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Ahmadinejad Prepares to Address U.N. General Assembly; Brand New '08 Poll Numbers

Aired September 25, 2007 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, confrontation at the United Nations. We're standing by for potential fireworks from the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. President Bush meantime is taking a whole new approach for the world organization he once taunted.
Also this hour, the Democrats duking it out in the lead off for presidential primary states. We're onboard the CNN election express in New Hampshire, and we're rolling out some brand new poll numbers in the process.

And the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Bush is giving new meaning to the phrase suffer the little children. Nancy Pelosi has plenty of bones to pick with the White House in our one-on-one interview, that's coming up.

I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up first this hour, building tension inside the United Nations. The Iranian president and anti-U.S. fire bred Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking to the United Nations general assembly. Only hours after the man he once accused of being inspired by Satan, that would be President Bush, who took pains earlier today to avoid saying much about Iran in his U.N. speech. Our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reports from New York.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was unlike any speech President Bush had given before the United Nations. No mention of evil doers, although one of the so-called Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sat in the 14th row. Barely a line about Iraq or Iran. The focus of his fury.

BUSH: Americans are outraged by the situation in Burma.

MALVEAUX: Yes, Burma, also known as Myanmar. Mr. Bush has been talking lately about the fight for democracy there. Even announcing new sanctions against its military dictatorship. But it's hardly stolen the headlines from his Iraq war.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: When George W. Bush gives a speech and the headline is Burma, you know that he's sort of off his normal message.

MALVEAUX: So what was the message? For the president, it was a direct challenge to world leaders.

BUSH: To free people from tyranny and violence, hunger and disease, illiteracy and ignorance and poverty and despair.

MALVEAUX: But some political analysts see Mr. Bush's new focus as a sign. That after taunting the U.N. for potentially becoming irrelevant, then pleading with them for years to support his Iraq war. The Iraq mission may end much like it began, with little international support.

GERGEN: The president really has given up on the United Nations as a forum or a weapon in the fight against terrorism. They always thought they didn't need the U.N., that they could do it alone, and there's been very little help since.


MALVEAUX: And Wolf, it was also notable that there was no mention of Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That was very intentional, not to give him this kind of international stage and a forum to look like he was on the same level as President Bush. Wolf?

BLITZER: What else is he planning on doing while he's in New York, Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Well one thing that he did do, he met with the Iraqi president, Nouri al Maliki. As you know, these side meetings are really just as important, if not more important, than the general assembly, the main speech. Obviously the two leaders trying to come together here to say that it is the leadership, the Iraqi leadership that is really going to make the difference in moving that country forward. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right Suzanne, thanks very much. Suzanne is with the president in New York.

Meanwhile, here in Washington, it's confrontation time on Capitol Hill. Democratic leaders are thumbing their noses at a possible presidential veto, the threat coming from Mr. Bush directly and warning that health care for millions of American children hanging in the balance. We're going to be speaking shortly with the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. But let's go to our congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin first for some background on this showdown, and it is emerging Jessica as a real showdown.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is, Wolf, and the debate has started on the floor of the House already. This is about more than just children's health insurance. For the democrats, it's about the political priority that they're trying to help working families, and for Republicans it's about a different political priority, keeping down government spending.


YELLIN (voice-over): In case you didn't get it, Democrats want you to know this fight is about kids. REP. STENY HOYER, (D) MAJORITY LEADER: We want you to be healthy and happy and successful. That's why we're doing this.

YELLIN: They warn if President Bush vetoes this bill --

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: This legislation will haunt him again and again and again. It's not going away.

YELLIN: And insist the price tag is nothing compared to the war.

REP. RAHM EMANUEL, (D) DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHMN.: For 41 days the war in Iraq, the cost of the war in Iraq, would give all 10 million children of America health care.

YELLIN: The bipartisan compromise the House is about to vote on continues health insurance coverage to more than 6 million kids whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid and it provides new funds to ensure 4 million more children. Republicans who oppose the measure say it's nationalized health care, that the way it's funded, raising the tax on cigarettes to 61 cents a pack, hits the poor the hardest, and they say it will cover families who make too much money.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) MINORITY LEADER: Republicans want to ensure low income children. What we don't want to do is to expand government-run health insurance to cover people making over $80,000 a year.

YELLIN: But they vote against it at their own political risk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unless they ask, health care for 4 million uninsured kids will remain just out of reach.

YELLIN: Expect to see more ads like this as the fight continues. Even some Republicans say --

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY, (R) IOWA: I think that we Republicans will regret that our president veto this bill.


GRASSLEY: Well, because of the political consequences of it.


YELLIN: So the House will vote on this tonight. They are not expected to get a veto proof majority so we will see this issue come up again. Wolf?

BLITZER: And it will come up in the Senate bill later in the week where there is presumably a veto proof majority.

YELLIN: That's right. They will be voting on it tomorrow and we could expect the president to possibly veto it tomorrow or Thursday.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much. Once again, we're going to have this exclusive interview with the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, that's coming up shortly right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Coming up right now, Jack Cafferty, he has "The Cafferty File." Hi Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY: What was that phrase compassionate conservative, remember that?

BLITZER: Yes, that's what he ran on in 2000.

CAFFERTY: Yes, that's where I heard it. Violent crime in the United States up for the second year in a row in 2006. The FBI's annual crime report shows robberies increased last year, murders reached their highest levels in a decade. Still doesn't come close to the record number of killings in 1991, which was the highest year in recent memory, but it's still troubling. Most violent crimes tend to be committed by younger people, and with the maturing of the baby boomers, crime has generally been tracking lower until the last two years. The Justice Department pointed to some encouraging news in the report, but acknowledged that violent crime remains a challenge, especially in certain communities. Cities that experienced the biggest crime increases include Orlando, Florida, which saw a 123 percent rise in the murder rate and a 27 percent jump in robberies. Oakland, California, where murders rose 56 percent. And San Francisco where robberies are up 25 percent. So here is the question, why is violent crime in the United States suddenly increasing for the second year in a row. E-mail your thoughts to or go to And one other note, I understand, Wolf, that there are congratulations in order for a big win last night at the Emmys.

BLITZER: We won an Emmy for outstanding live coverage for our election night coverage last November. Very, very exciting. I'm going to show you the Emmy, Jack. Hold on a second. I happen to have it right here.

CAFFERTY: Just happen to have it with you.

BLITZER: I just want our viewers to take a look at it as well. It's a lovely Emmy. We accepted it last night. But it was a whole team effort, and you were part of the best political team on television. Jack, the best political team on television is now an Emmy award winning best political team on television.

CAFFERTY: Well if you bill yourself as the best political team on television and then you're nominated for an Emmy, you're supposed to win, and you did.

BLITZER: We were nominated. It's good to be nominated, you know what, it's better to win.

CAFFERTY: Even better to win. Yeah, absolutely. Never mind that it's a thrill to be nominated, let's just win.

BLITZER: I want to congratulate all of our fellow colleagues here at CNN. David Borman, our Washington bureau chief. Sam Feist our political director, Paul Steinhauser, everybody helped put this program together, our coverage last November election night. We're really excited about it.

CAFFERTY: What about the anchor guy that night?

BLITZER: The anchor, all of us were good. Thanks, Jack.

CAFFERTY: That's a great job.

BLITZER: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is wagging a finger at President Bush.


PELOSI: Are you willing to decide which children get health care or which children do not get health care in our country?


BLITZER: Just ahead, our exclusive interview with the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, on the president, the children's health crisis right now, this battle between the congress and the White House as well as the war in Iraq.

Plus, we're standing by for potential drama at the United Nations where the Iranian president is poised to join the roster of world leaders speaking to the general assembly. You're looking at live pictures from the general assembly. We'll carry Ahmadinejad's remarks live here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And get this, Donald Trump calls Dan Rather, and I'm quoting now, "A loser." The real estate mogul takes on the former news anchor in our one-on-one interview. You're going to see that part. All of that, coming up, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Children's health care in the crosshairs on Capitol Hill right now as we've reported, the House is nearing a vote on a plan to double spending at least nearly double spending on a popular children's health insurance program. And Democrats are determined to use this issue against President Bush.


BLITZER: And joining us now, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Speaker, thanks very much for letting us into your office.

PELOSI: Thank you, Wolf. My pleasure that you're here.

BLITZER: Let's talk about health insurance for children, the legislation that's now before the House and the Senate that would expand, if you will, the children's health insurance program. It's called S-CHIP. The president says, and I'm quoting now, "This would be an incremental step toward the goal of government-run health care for every American," and as a result, he says, he's going to veto what you and the senate will be passing. PELOSI: With all due respect to the president, just because he says it doesn't make it so. The president's characterization is wrong. When the president says he's going to veto the bill, what he is saying is I forbid health care for 10 million American children. There are 10 million reasons why he should sign this bill. I hope he will have a change of heart and a change of mind.

BLITZER: Well, he says he wants to sign a bill that will continue what's been in effect now for the past 10 years, legislation authorizing health care -- health insurance for low income, for poor children, about 6.6 million children. What you want to do is expand that by an additional 4 million children bringing it up to 10 million, but some of those children would be children of families making as much as $80,000 or $83,000 a year, and he doesn't think that stands for low income or poor families.

PELOSI: The president is wrong when he characterizes the S-CHIP program in the manner that he has. First of all, let's be clear about what the president wants to do. The president's proposal would lower the number of children who receive health insurance in our country.

BLITZER: He says it would keep it at the current level.

PELOSI: But that is not a fact. The fact is that the president with a proposal the president's making, there will be maybe a million or two fewer children receiving health insurance. So let's start with that. Where we are -- in the House we wanted to ensure 12 million children. The senate only agreed to the 10 million number, and we compromised on that number, which would expand the program to up to 10 million children. Double the number that the president is proposing.

BLITZER: Are you ready to split the difference with the president? Now if he says 6.6, you say 10, are you ready to come up with a number like 8 million?

PELOSI: Are you willing to decide which children get health care or which children do not get health care in our country? This is a bipartisan strongly supported in both Houses in a bipartisan way initiative to ensure 10 million children. That isn't all the children, but that is what we are proposing.

BLITZER: Because when I interviewed the Secretary of Health and Human Services on Sunday, Mike Levin, he said that some of these kids, their families can afford insurance, but by expanding it the way you are, it would in effect force them out of private health insurance toward this government program.

PELOSI: The secretary is a good employee of the president of the United States, and he echoes his arguments which are wrong. What we are doing in a bipartisan compromise with Senator Grassley and Senator Hatch in the lead on the senate side for the Republicans is not to change the eligibility. The eligibility is the same, and so what we're talking about is those children whose families are the working poor and aspiring to the middle class. They have too many -- they make too much money to be on Medicaid. That is for the poorest of the poor. BLITZER: Families making $80,000 or $83,000 a year in New York State for example, would their children be eligible for the S-CHIP?

PELOSI: It depends on what the state of New York decides to do. But the fact is that location makes a difference in what income means to a family. These are families that cannot afford health care. The very idea that the president would suggest that all of these families have health care, they're just going to give it up in order to go on S-CHIP. Seventy-two percent of the families on S-CHIP use the S-CHIP funding through the states to purchase private insurance. So this is not hurting the president's friends in the health industry.

BLITZER: Here is the problem you have. The senate is likely to have enough votes to override a presidential veto, but it's problematic in the House of Representatives that you'll find enough Republicans to join the Democrats to get that two-thirds majority you need. You don't have the votes right now, do you?

PELOSI: Well, we do have the support of the American people. The poll that came out this morning had two to one Republicans, two to one of Republican voter's support the S-CHIP reauthorization in the manner in which we are doing it, oppose the president's veto. What is happening now is the president is going to stand alone on one side of a line, and everybody else who is on the other side saying we want to insure America's children.

BLITZER: If he holds firm and he vetoes and you don't have enough to override the veto, what happens to those 6 or 10 million children who might need that health insurance right away.

PELOSI: Well in our continuing resolution we provide for the status quo, but again, that is a diminished number of children. That's the president's standard, which is a very low one, but that is taken care of in our continuing resolution to give us time to send another bill to the president's desk. I said earlier today the president gives new meaning to the biblical term suffer little children. This is about as deep a value -- a deeply held value in America as you can have, care for our children.

BLITZER: Because when I interviewed the Secretary of Health and Human Services, he said -- he strongly indicated he was ready to talk to you, the president was ready to talk to you, to find some common ground so that the children would not suffer. Are you involved with talks with White House, with administration officials, to try to find common ground to deal with this important issue?

PELOSI: The president has said from the start that he wasn't going to sign a bill unless it was what he wants. Definition of common ground with the president is you agree with me.

BLITZER: As I sense that the White House -- from speaking to White House officials and from the secretary that they're ready to move a little bit.

PELOSI: They have not made any overture to that effect, but I have worked closely and currently and recently, within the day, with the Republicans in the senate. The senate, of course, as you know is very important because of the 60-vote barrier, and the senators have assured me that they have the votes to allow us to -- the bill to be brought up in the United States senate. The president is faced with an unusual set of circumstances. Republicans support children in the United States senate, and they want the bill to go to his desk.

BLITZER: And he's also made this accusation against you and the Democrats that you're looking for a political wedge, a political issue to score points. You really don't care so much about the children, you really want to embarrass the president.

PELOSI: The president doesn't think I care about children? I have five children, I have six grandchildren. I took the gavel on behalf of America's children. This president will be haunted by legislation to support America's children for as long as he is president or as long as he resists giving health insurance to America's children.

BLITZER: You want to pay for this extra -- additional children by raising the federal tax on cigarettes by 61 cents a pack to a dollar in federal taxes which critics say that's a regressive tax. I'll read to you what two congressmen Joe Barton and Nathan Deal said. "Under the scheme the poorest Americans will be burdened with even higher federal taxes so that wealthier families and businesses can shift the cost of their health care coverage to the American taxpayers." A lot of poor people smoke, and they're going to be paying a lot more for a pack of cigarettes if you have your way.

PELOSI: Do you think that's a good idea? Let me say this, the 61 cent tax is the consensus that came from the United States Senate bipartisan consensus. Democrats and Republicans alike voting, I think they had 67 with Tim Johnson it would have been 68 votes in favor of insuring America's children and paying for it with a tobacco tax. If the president would like to have that debate in the public domain about do we insure our children or do we increase the tax on tobacco, we welcome that debate.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the war in Iraq --

PELOSI: Let me just say though the president's comments that we care more about politics than children is really beneath the dignity of his office. If he feels that way, he should have one of his political hacks say something like that, but not the president of the United States.

BLITZER: Well, I don't know if I was quoting him directly, but in his statement last Thursday --

PELOSI: Well you gave the impression that's what he said.

BLITZER: In his statement last Thursday he certainly went out of his way to say that you're doing this for political reasons that you're refusing to budge because of political reasons.

PELOSI: Well perhaps he's projecting his own political motivation onto others. (END OF VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And I want to be precise in what the president specifically said Thursday. He said this, and I'll read it to you directly. Quote, "Members of congress are putting health coverage of poor children at risk so they can score political points in Washington." A direct quote from the president. We're going to have a lot more of the interview with Nancy Pelosi coming up in the next hour right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

There's been a verdict in the trial of the polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs. Carol Costello's following this story for us. What's going on, Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO: We just got this word in, Wolf. This is from our affiliate out in Utah, KTVK. Polygamist Warren Jeffs, he's the charismatic leader of a Mormon splinter group, has been convicted of two counts of rape by accessory. Now, what that means is he arranged marriages as the leader of this sect, sometimes polygamist marriages in this case not, but he arranged the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old first cousin. The girl accused him of rape because in that marriage she says she was forced to perform sex with this man she really didn't want to marry. So Warren Jeffs has been convicted of two counts of accessory to rape. This means he could spend the rest of his life in jail. Of course, the sentencing phase of the trial will come later. The interesting part about this, Wolf, the jury had been deliberating yesterday for about 13 hours. They started over from scratch today because the judge had to replace a juror. He's not explaining why, but the jury had to start all over, but they didn't take long to make this decision in finding Jeffs guilty of these two counts. The rub here and what they were trying to decide is yes he arranged this marriage between the 14-year-old girl and her 19- year-old cousin, but lawyers had to prove that he actually forced the two to have sex or forced her to have sex with him. Apparently the jury bought that argument and they have convicted Warren Jeffs, who as I said, could spend the rest of his life in prison.

BLITZER: These charges do carry a potential life in prison sentence. I guess both of these charges, and convicted on both of them, is that right, Carol?

COSTELLO: Convicted on both counts. Now, this trial was regarded as sort of a trial on polygamy itself. It's practiced along the Utah/Arizona border in remote towns out there. And Warren Jeffs was a very charismatic leader. In fact, he was charged with these crimes and he went on the run. It took them about 18 months to find him. They found him on a traffic stop and hauled him in. During this trial I guess he's just been very charismatic. He's been praying. He's lost weight, but the lawyers did a good job of convincing the jury to convict him on these two counts.

BLITZER: We want to make it clear, this is a renegade Mormon splinter group. It's called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but polygamy has been illegal in the state of Utah and in the United States for a long, long time. Let's just recap, Carol, for our viewers, including our international viewers who are just tuning in on CNN International. Update our viewers of the breaking news, Warren Jeffs, 51 years old, has been found guilty.

COSTELLO: Has been found guilty on two counts of rape by accomplice for arranging a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old first cousin. Now, the jury decided that within that marriage, that girl was forced to have sex with her husband, and that marriage was arranged by Warren Jeffs, and he was to blame for that. So that's why he's been convicted of these two counts of rape by accomplice, and you're right, Wolf. These charges could mean he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

BLITZER: All right, Carol. Thanks very much. Carol Costello with that story for us. We're standing by to hear directly from Iran's president. He's been stirring up lots of anger in New York, as you know. His next platform coming up momentarily. The United Nations general assembly. He's about to speak before the world body. You're looking at live pictures right now. The representative from South Africa is speaking. Once Mahmoud Ahmadinejad goes up to that podium, we'll bring it to you live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And the real estate mogul Donald Trump wants to share his savvy about the markets with homeowners reeling from the mortgage crisis. My interview, part two of the interview, with Donald Trump. That's also coming up later here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Happening now, the world awaits just what he'll do, what he'll say next. The Iranian president momentarily expected to address the United Nations general assembly. We're going to bring it to you live. You're looking at the president of South Africa speaking right now, but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad standing by. We'll go there live once he starts.

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad says his country doesn't have homosexuals, but Iranian gay rights activists beg to differ. You're going to find out how risky it is to be openly gay in Iran. Bill O'Reilly is known for inflaming some people, but some are wondering if there was racial intent in his recent comments about African-Americans.

More dismal news -- more dismal news for the housing market today. Sales of existing homes dropped again last month. The National Association of Realtors says August sales were down more than 4 percent from July, pushing activity to the lowest level in five years.

I spoke about the overall grim state of the affairs with an expert, the real estate mogul Donald Trump.


BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about a subject you know quite well, which is real estate, the housing market. Greenspan, Alan Greenspan, said this the other day.

He said: "We do know that the housing market has a significant way to go on the downside." Is he right?

DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS: I think he's right, yes. I think the housing market, other than a place like Manhattan, which, as you know, from being here, has just hit an all-time high -- Manhattan is doing unbelievably.

But it's very unique. It's a little island. There's no land on it, you know, et cetera, et cetera. But outside of Manhattan and a couple of other places, like Palm Beach, Florida, certain little places, the market is terrible, absolutely terrible.

BLITZER: You're -- you're -- because, when we spoke six months ago, you didn't think it was going to be as bad as it's -- it's actually turning out.

TRUMP: No, I told I think you -- we're going to have a housing problem. I have always said that.

BLITZER: Who is responsible for that...

TRUMP: Well...

BLITZER: ... the subprime mortgages and all that?

TRUMP: You know, it's -- it's -- it's just one of those things that does happen. The builders get overly ambitious. They're doing great, and, all of a sudden, they start building hundreds of thousands of houses, many of which aren't necessary.

The lenders start giving out money too easily. And, frankly, the borrower -- and the borrower gets -- you know, I almost -- in a way, because of the lack of sophistication, I least blame the borrower, although I do tell the borrower, go back to the banks and renegotiate your deal. The last thing they want is your house. You can make a good deal with the bank. Go back and renegotiate. They don't want your house.

BLITZER: How is -- how is all this affecting your operation?

TRUMP: Well, I'm mostly in Manhattan, but I'm also building all over the world. And the stuff on a world basis is unbelievable. You know, the world is doing very well.

BLITZER: You are building Trump buildings, where, in Dubai?

TRUMP: I'm building in Dubai. I'm in Korea. I'm in many different places, China. I mean, I'm all over the place. And...


BLITZER: So, it's strong out there, but what about here?

TRUMP: Here, it's not good, but I'm not doing that much here.

BLITZER: Because I know, in Florida, you have got some deals going.

TRUMP: In Florida. But it's all sold out. Florida. And I did a big one in Las Vegas, 68 stories, tallest building...

BLITZER: How is that doing?

TRUMP: ... in Las -- sold out. It's been a great success.

But I sold the units two years ago.

BLITZER: If you were to sell them now, it might not be...


TRUMP: I don't know. I mean, I don't even want to think about it.


BLITZER: Alan Greenspan also suggests in his new book that the war in Iraq is all about oil. Do you think he's right on that?

TRUMP: Well, the world is about oil, it seems. I mean, we -- think of this. We lower our interest rate through the Federal Reserve last week, and then first thing that happens is, essentially, the oil- producing states increase oil.

Now, why don't we have a president that says, fellows, if you do this, you're going to be in big, big trouble? We lower the interest rates. Now there's a little margin, and they raise oil, so, that every time we lower, they raise oil. And they're doing it. Don't kid yourself.

Between the oil companies and the oil producing-states, they are ripping off the world. But they're really ripping off the United States. We lower interest rates, and, immediately, the oil price goes up.

BLITZER: Eighty dollar a barrel, that's a lot.

TRUMP: And nobody even talks about it anymore. You know, they used to say, at $50...


TRUMP: ... there was going to be war. Now it's $80 and people sort of take it routinely.

BLITZER: Alan Greenspan suggested the Republicans deserve to lose last November the majorities in the House and Senate because of the fiscal irresponsibility, the -- the -- the spending, the budgets, the deficit. The vice president, Dick Cheney, took him on in an article in "The Wall Street Journal" last week.

Who is right in this debate, Cheney vs. Greenspan? TRUMP: Well, I think Greenspan is right. I think Cheney wants to keep taxes low. And I respect that, because I happen to like paying lower taxes.

But I think Greenspan is right. We have a huge deficit. But a lot of the deficit is caused by the war and the problems that we have with this war. I mean, we're spending $400 billion, and now it's going to be -- I read the most recent report. It looks like it's going to be $950 billion so far in Iraq, and we can't...

BLITZER: It's $2 billion to $3 billion a week.

TRUMP: We can't rebuild from Katrina. We have bridges that are collapsing, and we're spending just hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq. It doesn't make sense.

BLITZER: Let me ask you about Dan Rather. He's suing CBS News, what, for $70 million, because of the -- the way things unfolded after he was let go. What do you think of that?

TRUMP: Well, I know Dan Rather very well. He did a very inaccurate piece on me in "60 Minutes," and I let him have it. I told him. I mean, that was one of the more inaccurate pieces.

Dan Rather is a loser. Dan Rather had low ratings for years. I used to say, whoever represents Dan Rather does a great job, because he always was in third place, he always had terrible ratings, and they wouldn't fire him. Now, finally, they get smart and fire him, and he sues them. Explain it to me. I don't -- I don't get it.

BLITZER: Do you understand why he's doing this?

TRUMP: I think he feels left out. I think he feels like a loser. But that's what he is.

BLITZER: Donald Trump, thanks very much.

TRUMP: Have a good time. Thank you.


BLITZER: Dan Rather's office, by the way, tells us he has no comment on Donald Trump's comments about him.

We're standing by for remarks by the Iranian president over at the United Nations momentarily. He's about to start speaking. We're going to carry his remarks live here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And why did President Bush steer clear of talking about Ahmadinejad while he was at the United Nations today? Paul Begala and John Feehery, they are standing by for our "Strategy Session."

And who do New Hampshire Democrats like most? You may be surprised by some fresh poll numbers that are coming into THE SITUATION ROOM from the first-in-the-nation primary state.

Stay with us. We will be right back.


BLITZER: The president of Argentina right now addressing the United Nations General Assembly. There, you see a live picture of President Kirchner.

Following the Argentinean president, the president of Iran will be speaking. We will go there live, take the remarks of the Iranian president here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That's coming up. We're standing by for that.

But, first, let's go to New Hampshire and the Democrats fighting for the president's job. We have a brand-new CNN/WMUR New Hampshire presidential primary poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is in the Granite State with the CNN Election Express.

So, Bill, how does the Democratic race stand in New Hampshire right now?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, steady as show goes, and I do mean she.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): New Hampshire is Hillary Clinton's firewall. If she loses Iowa, where the race at this point is close, she's relying on New Hampshire to make her the comeback kid, just as it did for her husband in 1992.

Our new poll of New Hampshire Democrats shows, so far so good. It's early, of course, and things could change, but, right now, Clinton is leading Barack Obama by 23 points, more than double her nine-point lead in July.

What's behind her growing margin? A majority of Democrats think Clinton has the best chance of beating the Republican next November. That's jumped 17 points since June. By running a tough, disciplined campaign, Clinton is resolving doubts about her electability.

PAUL MANUEL, NEW HAMPSHIRE INSTITUTE OF POLITICS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SAINT ANSELM COLLEGE: They want to win in November. They're more about winning in November than anything else right now.

SCHNEIDER: Obama's support appears to have dropped, particularly among independents, who can vote in the Democratic primary in New Hampshire.

MANUEL: Hillary emerges as the candidate with the most experience, the most potential of becoming president. And there's no particular reason. Obama hasn't made the case for voters to go to him, as opposed to Hillary. SCHNEIDER: What about Obama's claim that he can bring about change? Oops. New Hampshire Democrats give Clinton the edge on change. After eight years of George W. Bush, changing back to the Clinton era sounds good to a lot of Democrats.

MANUEL: There's deep affection for President Bill Clinton. And, in a sense, New Hampshire Democrats feel that they were part of what launched his campaign in '92.

SCHNEIDER: Affection, however, is not what New Hampshire Democrats feel for his wife. She ranks third when Democrats are asked which candidate is most likable, after Obama and Edwards.


SCHNEIDER: Hillary Clinton is not first in the hearts of New Hampshire Democrats. First in their hearts is the desire to win -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Bill Schneider,with the CNN Express -- Election Express bus out there, thanks very much.

I want to go out to Saint George, Utah. Our Gary Tuchman is out there. The verdict in the trial of Warren Jeffs, the renegade polygamist leader out there, so-called prophet, as we have been reporting, is now in.

And -- and you got some more details. I know you have been covering, Gary, this trial for some time. Give our viewers an update, especially those who may just be tuning in.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very tense in court, Wolf, a short time ago. Warren Jeffs, who thousands regard as a prophet to God, a direct pipeline to God, thousands regard him as a relative of Jesus Christ, is now a convicted felon. He has been convicted of being an accomplice to rape.

Just a short time ago, eight members of the jury walked back in, two counts against Warren Jeffs being an accomplice to rape. They handed the verdict to a court clerk to read.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The State of Utah, claimant, vs. Warren C. Jeffs, defendant, jury verdict case number 06-1500526.

We the jury duly impaneled in the above entitled case find as follows: count one, that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crime charged in count one of (INAUDIBLE) rape as an accomplice; count two, that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crime charged in count two of the (INAUDIBLE) as an accomplice, dated this 25th day of September, 2007.


SCHNEIDER: Jeffs has been convicted of ordering and performing the marriage of a 14-year-old girl back in 2001 to a 19-year-old man. They ultimately consummated the marriage.

The two different counts are these. They are both accomplice to rape, but the first count regards the first three weeks of the marriage. The second count regards the last two-and-a-half years of the marriage. The first count seemed easier to prove, because it was a more narrow time period. But the jury has found him guilty of both counts.

Warren Jeffs had no visible reaction in the court. Fifteen or so followers in the back of the court, no reaction whatsoever. I sat next to the victim. She had tears in her eyes. He could face up to life in prison -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Gary Tuchman, on the scene in Saint George, Utah, with that.

President Bush didn't say much today about Iran's leader, but we're standing by to find out what Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is about to say about the United States. We're keeping watch on the speakers over at the United Nations. Right now, the president of Argentina is wrapping up his remarks. Next on the agenda, Ahmadinejad. We will go there live once he starts talking.

And a big rollout in New Hampshire. We're on the CNN Election Express, much more coverage from out there, lots more happening, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: The president of Argentina wrapping up his remarks right now before the United Nations General Assembly. Next on the agenda, the president of Iran.

Here to talk about that and a lot more in our "Strategy Session," CNN political analyst and Democratic strategist Paul Begala and Republican strategist John Feehery.

As we await, Paul, to hear from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he spoke at Columbia University yesterday, got an earful from the president of Columbia University. He's getting an earful in general, as long as he's in New York.

What do you -- what would you be looking for when he addresses the world body this year, as opposed to last?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, does, this year, Ahmadinejad follow the lead of last year's chief clown at the U.N., Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who got tons of press because he -- he made all kinds of ridiculous -- he called the president of the United States a Satan or a devil or something. He, I think, was the object of ridicule, and he embarrassed a wonderful country.

Ahmadinejad, likely, I think to do the same thing -- and the people at the White House have got to be thrilled. You know, when I worked there, we always used to say Clinton was blessed by the caliber of his enemies, by which we meant people like Ken Starr. Bush may be even more blessed, Hugo Chavez last year. Hopefully, for Bush -- I mean, politically, for the president -- I don't want to be disrespectful -- for President Bush, if Ahmadinejad starts screaming and ranting and raving about him, it can only help.

He's my president, too. He's -- all Americans are going to look at that and say, we're on his side here.

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Paul is -- Paul is right on this.

I think this is a great White House strategy. Let Ahmadinejad go to Columbia, make a complete fool out of himself, and then have that be the press. And now, you know, people are looking at him in a slightly different way, like, this guy is completely nuts.

And, actually, I think that helps the Bush -- I think it helps Bush that he talked about Burma, didn't talk about -- or Myanmar -- didn't talk about Ahmadinejad at all. I think that's all helpful for the White House. I wish it was part of a strategy. I'm not sure if it was.

BLITZER: But does it help Ahmadinejad, not only in Iran, with his own people, when he gets this reception, or whatever is happening in New York? But, elsewhere in the Muslim world, in the Arab world, does -- can he -- can he go back there stronger politically, because he's had some problems, as you know, within Iran itself?

BEGALA: That is right. Ahmadinejad has a strategy of his own. His economy -- believe it or not, with oil at $80 a barrel, the Iranian economy is near collapse.

BLITZER: People wait for gas, because they don't have the refineries.


BEGALA: They don't have the refining capacity. They actually import gasoline, because they can't refine it in their own country. So, he's done a miserable job in his real job as being president. So, he can shore himself up back home by bashing the great Satan of George W. Bush.

It's actually a pretty effective strategy for -- for Mr. Ahmadinejad. But where the president now has gotten smarter, I think, a year or two ago, he would have slammed right back. And that elevates Ahmadinejad. Now you notice -- John is right -- he was quiet about it. And, hopefully, we're reaching out to moderates in that country, of which there are many.

BLITZER: Because, John, at the United Nations earlier today, this morning, when President Bush addressed the U.N. General Assembly, he barely made any reference to Ahmadinejad or to Iran, other than talking about the nuclear weapons issue.

FEEHERY: Well, and, Wolf, you're absolutely right about this whole job by Ahmadinejad, going and playing to his base back home. And Paul is right. The economy in Iran is a disaster.

I don't think the president of Columbia did him -- did us any favors by being so rude to the president of Iran. I don't think that helped at all. You know, he can hang himself, which is what he did when he -- when he spoke. There was no reason for the president of Columbia to be rude to the president of Iran.

BLITZER: And we're standing by to hear from Ahmadinejad -- the president of Argentina, President Kirchner, wrapping up right now.

Guys, thanks very much. We will continue this discussion.

So, why is violent crime on the rise? Jack Cafferty also standing by why your e-mail.

Plus, we will go to the United Nations when the Iranian president is set to start speaking. We will see if there are fireworks in his remarks.

You're looking live at the president of Argentina. Once Ahmadinejad starts talking, we will go there live to hear what he has to say today.

We will also fact-check a bombshell mark that Ahmadinejad made yesterday about the people of Iran. He suggests, homosexuals -- quote -- "do not exist" in his country.

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


BLITZER: The president of Argentina, President Kirchner, has just wrapped up his remarks.

The next speaker on the agenda, the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Jack Cafferty, as we await his arrival -- he will be escorted into the United Nations General Assembly -- is there anything special you're going to be listening for?

Because we're going to carry his remarks live. That's happening momentarily.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: No, I don't pay a lot of attention to what Mr. Ahmadinejad has to say.

I did an interview on National Public Radio earlier today, though, Wolf. And it's amazing how volatile and polarizing a figure this man is, that whole controversy over his appearance at Columbia University, whether or not he should have been invited, whether or not he should have been allowed to speak, yadda, yadda, yadda.

He is -- he is extremely controversial. It reminds me of a very long time ago, when Fidel Castro came to the -- New York City for an appearance at the U.N., and -- and the city just went crazy over it. I -- the only thing I'm really interested in hearing from Mr. Ahmadinejad is what time his flight leaves for Iran, because he's been kind of a -- a distraction, to say the least, since he's been here.

BLITZER: And there he is. He's sitting down. He's going to be introduced very quickly by the president of the United Nations General Assembly.

You see the applause coming in from his delegation, the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranian leader spoke there last year as well. Obviously, he's got some supporters. Got a lot of critics, especially on the streets of New York City, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Well, New York is -- is about half-sharp, as far as world events is concerned.

This is a man who's advocated this -- the complete destruction of Israel. He says he's developing only nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. That and a quarter, I will sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.

I guess he's getting ready to talk here.

BLITZER: Yes. All right.

Let's listen to the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.