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Campaigns Collide; Poll Results

Aired July 4, 2007 - 16:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, HOST: Happening now, presidential politics on parade. The Clinton and Romney campaigns collide in Iowa. And we've got the Fourth of July snapshot of where the Democratic and Republican races stand right now.
Also this hour, Iraq fireworks -- two White House hopefuls join us to go head to head on the war. It's Republican Duncan Hunter versus Democrat Dennis Kucinich.

Plus, the second tier presidential candidates struggle to break out of the pack. And Fred Thompson steals the spotlight from people actually in the race.

Is he more of a D.C. insider than he claims to be?

Wolf Blitzer is off today.

I'm Susan Malveaux and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

On this Independence Day, we begin on the presidential battlefield of Iowa. Several candidates are there fighting to gain or hold their ground in the lead-off caucus state. The Hillary and Bill Clinton road show continues to be a top draw in the Hawkeye State this holiday week. But other contenders are eagerly vying for a piece of Iowa's action.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is in Waterloo, Iowa -- Candy, is this just all about Fourth of July hype or is there any substance that you're hearing?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Hillary Clinton giving her speech right now in Waterloo, Iowa. There is substance in it in the broad view sense of things. She talked about health care. She talks about education. She talks about jobs.

But they're broad view and it's a standard stump speech.

Today is a lot about the pictures. You saw those pictures in the parade in Clear Lake, east of here. So this is -- this is largely a day for picnic picnics, for small visits to ice cream parlors, that sort of thing. M the candidates are taking full advantage of those photo opportunities.

MALVEAUX: And, Candy, as you know, Bill Clinton really raised some eyebrows from comments that he made -- radio remarks about President Bush's commutation of Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

I want you to take a listen to this.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You've got to understand, I think that this is consistent with their philosophy. They believe that they should be able to do what they want to do and that the law is a minor obstacle. I think -- that's what I think. I think that, you know, it was wrong to out that CIA agent. It was wrong to try to cover it up and wrong that no one was ever fired from the White House for doing it.


MALVEAUX: So, Candy, very interesting.

How is this playing out in the campaign for Hillary?

CROWLEY: Well, what is interesting is he has largely played the real substance-free role here in the past three days. His job is to introduce her and get off the stage. He couldn't resist, obviously, in this interview and got into the fray. But saying basically what Hillary Clinton has been saying about the commutation of the sentence for -- the jail sentence for "Scooter" Libby -- saying, look, this is about cronyism.

It is playing very well among Democrats, as you might guess, Suzanne, because these are people who already believe that the Bush administration has been corrupt, hasn't taken any responsibility for everything. So the commutation of the sentence is playing very well out here on the campaign trail.

MALVEAUX: So it doesn't seem to be hurting Hillary Clinton. But obviously he's been playing a back seat.

How is he doing in that role?

CROWLEY: So far so good. I mean he -- he literally, we noticed the other day -- and I'll just turn around here and look -- is he gets -- he literally gets off the stage when it's time for her to talk. They clearly want him to be there, to kind of give that aura of kind of a quasi incumbent. But then they need her to not be under his shadow, both literally and figuratively. And he's played the role pretty well.

MALVEAUX: OK, Candy, thank you so much.

Enjoy the holiday.

The first presidential contests still are more than six months away. But there is plenty of summer heat being generated by top contenders. Here's our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.


Bring on the poll of polls. Where do the candidates stand on this Fourth of July?

Nine national polls of Republicans were taken in June. Rudy Giuliani is still leading, but his numbers have been dropping since march. So have John McCain's. The undeclared Fred Thompson is nearly tied with McCain for second place. Mitt Romney barely registers in double digits nationally. He's still largely unknown across the country. No other Republican candidate reaches double digits.

But national figures don't mean as much as the candidates' standing in the early voting states where they've been campaigning and advertising.

Take Iowa, where the first caucuses will meet. The latest poll shows Romney leading there. Romney is also leading in New Hampshire, which holds the first primary. He's well known there because he was governor of next door Massachusetts.

McCain is also doing well in New Hampshire. He won the New Hampshire primary in 2000.

On to the Democrats. The national polls have been stable all year -- Hillary Clinton first, Barack Obama second, John Edwards third. No one else in double digits.

And in the early states?

Clinton is ahead in those, too. But Edwards is breathing down her neck in Iowa. Obama does pretty well in New Hampshire, where Independents can vote in the Democratic primary.

The bottom line?

Hillary Clinton is maintaining her lead on the Democratic side, but she's got to worry about Edwards in Iowa and Obama in New Hampshire.

On the Republican side, Giuliani's national lead is slipping. Romney looks like the guy to watch in the key early states -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Bill.

Bill Schneider and Candy Crowley -- both part of the best political team on television.

And remember, for the latest news anytime, check out the Political Ticker at

Jack Cafferty is off today.

Coming up, two Congressmen and presidential candidates who are polar opposites on the Iraq War. Democrat Dennis Kucinich and Republican Duncan Hunter will join us next.

Plus, no holiday from the war for President Bush. He's pleading for patience in Iraq, perhaps more than some fellow Republicans are willing to give.

And Tiger Woods hits the links in the nation's capital to salute military families, with help from the president's dad.



MALVEAUX: Fourteen people were killed today in a bombing targeting security forces in Iraq. And two U.S. soldiers were killed in separate incidents, one when a helicopter went down in northern Iraq.

Joining us now, two presidential candidates with very different views on the war and what should happen next -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio and Duncan Hunter, Republican of California.

Thank you, both of you, for taking the holiday time to join us in THE SITUATION ROOM.

I want to start off, Dennis Kucinich, if I can, there is evidence now that behind the U.K. terror plot, there are those who are doctors, these alleged terrorists who were trained by Al Qaeda in Iraq. You make the case that U.S. forces have to pull out now.

How can you do that when you've got Al Qaeda training terrorists inside of Iraq?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Remember the lie that was told from the beginning, that Al Qaeda had something to do with Iraq, and they blamed 9/11 on Iraq. This whole war is based on lies. We need to get out of Iraq. We need to bring our troops home.

In the two parades I was at today in the Cleveland area, people were calling out from the crowd, saying bring those -- bring those troops home. And that's what we have to do. And I have a plan to do that.

We need to -- to spend the money we have right now to bring the troops home, bring the equipment home, get the international community, put it together with a peacekeeping force that moves in as our troops leave. We have to get out of there. The people want that to happen and it's time the Democrats stood up, kept their promise they made in the last election and bring those men and women home.

Congressman Hunter, does that sound like a solution here to actually take on Al Qaeda in Iraq?

Does that sound like something that would work, if you pull out the U.S. troops?

What do you think of what Dennis Kucinich's solution calls for?

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, I think this reflects the real problem with the Democrat thinking. And that -- the idea is, and it's been stated over and over again, that somehow they're going to "stop the war." It's clear and it's been manifested by what's happened in Britain, they don't have the ability to stop the war. The only thing they have to ability to do, if they can cut off funding for our troops in Iraq, is to leave the battlefield.

And I think what happened in Britain very clearly shows that we are in a long battle against the forces of terrorism, that those -- that that battle takes place in other places around the world like Great Britain, but that Iraq is a center of that battle and it's important that we win.

MALVEAUX: But Congressman Hunter, you've been a supporter of the president's policy on this. But all along, the president has said the one thing we don't want to do is have Al Qaeda training terrorists using that as a home base and then having those terrorists follow us home or to Europe.

But it seems as if that is exactly what has happened here.

HUNTER: Well, actually, I think the reason that we haven't been hit yet in this country -- and it's, you know, incidentally -- to all of our uniformed troops watching, I think Dennis and I both send our very best. This the Fourth of July.

Thanks to everybody who is watching around the world who wears the uniform of the United States.

But, you know, one reason that we haven't been hit in the United States and one reason that other countries who are allies haven't taken heavier strikes than they have is because this aggressive forward leaning strategy against terrorists, where we go after them and he hit Al Qaeda -- and we've killed, incidentally, a lot of Al Qaeda leaders. We've taken a lot of them out of the battlefield.

It's tough to plan a strike on the United States or an ally when some of your planners don't show up because they've been killed by American Special Forces troops. MALVEAUX: Congressman --

HUNTER: So our -- our aggressive role against Al Qaeda is one reason that we haven't been hit in the United States.

KUCINICH: Duncan --

MALVEAUX: Congressman Kucinich --

KUCINICH: Duncan, here's what I'm concerned about. I'm concerned that America is actually less safe. You know, there's been about one million innocence Iraqi civilians killed as a result of this war. I mean we're going to have to be dealing with the after effects of this war that was based on lies for years to come.

And what I'm saying is it's time that we took a stand for peace, which connects us to security and prosperity, as opposed to war, which connects us to fear and poverty. And it's time for us to get out of Iraq. The American people want us to get out of Iraq. We need to stabilize Iraq with an international security and peacekeeping force that comes in as our troops leave.

That's the direction we have to take and that's the only way we're going to have a chance at security in the future.

MALVEAUX: Well, what do you think of that, Congressman Hunter?

HUNTER: Well, let me tell you -- and, Dennis, I was at a couple of parades myself. You were in Cleveland. I was in New Hampshire today. I didn't have a single person yell out, "Well, we've got to get out of Iraq."

I think this. When we were hit on 9/11, that followed -- the last two American military actions that were undertaken by our forces were actually taken to save Muslim nations. One of them was Kuwait. So the idea that somehow we are going to abandon the battlefield to Al Qaeda and they are going to -- they are going to initiate a new era of peace, I think that's totally naive.

I think they came after the United States when every Muslim leader and every Muslim country in the world had a reason to appreciate America and to thank us for saving a Muslim nation, namely Kuwait, and, also, Bosnia.

And so we --

MALVEAUX: Congressman Hunter --

HUNTER: -- we (INAUDIBLE) efforts for --


KUCINICH: You know, let me just say to my --

HUNTER: -- for peace and we were not rewarded for those -- for those efforts for peace.

KUCINICH: Let me just say -- let me just say to my good friend, Duncan Hunter, that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and al Qaeda did not have the kind of presence in Iraq that it does right now as a result of the occupation. The occupation is fuelling the insurgency.

We have to end the occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home. And when we do that, with an international security and peacekeeping force, which we can get when we say we're leaving, we can begin to stabilize Iraq.

What we can't do is stay there. We can't stay there. We can't grab their oil on behalf of U.S. oil companies. We'll end up with wider war there.

I wish my friend, Duncan Hunter, the best. But I have to tell you, I think the American people truly want a new direction in Iraq and I think that direction is out.

MALVEAUX: Congressman Hunter, I want to ask you -- because you said that the people in the parades you've attended are not calling for U.S. troops to be pulled out of Iraq.

But isn't it possible that you're just talking to --

HUNTER: No, I said they weren't yelling at the --

MALVEAUX: -- not --

HUNTER: -- during that -- during the parades today.


But the people you're talking to, obviously support your position. But the polls are showing that most Americans want to have U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq.

HUNTER: Well, listen, all Americans want to bring our troops back safely from -- from every area. My -- my son is -- has done two tours in Iraq. He's now in Afghanistan. We all want to have our troops come home the right way.

But the right way in Iraq is to stand up the 129 Iraqi battalions that comprise the Iraqi military, stand them up, rotate them into the battlefield, rotate out our heavy combat forces after the Iraqi troops are battle hardened. That's the right way to leave the battlefield so that we shift that security responsibility to the Iraqis.

It's not simply to stand up and stampede for the border on the basis that when we leave, the Al Qaeda are going to start treating us in a kinder, gentler way. I think that's naive thinking.

I think we're in for a long war around the world against Al Qaeda.

And the question back to Dennis has got to be this -- if we have -- if we are the founders of Al Qaeda, according to Dennis' theory, then why did they strike us on 9/11?

We hadn't done anything to Muslim nations. In fact, we'd saved two Muslim nations when they hit us on 9/11, and Al Qaeda still struck us.

So the idea that we created Al Qaeda, I think, is -- is not going to go anywhere, Dennis.

KUCINICH: You know, may I say to my friend, Duncan, that, you know, I voted for this nation to respond to 9/11. But I did not license this kind of phony war on terror that would take us everywhere. We need to get out of Iraq. And we need to end the kind of thinking, Duncan, that took us into Iraq in the first place. We need to start thinking of peace as connecting ourselves to our security capacity. And when we --

MALVEAUX: Congressman --

KUCINICH: -- when we do that, then we have a chance to truly be secure. MALVEAUX: Congressman Kucinich, what do you mean by phony war?

KUCINICH: Oh, come on. I mean this idea of war on terror, this administration has used fear as a weapon. It has tried to expand a war, a global war, if it could, to enable it to gain more political power when the truth of the matter is that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 in the first place; had nothing to do with Al Qaeda's role in 9/11; did not have weapons of mass destruction.

This thing with the commutation of the sentence of Vice President Cheney's assistant connected right to the lies that took us into Iraq.

It's time for us to take a new direction --

MALVEAUX: Congressman --

KUCINICH: -- one that connects us to truth and justice. And that's what the Fourth of July is all about -- land of the free, home of the brave.

MALVEAUX: Congressman Hunter, however, calls that position naive.

What do you say to him?

KUCINICH: Well, let's look at it now. We have some time to compare things.

Who's right about this?

You know, we went into Iraq based on lies.

Now has that made us more safe?

Are we safer today because we fought a war that has cost us the lives of 3,500 of our brave men and women, cost us over, you know, perhaps as much as $1 trillion to $2 trillion, borrowing money from China to fight a war in Baghdad and killing perhaps as many as a million innocent Iraqis?

MALVEAUX: I want to --

HUNTER: What --

MALVEAUX: I want to --

KUCINICH: This war has been a colossal blunder.

MALVEAUX: All right.

KUCINICH: We have to end it.

MALVEAUX: Congressman Hunter, if you can -- if you can jump in here.

HUNTER: Yes. Let me just paint the picture of Iraq that -- that occurred and that existed before we went in. I see the picture -- now, Dennis sees, apparently, a kind and gentle regime. I see the picture -- the photographs of those dead Kurdish mothers laid out across that hillside in northern Iraq holding their babies, killed in mid-stride by poison gas as it hit them. I see the these excavations and these mass graves, where mothers and their children, all executed with .45 slugs to the backs of their heads by Saddam Hussein's people, are being excavated right now by anthropologists. I see a system of mass murder.

And that's what the United States stopped. And I think every American who participated in that, the 1.2 million Americans who have participated in both the Afghanistan and the Iraq theaters, have done a great service for the world. They've done a service for freedom. They can be proud on this Fourth of July that they have served freedom around the world.

MALVEAUX: We're going to take a quick break and we'll get right back to both of you right after that break.

Still ahead, Al Gore's son busted. Details from the police blotter ahead.

And Bill Clinton's take on "Scooter" Libby's reprieve from prison.

Does the subject hit him too close to home?

Donna Brazile and Rich Galen are standing by for our Strategy Session.



MALVEAUX: And we're back now.

A debate taking place between Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Duncan Hunter.

Thank you very much.

I want to follow up, Kucinich, on what you said about a change -- time for change here. You have called for impeachment of the vice president. Clearly, you don't have to support from the Democrats. Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not backing you on this.

So what is the point of this?

What is the purpose?

KUCINICH: Well, there's -- there's more people who have joined it. There's over a dozen members of Congress now. And I think more and more people are looking at the conduct of the office of the vice president and are very concerned.

I mean this war has weakened this nation. It has weakened our military. It's weakened the National Guard. It has weakened our budget. And I want a strong military, but one that you don't send into battles based on lies.

MALVEAUX: So your move for impeachment, is -- is this a real move forward?

Do you see this as a realistic approach here, something that's actually going to happen?

Or is it more of a symbolic statement?

KUCINICH: Today is the Fourth of July. It's about the Declaration of Independence and, by reference, our Constitution and everything this country stands for. The Constitution --

MALVEAUX: Do you have the support for it?

Do you believe you have the support for the impeachment?

KUCINICH: The American people, I believe, support standing for the Constitution. And they're looking at all of these other candidates for president and want to find out who will stand for the Constitution, who will set high standards.

You hold high office, you ought to be held to high standards. You ought to keep your oath of office. The vice president did not. He's responsible for standing up for the Constitution and the laws of this country. And, frankly, this is about the Constitution. It is a sacred document. On this day of all days, we ought to be standing for our Constitution.

MALVEAUX: Congressman Hunter, do you -- do you believe that this is something that's appropriate to do?

HUNTER: No. Obviously not. I don't think there's any basis for it and I think that's the reason that it's difficult for Dennis to get cosponsors for this piece of legislation. I think the president -- the vice president has done a good job for the -- for this country. And, you know, let me --

MALVEAUX: But how do you hold the leader accountable here?

HUNTER: Let me --

MALVEAUX: How do you hold them accountable?

HUNTER: Well, you know, I'm glad --

MALVEAUX: Obviously Kucinich has an idea to hold them accountable. There's a lot of feelings of distrust, particularly when it comes to the "Scooter" Libby matter, that there -- that this administration is not to be trusted.

HUNTER: You know, I'm glad you asked that question about accountability, because as Dennis was talking about how -- how the Iraq War was based on what he called lies, I think of the fact that -- that I held two classified hearings for every single member in the House in which they were able to talk to members of the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency who had differing views on what Saddam Hussein had before we went in, before we gave that vote of empowerment to the president to invade Iraq.

I invited every Democrat in the House and every Republican in the House. And they -- and about 200 of them attended these hearings. And they came away -- they were able to ask any questions they wanted. There were no handlers from the White House.

And the idea that Democrats now claim that they were hornswaggaled on Iraq, that they didn't have enough information, any member of Congress could have -- could have asked more questions at the two hearings that I held. They also could have called back the CIA or the DIA for more information.

So the idea that -- that Congress wants to shirk and shed accountability, including Democrat members of Congress who voted to empower the president to go in -- and, you know, I also looked at the statements that were made by people before the year 2000 about Saddam Hussein. The toughest statements about Saddam Hussein, that said that he was developing weapons of mass destruction and had to be stopped, do you know where they came from?

They didn't come from conservatives. They came from Senator Hillary Clinton. Now Senator Hillary Clinton -- but before she was a senator.

MALVEAUX: I want --

HUNTER: They came from people like John Kerry.

MALVEAUX: I want to give --

HUNTER: They came from people like Al Gore.

HUNTER: -- Congressman Kucinich a chance to -- to respond and weigh in here.

Hornswaggle is a word I just haven't heard before, so --

KUCINICH: You're -- you're actually --

HUNTER: I think he agrees with me on that one.

KUCINICH: Your viewer -- your viewers are looking at the one presidential candidate who wasn't misled. I knew from the beginning that this war had no basis in fact. And I think people are looking for a president who has the capacity to analyze exactly what's going on at the moment and to be able to make the right call.

There are a number of Democrats who are running for president who either voted for the war based on -- on being sold a bill of goods, or they voted to fund the war. And I have to tell you that I think the American people are looking for a whole new direction, which rejects wars as an instrument of policy and which understands that the strength that we need in our military is also backed up by the strength of a leader who can tell the truth and who knows the difference between truth and a lie when it comes to whether or not you'll commit those brave young men and women into a battle.

MALVEAUX: I want to wrap this, real quickly, on another subject.

Duncan Hunter, immigration bill reform obviously failed, did not get the support. That, in some way, I guess a victory for you. But the president is not bringing up new legislation. Secretary Chertoff is not doing that.

So what do you do now here?

You say the system is broken. You've got 12 million illegal immigrants.

Do you have a Plan B here?

HUNTER: Absolutely. Here's what we have to do.

How about enforcing the law that we already passed?

You know, I wrote the Border Fence Bill. That's the fence -- that's the bill that extends the San Diego double border fence. That's --

MALVEAUX: Are you saying the president isn't enforcing the law?

HUNTER: Well, he is -- he has not built the fence. I wrote that bill in October. It was passed by the Senate by a vote of 80-19. It was passed by the House overwhelmingly. That extends a double border fence 854 miles -- mandates its extension across Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

I checked the other day and the administration has only built 13 miles of the 854 miles. So --

MALVEAUX: But what do you do now?

Have you talked --

HUNTER: -- instead of rushing off --

MALVEAUX: Have you talked to the president about this?

HUNTER: Yes, I have. I informed him the other day that it was only 13 miles. He expressed surprise at that. I told him I would get the exact square -- the exact footage back to him. And what that --

MALVEAUX: So did he --

HUNTER: And what that means is this --

MALVEAUX: Did he know there was only 13 miles?

Did he know?

HUNTER: It's only 13 miles. No, he thought it was more than that.

And who knows?

I'm sure that the Department of Homeland Security has been telling him that things are great in terms of construction of that fence.

But the fact --

MALVEAUX: But what did the what did the president think it was?

What did the president think the mileage was?

HUNTER: Well, he didn't have a -- he didn't have a number. He just expressed surprise that it -- that that little, only 13 miles, had been accomplished at that point.

So instead of racing off to develop new legislation, let's enforce existing law that we did pass, that the president did sign October 26th, and that includes 854 miles of border fence across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

And you know something?

In 2005, we captured 155,000 people coming across that border from Mexico who were not citizens of Mexico.

MALVEAUX: Did the --

HUNTER: They came from -- 1,100 came from communist China, a few from North Korea and Iran.

MALVEAUX: Excuse me, but did the --

HUNTER: That is a major --

MALVEAUX: Did you get --

HUNTER: -- exposure to our country.

MALVEAUX: Did the president give you any reassurances that that fence would be built, that the security would change in any way?

HUNTER: No. I thought we had a -- we had a short discussion on that -- on that subject and I gave him that figure and I told him that I would make sure that -- that we got the precise figure back to the White House as to how much has been done.

It's only 13 miles out of 854 miles. We need to build the border fence, enforce existing law. We're going to see a lot of problems with respect to border enforcement and illegal immigration go away.

MALVEAUX: Congressman Kucinich, in light of the fact that he hasn't gotten any assurances from the president that security is going to change, what do you think of the fact that the immigration bill has been killed?

KUCINICH: Well, the existing law that we need to enforce are laws that relate to wage an hour, safe workplace. Let's face it, these corporations north of the border have profited from a disgraceful system of slave labor. They wanted those workers there because the workers were an easily controlled workforce. They could be paid next to nothing.

Well, why did all of this happen?

Go back to the mid-'90s, when NAFTA ...

MALVEAUX: Let's go forward. Let's go forward.

KUCINICH: Wait, just ...

MALVEAUX: What would be the solution?

KUCINICH: Wait, no, no. You've got to go over this.

MALVEAUX: What would be the solution?

KUCINICH: Excuse me, Suzanne. The solution is to cancel NAFTA. Follow this, now.

The reason why you had a flood across the border - and everyone knows this - is that when NAFTA passed, the peso dropped. People flooded across the border seeking jobs, because they were told their wages were going to go up in Mexico. They went down.

We need to cancel NAFTA, renegotiate a trade agreement with Mexico, where workers rights, human rights and environmental quality principles are an essential part of the trade.

Then people aren't going to be so motivated to flee north across the border.

You have to have a sane immigration policy which controls the flow across the border. No question about that.

But what we've had is a system of slave labor that was intensified because of NAFTA. Enforce wage and hour, enforce workplace safety, and lets this country reconnect with its greatness.

And our greatness has always been that we understand our diversity. Our motto - "Out of many, we are one" - let's reconnect with that oneness.

But also enforce immigration laws so we have some control at the border. Cancel NAFTA.

MALVEAUX: I'd like to thank both of you. This is a first for the SITUATION ROOM, a Democratic and Republican candidates, head-to- head, toe-to-toe. Thank you so much.

KUCINICH: Thank you.

HUNTER: Many thanks.

MALVEAUX: Have a good holiday.

KUCINICH: Thank you. Happy Fourth, Duncan.

HUNTER: Thanks. Happy Fourth, Dennis.

MALVEAUX: Thank you.

And up next, President Bush spends part of this holiday with troops, sending a message to his critics on Iraq.

And they try harder. The second tier presidential candidates fight to get noticed in New Hampshire.

You're in the SITUATION ROOM.


MALVEAUX: As Americans celebrate independence, President Bush praises those who defend the ideals that keep Americans free. He gave a speech before members of the West Virginia Air National Guard and their families.

The president asked for more patience and sacrifice in Iraq, saying the nation must win the war. And he asked for a special favor.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and other fronts in the war on terror are serving in a cause that is vital and just.

And on this Fourth of July, I ask every American to find a way to thank the men and women who are defending our freedom, and the families that support them.


MALVEAUX: Our White House correspondent, Ed Henry, has more.

Ed, we heard about war and sacrifice from the president. Is this any different than the kinds of speeches that we've heard before?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE WHITE HOUSE: No, not really. It really was a plea for patience, a message from the commander in chief, realizing he needs more time to try and finish the mission in Iraq, five years into a war that's grown more unpopular with the American people.

And this West Virginia Air National Guard really personifies the sacrifice of the American people all around the country - not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan, as well.

The president cited the example of one person there, a master sergeant who has deployed seven times since 9/11, and recently redeployed to go to Baghdad for an eighth time. So, Mr. Bush was trying to pivot off the flag-waving of Independence Day, talked about comparing current U.S. troops to the American revolutionaries and saying that they are made of the same stuff.


BUSH: Like those early patriots, you're fighting a new and unprecedented war, pledging your lives and honor to defend our freedom and way of life.

In this war, the weapons have changed, and so have our enemies. But one thing remains the same. The men and women of the Guard stand ready to put on a uniform and fight for America.


HENRY: But the problem for the president as he pleads for patience is that it's no longer just Democrats who are demanding a dramatic course change in Iraq. He now has to deal with the fact that he has senior Republicans, like Senator Richard Lugar, saying they can't wait for this progress report from General Petraeus in September. They need a course change now, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: OK, Ed. Thank you so much. Have a good holiday.

HENRY: You, too.

MALVEAUX: And coming up, breaking away. The lesser known presidential candidates try to steal some thunder from their better- known rivals. We're on the campaign trail in New Hampshire.

And in the race for the White House, who's getting lots of hits online? Find out ahead. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.


MALVEAUX: When the top tier presidential candidates are away, those who trail them will play, like Republican Mike Huckabee. With many of his competitors shaking hands and kissing babies this holiday in Iowa, Huckabee ran away with one race. He ran in the annual Firecracker 5K road race in Little Rock, Arkansas.

And he is not the only candidate taking advantage of his location and competitors' absence. Two others have New Hampshire all to themselves.

CNN's Mary Snow is in Merrimack, and we know that Bill Richardson and Duncan Hunter chose New Hampshire instead of Iowa to do their campaigning today.

Hey, Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT, MERRIMACK, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Hi there, Suzanne. And yes, with so many of the presidential heavy-hitters in Iowa, some of the lesser known candidates are seizing the moment here in this early primary state.



SNOW (voice-over): For a candidate trying to get noticed among Democratic presidential frontrunners, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson relished the fact that many of his rivals were in Iowa, leaving him to be the lone Democrat in this early primary state.

RICHARDSON: You know what, I'm getting a good reaction. People like to see their candidates up close. They like to see them sweating and groveling for their vote, which is what I'm doing.

SNOW (on camera): Is it really groveling?

RICHARDSON: No, it's just talking about the issues and shaking hands and saying hello.

SNOW (voice-over): And making a little noise to get noticed.

Richardson says he's not discouraged that his campaign raised $7 million, less than a fourth of what Senator Barack Obama totaled.


RICHARDSON: I'll hang in there, don't worry.

SNOW: Also zeroing in on New Hampshire, Republican congressman, Duncan Hunter.


SNOW: The GOP presidential hopeful also welcomed the fact he didn't have to elbow his way to get attention. Hunter trails the Republican pack of frontrunners in both polls and money. He hasn't disclosed his second quarter fund-raising figures yet, but says he's focusing on the number of hands, not dollars.

DUNCAN: When I look at the money-raising activities of my competitors, I just go out and meet a couple thousand more people. That's the way to get votes.

SNOW: Voters here remind everyone that the path to a New Hampshire victory carries surprises. A trailing Bill Clinton became the "Comeback Kid" in 1992, when he placed second. And in 2000, John McCain beat George Bush, despite Bush being ahead in the national polls and fund raising.

No matter what the polls say now, these second tier candidates are trying to change minds here one at a time. (END VIDEO)

SNOW (on camera): And some people here along these parade routes said that they were a bit disappointed that more of the presidential candidates didn't show up here in New Hampshire this week, but they say they will pay closer attention to the ones who did - Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: I bet you we'll see more candidates showing up fairly soon there, as well.

Thanks, Mary.

Even at this early stage of the presidential race, nearly half of all voters are going online for news about the candidates. Now, a new study is measuring how those voters are using the Web.

Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton. Abbi, what are the sites showing that voters are doing?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Suzanne, the news sites are still dominating in what people are visiting at this stage in the race when they're looking for information on candidates and on issues.

But after that, the study found that the voters are more likely to go to social sites - sites where the information is being uploaded by users - more likely to go to those kind of sites than they are the official candidate Web sites.

This study was done by icrossaid (ph), which is a digital marketing firm and an opinion research group. And it found that voters are more likely to search for video on YouTube or for information on the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, on Profiles, on MySpace, on Spacebook and blogs, more frequently than they are going to the actual, official, candidate Web sites.

And the candidates know this, and they're branching out. John Edwards, for example, posting his videos not just on his Web site, but on YouTube, where voters will also find a broad range of videos, not just the official ones. They're going to find the unofficial ones, the joke ones, the spoof ones - attack videos, as well.

And this survey also asked the responders, what are the issues and candidates you're searching for at this stage. The top issue search at this stage in the election is the war in Iraq, closely followed by gas prices. And the most searched-for candidate at this stage, this early stag, is Barack Obama - Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thank you very much.

And up next in our strategy session, the White House press corps and presidential spokesman, Tony Snow, wore each other out over the commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: Have we exhausted this? Or do we have any ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we're pretty exhausted.



MALVEAUX: But why is the White House having a hard time explaining President Bush's decision? And will former President Clinton's charge that the White House treats the law like "a minor obstacle" remind voters of his own legal woes and overshadow his wife's campaign?

All that coming up with Donna Brazile and Rich Galen, here in the SITUATION ROOM.


MALVEAUX: A former president speaks out about the current president exercising a presidential power. In today's "Strategy Session," Bill Clinton on President Bush commuting the sentence for Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Joining me now are CNN political analyst and Democratic strategist, Donna Brazile, and Republican strategist, Rich Galen.

A firestorm over President Bush's decision to commute Scooter Libby. I want to play for you something that Bill Clinton said about this just moments ago.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, WHO-RADIO BROADCAST: You've got to understand. I think that this is consistent with their philosophy. They believe that they should be able to do what they want to do and that the law is a minor obstacle.


MALVEAUX: Donna, is it smart ...


MALVEAUX: ... for President Bill Clinton to be talking about this now, in light of his own record on pardoning?

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, he cannot avoid it. He's on the campaign trail, helping Hillary Clinton. He was asked by a reporter, David Yepsen, and he responded.

He also said that this is different, quite different from the pardons and the things that he did. And he said that Scooter Libby was convicted, and that ...

GALEN: It wasn't a pardon. This was not a pardon.

BRAZILE: It wasn't a pardon, no. But he said - but he said that the facts of this case was far different.

But the question is, should Bill Clinton comment on it? Yes. He can't get away with not commenting on it.

GALEN: And you meet people like ...

MALVEAUX: But shouldn't the comments go - shouldn't the comments be directed to his wife? There's been a lot of effort to say, look, she's center stage. Let's put him behind here.

BRAZILE: She also responded. Someone also posed a question to her.

Of course this is about Hillary Clinton, but not Bill Clinton. But the fact is, the two of them - they're married, they're a great couple. He's a tremendous asset. He's a tremendous asset to the campaign, and he's out there, you know, helping ...

GALEN: Trying to prop up the campaign.

BRAZILE: He's out there introducing her to voters. And, of course, he's also going to be on the campaign trail in the future.

MALVEAUX: Rich, I mean, the president is ...

GALEN: Let me - let me just respond.

MALVEAUX: Please, go ahead.

GALEN: Let me just respond.

BRAZILE: And don't laugh.

GALEN: No, I won't. I promise.


First of all, the footage yesterday of Hillary Clinton on stage, when she was not asked by a reporter, she raised it at some town meeting type of thing.

When she was woefully inarticulate in trying to make her case about why this was such a bad thing - and the camera pulls back, and there's Bill Clinton in some bright, yellow outfit, looking like a sunflower, looking like he was trying to be invisible, because he knew how uncomfortable people were going to - people were going to ask him about this.

And they should have waited, frankly, if the campaign was on its toes, they would have waited until he was not actually on the stage before she did that.

I don't think the Clintons are shining any kind of - you know, breaking any great new political ground with this whole thing.

MALVEAUX: But obviously, the president isn't winning any points, either. He's not scoring any points with the conservatives ...

GALEN: Who's going to remember?

BRAZILE: A lot of people will remember that.

GALEN: No, they won't. That's ...

BRAZILE: Conservatives will ...


MALVEAUX: You don't believe that he'll pay for it, that Republicans will pay for it in the presidential election?

GALEN: No, absolutely not. I mean ...

BRAZILE: They already have.

GALEN: ... the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Yes, we're going to ...


BRAZILE: They're paying for it in the polls. They're paying for it in the amount of money raised.

GALEN: Remember the outrage - and here's - let me read what some really smart person said in the "San Francisco Chronicle."

BRAZILE: He's quoting himself.

GALEN: "If Scooter Libby had been a Democrat in Bill Clinton's administration, people like me would be in a projectile sweat," I said. "Your position absolutely depends on where you are in the political spectrum."

If this were Al Gore's chief of staff, I would be just shrieking bloody murder about how unfair this was, as I was when Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich and Pincus Green. And we remember who Marc Rich's lawyer was.

MALVEAUX: I want to ...

GALEN: It was Scooter Libby.

MALVEAUX: We're aware. I want to actually ...

GALEN: I know, but they may not be.


GALEN: But you're up on this stuff.

MALVEAUX: I want to go to Tony Snow. We saw a very contentious ...

BRAZILE: Sweating bullets. MALVEAUX: ... briefing - yes, he was sweating on this - trying to give the explanation from the president of why he commuted the sentence. Let's take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You say someone - someone in this administration owes the American public an apology.

SNOW: I'll apologize.


SNOW: I'm done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it's not. And that's flippant. That's a very flippant way of doing something very serious. It's a very serious matter. It was very flippant.


MALVEAUX: There were a lot of people who were very frustrated, because the White House was unable - unable to answer a lot of questions. A lot of "I don't knows," "I can't explain." Some contradictions that happened here.

GALEN: What? (UNINTELLIGIBLE) contradictions.

MALVEAUX: Is it really smart ...


GALEN: They (UNINTELLIGIBLE) contradictions.

MALVEAUX: Well, one of them - one of them was that Tony Snow said he didn't know whether or not the president would go ahead and ultimately pardon ...

GALEN: OK. That's not a contradiction ...


MALVEAUX: ... pardon Libby. And then the president ...

GALEN: But that's not a contradiction, is my point.

MALVEAUX: And the president said that he would consider it.

BRAZILE: He kept the door open.

MALVEAUX: Let's take - let's take another listen. Let's take another sound bite.

GALEN: But that's not a contradiction.

MALVEAUX: Let's take a sound bite, and you can listen for yourself.


SNOW: The president does not look upon this as granting a favor to anyone. He gets special handling, because of the peculiar nature of the Libby case.

You do not engage in these acts for symbolic or political reasons.

It was political in the sense that, as president, he has the authority to do this ...


MALVEAUX: OK, OK. We've got on the one hand granting a favor, on the other hand, special handling of this.

If the White House is in a position here, where they're having a tough time explaining this to the American people, is it a good idea to put him out there and just be hit with all of this? Or is there something that this president needs to do to win back the trust of the American people?

BRAZILE: First of all, the president did not consult with the Justice Department. He brought in a handful of advisors, sat them around the room and said, OK, let's figure out how to do this. I guess he had a heavy heart.

The White House is speaking out of both sides of their mouth, Rich.

GALEN: Its mouth.

BRAZILE: Its mouth. And the problem, as I see it, is that, on one hand the president said that he wasn't going to get involved in this case until, you know, justice had been served, and then he got involved. He injected himself ...

GALEN: But here's the ...

BRAZILE: ... the day that the appeals court denied his delay.

GALEN: And that's why. He did not - remember, what the president said was, now, remember, this is not a pardon. People are getting this wrong. He simply commuted the jail term part.

Scooter Libby is a convicted felon, will remain a convicted felon, has to pay a fine, can't get his law license back. And in this town, this is important. He can never have a position which requires ...

BRAZILE: He also said he would respect the jury. But then he left open the door for the pardon.

MALVEAUX: OK, I'm going to have to ... GALEN: That's why he would have to do ...

MALVEAUX: I'm going to have to let it go at this point. I'm sorry. We've run out of time.

GALEN: I'm still waiting for a contradiction.

MALVEAUX: But thank you so much. OK.

BRAZILE: There's a lot of contradictions. You should see that tape.

MALVEAUX: All right, then. We'll keep it going later.

Still to come, Tiger Woods and the troops. The pro golfer pays tribute.

A potentially damaging distraction for a top strategist to Hillary Clinton. An accusation of illegal eavesdropping. We have the lawsuit in hand.

And he said, she said. First, the Los Angeles mayor speaks out about his affair. Now, the other woman is talking.

You're in the SITUATION ROOM.


MALVEAUX: We want to now go to some new video here. This is of - live pictures, actually - of Al Gore's son being released after being arrested. We want to go to Ted Rowlands in Los Angeles to give us an update on this story - Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LOS ANGELES: Well, you're looking, Suzanne, at 24-year-old Al Gore III, being released from an Orange County detention facility. He was picked up early this morning.

He was pulled over at 2:15 a.m., driving allegedly 100 miles per hour in a Toyota Prius. That according to the sheriff's department.

The officer, according to the sheriff's department, smelled marijuana and did a search of his vehicle. And at that time, they found a small bit of marijuana and some other drugs - Xanax, valium and Vicodin - in small quantities.

He was arrested at that point, and he faces three felony drug possession charges. He made $20,000 bail and is now being released here this morning.

He does have another drug possession charge, a prior in 2003, when he was a student at Harvard. That was in Bethesda, Maryland. He did not doing any jail time that time. He was put into a diversion program.

Typically, in California, talking to defense attorneys, someone facing these types of charges, if it was his first time around he probably wouldn't do any jail time. But that other drug possession charge may be a problem for him.

He was released, as you saw, just now. A court date should be set in the next 30 days.

Al Gore III is the youngest of the four Gore children. And according to the sheriff deputy that pulled him over, he identified himself right away as the former vice president's son, and he cooperated fully during the entire process. That according to the sheriff's department.

They say he has received absolutely no special treatment thus far, and will not receive any special treatment during the process that lies ahead.

MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you so much, Ted Rowlands, for the update. And I'm sure you'll give us more as you have it.

You're in the SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, the threat of terror casting a shadow over Independence Day, high profile security measures in place across the country. But we found serious gaps right here in the capital.

Also, a possible presidential campaign shakeup. Will we see another third party bid? And is the country ready to embrace an independent candidate?

We'll ask the man who played that role in 2000, Ralph Nader.

And the political future of L.A.'s mayor in doubt after he admits to an extramarital affair. Can he survive a city hall scandal?

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