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Cunningham's Attack on Barack Obama; Why Clinton is Losing Women; Curtain Goes up in North Korea: New York Philharmonic Performs

Aired February 26, 2008 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, an ugly personal attack on Barack Obama. The stunning tirade coming from a supporter of John McCain at a McCain rally. You're going to hear the rant and McCain's reaction.

Hillary Clinton speaking out about Barack Obama's mystique and meteoric rise. And she offers a very candid discussion about her own marital problems and how she got through them.

And the Iron Curtain goes up for an extraordinary concert. A top American orchestra plays in North Korea. But is there harsh discord over the North's nuclear program? Our Christiane Amanpour is on the scene in North Korea.

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

A blistering personal attack on Barack Obama leaves some jaws dropping in Ohio and raises eyebrows across the country. It happened when a local radio talk show host was warming up a John McCain rally today in Cincinnati. The speaker, Bill Cunningham, ripped into Obama, characterizing him as corrupt and suggesting he would comfort America's enemies if elected president. He also called the candidate by his middle name, Hussein.

Take a listen to this.


BILL CUNNINGHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Now we have a hack Chicago-style Daley politician who is picturing himself as change. When he gets done with you, all you're going to have in your pocket is change.

At some point in the near future, the media -- the stooges from "The New York Times"; CBS -- the Clinton Broadcasting System; NBC -- the Nobody But Clinton network; the All Bill Clinton channel, ABC and the Clinton News Network at some point is going to peel the bark off Barack Hussein Obama. That day will come. Then you'll know the truth about his business dealings with Rezko, when he got sweetheart deals in Chicago and the illegal loans that he received.

At some point, the media will quit taking sides in this thing and maybe start covering Barack Hussein Obama the same way they covered Bush, the same way they covered Cheney and the same way they cover every Republican. I look forward to that day when truth comes. I look forward to that.


CUNNINGHAM: You know, last night as I was nodding off in my modified palatial estate, I had this vision. An angel visited me at night and said Willy, let's go ahead one year. It's a wonderful life. It's going to be Barack Hussein Obama's wonderful life a year from today.

It's about the February 26th, 2009. Barack Obama is in the White House. Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the House and Harry Reid is the Senate Majority Leader. Obama just came back from meeting with Ahmadinejad. He's got a meeting the next week with Kim Jung Il in North Korea. Then he's going to saddle up next to Hezbollah.

They're going to have a little cookie and ice cream party. All is going to be right with the world when the great prophet from Chicago takes the stand and the world leaders who want to kill us will simply be singing "Kumbaya" together around the table of Barack Obama. It's all going to be great. Things are going to be wonderful.


BLITZER: Senator McCain was not on the stage at that time for that introduction. Later, he repudiated Cunningham's comments and said it will never happen again.

Listen to this.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whatever suggestion was made that was in any way disparaging to the integrity, character, honesty of either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton was wrong. And I condemn it. And if I have any responsibility, I will take responsibility and I apologize for it.


BLITZER: Let's go to our chief national correspondent, John King. He's watching the story. He's in Cincinnati right now.

John, how did this happen? How did this radio talk show host, who is well-known in Cincinnati, get to introduce John McCain? What's the campaign saying about it?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a great question, Wolf. Now, Senator McCain's and his national traveling staff say they had nothing to do with this, that they were not familiar with the program put together by their local supporters. And many of those local supporters say when you have Bill Cunningham at an event, you are taking the risk of controversy, because he is a magnet for controversy.

But there's also -- it's crystal clear, Wolf, the local supporters wanted him here because they think he can help. I'm in southwest Ohio, the Cincinnati area. It is a die-hard Republican area. George Bush won here twice and he was president because he won here twice. And they say that Bill Cunningham, in both of those campaigns, was critical to turning out the Republican vote in close elections in Hawaii -- I mean in Ohio. Excuse me.

They very much wanted him here because they believed he could help John McCain now, heading into Tuesday's primary and heading, more importantly, into the November election. So they knew they were taking a risk, but, Wolf, the local McCain supporters took it because they think he can help him.

BLITZER: After the event -- after the controversy erupted, he went back on his radio show and he hit back at John McCain, didn't he?

KING: He sure did. We were listening the to the radio show, because we wanted to see how this all played out. And he was told about the controversy. He left. McCain was on the bus when Bill Cunningham said those things. McCain came into the event, Bill Cunningham left to go do his radio show. He found out about this from "The Cincinnati Enquirer," that McCain had repudiated his statements.

And what he was saying on the radio is how can this guy be repudiating me when he didn't hear what I said? And he also said on the program that he made Barack Obama and John McCain mad at him in the same day. He was joking the other day that he endorsed Hillary Clinton and they issued a press release saying they didn't want his support, that maybe he would have to back Ralph Nader now.

It's no -- there's no question, Wolf, that Bill Cunningham clearly is enjoying this day in the spotlight and enjoying being involved in this controversy. The question is, is there any long-term damage to John McCain and will this conservative talk show host, who all the Republicans out here say is important to the party, will he still stand with John McCain or will he now repudiate McCain? That's a question we'll watch in the days ahead.

BLITZER: Well, we just heard Donna Brazile, our Democratic strategist, here in THE SITUATION ROOM, John, praise John McCain for repudiating Bill Cunningham's remarks and going as strongly as he did.

All right, John King on the scene for us in Cincinnati.

His own campaign battle with Hillary Clinton has gotten somewhat nasty in recent weeks. But Barack Obama was sounding like Mr. Nice Guy earlier today. After picking up endorsement from former presidential candidate, Senator Chris Dodd, Obama offered a positive tone.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that, you know, in the final weeks of the campaign, things get more competitive. And, you know people, I think, recognize that there's a lot at stake. And people have been putting in a lot of work over the last year and been away from families. And people are getting tired.

And so certainly what I told my staff, and I think that -- you know, I'm sure that Senator Clinton has told her staff, as well, is that, you know, let's play to win. But let's make sure that we are maintaining the kind of campaign that, win or lose, we will be proud of afterwards. And I think that's probably a good note for all of us to take.


BLITZER: Let's bring in our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger. She's here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Can Obama afford, at this stage, to play Mr. Nice Guy? And Hillary Clinton, what -- she's walking a delegate tightrope herself. If she gets too tough, she sort of antagonizes a lot of Democrats. On the other hand, she's trying to win the nomination.

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: She is. And Obama should do exactly what he's doing, which is to essentially try and keep it at an even keel. He's got the advantage right now. But, Wolf, she really, as you point out, has to walk this very, very fine line. Because she has to pin him down on the issues where they disagree. But she's also got to try and lower his altitude a little bit. And the only way to do that is to kind of take him on.

But when you're sitting next to someone face-to-face in a debate, there's only so much you can do, unless you start berating him. And whenever she does that, she doesn't do very well. She's not terrific at nuance. I would have to say that if Bill Clinton were in this same situation, he'd probably be a little better at it.

BLITZER: And, you know, we're seeing a lot of ugliness. And I guess it's maybe just the beginning. Yesterday, that photo of Barack Obama when he was in Kenya in 2006 and now this radio talk show host repeatedly referring to Barack Obama as Barack Hussein Obama. What can we anticipate in the immediate period ahead on this part of the story?

BORGER: You know, this is hardball. I mean this is a really, really tough campaign. The stakes are very high. You're close to a big election and everything you say matters at this particular moment.

One thing, though, that's kind of interesting, talking to a former Bill Clinton person, he said, you know, the Clinton campaign doesn't seem to be taking Bill Clinton's advice, which is the positive, optimistic candidate usually wins. You've got to remain there if you're going to get the voters. And that's the challenge for Hillary Clinton, to be positive and optimistic, yet to find a way to attack Obama on the issues. It's tough.

BLITZER: Very tough. That's why they say Bill Clinton was unique in many respects as a politician, as we know.

BORGER: Very good at it.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much for that. Gloria will be back later, as well.

Let's get to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: John McCain is tying his future to what happens in Iraq. He says he'll loose the race for the White House if he cannot convince Americans that our policy in Iraq is succeeding. He may be onto something.

Not long after those words came out of his mouth, McCain tried to put them back in, which is something that hardly ever works. McCain said he wanted to retract the "I'll lose" comment. But he added that how the American people judge Iraq will have a direct relation on how they eventually judge him. It's not an unreasonable proposition that McCain sees his future so closely entwined with the war in Iraq.

Last summer, when a lot of U.S. troops were dying there and McCain was supporting the surge, you may recall his campaign was losing staff, short on money, close to collapse, had been written off by a lot of people, including me at the time. McCain claims both Clinton and Obama were both wrong about that troop surge. And he points to recent political progress in Iraq.

What he doesn't mention is that Obama was opposed to the invasion of Iraq from the outset, while Hillary Clinton voted for it. Both Democratic candidates insist that if elected, McCain would only continue President Bush's failed policies. And they highlight at every opportunity McCain's remark that U.S. troops could be in Iraq for 100 years.

McCain has his work cut out for him. Despite the decrease in violence in Iraq and some minimal political progress, five years after the invasion, about 60 percent of Americans still think the war was a mistake.

So here's the question: John McCain says he could lose the election over the Iraq War issue. Is he right?

Go to to post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jack. Thank you.

He's been soaring, she's been plummeting.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that there is a certain phenomenon associated with his candidacy. And I am, you know, really struck by that because it is, you know, very much about him and his personality and his presentation.


BLITZER: Hillary Clinton speaking out about the Obama factor and what's behind his meteoric rise. And millions are affected as the lights go out across much of South Florida. A nuclear facility is among the power plants with no power. And the New York Philharmonic plays in Pyongyang. But are the U.S. and North Korea in harmony when it comes to the North's nuclear program? Our Christiane Amanpour is on the scene. We'll go there live.

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


BLITZER: Candidate Hillary Clinton speaking out about Barack Obama's mystique and his meteoric rise. And she picks an interesting forum to show her softer side.

And joining us now here in THE SITUATION ROOM, David Brody. He's the senior national correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network.

You had a lengthy interview with Hillary Clinton. She doesn't do one for the Christian Broadcasting Network every day, so this is pretty rare.

I'm going to play a little clip for you, David, and then we'll talk about it.

Listen to this.


H. CLINTON: I think that there is a certain phenomenon associated with his candidacy. And I am, you know, really struck by that because it is, you know, very much about him and his personality and his presentation. And that's perfectly legitimate in politics or any other walk of life.

But I think it dangerously oversimplifies the complexity of the problems we face, the challenge of navigating our country through some, you know, difficult, uncharted waters. We are a nation at war. That seems to be forgotten.

DAVID BRODY, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: Do you believe the media has given him somewhat of a free ride?

H. CLINTON: Well, I think that that certainly is the topic of a lot of conversation, probably for good reason. You know, I'm not going to tell the media how to do your job or anyone's. But I think it's, again, a disservice, first, to the voters in the Democratic primaries and then to voters in general, you know, not to hold each of us to a very tough standard, because we're vying for the toughest job in the world.

And it's going to be especially hard following President Bush to get in there and repair the damage and chart a new course. So it seems to me that there ought to be a concerted effort to really, you know, make sure that each of us is ready to withstand the rigors of the general election campaign and then of the, you know, extraordinary pressures at the White House. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, David, let's talk about your impressions of what you saw. You spent, what, almost a half an hour in this interview.

Is this a woman who's still fighting with -- who thinks she can still get the nomination or more someone resigned to maybe it's not going to happen?

BRODY: You know, a little of both. I would say more that she's in the fighting mode. She's also in the scratching your head mode right now. I really believe that, as I went through that almost 30 minute interview with her, that she is pretty much dumbfounded at this point as to how it's gotten to where it is today.

And you would see that common theme throughout that interview about this idea that -- you know, she talked about celebrity and phenomenon of Barack Obama. And really she doesn't -- she gets it, but she also doesn't quiet get it. And it's been a frustrating part not just for her campaign, but for herself, as well.

BLITZER: And you also talked with her about one of the most sensitive subjects out there, the whole issue of her marriage and her faith.

I'm going to play another excerpt. Listen to this.


BRODY: How did your faith get you through some of those marital difficulties in the '90s? Can you tell us a little bit about that?

H. CLINTON: Well, I believe that there is a purpose to everything that happens. You may not know it, you may not like it, but there is a purpose. And it is through that foundation of faith being so firm for me that I was able to work my way to a resolution that was right for me.

You know, I was well aware of everyone else's opinion and everyone else's second guessing. But my faith protected me and gave me the space and the time to really come to an understanding of what was right for me and my family. And I am so grateful for that.

Now, there were those along the way who helped. You know, I had a memorable conversation with Billy Graham, who was so supportive and really underscored for me the power of forgiveness. You know, forgiveness is just a word unless you really confront it with the necessity of having to exercise it. And then it is the hardest work you are ever called upon to do.


BLITZER: Talk a little bit about your impressions of that exchange. BRODY: I think it was pretty authentic and I think it was pretty real. And the reason I say that is not just because of what she said and how she said it, but the lead-up to what we talked about. In other words, she walked in the room and there was this real genuine moment where she felt, I believe, in a word, touched that, you know, that we were asking these questions in the way that we were asking the questions.

And, you know, it's a side of Hillary we don't see often. It's something that her campaign clearly wants to get out there and talk about. And they've been wanting to talk about this side of her for a while.

But the question, really, from a campaign strategy standpoint is should they have done this earlier, you know, would it have been more helpful? Of course, they're not writing off Hillary by any stretch of the imagination. But it goes to the broader issue, Wolf, as to whether or not the softer side of Hillary needed to be up front and personal earlier.

BLITZER: And you also asked her in one exchange if she felt she was misunderstood. Tell our viewers what she said.

BRODY: Yes. You know, she believes she is. And, you know, it's interesting, she doesn't get that question asked much. Obviously, it may come across as kind of a softball question. But, really, it's interesting to see how she handled that, because, quite frankly, she says she's basically demonized and that there is an agenda out there and there are people that want to get at her.

And she -- she recognizes that, you know, it cuts both ways. But, you know, she does understand that this is a very important, not only a campaign, but also an important moment for her to be able to express herself. She talks a lot about her Christian faith privately to folks, but not much publicly.

BLITZER: David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network. David, thanks for coming in.

BRODY: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: A massive blackout hits Florida and millions were left in the dark. We're going to have the latest on what's going on right now.

Plus, the surprising new religious trends that could impact the race for the White House.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Carol, what's going on? CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a massive power outage in South Florida impacting some three million customers. It happened when an equipment failure shut down the Turkey Point nuclear power plant. It caused some real traffic problems as signals across the region went dark. But we're now being told almost everyone's power should be back on shortly, by 6:00 Eastern at the latest.

Pet owners -- you are now required to have your dog or cat sterilized by the time it's four-months-old if you live in the City of Los Angeles. A new city ordinance carries fines and community service for those who fail to comply. Of course, there are exemptions for breeders and for show animals. Last year, the city euthanized 15,000 dogs and cats at a cost of $2 million.

U.S. Airways is poised to start charging passengers $25 to check a second piece of luggage. A spokesman says the airline is trying to find a way to offset skyrocketing fuel costs and that the baggage surcharge will give it an extra $75 million a year. United Airlines announced a similar baggage policy earlier this month.

If Starbucks is part of your after work routine, be warned -- you will not be able to get your Venti Skinny Latte today. Starbucks is closing all of its more than 7,000 U.S. stores for three hours today, starting at 5:30 local time. The company is putting its 135,000 employees through an intensive retraining program, focusing on improving quality and service, so when they open up again, you'll be treated very courteously -- back to you.

BLITZER: That means they have five minutes to get that Venti Skim Latte on the East Coast right now.

COSTELLO: That's right. Go!

BLITZER: Let's get a countdown clock going. Five minutes and counting. Thanks very much for that, Carol.

Not too long ago, a major part of Hillary Clinton's support came from women. Now they're flocking to Barack Obama's campaign. So Clinton is bringing in some star power of her own. But will people like Ellen DeGeneres make a difference?

Plus, history in North Korea -- there haven't been this many Americans there in 60 years. Our Christiane Amanpour joining us live with the musical event that could bridge the gap.

Plus, the powerful evangelical movement -- it's traditionally make up of Republicans, but maybe not any more. That's just part of the surprising information from a new study about Americans and faith.

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


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

Happening now, plans for shorter combat tours in Iraq. The Army chief of staff, General George Casey, telling Congress he hopes soldiers' time in the field will be cut from 15 months to 12 months beginning this summer.

Also, a leading housing index shows the sharpest drop in U.S. home prices in its 20-year history. The Standard & Poor's report says they plunged almost nine percent nationwide in the final quarter of 2007, with some markets seeing drops above 15 percent.

And now open, a vault deep inside a remote mountain in Norway being called a frozen garden of Eden. It will eventually house millions of seeds from around the world to protect them from manmade and natural disasters. They would be used to replant the planet in the event of a cataclysmic event.

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

As the Clinton campaign throws everything it's got at Texas and Ohio, it's facing some troubling new developments, including women voters who are defecting to Barack Obama.

Let's turn to Carol Costello once again. She's watching the story for us.

What do see happening? What's going on, Carol?

COSTELLO: Well Wolf, Hillary Clinton still has strong support from older white women, but other women have bolted to Obama. The other night, "Saturday Night Live" poked fun at this, and the Clinton camp was not happy about it.

Now beware, before you see the taped part of my story, you're about to hear that word that rhymes with rich. So if you must, hide your children.


COSTELLO: Not so long ago, Hillary Clinton owned the female vote. Back in August a CNN national poll showed she led Barack Obama among women 46 percent to 21 percent. Today, well not so much. In Wisconsin last week, exit polls showed she split the female vote 50/50 with Barack Obama. Even "Saturday Night Live" noticed.

TINA FEY, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Women today feel perfectly free to make whatever choice Oprah tells them to, which raises the question, why are people abandoning Hillary for Obama? Some say they are put off by the fact that Hillary can't control her husband. I think what bothers me the most is that people say Hillary is a bitch. Let me saying in something about that. She is. So am I. and so is this one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes and deal with it.

FEY: You know what? Bitches get stuff done.

COSTELLO: Funny or right on the money? Long time Washington observer Sally Quinn loved it. But says Clinton's real problem with women lies elsewhere.

SALLY QUINN, JOURNALIST, AUTHOR: She's tough one minute. The next minute she's crying. Then she's telling Barack Obama how she's honored to be running against him.

COSTELLO: The loss of female support is not lost on Clinton. At George Washington University, she was obviously courting them, using that "Saturday Night Live" skit and Ellen DeGeneres via satellite to do it.

ELLEN DEGENERES, TALK SHOW HOST: Do you think that you're given a harder time than Barack because you're a woman?

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, nobody has ever asked me if I wanted an extra pillow during the debate. And I am actually asking the people of America to hire me for the toughest job in the world, and I think it requires a person who can actually stand up to whatever comes my way.

COSTELLO: The winning way to get women back? Or should she just adopt Tina Fey's way?

FEY: Bitch is the new black.


COSTELLO: I won't repeat that. You know, one analyst told me, Wolf, Hillary Clinton has been unable to transcend her sex as effectively as Obama has been able to transcend his race. I guess we'll just have to see what happens in Ohio and Texas.

BLITZER: One week from today, Carol. Thanks very much for that.

Let's get more now on Hillary Clinton and the women's vote and other issues. For that, we're joined by Maria Echaveste and Christopher Edley. They met while working in the Clinton administration. They got married. They're now both at U.C. Berkeley Law School. He's backing Barack Obama. She's backing Hillary Clinton.

Guys, thanks for coming in.


BLITZER: What's the problem, Maria? I know you support Hillary Clinton. Why are women moving away from her toward Barack Obama?

MARIA ECHAVESTE, CLINTON SUPPORTER: Well, I think part of it is that there's this deep-seeded really submerged sexism that in part relates to the fact that even women prefer to listen to a man. It was interesting what Carol said about Hillary has been unable to transcend her sex the way Obama has been able to transcend race.

Well, part of it, I think what's going on is Obama you can have the sort of adoring crowd of women particularly sort of listening to every single word, and yet for Hillary, she has to project something else. And unfortunately, I think a lot of our society finds it hard to see women in that commanding role.

BLITZER: What do you think, Chris?

EDLEY: Some of that may be true and I certainly think that gender is playing a role in this political cycle, as race is. But remember that Hillary was the front-runner for months and months and months. Indeed was thought to be inevitable. So it would be difficult to say, if one looked back a couple of months ago, that gender was raising its ugly head as a bar to her political success.

I think the danger here is that in focusing on issues of gender and race it makes it all the more difficult to think about how we're going to heal the party once the fight for the nomination is over. And the rising decibel level and the screeching that we're hearing from both camps, frankly, is really problematic. Hearing enough of it in our own household. Certainly don't need it for the party.

BLITZER: How do you deal with that at a Democrat? Once whoever whether it's Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama? There is some bitterness, obviously. We've seen, Maria. How do you deal with that getting ready for presumably John McCain?

ECHAVESTE: Well, it's going to take work. But the many voters that I talk to in lots of different places around the country is they are unified in their desire to make sure that a Republican does not win in November.

But I think the tone of this last week, especially as with go into March 4th, is going to be really important, and I really do hope both campaigns can avoid just knocking each other out in ways that can make it very hard for us to be united.

BLITZER: Let me read to, Chris, from the "New York Observer" on Monday, a piece entitling "Turning Obama into Jimmy Carter."

Among other things they said this: "And once again the Democrats seem ready to nominate a candidate whose appeal is rooted more in the emotions that he stirs than in the details of his 12-point plans. For Jimmy Carter in 1976, the operative word was trust. For Barack Obama in 2008, it is hope."

What do you think about that comparison between Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama?

EDLEY: It's very interesting. I worked in the Carter campaign and as you know, the Carter White House, as well as the Clinton White House. The reality is that although I've spent decades as a policy wonk, wishing and praying that the public would make its choices on the basis of the 15-point policy plans that I enjoy designing, the reality is that most voters make their decision based upon issues of character, likability, vision, and not on the policy details.

I think we have a responsibility to check to make sure that the policy details are there, but the truth is that there's a lot more to winning an election, and importantly an awful lot more to effective leadership. I have to say that Jimmy Carter was wonderful as a principled man and as a person with terrific policy ideas. But in the White House, he could not rally the country to follow his agenda. What Obama offers is exactly that quality of leadership on top of being the continent policy --

BLITZER: Do you agree, Maria?

ECHAVESTE: Absolutely not. And precisely because I think that what Senator Obama has done is create -- people are hearing what they want to hear. So there is going to be a tremendous letdown because the fact is he will be unable to deliver on all of the promises that he's making.

And it's going to be a hard knockout kind of battle with Congress. And I believe that you need someone with more experience to be able to make the kind of change we have - we need.

BLITZER: We're out of time but I have to ask you because I know a lot of viewers are worried. How is your marriage coming along? Maria, how are you holding up? When you were on last week, a lot of people writing me and saying I hope their marriage isn't suffering because they support different Democratic presidential candidates.

ECHAVESTE: Obviously we care deeply about our candidates. But our marriage --

EDLEY: Just answer the question.

ECHAVESTE: Our marriage is fine. It's fine. But it's hard.

EDLEY: This had better be over March 5th. That's all I can say.

BLITZER: All right. We'll talk to you guys soon. Thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Barack Obama supporters have turned him into a You Tube sensation as a lot of you know. But a new website from Hillary Clinton supporters is trying to carve out a corner for Clinton online as well.

Let's go to Internet reporter Abbi Tatton.

Abbi, what are you seeing on this new site?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, this is from Hillary supporters who don't want to be drowned out online. Hillary speaks for me. This is young people's supportive videos. In this one case, very young people.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Hillary Clinton can be president, we can be president, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TATTON: This is set up by Hillary Clinton supporters including Laura Reshma Saujani (ph) who's been a long time active in Democratic politics and she acknowledges along with her friends who set up this up on their YouTube page that it's Obama that has inspired many of their peers.

Online, that's hard to miss. He leads in terms of YouTube views. Grass roots supporters have set up his own page You Bama and then there's this music video that became a YouTube sensation. Yes, we can from the musician Will.I.Am, which is now morphed into the video project showing all the supporters online. Thousands so far on the developers promise more to come -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Abbi, thank you for that.

An historic performance by an American orchestra in North Korea. CNN's Christiane Amanpour is there. She's going to show us how it's affecting relations between Washington and Pyongyang. We're going live to North Korea in just a moment.

Surprising results from a new survey on religion. You're going to find out what's changing in America and why it could have tremendous political impact.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: In news around the world, the iron curtain has gone up at least for a little while for an extraordinary performance, a concert by the New York Philharmonic in North Korea. But there's still a lot of discourse over North Korea's nuclear program. Let's turn to our chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour. She's joining us now live from Pyongyang.

Christiane, tell us about this extraordinary day.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it was extraordinary. It's already here now in the North Korean press this morning. There you have the picture of the New York Philharmonic and it was a first on so very many levels.


AMANPOUR: North Korea hasn't seen this many Americans since the Korean War 60 years ago. Yet for two countries technically still at war, the power of music prevails at least for this day. Few could have imagined ever hearing the "Star Spangled Banner" or seeing the stars and stripes in public in Pyongyang.

The Philharmonic's conductor, Lorin Maazel, lead the orchestra in rousing renditions. When he joked that one day there would be a piece called Americans in Pyongyang, there was loud applause.

Part of the concert was broadcast live in the United States and around the world. While the concert goers here are mostly the elite, others watched at home because North Korea also broadcast it live, unprecedented in a country that allows nothing but official propaganda.

There was standing ovations even during the performance. This from people brought up believing the United States is an imperialist aggressor bent on destroying them. The concert changed some minds.

I think this is a friendly and peaceful message from the United States, says this woman. I hope it's just the beginning of cultural exchanges.

Some of the American musicians were nervous traveling here. And while many don't believe they're doing anything but playing music, others, like violinist Caroline Webb, think they're doing so much more.

CAROLINE WEBB, NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC: You know I feel that I'm part of history, as a matter of fact. And I did go full circle on this because at first I had big misgivings about coming.

AMANPOUR: This comes as a form of reach out. While the United States is involved in here, this country has used enough plutonium for several nuclear weapons and it has test fired one about 18 months ago. The U.S. is trying now to disarm North Korea once and for all.

The Philharmonic's finale was a traditional Korean folk song. Another standing ovation, while some in the audience waved good-bye to their American guests. And while some critics had complained the concert had been nothing but a PR coup for a brutal regime, but many others insist the way to bring about change is by all manners of exchange.


AMANPOUR: So, Wolf, the most appraisal I heard was former Secretary of Defense William Perry who, as you know, has long been involved in North Korea/U.S. nuclear negotiations. He says he believes a nuclear agreement is possible, maybe within this year and this administration. He said what remains is person to person mistrust, a cultural mistrust. That's why this concert, he said, was important -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Christiane, are there any immediate plans for a follow up in cultural exchanges or other sports activities perhaps between the U.S. and North Korea?

AMANPOUR: Well, there aren't at the moment, but many people here were talking about it. This was an initiative from the North Korea to the New York Philharmonic. It was a private visit by the New York Philharmonic and many here now in the Philharmonic are talking about how they should invite the North Korea state orchestra. That may happen. The North Korea state orchestra is going to Britain in the fall.

BLITZER: Christiane Amanpour doing some excellent work for us in North Korea. Thanks, Christiane, very much. History being made right now.

A blistering attack on Barack Obama from a supporter of John McCain. We're going to take a closer look at the tirade and the fallout.

And a seismic shift for American religion. Why it may be bringing about a political earthquake as well. And we're taking a closer look at the impact on the presidential race.

Lots more coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: They've dominated Republican politics for more than a decade but that may be coming to an end. There are some surprising new trends among evangelical Christians and religion in general that could impact potentially in a major way on the presidential race and those to come. Let's go to Brian Todd. He's taking a much closer look at what we're seeing.

What is going on, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a new survey shows Americans are moving around quite a lot on their religious affiliations. That's presenting new political challenges for both parties. The Republicans may not be able to look quite the same at their evangelical base again.


TODD: The power of the evangelical moment. A traditional stable of the Republican Party base but that could be changing. A new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows while the ranks of evangelicals are growing and remain strong, even out numbering Catholics now, they may be splintering politically.

JOHN GREEN, PEW FORUM ON RELIGION AND PUBLIC LIFE: Evangelicals may not be as united politically as they were in the past because of all the new people that have been joining their churches that have different perspectives.

TODD: Jim Wallis, a left-leaning evangelical author, says the new ranks of evangelicals have broader political priorities.

JIM WALLIS, "THE GREAT AWAKENING": Young evangelicals think that Jesus probably cares more about those 30,000 children who died today because of utterly preventable poverty and disease than he would about gay marriage amendments in Ohio. That's the change in the agenda.

TODD: Other observers believe the evangelical movement's anti- abortion, anti-gay marriage base is intact and still influential in the GOP, but is increasingly looking over its shoulder.

DAVID BRODY, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: There is a concern, no doubt, within the old guard so to speak, that some of these other issues are taking the place of some of these cultural war attitudes. TODD: Another striking part of the Pew survey, more than a quarter of American adults say they've left the faith of their childhood in favor of sect or no religion at all. Sixteen percent say they're not affiliated with any faith, a larger percentage than in any time in recent memory. Analysts say that could also change America's political landscape.

DIANA BUTLER BASS, "CHRISTIANITY FOR THE REST OF US": In several election cycles now, we have seen that Democrats attract secular voters and nonaffiliated voters. If that percentage of the American population is increasing, one would expect that that would translate into a new core constituency of secular or non-affiliated spiritual but not religious people for the Democrats.


TODD: But analysts say that, in fact, may present a challenge for the Democrats. At the same time their natural constituency of voters is growing, they say, Democratic candidates have become more religious in their rhetoric, clearly trying to reach out to more traditional religious and yes evangelical voters and now they have to balance all of it. Wolf?

BLITZER: Fascinating trends with significant potential on politics as well. Thanks very much for that, Brian.

Let's go back to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack?

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: John McCain says he could lose the election over the war in Iraq, that issue. Is he right?

Jeff in Boston says: "The Iraq war was sold to us as part of the war on terror. It wasn't and it has only created a new generation of Islamic extremists who hate us. The fact that both Senators McCain and Clinton failed to understand and articulate the difference between the Iraq war and the war on terror suggests either a failing of the head or the backbone. Either way, neither would make a good president."

Robert writes: "I think McCain's presidential chances are dead on arrival. His unwavering support of the Iraq travesty has secured the presidency for the Democrats. He's in the dark. Poll after poll stated the American public doesn't like this war and yet he, just like the current buffoon in the White House, continues to support it. It's time for a change."

Will writes: "You don't give McCain enough credit for bravely defying public opinion in order to support the troop surge, which is showing results. We have been in Japan for over 60 years and similarly in this conflict we'll have to keep troops in the region permanently. Those are just the fact and John McCain is simply telling the honest truth."

Gail in St. Paul, Minnesota: "McCain, and anyone else who's tied his future to the Bush/Cheney disaster in Iraq, will be blown away as soon as you guys in the media stop letting them say 'the surge is working.' Yes, it's helped. But why don't you hammer on the truth that radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Al Sadr called for a cease fire six months, that he recently threatened to end the cease fire and could do so any time he chooses. Then we'll see just what our continued occupation of Iraq will mean for our soldiers. McCain doesn't get it."

And Leia in Washington: "McCain has taken such a hard-nosed stance on the Iraq war that there is no room for him to back of it now. He has adamantly supported a war that the majority of Americans, 60 percent even now, say was a mistake. That's not Republican. It's not Democratic. That's the American perspective. He's in trouble and frankly any man or woman who supports a war that has taxed our military, torn apart many of America's families and left us with obscene death tolls and deaths should be trouble" -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much. See you in a few moments.

Lou Dobbs is standing by to join us live in a moment also.

Plus, does the media have a double standard when it comes to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton?

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: They're a rare breed, worth their weight in gold right now to both the Clinton and Obama campaigns, the undeclared superdelegates. Let's check in with Lou to see, to get some thoughts on what he thinks.

I know you're going to be speaking to one of the undeclared superdelegates in an hour on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." But do you think when all is said and done it's going to be up to these superdelegates? Or will the actual Democratic Party voters make this decision?

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's hard to tell. Obviously, I wish I knew the answer to that. My suspicion is that we're going to see the superdelegates play quite a role because it just doesn't look as though mathematically it's possible one of these candidates could emerge decisively I suppose but I think it's unlikely.

I'll be talking with Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur tonight. She is, in my opinion, one of the finest representatives of the American people serving in Congress. She's a superdelegate, undeclared for either Obama or Clinton and she is focusing on trade and one of the things that is emerging here, Wolf, as people begin to pay more attention is that whether it's Clinton or whether it's Obama, frankly they're talking out of both sides of the mouth on the trade issue while people as such in her district in Ohio are really in great pain and some misery as a result of free trade policies that have cost tens of thousands of jobs in Ohio and millions of jobs around the country.

BLITZER: We'll see you in one hour, Lou. Thanks very much.

DOBBS: You bet.