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John Kerry Endorses Barack Obama; Interview With New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson

Aired January 10, 2008 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Another big-name Democrat chooses sides in the presidential race. But will John Kerry's endorsement get Barack Obama anywhere?
Also this hour, John McCain fights to the break his Carolina curse. How will the Republican contest turn when the voting goes south?

Plus, to Florida and beyond -- Rudy Giuliani is likening the White House race to the Super Bowl, but will his usual game plan work? It's unusual, I must say.

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

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

John Kerry says he's embracing Barack Obama's campaign because it can unite America. But Kerry's endorsement today drives home some old divisions within the Democratic Party and that includes the 2000 presidential nominee's own rocky relationship with his ex-running mate.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is standing by. Dana Bash is standing by. They're both in South Carolina.

Let's go to Suzanne first with the latest on this endorsement.

Suzanne, how significant is it?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is significant. Campaigns are saying, look, it is important to win over the young voters , but also to tap into the Democratic establishment, and you don't get any more establishment than Senator John Kerry.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Barack Obama can be, will be, and should be the next president of the United States.


MALVEAUX (voice over): OK, so maybe he's so 2004. But the nod from the last Democratic presidential candidate, Senator John Kerry, is big. With at least three million e-mail addresses at his disposal to Democratic supporters, what's a little gray hair next to the guy with the fresh face?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We invest in you. You invest in America.

MALVEAUX: Kerry's dis to his former running mate, John Edwards, who's also running for the Democratic nomination, didn't come as a complete surprise. Edwards had publicly criticized Kerry after their campaign loss for not fighting back hard enough against the Republican attacks. Without mentioning Edwards by name, Kerry tried to soften the blow.

KERRY: There are other candidates in this race with whom I have worked, but I believe that more than anyone else, Barack Obama can help our country turn the page and get America moving by uniting and ending the division that we have faced.


MALVEAUX: Edwards' campaign responded graciously, saying, "Our country and our party are stronger because of John's service, and I respect his decision."

OBAMA: How you doing?

MALVEAUX: Kerry first met Barack Obama in Illinois when Obama was running for the Senate in 2004.

OBAMA: That my story is part of the larger American story.

MALVEAUX: Kerry later invited Obama to speak at the Democratic National Convention and takes credit for introducing the young senator to the rest of the country.

Aides say Obama speaks to Kerry often and asked for his endorsement. Republicans are already seizing on that endorsement as an opportunity to knock down the potential Democratic nominee, calling Kerry and Obama liberal soul mates.


MALVEAUX: And, Wolf, really tapping into those to have good will within the party, the ability to raise money as well as attract attention and fund-raise, obviously all those things very important. That is what they're trying to do. They believe that John Kerry brings that to the Obama camp.

And this is important for them because they believe that this is a race that perhaps could go beyond that Super Tuesday, that February 5 date -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne's in Charleston, South Carolina. Thanks, Suzanne, very much.

South Carolina the backdrop for our next big Democratic presidential debate. CNN and the Congressional Black Caucus are sponsoring the forum on Monday, January 21, five days before South Carolina's Democrats vote in their primary. I will be moderating that debate. Suzanne Malveaux and Joe Johns will be joining me in the questioning.

Our debate coverage with the best political team on television begins at 8:00 p.m. Eastern January 21.

South Carolina is also the state John McCain hopes to win with his newfound reversal of fortune. He's stumping there today, ahead of the South Carolina's Republican primary on January 19.

CNN's Dana Bash is in Myrtle Beach right now, watching this part of the story.

There is a little painful history for John McCain, Dana, in South Carolina.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, there's no question there is, Wolf. He says he's not taking a trip down memory lane here, but there really is no escaping the fact that it is here in South Carolina that effectively ended his bid for president in the year 2000.

Now, he does point out that a lot of things have changed since then, particularly the fact that he is now a veteran senator with a military record who is trying to run for president in a post-9/11 world.


BASH (voice over): One year to the day President Bush adopted John McCain's call for an Iraq troop surge, a chance to say I told you so.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The strategy is succeeding, my friends. They are safer neighborhoods. We are seeing the Iraqi military taking over more and more of the responsibilities.

BASH: In veteran-rich South Carolina, McCain's war hero status and national security credentials are a huge plus. His support for giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, a problem.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have every bit of confidence for you as far as the military is concerned. I would love to hear you speak on immigration.

MCCAIN: I want to look you in the eye and tell you I know what the message is. The message is we must secure our borders. I will secure our borders. I will secure our borders.


BASH: South Carolina is where superstitious McCain is trying to break a curse. Eight years ago, he came in riding momentum of his first New Hampshire win, only to suffer a brutal defeat to George W. Bush, fatally wounding his presidential bid. He blamed dirty tricks, lashed out at evangelical leaders who opposed him. MCCAIN: The agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.

BASH: Since, McCain has since tried to mend fences, even with the late Jerry Falwell. Here he insists he is focused on now, not then.

MCCAIN: South Carolinians make up their own minds on the merit of the candidates, not particularly on what happened before.

BASH: This time is different. No Bush juggernaut, and South Carolina is changing. Booming sunbelt growth means a larger pool of moderate non-evangelical Republicans than eight years ago.


BASH: Now, McCain himself brought up what he thinks is a big difference between now and then, and that is that back in 2000, much of South Carolina's Republican establishment backed George Bush. Many of those establishment figures are behind John McCain.

But the question, Wolf is, whether or not that establishment can fight off his chief rival here now. And that is Mike Huckabee. He has enormous grassroots support, especially among evangelicals -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Dana Bash in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, thanks very much.

We are going to have a lot more on the race for the White House in just a moment.

But let's go to the Middle East right now and President Bush's new effort to try to jump-start the peace process. After talks with Palestinian leaders today, the president is predicting a peace treaty will be signed by the time he leaves office.

Our White House correspondent, Ed Henry, is traveling with the president -- Ed.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the significance is that the president is pushing a peace deal harder than ever before. But the question remains, can he deliver on it?


HENRY (voice over): After two days of intense meetings with Palestinian and Israeli leaders, President Bush, for the first time, declared he believes a Mideast peace deal will be signed before he leaves office.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A peace agreement should happen and can happen by the end of this year. I know each leader shares that important goal, and I am committed to doing all I can to achieve it.

HENRY: Mr. Bush may return to the region several times this year, a significant personal commitment from a president who had not been as hands-on. And there's a new forcefulness. The president using the loaded term occupation .

BUSH: There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. The agreement must establish that Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people.

HENRY: That would be a major concession from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is being nudged, too.

BUSH: On the Israeli side, that includes ending settlement expansion and removing unauthorized outposts. On the Palestinian side, that includes confronting terrorists and dismantling terrorist infrastructure.

HENRY: But he's pointedly leaving those thorny details up to the two parties.

BUSH: Now is the time to make difficult choices.

HENRY: The president chose to step up his efforts on the same day as his first-ever tour of the Palestinian territories, including Jesus' birthplace of Bethlehem.

BUSH: It's been a moving moment for me and the delegation to be here.

HENRY: Under extreme tight security, Mr. Bush also met Abbas at the presidential compound in Ramallah, ironically speaking beneath a portrait of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

(on camera): It was Mr. Bush's disgust for Arafat that kept him from getting actively involved in the process. Now Arafat is gone, and the president has motivation to get more aggressive. He noted he's on a timetable, only 12 more months in office -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Ed Henry in Jerusalem for us, thanks very much.

Let's go back to Jack.

He's got "The Cafferty File" in New York -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, no testimony without immunity. That's the word again. That's the word to Congress from the former CIA official who's said to have ordered the destruction of tapes showing controversial interrogations of terror suspects.

Jose Rodriguez was asked to testify before the House Intelligence Committee next week, but his lawyer wants to play "Let's Make a Deal" first. Don't they all?

Several high-ranking officials inside the Bush administration, including the president's counsel, Harriet Miers, said those tapes should not be destroyed. They were anyway. They reportedly showed two key al Qaeda terror suspects being subjected to controversial techniques, including waterboarding, which is considered torture by many.

Another CIA official, John Rizzo, who opposed the destruction of those tapes, has agreed to testify freely before the committee, no conditions, no restrictions. The CIA, both houses of Congress and the Justice Department are doing their own investigations. Wonder how much that is costing?

Meanwhile, in a ruling yesterday, a U.S. district judge put off an inquiry into allegations that the Bush administration defied his order to preserve evidence, which may have included those tapes.

So, here's the question: A former CIA official at the center of the controversy over the destroyed interrogation tapes wants immunity before testifying. Should he get it?

Go to, where you can post a comment on my new blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.

He has a very impressive resume, but he won't be adding the title president of the United States. After a pair of fourth-place finishes, a Democratic candidate calls it quits.

Rudy Giuliani is asking Florida to turn down the noise on the presidential campaign that is as hyped as the Super Bowl. But is Giuliani's game plan too risky? The best political team on television standing by to take a look.

And passengers talk about a terrifying experience.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lady in front of me bounced off the roof a couple times, hit the floor, and banged her hand up pretty bad.


BLITZER: We are going to tell you about their frightening flight and emergency landing.

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


BLITZER: The presidential race sees another casualty. Today, the Democrat Bill Richardson ended his bid. He couldn't grab a top spot in the first two contests, placing fourth in Iowa and New Hampshire. I spoke with Governor Bill Richardson just a short while ago about his decision.


BLITZER: So what do you make of this -- this development, experience? Because, arguably, you had more experience than almost anyone running for president; yet, it didn't seem to help.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: And, by the way, I wasn't even in Washington. I was a governor in a state. And we have elected seven out of the last eight presidents have been governors.

You know, Wolf, the electorate wanted something fresh, exciting, change, you know, because they're so frustrated with the dysfunctional relationship between the president and Congress. So, everybody that had a little speckle of respectable experience was kind of viewed warily.

Now, you know, I'm not complaining. What I believe I brought to this race is, I moved the Democratic candidates to say that we must end the war. I moved them to have the strongest clean energy positions. I moved them to reform educational policy by getting rid of No Child Left Behind, but especially the war.

I mean, that's my gratification. But the reality is, I didn't do well in the early states, and I needed that boost to keep my fund- raising going, so I would go into the West, where I'm strongest.

BLITZER: Well...

RICHARDSON: But, you know, I don't want to hang around without having a realistic chance.

BLITZER: That's fair enough.

Let's look ahead a little bit, Governor. You served as the secretary of energy during the Clinton administration, U.N. ambassador during the Clinton administration. I take it, it didn't take very long for your former boss, Bill Clinton, to call you and discuss what's next. Is that right?

RICHARDSON: Well, yes, he called me quite a bit in the last couple of days. We talked. I talked to Senator Clinton. So did Senator Obama and Edwards called. I even had a nice call from Mike Huckabee, who is an old pal of mine.

Yes, obviously. But I have decided, Wolf, I'm not going to endorse anyone for now. I'm going to let the primaries take their shape. I'm going to concentrate on my international missions, on being a good governor in New Mexico, riding my horse, spending time with my family, with Barbara, my wife.

You know, I'm not devastated.

BLITZER: No. RICHARDSON: I actually feel I -- I'm proud. I did all I could.

BLITZER: Well, what did the former president actually say to you? Did he appeal to you to endorse his wife?


You know, we're old friends. We didn't discuss that. And I don't want to get into private conversations, but we reminisced. We talked about Iowa. We talked about New Hampshire. We talked about the days when we worked together on foreign policy and energy.

It was a reconnecting, because, you know, the reality is, when you compete with each other, there's a little tension. And there have been some reports that my campaign had helped support Senator Obama's in Iowa, which was totally untrue. And the call was kind of to clear the air. And we did that. I had a very gracious call from -- message Senator Obama and Edwards, and -- as I said. Senator Kennedy called me.

BLITZER: They all want your support, and I don't blame them.

You know, you're Latino. You got a Hispanic heritage. There are a lot of Latino votes out there. What do you think? Where is this community, among Democrats, likely to wind up in the primary process?

RICHARDSON: Well, right now, I would say that Senator Clinton has the edge.

But Senator Obama has been able, I believe, to marshal quite a bit of support from all minorities. I noticed that everywhere, especially younger minorities. I think it's going to be split pretty event. I wouldn't discount Senator Edwards either, just in the whole contest.

You know, this guy has amazing resilience. There were times when it looked like he was down, but the guy keeps coming back. So, I think this is going to be a third-person -- a three-person race, with obviously the two at the top.

And, here in the West, I just hope that the West really turns out in the caucus in Nevada, in other states, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, California, February 5. You know, the West, for too often, has been ignored. It's kind of been a last-minute thought.

And now we're players. So, I'm happy with that. But I didn't want to go into the West, like Nevada, without resources, because I needed to do well. And I needed those resources. And we didn't have them.


BLITZER: Governor Bill Richardson speaking with me just a little while ago.

We're getting new video, by the way. It's just coming in, as a tornado moves through Washington State. Stand by for details. That's coming up.

And it's an air traveler's nightmare: plane turbulence so violent that screaming passengers are hurled around the cabin. Some are hospitalized with spine, back and neck injuries. We're going to tell you exactly what happened.

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



BLITZER: Hillary Clinton is trying to take something away from Barack Obama. We are going to tell you what she's going after and how she's doing it online.

Plus, while Rudy Giuliani focuses in on later contests, his rivals are winning delegates and stealing his thunder -- the best political team on television considering whether Giuliani's plan might backfire.

And lip service on the campaign trail -- when a kiss isn't just a kiss.

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


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

Happening now: For the candidates, Iowa and New Hampshire are now just memories. But one Republican was looking ahead all along. Can Rudy Giuliani count his risky -- on his risky game plan?

Barack Obama continues to bounce back from his second-place finish in New Hampshire. His latest boost, an endorsement from the Democrats' 2004 presidential nominee. How much, though, can John Kerry really help?

All that, plus the best political team on television.

And Hillary Clinton courting a younger crowd using a younger Clinton to help -- we will explain in "The Situation Online."

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

Moments ago, you heard from Bill Richardson, who ended his presidential bid today. He and two other Democrats who dropped out before him had some of the longest resumes of all the candidates.

CNN's Dan Lothian is joining us now from Columbia, South Carolina. He's watching this story.

You're looking into, Dan, how much experience really matters.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: That's right, Wolf. You know, the presidential hopefuls do spend millions of dollars to get their resumes out there in front of the American voters. But, as we found out, experience doesn't always matter.


RICHARDSON: How are you, sir? I'm Bill Richardson. Nice to see you.

LOTHIAN (voice over): If experience were the only qualification, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson would be a shoo-in for president. But the former congressman, ambassador and Cabinet member couldn't get any traction.

RICHARDSON: It is with great pride, understanding and acceptance that I am ending my campaign for president of the United States.

LOTHIAN: In his final debate, Richardson seemed frustrated by the notion that experience was a liability.

RICHARDSON: Look, what we need is change. There's no question. But, you know, whatever happened to experience? Is experience kind of a leper?

LOTHIAN: After all, two other veteran politicians, longtime Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, had already dropped out.

They all have the kind of experience that some say still matters.

DENNIS BUTT, RESIDENT OF SOUTH CAROLINA: I want somebody that knows what they're doing.

CHARLES BIERBAUER, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA: We want people who understand what's going on, but those aren't always the people that excite us.

LOTHIAN: Charles Bierbauer, at the University of South Carolina, says many voters are looking for much more.

BIERBAUER: They want people who they are comfortable with, they are confident with, and they know have good advice coming to them.

LOTHIAN: Jason Ertter says, frustration with Washington has given experience a bad name.

JASON ERTTER, RESIDENT OF SOUTH CAROLINA: So, they don't want somebody who has been there for decades or, you know, 20, 25 years. They want somebody that is new.

LOTHIAN: Senator Barack Obama got attention with his message of change. And that theme is now being echoed by Senator Hillary Clinton, who had built her campaign on experience.

BIERBAUER: Change, change, change, you hear it from every candidate now, even those who might normally be touting their experience. LOTHIAN: Voters say the message and issues are critical, but that's not all.

ILSY VENTURA, SOUTH CAROLINA RESIDENT: I think it's, you know, the whole package. You know, you can have lots of experience, but if you don't have the personality then, you know, it's not going to get voters. It's not going to get people on your side.


BLITZER: Dan Lothian reporting for from us South Carolina.

So how much does experience really matter?

Let's talk about it with our senior political analyst,, Gloria, Borger,, Jack, Cafferty and chief national correspondent,, John, King. They are all part of the best political team on television.

What do you think?

You've got these three guys -- these three politicians,, Jack, -- Richardson, Dodd and Biden -- with almost 100 years of experience.

What good did it do them?

CAFFERTY: Well, obviously, they're not going to be president. Charles Bierbauer said something interesting in that piece. He said the American people want somebody they're comfortable with. Well, we elected somebody like that twice and now two-thirds of the country can't stand him.

BLITZER: Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I don't think that the voters were rejecting Hillary Clinton's experience at all. I think voters understand that experience is really relevant. What they don't want is divisiveness. And they associate divisiveness with Washington. And that was her problem. And so I think that's where the outsiders have an edge -- either not being from Washington or, like Barack Obama, not having been in Washington for a long time.

But I don't think the voters in this country -- you know, these are really tough times we're living in. They're not throwing out experience. They just want to be sure that you're not a polarizing candidate because they're very sick of that.

BLITZER: John, you've been in Iowa and New Hampshire. You're now in South Carolina. You were in Michigan yesterday.

What are you hearing on this issue from real voters?

JOHN KING, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what you hear from voters, Wolf, is experience based on what voters are looking for at any given moment. Remember, back in 1992, George H.W. Bush said Bill Clinton was the failed governor of a small state. Well, Bill Clinton had experience on the issues that mattered to voters that year. He had all these ideas how to fix the economy, all these ideas of how to get the government back on the side of middle class people, is the way he put it. And that is what voters wanted then.

What, John, McCain says now is with two wars going on in Afghanistan and Iraq, you need someone with national security experience.

So it depends on exactly what experience is needed for the most urgent concern of voters at the moment.

I think one of the most significant things about Governor Richardson getting out of the race now is that four of our last five presidents have been governors -- going back to Jimmy Carter. The Democrats are going to nominate a senator, it looks like, or a former senator, for president. Many think that leaves them at a competitive disadvantage.

BLITZER: You know...

CAFFERTY: Senators historically don't have a very good record of being elected president, do they, John?

KING: No, they don't, Jack.

BLITZER: You've got to go back to, John, F. Kennedy, a sitting senator elected president.

Jack, listen to what Karl Rove wrote in the op-ed page of "The Wall Street Journal" today, the president's former top political adviser: "Former President Bill Clinton hit a nerve by drawing attention to Mr. Obama's conflicting statements on Iraq. There's more -- and more powerful material available. Mr. Obama has failed to rise to leadership on a single major issue in the Senate."

What do you make of that?

CAFFERTY: Beware the wolf in Rove's clothing.


CAFFERTY: You know, all the Republican research leading up to this campaign suggested that the easiest candidate for the Republicans to defeat in November is Hillary Clinton.

So if you're Karl Rove, what do you do?

You try to tear down the guy who has the best chance of her not being the nominee -- and that's Barack Obama. Just a conspiracy theory I have.

BORGER: Well, I think Karl Rove sounds a lot like Bill Clinton in this. I mean this is exactly what the Clinton campaign is looking for. Bill Clinton has spoken about this, as Rove wrote. And I think as this campaign continues, you're going to see Hillary Clinton take a little page from the Walter Mondale question to Gary Hart -- where's the beef? She's going to try and do it without being negative and nasty, while at the same time she kind of mimics, John, McCain and goes out and chats with every voter she can. But she's going to start asking Barack Obama what his ideas are for fixing the problems in this country. And I think the Obama campaign is going to start putting some meat on those bones.


KING: Wolf, I think it would be an exaggeration to say Obama has had no impact. He was influential in that new lobbying law that was passed -- the restrictions on lawmakers, including on how lawmakers can't fly around in those private jets now. They have to reimburse the government the full cost of the jet -- not just a first class ticket. So he has had some influence. But he is a first term senator who has spent much of his first term running for president. And as you know full well, the Senate is a creature of seniority. To have significant influence, you have to be around a while.

So that will, of course, be used against him. Senator Clinton is using it against him now. The Republicans would use it against him if he was the nominee. And there is a down side to that. There's also an up side to that. As, Jack, just noted, look when Bob Dole ran for president. Look when, John, Kerry ran for president. When senators run for president, you can get tens of thousands of votes on these little motions in the middle of the night. Even a senator doesn't know what he's voting on. In a presidential campaign, that can be used against you.

CAFFERTY: The other up side to Obama's lack of experience, if you will, is that he has not been in Washington long enough to be contaminated by the system. And I think that's a great part of what the people who support him are seeing in his candidacy. He's a relative newcomer. He is a "breath of fresh air." He hasn't been compromised by every lobbyist and every K Street worm that, you know, knocks on doors for a living down there yet.

BLITZER: A quick question to all three of you. And just give me an off the cuff thought.

John, first to you.

A lot of people are saying to me, you know what -- Democrats, that is -- they would love to see an Obama/Clinton or a Clinton/Obama ticket.

Is that at all realistic?

KING: Absolutely, it's realistic. They will look at the political calculations.

Somebody will win and then that somebody who wins will look at the political calculation -- what do they need?

Is it a state they need?

They'd look for a governor maybe.

Is it increased turnout that they need?

If you're Hillary Clinton and you think you need more turnout, you would look hard at Barack Obama. They don't have a great relationship right now. There's a lot of tension there. All that gets thrown out when somebody is the nominee. They make a political calculation about who they need.

BLITZER: Gloria?

BORGER: I think it's more likely that Clinton could choose someone like Barack Obama than Barack Obama would pick someone like Hillary Clinton. I think if he were the nominee, he would be more likely to go to somebody like a Joe Biden, with a lot of foreign policy experience. But, you know, we have to see how this race shapes up, Wolf, because if it gets really nasty, you know, that may be impossible -- to unite them at end of it. I'm not so sure.


CAFFERTY: Given the current climate in this country, unless the economy either doesn't go into recession -- and a lot of people think we're already in recession -- or it comes out of it long before the election, if the two wars are still going on, if the hatred of the status quo is as intense as it is now, the nominee can put a chicken on the ticket with him. These people are not going to vote for a Republican.

BLITZER: Stand by, guys.


BLITZER: We've got a lot more to talk about. , Jack, just teed it off.

John Kerry snubs his former running mate,, John, Edwards. We're taking a look at that. He endorses Barack Obama instead. We'll look at what Obama stands to gain from that and lose.

And Rudy Giuliani -- why he says the White House race is like the Super Bowl.

But how will his unusual game plan play out?

Lots more with the best political team on television right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Let's go back to the best political team on television.

What do you make, Jack, of, John, Kerry endorsing Barack Obama today, even though he ran on the same ticket with, John, Edwards four years ago? CAFFERTY: I got a lot of e-mail about this earlier. And people kind of think it's a yawn, except that there is a database that the Obama campaign can put to good use -- assuming Kerry is willing to hand it over. He's got about three million names and addresses of, you know, campaign workers, contributors, voters, etc. that will be very helpful to the Obama campaign.

Beyond that, I don't know if it means a whole lot.

BLITZER: Gloria?

BORGER: Well, my question is why didn't he do it when it could have helped his candidate in the State of New Hampshire?

I mean Barack Obama might have been able to use, John, Kerry in that state and it happened after Obama lost. So it wasn't...

CAFFERTY: Remember, though, everybody thought he was going to win, including us.

BORGER: Yes, but you know what?

I still say why not do it before the state that really -- that really counted?

BLITZER: It could have had a much -- if he would have helped him -- I'm not sure he would have -- but it could have had a big impact.

BORGER: Yes. Right.

And, you know, my next question is who is Al Gore going to endorse and when?


CAFFERTY: Who cares?

BORGER: Well, I care.


BORGER: I care, Jack.

CAFFERTY: I think you might be the only one.

BORGER: I may be. But can -- I think, actually, it will probably be Barack Obama.

BLITZER: I don't know if all -- and these endorsements really have much of an impact. John, you know, Joe Lieberman -- he was the Democratic vice presidential nominee eight years ago. He's not even endorsing a Democrat this time. He's endorsing, John, McCain.

How much do these endorsements really matter?

KING: A single person's endorsement doesn't matter all that much. Oprah went around and didn't get Barack Obama New Hampshire. Anyway, we'll see how it does down the road.

Jack is dead right about the database. , Gloria, is right about the timing. Al Gore could help because of the resonance of the global warming issue with young people, Wolf.

But it's more the message involved. With Joe Lieberman, how that helps McCain -- the Democrat turned Independent endorsing a Republican -- is that, John, McCain, like Barack Obama, like Mike Huckabee, is scoring points with voters right now but he says -- because,, John, McCain says, sure, I'm a proud Republican, but I'm more about getting things done. I want to do the hard things as president. And if that means sitting down with Democrats, Independents and anybody else, I will do it.

And that is the message that is selling with voters right now. So in that way, an endorsement from somebody who is independent-minded, like Senator Lieberman, does help a little bit.

BLITZER: And we haven't heard a lot about Rudy Giuliani, Jack, lately. But he's got a brand new ad he's running now in Florida.

I want to play a little excerpt.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The media loves process. Talking heads love chatter. But Florida is a chance to turn down the noise and show the world that leadership is what really matters.


BLITZER: What do you think, Jack?

CAFFERTY: Well, the part of that commercial that we didn't hear was the announcer goes on to talk about an economy in trouble and the wars. And the thing that jumped out at me is Mr. Mayor, those are both happening under the leadership of your party in the White House -- the recession, the wars. I mean I wouldn't go around touting that stuff and drawing attention to it, because those are Republican issues and they're not going to -- they're not going to have an easy time running against that stuff this fall.

BORGER: You know, what jumped out at me is that when you're in trouble, you blame the press. It's always safe. It's a really good strategy.


BORGER: So just blame the press and the pundits and all the rest. There's plenty of blame to go around for us. And then -- then the voters will be with you action. And it's sort of a cheap shot that always works.

BLITZER: Is he going to get anything, John, in Michigan or South Carolina, Rudy Giuliani, or is there a -- is he simply waiting for Florida at the end of the month?

KING: Wolf, this is all process.

Shouldn't we be talking about the alternative minimum tax or something like that?


KING: Look, Rudy Giuliani has a very...


KING: You know, Rudy Giuliani has a very risky strategy. He's not playing in Michigan right now. He'll get some votes, like he did in New Hampshire, because he does have a small core of supporters everywhere you go in the country. He is banking on Florida. And he's banking on Florida because of the transplanted New Yorkers, because it's a big state, because he thinks whoever wins Florida has momentum going into Super Tuesday. He's also banking on Florida because he thinks the jumble in the Republican race will continue.

And we've all been saying all along, well, that's a foolish strategy. That's a risky strategy. I think after watching the Huckabee surprise, the McCain and the Clinton surprise in New Hampshire, maybe we should all say I don't know, we'll see what happens.

BORGER: I totally agree. I think this jumble, as, John, calls it, is really, really good for Rudy Giuliani, because the more Republicans can't decide who had he want to be their nominee, the more they're going to be looking for someone else. And he says, I'm tested, I'm ready, you know, I'm your man.

CAFFERTY: On the other hand, by the time Florida gets here, he's 0 for 6.


CAFFERTY: Six states will have weighed in in this process and he won't have finished as high as third in any of them.

BORGER: All true, all of the above true.

BLITZER: Somebody said he wants to be in the Super Bowl but he doesn't necessarily want to play the regular season.

CAFFERTY: He doesn't want to do those two a days.

BLITZER: Yes. He just doesn't want to do that.

John, you've studied this for a long time -- and I want all of you to weigh in. Somebody -- a lot of pundits or experts are suggesting you know what, even after Super Tuesday on February 5th, we might not know who the Republican nominee is going to be. This could stretch out all the way through the convention in St. Paul/Minneapolis at the end of the summer.

Is that realistic at all?

KING: It is our dream every cycle, Wolf, to have a brokered convention or at least a nominating ballot...


KING: ...that goes to the very end. It never...




KING: We're back to the alternative minimum tax.

No, it never happens, Wolf. But this is a wacky race and maybe it will happen this time. Generally, somebody gets momentum. And because have you so many states on February 5th, if there is one decisive winner of you know, half those states, that person will be the nominee. If it is fractured all over the place, sure, it could go on.

But no one is going to have the resources. There are going to be one or two people left with the resources -- even just barely enough resources to compete on February 5th. So every indicator is we will know on February 6th or have an 80 percent knowledge February 6th who the Republican nominee is -- and probably who the Democratic nominee is. But it has been a wild year, so I'm not going to make any bur -- any cement predictions.

BORGER: I'm going to -- I'm going to say that it's more likely that we won't know who the Democratic nominee is than the Republican nominee is, even though the Republican field is completely in flux. I think on the Democratic side, you've got top candidates with an awful lot of money. And I'm going to say -- maybe it won't go to the convention, which would also be my dream, John. But I think that it could be decided in Texas and Ohio, say, in March.

BLITZER: Guys, Jack, hold your fire, because we've got The Cafferty File coming up and we're out of time for this segment.

Gloria, John, thanks to both of you.

Jack is coming back.

We're barely into the new year and some White House hopefuls are already reporting massive fundraising. We're going to show you who's getting what.

Plus, we'll also show you how Hillary Clinton is trying to win over young voters from Barack Obama's camp.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: On our Political Ticker, several presidential candidates are boasting a surge in fundraising in these early days of 2008. Barack Obama's campaign says it raked in more than $8 million in the first eight days of this year. Hillary Clinton reportedly has raised $3 million this month. And Mitt Romney's campaign estimates raising $5 million yesterday alone, during a one day call-a-thon to donors. Lots of money.

Remember, for the latest political news any time, check out

You can check out my latest little blurb out there, as well, my blog, on Check it out.

Senator Barack Obama's victory in Iowa was aided by some young people. Since then, Senator Hillary Clinton has been pushing even harder to attract the youth vote. And she's using the Web to do so.

Let's go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.

She's watching the story for us -- how is she doing?

ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we saw the backdrop to these two speeches. Hillary Clinton post-Iowa and Hillary Clinton post-New Hampshire in front of a much younger crowd. And you see those young voters again in this new Web video just launched by the campaign, Ask Hillary.

It's heavy with Chelsea Clinton's footage. And in it, Senator Clinton is answering questions from young voters. This was pushed in the last few days on Facebook, which is a site where Barack Obama is very popular. And you see his name come up in the questions that Hillary Clinton answers.

She covers Darfur, rising education costs. And she's asked by one student, I really like you, Hillary Clinton, but my friends really like Barack Obama. What shall I tell them?

She answers that she can bring change as well experience. The campaign says this is an effort that's going to be ongoing -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Abbi, thanks.

Let's go right back to Jack for the Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour -- is the former head of the CIA's covert service, Jose Rodriguez, wants immunity in the destroyed tapes investigation.

Should he get it?

Richard writes from Canfield, Ohio: "He should be granted immunity only if his testimony would bring evidence of a larger conspiracy so that Congress could put the big scoundrels in jail." Jerry in South Carolina: "It's crazy we're even having this discussion and hearings. I don't care if the CIA used electrical cords, jumper cables, cattle prods or pliers on the terrorists. If it got the information that was needed to stop another terror attack on the U.S., it was necessary. You can't fight terrorism playing by -- by playing Mr. Goodies."

Mr. Goodies?

Greg in Pennsylvania: "I'd rather waterboard the man to get the truth out of him, but we supposedly live in a civilized nation that doesn't condone torture. Most likely, what he has to say will directly implicate both the president and vice president. I say grant him immunity so we can finally be rid of Bush and Cheney by impeachment."

Ryan writes: "We all know that with the power establishment currently in place, this guy will never go to prison. However, there is no immunity in the courtroom of public opinion. So essentially how rough this guy gets it is up to you guys in the media. I say let him have it."

Troy in Indiana: "Yes, he should. These guys are doing their best -- just like our military -- to protect this great country from terrorism. Had this happened in October of 2001, just after 9/11, this wouldn't even be a question -- it would be expected."

And Chris writes: "At what point do we need to start holding our government and our government employees accountable for their actions? Let me give you a hint -- it is long overdue." -- Wolf.

BLITZER: See you tomorrow, Jack.

Thanks very much.


BLITZER: You know that presidential candidates have to shake a lot of hands.

But did you ever realize how much they have to kiss?

Yes, kiss.

Jeanne Moos has been noticing, of course. She's going to show us. You're going to want to see this.

Stay with us.





BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the Hot Shots coming in this hour.

In Indiana, a shed lies on its roof along the Tippecanoe River.

In Ecuador, a volcano throws ash into the air as children walk to school.

In London, a Rockhopper penguin keeps an eye on a zookeeper's notes.

Some of this hour's Hot Shots -- pictures often worth a thousand words.

If you've already -- if you're ready to move past Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire tears, Jeanne Moos is ready to show you a happier emotion displayed by the candidates -- and it's Moost Unusual.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): OK, maybe Hillary was a little on the edge. Then we in the press went a little over the edge. But now it's time to over analyze something else -- the campaign kiss.


MOOS: It wasn't so much the kiss, but the come from behind approach and Barack Obama's seemingly blissful smile, that got this the photo in so many papers. This New Hampshire loser sure looked like a winner.

And then there was that pat on the cheek before they went their separate ways. It's not easy pulling off a public display of affection -- from the Huckabee hug to the Romney peck. Mitt displayed more audible passion kissing babies.


MOOS: But you'd be a conservative kisser, too, in the wake of the Al and Tipper Gore lip lock -- so gory that Jay Leno did this re- creation.


JAY LENO, HOST: Come on, what are you doing?



MOOS: No wonder some politicians barely pay lip service to the campaign kiss.

But Dennis Kucinich and his wife are so smitten they smooch as if no one's looking.

With that guy's head in the way, how can we look?


MOOS: In New Hampshire, the Obamas came back for seconds.


MOOS: And Hillary came back for seconds -- but now with Bill. He got one hug. Chelsea was the one who got a comeback kiss.

On MSNBC, the anchors were so enamored of Hillary patting Chris Matthews' cheek...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll show the rest of that.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) show the best part of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christopher, baby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Love in the afternoon.


MOOS: They were so enamored they played it again in slo-mo.





MOOS (on camera): Campaign kissing has even spread to YouTube. The introduction to this home video says Obama doesn't have to kiss the babies, the babies kiss him.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you give Obama a kiss?



MOOS (voice-over): That baby has obviously been watching too much of that Obama Girl Video.


MOOS: Another YouTuber portrayed Obama and Clinton as kissing balloons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM YOUTUBE.COM) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come here, big boy. I want to give you a big Hillary kiss. I told you you would pop under pressure.


MOOS: The campaign kiss gives a whole new meaning to change versus experience.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: Thanks very much for joining us.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Much more coming up tomorrow right here.

Stay with us.

Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- Lou.