Return to Transcripts main page


Presidential Candidates Fight For Youth Vote; Bill Clinton Admits to Making a Mistake; Michael Moore Angry With Hillary Clinton

Aired February 8, 2008 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, former President Bill Clinton says he's learned his lesson when it comes to his wife's campaign. You're going to find out what he's saying now about his Obama mistake and what he won't be doing if -- if Hillary Clinton wins.

Also, Republican Mike Huckabee picks up a potentially key endorsement from the Evangelical leader James Dobson. We're going to show you why it's also a slap against John McCain.

And forget fingerprints -- the FBI has an ambition plan to go biometrics. We're going to show you what it means and why it has some people very concerned about your privacy.

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

The former president, Bill Clinton, says he's learned a valuable lesson in South Carolina, where he stirred up serious controversy with what many perceived as his criticisms of his wife's presidential rival, Senator Barack Obama.

Listen to what he told a reporter from a main television station.


WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, everything I have said has been factually accurate. But I think the mistake that I made is to think that I was a spouse like any other spouse who could defend his candidate. I think I can promote Hillary but not defend her, because I was president. I have to let her defend herself or have someone else defend her.

But a lot of things that were said were factually inaccurate. I did not ever criticize Senator Obama personally in South Carolina. I never criticized him personally. I have -- and it was just this myth grew up. And I had two African-American members of Congress who were supporting Hillary who were with me the whole time I was there. And they were bewildered. They went on every cable show that would take them to tell them that they didn't know what people were talking about.


BLITZER: More of the former president's remarks coming up. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both campaigning in Washington State, which holds its Democratic and Republican caucuses tomorrow. Obama told a crowd in Seattle he's keeping his eye on the ultimate prize.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it is also important for the super-delegates to think about who will be in the strongest position to defeat John McCain in November and who will be in the strongest position to make sure that we are broadening the base and bringing people who historically have not gotten involved in our politics into the fold. If we end up getting the most delegates, then I believe that I should be the nominee.


BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux is following all of this.

She's joining us now from Chicago -- Suzanne, he keeps hammering away at this notion he's best qualified to beat John McCain.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He does so. And he talks about the Iraq War being the main reason why, is that there's a general sentiment among the voters that they're tired of the same old thing. And he says if there's change, that he's the one when it -- when comes to the Iraq War, when it comes to other positions, that will really offer that.

But what's even more important is, really, that he a makes the case to bring in new voters and he can also steal those Independents -- those reformers -- away from McCain. He says that Hillary Clinton cannot do that.

Now, what's the test here? Well, let's just take a look ahead. Look at the caucuses, Wolf, to see what happens there in Washington State, as well as Nebraska. He says those are open processes and that's where he can actually take some of those Independents, even some Republican s who he believes will come over to his side. He's done it before. So you want to look at those particular states.

Washington, he's confident because they've got upper income voters. They have well-educated voters. He does well with those groups. Nebraska, you have the pockets in the rural areas. They believe they're going to perform well. That is going to be his test tomorrow -- Wolf.

BLITZER: He's really getting enthusiastically received where he is in Seattle, Washington right now. Those crowds clearly love him.

How worried are leaders in the Democratic Party that this fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama goes on at a time when the Republican s seem to have solidified their frontrunner?

MALVEAUX: Well, Wolf, I've spoken with insiders in the Clinton campaign, as well as Obama. And there is a great concern that the longer this drags out, that it is going to potentially going to weaken the party and weaken the candidates. The reason why -- they're going to spend all of their resources and money on this primary. The Republican s are going to coalesce around their frontrunner, John McCain. And it also going to allow the Republican s more time to define the candidates, define the Democrats while they're involved in this infighting.

The way they game this out is essentially what's going to happen is that it's all going to come down to those super-delegates, possibly, and fighting over who gets those prized people who are going to participate in the convention. And, secondly, whether or not the delegates are seated from Florida and Michigan -- that's all about in party fighting. They don't believe that's going to help the party or either candidate, so it is a concern -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne in Chicago. Thanks.

Republican John McCain is campaigning in Virginia, which holds its primary on Tuesday, along with the District of Columbia and Maryland. It's the so-called Potomac primaries. With Mitt Romney now out of the race, McCain appears to have a lock on the nomination, but he acknowledges he still has competition.

Listen to this.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Governor Huckabee is still in this race and he is a viable candidate and I'm sure will continue to show strength. And that's why we're moving forward with our campaign. And so I think that, obviously, we are pleased with the events that have happened thus far in the campaign, but we still have a ways to go and we'll continue campaigning.


BLITZER: Huckabee is getting a boost -- an endorsement from the Evangelical leader, James Dobson. But it's as much as a slap at McCain as it is a vote in confidence in Huckabee.

Let's go to CNN's Kathleen Koch. She's watching the story for us.

What did Dobson say in his endorsement -- Kathleen?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Dobson says Huckabee's stands on things like marriage, the importance of faith, the sanctity of human life really resonate deeply with him. And Dobson explains that now that Mitt Romney has dropped out, the political landscape has changed and he was ready to make an endorsement.


MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, frankly, the endorsement caught me off guard. KOCH (voice-over): A pleasant surprise for Mike Huckabee -- the former Arkansas governor landing the endorsement of James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and a leader of the Evangelical movement. Huckabee remains in the hunt for the Republican nomination, even though he faces long odds of catching overwhelming frontrunner, John McCain. But that didn't stop Dobson, who, in a statement, said Huckabee "is our best remaining choice for president."

HUCKABEE: I mean he's still got a lot of credibility with people across the country and is looking to as, you know, kind of the remaining, maybe, mega giant within the Evangelical circles. So I think it's a very significant endorsement, you know, one that I cherish.

KOCH: Dobson praised Huckabee, a former preacher, for his stance on social issues.

HUCKABEE: I love Iowa a whole lot.

KOCH: And he says that Huckabee's wins in the Iowa caucuses and in the South in Super Tuesday are evidence that "conservative Christians remain a powerful force in American politics."

Focus on the Family is a nonprofit Evangelical group with vast outreach. It says hundreds of millions of people listen daily to Dobson's radio broadcast. Until Thursday night, Dobson had not endorsed any presidential candidate. But he's issued several anti- endorsements over the past few months, targeting such potential Republican nominees as Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and, most recently, John McCain.

The Senator from Arizona has a history with top religious leaders on both the right and the left. McCain condemned them in his first run for the White House as...

MCCAIN: ... the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton the on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.


KOCH: Now, McCain did make peace with Robinson and Falwell in the last couple of years. But voter surveys certainly indicate he's still got a big problem getting the support of many Christian conservatives, including Dobson -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And, Kathleen Koch, we want to congratulate you, as well, for getting a Gold Medal on the New York Festival's awards for your documentary on the Mississippi jail. Good work to you, as well.

KOCH: Thank you so much, Wolf.

BLITZER: And please join us tomorrow night for our special coverage of all the primaries and caucuses. I'll be anchoring our coverage from our CNN Election Center. It all starts at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, right here on CNN. Lots of politics coming up tomorrow. Then Tuesday night, more politics, a lot more primaries.

The Gold Medal winner, Jack Cafferty joining us right now with The Cafferty File.

Are you going to wear that Gold Medal around your neck next time, Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, if I ever see it. This is the first -- it's all news to me. I didn't know anything about this. This is very exciting.

BLITZER: Well, congratulations.

CAFFERTY: It's a New York festival of something, right?

BLITZER: It's a huge award. It's the trade, but, you know, these are experts. They look at all the stuff and you won.

CAFFERTY: Well, we did the special on broken government and the government's still broken. So I don't know how much good the show did, but it's gratifying to be recognized.

Young people are fired up about the 2008 election. This week, we saw three million plus voters under the age of 30 flooding the pools on Super Tuesday. They turned out in record numbers in 20 states.

Exit polls showed that in almost every state youth voter turnout increased significantly from 2000 and from 2004. Some of the statistics are amazing. Check this out. Tennessee -- the number of people between the ages of 18 and 29 who voted more than quadrupled. In Georgia, young voters tripled their turnout. And in California, more than 850,000 voters under the age of 30 cast ballots. This stuff is very encouraging for our democracy.

The turnout of young people actually represented the winning margin of victory in some states. For example, Barack Obama won Missouri by just 10,000 votes. That's a state where 75,000 young people voted for Barack Obama. Obama probably owes thanks to young people for a lot of his Super Tuesday victories. In fact, Obama won the youth vote in 19 of the 22 states that voted on Tuesday.

The head of Rock The Vote is optimistic. She's saying -- and we quote here -- "Young people are tired of being characterized as apathetic and uninterested in politics. They're casting ballots like never before, volunteering for campaigns, organizing at their schools and have shown, since the first contest in January, they will pick the next president of the United States."

And none of this is lost on the campaigns, either. Nay, nay. Candidates are targeting young voters through the Internet and any other way they can try to reach out and get in touch with them.

Here's the question then -- why are so many young people interested in the 2008 election?

Go to and post a comment on my blog. You know, this is encouraging, Wolf. The more people participate in these elections, the healthier it is for the country. And if the young folks can keep their interest up right through into November, it's a very good thing, I think.

BLITZER: It's a fabulous, fabulous thing. You know how I know young people are really interested and they're watching?

CAFFERTY: Your daughter.

BLITZER: You know -- no, no, no. They're watching, because 18 to 34 -- in that -- those demographics -- we've had more young people watch our political coverage on the election nights...


BLITZER: ... the debates than ever before -- double, triple, quadruple the number of young people. In that last debate at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles...

CAFFERTY: Oh, yes.

BLITZER: In that 18 to 34 category, I think, it was more than ever before on broadcast -- or cable, for that matter, watching a primary presidential debate.

CAFFERTY: Some of that is an interest in the candidates and in the election. But some of them just want to see the Wolf man.


BLITZER: Or Jack. Jack, thanks very much

CAFFERTY: All right.

BLITZER: Who's more electable against John McCain? Would it be Hillary Clinton or would it be Barack Obama? We have a key supporter from each campaign standing by to tell us why they think their respective candidate is the Democrats ' best choice.

Also, a deadly shooting rampage over at city hall. We're learning new details about the suspected killer and what may have set him off.

Plus, details of the new FBI anti-terror tool and why some say it could compromise your privacy. Kelli Arena watching that story.

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


BLITZER: The Missouri suburb of Kirkwood is reeling after a tragedy few will ever forget. A gunman stormed a city council meeting last night. He opened fire, killing five people before police shot and killed him. Let's go out to Kirkwood.

CNN's Jim Acosta is watching this horrible story for us. Do police have a motive -- Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, relatives of the gunman -- the man believed to be the gunman -- say he left behind a note that said, "The truth will win in the end." And while police have yet to officially name their suspect, people here at city hall say they know him all too well.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Investigators say the gunman shouted "Shoot the mayor!" as he blasted his way into the city council meeting, killing five people, including two police officers, two council members and the local public works director. Also wounded in the rampage was Kirkwood's mayor. Witnesses saw the city attorney fight for his life and survive.

ALAN HOEPFL, WITNESS: While I was on the floor, I heard three, four -- maybe five more shots. And then, within a minute or so, he was having an altercation with the city attorney, John Hessel. And while Mr. Hessel was trying to protect himself and throwing chairs at Cookie, I saw my chance to leave the premises and I bolted for the door.

ACOSTA: Moments later, Kirkwood police took down the gunman, identified by witnesses as Charles Lee Thornton, known to friends as Cookie. He was a local business owner with a history of heated confrontations with city officials. Relatives say Thornton had a score to settle.

GERALD THORNTON, BROTHER OF SUSPECTED GUNMAN: My brother went to war tonight with the people that were of the government that was putting torment and strife into his life.

ACOSTA: According to Gerald Thornton, the city has blocked his brother from speaking out at council meetings on municipal fines he had racked up at his business. Charles Lee Thornton took the matter to court on free speech grounds and lost in a ruling that came down just last week.

Friends and family members of the victims are still trying to understand how small town city politics could turn so violent. One of the city's two slain council members, Connie Karr, was in the middle of a race to become Kirkwood's next mayor.

KATHY PAULSEN, FRIEND OF SLAIN COUNCIL MEMBER: I don't know if anyone will ever make sense of why our country has so much violence. But I think people should be committed to moving away from violence and moving toward resolution.


ACOSTA: As for the current mayor of Kirkwood, he is still recovering in the hospital tonight, listed in serious condition -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A story -- a horrible story. All right, thanks, Jim, very much.

It may soon be a lot harder for terrorists and criminals to elude the FBI. A billion dollar database upgrade could stop them in their tracks. But will it put you under Big Brother's eye?

Let's bring in our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena. She's watching the story for us.

So how does this database work?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the FBI database is being expanded to be able to include more records of people's physical characteristics -- what the FBI calls next generation identification.


ARENA (voice-over): The FBI's fingerprint file -- for 100 years, it's been the last word in positive identification. There's Capone, Manson, Oswald and 55 million others -- criminals and honest citizens, anyone who's had a brush with the law.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The 10 prints are a gold standard. So for law enforcement purposes, Fingerprints will always be used.

ARENA: But this is 2008 and fingerprints are so yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It'll be, literally, bigger, better, faster.

ARENA: Along with the familiar swirls and whirls will be palm prints, face shape data, iris patterns -- maybe some day, information on the way people walk or talk. The billion dollar project to add so- called biometric information to the fingerprint file is housed here, at an underground facility in West Virginia. The goal -- not to just catch criminals and terrorists, but to keep people with dicey records out of sensitive jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the guy that's driving your kids to school in the school bus, for your soccer coach, these are all things I think we're -- we are all concerned ability about as parents and in law enforcement.

ARENA: But not everyone thinks the more the Feds know, the better off we'll be. Privacy advocates see shades of Big Brother.

BARRY STEINHARDT, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: This has started out being a program to track or identify criminals. Now we're talking about large swaths of the population -- workers, volunteers and youth programs. Eventually, it's going to be everybody.

ARENA: At West Virginia University, they're fine tuning the technology.

(on camera): Do I need to stay very still?


(voice-over): I had my face scanned. Facial recognition may some day be used by the FBI to spot criminals or terrorists.

(on camera): So now what are we doing to me?

(voice-over): I also had my irises scanned and my hands measured. Both of those technologies will be used to keep unauthorized people out of secure places. Experts here say the more biometric information you have, the less chance there is for an a false I.D.

CUKIC: The best increase in accuracy will come from fusing different biometrics together.


ARENA: And that will still include the old standby -- fingerprints. Like snowflakes, no two are the same -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A good piece. Fascinating material, Kelli.

ARENA: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

So which Democrat is best positioned to beat John McCain? Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama each say they're the party's best bet. We're going to show you their strengths and weaknesses.

Also, you're going to find out why the filmmaker Michael Moore says a vote for Hillary Clinton would be "immoral." We'll tell you why he's so upset with her.

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


BLITZER: Carol Costello has the day off.

Fredericka Whitfield is monitoring other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Hi, Fred.


Nebraska's Supreme Court calls the state's electric chair torture. In a landmark decision, it ruled the chair's use is unconstitutional because it is cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling came in the case of a death row inmate convicted of killing a 3-year-old boy. Nebraska is the only U.S. state to use the electric chair as its sole method of capital punishment. The state legislature may vote now to approve another means of execution.

And not safe enough -- that's what a federal appeals court says about a Bush administration policy allowing power plants to exceed mercury emission levels under certain conditions. And more than a dozen states sued to block the regulation, on grounds that it would allow dangerous mercury levels into the environment.

And this just into CNN. A spokesman for British singer Amy Winehouse says she now has been granted a visa to enter the U.S. and perform at Sunday's Grammy Awards. But she won't be able to become because of logistical problems. Instead, she will perform via satellite. The State Department initially denied her a visa. No reason was given. Winehouse has been back in rehab for the last two weeks. So that's going to be a most watched performance -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I'm sure it will be. All right, thanks very much, Fred, for that.

The battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- it's increasingly about who will be able to beat John McCain. Which candidate represents the Democrats ' best chance for winning the White House? Plus, liberal anger at Hillary Clinton -- Michael Moore tells us why he's not supporting her -- at least not right now.

And you're going to find out why the U.S. Army is so interested in the death of actor Heath Ledger.

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


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

Happening now, President Bush gets to see for himself the damage from those deadly tornadoes that ripped through five Southern states. The president toured ravaged areas of Tennessee and he promised federal help is on the way.

Firefighters have now recovered three bodies from the rubble of a Georgia sugar refinery. Yesterday's explosion turned it into a mangled wreckage. Three people are still missing.

And a warning for the FDA about botox and kids. The drug is used to treat children with cerebral palsy. It's not FDA approved for that and the agency says its use in kids could result in respiratory failure and even death.

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

Former President Bill Clinton is now admitting he made some mistakes with what many perceived as his attacks on Senator Barack Obama. After lying relatively low, he's back in front of the cameras, now talking about that and what he won't be doing anymore in his wife's campaign, as well as in his wife's White House, if she's elected.

Let's go back to Fredricka Whitfield. She's joining us live with more on this story.

What exactly is the former president saying -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: Well, Wolf, he's saying he became a distraction last month by being so outspoken in his wife's defense and he says he's learned a lesson.


W. CLINTON: I think whenever I defend her, A, you risk being misquoted, and B, you risk being the story. I don't want to be story.

WHITFIELD: The former president pledges to take a lower profile in speaking out on behalf of Hillary Clinton's campaign.

W. CLINTON: The mistake that I made is to think that I was a spouse like any other spouse, who could defend his candidate. I think I can promote Hillary, but not defend her, because I was president. I have to let her defend herself or have someone else defend her. But a lot of things that were said were factually inaccurate. I did not ever criticize Senator Obama personally in South Carolina. I never criticized him personally.

WHITFIELD: Bill Clinton drew criticism in New Hampshire after saying Senator Barack Obama has exaggerated his opposition to the Iraq war.

CLINTON: This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen.

WHITFIELD: He also told South Carolina audiences Senator Obama cited Ronald Reagan as a president who achieved change.



CLINTON: Well, I'm here. He's not.

OBAMA: Well, I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes.

WHITFIELD: Some analysts believe that spat contributed to Hillary's defeat in South Carolina.

KEITH BOYKIN, Democratic STRATEGIST: I also think it's a good idea that Clinton is pulling back because when you're running for president you need to stands on your own. And Hillary Clinton has to show is that she's her own person. Having this looming figure of Bill Clinton out there is not the best way for her to do that.

WHITFIELD: Bill Clinton also reiterated that he would not take a lead role in a Hillary Clinton administration.

CLINTON: I will not be in the cabinet. I will not be on the staff full time. I will not in any way interfere with the work of a strong vice president, strong secretary of state, strong secretary of treasury. I will do what we've always done for each other. I will let her bounce ideas off of me. I'll tell her what I think. You know we'll talk through things.


WHITFIELD: Clinton said his wife came back from the dead as the underdog in New Hampshire and Nevada and did well to win Massachusetts in spite of top Democrats there endorsing Senator Obama. If she faces Senator John McCain this fall, Mr. Clinton said the contest would be civilized but interesting because, "She likes him a lot" -- Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Fred, thanks very much.

So when it comes to his wife's campaign, is Bill Clinton right now a new man? Let's talk about that and more with two guests; former Senator Tom Daschle, the former majority leader. He's a Barack Obama supporter. And Ann Lewis, she's a senior adviser in the Hillary Clinton campaign. Thanks to both of you very much for coming in.

What do you think about this new strategy that Bill Clinton is annunciating? He's there to support his wife, but he's not going to defend her because that inevitably would lead him to criticize Senator Obama.

ANN LEWIS, CLINTON ADVISER: I think Bill Clinton said something a lot of us can appreciate. He was out there trying to help his spouse. He found that in his efforts to help, partly because he cared so much, he was getting in her way. Now, Hillary has been clear. She's the candidate. She's going to be the president. So what you saw Bill Clinton say today and he will say whenever he is asked on future occasions is this is about her run for the presidency. I want to be supportive.

But can we just say both our candidates are fortunate. They have great, articulate, passionate spouses out there speaking for them, representing them. I think people like knowing more about the candidate, and sometimes the surrogate can do that. But as Bill Clinton said, you have to be careful not to get in the way of your candidate.

BLITZER: Senator Daschle, what do you think?

TOM DASCHLE, OBAMA SUPPORTER: Well, I agree with Ann. I think it's great to have two spouses out there. I'm really please that had Bill Clinton said that he crossed the line. I think a lot of us felt he did early.

Obviously there is a role for spouses. It's a little different when you're the former president of the United States. The role of the spouse can be sometimes interchanged all too frequently with the role of the candidate and that's I think what happened on occasion over the last couple of months but he's had a different tone in the last couple of weeks. That's welcome.

BLITZER: Rush Limbaugh says this week the Republican s should hope that Hillary Clinton is nominee because it will be a better target for them. This is what he said. I'll read it to you, "If our electoral victory in November requires her being in the race, we have to stop him because there's no fear and loathing on Obama. You can't run against Obama fearing him or loathing him or dissing him. It isn't going to work. He doesn't have the personality that makes any of that fit. We need to keep her in it so we can win it." What do you say to Rush Limbaugh?

LEWIS: If there is anybody out here who thinks that Rush Limbaugh is giving good advice to Democrats , come see me.

BLITZER: No, he was giving advice to Republican s.

LEWIS: To Republican s or -- to, he was tells via his Republican audience who Democrats should nominate and if you really think that he means that well, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn that I would like to come sell you. He is no fan of the Democrats . He doesn't want a democrat to win. So when he says on his air, well we should root for Hillary, she'll be easier. I would look very hard at what's the motive there because I happen to think she's a lot more electable.

BLITZER: Do you think he has a point, Rush Limbaugh?

DASCHLE: Well, he has a point that a lot of Republican s are making. I talk to Republican s all over the country who say exactly the same thing and I think that's really the big issue is electability. On virtually every poll we've seen so far Wolf, Barack has done better. He's leading John McCain by six or seven points in one of the polls that I saw. In every poll it comes down to electability. Barack Obama is electable all over the country.

BLITZER: You're saying he could beat John McCain more easily than Hillary Clinton.

DASCHLE: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Why do you think the opposite?

LEWIS: Let's start with reality and again, as we've learned a couple of times in this past primary, voters are sort of more accurate than polls. Let's be careful about presuming that we can predict an election so many months out. First, Hillary Clinton has actually won hard foot contested general elections. Republican s through everything they had at her, spent tens of millions of dollars when she ran in New York in 2000.

When she ran in 2006, she not only won with a greater margin, she carried 36 of New York's red counties, those counties that had gone for George Bush. In contrast, Senator Obama has been fortunate. In that sense we should all wish for it. But he hasn't had to face a hard-fought, well funded Republican opponent. His Republican opponent for the senate self destructed.

BLITZER: You want to respond?

DASCHLE: I do. There's a big difference and analysts can see this I think between New York and most of the rest of the country, certainly west of the Mississippi. What Barack has been able to demonstrate is that he is able to tap into independents and Republican s as well as Democrats , young people. People are turning out in numbers unlike anything we've ever seen in all of American history. So his capacity to bring new people into to the election process and to bring over independents and Republican s I think is unparallel.

BLITZER: Senator Daschle and Ann Lewis, unfortunately we have to leave it right there but to be continued. Thanks to both of you for coming in.

He's crossed party lines before. So who is the former secretary of state, Colin Powell, going to back this time? The retired general shares the qualities he's looking for in the next commander in chief. My one-on-one exclusive interview with Colin Powell coming up in the next hour.

Plus, a leading Hollywood liberal has major problems with Hillary Clinton. The filmmaker Michael Moore tells us why he's not supporting her.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: John McCain may be having a problem winning over some of his party's conservatives but Hillary Clinton is also having a similar problem winning over some of her party's liberals. One of Hollywood's most outspoken liberals is now speaking out about that. That would be Michael Moore.

He talked to CNN entertainment correspondent, Brooke Anderson -- Brooke?

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he's got problems with her on several fronts, especially over the war.


ANDERSON: Michael Moore's beef with Hillary Clinton comes down to one word, Iraq.

H. CLINTON: If I had known then what I know now, I never would have given President Bush the authority ...

ANDERSON: The outspoken film maker says he won't support Clinton, at least during the primary season, because of her vote in 2002, authorizing the president to use force in Iraq.

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Hillary Clinton voted for the war, and as much as I like her, it would be an immoral act to vote for her because she voted over and over and over again for the war.

ANDERSON: But his issues with the New York senator extend beyond the Middle East.

H. CLINTON: I believe absolutely passionately that we must have universal health care.

ANDERSON: He doesn't like her health care proposal either, because it doesn't call for a single payer system, along the lines of Canada's. Moore doesn't approve of Barack Obama's health care ideas either for the same reason.

MOORE: No politician in either party has got the right plan yet. That's what I'm pushing for. We need a single payer system that the government is in charge of.

ANDERSON: There's little doubt Moore will lend his support to the eventual Democratic nominee whether it's Clinton or Obama. He views the Republican front-runner, John McCain, with disdain.

What are your thoughts on his presidential candidacy?

MOORE: Well, McCain is like crazy. So I think just for comedy purposes I mean I hope he gets the nomination just because to have a guy who is like completely Looney Tunes running for president is good for all of us who like good satire.


ANDERSON: Moore is up for an Oscar for his documentary, "Sicko," and it's interesting that while most people would be working on their acceptance speeches, he's spending his time teeing off on Clinton and the other candidates.

By the way, an update on the U.S. government's investigation into Moore's trip to Cuba for the film, he told me it's still underway but he hopes when this administration ends the next one will let him off the hook. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Brooke, thank you. Brooke Anderson reporting from L.A.

The White House arrivals, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, have taken care to stay on message but what are they really thinking and saying behind the closed doors of campaign headquarters?

And joining us now, our special correspondent, Frank Sesno with this week's "What If" segment -- Frank?


FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, what if the Republican contest firms up, and now it's just the Democrats ? That's what's pretty much happened. McCain has this thing locked up and the focus becomes entirely really Barack Obama versus Hillary Clinton and just how close that is. A few numbers really do tell the story. Hillary Clinton certainly leads light slightly with delegates.

In the money raised in January, Obama is way out front. They both hit the road to try to tell their story and win these next contests. Hillary Clinton visiting four states plus Washington, D.C. Barack Obama five. For the candidates, their staffers and strategists, if they have a secret weapon, now is the time.

SESNO: What if you could be a fly on the wall at the Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama campaign headquarters? What if you could hear what they're really saying about the campaign, their strategy and their prospects? We know what they're saying in public. Clinton says it's going fine.

H. CLINTON: We are very pleased about where the campaign is.

SESNO: But if you were a fly on the wall, you would hear another side. At Hillary's shop you might see them dump the decaf. They have to work around the clock now. This campaign has gone from inevitable to inexorable. You may see the bills piling up for traveling and polling and media and salaries.

What if you could have been there when Hillary tossed in $5 million of her own, and some of the staff agreed to go month without pay. They must have been fun. They're already back on the payroll. Then there's Barack. Publicly, it's all about momentum.

OBAMA: Yes we can!

SESNO: And money is pouring in, but with apologies to John McCain. You might hear some straight talk, too. Excitement doesn't necessarily equal victory. New Hampshire showed that a month ago, and Super Tuesday voters who made up their minds at the very last minute tended toward Hillary. The race card is still a wild card.

What if you were a fly on the wall inside these campaigns? You would see laser like focus now on the maps and the delegates. Where to deploy the candidates and the media buys? You would see calculations about some basic divisions in the Democratic Party; age, race, and gender. And you would see plenty of mood swings.


SESNO: The swings that really matter of course are the swings they make across the country and the states that are in play. That's what the strategists are focusing on, exactly how they're using their candidate's time. The states in play between now and March 4 include some big ones. You've heard a lot about them, Texas and Ohio. From there to the end, even more states opening up. This is a massive, massive thing.

And you know what, if you could be a fly, Wolf, the problem with a fly is they only have an average life span of a few weeks. You might actually not even see how this thing turns out. It could go, as we know, all the way down to the convention.

BLITZER: That's really possible but now that it looks like McCain is the Republican nominee, not a done deal but it looks like it will be McCain, how does that affect the strategies of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?

SESNO: I think in a big way because it allows them to really focus on the key differences that they want to focus on, which is what they would do as president or as a candidate versus the other side and they now know what the other side is. Hillary Clinton has already started that. She's trying to distinguish her from McCain and elevate herself in the process. I think it's an advantage for both of them because it gives them an even clearer, more stark contrast to draw.

BLITZER: Frank Sesno, our special correspondent, thanks.

SESNO: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Throughout this election season all the presidential candidates have gone on the major social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace in an effort to reach out to a wide variety of voters. Barack Obama is also on Web sites geared toward more specific communities. Let's go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.

Abbi, what are some of these web sites?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, this is Barack Obama campaign's presence on the Web site Asian Avenue where his biography emphasizes growing up in Indonesia and Hawaii. Here he is again on the Web site Faithbase directed at a Christian marketplace. Barack Obama, pictures of him speaking in church and here is on This is a Web site with nine million active users per month.

All of these groups are owned by Community Connect, an organization whose vice president says they talked with all the Democratic candidates, the mayor Democratic candidates last fall, but Barack Obama is the only one to maintain a presence across their five different sites.

They are others. They are Latino sites. Then this one, Eons, geared toward baby boomers, where both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have a presence. We spoke to the Internet director for the Hillary Clinton campaign today. He says they are unlimited opportunities online. They're always looking at expanding into other sites. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thanks, Abbi, very much.

General Colin Powell, he's speaking out on the political situation right now. He's talking about the presidential campaign. You're going to find out what he thinks about Barack Obama, John McCain and Hillary Clinton. My exclusive interview with the former secretary of state, that's coming up.

And the tragic death of the movie star Heath Ledger captured headlines in the tabloids but is the United States Army right now paying sharp attention as well?

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Let's go back to Jack Cafferty. He's got the Cafferty File in New York. Jack? CAFFERTY: The question this hour, Wolf, why are so many young people so interested in the 2008 election? They are turning out all over the country in record numbers that we haven't seen in years.

Rebecca writes from Columbus, Ohio, "As a young person I'm 20 years old. I'm interested in the election because the government has gone down the toilet in the last eight years. I wasn't able to vote yet in 2004 to try the turn things around. Young people like me are extremely inspired by Barack Obama, who gives us hope we can change thick things in the country. My life has been governed entirely by the Bush and Clinton families. I'm working now to see something new."

K. writes, "100 years in Iraq equals the draft."

Brandon in Laurel, Mississippi, "This will be the first presidential election I will be able to vote in. I'm very excited to be able to cast my ballot for Ron Paul. He has cured my apathy about politics and is an example of how we can change for the better. I will vote for him in November if I have to write in his name."

Sandy writes, "For the same reason I was interested in the election of John Kennedy. These kids see a light at the end of the tunnel when they see Barack Obama and well they should see that light. He is a bright light in this dark world and I hope the people of this country see that light before it's too late. I also hope the Washington elite don't screw him over."

C. writes from Houston, Texas, "Young people don't focus on what has been. They focus on the here and now. They use the Internet very effectively exchanging information and they love commercials. I believe they have always had an interest in elections but where shut out in the past."

And Sean writes, "You want to know why young people are getting involved? It is because we are sick and tired of these political leaders living with a 20th century mentality in a 21st century world."

Pretty good stuff, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Let's hope those young people actually go out and vote in November as well. Thanks Jack very much.

Britain's Scotland Yard is releasing some startling new findings about what killed the former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. But Bhutto's supporters say they're not satisfied.

Let's go straight to CNN's Brian Todd. He's watching this story for us.

Brian, what does this report say?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, some hotly disputed conclusions on the number of attackers and on exactly how Bhutto died that day in December.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD: Shots fired at nearly point-blank range, but according to Scotland Yard, none of them hit her. How did Benazir Bhutto die? A senior Pakistani police officer reads the British detective's findings.

CHAUNDHRY ABDUL MAJEED, PAKISTANI POLICE CHIEF: Mrs. Bhutto's only apparent injury was major trauma to the right side of the head. It occurred due to the effects of the bomb blast.

TODD: A blast that slammed Bhutto's head against the escape hatch on her armored SUV. That key finding in the report on the cause of the death is accompanied by another, that one attacker, not two or more, fired at Bhutto and set off the bomb. But the report summary obtained by CNN also says Scotland Yard's investigation "Was complicated by the lack of an extended and detailed search of the crime scene, the absence of an autopsy, and the absence of recognized body recovery and victim identification processes." Scotland Yard admits it relied heavily on x-rays. Her aides including one who was near Bhutto at the scene tell CNN they still believe her death was partly caused by a bullet wound to the head and they're not backing down from charges of a cover-up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The government of Pakistan has been constantly muddying the waters on this investigation, creating deliberate confusion.

TODD: Contacted by CNN, a top Pakistani official denied a cover- up and opposition claims that key forensic evidence was deliberately hosed away at the scene.

Bhutto's followers are also furious that Scotland Yard only probed the physical cause of her death, not the wider plot. Terrorism analyst Peter Bergen agrees with the assessment by the Pakistani government and the CIA that al Qaeda connected militant was behind the assassination, but he says the Pakistani regime still has credibility problems.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Going forward, you know I think Benazir Bhutto's death will be their version of the Kennedy assassination in the sense that many Pakistanis will never believe the government's version of these events.


TODD: Adding fuel to all that, no movement on calls from Bhutto's followers for a completely independent investigation on her death, like the U.N. probe into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister. Just today a department spokesman said the Bush administration would not join the calls, saying it's up to the Pakistani government to decide. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian, thanks very much. This story is not going away.

He's a Republican former secretary of state but will General Colin Powell cross party lines this November as he said he's done in the past? I'll ask him who he's endorsing. My exclusive interview coming up.

Plus, find out why the U.S. Army is now taking notice of the actor Heath Ledger's fatal overdose and why it fears its soldiers may be vulnerable.

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


BLITZER: We're now learning that the U.S. army has been watching the death of Heath Ledger with growing concern about the safety of its own soldiers. Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. She's watching this story for us. What's the connection, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, two words, prescription drugs.


STARR: The death of actor Heath Ledger from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs brought attention to a concern that has worried the army's top doctor for months.

LT. GEN. ERIC SCHOOMAKER, ARMY SURGEON GENERAL: What we've seen with the recent loss of a very prominent, talented actor is potentially out there for our soldiers.

STARR: Army Surgeon General Eric Schoomaker next week will report to the Pentagon that deaths like Ledger's amongst troops who accidentally mix and overdose on prescription drugs are a problem that needs to be solved.

SCHOOMAKER: We've had some very unfortunate deaths over the last few months that have brought further attention to this.

STARR: One of those cases was Sergeant Gerald Cassidy. He died last year in his room at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The army found the cause of death was arterial disease and multi-drug toxicity, unintended overdose.

It does sound a lot like the case we've now seen in the news.

SCHOOMAKER: It's eerily similar to that.

STARR: There are nearly 10,000 wounded and sick troops as outpatients at military bases across the country. They may be particularly vulnerable as many require significant quantities of prescription drugs to help deal with pain, depression and sleep.