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Iran Nuclear Report; U.S. Officials Discouraged by Iraqi Government Inaction; Democrats' High Stakes Debate; Tracking Greenhouse Gases

Aired November 15, 2007 - 17:00   ET


CAFFERTY: Steve: "I have no faith in the TSA keeping me safe in the airport, much less in the skies. They couldn't find a lump of coal on a snowman. It's amazing that it's that easy to get things through a screener in the first place."
And Andy writes from Maryland: "Ha! Last time I flew, three different TSA agents devoted their time and attention to my wife's body lotions. I should have wrapped them in wire, electronic timers and a book of jihad. I would have sailed right through."

Nobody is saying anything very kind about our so-called airport security -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you, Jack, for that. All right, stand by.

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

Happening now, countdown to the Democrats' high stakes Las Vegas debate. The presidential candidates getting ready right now to face- off in only three hours. I'll be moderating. And we have the best political team on television with me this hour for a preview, including the debut of Campbell Brown -- our brand new CNN anchor.

Also, very disturbing video of a deadly airport confrontation. Police use a stun gun on a man who died moments later. New arguments tonight over a controversial weapon.

And details of an unusual move to keep air traffic moving over the Thanksgiving holiday. We're going to show you what's being done and why it may not make much of a difference at all.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


But we begin this hour with Iran. Its nuclear efforts are becoming more secretive. The United Nations' nuclear watchdog group saying its knowledge about Tehran's nuclear program is diminishing.

CNN's Brian Todd is joining us now live with details of the new IAEA report -- Brian, what else does this report say?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the key thing, Wolf, is what you just said. The IAEA says its knowledge about Iran's nuclear program is diminishing, that since early last year, it's not received the type of information that Iran had been giving it before that time. This even as Iran continues to enrich nuclear material in defiance of U.N. sanctions. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, does say that Iran has been "generally truthful, has cooperated in several areas, like giving access to declared nuclear material, some documents and facilities it has provided to inspectors."

But the IAEA says that Iran is withholding cooperation in other areas.

The Bush administration has shrugged off the Iran relationship, warning that Tehran is on a one way street to a nuclear bomb and says this about what Iran should do right now.


DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We believe that what they should do is take us up on our offer. We've continued to offer negotiations for Iran so that we can have a diplomatic solution. That is two basic things -- suspension of enrichment or suspension of sanctions, as well as a negotiated settlement that would give Iran access to nuclear energy while assuring that there -- that its intent is peaceful.


TODD: Now, Iran insists that its nuclear development is only for peaceful civilian uses. Iran's top nuclear negotiator says that his government has been fully transparent in this process. But he warns that could change if the Security Council passes another resolution against his country -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you.

An important story there.

Another one we're following -- violence in Iraq is down, but the gridlock gripping Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki's fragile government shows no sign of letting up. And now there's growing concern the window of opportunity for political reconciliation may be about to close.

Let's go to our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie, what are you picking up over at your vantage point?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the U.S. military has said all along that only the Iraqis themselves can save the country. The U.S. military says its done its part. But it looks like Iraqi politicians aren't doing theirs.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): The numbers don't lie. By all accounts, things are better in Baghdad, according to U.S. commanders on the frontlines.

COL. JEFFREY BANNISTER, BAGHDAD COMMANDER: Since the peak of the surge operations in July, there have been a -- there has been a steady decrease of attacks that occurred, with October having the lowest number of attacks.

MCINTYRE: The number of attacks in the Iraqi capital has dropped to three or four a day, compared to a dozen or more when the surge began. But U.S. commanders fear it may all be for nothing -- that the failure of the Iraqi government to make progress on political reconciliation is wasting an opportunity, as "The Washington Post" put it.

It's unclear how long that window is going to be open, Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno told the paper, saying if a breakthrough doesn't happen by summer, we're going to have to review our strategy.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), CHAIRMAN, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: We shouldn't wait until next summer. That's the only disagreement I have. These commitments were supposed to have been carried out a year ago -- carried out a year ago.

MCINTYRE: On the Senate Armed Services Committee, there is bipartisan agreement that the government of Nuri Al-Maliki has failed miserably to deliver on the promises made as a condition of the surge.

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: I think that we do have to review the strategy and in light of the inability of this government of Iraq to have fulfilled what I believe to have been a commitment they made to the president.

MCINTYRE: At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is not willing to admit defeat.

ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We would like to see more progress. But there have been positive developments in other ways. So I don't think that the efforts of our troops have been squandered in Iraq and they have been taken advantage of in ways that we didn't anticipate originally.


MCINTYRE: The decrease in violence in Iraq has come at a heavy price for the U.S. military. Wolf, as you know, this has been the deadliest year of the war so far.

So what U.S. commanders fear is that while the surge may be showing some success, the operation may be a success, the patient may still be dying -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jamie McIntyre.

Thank you very much.

A good report.

Now we've got a CNN exclusive report about a young man who has lived his entire life until now inside a North Korean prison camp. He's sharing his story with the outside world now for the first time -- and it's one of unimaginable brutality and horror.

Here's CNN's Sohn Jie-Ae.


SOHN JIE-AE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When he was percent just 14, Shin Dong-Hyuk saw his mother's execution. Shin and his father were forced to watch his mother hanged and his 22-year-old brother killed by a firing squad in North Korean prison camp Number 14.

"I was angry at her," he says, "and I blamed her for what I had to go through."

A deep scar down his spine is evidence of what he had to go through. He says guards at the camp literally grilled him over charcoal to get him to confess that he had conspired with his mother and brother to escape the crime for which they were executed.

Shin was born in prison camp Number 14. He says he knew no other life than being beaten and tortured by guards, doing hard labor every day and always being hungry. His young body, riddled with scars, is a testament to that life. Deep burns on his legs are from climbing over an electrified fence to finally escape three years ago.

He is the first North Korean to come to the south -- fleeing a prison camp known as a total control zone.

KIM SANG-HOON, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: If anybody is sent there, they are going to spend the rest of their entire life there and they can never get out of the camp, dead or alive.

JIE-AE: Shown here in a satellite photo, prison camp Number 14 is one of at least five such places in North Korea. The U.S. State Department says as many as 200,000 political prisoners languish in these camps.

Shin still carries emotional, as well as, physical scars. "Every time I see a policeman," he says, "I have flashbacks of the prison camp. Chills run down my spine."

Shin Dong-Hyuk says he still deals with guilt about the father he left behind in the camp. As for his mother, he says he's only starting to realize his ordeal is not her fault.

Sohn Jie-Ae, CNN, Seoul.


BLITZER: What a story that is.

All right, let's go to Jack Cafferty. He's got more in The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Yes, you know, it's almost hard to believe those kinds of conditions exist anywhere in this world. Sadly, I guess they do. There's some conditions in this country that aren't anything to write home about, either. Thirty-five million people in this country went hungry last year. The Agriculture Department has a report out. It says the number represents more than one in 10 Americans -- about the same as the year before. The report found that about 12.6 million families reported going hungry for at least some part of last year. Those most likely to suffer include single mothers, black and Hispanic households, and people below the official poverty line.

The states with the highest incidence of hunger -- Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas, South Carolina. And of the 35.5 million people who say they went hungry, 12.6 million of them are kids.

The survey was based on Census Bureau data. It doesn't include the homeless, either. About three quarters of a million people are homeless in this country on any given day.

Food advocacy groups say these statistics show that the U.S.

isn't doing enough to combat hunger -- at least not here. They worry conditions could get worse as food, energy and housing costs continue to rise.

So the question is this -- what does it say about our country that more than 35 million Americans went hungry last year?

E-mail your thoughts to or go to

You know, it would be nice to see those candidates tonight target some of their interests on the kind of stuff that's going on inside this country instead of all the things that are going on somewhere else -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll try to have a good balance, Jack.

Thank you very much.

It is shocking to get those numbers, though.

When we come back, a man stun gunned to death at an airport. His mother saved money for eight years to bring him from Poland. The entire incident is caught on videotape. An amazing look at what went so tragically wrong.

Plus, jammed up in the skies -- you're going to find out why you soon may be flying through military air space to get to your destination on time.

And we're live from Las Vegas. The Democrats have their presidential debate. Tonight, our newest anchor at CNN, Campbell Brown, set to make her debut.

Can Barack Obama or John Edwards propel themselves into first place?

Stay with us.



BLITZER: I want to go right to Carol Costello.

She's following an important story that's just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM out of San Francisco.

Tell our viewers what's going on -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is certainly blockbuster news if you are a sports fan.

Baseball great Barry Bonds has been indicted by a federal grand jury in San Francisco. He was up on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. As you know, the grand jury has been investigating him about his testimony before the grand jury that he never knowingly took steroids. And they're also investigating him for money laundering charges. And now that federal grand jury indicted him on both counts.

We'll keep you posted.

Back to you -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right.

COSTELLO: Of course, as you know, this could mean the end of his baseball career.

BLITZER: Well, it's serious perjury and obstruction of justice. Those are always serious charges. We'll watch this story. Once again, Barry Bonds now formally indicted on those charges.

And Carol is working on another important story we're watching right now, as well -- a shocking story.

Canadian police facing growing criticism after an incident in which a man died after being shocked with a stun gun. And we've got some dramatic video of the incident.

Let's go back to Carol.

She's following this story -- Carol, I know you've been doing some reporting.

What does it show, this new video?

COSTELLO: Yes, I've been working on this story all day, Wolf. What I'm being to show is compelling and disturbing. It's amateur video of what essentially is a man's death. It happened Vancouver in the airport. And it brings up not only whether stun guns should be used, but how police should subdue troubled travelers.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) COSTELLO (voice-over): This is Robert Dziekanski. According to his mother's attorney, he'd been in Vancouver's airport for 10 hours, after a 14 hour flight from Poland. Trying to find his mom and unable to speak English to get help, he loses it. Dziekanski, who was 40, had never flown on an airplane before -- never been outside of Poland.

Canadian traveler Paul Pritchard started taking pictures.

PAUL PRITCHARD, AMATEUR VIDEOGRAPHER: He was never threatening. I mean we never felt danger from him.

COSTELLO: Another travel, Sima Ashrafina, tried to calm Dziekanski. She says he looked...

SIMA ASHRAFINA, EYEWITNESS: Tired. Very tired. I never felt threatened by him. I was very close to him. I'm facing him and there is a glass door. It was (INAUDIBLE) just come down. And he was quiet. He was asking for help and I couldn't help him. Why nobody -- none of those officers tackled him.

COSTELLO: When Royal Canadian Mounted Police did arrive, you could hear someone tell them Dziekanski didn't speak English.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He speaks Russian.

COSTELLO: officers say they tried to get him to put his hands on the table and then they used the stun gun -- hitting him with 50,000 volts of electricity. Soon after the second shot, Dziekanski died.

His mother, who cleans homes in Canada and saved money for eight years to bring her son to Vancouver, says police should never have used such force to subdue her son.

ZOFIA CISOWSKI, ROBERT DZIEKANSKI'S MOTHER: That way for the taser -- they should do something because that is killer.

COSTELLO: Amnesty International agrees, saying police should curtail its use of stun guns until further studies are done. It says since 2001, 17 have died in Canada and 284 in the United States, after being subdued with a stun gun.

But the Justice Department has found little evidence the weapons alone are responsible for the deaths and Canadian police say there's more to this story than the video shows.


COSTELLO: In fact, Canadian police say you are seeing this incident through one lens -- the lens of that camera -- and it doesn't show all that happened in the Vancouver airport that night. There were toxicology tests done on the Polish man. And, Wolf, he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And his mother says he was perfectly healthy.

BLITZER: What a tragic, shocking story that is. That's going to cause quite a stir. Carol, thank you very much.

Meanwhile, federal aviation data shows that this year has been the worst ever for flight delays here in the United States. And now, one day out of the start of the year's busiest travel period, the White House says it will take steps to help ease headaches for the upcoming holiday air travelers.

CNN's Kathleen Koch is covering this story for us -- Kathleen, are there real substantive changes in the works right now?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, yes. Some of the changes will help some air travelers that are on the East Coast get from Point A to Point B more quickly. But most in the aviation industry admit that these certainly won't solve all of the problems that have created this year's record delays.


KOCH (voice-over): To give planes more options, the administration is opening military air space on the East Coast to commercial aircraft over the Thanksgiving holidays. Two new corridors in addition to the dozen already in use.

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These new routes will help relieve air congestion from Maine to Florida for nearly five full days surrounding the holiday.

KOCH: The Federal Aviation Administration also plans to halt any non-essential maintenance projects. Air traffic controllers insist none of this addresses the problems on the ground, where there are 7 percent fewer controllers to handle traffic than last year and a shortage of runways and gate space.

PATRICK FORREY, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER'S ASSOCIATION: The bottom line is you can only land a number of aircraft at one time on any given runway. So the capacity at the end game and at the beginning game needs to double or increase before you start killing delays. This is just another gimmick to try and appease the flying public. It's not going to work.

KOCH: Three quarters of chronic delays around the country can be traced to the New York area. The federal government in September implemented new landing and takeoff procedures at JFK Airport so it can handle four to six more flights an hour. But the Transportation secretary admits bottle necks on the ground around the country this holiday will still exist.

MARY PETERS, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: We're not -- we're not going to build a runway overnight, that's for sure. And while we need to do that, again, it's important that we do that in consultation with the communities where these airports are located.


KOCH: Now the administration also wants to double the amount that passengers are paid when they're bumped from flights and fine airlines for flights that are chronically delayed. But, Wolf, these are only proposals and they are going to do absolutely nothing to help passengers who are grappling with delays this Thanksgiving -- back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Kathleen.

Thanks very much.

Kathleen Koch reporting.

Let's hope it gets better.

So will her rivals hone in again on Hillary Clinton in tonight's Democratic presidential debate?

We have expert analysis from the best political team on television, including CNN's Campbell Brown. She's about to make her debut with us right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And millions of people are believed to be in peril as a storm with 150 mile an hour winds makes landfall.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Carol, what's going on?

COSTELLO: Thanks, Wolf.

Health officials are concerned about a mutated version of a common cold virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's caused 10 deaths in the past 18 months and it's caused at least 140 illnesses in New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington State. Now, the earliest case of the mutated virus was found in an infant girl in New York City who died last year.

A convicted child killer will not be executed in Florida tonight, as scheduled. This afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court halted the execution of Mark dean Schwab four hours before he was set to die. The Supreme Court's move today was widely expected and it considers the appeals of two Kentucky inmates. They argue that the toxic three drug combination used for a lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment.

From the White House to a weekly magazine -- Karl Rove will become a contributor to "Newsweek". "Newsweek" says the former White House deputy chief of staff will occasionally write opinion pieces for the magazine and its Web site. "Newsweek's" editor says, "Whether one agrees or disagrees with Karl, there is no arguing that he has been a critical player in the political world." And in small business news, the Small Business Administration is in the hot seat. A Senate panel grilled the agency about how it measures success. The SBA tracks how many loans it guarantees in any given year, but it gathers little information about the performance of small businesses that have received those loans in the past. Senators John Kerry and Olympia Snowe have introduced a bill that would force the agency to improve its data collection.

That's a look at the headlines right now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Carol, thank you.

The Democrats are getting ready here in Las Vegas to go head-to- head tonight. It's also the debut, by the way, of our newest CNN anchor, Campbell Brown.

Will the gloves actually come off tonight?


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: And I think this has been the most hyped fight since Rocky fought Apollo Creed.


BLITZER: Hillary Clinton was targeted at the last Democratic presidential debate.

Can she turn the tables tonight?

We'll find out.

Plus, a massive cyclone -- hundreds of thousands of people are evacuated. We'll have details.

We're live from Las Vegas and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


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

Happening now, a massive storm is battering low lying coastal areas of India and Bangladesh. The category four tropical cyclone -- what we would call a hurricane -- slammed into shore just a few hours ago, with 150 mile per hour sustained winds. Emergency officials say more than half a million people have been evacuated and millions more could be at risk right now.

Unemployment is rising faster than expected. Labor Department data shows the number of applications for jobless benefits jumped by 20,000 last week. That's double what economists forecast.

And a federal appeals court rules that fuel economy standards for many SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks are inadequate. The judge found that regulators ignored the effects of carbon dioxide emissions when developing new standards and told them to start over from scratch. I'm Wolf Blitzer.


High stakes in tonight's democratic presidential debate set to begin here in Las Vegas. Less than 2 1/2 hours from now. Will we see a repeat of the last debate when the front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton came under attack by her rivals? Listen to this.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, I think that some of this stuff gets over hyped. I think this has been the most hyped fight since Rocky fought Apollo Creed. Although, the amazing thing is I'm rocky in this situation.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Will she be the person that brings about the change in this country? You know, I believe in Santa Claus many I believe in the Tooth Fairy. But I don't think that's going to happen. I really don't.

SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Fair or not fair the fact of the matter is my colleague from New York, Senator Clinton, 50 percent of the American public will say they are not going to vote for her.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I stood against George Bush and his failed policies. They want to continue the war in Iraq. I want to end it. The republicans are waving their sabers and talking about going after Iran. I want to prevent a rush to war.

EDWARDS: Unless I missed something, Senator Clinton said two different things in the course of two minutes.

CLINTON: You know, Tim, this is where everybody plays got you.


BLITZER: Let's get analysis of what we can expect tonight. Joining us here at the Cox Pavilion at UNLV, three of the best in the business. Suzanne Malveaux our White House correspondent, Campbell Brown, our newest anchor. Welcome to CNN.


BLITZER: This is the first time you are on CNN right now, right?

BROWN: It is. There is no one I would rather debut with than you, Wolf

BLITZER: Thank you very much. We welcome Campbell. She's going to have a great show starting in February. Right. You've got some other pressing business ahead of you before then.

BROWN: Yes, a little more pressing. BLITZER: We've noticed that. John Roberts is here. The anchor of CNN's -- co-anchor of CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING." Let's starts with you, John. What do we expect will happen tonight when I guess the other candidates, I assume they will try to target Hillary Clinton once again.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: I think you're going to see Hillary Clinton try to rock that soles of your feet. She was knocked back onto her heels in Philadelphia a couple of weeks ago. She has taken a couple of days from campaigning off. Her campaign admits that she wasn't prepared for that debate and the onslaught she received. She has been prepping for this debate and will come in not with a head full of -- head of steam. She's going to come in with a head full of answers and ways to answer the questions that we ask them tonight. But I think you are going to see, particularly John Edwards, still trying to go at her. You know it is not really in Barack Obama's nature to go on the attack. I think if he doesn't it is a mistake. Many observers believe that this is the first time in this campaign that Hillary Clinton has shown herself to be vulnerable.

BLITZER: She has a difficult strategy she has to deal with because she's worried obviously about getting, Campbell, the democratic presidential nomination but then she's got to look long term, if she gets it, how she can appeal to a lot of other potential voters out there.

BROWN: Yes. Absolutely. It has been a little bit of a dangerous strategy being sort of the candidate of inevitability. What happened after the last debate when we saw the other ones really go after her more aggressively than they have ever before, particularly Barack Obama who I think over the last few weeks have proven himself to be a much aggressive or better political athlete than he has over the last ten months. But we saw in her chinks in the armor for the first time. And when you see that, the national media picks up on the story line of you know is she more vulnerable, is she more fragile than maybe polls would show her to be. So I think strategy going into tonight is to convey what the other candidates were targeting her for which is parsing, in their words, or waffling on certain issues. She has to convey this sort of you know principled certainty, I think, more than anything else. That's what her campaign has been talking about prepping her for.

ROBERTS: This idea of leadership I think will be a big theme with her tonight.

BLITZER: I know in the first hour you, John, and Campbell, you will be asking the questions together with me. In the second hour, Suzanne, you're going to be out there in the audience with undecided democrats, likely caucus goers here in Nevada. And I guess a lot of people are asking how did you select? How did we pick the undecided voters who are going to stand up, look these seven democratic presidential candidates in the eye and ask them some questions on their minds?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Sure. It is going to be a really exciting group. It is a very diverse group. What we did, they are a team of producers who reached out to civic groups, religious groups, educational groups and asked them do you have questions for these candidates, either a local issue or a national issue, something that is personally important to you. So we have about 100 folks who are out here. We'll try to get to as many as possible. Some of the ground rules undecided voters; they can be affiliated with any particular candidate or be participating in any kind of campaign, registered democrats as well as independents, who really want to put the questions to these candidates. I mean, this is really a once in a life shot for these folks. We are -- some of them are similar. We are hearing a lot from union members. Obviously.

BLITZER: Big issue in this one.

MALVEAUX: Big. Obviously Latino community, a quarter percent of the state of Nevada; a very big issue, immigration. Then also, foreign policy. We have a couple of people who say that their sons and daughters are in Iraq and are fighting. That's a very deep concern for a lot of folks.

BLITZER: The first part of the debate, the first hour or so, the candidates will be standing behind these podiums and the second hour, they will have these chairs. They are going to be able to sit and talk directly though these undecided voters. I know John, you have been speaking to a lot of the advisors. What other concerns, if you go through the pitfalls, potential pitfalls tonight, what are they worried about?

ROBERTS: Well, you know Hillary Clinton has been -- her campaign in the last couple of weeks, since Philadelphia, has been engaging in this theme of it is a boys club out there. They are ganging up on her. Some people have accused her of playing the gender card. I think they have to be careful tonight, how hard they get her. They don't want to look like they are piling on. She has to come back and really articulate this idea, as I said, a second ago, of leadership. She has to make herself -- she may not be able to fly above it all as she tried to do in previous debates in earlier than Philadelphia but she certainly has to try to articulate a sense of command and leadership here tonight.

BLITZER: She has to show, Campbell, that she can give a yes or no answer without sort of hedging and hedging her bet.

BROWN: And I might disagree with John a little bit about the piling on point. I mean, I think John Edwards, frankly, who has been the most aggressive sort of pit bull in these previous debates, that's really the only shot he has. I mean, there's not a real constituency for John Edwards to be Mr. nice guy. If you want Mr. nice guy on your candidate, you are probably going with Barack Obama.

ROBERTS: If he tries to pile on and defends quite well, that's only going to strengthen her.

BROWN: But his -- his constituency in this campaign is the angry far left, anti-war vote. If he -- he can't afford to lose those people. And look, they made progress by going after her in the last campaign according to polls. I don't expect them to let up at all. MALVEAUX: And Obama's people are still after him to push harder and keep pushing harder.

BLITZER: But as John points out that sort of goes against his nature. I get the sense he does not like doing that. He is the politics of hope. He is Mr. nice guy and he's concerned that if you go too far in one direction, it could backfire.

MALVEAUX: In some ways he's kind of boxed in at this point because people want him to be more aggressive but he ran and is running on that kind of politics.

BLITZER: What about the second tier of candidates. There are seven of them going to be up here, seven candidates all together. What do they have to do, the ones that aren't in the top tier, the Bidens and the Richardsons and the Dodds, the Kucinichs?

BROWN: Well, I know -- by no means I think that they are not relevant to the discussion we are having. It was Dodd in the last debate who really brought Hillary Clinton out on the driver's license issue. I also think you have to acknowledge this incredible amount of experience that is going to be on the stage tonight. Hillary Clinton often talks about how she's the most experienced or the best experienced candidate is I think the word she uses in this campaign. But she has nothing on Senator Biden or Senator Dodd or Richardson just in terms of the breadth and depth of experience they have. So if they can capitalize on that in some way, you know, I wouldn't say that, you know, they are not relevant and that they don't have the potential to make headway.

BLITZER: Campbell makes a good point, John. Hillary Clinton, her second term as a senator from New York State. But Dodd and Biden, for example, they have been in the Senate, what, for forever.

ROBERTS: Remember what Mitt Romney said on the campaign trail at a debate not too along ago, he said she has not even run a corner store. What experience does she really have? It would be interesting to see prior to her time in the Senate just, you know, exactly how much experience -- how much experience does a first lady get in terms of the really, really, really big issues? Obviously you're an adviser to the president -- to your husband, your spouse. But how much experience do you really get as first lady?

BROWN: And beyond health care, what we know she did on health care, she has not really articulated what her policy role was as first lady if there was one beyond being an adviser to her husband.

BLITZER: We will see if she does that tonight. All right. Guys, stand by. We have more to discuss. Don't go anyhere. None of us can go anywhere. We are stuck here at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, UNLV. It's a great university. It is a great campus. We are thrilled to be here.

When we come back, we are going to add some experience to our panel of experts. David Gergen who advised democratic and republican presidents, he is standing by to join us as well. And we also have new poll numbers about the electability of Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, and others. Lots more coming up from UNLV and the site of the democratic presidential debate. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Welcome back. We are here on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the Cox Pavilion, the site of the democratic presidential debate that's about to begin a little bit more than two hours from now.

Let's go to David Gergen. He's a wise man. He's advised several presidents, democrats and republicans. Give some advice, David, to the candidates, the democratic presidential candidates tonight, specifically, Hillary Clinton. She is in an awkward position given the last debate. What's she need to do?

DAVID GERGEN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: She's already done two things that are very important, Wolf, in the warm up. One as John Roberts just said, she's getting some rest for this debate. She didn't do that last time. It really hurt her.

Secondly, she got -- in her campaign pressured Eliot Spitzer to drop that very controversial position with regard to licensing of immigrants in New York, giving driver's licenses. I think getting that off the table allows her to put that issue behind her and move back to the issues she likes. That was very important. So what she now needs to do is pivot off these last two really rough weeks for her, the worst weeks of her campaign and return to that sort of commanding hype that she showed earlier in the campaign, being in command of her facts and very relaxed, very straightforward as you said. More yes and no. One thing also I think she needs to add to her repertoire tonight and that is she has to get in a couple of sharp jabs back. She can't sit there and be defensive. Go up on her toes as Campbell Brown said and come out swinging. Not very often.

BLITZER: How much of a danger -- how much danger do the other candidates like Obama and Edwards, for example, how much danger do they have if they go too hard in terms of hammering away at her?

GERGEN: Campbell Brown was right in saying that John Edwards should keep on the attack. His only hope is that he and Obama can head off Hillary in Iowa and then open this thing up. So that -- then he might be able to grab it. So he needs to stay on the attack. He does nothing to lose with that. I think the real pressure here is on Barack Obama. You know, one of reasons this debate has become so exciting and is not only that she stumbled but that he came on fire and in -- in that Des Moines public appearance here, that speech. He has to bring that same passion to the debate. He has been unable to show that. He has been so laid back in the debates that he does not look like he wants it. It does not look like he's hungry. Tonight he has to show passion without being too heavy. Use the stiletto, not the sledgehammer that Edwards frequently uses.

BLITZER: By all accounts, he did deliver a great speech Saturday night in Iowa. But, you know, I guess one of exciting things about tonight is that it is very unpredictable, Suzanne. We don't know how the candidates, their latest strategy, what they will do, if they are going to come out and really go after each other or try to step back.

MALVEAUX: And I actually disagree a little bit with David because I do think that there's still a little bit more steam here left with this illegal immigrants licensing issue because, obviously, Senator Clinton came out and she said as president that she would not support it and also said she's glad that Spitzer withdrew that proposal. I think that leaves room still for Senator Edwards to go and say look, perhaps this is doublespeak. Why didn't you give a clear answer the last time? Why are you laying it out for us now?

BLITZER: Campbell?

BROWN: I agree with Suzanne. It is not just about that particular issue. It is about what she has tried to do which is to not define herself too narrowly because she's running a different kind of campaign than the others are. She's running a general election campaign. The others are in a primary campaign.

BLITZER: I mean, unpredictability. Talk about that, John, before I let David wrap this up.

ROBERTS: The unpredictability is that she's got to make sure that she does not get trapped the way she did two weeks ago because if she does, then she shows, she confirms that she's vulnerable and perhaps this campaign machine that we have seen out there for the past year is not the be all and end all, that they can make mistakes. She has to make sure she does not make a mistake.

BLITZER: The democrats are really hungry to recapture the White House, David, as you know, and they want someone to represent them who is a fighter. Who cannot only take the heat from fellow democrats because that's going to be child's play compared to what the republicans, whoever the republican nominee is going to, compared to that, the democrats really want somebody who is going to be tough. Talk little bit about the strategy that they need to show their base they are capable of beating a republican for the White House.

GERGEN: Well, that's why I think she has to come back with a couple of jabs tonight. Not make it frequent but enough so that it shows she's a fighter, that she can take on Rudy with no sweat, that she can take on whoever Romney or whoever it is going to be. I think they want to see that. She can't be totally above the fray. She can't sort of you know, I'm enjoying myself out here and I'm going to win. She's no longer inevitable and has to show that as a group. You know, I think they can't show that in this debate tonight. They can't show the country that the democrats are ready to take charge. That's asking too much of a debate.

But I want to come back to this driver's license thing. The driver's license issue clearly caused Mrs. Clinton and it's clearly will be on the agenda tonight. Bill Burton, who is the spokesman for Obama, got in the best line of the week when he said yesterday it took two weeks and six positions to answer one question about immigration for the campaign. No wonder they planted questions in Iowa. I mean he conjoined everything that's been going wrong with the Clinton campaign. The importance of what she got done this week with Spitzer was they are going to take one more bad night on this tonight. But then it is going to be an old issue. It is not going -- it is not going to have life. It does not have legs. They got it off the table. They can -- tonight she has to pivot and get back to focus on other issues that are more central to her campaign. Take her hits on this, go after them. Edwards has not been clear on it.

BLITZER: She will have an opportunity; all the candidates are going to have an opportunity. We're only a little more than two hours away from the start of this debate here at UNLV. David Gergen, thanks very much. Thanks to the best political team on television. You guys are going to be my partners throughout this night. Don't go anywhere. We have a lot of good questions to ask these candidates.

Also, Jack Cafferty is standing by. And Lou Dobbs and more of the best political team on television. Lots more coverage coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: We are here on the Cox Pavilion of the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Only a little bit more than two hours from the democratic presidential debate. It is getting exciting, the room beginning to slowly fill up. It's going to be full. A couple thousand people will be here. Let's go to Jack Cafferty in the meantime for the Cafferty File. Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's going to be good stuff. I'm looking forward to it. Thanks Wolf. The question tonight is what does it say about us, this country, that more than 35 million Americans went hungry last year?

Terry writes from Arkansas, "As a country, our priorities are turned upside down and sideways. We have plenty of money to stick our noses into other country's business but we can't feed our own citizens. What's the Native American saying? The chief does not sleep until there's meat in the pots of the widows and orphans. I think our president should be more concerned about putting meat in the pots of the widows and orphans and less concerned about filling the coffers of his cronies."

Charles in Michigan, "It says that is what we can expect when we have 20 million illegal aliens living five families to a house and working at below minimum wage."

Doug in Alabama, "Regarding hunger in this country, it shows the blatant hypocrisy of compassionate conservatives who call themselves Christians!"

Roger in Indiana, "What do I say about 35 million people in America going hungry last year? We could cut that number by a third just by dumping the illegal poor back in their own countries, and probably cut it another third by the resulting rise in wages."

Carl in San Francisco says, "We have let political Christians who run this country and espouse a close relationship to God to continuously prove what real hypocrites they are at the expense of the needy. They worship only at the corporate church of the green back dollar bill whose god knows nothing about love thy neighbor or feed the poor."

Earl in New York writes, "Come on, Jack. Be a good loyal American. Those 35 million Americans are just collateral damage from the president's war in Iraq. Once democracy has been secured there, it will be a bountiful plenty for us all." Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Jack, thanks very much. You are going to be joining us for our roundtable in our next hour. Stand by for that.

Each year 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide are emitted from power plants around the world. Where is it all coming from? A new website has the answers. Let's bring back our internet reporter Abbi Tatton. Abbi, what does this website show?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this site's going to show you which facilities are the most green, which are pumping out carbon dioxide and which of them are located down the street from you. This is It's mapping information from 50,000 power plants worldwide. In the U.S., the three that emit the most carbon dioxide are clustered in Georgia and Alabama. One in Juliet, Georgia, pumping out over 25 million tons per year. This website is global. While it shows you that the U.S. pumps out the most carbon dioxide, in terms of single emitters you will find those facilities elsewhere, China, South Africa, and India. The database was just launched by the Center for Global Development, a nonprofit that focuses on how policy in richer nations are affecting the developing world. Wolf?

BLITZER: Abbi, thank you. Lou Dobbs is standing by to weigh in on tonight's democratic presidential debate. He's here with us in the Cox Pavilion. His own show comes up in an hour.

Plus, Howard Dean, he's also standing by to join us live. We were only a little more than two hours away. We are live from Las Vegas. And you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: We're just more than two hours away from the start of the democratic presidential debate. We're only a little bit more than one hour away from the start of "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." Lou is here in Las Vegas getting ready for his show. It's exciting to be here.


BLITZER: This is history.

DOBBS: Absolutely and it's going to be a great evening. I'm looking forward to it. Senator Clinton is in the cross hairs. Senator Obama, you've got a number of candidates who are going to have to break out; among them Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, if they're going to continue, I think. It's going to be interesting. We actually might hear some real honest, straightforward discussion of their position on issues because we've got a great moderator. BLITZER: I think they've learned that that's important, to give the answers, don't dodge the questions, don't try to be all things to all people, answer it straightforward the way Lou Dobbs would answer it.

DOBBS: You know I don't think many of them understand that that's exactly what the American people. I'm traveling all over the country. If one of these candidates, democrat or republican, but let's talk about the democrats, would speak honestly, straightforwardly, with the people in view and the national values in view instead of play games, as is their wont, their chances would escalate significant opinion. I have to tell you, Wolf, I'm not wildly optimistic we're going to see that happen tonight, even with your great stewardship and guidance.

BLITZER: We've got a team. We've got an excellent team ...

DOBBS: A great team. Don't manage expectations. I'm putting it on you.