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THE SITUATION ROOM
Bush Reacts to Book Blast; McCain and Obama Duel for Votes in the West; Clinton Claims She's the Stronger Candidate
Aired May 28, 2008 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, a duel out West. Barack Obama challenging John McCain right now on McCain's turf, as both candidates look ahead to November.
All three candidates find something to agree on, as Hillary Clinton joins her rivals in taking a stand on a major human rights flash point.
And President Bush defending the war in Iraq as a righteous fight against evil just like World War II. But the conservative commentator and author, Pat Buchanan, says both conflicts involve major blunders. He'll be here in THE SITUATION ROOM to explain why.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin this hour with President Bush. He's now reacting to the new sharp attacks by his former press secretary, Scott McClellan.
Let's go right to our White House correspondent, Ed Henry. He's on the phone from Colorado with us.
Ed, what is the White House saying? I take it this is the most detailed reaction from the current White House to this bombshell of a book?
VOICE OF ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. On the way to Utah from here, in Colorado aboard Air Force One, Dana Perino told reporters that the president first read an excerpt of this book back in November at Camp David. And she says at that time, they were led to believe that the except was overwritten a bit and that maybe it would not, essentially, be that harsh.
But she talked to the president yesterday, obviously, on Air Force One after it was becoming clear that this book was going to be very harsh. She said the president's reaction was "He was puzzled. He didn't recognize the same Scott McClellan that he hired and worked with for so many years." She added he was disappointed and he called it a sad situation.
Now, Perino also said she's been at the White House for a few years, she feels people can speak out if they feel like they need to be critical about something and she doesn't understand and other White House aides don't understand why Scott McClellan did not speak out sooner. She was pressed on whether this will be -- this book -- kind of the first version of history about the Iraq War and other issues. And she said: "It's not writing history, it's rewriting history."
So you can see there the White House walking a very fine line. They don't want to hit Scott McClellan personally too hard, but they want to make clear they don't think this book is accurate -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And he'll be here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Scott McClellan, on Friday.
Ed, thank you.
Barack Obama and John McCain are out on the campaign trail slugging it out. But Hillary Clinton's campaign is saying don't count her out.
Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is joining us now from Colorado herself.
All of this happening as the delegate fight involving Michigan and Florida looms -- Candy?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. There is that Saturday meeting of the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee, where they are supposed to decide how they are going to seat the Michigan and the Florida delegates. Hillary Clinton clearly looking to that day as a way to reinforce her message to superdelegates. She hopes to draw closer to Barack Obama as a result of the decision from the Democratic committee, so that she can say it is so close, you need to now look at who, in fact, is more electable.
Really, these campaigns, Wolf, are on two different tracks now. Hillary Clinton fighting fiercely in the primary, where Barack Obama seems to have one foot both in the primary and the general election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on down.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are some of our eighth grade students.
OBAMA: What's your name?
CROWLEY: In his only stop of the day, Barack Obama paid a leisurely visit to a school in suburban Denver, where the Democratic convention will be held. There were classroom tours and a town hall meeting focused on education. In contrast to the sharp rhetoric of John McCain and the urgency of Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House, the Obama campaign is giving off an aura of suspended animation.
OBAMA: All right, everybody. Thank you very much. I'll see you back in August.
CROWLEY: For the second day in a row, Obama did not directly engage John McCain on Iraq. McCain, continually suggesting Obama wants to surrender in Iraq without knowing what's happening there, is itching for a fight and a headline.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now I asked Senator Obama to go to Iraq. I asked him to go back. And I asked him to meet with General Petraeus and our great ambassador there, Ambassador Crocker. And I said I would go with him, if necessary. I'd be glad to go with him.
Now why is it that Senator Obama wants to sit down with the president of Iran, but hasn't yet sat down with General Petraeus, the leader of our troops in Iraq?
CROWLEY: McCain is getting reinforcement from the Republican National Committee, which set up a Web site dedicated to clocking how many days have passed since Obama's last and only trip to Iraq.
Yesterday, an Obama spokesman called the whole thing a publicity stunt.
CROWLEY: And just a little bit more from the Obama campaign. Again, Barack Obama himself has not responded to McCain's comments today. But here's what his spokesman, Bill Burton, had to say. "It seems odd," says Burton, "that Senator McCain, who bought the flawed rationale for war so readily, would be lecturing others on the depth of understanding about Iraq -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Candy Crowley out West for us.
And as we say, there's a showdown brewing out West, even right now. Barack Obama wants John McCain to know he won't back down from challenging McCain out there, even though the West is McCain's home turf. McCain says he'll do better because of his knowledge of the region. Highlighting how their duel is unfolding, yesterday Obama campaigned in Nevada. McCain campaigned in Colorado. But today, they trade places.
Mary Snow is watching all of this unfold. She's in Reno right now.
Mary, what's going on?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, the schedule alone just signal how important the campaigns are taking these Western states. Democrats see an opening. McCain is saying he will vow not to give up ground.
MCCAIN: It's wonderful to be here in Nevada, Nevada, Nevada.
SNOW (voice-over): Senator John McCain of Arizona making his case in neighboring Nevada.
MCCAIN: Nevada is a Western state. I am a Western senator.
SNOW: In three days, McCain has taken his message to Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, crisscrossing past with Democratic Senator Barack Obama in three traditionally Republican states that are a key battleground.
OBAMA: We're going to fight as hard as we can in these states. And we want to send the message now that we're going to go after them and I expect to win them.
SNOW: Democrats see an opening in the West after tight contests in the past two presidential races, particularly in 2004. "Denver Post" political reporter Karen Crummy says even though the states only have 19 electoral votes combined, they can make a difference.
KAREN CRUMMY, "DENVER POST" POLITICAL REPORTER: If John Kerry, in 2004, had won Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, he would have won.
SNOW: Democrats lost New Mexico in 2004, but won it in 2000. Colorado and Nevada stayed red, but the races were tight. Democrats have made gains in recent years in state elections and McCain is fighting to make sure the trend doesn't translate to a national election.
MCCAIN: I understand our issues -- of Native Americans, of land, of water, of public lands, of dynamic growth and how we handle those challenges.
SNOW: Global warming is another issue he stresses, along with his support of illegal immigration reform -- an issue the campaign hopes will resonate with Independents and conservative Democrats. McCain has also been reaching out to the growing Hispanic population in the West.
SNOW: But overshadowing all those issues, of course, is the economy, which has been issue number one across the country. But it's particularly an issue here in Nevada, which has had the most foreclosures in all of the country.
Barack Obama made that the focus of his visit here yesterday, as he tries to paint Senator McCain as being soft on knowledge about the economy -- Wolf.
BLITZER: These guys are going back and forth.
What did McCain say directly in trying to hammer away at Obama?
SNOW: Well, you know, Wolf, he was holding a town hall meeting here and it was on friendly territory. There were a number of veterans in the group. He recognized them. But before he started taking questions, that is when he brought up the issue of Iraq that Candy was just talking about, really stressing that the point that he's been trying to make, that he thinks that Senator Barack Obama should go to Iraq. And all this as he tries to paint him as being naive.
And it really was the most animated John McCain was throughout this town hall meeting, as he went out of his way to make that point.
BLITZER: All right.
Mary Snow reporting for us.
Let's go back to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Mary out there in my hometown, Reno, Nevada.
CAFFERTY: The Democratic Party is going to try to sort out this headache that's been created in Michigan and Florida. The Rules Committee meet in weekend, trying to decide who to do with the delegates from the states. Michigan and Florida broke the rules. They moved up their primaries. They were naughty. And as punishment, they were stripped of all their delegates.
It was made clear to them before they changed the primary dates that this is what would happen. They did it anyway, this is what happened and now is upset and whining about it.
Party lawyers say the DNC has the authority to seat some of the delegates, but not all of them. They say seating half the delegates is "as far as the committee can legally go."
Once the committee decides how many of the delegates to seat, then they have to figure out how to divide them between Clinton and Obama. This could be a very long weekend. I don't envy them their task.
It becomes tricky, too, when you consider that in Michigan, Barack Obama wasn't even on the ballot. It's also important to note -- and this is important -- both candidates signed a pledge not to campaign in either state and agreed that the primaries should be invalid if the states changed the dates. Senator Clinton appears to have forgotten this part.
Clinton's hoping the committee will seat as many delegates as possible, so she can narrow the gap with Obama and then try to persuade the superdelegates to side with her and give her the nomination. The fact is, even if all the delegates were fully restored, it still wouldn't be enough for her to catch Barack Obama.
Meanwhile, a Florida court has thrown out a lawsuit challenging the party's decision not to seat Florida's delegates. The judge sided with the Democratic Party, saying that the political parties have a right to make their own rules. It's the second lawsuit in Florida protesting the DNC's decision that's been thrown out of court.
So here's the question this hour: What should the Democrats' Rules Committee do about Michigan and Florida?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. You can post a comment on my blog.
This could be a very ugly weekend for those folks on that Rules Committee.
BLITZER: We're going to have extensive all day coverage starting 9:00 a.m. Eastern Saturday here on CNN. I'll be anchoring, Jack, together with the best political team on television. We're going to go inside those rooms. Cameras will be there and viewers will be able to see what these Rules Committee members decide to do.
CAFFERTY: You know, it might be kind of interesting, actually. I may check it out.
BLITZER: Good. Excellent.
Jack, we've also asked Mary Snow to check out your elementary and high school teachers in Reno to get some eyewitness accounts.
CAFFERTY: I think they're all dead.
BLITZER: Jack, thanks.
Coming up, she says she's the one who can beat John McCain. But are the numbers really on Hillary Clinton's side?
We have a Reality Check for you.
Also, a high profile John McCain supporter is helping out the same controversial pastor McCain was forced to repudiate. You're going to find out what's going on?
And 200 miles above the Earth, a major plumbing problem. We're going to tell you what's going on in that NASA aircraft, that Space Station up there. And NASA officials are scrambling right now for help. We'll tell you what's going on right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Hillary Clinton is making a new plea to Democratic superdelegates, all right, guys that when it comes to beating John McCain in November, the numbers clearly favor her over Barack Obama. We're taking a closer look at those same numbers.
Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is here with a reality check -- Bill.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, the primaries are almost over and the clock is ticking for Hillary Clinton. She's stepping up her efforts to show she's a stronger general election candidate than Barack Obama.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Based on every analysis of every bit of research and every poll that's been taken and every state that a Democrat has to win, I am the stronger candidate against John McCain in the fall.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Fighting words from Hillary Clinton.
But what do the numbers show?
Our CNN Poll of Polls of national general election match-ups between Barack Obama and John McCain, and Hillary Clinton and John McCain, suggest that Clinton and Obama would both be up two points against John McCain. No difference.
What about some of the crucial battlegrounds or swing states? The most recent polls suggests Obama doing better than Clinton against McCain in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Clinton appears to be stronger than Obama against McCain in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida.
CLINTON: We're winning the popular vote and I'm more determined...
CLINTON: I'm more determined than ever to see that every vote is cast and every ballot counted.
SCHNEIDER: And Clinton's making that same claim in a letter Wednesday to Democratic superdelegates, saying: "I hope you will consider not just the strength of the coalition backing me, but also that more people will have cast their votes for me."
Clinton actually trails in the popular vote if Florida and Michigan's disputed primaries are not counted. But those states' status could be resolved this weekend and Clinton hopes to win big this Sunday in Puerto Rico.
SCHNEIDER: But would a lead in the popular vote be enough to convince undeclared superdelegates?
Remember, the battle for the Democratic nomination is a quest for delegates, not popular votes. And Obama is ahead in the delegate count -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Bill Schneider.
Thanks very much.
Let's discuss this now with our CNN political contributor, the Democratic strategist, James Carville.
He was a very successful campaign strategist for the Clinton/Gore ticket back in '92, as a lot of us remember. He's a Democratic fundraiser. He's a major supporter, as we all know, of his friend, Hillary Clinton.
Is there a realistic scenario that Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination?
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there's a scenario. I mean there's a chance. And I -- look, there's nobody...
BLITZER: Wait a second. You say there's a scenario. You're talking a little too fast.
You say there's a scenario...
CARVILLE: A scenario.
CARVILLE: Well, I don't -- again, there is a -- I don't know if there's a 20 percent chance, a 15 percent chance -- I don't know, a 25. First of all, she is probably going to win the popular vote. Now, one can say -- you can make an argument, secondly, she would probably carry Florida. We seem to be seeing that. So she's going to make her argument and she's going to continue to make her argument, as she should make her argument.
BLITZER: Well, let's get back to the question -- you see a realistic scenario that she could still get the nomination?
CARVILLE: I see a scenario that she could win the nomination. I don't know what -- what is a realistic scenario?
BLITZER: Well, what is a realistic scenario?
CARVILLE: I don't know. But I think she's going to be the popular -- I think there's a good chance that's she's going to be the popular vote winner. I think, in spite of -- I think she would be a -- I think there's a good case that she can make that she'd be a stronger general election candidate.
BLITZER: But just...
CARVILLE: I think she ought to be allowed to make her case.
BLITZER: But just like Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000, it was the Electoral College that mattered...
CARVILLE: Well, again, but you know what?
BLITZER: The popular vote...
CARVILLE: Democrats... BLITZER: Does it really matter?
Isn't it the delegate count that matters?
CARVILLE: Again, she's not going to go -- she's not going to get -- the point is, what's more important, voters or delegates?
If you say delegates are more important, it's one thing. And, by the way, Al Gore actually -- I don't want to re-fight the 2000 campaign right now...
BLITZER: Well, we're not going to (INAUDIBLE).
CARVILLE: ...in the Democratic Party, but that's hardly a convincing argument for Democrats.
I'm saying that she is going to see this thing through the 3rd of June. She may see it further. She's going to make her case to the super-delegates. You know, people change their minds all the time. I think she's going to continue pressing her case. And she has a good chance. Let's wait and see how the vote comes out. She probably will have more people vote for her than Senator Obama will.
BLITZER: How big is this meeting that the DNC is having on Saturday to determine Michigan and Florida?
Will that really make much of a difference?
CARVILLE: I don't know. But I know that -- and I think we've got -- if Senator Obama is the nominee, we have a lot of work to do in Florida. As you know, right on this set here, I offered to split the cost with the Obama people, with David Rohan. They refused that. Then myself and Governor Rendell and Governor Corzine offered to pick up the entire cost to have a primary in Florida and Michigan. And the Obama people refused that.
I think we made a great decision -- not -- I think it was a bad decision not to go forward, because if you look at what's happened in Florida, I think it hurt us a little bit in the general. I think we can come back for it and I think Senator Obama can still take Florida, but we've got our work cut out for us there if he's the nominee.
BLITZER: James, thanks for coming in.
CARVILLE: Appreciate it.
BLITZER: He was supposed to be concentrating on Middle East peace, but Israel's prime minister has a major distraction right now. You're going to find out why an American businessman's testimony could be the final straw against Ehud Olmert.
Also, find out why ties to a controversial Evangelical pastor are coming back to haunt John McCain even after they parted ways. There is new information coming outright here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Our Carol Costello is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
Carol, what's going on?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a frightening ride on Chicago's 'L.' Two cars of a green line train derailed late this morning, sending 14 people to the hospital. No word yet on what caused it, but investigators say they're focusing on the signal system since the accident happened at a junction between two lines.
A daunting task underway in China -- the demolition of dozens of bridges that were damaged beyond repair by that killer quake. The Chinese officials are warning rebuilding will be what they call an arduous process. The official death toll from the quake has jumped again, to more than 68,000.
Nepal's new assembly has voted to oust the country's king and declare a Republic. Lawmakers voted 560-4 to end more than 200 years of royal rule and they sent a letter to the king informing him he has 15 days to vacate the palace. Nepal is the world's largest remaining Hindu kingdom.
That's a look at headlines right now -- Wolf.
BLITZER: A lot of news. That Nepal story is an interesting story for people who have been there and know what's going on.
Carol, thanks very much for that.
Carol Costello reporting.
He says the U.S. is making the same mistakes right now that Britain made that led to World War II and the Holocaust.
We're going to talk about that and more with Pat Buchanan. He's just written a book about World War II. He'll be joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Also, find out why ties to a controversial Evangelical pastor are coming back to haunt John McCain even after they parted ways.
And we'll show you the one thing bringing John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama together. Details of the pledge all three candidates have now signed.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, a new call for suspected terrorists to face trial in federal court instead of military commissions, including the accused 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. A study by the group Human Rights First says civilian courts are equipped to handle the cases and have a proven track record.
An international agreement on the deal to ban cluster bombs. Diplomats from more than 100 countries are signing off on the treaty. But some of the biggest cluster bomb users aren't taking part, including the U.S., Russia and China.
And the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is reportedly asking to meet with Pope Benedict XVI. Ahmadinejad is expected to be in Rome next week for a United Nations summit. No response yet from the Vatican.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
They've officially parted ways. But now CNN has confirmed that one of John McCain's top supporters will, in fact, address a conference hosted by the Evangelical pastor, John Hagee, whose controversial remarks forced McCain to reject Hagee's endorsement only the other day.
And Brian Todd has been working the story for us.
What are you finding out now -- Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, awkward, Joe Lieberman is a close Democratic ally of John McCain's. But he is pushing away from McCain regarding Pastor John Hagee. And Senator Lieberman is already taking heat for this.
Lieberman announcing he will go ahead with plans to speak at a conference in July hosted by Pastor Hagee. This conference is called the Christians United for Israel Summit. It will take place in Washington.
Now, in a statement, Senator Lieberman says: "I believe that Pastor Hagee has made comments that are deeply unacceptable and hurtful. I also believe that a person should be judged on the nature" -- excuse me -- "on the entire span of his or her life's works. Pastor Hagee has devoted much of his life to fighting anti-Semitism and building bridges between Christians and Jews."
Now, we broke the story here in THE SITUATION ROOM last week, when Senator McCain rejected Pastor Hagee's endorsement. That was after we had inquired about a sermon that John Hagee had given in the 1990s, when he said that Hitler was sent by God to drive the Jews out of Europe to Israel.
Hagee, at the time, said he was taken out of context and was trying to explain to his parish how God could let such a terrible thing happen.
But now he is again taking heat, as is Joe Lieberman. The liberal advocacy group, Democracy for America, is calling for Senator Lieberman to cut ties with Hagee. A press release from that group's executive director says: "Joe Lieberman has been hustled by a hate- filled con artist who hides behind the cloak of religion to spread a particularly pernicious type of bigotry." Wolf, this story just seems to have more fallout by the day.
BLITZER: Any more insight into the thinking that led Senator Lieberman to go ahead and make this decision to address this conference?
TODD: It's a little hard to get at, at the moment. We have been in contact with Senator Lieberman's aides about this, because Senator Lieberman is in the midst of a trip through Asia. They've been dealing with time constraints, time zone problems in just trying to get the communication from him. So, hopefully when he gets back, we'll get more insight into his thought process.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
Brian Todd doing good work on this story for us.
President Bush is today drawing parallels between the Iraq conflict and World War II. In his commencement address today at U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, he painted both as righteous conflicts against evil. One political observer is also looking back at the Second World War and he's connecting it to events today.
Joining us now from our studios in New York is Pat Buchanan. He is the author of a brand-new big entitled, "Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War." Britain lost its empire and the West lost the world.
Pat, thanks very much for joining us.
PAT BUCHANAN, FORMER GOP PRES. CANDIDATE: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: You make the case there would have been no Hitler, there would have been no World War II, there would have been no holocaust albeit in effect for Winston Churchill. What's the point?
BUCHANAN: Well the point of this is obviously Hitler came out of World War I and the tearing apart of Germany but what I am saying is, had Britain not given an insane war guarantee to Poland and then go on the war on behalf of a Poland it could not save, I don't think there would have been any war in Europe. I don't think there would have been a war against the western democracy. At the very least, all the Jews of Western Europe would have survived. That's basically one of the cases we make.
BLITZER: Here's what you write on page 421. Let me read it to you.
"Rather than follow the wisdom of conservative men like Kennan, Eisenhower and Reagan, we began to emulate every folly of imperial Britain in her plunge from power. With all our braying about being the indispensable nation and bring them on bravado (ph), we exhibited an imperial hubris the whole world came to detest."
You're implying that the same mistakes that Churchill made that you suggest he made between World War I and World War II President Bush has been making now.
BUCHANAN: That's right, Wolf. What I'm saying is this. Basically the blunders the British made in alienating allies, in pushing enemies together or rivals together and turning them into enemies, in cutting off alliances, in giving war guarantees they could not defend, the United States has been emulating itself. Just has Britain gave a foolish war guarantee to Poland it could not honor and did not honor in the end, the United States is giving war guarantees to Poland, the Baltic Republicans. We're thinking of giving a NATO war guarantee to Ukraine and to Georgia.
Secondly, the United States is engaging in wars I think are unnecessary wars.
BLITZER: You speak specifically about the war in Iraq which you think has been a horrible blunder.
BUCHANAN: I think the war in Iraq was quite clearly an unnecessary war. Saddam Hussein did not attack us, did no threaten us, want war with us, and we went to war with him to deprive him of weapons he did not have.
BLITZER: You would agree --
BUCHANAN: It was an unnecessary war.
BLITZER: You agree with Scott McClellan who in his new book, the former White House press secretary writes, "What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary and the Iraq war was not necessary." It's not shocking to hear you say that. It is pretty shocking to hear a former White House press secretary imply, suggest that 4,000 American troops, $600 billion, $700 billion have been squandered for nothing.
BUCHANAN: You've got to ask why Scott McClellan didn't resign, for heavens sakes. He said basically that the Bush White House and the others were propagandizing for war, cherry picking information, making the case as a prosecutor would for a war in which Scott McClellan did not believe. I would wonder why a man would participate in something like that if he disbelieved in the cause and in the war, Wolf. I can't explain that. I haven't read his book. But I have read what he said.
BLITZER: John McCain says the United States will never surrender in Iraq. He wants to win. Can the United States do what McCain says?
BUCHANAN: I think it's possible, Wolf. There's no question about it. The surge has worked. Maliki has taken down. Sadr City and Basra. There's a possibility you could have a Shia government which could deal with the Sunnis and could get dominance over the south of Iraq. I say it's possible. It may be probable. I'm not certain. I do think it's far more possible now than it was in 2006 when the Iraq report came in saying we were losing the war and catastrophe impended. It doesn't impend right now.
BLITZER: We asked our viewers to send in some I-reports. We told them you were going to be on the show. We asked them if they had any questions. This would be a good way to pose their questions. We got this I-report from John Carol. He says he plans to vote for Obama. Listen to his question.
JOHN CAROL, IREPORT QUESTION: I wanted to hear your thoughts on an idea I had to allow every Canadian, U.S., and Mexican citizen the right to work in any of these three countries, sort of a NAFTA labor union that would match to some degree what the Europeans are doing with the European Union.
BLITZER: The point being you live in Europe, if you're a member of the EU you can work in any of those countries, he says we should do the same thing in America.
BUCHANAN: Those European countries are not being allowed to vote in Britain are surrendering their national sovereignty, independence. That fellow's a Canadian as I understand it. Americans fought and died from 1775 to 1881 in enormous numbers to make us a sovereign, independent, free republic forever. I believe in free trade with Canada. I don't agree with the NAFTA agreement. I do insist and most Americans will insist we maintain our sovereignty, our independence, our unique culture, language and borders.
BLITZER: Let me get back to the book now because we're almost out of time. I want you to explain the notion that you have that Hitler would have never come to power, there would have been anti- Semitism, to be sure, but there wouldn't have been the extermination of 6 million Jews. Because that's going to cause a lot of controversy, this notion you have that, in effect, Churchill was responsible for the chain of events that led to the Holocaust.
BUCHANAN: Churchill was not -- Chamberlain made the decision to give the war guarantee to Poland.
Here's my view, Wolf. I've read and studied Hitler. One thing he did not want was war with the British Empire. He admired it. He respected it. He never wanted war with it. He wanted to make an ally of it. Had Chamberlain at the goading of Churchill not given a war guarantee to Poland, Britain would not have had to go to war on behalf of Poland. It's because Britain declared on Germany that Germany came west. That's the reason Germany had basically hostages of everybody in Western Europe from the --
BLITZER: Hitler had plans of exterminating the Jews in the '30s, a lot earlier.
BUCHANAN: Wolf, I have not seen any plans of extermination. Hitler went genocidal after the invasion of Russia was broken down in Russia, after he declared war on the United States, and he was looking to defeat in the face. It was at that point that the conference was held, Wolf. As you know, that was in January of 1942.
BLITZER: What about all the anti-Semitic laws, all those Jews who were rounded up starting in the 30s in Germany?
BUCHANAN: Look, there's no doubt Hitler was anti-Semitic from the time even before he wrote camp. What we're talking about, when you mention the Holocaust, for heaven sakes, is genocide. You're not talking about anti-Semitism. It was anti-Semitism in Poland in those years. There's no doubt that Nuremburg laws were in 1935. They were dreadful. As a consequence, half the Jews had left Germany before November 1938. Another half fled after that. They were outside Germany with the curtain fell.
What Hitler did was a monstrous crime, Wolf. It was a war crime. Had there been no war, there would have been no holocaust in my judgment.
BLITZER: All right. Pat Buchanan has written a provocative book, "Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War." Pat, thanks very much for joining us.
BUCHANAN: Thank you as always, Wolf.
BLITZER: Sharp reaction from another bombshell book by a former White House press secretary. It's not the first time, but why do once loyal employees start spilling? That story plus my one on one interview with Scott McClellan's former boss, that's still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And troubled times, very troubled times for the prime minister of Israel. How an American businessman's testimony could be the final straw against Ehud Olmert.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: He says the Bush administration used propaganda to sell the war in Iraq. Now a highly critical new book from President Bush's former press secretary Scott McClellan is drawing a sharp reaction from White House officials and loyalists.
Carol Costello is looking into this story for us.
It's not necessarily the first time an aide has slammed a former boss. This one seems to really sting.
COSTELLO: It does sting. It's probably because Scott McClellan seems like such an easy going, loyal guy. I mean take a look at the picture of him. Doesn't he look easy going, loyal, like he'd never write such a spicy book. Then again, he's not the only Bush administration insider to spill the beans.
COSTELLO: It appeared to be beautiful, as beautiful as a relationship made in the world of politics could be. That's Scott McClellan on his last day as White House spokesman.
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Mr. President, it has been an extraordinary honor and privilege to have served you for more than seven years now. COSTELLO: Now it's safe to say McClellan has burned that bridge and incinerated many more. His book, "What Happened," is a scathing account of the Bush administration's policies, so negative the president's new spokesperson, Dana Perino, says, we're puzzled. Arry Flasher, who was McClellan's boss at the White House says passages in the book don't sound like Scott. Others weren't so kind. Former Bush homeland security adviser
Fran Townsend says McClellan's Bush is ill timed.
FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: For him to do this now, frankly, strikes me as self-serving, disingenuous and unprofessional.
COSTELLO: The conservative blog Red State said what a scum bag. Rush Limbaugh called him another Republican turncoat.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK SHOW HOST: They'll throw anybody under the bus, even their own grandmothers to have a seat of power with the liberals. Get their approval. Not just Scott McClellan. He's the worst example of it lately.
COSTELLO: Unflattering kiss and tells about the Bush administration are a dime a dozen. Spilling the beans, former treasury secretary Paul O'Neil, former Iraq envoy Paul Bremer, and former senior economic adviser Larry Lindsay.
From a psychological standpoint, that's not surprising. Analysts say the Bush administration demanded loyalty and suppressed dissent, a perfect recipe for rebellion.
DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: When you see someone commit what appears to be an act of revenge and do it in a potentially very self- destructive way, you have to wonder about the guilt that they feel. All right? Because they're asking for punishment, in a sense.
COSTELLO: And Scott McClellan is certainly feeling a backlash but ethicists look at it another way.
BRUCE WEINSTEIN, BUSINESSWEEK.COM: There's no statute of limitations on telling the truth. He may be alienating people. But he may very well feel that and perhaps justifiably so it's more important to be truthful and let the American people know what was actually happening.
COSTELLO: Of course, only Scott McClellan can explain why he wrote this book. We will likely hear his answer soon. He's just about to hit the interview circuit to promote his book.
BLITZER: We're going to be speaking with him here in "THE SITUATION ROOM" on Friday. We'll ask him all those questions. Thanks very much, Carol, for that report.
Here's your chance to also ask Scott McClellan some questions. As I said, I'll be interviewing him on Friday. You can go to ireport.com/situationroom. Remember, ireport.com/situationroom to submit your own video questions to Scott McClellan. We'll try to get some of them to him when he comes in on Friday.
Israel's prime minister is in very hot water right now and may be reaching the boiling point. A day after an American businessman testified that he gave Ehud Olmert large sums of cash, a key cabinet member is demanding that Olmert step down.
CNN's Atika Shubert is in Jerusalem -- Atika.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as if the prime minister of Israel didn't have enough problems, he's now facing more allegations of corruption and calls for his resignation.
SHUBERT: The pressure is mounting on Israel's beleaguered prime minister. The latest member of his coalition to tell him that he can't do his job, as criminal investigations swirl, is defense minister Ehud Barak, leader of the influential labor party. He said, I don't think the prime minister can run both the country and take care of his personal situation. Therefore, for the good of the country, I think the prime minister must remove himself from the day- to-day running of the country in any of the options open to him, he said.
Olmert faces allegations of corruption and bribery. He has not been indicted and continues to deny wrongdoing. But damaging claims continue to mount.
On Tuesday in Israeli court, Jewish American businessman Morris Talansky testified in explicit detail how he personally gave Olmert at least $150,000 in cash to cover campaign funds and personal expenses. He described envelopes stuffed with cash for first class tickets, luxury vacations, and hotel rooms.
Disgusting, ran one newspaper headline. Many Israelis agree. The prime minister's most recent approval rating was 3 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all knew Olmert was corrupt. But the extent to which this corruption has gone to, I think it's beyond anything that could be tolerable here in Israel.
SHUBERT: The public may want Olmert to go, but the politicians seem reluctant to force him out.
SHUBERT: Ehud Olmert is nothing if not a Wyllie politician. He has already survived four previous corruption probes against him. If past experience is anything to go by, it perhaps shows that Olmert may be down, but not out yet -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Atika -- thanks.
Atika is in Jerusalem watching this story.
Coming up, Chelsea Clinton sends out an e-mail telling supporters a critical decision needs to be made. She wasn't talking about Florida, Michigan, or anything about the campaign. You're going to find out what this is all about.
One space station, three astronauts and a major plumbing issue. What happens when the only toilet breaks and you're in outer space? We'll tell you right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Let's go back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: There's a good idea.
The question this hour is: What should the Democrats' Rules Committee do about Michigan and Florida?
John in San Diego weighs in with this: "The Democrat leadership needs to craft a carefully worded statement that reiterates the fact that all the candidates, Hillary and Barack included, agreed to a set of ground rules. And then the Florida and Michigan politicians threw their voters under the bus. Then they should seat delegates from each state in a manner that does not punish the innocent voters but also does not alter the current balance of elected delegates nationwide."
Michael in California: "First, seat all elected delegates with only a half a vote each. Second, remove all superdelegates from both states since these are some of the very party leaders who got their respective states into the fiasco. The delegates should be split 50/50 between the two candidates."
Tom in Boston: "Let's see. The DNC established clear rules. Florida and Michigan broke them and now Clinton wants to seat them simply because she'll lose the nomination otherwise. How much more transparent could this be? The rules are the rules pure and simple."
Elena writes: "Seat them. I don't care if it gives Hillary the nomination. Don't leave out 2 million plus voters. It will come back, haunt the Democrats in the fall. The voters will be so angry they'll vote for John McCain and the Democrats will lose."
Bob in Pittsburgh writes: "Since Hillary had all the name recognition going into this election and neither candidate was permitted to campaign in Florida or Michigan, these illegal primaries were nothing more than beauty contests. Of course Hillary won. Though beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder."
Don't write to me. That was Bob in Pittsburgh.
Dennis in Gwinn, Michigan writes: "Both states have great fishing. Maybe they can have a winner take all bass catching contest. The process is getting old enough to stink like a dead carp anyway."
If you didn't see your e-mail here go to my blog at CNN.com/CaffertyFile and look for yours there. There are hundreds of others that I'm sure you can find offensive if you have the right point of view -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, stick around. I want you to see the next story we're about to report. You're going to be interested in this.
CAFFERTY: I'm not interested.
BLITZER: It involves a plumbing problem in outer space. Stand by. You're going to want to see this. It's a serious problem high above earth, the toilet of the International Space Station. We're going to show you what NASA is doing and why it may be, may be too late for those guys up there.
Plus, President Bush reacts to a scathing new tell-all book by his former press secretary Scott McClellan. You're going to find out what he's saying. That and a lot more coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Toilet trouble on the International Space Station right now. We've just gotten word it may, may be fixed. Brian Todd is here looking at the story.
What is going on, Brian?
TODD: Well Wolf, they're keeping their fingers crossed at NASA and the Russian space agency that this repair this afternoon has succeeded. But this plumbing problem, this very high tech plumbing problem has become pretty urgent.
TODD: On the fritz. It can still dispose of solid waste but for the last week, the seven-year-old Russian made device intermittently could not handle liquids. The astronauts think they now have fixed it but NASA isn't taking any chances. The shuttle Discovery is already on the launch pad for a Saturday liftoff and will bring the station a new toilet pump, which is being rushed to Cape Canaveral from a manufacturer in Russia.
Experts say the situation isn't a health risk. If the repair fails, the astronauts can use the toilet in the capsule, their life boat which is attached. But that solution can only buy them a few days.
LEROY CHOW, ENCOUNTERED PLUMBING PROBLEM: If it starts reaching capacity, we'll have to go to more extreme measures. They've got the so called Apollo bags on board which you know the Apollo crews used.
TODD: Three years ago Leroy Chow encountered a plumbing malfunction on his six month tour on the station, but it was soon fixed.
CHOW: It's not one of those mission ending failure. It's just an awful nuisance if you do have problems. They're probably eyeing closely the launch date and hoping that that's not going to slip.
TODD: NASA astronaut Garret Reasman (ph) won't have to worry much longer. The shuttle will take him back to earth to all the comforts of home.
CHOW: There's nothing like coming home and taking a hot shower, you know enjoying a hot shower and using the convenient facilities we have here on earth.
TODD: Make room for the new 35 pound pump on board Saturday's flight, NASA has off loaded several items not quite as urgent, some wrenches and some spare parts. Luckily, the mission was already scheduled to deliver the 16 ton lab built by the Japanese to space. Wolf, NASA measures everything by the ounce. Weight is crucial here. They've got to jettison even some small things to get the toilet pump into space.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Brian, for that.
I want to get Lou Dobbs to weigh in. He knows a lot about space.
What do you make of this, Lou?
LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Again, I think it's interesting that no one can quite that no one could quite figure out what was going on. The good news, there is a solution. The bad news is it's going to take about $19 million to pull it off. But if you happen to be one of those astronauts on that station, I think you'll agree that's a very reasonable price.
BLITZER: I think you're absolutely right. Speaking about a price, what about the price of oil, which is completely out of control?
DOBBS: It's out of control. This administration is an abject failure. You remember that George Bush was supposed to be -- and Dick Cheney, these were supposed to be the oil guys? They have lived up to their billing in one respect that oil and gasoline prices are at record highs. But the fact that they cannot come up with an energy policy that -- and all three presidential candidates, whether you're talking about McCain, Obama or Clinton, not one of them has got an original idea on how to deal with this.
We are bereft of leadership on energy, and it's really disgusting that no one is talking about the impact. Small business people in this country are being brutalized, working men and women are being brutalized by these high prices. We have candidates on the trail, whether it's Obama or Clinton or McCain.
They're talking like it's an abstract issue. This is real pain for people.
BLITZER: We'll see you in one hour, Lou. Thank you. DOBBS: You've got a deal.