Return to Transcripts main page


Democrats Promise to Fight Big Oil; McCain's Anger Management; Environmental Waivers for Security Fence on U.S./Mexican Border

Aired April 1, 2008 - 18:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And happening now, the Democrats promise to fight big oil and bring down pump prices. Is this just more fuel for a presidential primary race stuck in neutral? We will tell you where the candidates stand.
Plus, John McCain's anger management -- he's talking one-on-one to our Dana Bash about his temper and whether it will be a problem as commander in chief.

And will a new offer from Hillary Clinton bowl over Barack Obama? The best political team on television is ready to play with that one.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm John King. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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

Hillary Clinton wants to make sure everyone gets the message she's no quitter. So, today, she's launching on to the ultimate movie metaphor for an underdog fight in Pennsylvania, no less. The Democrat is likening herself to Rocky Balboa.

Senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is following the Democratic sparring in Pennsylvania.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): John, the two Democratic candidates are covering the same ground, both geographically. And, as far as issues goes, they are talking the economy here in Pennsylvania. They're talking gas prices and jobs, Hillary Clinton with a plan to create three million new jobs, she says, by fixing the country's infrastructure, bridges and roads.

The one thing missing, at least for this day in the campaign, is the sort of bitter back and forth have seen before.

(voice-over): The acidity level seems to have dropped. She's teasing him, sort of, about his well-documented gutter ball in a Pennsylvania bowling alley.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, I am challenging Senator Obama to a bowl-off. A bowling night right here in Pennsylvania. Winner take all. I will even spot him two frames. (LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: And he's all compliments, sort of, about her campaign.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a lot of respect for Senator Clinton. I think that she deserves to be able to run as long as she wants.

CROWLEY: And she does want. Clinton, who enjoys a double-digit lead in Pennsylvania, relishes the underdog role -- the image that people are trying to muscle her out of the race. She's taken to entering events now to the theme song of Rocky.

CLINTON: Let me tell you something, when it takes to finishing the fight, Rocky and I have a lot in common. I never quit.

CROWLEY: Amidst the lull in the rough stuff, the two Democratic candidates are touring Pennsylvania, economic plans in hand. As Capitol Hill grills big oil, the candidates are grilled by voters about those gas prices.

OBAMA: We can go after the windfall profits of some of these companies. I want to be honest with people also. That the only way we are going to deal with this long term is to reduce our consumption of oil.

CROWLEY: Often giving nearly identical answers.

CLINTON: ... to investigate price gouging, I would talk about moving toward energy independence.

CROWLEY: At least on the trail, it has mellowed out a bit. And you get the sense they have heard the worry of party leaders that, while the two of them battle it out to the final delegate, John McCain is getting a free ride.

OBAMA: Senator McCain has been saying I don't understand national security. But he's the one who wants to keep tens of thousands of United States troops in Iraq for as long as 100 years.

CLINTON: He looked at the housing crisis, and he blamed consumers.

CROWLEY: No free ride today.

(on-camera): The McCain campaign is pushing back hard against Obama, noting that McCain never said he wanted the war to go on for 100 years, but rather that there would probably be a U.S. presence in the area, but that presence would only be if there was peace there -- John.


KING: Candy Crowley for us in Pennsylvania.

And while Senator Clinton is likening herself to Rocky Balboa, it may not sit well with the man who created and played that legendary movie role. Actor/director Sylvester Stallone -- you remember him -- he revealed back in January he supports Republican John McCain.

And Senator McCain today is defending himself against attacks by both Clinton and Obama. And he's doing it on friendly turf, his old high school right here in a Washington, D.C., suburb.

Our Dana Bash went along and sat down for a one-on-one interview with Senator McCain.

Dana, how does he balance trying to stay on message and do this biography tour to reintroduce himself, yet also fend off the increasing attacks?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously, in a perfect world, the McCain campaign would want us to focus on his message every day of this bio-tour, but we're not in the world that they're in right now, and that is the reality of the political world.

And that is, as Candy was just talking about, the Democrats being much more aggressive against John McCain. So his aides said that they were going to put him out to get back in the mix.


BASH (voice-over): It was back to school for John McCain. His high school in suburban Washington. The message of the day? Lessons learned.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will not lie, will not cheat.

BASH: But as McCain walks down memory lane, Democrats are blasting him as out of touch for demanding a limited government role in fixing America's housing crisis. In an interview with CNN, McCain tried to clarify.

MCCAIN: Well, actually, I think the government should facilitate a lot of things. And there have been numerous proposals, many of which I have supported, and some that I will be coming forward with. What I worry about, of course, are massive bailouts that will then reward people who didn't behave well.

BASH: He promised to unveil an economic plan soon. Meanwhile, new violence in Iraq is threatening McCain's The surge is working message. Military officials blame Iraqi cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr. Just two weeks ago in Baghdad, McCain told CNN this about al-Sadr --

MCCAIN: His influence has been on the wane for a long time.

BASH: And now?

MCCAIN: I said there would be ups and downs. I said that Sadr was still a major player. And his influence is going to have to be reduced and gradually eliminated. That's why I did not call for a withdrawal of troops on a timetable, because there's a lot of unpredictabilities associated with wars.

BASH: At his old school, McCain joked with students about his legendary temper.

MCCAIN: I have been known to forget occasionally the discretion expected of a person of my years.

BASH: But how will that play in his campaign?

(on-camera): A voter out there reads your books, listens to you, humor or not, about talking about your temper, and they say, do I want this guy with his finger on the button? What do you say?

MCCAIN: Well, I say that everyone's life is a work in progress. I have a better and more impressive record of bipartisanship and working across the aisle and legislative solutions and leadership than anybody that's running against me. When I see wasting needlessly of their tax dollars, when I see people behaving badly, they expect me to get angry. And I will -- and I will get angry.


BASH: Now, I also asked Senator McCain about what we were talking about on this show yesterday, whether or not talking about his experience as back as far as World War II, his memories from World War II, whether or not that reminds voters of a potential liability. That of course is his age.

And the 71-year-old candidate said -- insisted that he's going to make the case that his experience gives him an upper hand, because that gives him -- excuse me -- his age gives him experience, and much more than the Democratic candidates, who obviously are much younger than he is.

KING: Next stop tomorrow, Annapolis, the Naval Academy, where he was?

BASH: Fifth from the bottom.

KING: Fifth from the bottom.


KING: OK. Looking forward to that. Dana Bash, thank you very much.

And Jack Cafferty, who I'm sure was first in his class, joins us now with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: I dropped out of college, and I don't want to talk about it.


CAFFERTY: It's true. The list of names is growing, that being the number of nations calling for a boycott of the Summer Games in China this summer. The calls come after what's being called the most violent Chinese protest since 1989 occurred in Tibet two weeks ago.

Tibetan exiles say 140 people were killed. The Chinese government says the number of deaths was lower than that. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just returned from a visit with the Dalai Lama. She went there and stood next to him and said, you know, if we don't call the Chinese out on this stuff, we have lost our moral authority to complain about anything that goes on anywhere.

She's the latest to suggest that the United States should join the boycott. She told ABC News President Bush ought to consider boycotting the opening ceremonies of the Games, saying: "I think the boycotting of the ceremony, which really gives respect to the Chinese government, is something that should be kept on the table. I think the president might want to rethink this later depending on what other heads of state do."

That's a quote.

She didn't, however, go as far as to call for the United States to boycott the Olympics altogether. The White House has said that the Games are about the athletes, not about politics, that President Bush plans to attend the opening ceremonies.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown also remains committed to going. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced last week she will skip the Games entirely. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has suggested a boycott of the opening ceremony.

Poland's prime minister also announcing a boycott, as did the president of the Czech Republic. In addition to boycotts, protesters are showing up now wherever the Olympic torch goes on its pre-Olympic journey across five continents. One of those stops happens to be in Nancy Pelosi's home district of San Francisco.

So, here's our question this hour: Should President Bush reconsider and boycott the opening ceremonies at the Summer Olympic Games in China?

Go to, post a comment on my blog.

Where did you finish in your class there, big fellow?

KING: In college? I don't know the answer. In high school, I was near the top, but not at the top.

CAFFERTY: Well, that's pretty good.

KING: Respectably close to the top.

CAFFERTY: It shows.


KING: Thank you, Jack.

When the House Speaker talks, people listen. But something Nancy Pelosi says about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's bitter rivalry really has Democrats wondering, is she changing her mind on how she and other superdelegates should pick between the two?

And the Bush administration says it will skirt some laws to help finish a border fence between the United States and Mexico. How will this issue play out in the presidential campaign? The best political team will tackle that.

And Ted Turner wants you to know, he's sorry. CNN's founder, who previously criticized religion, is turning over a new leaf.


KING: For some of you, it's an agonizing decision between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Which has the right experience, judgment, issue positions, and best chance to win this fall?

And if you think you have a tough time deciding, imagine what the Democratic superdelegates are going through. Some are being pressed, even pressured, to vote a certain way. And some wonder what one key Democrat thinks about all this.


KING: Governor Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, thank you for joining us today in THE SITUATION ROOM.

I want to start with this continuing debate over the role of the superdelegates in the Democratic nominating process.

Speaker Pelosi had said some time ago -- back on March 16, she said this: "If the votes of the superdelegates overturn what's happened in the elections, it would be harmful to the Democratic Party." Essentially making the case that, whoever has the most pledged delegates at the end of the process should be the nominee.

This morning on ABC, she said that's still her preference, that the superdelegates not overturn the will of the Democratic electorate. But she also said this: These superdelegates have the right to vote their conscience and who they think would be the better president, or who can win.

There are many Democrats out there who think perhaps leaders in the party, the speaker, even yourself, by constantly talking about the what-ifs and what should the superdelegates do, are perhaps adding to the confusion and the anxiety. Might it be best, sir, for all of the leaders of the party to let the next 10 contests just play out, see what the voters think, and to borrow a phrase from Bill Clinton, maybe just chill out? HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, I think that's what we have decided to do. That we are -- this talk about shutting the process down prematurely was a, you know, relatively small number of people. But I do believe that the unpledged delegates need to make their preferences known long before the convention.

You know, they can do it whenever they want. But the truth is, if you go into a convention divided, you usually come out of a convention divided.

There's no reason that we shouldn't know who our nominee is by the first of July. So, we're going to have the voters say, and then as the 400 -- as you know, 470 of these unpledged delegates have already made their preferences known. If the other 330 would make their preferences known sometime between now and the first of July, we could unify the party, go into Denver United, and then go on to win the presidency in the fall. And that's what I hope happens.

KING: But one of your leading candidates, Senator Clinton, said just today, no thanks to the idea that this should all be decided by July 1. She said that she doesn't think it will be, and she doesn't think that's right.

Now, in that after July 4 period, as you know, there could be lawsuits about Florida and Michigan. There could be credential committee challenges to seating those delegates. So, if one of the delegates says, no, I don't think it will be decided by July 1, what is the prospect it will be?

DEAN: I think the voters will decide, whether anybody likes it or not. Whether I like it or Senator Clinton likes it or Senator Obama likes it, the voters will make their decision. And I think that's a good thing.

KING: Where is the bar for you, as chairman of the party? Many have said it should be whoever has the most number of pledged delegates. But some also see a scenario where it's possible that, say, Senator Clinton wins the six of the final 10 contests, including a big state like Pennsylvania, a critical state like West Virginia, which made George Bush president in 2000.

She wins, say, six of 10. She is slightly behind Obama in pledged delegates, but has momentum at the end, and is winning white, rural, working-class voters, who are critical to the Democratic Party. Is it the pledged delegates or is it momentum and electability that matter most to chairman Dean?

DEAN: Well, that's what you all talk about for 24 hours a day on cable television. I don't involved -- get involved with all that stuff.

That's all hypothetical this and what if that, and all that -- I don't have to fill 24 hours a day of talk. I just have to follow the rules. Here's how it's going to be. One candidate is going to win with about 50. 2 percent of the vote, and the other is going to lose with about 49. 8 percent of the votes.

I want to make sure that the candidate who doesn't win this nomination feels that they have been treated fairly, that, according to the rules. If they have been treated fairly according to the rules, it's going to be a lot easier to unify the party. And that's what we need to do.

KING: And are you already getting complaints from constituencies, whether it's Clinton supporters, whether it's African- American supporters of Senator Obama, saying, we don't think we're being treated fairly or we're worried about that?

DEAN: Oh, sure. Of course.

KING: And do you worry, as Governor Cuomo said in his essay yesterday, that he sees a disaster, he sees people either people voting for the Republicans or staying home?

DEAN: Look, that's not going to happen. John McCain is a terribly flawed candidate. He's got two big problems.

First of all, he's wrong on the three biggest issues. He wants to stay in Iraq for 100 years, he said, like Korea. He thinks that the president's management of the economy has been great. He's supported the president's tax cuts. His approach to the mortgage crisis is, let them eat cake.

And he has supported the president's veto of the children's health care bill. Health care, the economy, and Iraq, you can't get three bigger issues than that. He's got a more fundamental issue. And that is character issues. This is a guy who was for some kind of gun control. Now he's against it. He was against the Bush tax cuts. Now he's for it. He was for immigration. Now he's against it -- a guy that will say whatever it takes to get him elected president of the United States.

The voters aren't looking for that. They are looking for something new and something different. So, the only way that John McCain can win is if we're not united. And I think we will be united. John McCain will appoint right-wing activists to the Supreme Court, because he's going to have to pay off the right wing of his party.

This is four more years of George W. Bush. And I think the voters are no mood to have four more years of George W. Bush.

KING: Well, Governor, Senator McCain obviously disagrees with you on some of the characterizations.

DEAN: Yes, like which ones? Like which ones, John?


KING: I will let him speak for himself. And he's free to do...



DEAN: Because he hasn't done a very good job explaining...


KING: ... in the campaign that is coming.

But I want to refer to something you said. You just made a number of policy disputes and characterizations in contrast with Senator McCain. And that's what this campaign would and should be about. One comment you have made that even some Democrats cringed a little bit about is, you called him a blatant opportunist.

You can talk about his position on taxes, his position on Iraq. What about John McCain is a, "blatant opportunist"?

DEAN: The fact that he was willing to support President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest people in America after he opposed them, the fact that he was willing to talk about ethics and campaign finance reform, and , when it came to him on taking public financing, he tried to get out of it, and is still trying, the fact that he was in favor of some restriction of gun rights, and now says he was never in favor of it, or he's against it, that he's changed his mind.

These are fundamental -- if you are going to switch yourself on basic issues, switch yourself around on basic issues, that is a problem. And that means that you're willing to say whatever it takes in order to win the presidency. That is not -- we have seen that for eight years. We don't need to see it for another four.


KING: And the Republican National Committee was quick to respond to chairman Dean's interview with us.

Spokesman Alex Conant says: "It's clear Howard Dean is attacking John McCain with misleading rhetoric in order to distract from the divisive Democratic primary. If the Democratic candidates are sincere about rejecting misleading and old-style attack politics, then they should reject Dean's distortions."

And when it comes to Howard Dean's other topic in our interview, he is getting a new vote of confidence for his plan to have Democratic superdelegates make their votes public by July 1. Today, Senate Majority Leader Reid threw his support behind that idea.

Many of you are celebrating April Fools' Day, but one Democratic congressman says, "The biggest joke of all is being played on American families by big oil." Will anger over rising gas prices fuel any big changes?

And he died a horrible death by poisoning, Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko. Today, the U.S. House of Representatives made a surprising move that puts the Russian government square in the middle of the controversy over how he died.



KING: The Democrats confront soaring gas prices and ask, haven't we been here before?


OBAMA: It's not like we haven't been talking about this since Jimmy Carter, since the gas lines of the 1970s. I was 12-years-old.


KING: It was a problem for the Democrats back then. Is there anything they could do to bring down prices at the pump if they win the White House now? The best political team on television is standing by.

Plus, President Bush cuts through red tape to finish the border fence. Is that giving Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama second thoughts?

And Chelsea Clinton says, "it's none of your business." But should she be handling questions about the Monica Lewinsky scandal differently?



Happening now, record-high oil and gas prices have the candidates talking the talk, but what can they really do as president to ease the pinch on your wallet?

Also, we will show you what's behind Hillary Clinton's bowling challenge to Barack Obama. We will talk about that and much more with the best political team on television.

Plus, he's a former pro wrestler, now a former governor. Find out what would it take to get Jesse Ventura to run for office again.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm John King. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


REP. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: And, just as I was walking in this room, I had a fellow from Virginia, told him where I was headed into, and he said, Congressman, I own stock in one of those companies, but give them hell anyway.


KING: Big oil was on Capitol Hill today defending its big profits and a big tax break. Top executive told angry lawmakers their companies are not to blame for rising fuel prices and said higher energy taxes on energy companies won't help consumers.

Out on the campaign trail, the Democratic candidates are burning up a lot of miles per gallon talking up their energy ideas to the voters.

Let's go live to Suzanne Malveaux. She's standing by.

And, Suzanne, Hillary Clinton seems energized.



All eyes, of course, on Congress, on the Hill, to see whether or not they can do more than hold hearings to actually lower those gas prices. But the big questions for candidates putting out these proposals today is whether or not they can really get done anything immediately to ease the pain.

Well, earlier today, Senator Clinton made it very clear that she is sticking in this race for the long run to answer those questions.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): Like Rocky Balboa, who sprinted up the stairs in Philadelphia to prepare for the big fight, in the same city, Senator Clinton declared:

CLINTON: When it comes to finishing the fight, Rocky and I have a lot in common. I never quit.

MALVEAUX: Beating back calls from some of her opponent's supporters to step down, she reaffirmed her commitment not only to fighting Barack Obama, but also big oil.

CLINTON: The president is too busy holding hands with the Saudis to care about American truck drivers who can't afford to fill up their tank any longer.

OBAMA: We need a president who can stand up to big oil and big energy companies and say enough is enough.

MALVEAUX: The two Democratic candidates are crisscrossing Pennsylvania, dropping in at gas stations and truck stops to convince voters they've got the best plan to tackle soaring gas prices and big oil profits. Clinton and Obama held dueling events in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania just a mile apart -- bringing their campaigns to voters hungry for a quick fix.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The trucking business is pretty bad because as the gas prices are higher, the rates for the cabs is higher and the customers are all complaining.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's getting ridiculous. You can't go anywhere hardly. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's costing me $60, $70 a week that it used to cost me $30.

MALVEAUX: In Washington, top executives from five of the biggest oil companies were grilled before Congress over their growing profits and corporate tax breaks.

INSLEE: If you were going to give awards for taxpayer abuses, this would win the Heisman and the Oscar and the Nobel Prize.

MALVEAUX: Clinton is calling for oil companies to contribute to a $50 billion fund to invest in alternative energy, for car manufacturers to increase fuel-efficiency standards and for the government to tap into its emergency oil reserves.

Obama is calling for a $150 billion investment over 10 years in clean energy and an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions over 40 years. Energy industry experts say the candidates' plans offer little to provide immediate relief, as even Obama acknowledges.

OBAMA: I would be dishonest if I said we've got a lot of short- term answers to bringing down gas prices. I don't think we do.


MALVEAUX: And, John, this really isn't unfamiliar, unlike what we've heard from President Bush for some time, saying to establish energy independence it's going to take a while and fundamentally requiring the U.S. government change its relationships with Middle East countries -- John.

KING: So, Suzanne, a competition among the Democrats there to say I would do the best job or I would act the quickest.

What about Senator McCain, the Republican?

MALVEAUX: John McCain has a different approach. It really is kind of the free market approach. It's something that we've heard from him before. So he's not really big on subsidizing alternative sources of energy, at least not all of them.

He wants to see some of those barriers, as well, for nuclear energy to become an alternative, if you will. And he has proposed a bipartisan plan to what they call reasonable caps on carbon emissions. So he is really looking at this in a totally different way -- John.

KING: Energy now part of the debate and very much part of the economic debate, as middle class families feel the squeeze.

Suzanne Malveaux. Thank you very much, Suzanne.

So what can the candidates do, if anything, as president, about skyrocketing oil and gas prices? Joining us now to talk about that and a whole lot more, CNN's senior political analyst, Gloria Borger. She's here in Washington. CNN's Jack Cafferty in New York and CNN senior political analyst David Gergen is in Boston. All, of course, part of the best political team on television.

Jack, Obama, at the end of Suzanne's piece there, being honest...


KING: ... saying there's a lot we can debate, a lot we can think about and talk about, but not much I could do today, tomorrow, or next week or month for you.

CAFFERTY: Well, you know, it's refreshing to hear an honest comment out of a politician's mouth. These hearings are a periodic public display bordering on a carnival, where these hypocritical members of the United States government drag these oil executives in front of them and castigate them for their obscene profits. I'm not defending their profits, but this country hasn't had a coherent energy policy probably since before the Arab oil embargo in 1973.

These days, the idea of an energy policy is to put Dick Cheney in a closed, locked room out of sight of the public with some guys from Enron and some oil company guys, hammer out some kind of a deal and then sit back and watch oil prices go from $28 when Bush was inaugurated to $111 now.

Twice in the last year the House has voted to roll back those tax breaks for the oil companies and use the money to develop alternative forms of energy. Twice that bill has failed to get through the Senate because the Republicans in the Senate are blocking it, because they don't want to offend their buddies in the oil industry.

This is disingenuous, at the least, and highly hypocritical at the most, for these -- for these people to pose at these hearings and pretend with all this hand-wringing to be so concerned. They've done nothing.

KING: Well, Gloria, to that point, if they've done nothing -- and I think it's safe to assume we could spread the blame -- I won't say equally. I won't try to get into proportions, but bipartisan -- there's bipartisan blame for not being able to figure out a way to at least do the things they can agree on.

Is there any reason to believe that a new president would alter this debate in any great way given the narrow balance of power in Congress?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, you have to see if that balance of power changes. You have to see who becomes president of the United States. But I think all of these candidates -- Republican John McCain and Democrats -- the one thing they do agree on is that you do need some kind of long-term energy policy in this country, to talk about investments in technology. And so that you can come up with a policy that doesn't rely on the Saudis, as Hillary Clinton was saying.

And I do think -- I agree with Jack. I think Obama was honest in saying that political candidates don't have any long -- short-term fixes right now. Of course, it becomes a topic of discussion in a presidential campaign because people go to the pump and they're angry about it. But there are no short-term fixes for this right now.

KING: David, I want to turn your attention to another issue that's been on the radar for a long time where not much seems to get done, and that's immigration reform, back on the table today in this campaign because the administration says it will issue some environmental waivers, some other land management waivers, and try to speed up -- to accelerate the building of that fence along the U.S./Mexican border.

Now, John McCain didn't like the fence much to begin with, but now he says he's for it. Border security first is his mantra. At our debate -- at our last debate, I asked both Democratic candidates about this. And they say if elected president, they'd revisit the issue of the fence.

Let's listen to them first.


CLINTON: So what I've said is that I would say wait a minute, we need to review this. There may be places where a physical barrier is appropriate. I think when both of us voted for this, we were voting for the possibility that where it was appropriate and made sense, it would be considered.



OBAMA: Well, this is an area where Senator Clinton and I almost entirely agree. I think that the key is to consult with local communities, whether it's on the commercial interests or the environmental stakes of creating any kind of barrier. And the Bush administration is not real good at listening. That's not what they do well.


KING: So, David, the administration says it's doing this because Congress has passed a law saying get it done and get it done fast.

But in putting this back into a campaign year, how does it impact the race for president?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ADVISER: Well, in fact, John, I think all three candidates are pretty close together on immigration in some fundamental ways. And that is there is a general consensus now that security has to come first. Some sort of sealing of the borders has to occur. When Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both start talking about fences, you know the conversation has changed, the debate has changed.

So I think where the disagreement really starts is how serious are they about some sort of path to citizenship, if you can secure the borders. And on that, I think there's a considerable question of whether -- whether they're willing to -- whether they have the political courage to go forward on that and be very plain about it in the campaign.

But it I might just add one coda (ph) to the conversation about oil. Look, I think there have been some huge profits that the oil companies have experienced and that need to be -- you know, they need to pay their taxes and to pay their fair share. But I think it's argue wrong to argue or suggest that somehow the oil companies have been manipulating these prices upward.

These prices have not been, you know, rising sky high because of the Bush administration. They've been rising sky high because world demand is up so significantly. It's skyrocketing in places like China and India. And we're living in a new world. And it's one in which, if we're going to be realistic about our place as a superpower, we've got to do some very tough things.

And I have to tell you, none of the candidates is yet facing up in a realistic way to the kind of tough choices we face ahead, whether we're going to do nuclear power or whether they're going to put prices on gasoline and carbon, whether we're going to do some things that are going to really pinch.

KING: OK. A quick time out here.

We'll be back in just a minute. And when we do, Hillary Clinton challenges Barack Obama -- not to a debate, but to bowling. We're going to show you how she's sweetening the deal and what's behind it.

Plus, Chelsea Clinton mum on the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Is it really none of our business, as she says -- or not?

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



CLINTON: So I have a proposal. Today, I am challenging Senator Obama to a bowl-off, a bowling night right here in Pennsylvania -- winner-take-all. I'll even spot him two frames.


KING: We're back with the best political team on television. CNN's senior analyst, Gloria Borger, Jack Cafferty and senior political analyst, David Gergen.

All right, Jack, a little humor is a good thing. Is there any secret message to this or is it just April Fool's have some fun?

CAFFERTY: No. I thought it was pretty funny. I assume that Senator Clinton has seen that pathetic footage of Barack Obama throwing the ball in the gutter...

BORGER: Right.

CAFFERTY: ... and immediately seized on the idea that she could steal the whole election if she could just get him into a bowling alley. He might be a great president, but he's awful when it comes to bowling.


BORGER: I wasn't...

KING: David, how is your bowling game?


GERGEN: I'm not trying. The last time I -- the first time I tried it, I almost broke my ankle when I hit the (INAUDIBLE).


BORGER: And, John, I want to know what she meant by winner-take- all, right?


KING: You know what she meant by winner-take-all.


BORGER: I do. I do.

KING: I want to move on to another subject. And some say this one should be in the gutter or out of bounds, if you will. But it's come up twice this two weeks. Chelsea Clinton now campaigning for her mom. And that is a decision that she made and the campaign made, to put her out in these public settings. She has twice been asked by students, well, how did the Monica Lewinsky scandal impact your mother?

Twice she has very firmly said "none of your business". Is that the right answer? Her mom's running for president. And there are some Democrats and voters who think what about Bill Clinton's baggage? How would that play out?

CAFFERTY: Well, it is the public's business. It was -- you know, it led to his impeachment when he was president of the United States. I feel sympathy for Chelsea to a degree. She's going to get questions like this if she exposes herself to crowds of people who want to know about things like this.

But the answer "it's none of your business" is probably not helping her. And maybe if she -- you know, if she couched it in something along the lines of look, that's a painful episode in my life and I'd really rather not talk about it and then move on.

But she's probably not making any friends saying "that's none of your business" and doing it in a kind of a strident way. You can appreciate where she's coming from, but maybe there's a better way to do it.

KING: Gloria, as a mom and political analyst, what do you think?

BORGER: Well, you know, first of all, I think it's great that Chelsea is out there wanting to support her mother. I think she can give whatever answer she wants to give. I probably agree with Jack that it's not the best political answer.

The question that I have about Chelsea Clinton is the Clintons have always protected her, as I would do as a mother. I remember when she was young growing up here in Washington. She was kind of off limits for us Washington reporters.

Now she's a young woman on the campaign trail and we're not allowed to ask her questions. She doesn't speak to the press. And so I remember the Kerry kids were out there as young adults campaigning for their father. I guess my question is why are we covering her, if we can't talk to her?

KING: Well, David you came to the Clinton White House at a time of trouble. You remember how protective they were of Chelsea Clinton. They made a conscious decision. They view her as an asset in this campaign. If she's going to be out there, these harpoons, are they fair game?

GERGEN: Absolutely. Listen, I thought that one of the things they did really marvelously well was parenting. I thought they both did -- they looked after her and, you know, helped to protect her in that great glare. And the press, frankly, was helpful and constructive in that.

BORGER: Right.

GERGEN: I thought it was worked out well. But once you go out in the arena, look, you know, it's the old Harry Truman line, if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. You know, and I -- you know, and so I think these questions are fair game.

I think Jack Cafferty is right about there's a better way to answer it. I think the suggestion is a good one. But I also think she ought to be answering questions from the press.


GERGEN: I mean, listen, she is -- she is trying to become a political asset for her mom. She's -- and she has every reason to do that. Good for her. But at the same time, there are a lot of questions about where -- what it would be like in a new Clinton administration that, you know, the press has some legitimate inquiries about where this may be going. And I think she ought to be answering questions, just as she's answering from college kids.

BORGER: You know, you --

KING: We need to call a time out. I'm sorry, Gloria.

We need to call a time out there. She did have the good judgment, I would say, to answer another question. Asked if she was looking forward to moving back into the White House, she said she's 28-years- old and the last thing she wants to do is live with her parents again.


BORGER: Right.

KING: Gloria Borger, Jack Cafferty, David Gergen, thanks for being with us today.

And Lou Dobbs is getting ready for his show, just 15 minutes away, at the top of the hour.

Lou, tell us what you're working on.


Much more on the presidential campaign, of course, tonight. Senator Clinton says she's not a quitter. Top lobbyist Charlie Black becomes a full-time adviser for John McCain. Charlie Black among our guests here tonight.

The Bush administration saying it's determined to build now hundreds of miles of fence along our border with Mexico. But what about the rest of that 2000-mile long border? We'll have that report.

And troubling new evidence of Communist China's aggressive efforts to steal our most sensitive military secrets and recruit spies within the Pentagon. We'll have that story.

And more than a million students dropping out of school in this country each and every year. Are public school systems simply failing an entire generation of our students?

We'll have that report, all of that, all the day's news and much more, 7:00 Eastern right here on CNN. Please be with us.

John, back to you.

KING: Lou, we'll see you in just a few minutes. Thank you.

DOBBS: You got it.

KING: Other nations are doing it, Congress is talking about it, now it's Jack Cafferty's question -- should President Bush reconsider and boycott the opening ceremonies at the Summer Olympics in China? Your e-mail responses next.

Jesse Ventura is talking about maybe getting back into politics. We'll tell you just what office he's eyeing.


KING: Checking out our political ticker, Ohio's National First Ladies Library is just saying no to Bill Clinton. The library says it won't make a special exhibit for the former president if he becomes first spouse. The library's founder notes it's a First Ladies Library. She says Bill Clinton or any other future first man would have to build their own library. Of course, Bill Clinton already has a library, the Clinton Presidential Library, down in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Would former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura considering getting back into politics? The ex-Reform Party political phenom says he's learned "you never say never." Ventura tells the "Associated Press" he's been watching the Minnesota Senate race and he's not happy either with Republican incumbent Norm Coleman or the Democratic challenger, Al Franken.

Jesse Ventura will talk politics and about his plans tonight on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE." You won't want to miss it. That's at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 Pacific.

And remember, for the latest political news any time, check out The ticker is the number one political news blog on the Web. And Jack Cafferty contributes to that blog and he joins us again right now.

Hi, Jack.

CAFFERTY: You know, it's great -- isn't it great to see Jesse Ventura back in the national spotlight? I mean haven't you missed him?

KING: Yes. Sure.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: Should President Bush reconsider and boycott the opening ceremonies at the summer Olympic Games in China?

Erin writes: "No. We've all seen the disaster that happens when we politicize the Olympics. Of course, China's human rights record is atrocious, but the place to have made that argument was with the committee that awarded them the Games in the first place. The Olympics remind us all that we are truly one people on one planet -- the good, the bad and the so very ugly."

Mike in New York writes: "It's a good compromise. Yes, he should boycott the opening ceremonies. The compromise between doing nothing and implying consent to Chinese actions in Tibet and a total boycott, which would hurt the athletes more than anyone."

Brooke writes: "President Bush should not boycott the Olympics or the opening ceremonies. The Olympics are a sporting event, not a political rally. Much good will come and can come from the interactions of the athletes chosen to compete in the name of their country."

Chris in Massachusetts: "He ought to either boycott or else wear a "Free Tibet" t-shirt. If he just goes, though, I bet the Olympic crowd doesn't boo him with the same fervor the Washington National fans did the other night. Oh, never mind. They'll probably boo him, too." Eugene in California: "It would be hypocritical for President Bush to boycott the Olympic opening ceremonies held in Communist China. Communist Chinese attacks on Tibet are small in comparison to our war in Iraq. Besides, Communist China owns us, so Bush couldn't boycott the Olympics even if he wanted to. They may counter our boycott with a demand that we repay immediately the trillions of dollars in loans we owe them."

Dena in North Carolina: "Well, with his record on civil rights, i.e. Guantanamo Bay, illegal wiretapping and picking a fight in the Middle East just to please daddy, wouldn't this boycott be a little like the pot calling the kettle black? Let the Games begin."

And Jerry in Fayetteville, Tennessee: "Bush should definitely boycott the opening ceremonies. That sends a political message without impacting the athletes." -- John.

KING: No ambivalence there.

CAFFERTY: No. Well, I mean, some people say yes, some people say no, but --

KING: It's a good group. Jack Cafferty, thank you very much.

Flying penguins, smoking turtles and a diminutive head of state.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Small French President Sarkozy to be stretched in pioneering surgery.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's terrible. I would say false.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely false.


KING: CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a look at some of the April 1 tomfoolery and it's Moost Unusual.


KING: There were flying penguins, smoking turtles.

CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a look at some of the day's April 1 tomfoolery. You might say it's Moost Unusual.


MOOS (voice-over): Sometimes it's too good to be true.

(on-camera): Small French President Sarkozy to be stretched in pioneering surgery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, the French don't do that. They say take me as I am.

MOOS (voice-over): And sometimes it's too good not to be true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Turtles hooked on nicotine?

No. I think that was a monkey.

MOOS: It's a tradition for the British media to print April Fool's whoppers like "What Have They Done to Big Ben, Turned It Digital?"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I actually think that's true. Like I read that somewhere.

MOOS: But that's a minor hoax compared to when the BBC reported pasta was growing on trees in Switzerland back in 1957.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The spaghetti is laid out to dry.

MOOS: And then there was the classic Taco Bell joke of 1996, when the company announced it had bought the Liberty Bell and would rename it Taco Liberty Bell.

This year's most flagrant hoax involved flying penguins.

MOOS: The BBC not only showed penguins flying, they flew to the Amazon jungle. The funny thing is how hard it is to tell fake stories from supposedly real stories these days.

(on-camera): Turtle hooked on nicotine?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that's very possible because so many cigarette butts are thrown on the ground.

MOOS (voice-over): That's supposedly what happened to this turtle in China, whose owner allegedly threw lit butts into the garden and the turtle got hooked.

(on-camera): So what would you do...


MOOS: wean the turtle off?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we could try patches or, you know, I could go cold turtle.

MOOS (voice-over): Sometimes it's the details that make a hoax so delicious. In it's "Docs To Stretch Small Sarkozy" joke, "The Sun" even included a how it works diagram. "The Daily Star" headlined "Live and Let By" in a hoax story that had actor Daniel Craig suggesting the fictional character 007 should swing both ways.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's hilarious.

MOOS: When offered a list of stories -- some true, some hoaxes -- this is the one most folks fell for...

(on-camera): Virgin and Google join to form Virgle in a project to colonize Mars.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, I would believe that, definitely.


MOOS (voice-over): But this red herring left folks in disbelief.

(on-camera): Bush and Blair nominated for Nobel Peace Prize.



MOOS: Actually, they were nominated by a right-wing politician from Norway, but back before the Iraq War. The next thing you know they'll nominate penguins for their role in highlighting global warming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Penguins do fly?

MOOS (on-camera): No, penguins don't fly, but turtles do smoke.

(voice-over): If you believe that, maybe the turtle is not the only one smoking something.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


KING: We're boring here in the United States. Although that Virgle one about colonizing Mars did have some believers down in THE SITUATION ROOM newsroom. Trust me on that one.

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

Thanks for joining us today. I'm John King in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll see you right here tomorrow.

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