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Democratic Debate Analysis; Kenya Situation; Al Qaeda Reportedly Using Disturbed Women

Aired February 1, 2008 - 17:00   ET


CAFFERTY: Roland writes from Colorado: "This was Obama's best debate. He was substantive, eloquent, presidential and humorous. One of his best points regarding judgment was made it's important to be right on day one. The Clintons had to clean up after the first Bush and now the second Bush? No way. The two central issues in this campaign -- character and the past versus the future. Only Obama had the night and our future."
And, finally, Elena writes: "I really enjoyed the debate between two, dynamic, intelligent people. All things being equal, Hillary got my vote. And, Jack, I'm impressed by your question. Actually, I'm floored."

What do you mean?

We do good questions every day.

BLITZER: Excellent questions.


BLITZER: And you've got an excellent blog, too.

CAFFERTY: I do. Caffertyfile --

BLITZER: I love that blog.

CAFFERTY: There you go.

BLITZER: Thanks, Jack.

CAFFERTY: You're welcome.

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

Happening now, a Democratic dream team?

Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton -- neither candidate ruling out the co-pilot seat in November.

Could that be the ticket to the White House?

And with just days to go until Super Tuesday, John McCain has been rolling up delegates and endorsements. We'll find out how Mitt Romney is planning to try to turn things around. And what kind of depraved mind or terrorist mastermind could come up with this -- strapping explosives to a mentally disabled women and then blowing them up in crowded markets?

We'll get the latest from Baghdad.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in New York.


Just four days to go until Super Tuesday. For both parties, nearly two dozen states are up for grabs, along with thousands of delegates. It could be a make or break day on both sides. But Democrats are still buzzing about last night's historic debate and the possibility -- the possibility that no matter what happens on Super Tuesday, they could end up with a so-called dream team in November.

CNN's Carol Costello is joining us now with this part of the story -- all right, what's it all about Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, well, Wolf, think about it -- Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton. For many Democrats, well, those tickets give them heart palpitations.

And you know what?

Anything is possible in this race.


COSTELLO (voice-over): It was Wolf's last question and it drove the crowd wild.

BLITZER: Would you consider an Obama/Clinton or a Clinton/Obama ticket going down the road?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, obviously, there's a big difference between those two.


OBAMA: But, look...

COSTELLO: But jokes aside, Obama's response -- then Clinton's -- sent a tiny ripple of joy through the largely Democratic audience.

BLITZER: Is the answer yes? Is that -- it sounds like a yes, that she would be on your short list.


OBAMA: You know, I'm sure Hillary would be on anybody's short list, so.

BLITZER: All right.

What about it Senator Clinton?

What do you think about a Clinton/Obama -- Obama/Clinton ticket?

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I have to agree with everything Barack just said.


BLITZER: That means it's a yes, right?

CLINTON: So, clearly, we are both dedicated to doing the best we can to win the nomination. But there is no doubt we will have a unified Democratic Party.

COSTELLO: That's right -- neither Clinton nor Obama ruled out the idea.

Is it possible?

DAVID GERGEN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there's a special sort of magic about these two together that came out last night. Suddenly, it's within the realm of possibility.

COSTELLO: That possibility is potent for Democratic voters who love both candidates, who feel the combo could unify the party and guarantee a win for the Democrats in November. Even Michigan's governor, Jennifer Granholm, was hip to that idea -- and she's endorsed Clinton. She told me: "I would love to see her ask him to run as her vice president. And if he gets it, I would hope he would do the same."

If they did run together, it would break all traditional rules. Usually, a liberal candidate chooses a moderate running mate or a senator picks a governor from a different part of the country. Then there's the question of ego.

Could she play second fiddle to Obama when some say she struggled for power in her husband's White House?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN'S CONTRIBUTOR: Because I don't think there is a chance that after her experience in the White House with Al Gore that she would ever be a vice presidential candidate with anybody.

COSTELLO: Could he put up with her?

One analyst says it's more like could Obama put up with him -- as they say, three is a crowd.


COSTELLO: Of course, it all depends on what happens on Super Tuesday. But the DNC -- the Democratic National Committee -- could put heavy duty pressure on either candidate to be a bridesmaid, so to speak, for the good of the party -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A good piece. Thanks very much for that, Carol.

We're going to talk about this more with the best political team on television. That's coming up later here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

John McCain is on a roll, winning primaries, picking up major newspaper endorsements and bringing in campaign cash. He was on a roll last night, as well, trading some one liners with Jay Leno. Then came the serious question about a potential match-up in November against Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

Listen to this.


JAY LENO, HOST: Who would be harder to beat?


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think both are formidable.

LENO: Yes.

MCCAIN: I think that you shouldn't underestimate. But both -- I think that the fact that I am a conservative and I think in tune with most of the American people -- and we'll have a conservative Republican against a liberal Democrat. And that will be a respectful but very, very spirited debate.


BLITZER: While John McCain looks ahead, Mitt Romney has every intention of being the Republican nominee in November, as well. But to do that, he'll need a major comeback starting, of course, with Super Tuesday.

Let's go to our chief national correspondent, John King -- John, how does Romney plan on turning things around?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, remember back just a few months -- three or four months, late summer/early fall?

The Romney campaign believed they had cleared a credible pass to the Republican nomination. Now, though, with Super Tuesday just around the corner, their urgent and uphill priority is blocking Senator McCain's path.


KING (voice-over): Mitt Romney in San Diego. Consider this Plan C.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have, as you know, a very unusual way of getting delegates. It's district by district -- Congressional district by Congressional district.

KING: Not the way he envisioned it. Plan A was to sweep Iowa and New Hampshire. Mike Huckabee and John McCain spoiled that.

ROMNEY: Thank you very much.

KING: Plan B counted on Michigan then Florida. Again, it was McCain celebrating. Now, a Plan C with little room for error -- based on a review of the Super Tuesday map, polling and delegate rules.

ROMNEY: We divided the nation in three parts. One are states that we think we've got a very good chance of picking them up, other that are states where it's going to be highly competitive and then there are others that are real long shot states.

KING: Authorizing a new ad by Mitt digging deeper into his personal fortune. Romney has poured more than $35 million in his campaign -- a staggering amount. There are 21 Super Tuesday GOP contests in all, with 1,020 delegates at stake. Most top Romney advisers believe they need to win 400 of those delegates to remain in serious contention.

The top targets are California, Utah, Colorado, North Dakota, Montana, Alaska, West Virginia and Massachusetts. Minnesota, Georgia, Tennessee and Illinois are in the Romney second tier. And the message of Plan C -- play the conservative card, suggesting McCain's record on taxes, immigration, campaign financing and other issues is out of the Republican mainstream.

ROMNEY: McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy. McCain-Lieberman are all three liberal efforts.

KING: McCain's new Super Tuesday advertising is a direct Romney rebuttal.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He'll cut wasteful spending and keep taxes low -- a proud social conservative who will never waiver.



KING: Now the McCain campaign is rolling out new conservative endorsements, Wolf, trying to blunt any effort by Romney to build on that anti-McCain backlash among conservatives. The former solicitor general, Ted Olson; the former Republican presidential candidate, Steve Forbes; among those joining the McCain effort today. And Senator McCain, also, interestingly, is getting some help from another rival -- the former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee, in Oklahoma today, saying it is absurd when Governor Romney called Senator McCain a liberal. Governor Huckabee going on to say that Governor Romney, not long ago, was pro-choice on abortion rights and said he was to the left of Ted Kennedy on gay rights.

So, Wolf, quite fascinating, as McCain tries to rebut Romney's argument, Governor Huckabee is pitching in to help.

BLITZER: All right. A fascinating development on the Republican side.

All right, John, thanks very much.

The White House hopeful, John McCain, may be winning over some conservatives right now, but don't count on conservatives commentator and author Ann Coulter among them. She told Fox News -- and I'm quoting now -- "If McCain is our candidate, then Hillary is going to be our girl. Sean" -- referring to Sean Hannity -- "because she's more conservative than he is." Coulter adds that she will even campaign for Clinton if McCain wins the Republican Party's presidential nomination.


A surprising move which may have some impact on Super Tuesday out in California. The "Los Angeles Times," as we just reported, has endorsed Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama in next Tuesday's presidential primary in California. That's the first such endorsement for the newspaper since 1972.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty with The Cafferty File -- Jack?

CAFFERTY: John -- John.

BLITZER: Wolf. Wolf.

CAFFERTY: Well, I'd know you anywhere.


CAFFERTY: When it comes to the Bush tax cuts, John McCain has a very complicated story. See if you can follow along here. It starts with McCain being against them before he was for them. At this week's debate, John McCain said he opposed the Bush tax cuts in the past because they didn't come with spending cuts. But that's not what he said at the time.

In 2001, McCain said President Bush's $1.35 trillion tax cut benefited the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. And at the time, he tried but failed to change the bill to reduce income tax cuts for the wealthy and give greater benefits to those earning less money. But not a word about spending cuts.

Then, in 2003, McCain opposed a $350 billion tax cut. In that instance, he said it because there should be no tax cuts while the cost of the Iraq War and its aftermath are still unknown.

Flash forward now to the 2008 presidential race. Not only is McCain giving a different reason for his previous opposition to tax relief, but he now wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent -- fighting what he calls the Democrat's plans for a crippling tax increase.

This is all from the man who calls his campaign bus the Straight Talk Express.

Of course, it's not hard to figure out why John McCain is suddenly for the Bush tax cuts now. His opposition to the Bush tax cuts is one of the many reasons that his own mother says in November the conservative wing of the Republican Party will probably have to hold their nose in order to vote for him. The right-wing doesn't like him. And the tax cut position is just one of the issues that they have no time for John McCain on. But he has flip-flopped around pretty good on this stuff.

Here's the question -- why would John McCain misrepresent his own record when it comes to the Bush tax cuts?

Go to, where you can post a comment on my blog. Then after you do that, you can go to Wolf's blog and -- what did you write about today?

BLITZER: I wrote about a debate last night. I moderated a Democratic presidential debate at the Kodak Theatre in L.A. ?

CAFFERTY: I saw the picture in "The New York Times".



CAFFERTY: You were there?

BLITZER: It was a pretty good debate.

CAFFERTY: That was great stuff. It really was.

BLITZER: Thank you.


BLITZER: And we had a record audience, too.

CAFFERTY: 8.3 million?

BLITZER: 8.3 million viewers.

CAFFERTY: Bohrman is probably knocking on Klein's door saying I want more money.


CAFFERTY: Bohrman is the guy who produces our university.

BLITZER: David Bohrman, our Washington bureau chief.

All right, thanks very much, Jack, for that.


BLITZER: Human bombs blown up by remote control -- a sick scenario plays out in Baghdad with horrific results. Mentally disabled women turned into terror weapons.

Also, could Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama really join forces in the so-called dream team?

Would that actually be a risky ticket for the Democrats?

We'll hear from top strategists.

And an intrepid foreigner ventures into the strange world of Hollywood liberals. Richard Quest reports on his incredible journey.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: Unwitting human bombs sent into crowded markets and blown up by some diabolical mastermind using a cell phone -- that's the chilling explanation Iraqi officials are giving for today's twin bombings in Baghdad, which killed close to 100 people and wounded twice that many.

CNN's Arwa Damon is in the Iraqi capital.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this morning's violence a clear indication of the insurgency's ability to continue to strike.


DAMON (voice-over): The aftermath of bombings in Baghdad a familiar site. But this time, there may be a sickening new twist. The spokesman for the Baghdad security plan says the latest attacks involved mentally disabled women blown up by remote controls -- possibly unaware of their fate.

The twin blasts happened at two popular pet markets crowded with Iraqis enjoying the Muslim weekly holy day. The first and deadliest coming at 10:30 in the morning, striking the pet bazaar in Central Baghdad -- leaving behind a carnage of animal and human body parts.

Half an hour later, the second bomber struck in another pet market. Fireman and soldiers moved in to secure the site after the disaster. The wounded poured into hospitals across the capital. Despite security measures put into place such as blast walls to prevent vehicles from entering some markets and body searches, this is an insurgency notorious for exploiting weaknesses.

Often women are not searched and are carrying out more and more of these attacks. While an Iraqi official says the women likely did not know they were being used as deadly weapons, the U.S. military calls the women suicide bombers and puts the blame on Al Qaeda In Iraq.

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq tells the Associated Press there's nothing al Qaeda won't do to create carnage.


DAMON: The capital had enjoyed a period of relative calm, with the civilian death toll decreasing since about September. But this morning's violence has essentially shattered any hope that Iraqis may have had that perhaps the worst of the violence was behind them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: This is really a sick, sick bunch of people. Deeply troubling.

All right, thanks very much for that.

Arwa Damon in Baghdad.

The secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, reacted angrily to the Baghdad bombings today. She says the use of mentally retarded women as bombers proves that Al Qaeda, in her words, is the most brutal and bankrupt of movements.

Two of the biggest issues on the campaign trail right now -- the economy and the war in Iraq. It's increasingly clear that the two are tied together.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr -- Barbara billions are being spent on the war every single month.

What impact is that having on the struggling economy here in the U.S.?

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, now that the economy is in a downturn, that's the question economists are asking -- how is billions of spending for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan affecting what's in Americans' wallets?


STARR (voice-over): The war in Iraq costs more than $12 million every hour. The total price tag so far -- more than $400 billion. And that's not good news for America's economy.

The mortgage crisis and high fuel prices are among the leading causes of the economic downturn. But the war has had an impact, as well. Dean Baker has studied the economic impact of the war in Iraq.

DEAN BAKER, CENTER FOR ECONOMIC & POLICY RESEARCH: When we first, you know, invaded Iraq back in '03, the economy was still fairly week and you could probably say, to some extent, that was a stimulus.

STARR: But $400 billion spent on Iraq is $400 billion gone -- not used for investment or production. Money spent on the war is draining funds from areas that now desperately need a cash infusion, such as housing and the retail and banking sectors.

GOV. KATHLEEN SEBELIUS (D), KANSAS: The last five years have cost us dearly in lives lost, in challenges not met here at home because our resources were committed elsewhere.

BAKER: You know, if people would have saved it, it would have been, you know, borrowed by firms and they would have built factories, equipment, whatever it may have been. They don't have that because we taxed it away from that to pay for the war.

STARR: There was a time when war spending stimulated the economy. Spending for World War II, in large part, got the U.S. out of the Great Depression.

By Vietnam, it was a different story. That war drained billions from an otherwise largely healthy economy.

BAKER: So in that sense it was sort of like grabbing resources away and throwing it in the garbage, you know, at least from the standpoint of the economies.

STARR: Today, the military itself is hit by the same problems as everyone else -- rising fuel prices. When the war in Iraq began in 2003, the cost of flying an F-15 fighter was just over $1,500 an hour. Today, it's now more than $4,300 an hour.


STARR: Who is doing well these days?

Well, defense contractors. Many of them are posting very healthy profits at a time when many of their workers may no longer be able to afford the homes they live in -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for that Barbara Starr.

An important story she's working on.

A Clinton/Obama dream team -- or is it an Obama/Clinton dream team?

Either way, would it be all that it's cracked up to be?

Top Democratic strategists standing by to take a look at the possibilities.

And Hollywood action hero Wesley Snipes faces serious tax charges. Now the verdicts are in and he faces prison time.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: These stories just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Let's check in with Carol Costello.

She's monitoring what's going on -- Carol?

COSTELLO: Yes, I'm just getting word of this, Wolf. 2.7 million gallons of untreated sewage have spilt into the San Francisco Bay -- or at least parts of it. We understand it poured into the Richardson Bay. That's an arm of the San Francisco Bay from Tiburon to Sausalito. This came from the waste treatment facility in Marin County. Authorities now telling CNN that swimmers should stay out of the water, boaters should be careful and maybe you shouldn't fish until they figure out just how contaminated the water has become.

But again, 2.7 million gallons of untreated sewage in parts of the San Francisco Bay. And you can see these aerial shots courtesy of our affiliate KGO.

In other news this afternoon, actor Wesley Snipes faces up to three years in prison after being found guilty of failure to file tax returns. But the same jury cleared him of the more serious felony charges of federal tax fraud and conspiracy. Snipes appeared in movies like "New Jack City" and "White Men Can't Jump". A former accountant and a tax protester were found guilty of tax fraud and conspiracy in the same case.

And economists have been debating if we're in a recession. Well, now the naysayers have more fodder. A government jobs report shows the first decline in employment in four years. The report lists a net loss of 17,000 jobs last month. That translate to a drop in the unemployment rate to 4.9 percent from an even 5 percent in December.

That's a look at what's happening now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Carol, thanks very much.

Some Democrats can't help but dream -- a presidential ticket composed of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. We'll take a closer look at just how realistic that potential dream team -- as some Democrats are calling it -- could be.

And the "L" word in Hollywood -- "L" as in liberal. Why they say they want to take back the White House.

And a sign of hope in Kenya. After weeks of terrible violence, the country's divided leaders may finally be ready to unite. Our Zain Verjee is on the scene for us.

Stay with us.




Happening now, Microsoft pouncing on Yahoo! It's made a $44.5 billion bid for the slumping icon. Yahoo! says it's carefully looking at the deal. Record profits for Exxon Mobil. The world's largest publicly traded oil company made a staggering $40.6 billion of profit in 2007. That's nearly $1,300 a second. It also set a record for the biggest quarterly profit -- nearly $12 billion -- for just the final three months after last year.

And China's travel nightmare lingers. Ferocious winter storms have paralyzed much of the country. Millions of stranded travelers are still trying to get home in time for the lunar new year celebrations. But more rain and snow are on the way right now.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


Democrats all across the country have some decisions to make before a fast approaching Super Tuesday.

So did last night's Obama/Clinton debate sway any of the undecided to one side or the other?

Let's bring in CNN's Jim Acosta.

He's here in New York with us today -- some undecided voters, Jim, were keeping score during last night during the course of this nearly two hour debate.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And according to that group of undecided Democratic voters who kept score, the candidates were at their best and worst late in the exchange.


H. CLINTON: It was a sincere vote based on my assessment at the time.

ACOSTA (voice-over): As Hillary Clinton tried to explain her vote to authorize war in Iraq, it appears our undecided weren't buying it.

H. CLINTON: The case that was outlined on behalf of going to the resolution -- not going to war, but going to the resolution -- was a credible case.

ACOSTA: Barack Obama seized on the opening and scored.

OBAMA: Senator Clinton, I think fairly, has claimed that she's got the experience on day one. And part of the argument that I'm making in this campaign is that it is important to be right on day one.


OBAMA: And that the judgment that I presented on this issue and some other issues is relevant to how we're going to make decisions in the future. ACOSTA: The Illinois senator also moved the meter on immigration -- up on whether undocumented workers take jobs from American citizens.

OBAMA: To suggest somehow that the problem that we're seeing in inner city unemployment, for example, is attributable to immigrants, I think, is a case of scapegoating that I do not believe in.

ACOSTA: And down when he resurrected the issue of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.

ACOSTA: The Illinois senator also moved the meter on immigration. Immigration. Up on whether undocumented workers take jobs from American citizens.


OBAMA: To suggest somehow that the problem we're seeing in inner city unemployment, for example, is attributable to immigrants is case of escape voting.


ACOSTA: And down when he resurrected the issue of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.


OBAMA: Senator Clinton gave a number of different answers over the course of six weeks on this issue. And that did appear political.


ACOSTA: Clinton connected on health care.


CLINTON: I'm proud that one of the efforts I was involved in ten years ago resulted in the children's health insurance program. We now have a million children in California who every month gets health insurance because of that bipartisan effort.


ACOSTA: And on which party would deliver real change.


CLINTON: They are more of the same. Neither of us just by looking at us you can tell. We are not more of the same. We will change our country.


ACOSTA: To most of the undecided, the winner was the audience.


(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Instead of like going at each other, they actually kind of like worked with each other.


ACOSTA: If the reactions from those undecided voters are indication of points were scored in the debates. But there were no knockout, the results, both campaigns live to fight another day.

BLITZER: What these undecided Democrats clearly liked is they sought harmony. When they went after each other they didn't like that.

ACOSTA: I think most of the people that watched debate last night especially those undecided were happy to see at least a time out in the fight that was going on between the Obama and the Clinton campaigns. They liked seeing the candidates get along with each other.

BLITZER: Thanks very much. Jim Acosta looking at the dial testing development. They've gone from nasty to now they're even hugging each other. The bonding by the Democratic candidates at last night's debate is drawing a lot of attention from voters. Here's what Hillary Clinton has to say about it today.

Let me quote. "I think last night on the stage seeing the two of us were so exciting for so many people. I can't tell you how many calls and e-mails I've gotten from people who never cared about politics that but are just thrilled about that.

So could Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton really become a Democratic dream team in November? Let's discuss that with two Democratic strategists. Paul Begala is a Hillary Clinton supporter. Jamal Simmons backs Barack Obama. Paul what about a dream team Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama one way or another is that feasible?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's doable. It's almost too good to be true for most Democrats. Speaking for myself that would be two remarkable talents. I think the report that Jim had shows that voters really want to see that as well. The problem is this is as personal as it is political. First you have to ask yourself, who would be the best president if I were to die. That is what Bill Clinton actually asked when he chose Al Gore.

It wasn't a political decision honestly. Frankly I think that's what George Bush asked himself when he picked Dick Cheney. He didn't pick him for charisma as we all know. How does Michelle Obama feel about Hillary? How does Bill Clinton feel about Barack? Have the personal attacks gone so far that both of these people very strong spouses. It's going to be that kind of decision. It's going to be Bill and Hillary or Barack and Michelle sitting around the table. BLITZER: What do you think, Jamal?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It sounds interesting. It sounds fascinating. My guess would be that the two of them would be looking for somebody else who is not a Washington Senator like one of the two of them. I think men for Hillary will be on the short list. Barack may be looking for somebody from a different part of the country, the south, maybe the west where I think Democrats can do very well in places like Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico. There's a lot of factors that go into play. Who knows? We have to get through the next few weeks. Who knows when this thing ends.

I have to tell both of you when I introduced them at the beginning of the debate last night just to walk on together the crowd, about 2,000 people at the Kodak Theater, mostly Democrats. It was an electric moment for them, they got really, really excited. At the end, the final question when I asked them both about the so-called dream ticket, they really responded to that as well. If you can base it on the unscientific e-mail that I'm getting a lot of Democrats as you point out would be energized by that.

Let's move on as they say to move on. Paul, what do you think about this endorsement from Barack Obama today from

BEGALA: It is kind of like good news for Barack, there is no question about that. Not the left wing extremist that some of the right wingers try to say. Moveon is actually a very mainstream organization. The problem for Barack is that it's a little late. In other words Moveon is a grass roots organization. It takes a while to organize people. Still better to have it than not. I think it's a little late to have the maximum impact on Tuesday. Still very good news for Barack Obama.

BLITZER: What do you think Jamal?

SIMMONS: I think it's good. They have a 1.7 million person e- mail list that they can go out to. They have people who are use to making phone calls. I think that will be helpful. What's happened since South Carolina is that you have seen a steady drum beat from the Kennedy endorsements to the unions that have come on board, transport unions. Obama has had a steady drum beat of supporters come out of the woodwork, which will help in the national poll numbers.

BLITZER: Does it hurt him, though, in November, Paul? which a lot of Americans will remember put out that full page ad about General David Petraeus. Does that hurt him?

BEGALA: It might. I'm an admirer of Moveon. I was one of the few that defended them when they ran the ad. Interestingly Senator Clinton voted to defend Moveon. She voted against the resolution condemning them. Barack Obama voted present. He did not take a position on that. And yet he wins the endorsement. There's some painful irony in that I suspect for Senator Clinton who stuck her neck out in defense of this group. The there will be always be efforts to demonize any organization that tries to stop a war. I think they are trying to do the right thing and it is in the greatest American tradition of patriotism.

BLITZER: These are live pictures of Senator Clinton. She's at a rally in San Diego. Right now California being a huge prize on Tuesday. That's Super Tuesday. We'll monitor what she's saying out there. We'll go there and hear what she has to say. Let me thank Paul and Jamal for coming in. Guys thanks very much.

Michelle Obama one on one. That's coming up in our next hour.

Plus Snoop Dogg takes a close look at the Democratic candidate and likes what he says. The rapper raps chicken and waffles with our own Larry King. Stay with us your in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Snoop Dogg has been singing the praises of both Democratic presidential candidates. Talking with our own Larry King he seems torn between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.


SNOOP DOGG, RAPPER: I just want to see somebody win that is in the best interest of America. Whether it be him, a black man. Whether it be Hillary, a woman. Either one to me is a great move for America. We need change. We need somebody in there that's about listening to the people and representing the people. I think both of the candidates will do that.

LARRY KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you think America is really ready for a black president? You see prejudice all the time?

DOGG: All the time. I think America is ready for a black president. Even him competing in the talks right now. In the past we had presidential candidates like Jesse Jackson. We didn't really think he can win. Right now people feel like this man could really win. He's got the right thing going for him. He's got the right conversation. He's in line with the right scenario to win. Whether he wins or loses, I feel like he made a great step for black America by even stepping to the table and pulling off something like this.


BLITZER: You can see Snoop Dogg and Larry King out on the town together eating chicken and waffles in Hollywood, they are talking politics. It all happens tonight on "Larry King Live" 9:00 pm Eastern right here on CNN.

Let's go to San Diego. Hillary Clinton speaking about last night's debate.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the people on the stage last night will make history as our 2008 Democratic nominee. And if we work together, you are looking at the next president of the United States of America.

This has been an incredible campaign. It started over a year ago. It has traveled from one end of our country to the other. I have been having a conversation with the American people, and I am so grateful to all of you for caring enough, for becoming involved, for understanding that we cannot just think about the next election. We have to think about the next generation. That's what this should be about.

I want to thank my friend and former colleague in the Senate, John Edwards for running such a great campaign and talking about so many important issues. And one of those issues is poverty and what we must do to make sure that we keep a spot light on the 37 million Americans who live in poverty, who are often hungry at night, lacking housing, failing to get health care, unemployable. We must never forget in this, the richest and most blessed of nations, we have an obligation to one another. And so let us work to complete that unfinished agenda.

You know, they were so many important points made in the debate last night that are really substantive, that are going to matter to what we do together. And the most important difference that you heard was that between myself and Senator Obama over whether or not we should attempt to work for, make a commitment to achieving universal health care in America. You see, I believe with all my heart that it is a moral right for people to have quality, affordable health care.

BLITZER: All right, Hillary Clinton speaking in San Diego at a rally on this, the day after her historic debate with Barack Obama last night at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles. We'll continue to watch her remarks and update you as necessary.

The White House hopefuls are California dreaming as Super Tuesday nears. What if that state really does end up setting the campaign agenda? Let's check in with CNN's special correspondent Frank Sesno to find out how that could shake up the presidential race. Frank.

FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, watching all the debates and endorsements and activities coming out of California the last several days has got me thinking just how screwy this presidential election process really is. Take California for example where you have been, 36 million people, 53 congressional districts, $1.7 trillion dollar GDP. That is larger than most countries. Yet the presidential campaigning there in this primary season gets squeezed into about a week between Florida and Super Tuesday.

Take a look at this. Iowa first in the nation caucuses, California upcoming. In the month before the caucuses we picked a candidate at random. Hillary Clinton, she visits 60 times. Including last night's debate in California she visits just six times. Wolf, what if California got the political respect it deserves?


SESNO (voice over): California, its given America the freeway, the Frisbee and the tax revolt of the 70s. It's the most popular state in the country, the 8th largest economy in the world, and it's given the candidates a run for their money.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): A big state, lot of delegate delegates.

HILLARY CLINTON: The most delegates and the biggest primary.

SESNO: What if California actually set the agenda? What if the issues here got sound answers, not sound bytes. California could change the language of politics. Not just Spanish, though four years ago Hispanics made up 16 percent of Democratic primary voters. No diversity California style goes much deeper. For example, there are 90 languages spoken in the homes of the students from the L.A. unified school district. What if the candidates came to this classroom to talk about "No Child Left Behind?"

California is also a border state. The border may be broken, but it's also booming. Mexico bought nearly 15 percent of California's total exports in 2006. A little nuisance with that one. What if California's housing headaches, super high prices drooping values, and soaring foreclosures defined the debate?

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Our economy could be heading to free fall.

SESNO: The candidates are trying. They know California is the big prize.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Governor Schwarzenegger, I commit to you to hand our children a cleaner planet than the one we have today.

SESNO: But it all goes by so fast, California pops up Tuesday with nearly two dozen other primary states, it's hard for it to sink in.


SESNO: What if California had more clout in setting the agenda in the campaign? Most likely the tenure of the debate would change. Take a look at pictures, they tell the story from Sprawl (ph) in the Los Angeles area of the issues of water that affects all of California, the environment, climate change, something that matters a lot, and questions, of course, of urbanization and poverty and health insurance. These, too, prominent issues in California. From Orange County conservatives to San Francisco liberals, a more complex, more urban, more dynamic debate.

BLITZER: Frank Sesno thanks very much.

Coming up a CNN exclusive, Barack Obama's wife Michelle is talking to us. What she has to say about her husband's historic quest for the presidency and life of the campaign trail. She spoke with Soledad O'Brien moments ago.

And Kenya is divided leaders reach an agreement to end weeks of blood shed. But is it too late for the countries people after so much suffering? Stay with us your in the SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Let's go back to Jack Cafferty. He's got the Cafferty file.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDNET: The question this hour, is why would John McCcain misrepresent his own record when it comes to the Bush tax cuts? He said he was against them because they were no spending cuts to go along with them. If you do a little research he never said anything of the kind. Now he wants to make them permanent.

Alex writes, "He misrepresents his record to win because he cannot accept the fact that he has no clue what he is doing with the economy or this so called plan he has. He should just admit he is as confused on the economy as a high school senior taking an economics class. Then he should Democrat because if he gets the nomination and the words Rush Limbaugh he will destroy the Republican Party.

Terry in Colorado, "I think McCain's basically a decent guy but after losing the nomination to Bush in 2000, the old straight talker has learned how to pander to the core of the Republican Party. You know those are the ones who think we are in a war in Iraq instead of an occupation. The ones who don't have a problem borrowing and spending and goes spastic when tax suspend is mentioned. They are the ones that McCain needs to convince of his conservative credentials.

Wesley writes, "Thanks for saying something that supports what many of us believe to be a consistent behavior of John McCain and why the Republican base will not hold their noses and vote for him if he is the nominee.

"I won't vote for Hillary" as Ann but I will stay home.

George in New York writes, "The Straight Talk Express left the barn when ambition exceeded morality. He took a page out of the Bush book. If his lips are moving he's lying.

Patrick writes, "It is simple the Republican voter in 2008 punishes honesty in all forms. Didn't McCain tell the people of Michigan their old jobs were gone forever, and Romney said they would come back? McCain got punished for that. He's just learning.

Felix writes two words, "Conservative Pandering. Another two words: stupid question."

Jeff in Connecticut writes, "The obvious answer is that John McCain's bus broke down and he's taken up new residence on the Sellout Express."


BLITZER: Jack, standby. We have the best political team on television. Oh, yeah. I'm part of that. Cool. Cool.

It was meant to get the Transportation Security Administration and passengers back on the same page, but within hours of the TSA launching a new blog, an outpouring of comments from angry air travelers forced the agency to rethink its online experiment. Our internet reporter, Abbi Tatton is standing by with details. What have people been posting, Abbi?

ABI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: According to the TSA it was abusive language, profane posts. All of this online here. Some of them still up there. Terribly stupid agency. The word scum appeared on the blog in the first few hours. Some of these have been taken downright now. But a spokesman said the web operation was basically paralyzed when 700 or more posts appeared on the new blog designed to communicate with air travelers who are basically venting their frustrations. The TSA says they are rethinking the format of the site, but they're not giving up. A TSA spokesman saying basically for six years passengers have had no way to communicate with the agency. But this is the place to vent and not in the security lines.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for that, Abbi.

Barack Obama's wife talks to CNN in an exclusive interview. Michelle Obama just ahead right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: In news around the world, more than a month after a disputed election triggered a tribal slaughter in Kenya; the United Nations today says there's been a breakthrough in mediation talks. But for many it's too late. It's already claimed hundreds of lives and a quarter million of a people have been driven from their homes. CNN's Zain Verge is in Kenya with a look at this incredible destruction.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): We're on a flight through Kenya's Rift Valley to discover how far ethnic bloodshed is around the country. We've heard disturbing stories.

We're now landing. As we've come here we've seen areas with completely devastated homes burnt down. And we find the story of similar devastation in the small Rift Valley town, much of it has been raised to the ground. It was just before dawn on Sunday when gangs attacked the people who live in Timbarua. Homes were set ablaze, leaving only twisted metal, the few possessions people had, burned. Food, corn and potatoes gone. 10,000 residents fled. The few remaining tried to salvage their rooftops for shelter. And a few precious animals for survival. The Kenyan Red Cross helping out.


VERJEE: Most of the people burned out of their homes are desperate to get away, even though this is their sacred land. Those that can't go wait, guarded by military forces.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): They tried to chase us away; they are telling us this is not our place.

VERJEE: The majority of people in this area are called Tonus. They're surrounded by another tribe called the Calgenes (ph). They've been neighbors for years. Since the disputed election there have been a lot of tensions, and it's exploded into this. Demeris (ph) is a Calagene (ph). But has been married to a Tokus for ten years. Why don't your neighbors the Calagenes (ph) like the Tokus?

DEMERIS (ph): They said that they want to (INAUDIBLE).

VERJEE: Demeris (ph) says she doesn't want to revenge, only help.

As we lifted off more towns and villages suffering the same fate as Timbarua. Is that a fire burning there to our right? No one here, just a ghost town. As millions of Kenyans watch these images with horror, they fear, too, that no one will visit this once calm valley. And that much of their beautiful country will be divided tribal strong holds.