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'Frank' Message to Pakistan; Preaching for Giuliani; Politics of Immigration Reform

Aired November 7, 2007 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Rudy Giuliani gets an endorsement that leaves one of the his rivals speechless. Will TV preacher Pat Robertson help Giuliani with wary Christian conservatives or will it merely be branded as a sellout?
Also this hour, the new toast of Washington. The French president Nicolas Sarkozy is putting a friendlier face on relations with the U.S. Will it help improve America's image around the world?

And the House is set to make a big move on the issue of gay rights. Republicans already are using it against Democrats, accusing them of election season pandering.

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

Just a short time ago, President Bush revealed what he's calling a "frank" discussion he had with the president of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, about his decision to impose emergency rule. At Mr. Bush's side, the new president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy. The two leaders now are trying to build a new and improved relationship between the United States and France.

Let's go straight to our White House correspondent, Ed Henry. He's watching this story for us.

Ed, first of all, the president's message to President Musharraf, I take it this is the first direct phone call the two men have had.


The White House certainly wanted the news to be the picture of the American and French leaders together at Mount Vernon, signaling a new chapter in this alliance, but, in fact, as you noted, that getting stepped on a bit by Pakistan and the fact that the president, after days of refusing to place a direct call to General Musharraf, revealing that earlier today he did finally make that phone call and urged the Pakistani president to take off his military uniform and also to follow through on the commitment to hold free and fair elections.

But Mr. Bush was pressed by a reporter on whether he's still giving General Musharraf a pass by not pushing him as hard as the White House pushed with Burma, for example, with their own crackdown. The president tried to make a distinction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a difference, however. Pakistan has been on the path to democracy. Burma hasn't been on the past to democracy.


HENRY: Now, very interestingly, President Sarkozy went a little further to Mr. Bush, declaring directly to President Musharraf that you cannot beat extremism with the same extremist tactics -- Wolf.

BLITZER: But the president of the U.S. did insist to Musharraf that there be elections, free and fair elections in Pakistan. And also that General Musharraf take off his uniform.

Did he acknowledge that in the news conference?

HENRY: Well, certainly. President Bush did directly say that to President Musharraf. He had said that here at the White House a few days ago, but again, Mr. Bush being pressed, because he has not said what consequences there would be for President Musharraf if he does not follow through on the U.S. advice -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. And amidst all of this, a clearly improved relationship between the U.S. and France.

Ed, stand by. We're going to be getting back to you.


BLITZER: Let's get to another new political alliance that emerged today, and this one sending some shockwaves through the religious right.

The televangelist Pat Robertson today announcing his support for Rudy Giuliani, the pro-abortion rights, pro-gay rights Republican presidential frontrunner. Giuliani rival John McCain says Robertson's decision left him -- and I'm quoting now -- left him "speechless." McCain did himself a get a key conservative endorsement of his own.

Let's go to our Chief National Correspondent John King. He's on the campaign trail in South Carolina right now.

All right. Let's talk a little bit about Rudy Giuliani getting Pat Robertson's endorsement. The conventional wisdom is it's going to help, but there are some suggesting it might actually hurt Giuliani with Independents, with moderates who find Pat Robertson distasteful.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it is a remarkable and a controversial development. An icon from the heyday of the Christian right endorsing the one Republican candidate that many of today's evangelical leaders say not only threatens their agenda, but threatens their longstanding relationship with the Republican Party.


PAT ROBERTSON, TELEVANGELIST: We're both prostate cancer survivors.

KING (voice over): Two men with a personal bond, and now a surprising political alliance.

ROBERTSON: In my opinion, as what would be considered a leader of the Evangelicals, that Rudy Giuliani is without question an acceptable candidate.

KING: It is a striking statement from a legendary and controversial religious broadcaster who calls abortion evil and homosexuality an abomination. But Robertson says he is convinced Giuliani would appoint conservative judges and also convinced there is a bigger test for the next president.

ROBERTSON: To me, the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the blood lust of Islamic terrorists.

KING: Giuliani backed taxpayer-funded abortions as mayor and also signed a sweeping civil unions policy. So Robertson's blessing is a boost for a candidate whose biggest weakness is the Christian right.

RUDY GIULIANI (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope it sends the message that we have the same goals, all of us in the Republican Party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a symbolic and very important symbol for Giuliani to say give me a chance to talk to you.

KING: In Iowa, more evidence of the fierce competition. John McCain welcomed the endorsement of anti-abortion senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, who dropped out of the Republican contest three weeks ago.

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm here today to endorse the best pro-life candidate to beat Hillary Clinton.

KING: White Evangelicals are critical in two of the early nominating contests, Iowa and South Carolina, but have yet to coalesce around one candidate. The competition takes many forms.

This is Fred Thompson's first TV ad.

FRED THOMPSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm proud to have had 100 percent pro-life voting record.

KING: In the span of an hour in South Carolina, Mitt Romney holds this public event at a Christian adoption agency.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Roe v. Wade should be overturned and allow the states to develop their own pro- life legislation if they'd like to do so.

KING: An then a no-cameras-allowed private briefing for students and leader of the ultra conservative Bob Jones University.


KING: Now, already some of today's Christian conservative leaders are predicting a backlash against Pat Robertson. They also note that his Christian Coalition is hardly the political force it was 10 or 15 years ago.

And as for the impact on Giuliani, Wolf, no question a short-term boost for his campaign among Christian conservatives. But all of his rivals already signaling that in the debates to come, they will now feel compelled to even draw more sharper distinctions with him on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, saying they need to draw him out more on those issues now to make it clear to rank-and-file Christian voters that in their view, Giuliani simply cannot be their candidate -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We're going to have more on this story, John.

Thank you very much.

While the value of Pat Robertson's endorsement is debatable, he has tended to hitch his wagon to winners in the Republican primaries over the years. In 1988, he endorsed George Herbert Walker Bush, but only after conceding his own presidential bid and no chance against the then vice president.

In the next open GOP primary back in 1996, Robertson stopped short of formally endorsing the eventual nominee, Bob Dole, but he publicly declared that Dole was an acceptable choice for religious conservatives.

And in 2000, Robertson endorsed George W. Bush in the Republican primary.

A little bit of the history of Pat Robertson and his endorsements.

Let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He's in New York for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: It's a little like getting a kiss from your crazy old aunt.

It looks like the government might be getting more serious about our safety after communist China sent us toxic toothpaste, defective tires, poisoned pet food, and children's toys covered with lead paint. President Bush wants the Food and Drug Administration to be allowed to order mandatory recalls of unsafe food products. Right now the FDA lacks this authority, even when the public health is at risk.

I didn't realize that myself.

The FDA commissioner says this doesn't mean that problems of the past year like pet foods spiked with the chemical melamine would go away immediately, but he says it should make the government better able to eliminate such threats when they appear. The Bush administration is also suggesting that safety certification would be required for imported foods deemed at risk.

As for foreign makers of toys and other consumer products, they would get a voluntary safety certification in exchange for faster entry into this country. That's probably something that's sorely need, considering that the United States imports $2 trillion worth of goods every year from 150 foreign countries.

So here's our question. Should the Food & Drug administration have the power to order mandatory recalls?

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

BLITZER: Jack, we'll be back, I just want to remind our viewers, in our 6:00 p.m. hour as well for our roundtable.

Jack is doing good work for us.

One of Hillary Clinton's rivals is being accused of being Clintonesque about driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, and he's using Senator Clinton's interview right here in THE SITUATION ROOM yesterday with Candy Crowley to try to prove it.

Plus, are Clinton and the other Democratic presidential candidates dropping the ball on the issue of illegal immigration? I'll ask Arizona's Democratic governor, Janet Napolitano. She's here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And as Wall Street takes another nose dive, a huge one today, will the economy be issue number one for voters next year?

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


BLITZER: With immigration reform deadlocked in Congress, the presidential candidates are bickering among themselves over this red- hot issue, and the nation's governors are being forced to take the lead in trying to figure out how to cope with the huge numbers of illegal immigrants into the United States right now.


BLITZER: And joining us now here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the Democratic governor of Arizona, Governor Janet Napolitano.

Governor, thanks for coming in.


BLITZER: Did your colleague, New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer, make a mistake when he decided it was a good idea to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants?

NAPOLITANO: Well, Governor Spitzer has to make his own decision with respect to his state, but it's unfortunate that a driver's license now has become the issue vis-a-vis immigration, because that's not really the central part of immigration. We need fundamental comprehensive immigration reform, we need more support at the border.

BLITZER: But that's not happening, the comprehensive...

NAPOLITANO: That's right.

BLITZER: The president tried it, he had support from McCain, he had support from Ted Kennedy, but it collapsed.

NAPOLITANO: That's right.

BLITZER: It looks like that's dead for the time being.

NAPOLITANO: For the time being it is.

Let me tell you what we've done in Arizona. We are not going to be issuing driver's licenses to those in the country and our state illegally, but we are going to issue a basic driver's license to anyone who currently qualifies, and then we're going to have a second license, assuming my legislature approves when they reconvene in January, that would satisfy the requirements of Real ID, the new federal law governing licensure, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, and our own state Employer Sanctions Law.

BLITZER: Because he also has this three-tier system, Governor Spitzer, that, you know, citizens can get either the Real ID or a normal driver's license, but there would be a third level of a driver's license that illegal immigrants could get that couldn't be used, for example, for federal I.D. purposes.

NAPOLITANO: Yes, that's not our intent in Arizona. And again...

BLITZER: So just to be clear, in Arizona illegal immigrants don't get any kind of driver's license?

NAPOLITANO: They do not qualify for a driver's license.

BLITZER: All right.

Here's what the Democratic presidential frontrunner, Senator Hillary Clinton, told our Candy Crowley this week on the CNN Election Express. Listen to this.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It depends upon what state they're in, it depends on what they think the risks are. You know, a governor of New York that has a lot of immigrants, many of whom we know are not there legally, has to worry about security. A governor of another state where that's not a problem doesn't.


BLITZER: All right. Is she trying to have it both ways? Do you understand what her position is?

NAPOLITANO: Well, I think the senator is -- what she's really saying when you back up, is that the states are all going to do different things. Why? Because of the failure of the administration and the Congress to come to grips with immigration reform.

Really, I hope the next statement is, "As president of the United States, I'm going to readdress immigration, we're going to get a law that's enforced, enforceable, and my budgets are going to contain the resources to sustain it."

BLITZER: Are you satisfied with any of the Democratic presidential candidates in the way they're dealing with the issues of particular concern to states out West?

NAPOLITANO: I'm not saying I'm dissatisfied. I think it's early enough that they haven't yet begun to address those.

The first debate in my region of the country won't be until the 15th of November. And so as they get out there, I think immigration, for one, perhaps water as well, will become issues that we will first hear their articulation of their opinions.

BLITZER: Because there's been some criticism they're really ignoring some of those issues that are of keen interest to westerners.

NAPOLITANO: Oh, I don't think they're ignoring. I think there's only so much time in any particular debate, and the formats really haven't permitted a lot of -- addressing a lot of issues. So there are obviously going to be regional differences. Now they're moving to the West.

BLITZER: Because you know next Thursday, we're going to be out in Las Vegas, Nevada, for this Democratic presidential debate.

What would you like to hear from these seven Democratic presidential candidates?

NAPOLITANO: I would like to hear what they're going to do about immigration and how they're going to address the federal failure to have a comprehensive reform of our existing law, which quite frankly doesn't work. So we have to have reform.

BLITZER: Do you want this fence along the border between Arizona and Mexico?

NAPOLITANO: Well, I want some fencing, but I want manpower, I want radar, I want ground sensors, and I want interior enforcement for those who get through the border.

BLITZER: Is it your sense that Hillary Clinton, who is the Democratic frontrunner, obviously, in all of the national polls, may be too polarizing for people out West?

NAPOLITANO: No. No, I think -- I think she is someone that westerners will listen to. If she becomes the nominee, they will have an open mind about her, because they'll be thinking about her in a different role, should they be president of the United States. The westerners aren't familiar particularly with Senator Obama, former Senator Edwards. So all of them have the opportunity to persuade, and I believe all of them, and others as well, are very qualified to serve as president.

BLITZER: You haven't endorsed anyone yet?

NAPOLITANO: I have not.

BLITZER: Are you -- at some point do you think you will?

NAPOLITANO: My plan right now is not to.

BLITZER: To stay out of it?

NAPOLITANO: I'm very happy...

BLITZER: Let the political dust settle?

NAPOLITANO: I'm going to ride my horse in the middle of the river, but to me we have very many qualified candidates. And I'm going to be ready to support whoever comes out.

BLITZER: Governor Napolitano, thanks for coming in.

NAPOLITANO: Thank you a lot.


BLITZER: Republican Rudy Giuliani, by the way, is diving into the debate over driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, and the Republican presidential frontrunner is asking two GOP allies in the Congress to help him out. The Associated Press reporting that Giuliani asked representatives Peter King of New York and Pete Sessions of Texas to introduce bills to prevent states from issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

Who's afraid of Hillary Clinton or her husband? It appears both are now targets of criticism, but you might be surprised that it's coming from fellow Democrats.

We're going to talk about that in our "Strategy Session."

And cycling champion Lance Armstrong's major political victory. You're going to find out what he scored in Texas and how what happened there and in other places could foretell potentially what might happen in next year's presidential election.

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


(NEWSBREAK) BLITZER: Gays, lesbians and bisexuals, they're likely only moments away from getting something they really want, but it's something that will anger many other people. We're going to tell you what the House of Representatives is poised to do only moments from now.

And what's the number one issue on your mind as you consider the presidential election? Here's a hint -- it's not necessarily Iraq.

You're going to find out what most of you are worrying about even more than the war.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


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

Happening now, calls for more opposition leaders to protest the emergency order in Pakistan. I'll speak with one of them -- one of those opposition leaders who's right now on the run trying to avoid jail.

In Iraq, the U.S. will release nine Iranians from custody. Some say though they have blood of American troops on their hands. I'll ask the number two U.S. military commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Odierno, about that.

And Yahoo! searches for a way out of controversy. It told China what one man was doing on the Internet, and now he's in jail. U.S. lawmakers are outraged, and the man's mother is emotionally devastated.

You're going to hear from her. That's coming up.

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

Today, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and their supporters could be cheering. The House of Representatives appears likely to pass a bill that will protect them from workplace discrimination.

Our congressional correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is on Capitol Hill watching this legislation move through Congress.

How soon is it likely to go into effect?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're expecting that vote sometime this hour. And I'll tell you, this vote could be a real political headache for some Democrats, especially when you consider the ads that ran last election cycle about Nancy Pelosi's radical homosexual agenda. But Pelosi says she and her members are ready to take this vote because it's the right thing to do.


YELLIN (voice over): Supporters call it a question of basic civil rights for gays and lesbians and insist it sends an important message.

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: To tell millions of Americans who are gay and lesbian that they are not bad people, that it is not legitimate to fire them simply because of who they are...

YELLIN: The Employment Nondiscrimination Act would make it illegal to hire, fire or determine pay and promotions based on an employee's sexual orientation. Thirty states do not have laws banning employment discrimination against gays and lesbians, and supporters say that's why a federal law is essential.

REP. GEORGE MILLER (D), CALIFORNIA: In those 30 states, employers can fire, refuse to hire, demote, and refuse to promote employees on the basis of sexual orientation alone.

YELLIN: But angry critics claim the bill will force some religious businesses to employ gays and lesbians.

REP. HOWARD "BUCK" MCKEON (R), CALIFORNIA: I think it's a disaster for Christian bookstores, at least 85 percent of whom would fall under this, all sorts of Christian colleges.

YELLIN: And, they claim, it opens the door to gay marriage.

REP. JOSEPH PITTS (R), PENNSYLVANIA: ENDA is merely a building block for efforts to overturn traditional marriage laws and to impose same-sex marriage on states.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: I believe this legislation has the real potential to undermine the importance of families in our culture and in our society and in our country.


YELLIN: And I should point out, Wolf, that Democrats added language to this bill to make it clear that it should in no way major gay marriage legal.

But, still, this is a part of the debate that is going on, on the floor. Now, political watchers say it's actually a less risky vote, this one, than, say, a vote for gay marriage, because, in fact, about 90 percent of Americans say gays and lesbians should be protected from employment discrimination.

The overall sense from pollsters is that Americans believe discrimination is wrong, no matter who's the target -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jessica, thank you -- Jessica Yellin on the Hill.

Americans are naturally concerned about how things are going in Iraq, but it appears there's another issue that many of you are worrying about even more right now.

Let's go to our senior political another, Bill Schneider. He's watching the story for us, looking at some new numbers. Is it possible, Bill, that there's another issue out there, more than the war in Iraq, the war on terrorism, that will dominate the up- and-coming election?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, it's beginning to look that way.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Here are the issues voters now rate as the most important in their vote for president. The economy now tops the list, just ahead of the war in Iraq.

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ECONOMY.COM: At the heart of our current economic problems is the evaporating housing market, the plunge in sales, construction, and, most importantly, house prices.

SCHNEIDER: When the economy is bad, the economy is the issue. That was certainly the case in 1980, when Ronald Reagan got elected, and in 1992, when Bill Clinton won on the economy, stupid.

At the time of those two elections, only about a third of Americans said things were going well in the country. Compare that with the last three presidential elections. In 1996, 2000, and 2004, solid majorities said things were going well. And this year? It looked good in January, when 57 percent of Americans thought things were going well, but that number has been dropping all year. It's now only 42 percent.

ZANDI: The job growth has slowed quite sharply over the course of the past six, 12 months. And, at this current rate of job growth, unemployment will continue to rise.

SCHNEIDER: Right now, the more important you think the economy is, the more likely you are to vote Democratic. In a trial heat between the two front-runners, Hillary Clinton leads Rudy Giuliani by 27 points among people who feel the economy is an extremely important issue. She's five points ahead among those who say the economy is very important, while Giuliani leads among those who say the economy is moderately important or not important.


SCHNEIDER: Democrats like to remind voters that the economy was booming in the 1990s. Well, that wasn't a boom, Republicans say. They call it a bubble -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Bill, thank you -- Bill Schneider with the latest numbers on that.

Something Hillary Clinton said right here in THE SITUATION ROOM now taking on a new life on the Internet. We are going to check the situation online in just a moment.

You are going to see how John Edwards is using her remarks to launch a brand-new attack.

Pat Robertson's endorsement may -- repeat, may -- be a mixed blessing for Rudy Giuliani. Coming up in our "Strategy Session," how it could actually backfire.

Plus, why a Halloween party may end up costing the nation's top immigration official her job.

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


BLITZER: The John Edwards campaign is repeatedly using YouTube to accuse Senator Hillary Clinton of not being straightforward with her answers. In the latest video, the Edwards campaign uses a clip from Senator Clinton's interview with Candy yesterday in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton. She's watching all of this unfold.

So, what's the Edwards campaign up to right now, Abbi?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, they're really hammering away at Senator Clinton using this space. By out count, this now is the fourth online video since last week to targets Senator Clinton.

And this one, the first one, entitled "The Politics of Parsing" from the Edwards campaign, really found an audience online, almost 300,000 views on YouTube. Well, now they have come out with a part two. And the focus of this one is this interview that CNN's Candy Crowley did with Senator Clinton yesterday on board the CNN Election Express, and the issue, again, does Senator Clinton support driver's licenses for illegal immigrants?


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's a decision that the governors and legislatures and the people of those states have made. I understand...


H. CLINTON: Well, but, you know, Candy...

CROWLEY: ... that you're not answering the question.

H. CLINTON: Well, but...



TATTON: What the answer, asks the Edwards campaign in this video.

Clinton, in that interview, went on to say that complex issues don't lend themselves to raising a hand. No response from the Clinton campaign to part two that I just showed you.

But of part one of that video, the Clinton camp said last week that Edwards is launching false attacks on his fellow Democrats -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Abbi, thank you for that.

Since Hillary Clinton began her White House bid, her rivals and other Democrats have largely stayed away from criticizing her husband, but not anymore. It appears Bill Clinton is now also becoming a target.

Let's go to Mary Snow. He's in New York, watching this for us.

It began after the former president began aggressively defending his wife.


And, you know, it's a sign of just how heated this race is becoming. And, as Abbi pointed out, it follows stepped-up criticism of Senator Hillary Clinton.


SNOW (voice-over): He's considered the golden boy of the Democratic Party, but some Democrats are now targeting former President Bill Clinton.

JENNY BACKUS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He has been sort of Superman. He's been untouchable in terms of anyone in the party criticizing him.

SNOW: That changed when the former president defended his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, on Monday, and talked about elections in recent years being decided on trivial matters.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When that scandalous Swift Boat ad was run against Senator Kerry, when there was an ad that defeated Max Cleland in Georgia, a man that left half his body in Vietnam...

SNOW: Clinton then went on to talk about last week's Democratic debate, where his wife came under attack by rivals.

B. CLINTON: I had the feeling, at the end of that last debate, we were about to get into cutesy land again. You all raise your hands if you're for illegal immigrants getting a driver's license. So, we will then let the Republicans run an ad saying, all the Democrats are against the rule of law.

SNOW: Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama told the Associated Press he was -- quote -- "stunned" by President Clinton's comparison of the Kerry and Cleland ads to last week's debate, saying -- quote -- "How you would then draw an analogy to distorting somebody's military record is a reach."

Senator Christopher Dodd echoed that criticism. A spokesman for the Clinton campaign said some Democrats are intentionally distorting Bill Clinton's words. "What he said was that the Republicans are trying to use immigration as a wedge issue to divide the country and all Democrats, that we cannot let them do this."

Some Democratic strategists say, while Clinton is viewed as an asset, he also comes with minuses.

BACKUS: I would say he's 85 percent an asset. The last 15 is the danger that I think we saw a little bit this week.


SNOW: Well, Democratic strategists say that Bill Clinton, as well as being a strong asset, there's -- because there's so much attention on him, it could be a liability in the case this week by keeping the focus on the attacks on Hillary Clinton.

Now, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign said, in their words, there's no better surrogate in the world than President Clinton, bar none -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Mary, thank you. Good report.

This programming note for our viewers: On November 15, I will be in Las Vegas to moderate a debate in that key Western state among the Democratic presidential candidates, a week from tomorrow in Vegas.

In the "Strategy Session": politics of strange bedfellows. Pat Robertson now throwing his support behind Rudy Giuliani.


PAT ROBERTSON, HOST, "THE 700 CLUB": Today, it is my pleasure to announce my support for America's mayor, Rudy Giuliani, and a proven leader, who is not afraid of what lies ahead and who will cast a hopeful vision for all Americans.


BLITZER: But could Robertson end up hurting, more than helping, the Republican front-runner?

And the Democrats' darling, the former President Bill Clinton, as we just saw, coming under fire from his own party. We're going to tell you what's going on. Jamal Simmons and J.C. Watts, they are standing by live for our "Strategy Session" -- right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Leaders of the religious right are choosing sides in the 2008 presidential race, but those political endorsements could turn into some mixed blessings.

With me for our "Strategy Session," Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons and former Republican Congressman J.C. Watts.

J.C., let me start with you.

Listen to Pat Robertson in explaining in part why he believes Rudy Giuliani should get the Republican nomination.


ROBERTSON: I think the overriding issue that we face in this nation is the Islamic terrorism. And I think, if we don't realize that -- America must be kept safe. And I think we want a leader who is strong against this threat of terror.


BLITZER: Is this going to help Giuliani much among Christian conservatives, given the fact that a lot of them are -- are not necessarily all that enthralled anymore with Pat Robertson?

J.C. WATTS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think Pat will bring some support with him. I can't say that it will bring 30 percent support or enough evangelical support to get the mayor over the hump.

But I will tell you, the interesting thing about this, Wolf, is this. You know, Pat has stood for the -- the values coalition, or with the values coalition, pro-life, pro-marriage all the values issues.

And now, all of a sudden, in this election, it's a 180. And it gives the impression that maybe this is a situation -- situational values here, you know, that you would go and support someone that -- that's pro-choice, pro-same-sex marriage.

Now, I would also remind you, I don't think you are voting for a pastor when you vote for a president. But this is -- this is really strange bedfellows.

BLITZER: Giuliani supported abortion rights. He supports gay rights, but he doesn't go as far as supporting same-sex marriage. He stops short of endorsing same-sex marriage.

WATTS: But the evangelical community is not going to see any difference in that.

BLITZER: So, they're not going to differentiate.

WATTS: That's right.

BLITZER: But does he run a risk, when -- when Pat Robertson comes out? Because one of the things that Giuliani brings to the Republican nomination, potentially, a lot of independent voters out there, moderates who support abortion rights. All of a sudden, they see Pat Robertson supporting Giuliani.

Does he run a risk of turning off potentially a lot of that base?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I have got to believe, for Rudy Giuliani, that's really a general election problem or a problem for the later primaries. In a state like South Carolina, which is really the bellwether, I believe, of Republican thought, and, in that state, Pat Robertson has got to be more a help. Right now...

BLITZER: But not in -- necessarily in New Hampshire?

SIMMONS: Not necessarily in New Hampshire. But here's what's going on in New Hampshire this year.

Unlike 2000, you have got a Democratic primary and an electorate in New Hampshire that has been voting against Republicans. So, a lot of those independents and moderates are really in favor of somebody like a Barack Obama. So, with him in that race, you could really see the Republicans not have a case to make to independents and moderates.

WATTS: And I don't think, Wolf, that Rudy's looking to New Hampshire. I think he wants to compete in New Hampshire, but I don't think he was saying, OK, Pat Robertson is going to hurt me in New Hampshire if he endorses me.

I think we do have to give Rudy credit for being ability to navigate this thing pretty well, left, right, you know, moderate. He's done a pretty good job to this point navigating this thing.

SIMMONS: I think the relationship with Bernie Kerik, who got all the help from mobsters and all that, is going to be a much bigger issue for Rudy Giuliani...

BLITZER: All right, well, that's -- that's another subject.

SIMMONS: ... than Pat Robertson.


BLITZER: Let's talk about Senator Sam Brownback endorsing John McCain today, the former Republican presidential candidate supporting his friend McCain.

Listen to what Brownback said.


SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: I'm here today to endorse the best pro-life candidate to beat Hillary Clinton.


BLITZER: All right, J.C., is that going to be much of a help to McCain? WATTS: Well, I think it will.

This endorsement, you can connect the dots. John McCain's pro- life, hasn't supported same-sex marriage. Pat Robertson is supporting someone that's just, you know, opposite all of those things. I think this endorsement makes sense for John McCain. It's -- it's a little easier for the values community, as they call it, it's a little easier for them to tie this endorsement together where it makes sense.

BLITZER: What do you think?

SIMMONS: I actually agree with the congressman on this one. I think that Brownback is going to be very helpful to McCain.

And I'm one of the people who thought that it was too early to write McCain off in the beginning anyway. We all remember what happened to John Kerry last time. He lost some staff. He lost some money. He fell down in the polls. And, as soon as that happened, he turned into a fiery politician that people rallied around. And that could happen to John McCain.

BLITZER: What do you make, Jamal, of this -- these Democratic presidential candidates now fighting back at Bill Clinton for suggesting that some of these candidates were -- quote -- "swift- boating" Hillary Clinton?

SIMMONS: I think we have got a former president scorned a little bit, who saw everyone attacking his wife, wanted to get into the fray and try to help her out a little bit.

He was a little bit overzealous, making the comparison. I have worked for Max Cleland. So, to try to compare those two cases is really kind of an overstatement. But I think everyone knows Bill Clinton only means the best when it comes to Hillary Clinton and he means the best when it comes to Democrats.

BLITZER: What do you think, J.C.?

WATTS: Well, I think the senator stumbled in the last debate, and I think they overreacted. And I think the way they overreacted is to make some outlandish comparisons.

And -- and we talked about two shows ago, Wolf, here, and saying that, when Barack Obama got scorned for saying that he would talk to the president of Iran, all the other candidates went after them. He took it like a man. He didn't say anything. He withstood the pressure.

She went to just the other end of the spectrum, and made a big deal out of it. And they said, well, she's getting swift-boated.


BLITZER: Well, they will -- they will all have another chance, guys, next Thursday night, a week from tomorrow, the next debate.


SIMMONS: When it comes to Bill Clinton, I would rather be with him than against him.


BLITZER: What did you say?

SIMMONS: When it comes to Bill Clinton, I would rather be with him than against him. So, I think Hillary Clinton is still in good shape having him on her...


BLITZER: Certainly among Democrats, that's true.

SIMMONS: That's right.

BLITZER: All right, guys, thank you very much, Jamal and J.C.

By the way, I am going to be speaking with a Republican presidential candidate tomorrow. That would be Ron Paul. We will talk about his recent success, raising huge amounts of money, more than $4 million within 24 hours on the Internet and elsewhere. Ron Paul will be here in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow.

Barack Obama lost in Iowa? Not his campaign, not his campaign hopes, bus his campaign plane. You're going to want to hear what has just happened.

And is your pastor riding in Rolls-Royces, on private jets, and living in multimillion-dollar homes? Guess what? Some of them are. And one U.S. senator, Chuck Grassley, wants to know how millions and millions and millions of donation dollars are being spent.

And something that should frighten parents everywhere -- it appears, if children play with one toy and accidentally swallow it, they could be subject to what's commonly called -- and I'm quoting now -- "a date rape drug." What's going on?

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


BLITZER: Campaign strategists are busy right now poring over the results from yesterday's off-year elections, looking for clues about what may happen in the fall of 2008.

Brian Todd has been doing precisely that. He's been looking at the results of yesterday's elections.

What are you finding, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it was a split decision on the two gubernatorial contests, but Democratic victories in Virginia could foreshadow next year's congressional and presidential elections.


GOV. ERNIE FLETCHER (R), KENTUCKY: The voters have made up their minds. I accept their decision.

TODD (voice-over): Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher acknowledging defeat. The Republican incumbent was ousted by Democratic former Lieutenant Governor Steve Beshear. Fletcher was dogged by an investigation into political interference in state hirings that led to the governor's indictment. The charges were dropped after Fletcher admitted to wrongdoing in his administration. But the political damage was done.

It was a different story for another Republican governor, Mississippi's Haley Barbour. He easily won a second term, thanks in part to praise of his handling of recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina.

In Virginia, Democrats made major gains. They won control of the state Senate for the first time in 12 years. That follows victories by Virginia Democrats in the last two governor's races and last year's U.S. Senate battle. And it's another sign that the once reliably red state is now up for grabs.

Democratic voters are pouring into suburban Northern Virginia. And Democratic candidates there made the elections a referendum on President Bush and Republicans in Washington.

JEANNEMARIE DEVOLITES DAVIS (D), VIRGINIA STATE SENATOR: It's just not a good year for Republicans, and we're seeing that all over the state.

TODD: Virginia will be in the spotlight next year....

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you help me next year as well?


TODD: ... as Democrats try to win back an open Senate seat and try to put Virginia back in their presidential election column for the first time in 40 years.

STUART ROTHENBERG, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "THE ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": I think what the election results mean is that Republicans can't take Virginia for granted anymore.


TODD: Now, many Republican candidates in Virginia made battling illegal immigration their top issue, but the jury is still out on whether that strategy succeeded or backfired -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, thank you.

Let's get some more of the election results on our Political Ticker right now.

A victory for cycling star and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. He pushed for and won passage of a $3 billion plan to beef up cancer research and prevention in Texas. Republican Governor Rick Perry also supported the ballot measure, saying it will make Texas a global leader in finding a cure for cancer.

In New York, a loss for Democratic Governor Jon Corzine -- state voters yesterday rejected a plan to borrow $450 million over 10 years to finance stem cell research. Corzine spent $200,000 of his own money on ads promoting the measure, arguing it would help find cures for spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's and other diseases. The Catholic Church fought against the measure because it would pay for research that destroys human embryos.

And, in the 2008 presidential race, Barack Obama's campaign losses -- loses its way, that is. When the Democrat's chartered plane touched down in Iowa last night for a campaign stop in Cedar Rapids, aides were surprised that no one was there to greet the plane. No one was there to greet the candidate.

No wonder. It turns out they landed at the wrong airport, and they were in Des Moines.

Remember, for the latest political news at any time, you can always check out our Political Ticker at

Let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He has got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: These are the people that want to carry that little black bag around with the nuclear launch codes in it, right?

BLITZER: Eventually, they would like to do that. By -- by then, the U.S. Air Force would be flying around, rather than some private charter operator or whatever.

CAFFERTY: Well, that's probably a good thing. Cedar Rapids is clear on the other side of the state from Des Moines.


CAFFERTY: The question this hour is, should the Food and Drug Administration have the power to order mandatory recalls?

Catherine writes from Wisconsin: "About the only thing that would help the agency's reputation is giving it the authority to order the recalls and appointing Ralph Nader to head up the agency. Such a simple idea to solve such a horrendous problem."

Vinnie in New York, who writes -- get a job, Vinnie. We hear from you every single day. But he writes good stuff.

"The job of the FDA is to protect is fellow citizens. So, the fact is, they should have the power to recall any dangerous item. However, if the president orders them to look the other way as a payback for past favors, what are they going to do? For example, China loans the U.S. a ton of money for the Iraq war, and our government reciprocates by allowing China's cheap garbage easily into our markets."

John in Texas writes: "Any product for human consumption should be completely safe. We are on our way back to the horse-and-buggy days. And we're being poisoned along the way. Protect the public, externally and internally."

Joan in Red Bud, Illinois: "No, the Food and Drug Administration is not capable of doing the job it has now. Why in the world would anyone give it more power?"

S. writes: "No. This is designed as cover for the corporations. Corporations will say it's the FDA's job to recall products, and the FDA won't do its job."

And Bill in New Jersey writes: "Should they have the power? Of course. But so what? Even if they had it, would they use it? Doubtful in this administration, owned, as it is, by big business" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you, Jack.

And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.