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Texas Court Rules on Polygamist Sect Children; Oil Markets Under Investigation; Pelosi & Reid Urge Superdelegates to Decide

Aired May 29, 2008 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, the breaking news we're following. The Texas Supreme Court rules on the polygamist sect in Texas. And the ruling could clear the way for hundreds of those children to be returned, returned to their parents. We will go there live in a moment.

Sky-high oil prices spurring federal regulators now to take action. We're going to tell you The secret federal investigation that has just been disclosed and what the feds are looking for.

Scott McClellan defends his bombshell book about the Bush White House and he's explaining why he became disillusioned with the president -- all that coming up, plus the best political team on television.

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

But we begin with breaking news out of Texas. More than 400 children taken from that polygamist ranch in Texas may soon be going back home.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is the breaking news story we're following: a crushing blow to the state's seizure of those children. The Texas Supreme Court has just ruled that officials who seized the children in their interests overstepped their bounds.

Let's go to CNN's David Mattingly. He's in San Angelo, Texas. He has been watching this story.

You got the ruling there. Update our viewers, David, on what is going to happen.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, listening to the majority ruling here, the majority opinion, here's a very definitive line that we were able to take out of the documents.

"On the record before us, removal of the children was not warranted" -- there, the state Supreme Court telling Child Protective Services, the state of Texas, they didn't have the authority or the evidence to go in there and take all 400-plus of those children.

We now go back to the situation we were in last week, where an appeals court overturned what the court had decided earlier, telling them that they had to find specific reasons to keep these specific children in custody. Otherwise, these children get to go home.

The Supreme Court ruling also said that the lower court now has the right to impose some restrictions or some guidelines on how to release these kids. They can be released to a specific geographic area with some agreement with the court. And we are going to wait now for a response from the FLDS -- Wolf.

BLITZER: David, thank you -- David Mattingly following the story for us. We will see what happens to those kids.

A nationwide investigation of oil markets and speculation revealed today, at a time when oil and gas prices, as all of us know are soaring. Today, the price of crude oil is a bit more than $126 a barrel. That was double, double, what it was a year ago. On average, nationwide regular gas now costs just under, a little bit under $4 a gallon. That's about 80 cents more than it cost a year ago.

Let's bring in our senior business correspondent, Ali Velshi. He is watching this story for us. The Commodities Futures Trading Commission, that's this federal investigatory body, it's six months into this investigation. We only learned about it in the past couple of hours.

What do we know, Ali? What's go on?


Wolf, I have been on the phone with a number of former commissioners of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. This is the commission that governs trading in the United States of oil.

Now, what I have been hearing is that there is probably something specific that they are investigating, but that they are under intense pressure to do something. They have come under criticism from senators and congressmen for not doing anything. Now they have announced that, since December, since oil was $96 a barrel, they have been investigating the trading, the delivery, the whole system to do with oil in this country.

They have not told us anything more. But what I did hear from one former commissioner, he told me this. Michael Greenberger was a former director of trading and markets for the Commodities Future Trading Commission. He said, look, there's a certain amount of speculation that's necessary. Every futures market needs some degree of speculation. But the question is whether the speculators have crossed the line into manipulation.

The good news here, Wolf, is Michael Greenberger said if those who have been speculating excessively in oil believe this investigation to be true, they may start to back off and you might actually see the price of oil start to come down. He thinks maybe one-third of the price of oil is due to speculative activity. We don't know what the details of this investigation are, but we are continuing to find out. And we will report to you as soon as we know -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We will stay in close touch with you, Ali. Thanks very much.

Let's get now to that firestorm over Scott McClellan's new tell- all book. Today, the former White House press secretary is pushing back at his critics who see him as a turncoat and a sellout. And he's describing how he went from being a loyal presidential aide to a very, very disillusioned one.

Our White House correspondent Ed Henry is traveling with the president -- Ed.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, yesterday, the White House and its allies took their shots at Scott McClellan. Today, it was his turn to fire back.

(voice-over): The former White House spokesman stood his ground. Appearing on NBC's "Today Show," Scott McClellan said he had given President Bush the benefit of the doubt, and that's why he didn't speak out sooner about what he now calls the propaganda to sell the war in Iraq.


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: My beliefs were different then. Like I said, I trusted the president's foreign policy team and I believed the president when he talked about the grave and gathering danger from Iraq.


HENRY: McClellan said he became disillusioned by two episodes, being sent to the White House podium to insist Karl Rove and Scooter Libby were not involved in the CIA leak case which turned out to be false, and the president personally signing off on selective leaking of WMD intelligence, which McClellan suggests led to manipulation in the run-up to the war.


MCCLELLAN: The information that we were talking about became a little more certain than it was. The caveats were dropped. Contradictory intelligence was ignored.


HENRY: McClellan also singled out Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for being too like-minded with the president.


MCCLELLAN: Too often, she was too accommodating of his views, instead of challenging those views and questioning those views, and too accommodating of the other strong personalities on the foreign policy team.


HENRY: In Stockholm, Rice denied the administration misled the nation.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not going to comment on a book that I haven't read, but I will say that the concerns about weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein's Iraq were the fundamental reason for tens -- for dozens of resolutions within the Security Council.

HENRY: McClellan came to Washington from Texas with the president, who fondly wished him farewell.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of these days, he and I will are going to be rocking on chairs in Texas, talking about the good old days.

HENRY: But now McClellan says he's not even sure if they will ever speak again.


MCCLELLAN: I certainly don't expect it any time soon. I know that this is a tough book for some people to accept.


HENRY (on camera): Wrapping up a fund-raising tour for McCain, the president still has not commented on the book. And White House officials say, they will not offer a point-by-point rebuttal. They say they're just too busy on other things, but also politically, it's clear, they don't want to pour any more gasoline on this fire -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Ed Henry, reporting for us from Salt Lake City, thank you.

So, what do you want to ask Scott McClellan? I will be interviewing him tomorrow here in THE SITUATION ROOM. This is what you can do. Go to to submit your own video questions. I'm going to try to get some of those video questions asked to Scott McClellan when he joins us tomorrow here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: One of the congressman, Wolf -- I think it might have been Wexler -- says he wants to get McClellan under oath to testify and answer some questions in front of congressional investigators about some of this stuff that was going on.

California is going to start marrying gay couples next month, barring an unexpected legal challenge to the state's recent decision to overturn a ban on same-sex marriages. All well and good for gays who want to get married in California, but then what if they want to move to a state where gay marriage isn't legal?

While there's been a slow and steady march in the direction of gay marriage in parts of this country for a number of years, there remains a lot of questions about the recognition of these unions in states where gay marriage remains against the law.

In light of this, New York Governor David Paterson told state agencies to begin recognizing same-sex marriages that are performed in states and countries where they are legal. This could affect as many as 1,300 state laws here in New York, as well as regulations governing everywhere from filing joint tax returns to transferring a fishing license between spouses.

Critics say Paterson is trying to circumvent the legislature in the courts. But experts say this would make New York the only state that does not allow gay marriage itself, but fully recognizes same-sex unions done in other states.

The whole issue remains very murky. Different states have different rules. Some states, like Vermont and New Jersey, allow civil unions but no marriage. And with California coming online, there will be two, only two, states where gay marriage is legal, Massachusetts the other one. The legal rights accorded gay couples will continue to vary widely from one state to another, which complicates the decision of a gay couple that wants to move.

Nevertheless, the country does seem to be developing an increasing tolerance for something that was once considered unthinkable.

Here's the question: Is gay marriage in the United States inevitable? Go to You can post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Jack. Thanks very much.

Hillary Clinton would very much like all of Michigan's and Florida's delegates to be seated at the Democratic Convention in Denver. But what does Barack Obama want?


DAVID AXELROD, CHIEF OBAMA CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: We want to see Florida and Michigan represented at convention. We're committed to that, and we want to see it done within the rules of the party and done fairly. And, you know, we have said that we are willing to support a reasonable compromise even if it means sacrificing some delegates.


BLITZER: Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, he's here in THE SITUATION ROOM. You're about to find out which of Clinton's argument he thinks is -- quote -- "ridiculous."

Cause for concern or no cause for alarm? How is Obama doing health wise? You will want to hear what his doctor is now saying.

And could Clinton and Obama's fight go all the way to the convention at the end of August? Not if the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate leader, Harry Reid, have anything to do with it. They're taking action soon.

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


BLITZER: The Obama campaign today released a statement from the senator's doctor declaring the 46-year-old Democrat to be in excellent health. That's based on Obama's last checkup. That was 16 months ago.

His doctor notes that Obama's family does have a history of cancer and that the senator is at risk because he's been a smoker, although he's trying once again to kick the habit.

The one-page statement comes a week after John McCain released reams of his medical records.

Two states were punished by the Democratic Party, stripped of their convention delegates, for holding early primaries. The party's rules panel will try to find a solution on Saturday. Hillary Clinton wants those delegates seated. But how does Barack Obama feel about it?


BLITZER: Joining us now from our Chicago bureau, David Axelrod. He's the top strategist for the Obama campaign.

David, thanks for coming in.

AXELROD: Good to be here, Wolf.

BLITZER: What exactly is the Obama campaign's position going into this DNC meeting on Saturday to try to resolve the seating of those delegates from Florida and Michigan? We know what the Clinton position is. What is the Obama position?

AXELROD: Well, our position is that we want to see Florida and Michigan represented at convention. We're committed to that, and we want to see it done within the rules of the party and done fairly. And, you know, we have said that we are willing to support a reasonable compromise even if it means sacrificing some delegates.

And so, you know, we're going to watch with interest...


BLITZER: Give me a reasonable compromise that would be acceptable to your campaign.

AXELROD: Well, I'm not going to -- I'm not going to get into the numbers here, Wolf, but the kinds of resolutions that have been discussed within the DNC and within the states seem reasonable to us.

BLITZER: In other words, stripping both...

AXELROD: And we will be eager to see what comes out of it.

BLITZER: Well, are you ready to see both of these states stripped of half of their delegates?

AXELROD: Well, look, I think there are rules and those rules need to be enforced.

We all abided by the rules. Let's just review a little history. Senator Clinton -- Senator Clinton's folks helped write these rules. Harold Ickes helped write these rules. We all said we agreed to them. We all abided by them. Senator Obama took his name off the ballot, as did several of the other candidates in Michigan, in accordance with those rules, and didn't campaign in Florida.

So, you know, there has to be some recognition of the rules. By the same token, we want to see Florida and Michigan participating in this convention. And -- and, you know, so we're looking for a reasonable resolution.

And I think most Democrats are, Wolf. I think most folks understand that we need to get them seated, but it has to be done within the rules of the party.

BLITZER: Those two states obviously critical for any Democratic nominee come November. So you don't want to alienate those Democrats and others in those two states going into this big meeting.

AXELROD: Well, you know what's interesting, though? And I have no doubt that there's a lot of interest in this in those states, but, as Senator Obama just did a three-day swing through the state of Florida, I don't believe he got one question on this from people.

They're really concerned about what all Americans are concerned about, about gas prices, about food prices, about Social Security, about the kinds of issues that touch their lives and the kinds of issues that are going to be so important in this election in the fall.

BLITZER: All right.

She makes a big point and her husband, the former president, that she does better in the Electoral College against John McCain than Barack Obama would do. She won, for example, in states like Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Arkansas.

Here's the question. How can you assure voters out there, especially Democrats who are itching to get into the White House once again, that your guy can do better in those critical states than she can, given the fact that she beat him there?

AXELROD: Wolf, the argument is patently ridiculous.

The fact is, if you look at polling from California right now, we're doing better against John McCain than Senator Clinton. We're doing at least as well, and maybe better, in the state of New York, the two largest states in the country that she includes in her electoral map.

I don't want to take anything away from her. She's been a great, strong candidate. She's run a very tenacious campaign. But, you know, there are all kinds of contrivances we can come up to try and make a case.

But we nominate our candidates through these primaries and caucuses. We're about to come to an end of that process. And then we're going to move on into the general election.

And, by the way, when you talk about a general election, we -- you know, there were polls in last week that showed us eight points, nine points ahead in Ohio, eight points ahead in Pennsylvania, and leading in a state like Virginia. We're leading in Oregon, which we -- which would be an important state for us. We're leading in Iowa, which we lost last time, in Minnesota, all by larger margins than Senator Clinton.

So, I think that we ought to just move on and stop with these kind of arguments. They don't illuminate anything.

BLITZER: Let's talk about some of the substantive issues, for example, the war in Iraq. Some of the pundits out there saying that Barack Obama's is falling into John McCain's trap by getting involved in this whole debate about visiting Iraq, not visiting Iraq.

The war right now, supposedly, this is his strength, national security, war, as opposed to some of the domestic economic bread-and- butter issues. Are you falling into McCain's trap right now?

AXELROD: Well, we're traveling all over the country, talking about these economic issues.

But let's talk about Iraq. You say this is his strength. We just heard the other day that the White House was involved in an effort to -- from their own press secretary to essentially mislead and propagandize the American people into going into this war.

Senator McCain was part of the effort to support that. He was enthusiastic about it. Senator Obama questioned this, said we were going to get mired in a civil war with no end, that we were going to distract ourselves from Afghanistan, and that was going to benefit bin Laden, that this would actually strengthen Iran and some of the more extreme actors in the region.

Everything he said was true. But the real issue now, Wolf, isn't whether McCain or Senator Obama go for a couple of days of an official tour in Iraq. The real issue is, how do we get our troops home? How do we stop spending $12 billion a month that -- that -- when we have many other pressing needs? How do we redistribute our forces in such a way that we get serious about Afghanistan and bin Laden?

What we have heard from Senator McCain is, basically, I'm going to do more of the same. And I think the American people understand that more of the same isn't going to cut it, that it's not working, that we need a change in policy to produce a different result.

BLITZER: David Axelrod, thanks very much for coming in.

AXELROD: Good to be with you.


BLITZER: Bill Clinton tells his wife's supporters, if they help her, she will help them.


WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Send the message back to the mainland on Sunday that Puerto Rico deserves to be considered and its potential is unlimited, if only you had a genuine partner in the White House.


BLITZER: You may be surprised what else the former president is now saying about his wife and Puerto Ricans. We are going to update you on that.

And Democrats hope to avoid a very possible nightmare. To see how bad the summer's convention could be, we are going to show you some past conventions where things have gone very, very wrong.

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



BLITZER: Congressional leaders are stepping in to try to get the Democratic presidential race decided once and for all. We're going to tell you how Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are now taking matters into their own hands.

Plus, Bill Clinton's new pitch to voters in Puerto Rico. Is he pandering to try to win votes for his wife?

And John McCain is challenging Barack Obama to visit Iraq. Will Obama look weak if he does what McCain is asking? The best political team on television is standing by for that and a lot more.


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

Happening now, Democratic congressional leaders threatening to intervene to end the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama hoping to avoid convention warfare at all costs. Stay tuned for the story. Also, is Bill Clinton promising Puerto Rico statehood if his wife is elected president? We will talk about that and more with the best political team on television. You're going to want to hear what the former president is now saying.

Plus, Republican Senator Larry Craig poised to tell his side of the story about what happened in that notorious bathroom sex sting. We have details of his new book.

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

The top Democrats in Congress are acting more determined than ever to make sure the party doesn't take its presidential fight all the way to the convention. In fact, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, are now taking matters into their own hands.

Let's turn to CNN's Kate Bolduan. She's following this story for us.

All right, Kate, so, what are Pelosi and Reid planning to do?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we have learned that those two top Democrats in Washington -- That's House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and, as you said it, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid -- they are now pushing to end the prolonged nomination battle.

A senior Democratic aide says Pelosi is calling uncommitted superdelegates, urging them to pick a candidate between now and next week.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): A blunt warning from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, telling the "San Francisco Chronicle" that the Democratic nomination fight must be resolved soon or else.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I will step in, because we cannot take this fight to the convention. It must be over before then. I believe it will be over in two weeks.

BOLDUAN: A senior Democratic aide tells CNN Pelosi has already begun pressuring undeclared super-delegates to publicly endorse Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid, is also getting involved. He told KGO Radio he's spoken to both Pelosi and Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: We all are going to urge our folks next week to make a decision very quickly.

BOLDUAN: Decisions by super-delegates are key, because it's unlikely either candidate will clinch the nomination after next week's final primary. Right now, excluding Florida and Michigan, whose delegations are being contested, there are 271 super-delegates in Congress. Ninety-two of them support Clinton, 114 support Obama. That leaves 65 lawmakers still undeclared. One of those is Congressman Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania.

REP. JASON ALTMIRE (D), PENNSYLVANIA: If we allow this to fester, to drag out over the next three months into the national convention, which is at the end of August, then we may not have time to put the pieces back together.

BOLDUAN: Though Speaker Pelosi is pushing super-delegates to declare their picks, she insists she'll remain neutral because of her role chairing the Democratic convention in August. In the past, Pelosi said super-delegates should follow one guiding principle.

PELOSI: It will do great harm to the Democratic Party if it is perceived that the super-delegates overturn the will of the people.


BOLDUAN: Now, Democratic leadership aides do say they expect the remaining Congressional super-delegates to announce their endorsements soon after these last primaries coming up on June 3rd -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for that, Kate Bolduan.

So what Pelosi and other Democrats are trying to do is prevent any repeat of past conventions. There's a horrible history for the Democrats here.

One of the wildest conventions was back in 1924. At more than two weeks, it was the longest continuously running convention in U.S. history. A record 103 ballots were cast. There was heavy participation from Ku Klux Klan Democrats. John Davis eventually was the Democratic nominee.

In 1968, police clashed with anti-Vietnam war demonstrators in the streets of Chicago and it turned bloody. Hubert Humphrey won that year's nomination.

In 1972, it was George McGovern, but only after a chaotic convention climaxed with his famous 3:00 a.m. acceptance speech a lot of people didn't watch.

And in 1980, sparks flew as Ted Kennedy tried to stop Jimmy Carter. But convention goers beat back his attempts, handing the win to Carter.

Here's the upshot, though. All four of these candidates went on to lose in the general election -- something the Democrats don't want to repeat this time if there's another chaotic convention.

For more on this year's Democratic contests, we're joined now by our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger. She's here in Washington.

And also joining us from New York, our own Jack Cafferty, and Mark Halperin, from our sister publication, "Time" magazine. They're all part of the best political team on television.

Jack, you see the history that these Democrats have. That's why Pelosi and Reid are so nervous about this thing dragging on to a convention floor fight.

CAFFERTY: Well, it pains me to be on live national television and agreeing with Nancy Pelosi about anything, but she's right and it's time. And the only person standing in the way of a smooth ending to this is Hillary Clinton. This thing is over. Obama is fewer than 50 delegates away from clinching the nomination. My guess is that a week from now -- or even before -- after Montana, South Dakota and Puerto Rico vote and a couple of more super-delegates break his way, he'll be over the top.

She can't win this. She cannot win this unless they completely change the rules and they're not going to do that.

BLITZER: And, Gloria, what do you think, because he's referring to that big meeting Saturday that the DNC is having in which they have to decide what to do with that huge number of delegates from Michigan and Florida?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And they're going to -- they're going to come up with some deal where they seat those delegates but they give them each sort of half a vote. But, you know, in the end, members of Congress are lagging indicators. They don't want to go out there on a limb if they can help it. And so what they're doing is they're waiting for all these primaries to get done. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and probably DNC Chair Howard Dean, will have a press conference. Nancy Pelosi will have to declare who she's for and so will Harry Reid. And they will say to the rest of the members of Congress, when all of the votes are done, OK, now declare yourself.

And what will happen is they will declare themselves. And you'll see a large melt towards Obama, who is the likely nominee, and who, by that time, will have more than the requisite number of delegates that he needs.

By CNN's count, he only needs 45 delegates at this point. Hillary Clinton needs 244.

BLITZER: All right, Mark, for those of us who read your blog at The Page at "Time" magazine's Web site, you're about as well plugged in as anyone.

What do you think?

MARK HALPERIN, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, look, Wolf, you're familiar with kabuki theater in Japan, right?

BORGER: Right.

HALPERIN: I mean, look, Nancy Pelosi has not been very secretive about how she thinks this is going to end -- and the Clinton campaign would say about how she wants it to end.

BORGER: Right.

HALPERIN: She's wanted people to be for Obama for a long time. She's expected it to go that way. What happened a while ago was it became clear that Senator Clinton was going to go all the way through the end of the voting. But that talking point was powerful enough with most Democrats to say let's let the voting continue.

Nancy Pelosi, I think, quietly decided -- probably discussed it with Harry Reid -- fine, she's going to be in through the first week of June. But after the voting on Tuesday, I expect, as Gloria said, a big rush of super-delegates to Obama and Senator Clinton to see the math, finally -- as Jack sees it today -- and get out of the race.

BLITZER: Here's someone who hasn't seen the math yet. And that would be the former president, Jack, Bill Clinton. He's campaigning on his wife's behalf in Puerto Rico.

I want to play this little clip for you.

Listen to this.


W. CLINTON: First, as you know, because she's a senator from New York, she represents more Puerto Ricans than anyone in the world except someone who is elected here. Send the message back to the mainland on Sunday that Puerto Rico deserves to be considered and its potential is unlimited if only you had a genuine partner in the White House.


BLITZER: I suspect he's pretty popular in Puerto Rico.

But what do you think, Jack?

CAFFERTY: I think it's amazing how the producers of this program tenaciously cling to the idea that there's still a contest here. It's over. And it doesn't matter what Puerto Rico does. Puerto Ricans can't vote for president. They're not a state. It doesn't matter what Bill Clinton says. None of this matters. It's over. We need to find other things to talk about here.

BLITZER: We will find plenty of other things to talk. But you know what they say, Gloria, it's not over until it's over. There'll be a few more days, at least, until it's really over.

BORGER: And Bill Clinton, by the way, is until the last dog dies. Bill Clinton is going to be out there campaigning. He knows better than anyone that all politics is local, as tip O'Neill used to say. So he's out there in Puerto Rico saying, OK, Hillary Clinton understands you.

BLITZER: Mark, talk about Bill Clinton right now. You and I covered the '92 campaign. He never gave up then and he wound up winning.

What do you think?

HALPERIN: Wolf, you can take the boy out of Arkansas, but you can't take Arkansas out of the boy. He likes to talk. He likes to campaign. This could be the last presidential campaign that he is involved so intimately, as he was in his own race, is that in this one. And I think for all the ups and downs of his image in this race, as much as Jack, again, would like the race to be over, I think he is going to enjoy this -- the level -- he enjoys politics -- up until the end. He's been campaigning very hard, more under the radar than at other times, throughout the last couple of weeks. And he is, as Gloria just said, pretty popular in Puerto Rico and he's trying to use that to help his wife.

CAFFERTY: However, there's still time for him to say something stupid and he's capable.


BORGER: So are we all.

BLITZER: All of us are, Jack.

HALPERIN: Cafferty hope springs eternal.

BLITZER: Unfortunately.

All right, guys, stand by.

Barack Obama weighing a trip to Iraq right now.

But did he fall into a political trap set by his Republican rival, John McCain?

Plus, he was caught up and convicted in a bathroom sex sting. Now he's retiring from the Senate and he's ready to tell his side of the story. We have details of Senator Larry Craig's new book.

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


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

Gloria, what do you think of Barack Obama now saying you know what, this summer, he may actually go back to Iraq, pay a visit, because he's been challenged by John McCain to actually go there, speak with Iraqis, speak with U.S. military and diplomatic personnel?

Some have suggested he may be falling into a McCain trap.

BORGER: Well, McCain has been campaigning like a little kid who wants to sort of tweak Obama and get him involved in a little bit of a brawl on the playground here. And I think, you know, when -- I was talking to a bunch of Democratic strategists today. They think Obama's been a little too reactive about this and that, in fact, he could have used the same line on McCain that he used on Hillary Clinton, which is it's not how many times you visit a place, it's the judgment you use in -- after you have looked at an issue and decide what to do about it. Now, he clearly is going to do this. And we heard David Axelrod say that earlier in his interview with you. But, you know, there's something about Obama, he has to start fighting back a little bit.

BLITZER: What do you think, Mark?

HALPERIN: I think he's been entirely too reactive. Both of these campaigns, including the candidates, look at the other side and see someone who they think they can get angry, off base by challenging them. And, increasingly, you're seeing, at the staff level, even at the candidate level, a lot of daily challenges being issued.

And Barack Obama, I think, has to be careful. He's not as experienced in national politics as John McCain. And I think there's some danger on some of these issues of just reacting for the sake of reacting, rather than thinking through.

The other thing is, he's been incredibly disciplined about not talking about process, about what he might do. The times he's done it in the nomination fight, it's hurt him. I think this time, he shouldn't be tackling. If he's going to go, he should go, but he shouldn't be talking about it.


CAFFERTY: Oh, I agree. I got an e-mail from somebody who said since John McCain is pressuring Barack Obama to go to Iraq, Barack Obama should start pressuring John McCain to enroll in the Wharton School of Business, where he might learn something about the economy.

BLITZER: You know, Mark, I want to get your thoughts on this whole Scott McClellan uproar. He's going to be here in THE SITUATION ROOM with us tomorrow. You've covered this guy for a long time.

What do you think about this extraordinary -- I would say stunning -- series of allegations he makes in the book?

HALPERIN: Well, it is stunning that he would write this book with the president in office. As many people have already said, Scott was known primarily as someone who was loyal. And that's what got him where he was. And this is not seen as a loyal book within the Bush White House.

But I think the seeds of this were sown when the Bush White House decided to the White House podium, the job of press secretary, and make it a job that was nothing -- a job where you weren't supposed to make news, where nothing was supposed to happen during the briefing, rather than serving the public interest.

Wolf, when you covered the Clinton White House, you know, Mike McCurry, one of the president's spokespeople, said my job is to serve both the president and the public. And I think the Bush White House totally misused that position and it led to having someone get in there who became very frustrated and obviously very bitter and angry.

BLITZER: What do you think, Gloria? BORGER: I think this is -- this is a fellow -- and I'm not a shrink, but he seems to be full of remorse. He seems to be quite bitter. This is someone who, I think, was hung out there to dry. He believes he was, particularly when it came to the CIA leak investigation.

It's clearly something that has bothered him for a very long time. And nobody in the White House really figured that he would be the guy to do this, because he was so soft-spoken, low key and never raised any questions in any of these meetings.

So I think you have to take what he writes very seriously.

BLITZER: You've got to be worried about that if you're in the White House.

But go ahead, Jack.

CAFFERTY: No, I just think that if there's a legitimate criticism it's this, that if he was that concerned about what was going on, he might have saved a few lives and preserved the dislocation of a few families if he had gone public with some of the stuff a few years ago, when he first encountered it. And waiting until he can cash in big time -- and he's going to make a bucket full of money with the book -- is a bit disingenuous if his intentions are as honorable as he would like us think they are.

BLITZER: All right, guys.

As I said, we're going to be speaking with him here in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow and we'll ask him some of these tough questions.

Guys, thanks very much for coming in.

Jack's got "The Cafferty File" still to come.

Pundits, bloggers and just about everyone else is having a field day with the former White House press secretary and his tell-all book. We're going to show you how they're raking Scott McClellan over the coals.

Plus, details of what could be another tell-all book by a senator caught up in a sex sting.

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


BLITZER: Let's check back with Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour: Is gay marriage in the United States inevitable?

California is going to start performing these marriages next month. And New York now says they're going to recognize states that the marriages are performed in -- the two states where it's legal, Massachusetts and California.

Paul writes from Texas: "My wife and I have been married for 35 years. Gay marriage is as inevitable as the rotation of the Earth. Things change. It won't hurt the institution of marriage anymore than the 50 percent of failure rate in heterosexual marriage has done."

Pamela in Canada says: "Of course, just like interracial marriage, women's right to vote were inevitable, gay marriage is, as well. It's already been legalized in other countries. It's only a matter of time before the U.S. catches up. Progressive ideas win out in the end, despite conservative attempts to prevent them."

Herb in Texas counters with this: "Of course it is, Jack.

Our judges are sending abused kids back to their parents, destroying the sovereignty of the United States, putting law enforcement officers in jail and giving drug smugglers immunity. What do you think?"

Stephen says: "Yes, it's inevitable. As a gay man, I'm glad, too. America accepting it is America exhibiting its true values principles, that people are free to do as they please as long as nobody gets hurt. Gays will not only marry, they'll have families, raise kids just as well as heterosexual couples or even single parents."

Paul writes: "Yes. But as a gay man in his '60s, I don't think I'll live to see it. I wish gay activists had taken on more pressing reforms. When people are being imprisoned, tortured or executed in many places just for being gay, marriage rights seem trivial to me."

Jamie in Fort Worth writes: "Yes and no. I live in Texas. It's never going to be legal here. But I think there will be more and more states that take up New York's policy."

And Stephen writes: "It's time we get out of everybody's bedrooms and start paying more attention to who has their hands in our pockets."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at and look for yours there among hundreds and hundreds of others -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jack.

Thank you.

On our Political Ticker today, his men's room bust may have helped put an end to his political career, but now the retiring senator, Larry Craig, has revealed how he plans to start a new chapter.

Carol is back with this story -- Carol? CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I like that, a new chapter. You know, whatever you might want to say about Senator Larry Craig, you can't say he's hiding from anything. Well, you could, but let's just leave it at that. He's not hiding from anything.

Ever since being caught in that airport bathroom -- well, you know the details -- and then proclaiming to the country he's not gay, he's gone about his business in the Senate. Well, now he is writing a book. And, yes, he'll go there.


SEN. LARRY CRAIG (R), IDAHO: There will be a bit of what's happened in the last year and the way it evolved. And I think that's important for Idaho and those outside Idaho who are interested to know. But the thing that is, I think, important nationally for someone with my experience to talk about is the state of politics in Washington today and across America.


COSTELLO: Craig will retire from the Senate in January. He says his book will give him a chance at telling America what it needs to know about the do nothing Congress.

And in case you're wondering, Wolf, the book will be on shelves next year, hopefully.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much.

Carol Costello reporting.

His former colleagues are dumbstruck by Scott McClellan's new White House expose.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is troubling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is mystifying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost like an out of body experience.


BLITZER: And those are some of the kinder remarks people are making. You're going to hear the not so kind comments right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: It's the buzz of the Internet and the talk of the town. And some of what they're saying simply isn't very nice. We're talking about Scott McClellan's searing White House tell-all.

CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a Moost Unusual look. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here was Scott McClellan back when he left his job at the White House.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I've given it my all, sir. And I've given you my all.

MOOS: Well, maybe not all. He still had 341 pages left to give. And now critics are giving it to him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Judas on steroids.

MOOS: From Judas to Dr. Evil, McClellan, despite his nice guy reputation, is being labeled, "a weasel turned whistleblower," "a stuttering endomorph" -- endomorph being someone with a round, soft body. It's enough to make you wish...

WILLIAM SHATNER, ACTOR: Scotty, beam me up.

MOOS: could beamed off the blogosphere, inhabited by headlines ranging from "Ream Him Up, Scotty" to "Scotty Come Lately."

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I can say to Scott, job well done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heck of a job, Scotty.

MOOS (on camera): The bombshells in the book left supporters of the president saying in unison, Scott who?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This doesn't sound like Scott, frankly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't even sound like the Scott that I know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not the Scott we knew.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just inconsistent with the individual that we knew as Scott McClellan, the press secretary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not the Scott we knew.

MOOS (voice-over): But even if former counselor to the president, Dan Bartlett, doesn't recognize Scott still...

QUESTION: Is he still your friend?


MCCLELLAN: I was glad to hear that Dan said he still considers me a friend. I still consider Dan a friend. Yesterday, I think he was saying that Scott lost all his friends at the White House.


MOOS: But they all claim he's lost them.

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So I find a lot of this to be puzzling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is mystifying to me.


MOOS: Imagine with all this focus on Scott McClellan, if folks thought you looked like him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scott McClellan, you know, he's not a bad looking guy. He's got, you know, a little bit of a girth.

MOOS: Meet my producer, Richard Davis, who says he has no plans to write a tell-all book.

As for the real Scott McClellan, he's got to put up with stuff like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you want to know why I'm telling everyone now that the invasion of Iraq was a huge mistake?

Well, the answer is very simple, Matt. Back then, I was selling a war. Now I'm selling a book.

MOOS: It must make him long for the press corps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you let me finish?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No you're not finishing. You're not saying anything.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: And he'll be among my guests tomorrow here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Scott McClellan will be here. You can send us an I- Report, a video question, if you want. We'll try to get some of them on the air.

Let's take a look at some of the Hot Shots coming in from our friends over at the "Associated Press" -- pictures likely to be in your newspapers tomorrow.

Here in Washington, 10-year-old Veronica Penny (ph) covers her face while competing in the second round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

In Kansas, President Bush returns a salute as he exits Air Force One.

In South Africa, refugees reach out their hands to receive food from a local charity in a relief camp.

And in Philadelphia -- look at this -- a female tiger cub plays with a box decorated for her first birthday.

Some of this hour's Hot Shots -- pictures often worth a thousand words.

Remember this programming note. Stay with CNN for up to the minute coverage all weekend, as the Democratic Party Rules Committee debates the status of Michigan and Florida -- Decision Day, as we're calling it. Our live coverage begins Saturday morning at 9:00 Eastern here on CNN and at I'll be anchoring the coverage, together with the best political team on television.

And for the latest political news any time, go to You can get our new political screen saver there, as well.

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

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

Kitty Pilgrim is sitting in for Lou -- Kitty.