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Final Push for Democrats in Pennsylvania; Clinton Gets Surprise Backing From 'Pittsburgh Tribune Review'; What's in Hamas Truce Offer?; Singer Shakira Works to Educate Poor Children

Aired April 21, 2008 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, the final serious hours of Democratic campaigning in Pennsylvania on this, the eve of a very closely watched primary. We're live on the campaign trail with the latest.

Also, a controversial peace mission by the former president Jimmy Carter producing a truce offer from Hamas, but confusion over exactly what it means.

And an international pop sensation harnesses her star power to try to help the world's poorest children. Shakira tells us about her ambitious plans.

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

All political eyes right now on Pennsylvania and the primary that has the potential to give Hillary Clinton the momentum she desperately needs or possibly deliver a death blow to her White House bid. With polls opening tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. Eastern, she and her rival, Barack Obama, are campaigning furiously and taking more direct shots at each other. Yesterday, Obama said even Republican John McCain would be an improvement in the White House.

Listen to how Clinton responded.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My opponent, Senator Obama, said that Senator McCain would be a better president than George Bush. Well, with all due respect, Senator McCain says he wants to leave troops in Iraq for up to 100 years.

Is that better than George Bush?


CLINTON: I don't think so. He has said that he would continue the policies of the economic decisions of this president that have led to a recession, that have led to deficits, have led to debt. We need a nominee who is going to take on John McCain, not cheer him on.


BLITZER: Meanwhile, Obama was taking direct aim at Republicans, whom he accused of going after him.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Some of the Republicans are ginning -- ginning up, you know, their potential attacks against me. Oh, the guy wants to increase taxes and John McCain wants to cut taxes. Well, look, Warren Buffett, I guarantee you, is paying a lower tax rate than most of you here.

When I say, look, we're going to roll back the Bush tax cuts on the top one percent and they say oh, tax increase, tax increase. No. No. Yes, I'm going to ask them to pay a little more so you can pay a little less.


BLITZER: Clinton and Obama are also campaigning right down to the wire, as, you know.

Suzanne Malveaux is in Philadelphia. She's joining us now with the latest on the Pennsylvania push.

What's going on -- Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're just southeast of Pittsburgh and we're awaiting a rally that's to take place. It's going to be a town hall meeting with Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle.

Really, when you look at Pennsylvania here, both of these candidates have spent millions -- millions of dollars. They've used celebrities. They're crisscrossed the country. Obviously, this is a very high stakes contest and it's going to set the tone for the rest of the race.


OBAMA: Get on board the train today.

MALVEAUX (voice-over): Pulling out all the stops, Barack Obama went from whistle stop tour to wooing working families over waffles and sausage.

OBAMA: Do you want the sausage? Do you want it?

MALVEAUX: Less than a mile away, Hillary Clinton was fighting for the same voters -- emphasizing her local ties.

CLINTON: My grandfather went to work in the Scranton lace mills when he was 11 years old, worked there until he retired at 65.

MALVEAUX: After tens of millions of dollars and six weeks of baby kissing, bowling, beer and bickering, it's game time. And everyone wants to know who's going to win.

CLINTON: What's important today and tomorrow is that we turn out the vote.

OBAMA: You and I together, we won't just win Pennsylvania, we'll win this nomination.

MALVEAUX: With voting just hours away, both campaigns have stepped up their attacks -- going after each other on health care, trade and personal strength.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harry Truman said it best, if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen.

Who do you think has what it takes?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newspapers call Hillary Clinton's negative attacks the old politics.


MALVEAUX: Obama would like to end the race here. But he's already conceded he believes Clinton will win Pennsylvania by a narrow margin.

OBAMA: I'm not predicting a win. I'm predicting it's going to be close and that, you know, we are going to do a lot better than people expect.

MALVEAUX: Clinton, who had enjoyed a 20 point lead over Obama when they first started competing for this state, is trying to lower expectations. A spokesman said the goal tomorrow is to come out with a W -- as in a win, whether it's one vote or 100,000.


MALVEAUX: And, Wolf, although Obama really reserved today for really talking about policy, not criticizing Clinton directly, his spokesman, Bill Burton, did take issue with that new ad that came out from the Clinton campaign using Osama bin Laden, invoking him in that ad, saying that this was more playing the politics of fear to score political points -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thank you, Suzanne.

Clinton is favored in tomorrow's primary. But when it comes to the unprecedented current Democratic contest, it's not as simple as win or lose.

Let's go to Jim Acosta -- in Philadelphia as well.

Jim, what are the different scenarios we could see unfold tomorrow in Pennsylvania?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of scenarios, Wolf. And of all the issues facing these candidates, the biggest question of all may be about the math.


CLINTON: Now, for me, that's right -- one day to victory. That's exactly right.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But how much of a win does Hillary Clinton need in Pennsylvania?

Barack Obama is ahead when it comes to delegates won, the popular vote and states won so far this primary season. Even one of Clinton's own surrogates in the state says she needs to win big.

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, she has to. That's all there is to it.

ACOSTA: But does it have to be a double digit victory?

Will that make the senator from New York "the comeback kid" once again?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: If Clinton wins by more than 10 points, which was her margin in neighboring New Jersey and Ohio, her campaign will have new momentum and she'll soldier on.

ACOSTA: But what if she wins by less than 10 points?

SCHNEIDER: If Clinton wins by single digits, we're in the twilight zone. Nothing changes.

ACOSTA: On the eve of the primary, our CNN poll of polls, which averages the three latest surveys in Pennsylvania, puts Clinton up by 7 points. But with 7 percent still undecided, anything can happen tomorrow.

OBAMA: You and I together, we won't just win Pennsylvania, we'll win this nomination. We'll win the general election and then we will change this country and change the world.

ACOSTA: And what if Obama pulls off an upset in Pennsylvania?

SCHNEIDER: If Obama wins, Clinton will be under tremendous pressure to end her campaign rather than damage the party.


ACOSTA: A surprise Obama upset could conceivably sweep a good number of uncommitted superdelegates into his camp.

Anything less than decisive for either side could leave this race right where it is right now -- unresolved -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta, thank you.

Remember, for the latest political news any time, check out or Politics Ticker at The Ticker is the number one political news blog out there on the Web. And that's also where you can read my latest blog post,

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

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: What did you write about today?

BLITZER: I wrote about the various scenarios that could unfold tomorrow and suggested, you know what, given the unpredictability, the huge number of first time voters out there...


BLITZER: ...that maybe the pollsters aren't necessarily gauging all that accurately. This could be a long night tomorrow night.

CAFFERTY: Well, it could be -- you know, we could be surprised in any one of a number of different ways. I mean Pennsylvania is kind of like a Rubix's Cube tomorrow night.

BLITZER: Right. It's going to be an exciting night.

CAFFERTY: What is this somebody described, you've got Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in the middle?

Who does...

BLITZER: John King.

CAFFERTY: John King said -- John King said that?

BLITZER: He said that 'T' it in the middle, which is a very conservative part of the state.

CAFFERTY: Yes, but some famous guy said that Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh on one side, Philadelphia on the other...

BLITZER: Maybe it wasn't John. It was somebody else.

CAFFERTY: ...and Alabama in the middle.

BLITZER: He made the same point, though.

CAFFERTY: The same idea.


CAFFERTY: All right. Well, we'll see what happens. You'll be here late.

BLITZER: We'll be here late tomorrow.

CAFFERTY: I'll be leaving early. (LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: Money talks. These days, John McCain's getting an earful and the music's not pretty. McCain raised $15.4 million in March, a paltry sum; Barack Obama $41 million plus; and Hillary Clinton raised $21 million in March.

Overall, John McCain raised a third -- one third -- of the $240 million -- that's a quarter of a billion -- that Obama has raised, less than half Clinton's total.

The "Los Angeles Times" says Obama has raised more in small donations than what McCain has raised in his entire campaign. McCain's advisers, some Republicans, say that he'll have enough to run a competitive race in November, but not everybody is convinced that's the case.

One thing working in McCain's favor, the Republican National Committee overwhelmingly outraising the Democratic National Committee -- at least right now. The Republicans have about $31 million in the bank. The Democrats only have $5 million, the DNA.

But after his party's convention in September, McCain will likely opt for public funding. That's about $84 million that'll be used to run his general election campaign. It may not be enough. That figure likely will pale compared to what Barack Obama might be able to raise, with his network of 1.5 million donors.

Another problem for McCain, the several traditional Republican voters are leaning Democrat thus far in the race. The securities and investment industries have given $7 million to Obama, $3 million to McCain. The real estate industry has given $6 million to Hillary Clinton compared to just $2.5 million for John McCain.

So here's the question: When it comes to money, how can John McCain catch up with the Democrats?

Go to You can post a comment on my blog.

He could put the touch on his wife, I guess. She's got a few dollars.

BLITZER: Mrs. McCain.

CAFFERTY: That would be Mrs. McCain, his wife. Yes.

CAFFERTY: Cindy McCain.

Some estimate $100 million.

CAFFERTY: So she could like cover him, you know, in the short- term.

BLITZER: We'll see.

CAFFERTY: Give him a little advance. (LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Thanks.

See you in a few moments, Jack. Thank you.

What's at stake in Pennsylvania? How big a win does Hillary Clinton really need? And what if Barack Obama were to pull off a surprise? We're going to show you why this contest could change everything.

Also, what's really inside a Hamas offer for a so-called truce with Israel? You're going to find out why there's confusion over the deal and the controversial role the former president, Jimmy Carter, is playing.

Plus, get this -- Shakira in THE SITUATION ROOM. She sits down with our own Zain Verjee to talk about her new world tour. This one not about music -- it's about children. Shakira. We'll explain.

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


BLITZER: There's certainly a lot at stake for both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in tomorrow's Pennsylvania primary.

Let's discuss this and more with our CNN political contributor the Clinton supporter, the Clinton supporter, James Carville. He's here in New York with me.

And from Chicago, Democratic Congresswoman Janet Schakowsky. She's Barack Obama.

Thanks to both of you for coming in.

James, I'm going to start with you, and play this exchange you and I had back on March 20, which seems so long ago.


But let's listen.


JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR, CLINTON SUPPORTER: If she loses Pennsylvania, she's not going to be the nominee. Because --

BLITZER: But if she wins in Pennsylvania...

CARVILLE: I said, you know...

BLITZER: ...will she be the...

CARVILLE: ...wait.

BLITZER: ...still be the nominee?

CARVILLE: I think so. But if we had a -- if we have -- if they're able...

BLITZER: Even without Michigan and Florida?

CARVILLE: I think so, because every superdelegate knows that the Obama people are the people that are not pushing for this. They know that they don't want to run.


BLITZER: All right.

Are you ready to stand by that? If she wins tomorrow, even by one point, will she be the nominee?

CARVILLE: Well, no, I think she has to win by more than one point.

BLITZER: But if she wins by more than one point...

CARVILLE: Well, if she wins by...

BLITZER: ...she'll stay in the race?


BLITZER: She's not going to drop out?

CARVILLE: She's not going to drop out. Of course not. But if she loses, it's extraordinarily difficult. It would be almost impossible...

BLITZER: Is it over?

CARVILLE: It would be impossible for her to be the nominee if she loses Pennsylvania. But I can't know whether she'll drop out or not but --

BLITZER: But if she wins Pennsylvania, let's say...

CARVILLE: Well, I think...

BLITZER: Let's say she does win in Pennsylvania, along the lines as she won in New Jersey, a neighboring state, and Ohio, by about 10 points.

CARVILLE: Well, I think at that point...

BLITZER: Then what?

CARVILLE: I think at that point, the odds start to shift to her favor, because she would probably win Indiana and then it would close very, very strongly. I think the odds do shift then.


CARVILLE: But it's a long way. She's got -- we've got to wait to see what happens tomorrow night.

BLITZER: I know...

CARVILLE: But if she loses, it's -- yes, it's done.

BLITZER: But if she wins Pennsylvania by a significant number, let's say 10 points, Jan Schakowsky, what do you think, has she got the momentum then?

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Well -- oh, now we're talking about 10 points? She was up 20 points before. I think if it's 10 or less, then it could be considered a victory for Barack Obama because she was so far ahead and the polls had been closing. But I certainly don't think that that puts her in the win column.

The number of delegates that she picks up will still leave her far behind Barack Obama. And I really think that the campaign right now that she is -- that she's running, which is really right out of the Karl Rove playbook, bringing up Osama bin Laden and Pearl Harbor and just playing the fear card is just...

BLITZER: Let me let...

SCHAKOWSKY: ...I hope that the voters and...

BLITZER: Let me let James weigh in on that because...

SCHAKOWSKY: I hope the voters in Pennsylvania will see...

BLITZER: ...that's a serious charge you're making -- she's using the Karl Rove playbook, James.

CARVILLE: Well, you know, what I'm reading from "The Washington Post" this morning: "Since Wednesday's debate in Philadelphia, of Obama steadily escalated his rhetorical attacks. He's questioned whether she's honest and trustworthy and cast her as a practitioner of old-style special interest politics."

I think we need to stop whining about all of this. I mean, they're running. They obviously both want to win. And all that Obama does is attack and as people whine about this.

And you know what...

SCHAKOWSKY: Oh, let's talk...

CARVILLE: ...let them go and...


CARVILLE: Again, I'm kind of following...

SCHAKOWSKY: Line one... CARVILLE: I'm just reading from the paper. I'm just reading from the paper.

SCHAKOWSKY: I know. But you know what, James, this...

CARVILLE: ...of what Obama is saying. I never brought it up.

SCHAKOWSKY: I'll tell you...

CARVILLE: It's a tough -- it's a tough job.

SCHAKOWSKY: ...this whining thing is this whining is so...


SCHAKOWSKY: This whining -- oh, I understand. She's saying it's a tough job.


Could I talk?

SCHAKOWSKY: So is he fit to go after Osama bin Laden?

I mean how dare she really bring up Osama bin Laden...


SCHAKOWSKY: ...and all of the emotional fear buttons, when we know Barack Obama is certainly fit to be president. In terms of whining, the hypocrisy is amazing. I mean it was their -- the campaign that said oh, how can you ask me the first question and talking about the rules of the game and complaining about them.

What we need is someone, as Bill Clinton said...

BLITZER: All right...

SCHAKOWSKY: Let me just -- let me just say this.

BLITZER: Hold on Congresswoman.

SCHAKOWSKY: Bill Clinton said his law politics...

BLITZER: Congresswoman, I want James to respond.


BLITZER: Go ahead.

CARVILLE: All right, I -- you know...


CARVILLE: We obviously have done it by the word here. I think Osama bin Laden is an issue. I think people want him caught. And I think people expect the next president to do that.

BLITZER: So what are you saying, that Hillary Clinton can find him and Barack Obama can't?

CARVILLE: Well, I don't know. Again...

SCHAKOWSKY: Yes, really.

CARVILLE: I think she would do a better job. I don't think that Obama -- if Obama is the nominee, I'm going to endorse him. But I think all this stuff about the...

SCHAKOWSKY: But let me, look...

CARVILLE: Excuse me for speaking while you're interrupting, Congressman. But go ahead.


SCHAKOWSKY: OK, then. One of Clinton -- Bill Clinton's loyal politics, he said if one candidate is appealing to your fears and the other one is appealing to your hopes, you'd better vote for the one who wants you to hope. That's the best.

And I would agree. And that's Barack Obama. And that's why I hope the voters of Pennsylvania will go with their hopes and not their fears.

BLITZER: All right, James, let me play this sound bite from what Howard Dean said to me on Thursday, looking ahead, because he wants this thing wrapped up pretty quickly.

Listen to this.


HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIRMAN: I need them to say who they're for starting now. They really do need to do that. We cannot give up two or three months of active campaigning in healing time.


BLITZER: He's referring to the superdelegates who will, in the end, make this decision.

CARVILLE: Well, let's wait until Pennsylvania's say tomorrow. I think it's not, as a Democrat, I actually believe in the process and let's see if these -- and, by the way, if the Democrats in Pennsylvania want to end it, they can end it tomorrow quite easily. All they do is just they vote for Obama and it would pretty much be done and everything will fall into place and we'll march off in Denver. But I would prefer to allow voters to have their say in this.

BLITZER: One final point, Congresswoman.

If in fact, when the dust settles tomorrow in Pennsylvania, she does emerge as the winner, let's say with 10 points, a 10 point win, 55-45, something like that, which is similar to what happened in neighboring Ohio and New Jersey, that's going to give her a lot of momentum, since she will have won some of the largest, if not the largest, Electoral College states.

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, it certainly won't give her enough of the delegates to put her even in the running. And we do have Indiana and North Carolina, where we expect to do very, very well.

And so, you know, when Hillary wins just a bit, then they want to say that it's an even-steven race. But, you know, the math doesn't work that way. And neither, really, does the overall momentum in the country. Clearly, I think the race will go on after Pennsylvania, obviously, if she -- to Indiana and North Carolina. But, you know, even Donna Brazile said today to take this all the way to the convention is really frightening in terms of possibilities for victory of the Democrats.

So I'm hoping that at least when the process is done of the primaries, that we'll be able to end this before the convention, with Barack Obama, I believe, being the nominee.

BLITZER: Well, let's see what happens tomorrow first and then we can continue down the road two weeks later in Indiana and North Carolina.

All right, guys. Thanks very much for coming in.

SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Deterring a nuclear-armed Iran. Hillary Clinton proposes what she calls a security umbrella. You're going to find out why some say that could put the U.S. in the middle of another Middle East war.

Plus, we'll go inside reports alleging some top military analysts are really Pentagon puppets. You're going to hear what former officers have to say about that.

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


BLITZER: Carol Costello is off today.

Zain Verjee is monitoring other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM -- Zain, what's going on?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's now costing you even more money to fill up your gas tank. The Energy Department reports gas prices are now at a new record high. The national average price for regular unleaded has risen to $3.51 a gallon. Now that's up almost 25 percent over the past year. And as the summer driving season gets revved up, prices are expected to rise even more. An attack by a female suicide bomber in Baquba, Iraq has left three people dead plus the bomber. A woman wearing an explosive vest blew herself up today at the headquarters of a U.S.-allied Sunni fighters. Police say that she had asked to meet with members of the so-called Awakening Council because she needed financial assistance. They say she then blew herself up when guards asked her to remove her robe during the security search.

There's more turmoil involving the Olympic Torch. In Kuala Lumpur today, a crowd of Chinese onlookers heckled and hit three members of a Japanese family with inflated plastic batons. Now it happened after the two adults and a boy unfurled a Tibetan flag before the start of the Malaysian leg of the torch relay. Police detained the family members and then they also arrested a Buddhist monk and a British woman wearing a "Free Tibet" T-shirt. All five were later released.

Danica Patrick celebrating one of the most historic victories in open wheel racing. Look at this. Yesterday, the American race car driver became the first female winner in Indy Car history. She won the Indy Japan 300 after the top contenders were forced to stop for fuel in the final lap. Look at her celebrate. She says she wants to make even more history by becoming a consistent winner and a champion -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Zain, very much.

A surprise endorsement for Hillary Clinton from an unlikely source. You're going to find out why a former journalistic foe is now saying she's the best Democrat -- the Democratic bet for Pennsylvanians. We'll tell you what's going on.

Also, a controversial mission produces an even more controversial truce offer from Hamas to Israel. We'll have details of the confusion over the fine print.

Plus, the pop star Shakira tells us about her new mission to help the world's poorest children. We're going to show you what she wants to do. Shakira here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Stay with us. We'll be back.


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

Happening now, an increasing number of military recruits are being -- are convicted felons. A new Pentagon report shows the Army granted more than twice the amount of felony waivers last year than the year before, a total of 511. The Marines also allowed more felons to serve. Their crimes included assault, burglary, drug possession and making terrorist threats.

Brutal battles are going on in the capital of Somalia. On one side, government troops backed by Ethiopian forces, on the other, Islamic militants trying to gain control of Mogadishu. Witnesses say militants are using civilians as shields. The government and government troops are shelling residential neighbors. The result -- a civilian death toll described right now as unspeakable.

Nigerian rebels have written a letter to President Bush taking responsibility for attacks on two oil pipelines in Nigeria -- one owned by Chevron, the other by Shell. They're threatening to cripple their country's oil industry unless profits are more equally shared. The rebels also wrote to former President Jimmy Carter, asking him to mediate.

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

Going into the Pennsylvania primary, Hillary Clinton has a surprise endorsement from a Pittsburgh paper notorious for its anti- Clinton stance.

Let's go to Mary Show.

She's here in THE SITUATION ROOM watching this story for us.

How big of a surprise is this endorsement -- Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, stunning is one word used to describe it. Bizarre is another since the Clintons and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review have a very rocky history.


CLINTON: I am asking for your support and vote.

SNOW: In seeking support, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton landed an endorsement nobody expected. She received a political blessing from the paper owned by a long time Clinton enemy, billionaire Richard Melon Scaife.

The Democratic presidential hopeful sat down with her conservative critic and his editorial board last month seen here on the Pittsburgh Tribune Review's Web site. One blog even mused that hell had officially frozen over.

Even Clinton joked about being there.

CLINTON: It's so counterintuitive I just thought it would be funny, too.

SNOW: Counterintuitive when you consider Scaife was seen as the driving force behind a number of Clinton investigations. He was part of what then first lady Hillary Clinton was referring to in this 1998 interview on NBC's Today Show.

CLINTON: The great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Richard Scaife was one of the major bankers for the vast right wing conspiracy so this is a bizarre footnote to history. SNOW: Scaife's newspaper, for example, suggested a cover up conspiracy in the death of former Clinton aide, Vince Foster, which was ruled a suicide.

RAMESH PONNURU, NATIONAL REVIEW: Really not just a conservative critic but an unhinged conservative critic of the Clintons, was really spending a lot of money trying to prove this absurd claim that the Clintons had somehow had Vince Foster murdered.

SNOW: In 2008, the Tribune Review writes that Hillary Clinton is the wiser choice among Democrats and cites her decision to sit down with the paper as courageous. Clinton has warmed over chilly relations with other conservative critics like Rupert Murdoch in New York. But Scaife's cozying up to Clinton has some political observers questioning the real motive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would he really like her to be the president of the United States or was this a tactical endorsement figuring she's weaker in a general election than Barack Obama.


SNOW: Another political observer says Scaife may fear Obama more than he fears Clinton. As for what Richard Scaife is thinking, he denied our request for an interview.

BLITZER: All right. What's the likely political fallout, the impact on the primary tomorrow?

SNOW: Not really seen as helping her much because conservatives won't be going out on the Democratic primary. As people point out, she needs all the help she can get and she'll take it.

BLITZER: The old adage, might not help but can't hurt.

SNOW: Exactly.

BLITZER: On the other hand maybe it can hurt. We'll see. All right. Thanks, Mary, very much; Mary Snow reporting.

Hillary Clinton raised a few eyebrows with remarks about how she would deter a nuclear armed Iran.

Let's go to Brian Todd. He's working this story for us.

Brian, so what's the controversy here?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it stems from the phrase massive retaliation and under what circumstances the U.S. might respond like that.


TODD: She responds forcefully when asked how she'd deal with a major security threat in the Middle East, the possibility of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon and attacking Israel. Hillary Clinton's comments during an ABC News debate last week.

CLINTON: An attack on Israel would trigger massive retaliation but so would an attack on those countries that are willing to go under the security umbrella and fore swear their own nuclear ambitions.

TODD: She was talking about Arab countries friendly to the U.S. like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates. Some observers see that as a commitment to insert the U.S. into a possible conflict between two Middle Eastern countries, an idea many Americans might not accept given U.S. involvement in Iraq.

One analyst says the U.S. already has security arrangements with those Arab allies and doesn't need to go further.

JON ALTERMAN, CTR. FOR STRATEGIC & INTL. STUDIES: It seems to me U.S. policy is better served by supporting these countries, by indicating our support for them, but not putting ourselves into a corner that then we're going to find ourselves obligated to fight a war that, for any number of possible reasons, we might not want to fight.

TODD: A foreign policy adviser to Senator Clinton says her position is a U.S. response to a nuclear attack by Iran on Israel would be devastating. Despite her comments, the adviser says she's not committed to a massive retaliation if Iran were to attack other countries in the region but wants to signal to Iran that those countries could possibly be under a broader U.S. security umbrella and that Iran could not use its nuclear program to intimidate them because it's uncertain how the U.S. would respond.

Her goal, the adviser says, is to deter Iran and get those Arab countries not to pursue their own nuclear weapons. One analyst believes it's at least worth considering.

BRUCE RIEDEL, SABAN CTR. FOR MIDDLE EAST POLICY: We do not want to see Saudi Arabia and others look for their own nuclear deterrent against Iran. That would be a truly perilous situation.


TODD: Hillary Clinton's idea of a security umbrella for Arab allies seems to be one she alone is embracing. The Obama campaign wouldn't go further than saying he would respond forcefully and appropriately to an Iranian attack on U.S. allies in the region. And adviser to John McCain says at this point he's not willing to extend security guarantees beyond those now offered to Israel -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, thank you.

Meanwhile, the leader of Hamas is offering what's being described as new terms for a so called truce with Israel after controversial meetings with the former president Jimmy Carter who said they include recognizing Israel, something Hamas leaders dispute.

CNN's Atika Shubert is in Jerusalem with the latest.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: On the last day of his Middle East tour, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter presented what he hoped would be a breakthrough.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whatever position Hamas chooses to take on the agreement, Hamas will accept their agreement if the Palestinian people support it in a free vote. That includes the recognition of the existence of Israel to live in peace adjacent to the Palestinian people.

SHUBERT: But hours after that statement, Hamas leader, Khalid Meshaal, the man Carter met with in Syria, said this.

KHALID MESHAAL, HAMAS LEADER (through translator): We agree to a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders. Jerusalem is the Palestinian capital, full sovereignty without settlements and the right of return for refugees but not the recognition of Israel.

SHUBERT: So which is it? Is there a contradiction between this?

CARTER: That includes the recognition of the existence of Israel to live in peace.

SHUBERT: And this?

MESHAAL (through translator): But not the recognition of Israel.

SHUBERT: Some say Carter and the Hamas leader were contradicting each other. While others say Hamas is indicating a willingness to accept existence of Israel. As Carter said, however, without formal diplomatic recognition.

Hamas also offered today a ten-year cease fire with Israel provided Israel withdraws to its pre-1967 borders, a condition Israel has never accepted.

Words aside, on Saturday, Hamas launched two attacks on Israeli troops on the Gaza border, loading two military vehicles with explosives. The day after Carter met with Hamas leaders in Syria.

The former president defended his meeting, telling CNN it was the right thing to do.

CARTER: The wrong thing is for Israel and the United States to refuse to have any relationships with Hamas and Syria. Because it's no doubt in anyone's mind that both Hamas and Syria will have to be involved in the final agreement. How can you exclude them from the process at least to the agreement and justifying? So I think what I did was absolutely correct.

SHUBERT: Carter insists that he is not and will not be a negotiator or a mediator. But he hopes that this visit will lead to direct talks between Israel, the U.S., and Hamas.

Atika Shubert, CNN, Jerusalem. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Shakira, superstar who's shaking things up on the world stage right now. She talks with us about her latest project global education. This is a project that has nothing to do with music. We'll hear what she has to say.

Also, the military experts on Iraq; you hear them all the time on television but can you really trust what they're saying? There's been a scathing report in the "New York Times" claiming the Pentagon has a direct hand in what they're telling us. Are they simply puppets of the Pentagon? We have a full report coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Shakira, she's a performer known around the world for her hit records and daring dance moves. This Colombian born artist is also shaking things up off stage with an effort that could transform lives around the world.

She sat down with CNN's Zain Verjee who's joining us now from Washington.

All right. Zain, what's Shakira's latest project all about? This is very serious stuff.

VERJEE: Yes, Wolf.

She's got plenty of fans who love her music and her dancing. But Shakira's also the honorary chair of this year's global campaign for education. So she's putting on a different sort of performance here in Washington.


VERJEE: Shakira is famous for "Hips Don't Lie." But the sexy pop star's here to shake up official Washington. Her mission, to get the world's poorest children an education.

SHAKIRA, SINGER/PHILANTHROPIST: Seventy-two million kids are out of the school system.

VERJEE: Instead of working her fans, she's working world leaders like the British prime minister and the head of the World Bank. She's also meeting members of Congress.

She's a Grammy winning, megastar, a sex symbol. So why should we pay attention to her on global education?

SHAKIRA: Every time you give a child an opportunity, you are transforming his life or her life and giving these this child the opportunity to become a productive member of society.

VERJEE: Shakira travels to disaster zones as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and founded her own charity more than ten years ago to help educate Colombian kids missing out on school.

But do we have celebrity overload? Clooney has Darfur, Angelina has refugees, Bono has African. How does Shakira compete for attention?

SHAKIRA: In my case, I like to think I'm using the spotlight that shines on me or my career and moving it or shifting it to more important issues.

VERJEE: Shakira donates millions of her own money for her cause.

(on-camera): How much money are you looking for from U.S. tax payers?

SHAKIRA: This will increase the fund from $465 million that the U.S. is funding in universal education to $3 billion by the year 2012.

VERJEE (vocie-over): Since she's in Washington, we asked her which U.S. presidential candidate is best for her cause.

SHAKIRA: I am confident that each one of these candidates will recognize the importance of universal education.

VERJEE: Do you think one of them is stronger on education than the others?

SHAKIRA: You're evil.


VERJEE: And, Wolf, I think it's about time your audience knows what a big Shakira fan you are. Right, Wolf?

Sometimes you listen to "Hips Don't Lie" on commercial breaks and even or your drive into work. Shakira herself wants to say hi to you and here's what she said.


SHAKIRA: Hi, Wolf. I heard you're a very good dancer. I send you a big kiss. Bye-bye and see you soon.


BLITZER: You see me blushing here? You're looking at this high definition TV.

VERJEE: Yes, actually.

BLITZER: She's a very talented musician. Very excellent singer. And she's doing important work right now for young kids around the world. Zain, I wish I would have been in Washington today to do that interview but you did an excellent job as usual.

VERJEE: Thank you, Wolf. Thanks for that. It was good fun and she was great. BLITZER: Good stuff. Thanks very much.

John McCain, he's raising more campaign cash these days. But he's still way behind Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Can he catch up? Jack Cafferty with your e-mail.

Also, the military experts on Iraq. You hear them, you see them on television all the time. Now there's a scathing report in the "New York Times" claiming the Pentagon has a direct hand in what they're telling us; Howard Kurtz standing by with a report of our own.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: They're seen everywhere on television, former generals and colonels giving their military analysis on Iraq and the war on terror but a "New York Times" questions their objectivity, accusing some analysts of being Pentagon puppets who are motivated by loyalty and money.

Let's go to CNN's Howard Kurtz of CNN's Reliable Sources -- Howie.

HOWARD KURTZ, CNN RELIABLE SOURCES CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the retired generals and colonels who've filled the air waves since the invasion of Iraq have been largely supportive of the Pentagon. But now there's reason to question just how independent some of these men they are.


KURTZ: Thousands of documents obtained by "The New York Times" reveal an extensive Pentagon effort to use the military pundits to carry the administration's message, even while some express private doubts. There were regular meetings with Donald Rumsfeld when he was defense secretary and government sponsored trips to Iraq.

Some former officers sought out the spin. Fox News analyst John Garrett wrote the Pentagon: "Please let me know if you have any specific points you want covered or that you would prefer to downplay."

Garrett said today that no one at the Pentagon ever told him what to say. He said he's a little bit biased as a military veteran but was balancing the negative viewpoints about the war.

CNN analyst Don Sheppard, a retired general, said he never provided anyone's point of view but his own.

GEN. DON SHEPPARD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I feel no pressure whatsoever to do anything other than prevent my honest opinions about what's going on. I certainly did not feel compelled to carry any message to anybody.

KURTZ: Some critics though are appalled by the Pentagon program. MARK FELDSTEIN, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: What you're talking about here is the deliberate subvert the Democratic process really to fool the news media and buy the public to lie us into this war in Iraq.

KURTZ: Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told me the department simply provided the former officers with facts and statistics, saying, "To suggest they could be puppets of the Defense Department is a little insulting to all of them."

Retired Colonel Bill Cowan told me he was booted out of a group meeting regularly with Rumsfeld after criticizing the war effort on Bill O'Reilly's Fox show three years ago.

CNN's Sheppard, for his part, says feedings can be valuable.

SHEPPARD: To do what I do, which is analyze the war, I've got to meet with those people. So I meet with them. They provide briefings. They provide opportunities to ask questions. We ask those questions.

KURTZ: The "Times" article also questioned why the networks don't routinely disclose that some of these retired officers work for defense contractors or pursue military contracts themselves.

A CNN spokeswoman says the network terminated its relationship last year with one analyst, retired General James Spider Marx, after looking more closely into his pursuit of military contracts as an executive with McNeill Technologies. Marx, who couldn't be reached for comment, has said he disclosed his income from technology firm to CNN.


It's hardly surprising career military men would be sympathetic to the Pentagon. And a half dozen generals did break ranks two years ago to assail Rumsfeld's handling of the war. The question is whether many of these analysts have been less independent than they appear on television -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Howie; Howie Kurtz reporting for us.

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

CAFFERTY: All right, Wolf.

John McCain way behind when it comes to fundraising. The question is: When it comes to money, can he catch the Democrats?

He's got a lot of ground to make up.

George writes: "It's not about the money. No matter how much money John McCain has he will never be the next president of the United States. People have made up their minds that things are going to change and they're going to be the ones who make that change happen."

Jeff says: "The only way he can catch up with Democrats' money is by catching up with the conservatives."

Jacob says: "McCain doesn't need to. He's beating the Democrats in nearly every head to head poll in the swing states. Democratic Party in the process of losing another impossible to lose election."

Henry writes: "He'll never catch up with Obama. I make a $50 donation every month to Barack Obama and have been since January. It's just like a monthly bill at my house."

Vinnie in New York: "He can call on his friends from the Keating Five Scandal."

Dana writes in New York also: "He doesn't need to. Cindy's got millions. She can afford to bail him out"

Annie in Atlanta: "Wait till the general election. These staunch Republicans with or without deep pockets will hold their noses and money up. They would never consider doing otherwise. He'll be just fine."

And Mary in Connecticut says: "McCain won't have to worry much. Obama says most of his contributors are regular folks giving small amounts of money. Soon it's going to be a decision of gas money or money for Obama. And I'm not walking to work."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, go to my blog at

Look for yours there. There are hundreds of them posted.

BLITZER: Fascinating reading indeed.


BLITZER: Thank you, Jack. See you in a few moments.

Cementing ties with Mexico as President Bush looks toward his legacy. Our own Lou Dobbs is looking at the situation as well. He's standing by to join us live.

Plus, where lies in Pennsylvania as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton make their final pitch to voters on this the eve of the critical primary.

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


BLITZER: President Bush's meeting with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts today in New Orleans to discuss trade and a lot of other issues.

Let's go to Lou. He's here.

What do you think about what's going on. It's now 14 years since the signing of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement?

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Fifteen years this year. To see these three heads of state down there, it's laughable. Because George Bush doesn't know what he's done. Steven Harper just sort of came to the party lately.

BLITZER: He's the prime minister of Canada?

DOBBS: He is, still. And the fact is Felipe Calderon is sitting there trying to figure out how he can cheer on illegal immigration into this country. It's embarrassing. It should be humiliating.

BLITZER: This has become the largest trading block in the world. A trillion dollars traded between these three neighbors.

DOBBS: Well, let's put that in perspective, OK? We've got a $14 trillion economy here. We sort of tag along with Canada and with Mexico. Nothing against them. No insult intended. But the reality is there's the United States and there's everybody else. We've got a $74 billion trade deficit with Mexico and about a $65 billion trade deficit with Canada. That doesn't add up to such a great deal for us, does it?

BLITZER: But we export a lot of stuff to those countries creating a lot of jobs this in this country?

DOBBS: Wait a minute, Wolf. Stay with me on this. 74 billion deficit to Mexico, 65 billion to Canada, We're not exporting very much, are we?

BLITZER: I don't know what the aggregate numbers are.

DOBBS: Here's the agate number. We have $140 billion deficit with these two countries. There's a drag on our economy.

BLITZER: But there's still a lot of exports that go to those countries.

DOBBS: Yes there is but what part of $140 billion deficit do you think would be not a drag on our economy?

BLITZER: So you think NAFTA should be scrapped or should be renegotiated?

DOBBS: No, it's silly. I mean the thing has to be renegotiated. We have to get our heads straightened out in this country. This is just silly. Corporate America has been driving this nonsense. They're outsourcing agreements.

We know we've lost about three quarters of a million jobs as a result. The impact on Canada, I mean excuse me, on Mexico has been horrible. And for these three pretenders to suggest that this is some sort of net benefit is an absurdity.

BLITZER: It is good to have the leaders of these three countries get together periodically. DOBBS: Sure. We wouldn't want anybody to miss the point of getting together. What are the big issues here? These people are talking about, Felipe Calderon wants to send all of his poor people to United States. That's terrific. Isn't that something to be proud of?

And Steve Harper - I mean terrific country, Canada. Great neighbor. Great relationship and allies. Have been forever. What are we doing with this? Nothing that's new. The reality is we're going to continue to conduct international trade. The reality is this country has to grow up. Both of its political parties, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives and understand international trade has been with us since the founding of this nation but balance, mutual and reciprocal trade are what drive an economy in its most powerful direction toward prosperity.

BLITZER: But trade is good.

DOBBS: Yes, that's not even an issue except for the idiots who are trying to paint others as protectionists or economic isolationists like the intellectual twerps in the Bush administration. They are absolutely on a front to reason, rationality and to history.

BLITZER: On those words, we'll leave it, Lou.

DOBBS: Well, if you must. It's great to be with you, Wolf

BLITZER: We'll see you back here in an hour. Lou Dobbs, getting ready for his show. Thank you.