shoe-in for the Republican nomination. The real contest -- the special election in October -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jeanne Meserve watching this story for us.

Thanks, Jeanne, very much.

up next here in THE SITUATION ROOM, hope in the face of uncertainty. Now that the immigration reform measure has been revived, what might happen in the next battle to get it passed?

We're going to take a closer look.

And why is one prominent feminist now saying Senator Hillary Clinton has taken on a "mantle of political masculinity?"

It appears at least some feminists have problems with the only woman in the race for president.

Carol Costello has the story.

That's coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Happening now, an ally under pressure.

After years of backing the war on terror, is Pakistan's government now showing signs of stress?

I go one-on-one with the Pakistani foreign minister, Khurshid Kasuri. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Also, the retired general who steered the investigation of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal is now opening up. We're going to share some of the surprising details he's now revealed.

And she could become the country's first woman president.

So why is Senator Hillary Clinton having trouble with one of her more likely voting blocs?

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


Do members of Congress use their jobs to benefit their families?

A new report released by a citizens watchdog group says yes. Let's turn to CNN's Kathleen Koch.

She's following this story for us -- Kathleen, what are you learning?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this group took a look at the campaign finance reports of the 337 most powerful members of the House of Representatives and it found that just under a third, 41 Democrats and 55 Republicans, have relatives or relatives' companies on the campaign payroll.


KOCH (voice-over): $1.6 million -- that's how much the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Government says the most powerful members of the House of Representatives have paid relatives or relatives' companies over the last three election cycles.

MELANIE SLOANE, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY & ETHICS IN GOVERNMENT: It's a huge loophole. Members of Congress are basically adding to their salaries by having their family members, particularly their spouses, make lots of money off their campaign payrolls.

KOCH: A loophole, because while it's illegal to put relatives on their congressional payroll, it's not illegal for a lawmaker's campaign to hire them.

On the payroll, wives, husband's companies and children, including those of two presidential candidates.

SLOANE: Ron Paul has paid his daughter one of the highest amounts of money. Over three election cycles, he paid her $163,000. And Duncan Hunter has paid his daughter-in-law $105,000. And that's pretty -- those are pretty hefty amounts of money over three election cycles.

KOCH: Paul, in a statement, said -- quote -- "There was nothing inappropriate" about his daughter's employment as campaign treasurer or what he called the -- quote -- "relatively modest compensation" she receives. Hunter was not available to respond.

Howard Berman of California paid his brother's company $195,000. In a statement, he explained, his brother's firm are seasoned political professionals and -- quote -- "No portion of the money my campaign committee has spent retaining their services has benefited me financially."

One lawmaker, Gary Miller of California, even paid himself.

SLOAN: He was paying himself in rent over $124,000 over three election cycles. And that's an awful lot of money to pay your own business in rent for your campaign committee.

KOCH: Miller's office says he -- quote -- "firmly believes his campaign office is in full compliance with federal law."


KOCH: And, while federal law does allow qualified family -- family members to be hired by the campaign, some lawmakers believe it's just not right. Two of them have introduced a bill in the House to stop the practice of at least hiring spouses. But, Wolf, we're told -- no surprise -- it's not expected to pass.

BLITZER: All right. That's on the House side.

What about the senators? What are you learning on the Senate side?

KOCH: Well, Wolf, this group said it was just a mammoth task, wading through all the campaign finance records for the House. They are, though, planning to do a second report -- report examining just how many senators are hiring their family members.

BLITZER: All right, we will stand by for that one, too.

Thanks very much...

KOCH: You bet.

BLITZER: ... Kathleen Koch reporting.

This week could prove important for the fate of immigration reform. A congressional measure has been revived and could soon see some important activity in the U.S. Senate.

Let's go to our congressional correspondent, Andrea Koppel. She's watching this story for us.

Andrea, when do we expect this debate in the Senate to resume?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's going to be a really busy week up here, Wolf.

We expect debate could resume by the end of this week, continuing through the weekend, with a final vote on that immigration bill expected some time next week.

Democratic Leader Harry Reid is expected to file a procedural motion to get the ball rolling midweek. And then debate could get under way on those about 20 amendments that will be offered by both Democrats and Republicans later in the week.

And, because they were able to break that deadlock over amendments, the expectation is high they will be able to move on to a final vote next week. But there is no guarantee, Wolf, that the bill ultimately will pass.

BLITZER: Do we -- are we learning more about these amendments that are likely to come up?

KOPPEL: We are. I mean, the majority of those amendments, the content of them, is still being worked out. But we know, for example, that New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez has an amendment that would give consideration, extra consideration, if you will, to family members, to adult children or siblings of permanent -- legal permanent residents or U.S. citizens. Under the current bill, they would get no extra consideration.

And then Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Republican there, she is going to offer an amendment that would basically make any adult over the age of 18 who wants to become a permanent resident, they would have to go back to their home country within two years to reapply for citizenship -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, thanks, Andrea. Andrea will watch this debate on the Senate floor coming up later in the week.

Coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM: disaster in north Texas. Heavy rain and flooding translate to tragedy in the Lone Star State. Has the rain stopped?

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


BLITZER: We are going to have part of Anderson Cooper's interview with Angelina Jolie -- that's coming up momentarily. You are going to want to see that, the first excerpt now about to be released.

But let's check in with Carol Costello first. She's monitoring the wires. She's keeping an eye on the video feeds coming in from around the world. She's joining us now with a closer look.

What's the latest, Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There it is, Wolf. The Supreme Court has unanimously come down in favor of the rights of passengers during police traffic stops.

The test case centers around a California parole violator's arrest after police stopped a car he was riding in. He challenged the 2001 arrest that led to a four-year prison term as an unconstitutional seizure. The justices did not dismiss his guilty plea, but they left it up to the state to decide how to proceed next.

You're looking at amateur video of that deadly drag strip accident yesterday -- investigators in Selmer, Tennessee, expected to take some time to figure out why things went so terribly wrong. Six people, all in their teens and 20s, died when a souped-up drag racing car careened out of control and spun into a crowd of spectator. Twenty other people were injured. The race was part of a charity show. It's been an annual event in the small town east of Memphis for the past 18 years.

And heavy rain has spelled disaster for a handful of north Texas towns near the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The region flooded swiftly when creeks swelled from up to eight inches of rain. The rushing waters killed two people, including a 4-year-old girl who was swept from her mother's arms. The little girl's body was found two hours later.

Teams used boats to help families and pets who became stranded on rooftops.

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

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Carol, for that.

Let's go straight to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton. She has more on these floods.

What are you picking up from our CNN I-Reporters out there?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, these pictures are in from Jonathan Moore (ph). He's in Sherman, Texas. He is about 45 minutes north of the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

He said he was woken up by the storm, the rain, at 3:00 a.m., and it said -- he said it just kept pouring for about five hours. When he ventured outside, this is what it was like outside his house. He says he's 6'5''

And down the incline, at the bottom of his street, he estimates it was about seven foot in depth. You can see the street signs there bobbing up against the water level -- some of the cars in his area completely submerged. There, this is actually one of the lucky ones. He points out that the ripples of water in this picture are actually the roofs of cars.

Jonathan (ph) says his own house was not touched, because he was up a slope. But some of the buildings around him, wasn't the same case. And the rescue vehicles around, they were using these fan boats to pick people out of their houses -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Dramatic pictures from a CNN I-Report.

Thank you very much for that.

We're getting an update on -- update on that security scare that was over at the White House.

Suzanne Malveaux, what are you picking up?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kim Bruce of the Secret Service tells us that everything is all clear. It is all safe now.

The streets have been opened. Jackson Square right across from the White House, Lafayette Park, our workspace, everything has been opened. They say that suspicious vehicle, part of the Israeli delegation, has also been cleared. They won't give us any details or specifics about what they suspected about that vehicle. But they say that everything is safe, the president, the White House, as well as Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert. As you know, Wolf, all eyes are going to be on that meeting tomorrow -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Suzanne, thanks very much -- all clear over at the White House.

Coming up next, our "Strategy Session" -- James Carville, J.C. Watts, they are standing by to digest the latest poll numbers coming out, some surprises in the race for the White House.

Also, Anderson Cooper has now sat down with Angelina Jolie. We're going to have excerpts of that interview -- all that coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: In politics, nothing is set in stone. In fact, it's still quite a horse race out there on the road to 2008. The latest polls show Senator Clinton regaining some ground, Mayor Giuliani holding on, and one potential candidate giving the former New York mayor a run for his money. What can we make of these new numbers?

Joining us now in our "Strategy Session," Democratic strategist James Carville, Republican strategist former Congressman J.C. Watts.

Here's the "USA Today"/Gallup poll numbers. Senator Clinton has got 39 percent. Barack Obama, he has slipped over in the last couple weeks, from 36 to 26 percent. Edwards remains steady at 13 percent. This is a national poll. It looks good for the senator.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Who I am a contributor and also a supporter of.

But, having said this, these polls...


BLITZER: Financial contributor.

CARVILLE: Financial contributor. Right, that's financial, to be clear there.

These polls, when you're talking about 300 cases, are going to go up and down. I think the most important thing is, she's just running a lot better campaign than Obama is running right now.

BLITZER: Nationally.

CARVILLE: Yes, nationally. His campaign, this thing with this Punjab, this attack on the Indian-Americans and President Clinton, was, like, a really dumb thing. And the response was even dumber.

His campaign is -- you know, it can right itself, but it feels like, to me, they are getting advice from Hollywood.


BLITZER: On the Republican side, J.C. -- let's take a look at these numbers -- right now, Giuliani still remains atop in the "USA Today"/Gallup poll. But he's gone down from 32 to 28 percent over the past couple weeks.

Look at this. Fred Thompson, he's gone from 11 percent up to 19 percent. He's actually second, even though he's not an official candidate yet. He will be in the next few weeks. McCain is at 18, Romney only at 7 percent.

Fred Thompson making an impressive national showing right now.

J.C. WATTS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Fred, is still in a little bit away -- in this poll, he's stealing a little bit away from every one of the candidates.

I still think that Romney and Giuliani are the two candidates that I think stand to lose the most. But it shows he's -- he's going to be a viable candidate when he gets in the race.


BLITZER: If he gets that nomination, he could be a threat to a Democrat, James.

CARVILLE: Could. Yes.


BLITZER: You admit that?

CARVILLE: Yes. Sure. Any -- I mean...


BLITZER: You buy the notion he's got that Ronald Reagan likability...


BLITZER: ... a conservative, an actor?

CARVILLE: ... let's let him get in the race and see how he does.

One thing that we know is, is that it's an awfully slippery slope out there. And everybody looks good on, you know, the day before their wedding. Let's see how they look somewhere down the line. Something tells me that the Romney people are working overtime right now. But we will see.

BLITZER: I'm going to go to South Carolina, though. There's a Mason-Dixon poll that shows, among the Democrats, J.C., Barack Obama, he's atop with 34 percent, Senator Clinton with 25 percent, John Edwards, who was born in South Carolina, at 12 percent. You Keating Holland, our pollster here at CNN, suggest that the African-American votes among Democrats in South Carolina could be really helping Barack Obama in that state.

WATTS: Well, South Carolina, Wolf, is a critical state for both Republicans and Democrats. For Democrats, it's a critical state because you have such a large African-American population. That's kind of the infant stages of the conservative gauntlet that you have to hit in the South.

Barack Obama will do well with the black vote. Regardless of what the polls say, he will do very well. It will help him to do well in South Carolina, launch his primary season with South Carolina. I don't think those numbers are deceptive.

But I would also remind us, these polls are going to be all over the board over the next two or three months.

BLITZER: We know that.

WATTS: But it is quite interesting.

BLITZER: We do know that.


BLITZER: What do you think?

CARVILLE: Well, I think he's a very talented guy that has some very talented people. But they're not, so far -- but what I think is, they are not showing it.

He's had, you know, less-than-stellar debates. They have made some pretty, like, dumb mistakes and haven't been able to recover from them. Now, they can turn this around very quickly. And I think that Obama is a formidable candidate. I think he's a man of enormous skill.

He's going to do very...


BLITZER: He's doing well right now in South Carolina.

CARVILLE: In South Carolina, yes.

BLITZER: But let's look at this, on the Republican side, to see who is doing well in South Carolina.

Look at this, J.C.: Fred Thompson in this Mason-Dixon poll with 25 percent, Rudy Giuliani, 21 percent, Mitt Romney, 11, John McCain, only 7 percent in South Carolina in this poll.

What do you think about Fred Thompson in South Carolina?

WATTS: Well, that -- that does not surprise me. John McCain has been hurt by the immigration debate. Lindsey Graham, who is one of his staunch supporters, Lindsey's been impacted by the immigration debate in South Carolina. So, John and Lindsey both are paying somewhat of a price down there. But, nevertheless, I am still surprised that Fred Thompson is at 25 percent, and John McCain is at 7, in South Carolina.

BLITZER: It is pretty surprising.

CARVILLE: Seven is a bad number.

BLITZER: Bad for McCain.


CARVILLE: ... bad number.

BLITZER: All right. I want to ask you to react.

Yesterday, George Stephanopoulos, on ABC, asked Joe Biden, who is a Democratic presidential candidate...


BLITZER: ... the senator from Delaware, whether he believed that the vote that Senator Obama and Senator Clinton took to deny the funding for the troops because there was no withdrawal timeline in there actually put troops at additional risk.

And Biden said, absolutely, positively, unquestionably, he -- he thinks it did.

Those are strong words from Joe Biden.

CARVILLE: Yes. And, I mean, usually, when you're at -- when you're in the sort of milk fat content, you have to use strong words. I don't know if he's 1 percent or 2 percent. But he's what we call the milk fat kind of category.


CARVILLE: And I think they have to be stronger.

I think Senator Biden has -- he has his own plan. And he says, if you partitioned the country, you would make it -- you would make it a lot better. I think -- and I disagree, and I think a lot of people do -- that the real jeopardy to the troops is, is that we continue down the same path that we are, that this is the worst kind of strategy we can have.

But it's -- he's a -- he's a good guy. But he gets the milk fat percent exemption.


BLITZER: Not skim milk. That's what you're... CARVILLE: Not skim milk -- 1 percent.

BLITZER: At least you're suggesting...


CARVILLE: Yes, he's getting some.

BLITZER: ... 1 percent or 2 percent.


BLITZER: All right.


BLITZER: James Carville, J.C. Watts, thanks to both of you guys for coming in.

And still to come: an ally under pressure. I will talk with Pakistan's foreign minister. That's coming up shortly, talk about a potential, a threat, in -- in Pakistan and its nuclear weapons. We will update you on what's going on there.

And the actress and activist Angelina Jolie speaking out for the world's refugees -- we're going to share excerpts of her special interview with our own Anderson Cooper.

That's coming up next -- right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Wednesday is World Refugee Day. And one high-profile Hollywood celebrity who is very active about the plight of many refugees is now speaking to CNN.

Angelina Jolie sat down with our own Anderson Cooper.


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": When was it that you knew, this is it; this is going to be a primary focus for me?

ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTIVIST: The first time I went to a refugee camp?

COOPER: Which camp was that?

JOLIE: Well, my first trip, I went to Sierra Leone, and then I went to Tanzania. So, it was two different -- it was all in one very long extended few weeks -- and -- and kind of came back with the realization of having met these different groups of people, and ...

COOPER: Was there a moment in that camp in Sierra Leone where you said; this is it, this is for me? JOLIE: In Sierra Leone, it was a realization that there were really -- real horrors in the world and real -- and a kind of cruelty and violence that I really did not know existed. And I did not people could suffer like that.

In Sierra Leone, so many people had systematically had their arms and legs cut off, and even 3-year-old kids with no arms and legs, because they were hatcheted off, or friends that had to cut off other friends' hands and legs, and they were traumatized. And it was - really, to this day, it was the most brutal situation I have ever seen.

So, it wasn't so much a thought to work with refugees. It was just, I felt s so -- I felt so unaware, and I felt so naive to the real -- real atrocities happening across -- across the globe, and -- and that I knew I needed to, as a woman, as a human being, just had a responsibility to educate myself with these things, and not let them go by unnoticed personally. I just -- I knew I needed that, and to never again be confronted with a situation like that and think my God, how did I not know this was happening?

And then, just the more I have gotten to know refugees and refugee families and -- and even those people who had lost their -- their limbs, they had a strength and a spirit that I have never seen anywhere else than when I meet a refugee. They have something extraordinary.

COOPER: They have been victimized, but they're not necessarily victims?

JOLIE: They're not victims at all. They don't -- they don't live as victims. They have -- they certainly know that there has been an injustice. And they are very smart people. And I think that is something that people often don't connect with a refugee. They -- they think of them as a desperate group.

But they are, in fact -- Einstein was a refugee.


JOLIE: They are, in fact, some of the smartest, I'm sure the most resilient people in the world. And they -- and, also, many of them, before they became refugees, most all of them, lived lives like ours.


BLITZER: And you can watch Anderson's entire interview with Angelina Jolie. That will air Wednesday night, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, on "ANDERSON COOPER 360."

We want to congratulate CNN's Christiane Amanpour. Our chief international correspondent now has an even more distinguished title. This weekend, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II designated Christiane as a commander of the Order of the British Empire. She's only one of a few journalists to have received this honor. Christiane has won acclaim for her coverage of conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, Bosnia, among other places. She brought the civil war in Bosnia to the world's attention. Her eye-opening documentaries include a powerful look at AIDS orphans in Kenyan and Islamist extremism in Britain.

We want to say this to Christiane: Congratulations.

Jack Cafferty is joining us now from New York with "The Cafferty File."

No knighthood for you, Jack, at least not yet.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know, I have no -- I'm not deserving of one.

But Christiane Amanpour is deserving of every honor she gets. She's one of the people in this business who keeps the bar set where it ought to be, which is up there.

We lowered the bar for this question, but, you know, it's Monday, and I'm tired: code names that the Secret Service gives to people under their protection. We said, President Bush's code name was Tumbler. It used to be. They changed it to Trailblazer. I have no idea why they would do that.

The question for the hour, though, is: What is an appropriate Secret Service code name for any of the '08 presidential candidates?

Ben (ph) suggests for Romney, Waffles; McCain, G.I. No; Giuliani, Bronx Bomber; Hillary, Number Two; Edwards, Hollywood; and Obama, String Bean.

Leroy (ph) in Nashville, Tennessee: "It's too easy, Liar One, Liar Two, Liar Three, Liar Four, et cetera."


CAFFERTY: Michael (ph) in Vermont: Rudy Giuliani, Rumpelstiltskin; Barack Obama, Wonderboy; Mitt Romney, Orange Tan Man; John McCain, Bugs Bunny; Bill Richardson, the Pillsbury Doughboy; Mike Huckabee, Holy Redeemer; and Hillary Clinton, Overdone; John Edwards, Battlestar Galactica; and Ron Paul, Man of La Mancha.

Jay (ph) in Florida: Fred Thompson, Dog Face; Mitt Romney, Flip- Flop; Rudy Giuliani, Drag Queen.

He cross-dressed at one of those spoofy dinners they did years ago in New York with the New York City press corps. That's where that comes from.

John Edwards, Helmet Hair.

Tom (ph) in Florida: "The code name, Flipper. The candidate, pick any one."

Lance (ph) in Missouri: Hillary, Tammy Wynette for stand by your man; Obama, Mr. Clean; Edwards, Pretty Boy.

A. suggests for Ron Paul, Savior.

Kelly (ph) in Texas: Lady Hawk for Hillary Clinton.

Dale (ph) in Ohio: "My favorite candidate, Senator Biden, shall assume the code name of Lippy."

Dave (ph) in Texas: John Edwards is Shampoo.

Pat (ph) -- last one, I promise -- Pat (ph) in Pasadena, California: Barack Obama, Raw Resume; John Edwards, Hair Force One; Hillary Clinton, Pantus (ph); Chris Dodd, Chris Dodd; Sam Brownback, Double-Oh-Heaven; Mitt Romney, Varmint Hunter; and Duncan Hunter, Varmint -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you very much. Very clever viewers.

To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


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