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THE SITUATION ROOM
Diplomats Object to Iraq Duty; Turkish People Apprehensive as Military Prepares for Attack on Kurds; Bloomberg's Battle Over Guns; Winning the Single Women Vote
Aired November 1, 2007 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAFFERTY: Eric in Dallas: "You bet it is. Explain to me and make me understand why it could hurt. I find that often people are more alike than different and in general want many of the same things. I just don't see a down side to diplomacy. Invite the guy over for a beer. Be the bigger person."
Ray writes: "We should have been talking to Iran before we went into Iraq. Back then, when the reformers were in power, we had a chance to create a regional cooperative effort to keep Iraq stable. The arrogant administration brushed off an olive branch that was offered then and it has cost American lives."
And Kevin writes from Ohio: "Watching the Bush presidency is painful. Even Republicans are trying to wake him up. Lame ducks should be in a lame duck care facility, not swaggering up to the war button." -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Jack.
And To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, there's nothing diplomatic about it. U.S. diplomats in open and angry revolt against plans to force some of them to serve in Iraq. One calls that -- and I'm quoting now -- "a potential death sentence."
Also, he's a leader of the fight against illegal guns and that's pitting him against the NRA, the Republican Party, even his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani. I'll speak about it with the New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, right here.
And what do you do with a little boy who may have started a fire which destroyed nearly two dozen homes?
You won't believe how many arsonists are kids.
I'm wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
A brutal day in the Baghdad region. At least 21 Iraqis died in bombings and drive-by shootings and the U.S. military today announced the deaths of three more Americans during operations in Northern Iraq. That's not reassuring to U.S. diplomats, who are already in open revolt over the prospect of being forced to work in Iraq or lose their jobs.
Let's bring back Brian Todd.
He's watching this story for us.
It's sort of a stunning uprising we're seeing right now.
Give us a little bit of the fallout.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to take the extraordinary step of sending out a cable to diplomats around the world, encouraging them to serve in Iraq. It's part of the fallout from an angry town hall meeting at the State Department that Rice did not attend, but a Department official says she clearly understands the tone and tenor of what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
TODD (voice-over): Diplomacy goes out the window at the State Department.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY BNET)
HARRY THOMAS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, FOREIGN SERVICE: Don't 'dis me and say it's not good enough.
TODD: Normally measured Foreign Service officers lose their cool over the Department's plan to force diplomats to serve in Iraq if they can't get enough volunteers.
JACK CRODDY, FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICER: That's a potential death sentence and you know it. And then another thought -- who will take care of our children?
Who will raise our children if we're dead or seriously wounded?
TODD: At a State Department town hall meeting, one career officer, about to retire, seemingly with nothing to lose, lays into the head of the Foreign Service because many diplomats didn't know about the decision until they read about it in "The Washington Post".
CRODDY: I just have absolutely no respect for the whole process because you've demonstrated a lack of respect for your own colleagues.
THOMAS: I thank you for that comment. It's full of inaccuracies, but that's OK.
TODD: The Foreign Service chief steps off the podium. He is challenged again. It gets ugly again.
THOMAS: Don't you or anybody else tell me the people in H.R. do not care about Foreign Service officers. I find that insulting. CRODDY: You may care, but you don't articulate it. You roll your eye, but we have polled the Foreign Service. Twelve percent of your Foreign Service believes that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is fighting for them -- 12 percent.
THOMAS: That's their right. They're wrong.
CRODDY: Well, sometimes if it's 88 to 12, maybe the 88 percent are correct.
THOMAS: Eighty-eight percent of this country believe in slavery at one time.
Were they correct?
So don't come here with that, OK?
TODD: The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is the definition of a hardship post. The Foreign Service Association says three U.S. diplomats have been killed in Iraq. The embassy's short 50 some diplomats and is having a tough time getting volunteers. The last time Foreign Service officers were forced into hardship posts was in Vietnam -- where more than 30 U.S. diplomats were killed.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TODD: Now, for those diplomats called up to Iraq who refuse to go, State Department officials will consider the reasons why, but they could fire them -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brian.
Thanks very much.
A mini revolt unfolding over at the State Department.
Meanwhile, the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, is off to Turkey. She'll try to convince that key NATO ally not to invade Northern Iraq. But Turkish troops are massed in huge numbers on the border after attacks by Kurdish rebels.
Our State Department correspondent, Zain Verjee, is already in Turkey measuring the mood -- Zain.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, here on the streets in Turkey, there's fury against the U.S. It couldn't come at a worse possible time.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
VERJEE (voice-over): Shopping for dinner at the Istanbul Spice Market. But the talk is not about food, it's about war. Ask Mehmet (ph), a jeweler.
MEHMET: Diplomacy has limits, you know?
After the maximal limit, you must fight. Now in Turkey we're near the limit, I think.
VERJEE: And they're fed up with their soldiers being killed by Kurdish rebels and other deadly attacks by the PKK from Northern Iraq. Fed up, too, with the U.S. for not cracking down on them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America problem. Bush problem.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People want to see some complete action, because, after all, this is an organization that is considered as a terrorist organization by the U.S., as well.
VERJEE (on camera): Many Turks here say the U.S. has a double standard. They say the U.S. is fighting terrorism, but not helping Turkey deal with its terrorist threats. They feel betrayed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Turkish people really need to -- need to hear that America supports us and our values and concerns.
VERJEE (voice-over): The U.S. has relied on the mainly Muslim country to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan and to help get critical supplies to U.S. troops in Iraq. But as the Iraq War drags on and attacks from the PKK increases, support for the U.S. has tanked. A recent poll shows U.S. favorability is at 9 percent now, down from 52 percent in 2000.
Now, Turkey's prime minister is under pressure from an angry public to go it alone.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
VERJEE: Secretary Rice arrives here tomorrow to meet with the Turkish leadership. Her goal is to persuade them to sit tight -- not to take any military action. But the Turks are losing patience -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Zain Verjee reporting for us from Turkey.
Rising fears, falling stock markets -- a wicked combination of concerns sent the Dow plunging some 362 points today. That's more than 2-1/2 percent. There are similar declines for the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.
Let's go to CNN's Ali Velshi.
He's in New York watching this.
How bad is it and why?
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's pretty significant. That would be the fourth biggest drop this year on the Dow, Wolf.
Why is a bigger question. I mean we just saw the Fed cut interest rates yesterday. That's supposed to make the market feel a little better. Here's what happened. This morning we heard bad news -- or potentially bad news -- from Citigroup -- a continuation of this whole mortgage meltdown. And investors are concerned that maybe this problem is not over, maybe the economy is not as safe as it could be. We also found out that consumers didn't spend as much in September as we thought they would, even in light of that bigger interest rate cut that came six weeks ago.
So there are a bunch of things coming together to make investors worried and that's what happened. And one of those things was also the price of oil -- Wolf.
BLITZER: The price of oil. And it closed at $93.50 a barrel. A lot of people think it's going to hit $100 before we know it.
What's the word on the street?
VELSHI: Yes, well, we've seen -- we've certainly seen oil trending that way. It's been trending up. It pulled back a little bit today. A lot of people think that there's nothing fundamental that should make oil be $90 or $100. It's trading. It's speculation. But so much of the market is like that right now, Wolf.
The best advice for people -- you can't do much about the price of oil, but when it comes to your investments, stand tight, have a diversified strategy and don't get spooked by these major market moves. They're going to happen. We're in a tough time right now.
Ali Velshi, thanks very much.
From Ali let's go to Jack.
He's got The Cafferty File, also in New York -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: Wolf, call us the Unhappy States of America. That's the lead in a terrific front page story in "USA Today," which describes this country as a nation of discontent a full year before the next election. We as a people are unhappy with the following -- the country's direction, we're pessimistic about the war in Iraq, anxious about the economy -- today's stock market notwithstanding.
Large majorities disapprove of the jobs of President Bush and the Democratic-led Congress. That's understandable. In fact, 72 percent of us say that we are dissatisfied with how things are going. We're now in what "USA Today" describes as "the longest national funk in 15 years."
So what kind of impact will this gloomy perspective have on these upcoming elections?
Well, here's where it gets a little tricky. Experts suggest it could be good news for the Democrats that those who are dissatisfied with the country's direction are twice as likely to support a Democratic candidate. The tricky part is that the Democrats control the Congress right now -- a Congress that's getting the lowest approval ratings in its history. We can't stand Congress. And it's under the Democrats' control.
So go figure.
And whoever ends up winning the White House, well, they've got the war in Iraq and health care and illegal immigration and Social Security and Medicare and the economy and political corruption and -- I mean who would want the job?
So here's the question -- what effect will the nation's downbeat, anxious mood have on next year's election?
E-mail your thoughts to caffertyfile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/caffertyfile -- Wolf, not a happy group.
A good question, though.
Thanks very much, Jack, for that.
Twenty-one homes and 38,000 acres reduced to ashes. A 10-year old boy is to blame.
Should he be punished criminally or is justice elusive in this case?
Plus, the New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg -- he's fighting the Republican Party and the NRA, among others, to tighten gun laws. He's standing by live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And Steven Colbert's run for the White House hits a major snag. We'll tell you what happened.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: We're learning more about those Southern California wildfires and a Southern California boy who is now being blamed for starting one of those devastating wildfires.
CNN's Ted Rowlands is joining us now live from Los Angeles.
What are we finding out?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well wolf, another heartbreaking piece of this puzzle. The had been a lot of tough talk about harsh prosecution about any arsonists. Well, one of these fires that caused significant damage, it turns out it was started by a 10-year old boy.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ROWLANDS (voice-over): The boy, according to neighbors, was playing with matches outside this horse ranch trailer home, where he lived with his parents. The fire destroyed 21 homes. A witness says the boy's father, who takes care of horses on the ranch, tried to put out the fire that his son had started.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just kind of stomping it with towels, just trying to get it out. And it just didn't work because there was just too much fire -- or too much wind.
ROWLANDS: According to the California Department of Justice, in 2005, 52 percent of those arrested for arson were juveniles. Nationwide, according to the National Fire and Protection Agency, about half of the arson arrests in 2003 were children under 18 -- a third of them younger than 15.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These can be more dangerous than a loaded gun.
ROWLANDS: Many states have fire intervention programs for kids. This is a class of youngsters arrested for starting fires in Florida. They watch video of a burn victim and get the feel of what it's like to be in handcuffs.
Experts say kids start fires for a variety of reasons. Often, they are innocently experimenting, but some cases involve psychologically disturbed youngsters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of times the primary motivation is control and power. And what's more powerful and available to young people than fire. It's, you know, readily available at their fingertips and brings all kinds of lights and sirens and fear and reaction.
ROWLANDS: No charges have been filed yet against the 10-year old in California. People who saw the little boy during the fire say he seemed to realize what he had done.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, because his eyes were this big.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ROWLANDS: Now, yesterday, Wolf, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office received the case. They were briefed on all the facts and they are mulling them over, figuring out what to do. Typically, they say that the line is 12 years old. Anyone under 12 typically they do not press charges.
However, nothing has been decided in this case.
BLITZER: Ted Rowlands watching it for us.
Thanks very much, Ted, for that.
The wildfires that scorched Southern California last week are nearly all contained right now. But now some scam artists are trying to profit off of this disaster.
Let's bring back our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.
She's following all of this.
E-mail scams -- what's going on?
ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you knew this was coming. This particular e-mail that we got our hands on screams: "get involved, be American, California needs you" and then, "make a small contribution," it says. A link to a phony Web site. This one purports to be from the IRS and from a California assemblywoman.
It's not. It's a scam. And the office of Julie Brownley has reported it to federal authorities.
Last week, the FBI warned people to be on the lookout for these kind of scams. They said they saw them after Hurricane Katrina, even after the Virginia Tech shootings, as well. Their advice -- don't click on the link if you get one of these e-mails. And report it here at ic3.gov -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Abbi, for that.
Certain lives are more valuable than others -- that's the message some see in the way to death penalty is being applied right now, saying the race of the victim influences the punishment.
Let's go to our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena.
She's looking at this.
I guess it's a shocking alleged correlation -- that's what we can call it -- Kelli, what's going on?
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this week the American Bar Association released a study saying that race does play a factor when it comes to the death penalty, particularly when it comes to the race of the victim.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ARENA (voice-over): Anthony Ray Hinton has been on death row in Alabama for 21 years. He was convicted of killing two men during robberies. His lawyer says there was no reliable evidence linking him to either killing and believes that he's facing death partly because one of his victims was white.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that it would have been a different case if both victims had been black. The pressure to get a conviction, even when the evidence isn't there, is elevated in cases where you have minority defendants and white victims.
ARENA: Alabama's attorney general says race was not an issue.
But recent studies seem to show that in many cases, race is very much an issue. A study done by the Death Penalty Information Center, which lobbies against capital punishment, shows that when the victim is white, killers are sentenced to death nearly 80 percent of the time. But when the victim is African-American, only 14 percent of those defendants are put on death row.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The message it sends to our society is that some lives are worth more than others. And we've tolerated this.
ARENA: The study and others like it, including the latest by the American Bar Association, are often cited by death penalty opponents as proof of unfairness. But one death penalty advocate says they're not proof of racism at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you find is that the urban counties, where most of the black victim homicides occur, are the counties that use the death penalty less often. And that's what produces this apparent effect.
ARENA: Shaddiger (ph) says the real problem is that the death penalty isn't being imposed often enough.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ARENA: And the debate especially supercharged right now. The Supreme Court is considering whether lethal injection, which is used in 37 states, is constitutional. And with that comes scrutiny of the death penalty in general -- especially as it concerns issues of race -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Kelli.
Race, by the way, in the spotlight later tonight. Kyra Phillips takes a close look at the violent history and resurgence of "The Noose: An American Nightmare" -- a CNN special investigation, tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
New York's mayor jumping into the issue of Virginia politics. Michael Bloomberg is backing a campaign against illegal guns.
But who's jumping in on the other side?
My interview with Michael Bloomberg -- that's coming up.
And riots in Venezuela -- right now, troops using tear gas and water cannon against thousands of protesters.
See what's going on, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Our Carol Costello is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM.
What's the latest -- Carol?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A couple of things, Wolf.
A big downsizing at Chrysler. The U.S. automaker today announced plans to cut 12,000 jobs by next year. That's 15 percent of its workforce. Eleven hundred temporary workers got their pink slips yesterday. Chrysler will also eliminate shifts at five North American assembly plants and cut four models from its lineup, including the Dodge Magnum Wagon and the Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible.
The Shuttle Discovery astronauts are preparing for a delicate repair job tentatively scheduled for tomorrow. NASA canceled today's spacewalk to concentrate on plans to repair a two-and-a-half rip in one of the International Space Station's solar panels. The astronauts may have to cut through a guide wire and reattach the torn sections while keeping away from the parts that will still have electricity flowing through them.
Shock jock Don Imus is going back on the radio. A short time ago, Citadel Broadcasting announced that he will be on WABC-AM in New York City starting on December 3rd. Imus lost his nationally syndicated radio job nine months ago, after making racist and sexist remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team. His new boss says Imus is rested, fired up and ready to do great radio.
In news affecting small businesses, the Senate Finance Committee today took testimony on how to make health insurance more affordable to small business employees. Lawmakers are considering options like tax credits, multi-state insurance pools and making coverage more portable. It's estimated that half of the nation's 47 million small business employees either don't have insurance or can't afford enough coverage.
That's a look at the headlines right now -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Carol, very much.
An unusual endorsement by New York's mayor. Michael Bloomberg takes his anti-gun crusade to Virginia, backing a little known lawmaker. Michael Bloomberg -- he's standing by live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're going to talk about it.
Also, a crucial decision in South Carolina.
Will Stephen Colbert's mock campaign make the reality cut?
And violent protests over a plan that could make Venezuela's Hugo Chavez president for life.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, new sentencing guidelines for crack/cocaine possession recommending less time in prison. Old guidelines raised allegations of racial bias, since crack is more widely used by minorities and carried stiffer sentences than equivalent amount of powder cocaine. Also, violent clashes in the streets of the Venezuelan capital. Right now, tens of thousands of students protesting proposed reforms that would let the president, Hugo Chavez, run for reelection indefinitely.
And Stephen Colbert's mock presidential candidacy shut down by the South Carolina Democratic Party. Leaders voted not to put him on the primary ballot after deciding he's a serious candidate.
I'm wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
A big city mayor makes the biggest city -- make that the biggest city mayor is lending his muscle to a lawmaker in another state. Their common cause -- gun control.
Let's go live to CNN's Deborah Feyerick.
She's in New York.
What's this one all about -- Deb.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, gun policy falls largely under the province of the federal government, which raises the question -- can one mayor really make a difference?
Well, there's one who is definitely trying.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
FEYERICK (voice-over): When it comes to guns -- specifically getting rid of them -- New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg is on a crusade.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), NEW YORK: She has stood up -- an issue that means an awful lot to New Yorkers -- and I'm talking about illegal guns.
FEYERICK: Today, the newly turned Independent through his personal support behind friend and fellow gun critic Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, a Virginia state senator trying hard to get re- elected. His endorsement of a little known legislator is rare for a man used to playing on a larger stage. Those in favor of gun rights, like Virginia's Philip Van Cleave, say Mayor Mike should butt out.
PHILIP VAN CLEAVE, VIRGINIA CITIZENS DEFENSE LEAGUE: Because he's coming to Virginia again to try to say, you know, if only we could fix Virginia we wouldn't have any problems in New York. It's strictly a shell game.
BLOOMBERG: Every day...
FEYERICK: But on the anti-gun issue, Bloomberg is a man arguably possessed. The last four years, he has lobbied Congressing to change a federal law that limits access to trace data on illegal firearms. He created a 200-plus member coalition called Mayors Against Illegal Guns. He set up a special court in New York to exclusively handle gun cases.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the anti-gun issue Bloomberg is a man arguably possessed. In the last four years, he lobbied Congress to change a federal law that limits access to trace data on illegal firearms. He created a 200-plus member coalition called Mayors Against Illegal Guns. He set up a special court in New York to exclusively handle gun cases. And he's also suing 15 gun dealers in five states for illegally selling guns which he feels will likely wind up in New York. In response, gun advocates in Virginia held a raffle to raise money for the gun dealers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Criminals are going to get guns no matter what like they got booze in the '20s when it was illegal and you can find drugs on any street corner. You can't stop criminals from getting guns but what you can do is let people protect themselves.
FEYERICK: Now for those people who think Mayor Bloomberg doesn't have a chance when it comes to actually changing gun laws, remember, many laughed when he took on the cigarette industry. Now public indoor spaces in New York, restaurants and bars included, are smoke- free. Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much. Deb Feyerick reporting. Let's get some more now on this battle over guns. Joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM is the Mayor, Michael Bloomberg and his political ally, the Virginia State Senator Jeannemarie Devolites Davis. Thanks to both of you for coming in.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: Can I correct you on something?
BLITZER: Yes, you may.
BLOOMBERG: This is not about gun control. It is about crime control. Nobody is trying to get guns out of the hands of people who legally can buy them. All we are trying to do is get guns out of the hands of people who federal law says can't own them, undocumented and people with criminal records.
BLITZER: Which brings you to Virginia, why Virginia?
BLOOMBERG: Because too many guns are sold in Virginia and sold in some other states and they are brought in to New York.
BLITZER: But is that illegal for Virginia to sell guns -- for people to buy guns in Virginia?
BLOOMBERG: It is illegal if they sell them to criminals. And we have documented the fact that one percent of the gun dealers in this country sell 60 or 70 percent of all guns used in crimes in New York City. And that's true of every big city in this country. That's why you've got 250 ...
BLITZER: You are the republican and running on this -- this is one of the important issues for you and you are facing a democrat who says you are going too far in terms of gun control.
JEANNEMARIE DEVOLITES DAVIS (R), VIRGINIA STATE SENATE: Well, I agree with the mayor. We clearly -- we have deep punishments in place for those that use guns illegally and does not seem to be a deterrent. I think we need to be working on the other side of this issue doing everything we can to make sure that criminals do not have access to guns.
BLITZER: But you want to tighten the gun rules in Virginia?
DAVIS: Well currently, gun shows are a problem in Virginia. Anyone can go to a gun show and find someone that has set up a table and buy a gun. And an instant criminal background check does not take place.
BLITZER: Does your republican -- excuse me, your democratic challenger Chap Peterson, he says this. "She's flip-flopped repeatedly on this issue. She voted to eliminate local gun control laws and eliminate local regulations of gun shows in Virginia. She picked up on this issue this year to change the dynamic of the race." Is that right is what he's saying?
DAVIS: Well, I disagree with him. But then here is man that voted against allowing the county to ban guns on our school property and in libraries and recreation centers.
BLITZER: But did you flip-flop because he cites these two votes in 2000 and 2004 where you took the other side of this issue?
BLOOMBERG: Wolf, what's fascinating here is people thought that this is a republican issue. Here is a republican trying to protect the police that protect us. Here's a republican who's trying to keep people that have guns and commit crimes and fire bullets randomly and hit our children and you and me. And it is not a partisan issue. It is not a southern issue. It's not an eastern issue. It is not a big city issue. It's not a small city issue.
BLITZER: Because you know a lot of Virginians, they resent the New York City mayor coming in to Virginia getting involved in what they consider a state issue, the issue of guns in Virginia.
BLOOMBERG: It is a federal issue. The federal law says that you can't sell guns to people who are undocumented or people that have a criminal record. And there's one percent of the dealers that are doing it. And all we are trying to do is find out which they are and try to get them to stop and, in fact, those that we did find who are doing it wrong, half of them settled with us already. They are still open They are still conducting business. They are still making money.
BLITZER: Who do you blame? BLOOMBERG: At least they make sure -- you have to start with Congress. There's no question. This is a federal issue. Congress passed laws saying that you can't sell to criminals. And then Congress passes laws to keep the cops from enforcing that law.
BLITZER: Your predecessor, Rudy Giuliani who is now running to become president of the United States, spoke recently before the NRA, the National Rifle Association. And he's now moving away from a lawsuit that you support, that he used to support to try to tighten up some of the ...
BLOOMBERG: I don't know whether Rudy ...
BLITZER: Listen to what he says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did initiate that lawsuit back in 2000. Since then I think that lawsuit has taken several turns and several twists that I don't agree with. That lawsuit has gone in a direction I probably don't agree with at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLOOMBERG: I think that the trouble is that his staff has misinformed him. That lawsuit hasn't changed one bit. And Rudy deserves a lot of credit for starting it and I think he should continue to support it. You will have to ask him whether he does. I can't speak for Rudy Giuliani. I can speak to the 8.2 million people in New York City who are put at risk because people are buying guns illegally, in violation of federal laws. And it's all we are trying to do. It's not a second amendment issue. We are not trying to take guns out of anybody's hands. We are not trying to hurt hunters. Those are rights that the constitution gives us. But the federal government is outlawed selling guns to criminals. And there are dealers, one percent of the dealers that are doing it. What's wrong with stopping that? Here particularly in Virginia, where you had a terrible tragedy in this country with 30-odd people are murdered every single day. That's a Virginia Tech a day in this country.
BLITZER: You're talking about what happened at Virginia Tech last year. All right. I want you to listen to this whole uproar now in your state, New York state, over driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. Hillary Clinton, the democratic presidential front runner, seemed to trip up in her explanation where she stands at the Democratic debate the other day. Listen to what our colleague Lou Dobbs though says about the New York state governor. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Let me point out to you that this is only occurring after the good governor or Prince Eliot, as he seems to think of himself, has met the opposition not only my humble self but nearly three-fourths of the New Yorkers surveyed in recent opinion polls who say this governor is completely out his mind on this issue. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Should illegal immigrants, there may be a million of them in New York state, have driver's licenses, New York state driver's licenses?
BLOOMBERG: I do not believe they should. I think and I've expressed to the governor an objection that I've had to do it and my police commissioner has had to this for a long time and I've been asked this question.
The governor's first proposal, I thought, was inappropriate. And should not have been enacted. And I told him so privately which is the way I should deal with him. His second proposal of three different kinds of licenses are something that I have -- I think is a step in the right direction. But I still don't think that it is where we should be.
The bottom line is we should be giving driver's licenses to people knowing who they are and making sure that they have a right to have them and we should make sure particularly when it comes to guns that you can only use a secure driver's license to buy guns. After all, we have a crazy system, Wolf, in our country. We have people on the can't fly list because they are potential terrorists that can buy guns. We just have to stop this craziness. If we have a secure license to get in and out of the country, you certainly should have a secure license to be able to buy guns.
BLITZER: So am I hearing you right that on this issue of driver's licenses in New York State, you tend to agree more with Lou Dobbs than Eliot Spitzer?
BLOOMBERG: Well, Lou is an old friend of mine that I agree with very seldom but nevertheless in this case he happens to be right.
BLITZER: Can you rule out, I just have to ask you one final political question, rule out the possibility you would run as an independent presidential candidate?
BLOOMBERG: Is this the shermanesque question?
BLOOMBERG: Let me tell you something. You are asking the wrong question. What you have to ask is why can't we get the candidates that are running, and there's plenty of declared candidates both democrat and republican, why can't they stop this partisan bickering in Washington? Why can't they address the issues? Why do we have this continued money and influence kind of politics that is wrong? We have a country that has serious problems internationally and domestically. We have a Congress that is not willing to be accountable. We have a Congress that ducks on every issue. We have a Congress that wants to tell you there's something for free when there really isn't. And I think asking each of the existing candidates rather than going looking for new ones, that's what you should do. You as part of the state should find out where they stand and have them answer concretely what they would do in the case of each of these issues.
BLITZER: I'm not hearing a shermanesque answer.
BLOOMBERG: Well because you are asking a person who's not candidate. I have 791 days left to go in my job and I plan to finish that.
BLITZER: You plan to finish it. But is there any chance you would run for president this time around?
BLOOMBERG: Look, this country does not need another candidate and I am not a candidate. I told you I'm going to speak out though. I have every intention of speaking out and traveling around this country and trying to get people to say look, you who are running, tell us what you will do and how do you stop this constant fighting that has immobilized Congress, both parties and instantly both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue? We have to get a federal government that gets us to rebuild relations internationally in a global world because we have to fight terrorism globally and trade globally and have science globally. We have to have answers to how we are going to fund medical care and social security. And I don't hear any of this stuff.
BLITZER: Because a lot of people are clamoring they would like to see you there. They are not happy with the democrats. They're not happy with the republicans. Michael Bloomberg, you have a lot of money. You could be that third party candidate that some people want.
BLOOMBERG: I'm very flattered that you would even bring it up. But nevertheless, there are plenty of candidates. They will be able to raise lots of money and they'll have a spirited battle. It is up to the fourth estate to make sure that that battle is informative to the public.
BLITZER: Michael Bloomberg, thanks for coming to THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLOOMBERG: And support this woman.
BLITZER: And Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, thank you very much.
BLOOMBERG: A woman with a lot of courage who's standing up for what's right for the people of Fairfax, Virginia and the people of New York and I think the people of America.
BLITZER: I take it you like her.
BLOOMBERG: I do.
BLITZER: Thanks very much to both of you for coming in. They're a key demographic that could help put her in the White House but are single women lining up behind Hillary Clinton? We're going to show you what she is doing and new poll results that show whether it is working.
Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: They could do for Hillary Clinton what evangelical Christians did for George Bush. Young, single women are increasingly throwing their support to Hillary Clinton but getting them to the polls may be the biggest battle.
Let's bring back Carol Costello. She is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. How important is this demographic to Hillary Clinton's campaign?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So very important, Wolf. In fact, if Hillary Clinton can persuade these young single women to vote for her, many say she will win. Now you would think such a powerful group would merit respect. But, no, this group of voters is now under attack.
COSTELLO: 2008 could well be the year of the woman. Or rather the single, anxious female. According to new research by Emily's List, a political network for democratic women, they might just put Hillary Clinton in the White House. Emily's List conducted a survey of young likely democratic women voters in three primary states; Georgia, New Jersey and Arizona. Forty-nine percent say they will vote for Clinton. And they are excited a woman is in the running.
Is that a record?
MAREN HESLA, EMILY'S LIST: It may be a record given how crowded the field is right now.
COSTELLO: This is not lost on Clinton herself who preached to the choir as she stumped at Wellesley College.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: In so many ways this all women's college prepared me to compete in the all-boys club of presidential politics.
COSTELLO: Maybe Clinton is wasting her energy. This particular group may be anxious about the war, healthcare, and equal pay but they are notoriously difficult to get to the polling booths, prompting some to say they are more interested in showing off than in true political activism.
For this the online magazine "Jezebel" dubbed them the elusive, slutty, anxious female, that's slutty in a political sense of course. Not surprisingly, conservatives don't like this particular type of voter either. Author Ann Coulter called them stupid, going on to say it was her pipe dream to take away a woman's right to vote and she was not the only one saying that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shouldn't be allowed to vote on those grounds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's moronic. COSTELLO: Even feminist author Naomi Wolf who worked on Al Gore's 2004 campaign described SAF's as bubbly, kind of like Melanie Griffith's character in the movie "Working Girl." But being pigeonholed this way makes some young women steam.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is ridiculous.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't agree with this.
COSTELLO: And there was angry sarcasm about who they might vote for, too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe Hillary. But I'm an idiot.
COSTELLO: Now this research done by Emily's List, which keep in mind has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, indicates women will not vote for Clinton just because she is a she but because she is the candidate they believe can best solve problems.
BLITZER: Good piece. Thanks very much for that, Carol. Her democratic rivals are ganging up on Hillary Clinton, trying to cut into her lead in the presidential campaign. But the only woman in the race says she's well prepared to compete against what she calls the all boys club.
And joining us now, our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger. So what do you make, Gloria, of Hillary Clinton's suggestion that going to this all girls' school at the time prepared her to get involved in this world of all boys presidential politics?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think this is a little bit rougher than running for the presidency of your class at Wellesley or something like that. But I do think that she's trying to find the silver lining in what happened in that debate the other night, which is that she's trying to rally women saying look, these guys were ganging up on me. And I managed to hold my own. That's what her campaign is saying in all of its conference calls that these boys were ganging up on her. But you know, it is a little nuance there because when you are running for president of the United States as a woman, you are in the sandbox with the boys. And you can't complain about being in a place that you have asked to be. And so there is a little bit of nuance in this. You can't be seen as whining. You have to be seen as strong and tough. So she will let her campaign staff complain about the other candidates and she will say I am strong and Wellesley prepared for this.
BLITZER: What about this other issue involving the secret communications, the documents when she was the first lady, her husband was the president, they're being held confidential for many, many years. And presumably if she and he wanted them released they could be released.
BORGER: Right. It is a very complicated issue like most issues. It is true on the one hand that the Bush administration has made it's easier for former presidents to keep their documents private for longer periods of time. However, Bill Clinton and his attorney could decide they wanted to release a bunch of documents right now. All they have to do is go through them and clear them and there are about 26,000 right now that are pending on his attorney's desk. They could sign a paper and have them go.
BLITZER: No indication he's prepared to do that, at least not yet. We will see how the pressure, if it mounts but she is under enormous pressure right now, not only from republican presidential candidates and the republicans in general, but from the democratic presidential candidates now. It is clearly designed to take a toll on her.
BORGER: Yes. She's the front-runner. And they have to knock her down and they've got two months to do. It was very interesting the other evening because it is clear that John Edwards is the one who feels he has so much at stake here. He's really taking her on very frontally, talking about her double talk and all the rest of it. And so he's really the attack dog here. Barack Obama really benefits from this because he gets to talk about how he is troubled. Troubled is the word he loves to use. I'm troubled by your secrecy, et cetera. So he does not have to attack her directly. But he gets the benefits of what John Edwards is doing. So he gets to attack her through the back door and that works for him because then he can still say he practices the politics of hope.
BLITZER: And all this raises the other question which we will discuss later, how she responds. What's the right strategy in dealing with all these frontal attacks? Gloria Borger, thanks.
BORGER: Thank you.
BLITZER: And remember, on November 15th, I will be in Las Vegas, Nevada to moderate a debate in the key western state among the democratic presidential candidates; November 15th in Vegas.
Lou Dobbs is getting ready for his show that begins right at the top of the hour. He is standing by with a preview. Lou.
DOBBS: Wolf, thank you very much. And we are very excited about tonight. Senator Hillary Clinton on the defensive over her support of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's outrageous plan to give away driver's licenses to illegal aliens. Her campaign trying to do damage control over the senator's inability to give a straight answer on the issue. We will have complete coverage.
Also, disturbing new evidence tonight of the federal government's failure to protect the public from unsafe products and GAO report showing the Food and Drug Administration will inspect less than two percent of China's drug facilities that export their products to this country.
And America's middle class, the war goes on. Mortgage foreclosures are rising dramatically. Layoffs are rising. Salaries are falling or are flat. And the worst is certainly not over. We will have that report. Please join us for all of that, all the day's news at the top of the hour. Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Quickly, Lou, I don't know if you were watching my interview with the Mayor of the New York ...
DOBBS: I always watch every minute of your show.
BLITZER: Good. I asked him on the driver's licenses and the governor and you. Listen to this little clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLOOMBERG: Well, Lou is an old friend of mine who I agree with very seldom but nevertheless, in this case, Lou happens to be right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Short and sweet. He agrees with you, disagrees with Governor Spitzer. Apparently, he disagrees with Hillary Clinton as well. Your reaction?
DOBBS: Well, my reaction is that Mayor Bloomberg is one of the most intelligent, articulate, and connected and by connected I mean connected with the people he's serving and the city of New York, and deserves to be listened to. He's an old friend, as he says. We disagree on many issues. But the man thinks and that sets him apart from nearly every candidate in both parties running for the presidential nomination.
BLITZER: All right. Lou, see new a few moments.
DOBBS: You got it.
BLITZER: And like Lou Dobbs, he's a very independent kind of guy.
"USA Today" says we are a nation of discontent. What effect will the nation's down beat action's mood have on next year's election? Jack Cafferty standing by with your e-mail next.
BLITZER: Let's check back with Jack Cafferty for the Cafferty File. Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right, Wolf. The question this hour is what effect will the nation's down beat and anxious mood have on next year's elections?
Mike writes from Florida, "The people are down, Jack, because they don't really see someone who can straighten out the mess this administration has us in. Who is the right president for today to turn this country around? I have no idea and I don't see him or her in the candidates running from either side." Jeff in Rhode Island, "I'm sure you'll never use this on your show but I think the mood of the country is the reason why someone like Ron Paul is able to raise millions of dollars, despite being hated by liberals for being a staunch conservative, hated by the Republicans for being against the war in Iraq, and marginalized by the mainstream media. Maybe both major parties should wake up and realize the people hate both of them."
Don in North Carolina, "It will be unfortunately a fraudulent election of mass proportions that will drive the country into anarchy. The fraud in Florida in 2000, Ohio in 2004 were just tests to see how to carry it out. The GOP will rig the election while the Dems look to get the illegals registered. Are we having fun or what?"
Robin in Florida writes, "What downcast mood are you referring to, Jack? This is the first time in decades that so many Americans have demonstrated so very little apathy and so much interest. It seems to me that nearly everyone is involved, at least to the point where they are watching the campaigns and debates, if not working for the candidates as well. Speaking of which, there are at least three or four good ones in each party who could be voted for." I wonder what parties she's referring to. "What's to be bummed about? It's an exciting time to be alive and participating."
And Nadia in Alabama, "I expect more apathy due to our sense of helplessness in the face of our out-of-control government that is no longer by the people and for the people, but seems to be against the people."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to CNN.com/Caffertyfile, more of them online, along with video clips of the Cafferty File. Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Jack. Lou Dobbs coming up in a moment. We will take a quick break. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: That's it for us. We will see you back here in THE SITUATION ROOM in one hour. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Let's go to Lou Dobbs in New York.
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