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Spitzer Stepping Down; Ferraro Quits Clinton Campaign; Florida Democrat, Robert Wexler, on Opposing Do-Over; How Will Silda Spitzer Fare After Scandal?

Aired March 12, 2008 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, a political casualty in a Democratic dust-up over race. The former vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro says she won't let the Obama attack her to hurt Hillary Clinton. We will tell you what's going on. There are new developments.

Also, the fight over a primary do-over. As the Clinton and Obama camps stake their ground, a top Florida Democrat says no to a mail-in revote. I will ask him why.

And will another shoe drop in the Eliot Spitzer sex scandal? Now that he's resigning as the governor of New York, we will take a closer look at the legal crisis he could be facing.

I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center, along with the best political team on television. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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

For two days running, race has been front and center once again in the Democratic presidential campaign. Now the woman who unleashed the uproar over the past couple days is taking a step back; that would be the former vice presidential nominee, Geraldine Ferraro. She is resigning from Hillary Clinton's finance committee.

Let's go to our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley. She is watching this story unfold in Chicago.

Ferraro is defending, strongly defending what she had to say. But she is taking this dramatic step of resigning from the finance committee. Update our viewers, Candy, on what exactly is happening.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you are absolutely right. I mean, this has been about 48 hours of back and forth. Nobody likes that in their campaigns. It takes them off the issues, both for the Clinton campaign and the Obama campaign.

And nobody understands the importance of staying on message better than Geraldine Ferraro, who, as you know, has been a politician. So today she didn't back away from what she had to say. But she did step down from the Clinton campaign.


CROWLEY (voice-over): From Geraldine Ferraro, a dear Hillary letter: "I am stepping down from your finance committee so I can speak for myself and you can continue to speak for yourself about what's at stake in this campaign. The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you. I won't let that happen. Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do to make this a better world for my children and grandchildren. You have my deep admiration and respect."

It puts a period on a couple of days of back and forth over Ferraro's suggestion that Barack Obama is where he is because he is black. Earlier in the day, Obama called that slice-and-dice politics, but at the same time seemed anxious to cool things off.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think that there is a directive in the Clinton campaign, let's heightened the racial elements in the campaign. I don't think that.

CROWLEY: Race is the fuse lit beneath the Democrats' road to the White House. Sometimes, there is an explosion, most notably in South Carolina.


CROWLEY: The campaign trail seemed close to the danger zone again when Geraldine Ferraro, a fund-raiser for and supporter of Hillary Clinton, was quoted saying this of Obama's campaign success: "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in this concept."

Obama aides jumped on it, calling the remark inappropriate, offensive, divisive, part of an insidious pattern of negativity. Camp Clinton fired back, implying the Obama campaign is the one injecting race into the campaign with -- quote -- "politically calculated attacks."

Obama says no one suggested Ferraro was a racist, nor does he think that was her intent. Choosing words carefully, he settled on ridiculous.

OBAMA: The notion that it is of great advantage to me to be an African-American named Barack Obama in the pursuit of the presidency, I think is not a view that has been commonly shared by the general public.


CROWLEY: This kind of discussion always sets off the pundits about who it hurts more. But the fact of the matter is that both these campaigns believe, when the subject is race, neither one of them profits -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Candy, thank you. Let's get now to the scandal in the New York governor's office. Eliot Spitzer today gave Republicans and some fellow Democrats what they wanted. That would be his resignation. That could defuse the political crisis over his alleged use of a prostitution ring. But will Spitzer fight the next round in court?

Our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena, is standing by.

But let's get the latest from Mary Snow. She is out in Albany, the state capital.

A lot of people thought, Mary, he really had no choice when all was said and done.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, many here believe that what he did was a necessary step. And when Eliot Spitzer did resign and announced that resignation, this capital really came to a standstill.


SNOW (voice-over): With his wife Silda by his side, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, the man once known as Mr. Clean, addressed his fall from grace.

GOV. ELIOT SPITZER (D), NEW YORK: In the past few days, I have begun to atone for my private failings with my wife, Silda, my children and my entire family. The remorse I feel will always be with me.

SNOW: Spitzer did not specifically address accusations he spent thousands of dollars on a high-end prostitution ring for several months.

SPITZER: To every New Yorker and to all those that believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize.

SNOW: And he offered his resignation after 14 months as governor.

SPITZER: I look at my time as governor with a sense of what might have been. There's much more to be done, and I cannot allow my private failings to disrupt the people's work. I am resigning from the office of governor. At Lieutenant Governor Paterson's request, the resignation will be effective Monday, March 17, a date that he believes will permit an orderly transition.

SNOW: David Paterson, a Democrat, was at home at the time of the announcement. He released a statement, saying: "Like all New Yorkers, I am saddened by what we have learned over the past several days. My heart goes out to him and his family at this difficult and painful time."

The 53-year-old former state senator from Harlem will become the state's first African-American governor. Paterson received praise from Democrats and Republican lawmakers, including Joe Bruno. The Senate Republican leader, who is well known in New York politics, he and Spitzer were fierce political enemies.

JOSEPH BRUNO (R), NEW YORK SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: As for Eliot Spitzer, my heart goes out to his wife and to his family at this time. He must deal with his own problems in his own way. But it is now time for us and all New Yorkers to move forward.


SNOW: And, Wolf, one thing that you hear lawmakers saying is that they are welcoming David Paterson's conciliatory tone, some speaking out today, saying that Eliot Spitzer had been so confrontational that they are hoping that a different tone will help move forward in the state of New York, but even now, people are just still stunned over what's happened in the last two days -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary Snow in Albany for us, thank you.

Meanwhile, we are also learning new details of the investigation into Spitzer and new details of what he allegedly did. Let's get some of those details from our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena.

Kelli, what are you learning?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, prosecutors certainly have a lot to work with. Not only was Spitzer allegedly a repeat customer; he was also being watched by the feds.


ARENA (voice-over): He is out of a job, but not out of trouble. Eliot Spitzer still faces possible charges.

SPITZER: I have insisted, I believe correctly, that people regardless of their position or power take responsibility for their conduct.

ARENA: Sources with knowledge of the investigation say his legal team is talking with prosecutors. But the U.S. attorney handling the case went out of his way to say no deal has been struck. He even put it on paper. That doesn't mean that there won't be one.

RICHARD SMITH, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: He still has leverage because of the fact he has resigned. He's no longer a sitting public official, and that should be considered.

ARENA: Legal experts say Spitzer's lawyers will use his resignation to argue he has already suffered enough and that if his prosecutors go after him, they should also go after the other nine clients of the Emperors Club referred to in court papers.

But investigators allegedly caught Spitzer on tape with a federal wiretap. And new details are emerging all the time. Sources say FBI agents in Washington put Spitzer under surveillance at the Mayflower Hotel at least twice this year to try to confirm that he met with a hooker. ROSCOE HOWARD, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: It is a little hard to argue or even present a defense that smacks of, I didn't know or I didn't understand.

ARENA: Especially when sources say Spitzer used the call girl service at least eight times in the past several months. And they are not done looking through the records.


ARENA: Still, the government seems to be less interested in pursuing charges related to prostitution and are still focusing on what Spitzer may have done to hide his money trail. That has not changed -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Kelli, thank you.

Let's bring back Jack. He has got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Now that the Mississippi primary is over, there is a pause in what seems like this never-ending campaign. You know it has been more than a year since all of this began? And some days it seems oh so much longer than that.

We have been bludgeoned with thousands of hours of news reports and dozens of primaries and caucuses and millions of flyers and TV commercials and dozens of debates and of course the never-ending speeches and on and on and on. But now we actually get a little bit of respite, six weeks to go until the April 22 Pennsylvania primary.

Now, the good people of Pennsylvania will likely grow to hate this whole process in the next six weeks, because there is not a lot else for these candidates to do but to go and inflict themselves on the poor folks in Pennsylvania.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will eventually come to be looked upon as guests who just don't know when it is time to leave. "The Wall Street Journal" says the Clinton campaign's plans include blanketing the state with events, recruiting thousands of volunteers, and making attacks on Barack Obama.

For his part, Obama will dedicate a lot of time and resources to Pennsylvania, as well as talking about some of the other upcoming contests, including states like North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia, Nebraska. But, for now, and for the next several week, most of the country gets a break.

So, here is the question: How do you plan to spend your six-week vacation from the political campaign?

Go to You can post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: We get no break, Jack, you and me.

CAFFERTY: Well, we don't have to talk about it so much.

BLITZER: We will.

CAFFERTY: You might.


CAFFERTY: I am going to find some other stuff to do.


BLITZER: All right. We will find some other stories. I'm still energized by it.

CAFFERTY: I know you are.

BLITZER: It is historic.


CAFFERTY: You are not well.



BLITZER: Thank you.

Democrats seem to have a problem, what to do about Florida delegates that for now simply won't be represented at their convention in Denver.


OBAMA: All of us are interested in making sure that they are seated in some way that doesn't advantage one candidate or another too much.


BLITZER: Barack Obama saying any solution must be fair. I will an Obama supporter what he is proposing, the Florida Congressman Robert Wexler. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Mitt Romney wants John McCain to know this. He is available. Romney says he would be honored to run alongside John McCain. What does McCain think about that?

And for admittedly helping dozens of people die, he earned the name Dr. Death, Jack Kevorkian. Wait until you hear what he plans to do next. He could need your votes.

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


BLITZER: In Florida right now, Democrats are considering a mail- in election to try to settle the issue of seating delegates at the summer's Democratic Convention in Denver.

But speaking to CNN, Barack Obama told me last night he has some reservations about that. But he does want some arrangement worked out.

My next guest says he's outright opposed to a mail-in election. That would be Congressman Robert Wexler, Democrat of Florida. He is an Obama supporter.

Thanks, Congressman, for coming in.


BLITZER: My dad always told me -- and I'm sure yours did as well -- if you are going do something, do it right. If you are going to do another makeover primary in Florida, why not do it right and do a full-scale primary?

WEXLER: Well, your dad was a very wise man, Wolf. But the problem is Florida has never conducted a mail-in campaign.

BLITZER: Forget about the mail-in campaign. Why not just do a full-scale primary, like the one you did in January?

WEXLER: Well, part of the problem is, we don't have machines anymore, because we are in the middle of transitioning.


BLITZER: Congressman, machines in Florida, election machines? What about the old-fashioned way? You have ballots that you can do it.

WEXLER: Yes. But 15 of Florida's largest counties are in the middle of transitioning from the newer electronic machines to the optical scan machines.


BLITZER: But if there is a will, there is a way, Congressman.


BLITZER: That sounds like a lame excuse, with all due respect.

WEXLER: No. No. What all of the Democratic members of Congress agreed to last night, Obama supporters, Clinton supporters, and those that are neutral, is that Florida's delegates must be fully seated at the convention with full voting rights. That's my bottom line.

But what we also don't want to do is compound the situation in Florida that we have of uncertainty. And what we are calling for is the principals -- and I spoke with chairman Dean just a few hours ago -- chairman Dean, the Florida Democratic Party, and the Clinton and Obama campaign, to all get off their strident position and to move towards a resolution that is fair for all concerned, but most importantly puts Florida with its representation.


BLITZER: What is fair from your perspective, as an Obama supporter? If you say technically -- and a lot of people are saying this is the United States in the year 2008. If you can't have an election in Florida, there is something ridiculous going on. But what is fair?

WEXLER: Well, I'm speaking not as an Obama supporter, but as a representative of my constituents in Florida. I want to make certain that in part the will of the voters that was reflected in the January 29 primary be respected, along with another type of formula, so that all parties can agree and we can put behind us this uncertainty in Florida.


BLITZER: Well, explain. I don't understand what that means, Congressman.

WEXLER: That means a compromise. It means that both sides need to take their position and move closer towards the other side. And what is the good news is both Clinton supporters and Obama supporters and the undecided members of the Florida delegation have said this is the way we need to go.

And to do another election hastily, Wolf, would cause us to have problems of fraud, would cause us not to be able to make certain that all those that wish to vote get a chance to vote. Everyone would love to have a perfect election or at least a very good one. But I think we would all agree to disenfranchise seniors that might be up in New York State, or North Carolina, to disenfranchise college students, to not be able to find those that are renting, because we don't have the right address, to not be able to authenticate signatures because the only database that the state has is one that Katherine Harris contracted for, these are problems Florida does not need.

BLITZER: But you know what the argument is going to be, that you are an Obama supporter, you are afraid that Hillary Clinton would win decisively in Florida, and you are looking for obstacles, you're looking for ways to prevent a redo, another makeover election. That is the argument that I'm sure you are hearing.

WEXLER: Well, it wouldn't be a valid argument, because the agreement that I reached, along with my eight colleagues, four of those colleagues support Senator Clinton. They are taking the same position that I'm taking. The position we are taking is what is best for Florida, not what's best for the Obama campaign or the Clinton campaign.

BLITZER: And what do you say to Senator Nelson, who says do a mail-in campaign, as they do in Oregon?

WEXLER: Well, we met with Senator Nelson last night. Oregon has had 20 years of experience with mail-in campaigns, and they only got it right after about 13 years. We have never done it in Florida. And to force this kind of hasty election on Florida within the next two- and-a-half months is asking for enormous problems.

I think everyone would agree that if we have another contested election in Florida, we are worse off. What we need to do is force the chairman of our party, Mr. Dean -- and I think he is amenable -- that is what he said to me earlier today -- to meet with the principals, and we as both Floridians and our partisans supporters suggest and demand that our campaign gets off their strident views and reach an accommodation that protects Florida's voters and their right to be represented at the convention.

BLITZER: All right. Let's hope the campaigns, let's hope that the Florida Democrats and the DNC, everyone can get on the same page, because it is way too important that the people, the Democrats in Florida, and Michigan, for that matter, it's way too important that they have to be represented at the Denver convention.

WEXLER: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Congressman, thanks for coming in.

WEXLER: Yes. Thank you.

BLITZER: And good luck to you. Good luck to everyone involved in this complicated matter.

WEXLER: Thank you.

BLITZER: The wife of a disgraced politician. We are going to have details of the surprising role that Silda Spitzer played behind the scenes in her husband's resignation drama.

And crude reality, oil prices hitting another record, giving many people fears about where gas prices will be heading next.

Lots of news happening -- right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: She stood by her man, or at least she appeared to. What role did Eliot Spitzer's wife play in deciding whether he should step down? And how is she coping with the scandal. That's coming up.

Plus, Geraldine Ferraro now says she doesn't want to help the Obama camp hurt Hillary Clinton. But is the damage already done? The best political team on television standing by.

And many people know him as Dr. Death. Will he soon be known as a candidate?

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


Happening now, the New York governor, Eliot Spitzer, toppled by a prostitution scandal, resigning his office in disgrace. But will he and should he still face criminal charges?

Also, controversial remarks cause another casualty in the Democratic race for the White House. The former vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro stepping down from the Clinton campaign.

Plus, John McCain and Mitt Romney, could it be the Republican dream ticket?

All of this coming up, plus the best political team on television.

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

He was once a very popular politician, but his good deeds could not save him from scandal. The weight of Eliot Spitzer's alleged involvement in a prostitution ring was simply too much to bear, causing his stunning political collapse.

Let's turn to CNN's Brian Todd. He is looking at this story for us.

Specifically, Brian, you are looking at his wife.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, and specifically how she helped him deal with this scandal. It appears Silda Wall Spitzer played a critical role behind the scenes and in front of the camera.


TODD (voice-over): By his side when the news broke on Monday and when he announced his departure as governor less than 48 hours later.

GOV. ELIOT SPITZER (D), NEW YORK: In the past few days I have begun to atone for my private failings with my wife Silda, my children and my entire family.

TODD: Why did Silda Wall Spitzer remain stoically next to him through it all?

Dina Matos McGreevey, whose husband resigned as New Jersey governor after admitting an extramarital affair with a male employee, stood in the same spot, and says it's hard to criticize Mrs. Spitzer if you haven't been through it.

DINA MATOS MCGREEVEY, ESTRANGED WIFE OF FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR JIM MCGREEVEY: I loved him. I had a daughter that, you know, one day -- will one day look back and recognize that this was one of the most difficult experiences in her father's life. And I wanted her to know that I was there for her father. So, we all do it for very personal reasons. TODD: "The New York Times" and a Spitzer biographer say, after the news broke of Eliot Spitzer's alleged links to a prostitution ring, Mrs. Spitzer urged her husband not to resign.

BROOKE MASTERS, AUTHOR, "SPOILING FOR A FIGHT": Her first reaction was, let's stay and fight. You wanted to be governor because you wanted to do something and accomplish something. Stay and fight.

TODD: Our efforts to reach Silda Wall Spitzer were not successful. But a friend tells us, when he e-mailed the Spitzers to show support, she responded in a very generous manner, indicating she wasn't in a bunker mentality.

Silda Wall Spitzer was a successful attorney who left her practice to raise children and support her husband's political career.

Her parents came up with the name Silda by shortening an old German name, Serilda, which she says means Teutonic war god. Associates and journalists who have covered the family describe her as a private person, never totally comfortable with the rough-and-tumble of her husband's job. But they say she did adjust.

MASTERS: The change you could see from, say, the beginning of the campaign to maybe a year in was really amazing. I mean, she really forced herself to become a really good public speaker. She's really charming.


TODD: Now, on those first hours after the news broke, other observers say as an attorney, Silda Wall Spitzer may have thought his bargaining position with federal authorities would be stronger if he had remained as governor. But as the reported evidence piled up, it's not clear how that turned out. The U.S. attorney's office says no agreement has been reached with Governor Spitzer relating to possible prosecution and his resignation -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, you've also spoken with a family member. What do you hear?

TODD: Well, I did speak with a member of the Spitzers' extended family, who didn't want to comment on specifics, but did add that it's a very difficult time and says the family is hanging in there right now.

BLITZER: What a tragedy for that family. Thanks, Brian, very much.

Let's talk about this Spitzer resignation and more. Joining us, our CNN senior political analyst, Gloria Borger, CNN's Jack Cafferty and "Time" magazine's managing editor, Richard Stengel. We call him Rick.

Guys, thanks very much.

(LAUGHTER) BLITZER: Hillary Clinton is on the cover of our sister publication, "Time" magazine. But you've got a new issue coming out and we'll talk about that later.

Let's talk about political fallout, Jack, from the resignation today of Eliot Spitzer. Will there be any political fallout?

CAFFERTY: I don't think so. I mean somebody read -- wrote something this morning that kind of intrigued me a little bit. You remember the question about the driver's licenses that tripped up Hillary Clinton in their debate?

BLITZER: Yes. Drivers licenses for illegal immigrants.

CAFFERTY: Eliot Spitzer was the architect of that idea. And it's been suggested since he was "a supporter of Hillary's" that from that moment until this one, he hasn't exactly been a great help to her campaign. And I suppose that's valid.

As far as the political ramifications in New York beyond his resignation, I don't see them. If this guy does a decent job who's going to fill in, Paterson, you know, life goes on. It won't be the first corrupt politician that left office in disgrace.

BLITZER: And it won't be the last, either.

CAFFERTY: Probably not.

BLITZER: What do you think?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think, look, he resigned pretty quickly, within 48 hours. The Democrats have had sort of a corner on the ethics issue -- certainly since the midterm elections. And I think they were all secretly relieved that he did that. So I think at this point, no.

BLITZER: Any spillover on the Obama/Clinton race or longer-term, whoever the Democratic nominee is and the John McCain race?

RICHARD STENGEL, "TIME" MAGAZINE, MANAGING EDITOR: Well, it cuts both ways in a race. Some people have said look, it will make women voters disgusted with male politicians. On the other hand, it does put in highlight the fact that sexual peccadilloes of politicians is something that people talk about.

But the thing that I find so disappointing about it is it just continues to lower the public trust in public officials and make people doubt government, doubt what people are doing, particularly at a time people are barely inspirational about public service now.

CAFFERTY: One other thing that stuck out watching his announcement today is how absolutely ice cold he was -- no remorse, no compassion, no emotion. Didn't even look at his wife for the entire -- reading the thing like he was doing the luncheon speech at a Rotary Club in Bayonne.


STENGEL: Jack...

BORGER: That's a hard thing (INAUDIBLE) --

STENGEL: ... I have to say, he -- what he didn't do which he could have done is that Nixon "you won't have me to kick around anymore" bitterness. He talked about the public trust. He talked about the people's business. I thought it was...

BORGER: He apologized.

STENGEL: ... I thought it was noble remarks that he made today.

CAFFERTY: Well, except that I didn't suggest -- I didn't see any genuine feeling of remorse. It was just I got caught, this is what I have to do now, my lawyers are trying to make a deal with the prosecutors so I don't have to go to jail so I've got to read these words then I'm out of here. I just -- it was all --

BLITZER: What did it mean when he said I'm taking responsibility for my actions?

BORGER: He called it a private matter and I'm not so sure it's just a private matter at this point.

CAFFERTY: Not anymore.

BORGER: But I think that when a politician says I apologize, I'm taking responsibility, I'm resigning my job, we have to give him a little bit of room here...

STENGEL: I agree.

BORGER: ...and say OK, it's over.

BLITZER: I can't tell you how many...

BORGER: You paid the price.

BLITZER: many women have e-mailed me and said how could his wife be standing there.


BLITZER: I suppose you've...

BORGER: Yes. I've e-mailed myself on that one.

BLITZER: ... I suppose you've gotten some feedback on that.

BORGER: Yes, I...

BLITZER: What do you think?

BORGER: Well, you know, it's -- I talked about this with my husband, in fact, and said, you know, I'm not so sure I'd be standing out there with you, honey.


BORGER: The one point that's been raised is it's a family matter, she's the mother of his three daughters. And if the daughters wanted her there, if she felt she needed to be there because he's the father of her children, I'm not going to question anyone's decision in this case. It's a personal choice.

BLITZER: I think that's fair enough.

All right, guys, stand by. We have more to discuss, including Geraldine Ferraro. She quits the Clinton campaign over remarks she made about Barack Obama. We're going to show you her resignation letter. We'll talk about what this means for the Democrat contest.

Also, John McCain and Mitt Romney -- could that be the so-called dream ticket for the Republicans? You're going to find out what people are saying. More importantly, you're going to find out what our panel is saying -- the best political team on television.

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


BLITZER: Just a short time ago, the former Democratic vice presidential nominee, Geraldine Ferraro -- now she's stepping down as an adviser to the Clinton campaign over a remark she made about Barack Obama.

We're back with the best political team on television.

Jack, among other things in her letter, she says: "The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you," and, as a result, she's off the Finance Committee, because she doesn't want Hillary Clinton's campaign to be undermined by anything she might have said.

CAFFERTY: Yes, so it's always somebody else's fault, right? I'm doing this to protect you from these other bad people over here. She --

BLITZER: She's not backing away from what she said.

BORGER: Right.

CAFFERTY: She made the comments that were absolutely inappropriate. Clinton should have asked her to do this yesterday. And good riddance. She also made some inappropriate remark, it turns out, in 1988 about Jesse Jackson.

She's apparently got a history of this kind of inappropriate conversation, for want of a better word. And you'd think the woman who was the first major party candidate for vice president and a former congresswoman from the fine borough of Queens would know better.

BLITZER: She had suggested... CAFFERTY: Right?

BLITZER: ...for our viewers who might not know, that he had reached this level in presidential politics because he's an African- American. And I thought he had a good response to that.

I'll play that clip.


OBAMA: If you pulled out a handbook of, you know, how to weigh your assets and liabilities in a presidential race, I don't think my name or my skin color would be in the asset column.


BLITZER: That's a pretty good response.

CAFFERTY: He's pretty smooth.

BORGER: It is a really good response. But, you know, what's so nefarious about this -- we were talking about this earlier -- is that Obama has not campaigned for the presidency as an African-American candidate. Every

time that he has to even talk about that, it portrays him as an African-American candidate. He wants to broaden his base. He doesn't want to say I'm just attracting African-American voters, because, in fact, he is not. But every time he is on that topic, he's off of his message. And so that's not good for him, either.

BLITZER: And if you saw how it played out in Mississippi, to a certain degree, Rick, he got, what, 90 percent of the African-American vote and she got, what, 70 percent of the white vote. And so there seems to be that polarization, at least in some states.

STENGEL: Right. And it's not good for the future of the Democratic Party and this race. And remember, it wasn't so long ago -- it was only two-and-a-half months ago where people thought will Barack Obama get much of the black vote because Hillary Clinton was getting so much of it then.


BORGER: Right.

STENGEL: So I mean in a couple of months, the world turns around. All of --

CAFFERTY: He also did pretty well in Iowa, where there aren't any blacks.

BLITZER: Well, there's a few, but not many.

CAFFERTY: Right. I've lived there.

BLITZER: And in Wyoming and...

CAFFERTY: You can count them on two hands.

BLITZER: ...and a few other states, too.

BORGER: But they're slicing and dicing, you know, entire Democratic Party between them. So you have white older women on the one side, you have African-American voters on the other side, white men --

BLITZER: We'll see what happens in...

BORGER: White men up for grabs -- sure.

BLITZER: ... We'll see what happens in Pennsylvania, which is a pretty diverse state -- coming up April 22.

Mitt Romney -- this is what he said last night. He said: "I think any Republican leader in this country would be honored to be asked to serve as the vice presidential nominee, myself included." It seemed like he was, you know, looking -- auditioning a little bit to be the running mate.

CAFFERTY: The word you're looking for is he was sucking up to John McCain.


BLITZER: Here's how McCain today responded.

Listen to this.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he's a fine man and appreciate the enormous contribution that he's made. But I can't make a definitive statement because we haven't started the process yet. We don't have a list. But, as I say, I think he's earned himself a very big role to play in the Republican Party in our future.


BLITZER: Is that a Republican dream team, McCain/Romney?

CAFFERTY: Probably as good as he can do, I would think. I mean he wouldn't -- Romney would be somebody who could balance the ticket and compensate in some areas for what is perceived by the right-wing of the Republican Party as some of McCain's weaknesses.

STENGEL: I've got to say, though, I mean McCain's principle weakness is that he doesn't appeal to the conservative Republican base. That is McCain's weakness, as -- I mean that is Romney's weakness. They both have the same weakness. And usually the vice presidential candidate is supposed to compensate for the main guy's weakness. Here, it blends together and it's bad.

BLITZER: And I don't think they like each other either...


BLITZER: ...based on that one debate we saw out at the Reagan Library.

BORGER: Well, they don't like each other period and the campaign got pretty nasty...

BLITZER: What about McCain/Huckabee?

BORGER: Well, that's not going to -- that's not going to sit well with conservatives, because conservatives don't believe that Huckabee is a fiscal conservative. They don't believe he's a tax cutter. But I -- you know, I think Romney did shore up his conservative credentials. He started to run against McCain, in fact, as the real conservative.

STENGEL: But the one place he does compensate is business acumen.

BORGER: Right.


STENGEL: I mean he's a businessman. He's been successful. McCain has been quoted as saying, I don't know much about the economy and I've read Greenspan's book.

CAFFERTY: That's comforting.

STENGEL: You know, Romney could have written Greenspan's book.

BORGER: So he says I'll do Iraq, you do the Department of Treasury. You take care of that.

BLITZER: Everybody seems to think that speech he gave, Romney, announcing he was dropping out of the race, was the best one he gave throughout the entire campaign.

CAFFERTY: He's a pretty classy candidate when you look at it. He looks presidential. He's a nice looking guy. He's articulate. He's charismatic. You know, he's the kind of guy you can put on a marquee and sell a few tickets with.

BORGER: And he's advertising himself for the job, by the way.

BLITZER: All right, we'll see what happens.

CAFFERTY: He's sucking up to John McCain.


BLITZER: We've got a lot of time before this one is resolved.

BORGER: Your words. (LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Jack's got "The Cafferty File" coming up, so don't leave.

Jack, thanks very much. Gloria, Rick, thank you.

He went to prison for assisting suicides. Now Jack Kevorkian, the man named -- nicknamed "Dr. Death," is planning a brand new career. Would it be in Congress? We're going to have details of his surprising plan.

Plus, what the FBI wants to know about White House e-mail and Valerie Plame, the woman at the center of that CIA leak scandal. There are details emerging right now.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: We're getting some additional information now on the Eliot Spitzer resignation, the sex scandal that has erupted. Deb Feyerick is watching this story for us.

Deb, what are you picking up?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we can tell you that we are working to confirm this independently. But we have spoken to the lawyer for a woman believed to be at the center of the Spitzer prostitute rendezvous.

She is identified by "The New York Times" as Ashley Alexandra Dupre. She made a brief appearance in federal court this afternoon as a witness against some of the people charged with running that escort service.

Her lawyer cannot confirm that she is the "Kristen" mentioned in the affidavit, who met with the governor. He was known in that affidavit as "Client Number 9". But according to "The New York Times," on her MySpace page, she says that music is her first love. You can see her there on the left.

It says, "I'm all about my music. My music is all about me. It flows from what I've been through and what I've see and how I feel." According to the MySpace page, she left a broken family at age 17, having been abused, according to MySpace. She said she was broke and homeless.

She is quoted by "The New York Times" as saying, "I just don't want to be thought of as a monster." She says that this has been a complicated time for her. And right now, she just doesn't know how she's going to pay the rent.

That's what we know so far. And, again, we're working, Wolf, to confirm all of this independently -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And did you say how old she is, Deb?

FEYERICK: Right -- it appears that she is 22-years-old. It's unclear when the MySpace pictures were taken, but they're there.

BLITZER: And the attorney was not going to -- necessarily confirming that this woman is, in fact, the so-called Kristen, is that right?

FEYERICK: That's exactly right. He confirms that he represents this woman. "The New York Times" says this is the woman, this is Kristen, who's mentioned in the affidavit.

BLITZER: All right, 22-years-old.

Thanks very much for that, Deb. We'll stay on top of this story.

Let's check in with Lou to see what's coming up right at the top of the hour.

Lou, what are you working on?


At 7:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, we'll have the very latest for you on the resignation of Governor Spitzer and all that is involved. Spitzer's chief Republican rival, New York State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, will be among our guests here, slated to become lieutenant governor now of the State of New York this Monday. And three of the very best political analysts join us.

Also, Microsoft founder Bill Gates at it again, now demanding the right to import even more foreign workers and blaming the U.S. immigration policies for what he says is a shortage of high tech workers in this country. However, Microsoft isn't even in the top five users of H-1B visas. We'll try to figure out what exactly is going on here.

We'll have that special report and a stunning admission by the secretary of the U.S. Air Force in the fight over the military's decision to outsource our national security and American jobs and buy European tanker aircraft. The secretary of the Air Force now says he's worried about the decline in our industrial base. Well, imagine that. We'll have the report and a great deal more.

Congressman Heath Shuler, Congressman Brian Bilbray join us here to talk about their bipartisan effort to crack down on illegal immigration and their fight with the Democratic leadership in the House.

Joining us for all of that and more, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, right at the top of the hour -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Lou. Thank you.

In Michigan, the assisted suicide advocate, Dr. Jack Kevorkian -- he was once dubbed "Dr. Death" -- plans to run for the United States Congress. Kevorkian telling a local newspaper he hopes to run without a party affiliation for a seat representing Detroit's suburbs.

He needs to collect 3,000 signatures to get on the ballot. Kevorkian is on parole right now after being released from prison last year. But that would not prevent him from seeking office.

A fresh chapter in the Valerie Plame Wilson controversy. An ethics advocacy group wants the FBI to investigate if the White House destroyed e-mail regarding the matter. It involves a week's worth of missing e-mail from Vice President Dick Cheney's office in 2003. At the time, the Justice Department had been investigating who in the administration leaked Plame Wilson's CIA identity to reporters.

And remember, for the latest political news any time, you can check out The Ticker is the number one political news blog out there on the Web. That's also where you can read my latest blog post. I just posted one before the show.

Jack Cafferty once again joining us -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: How do you plan to spend your six week vacation from the campaign?

We get a little break, most of us, now, until Pennsylvania, which doesn't happen until the end of April.

Jerry in Illinois says: "Let's see, I can stop using Murine for my eyes, which have been glued to CNN. I can have my meals stop being delivered by Meals On Wheels. I can open the front door and let all the pundits out so they can go get a bath. I can get the Lazy Boy back in shape for the 2012 election, which will probably get underway in 2009. But it's going to be tough without the Jackman, Wolf, John King, Gloria and THE SITUATION ROOM. Bon voyage."

K. writes: "I live in Las Vegas. I'll place daily bets on how far the party will continue to splinter and divide itself over the next six weeks, creating a smooth path for McCain to become the next president. How sad."

Garrett writes: "What I'll do is irrelevant. I'd like to suggest, however, that Hillary, Barack and John go back to Washington, at least for the first three weeks, and actually do some work in their real jobs as U.S. senators. Yes, I know, way too much to ask."

Patricia in California writes: "By not watching the news is how I'll celebrate the vacation. I'll still watch you, Jack, but I'm not going to pay as much attention to Wolf."


BLITZER: Patricia.

CAFFERTY: Carol in New York writes: "I've become a political addict thanks to CNN. When I get home from work, I make a beeline for the TV. You've got me hooked, so I guess I'll spend my vacation with you guys." Drew in Illinois: "Beating my head against the wall, trying to forget what I have seen unfold and fall apart over the last couple of months. Maybe I'll try waterboarding myself."

And Leslie in Tennessee: "I'm going to read Jack's book, 'It's Getting Ugly Out There.' The poor thing has been gathering dust on my nightstand."

Good thinking, Leslie.

BLITZER: Leslie, a very, very smart person.

CAFFERTY: I hope you enjoy it.

BLITZER: Leslie, thanks very much.

You know, you never know what's going to happen over these next six weeks. So my recommendation to our viewers -- don't miss a minute of THE SITUATION ROOM, because it's thrilling. It's exciting. And I know you are personally excited.

CAFFERTY: This was tongue in cheek.

BLITZER: I know.



BLITZER: Thanks, Jack.

CAFFERTY: You're welcome.

BLITZER: Everyone has an opinion on the story being watched across the nation and around the world.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is really fun. It's like Clinton all over again. How come we elect such lowlifes to public office?


BLITZER: But what do New Yorkers really think? Our Jeanne Moos takes a closer look at that and just what it takes to cover the Spitzer scandal from every angle -- a Moost Unusual report, coming up.


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

In Germany, fog lingers between the trees in the Black Forest.

In Romania, a special forces sniper holds his weapon during a practice session.

In Pakistan, children look on as a man takes a swing at a baseball on the outskirts of Islamabad.

And in Iran, a boy holds a toy gun during a rally in front of the Denmark embassy. Hundreds protested the reprinting of a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Some of this hour's Hot Shots -- pictures worth a thousand words.

What do you get when you cross a political sex scandal with a ton of journalists? You get a Moost Unusual media circus.

CNN's Jeanne Moos reports.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over). Take one governor, add some call girls, call a press conference so the governor can resign...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, I'll stand like this. How is this? One, two, three, four, five.

MOOS: And before he can clear his throat, the press is hooked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spitzer is walking out of his house right now.

MOOS: There was the obligatory O.J.-like chopper chase of the governor's motorcade. But the real traffic jam...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move it back. You're not going to go in until I say, trust me.

MOOS: ...was at the entrance to the skyscraper.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't force your way in. No, more stills, OK?

MOOS: ...where the press conference was held.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know. But we'd don't have enough room for everyone. We don't have room for everyone, that's the problem.

MOOS: Desperate press people waved their hands, held up press passes, called out their names.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arunam Enelest (ph), Reuters Television.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're the fifteenth largest paper in the country.

MOOS (on-camera): Size matters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Size does matter.

MOOS (voice-over): Tempers flared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Folks, move it back. You're causing your own problems. You're a victim of your own circumstances.

MOOS: Sort of like a certain governor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the worst press conference in my life. Fifteen years cover press conference and I never see a press conference like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a press pass?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you like keeping it? Do you like to keeping your press pass?

MOOS: She does. Governor Spitzer slipped by the press on his way in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He came through the secret entrance.

MOOS (on-camera): There's a secret entrance?


MOOS: What do you think of this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's good at that.


MOOS (voice-over): She watched the press conference taking place 38 floors above on her little TV. It's not just any political story that attracts this kind of press.

(on-camera): "Access Hollywood".

(voice-over): Even Brazilian TV showed up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sex and politics always is good news.

MOOS: Especially for online T-shirt sellers at Cafe Press (ph) from "Spitzer spent $80,000 on hookers and all I got was this lousy t- shirt" to "Clinton/Spitzer for a good time in '09."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is really fun. It's like Clinton all over again. How come we elect such lowlifes to public office?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know New York is full of rats. Well, this is the biggest rat that ever crawled in his hole.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), the girl shipped in on Amtrak from New York to Washington? That's unbelievable. Let the (INAUDIBLE). Come on in, honey. I'll be back in a little while.

MOOS: Isn't anyone going to stick up for the governor?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, if he spent his own money, then that's between him and his wife.

MOOS: Which brings us to the last unanswered question shouted at the governor's wife...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Silda, are you leaving him?

MOOS: Some of the press got left at the door covering a call girl scandal without getting being called on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at me, please.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: What a story.

You've helped make our politics podcast one of the most popular on iTunes. To get the best political team to go, you can subscribe at or iTunes.

Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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