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Superdelegates Hold Secret Meeting; Polygamist Parents Reunite with Children

Aired June 2, 2008 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, a final push before the final primaries. Hillary Clinton makes a last ditch effort in South Dakota and Montana, but Bill Clinton seems to be hinting it's a last hurrah.

Senator Ted Kennedy undergoes surgery to remove a cancerous brain tumor. Kennedy's doctor calls it a success. Our own doctor, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, tells us what it means and what lies ahead.

And a victory for polygamist parents as their children return to a compound in Texas. But concerned about their safety, state investigators may be returning, as well, for unannounced visits.

I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with some breaking news we're finding, this on the eve of the final two primaries -- word of a secret meeting of uncommitted superdelegates underway on Capitol Hill.

Let's go straight to CNN's Kate Bolduan. She's watching this story for us.

Kate, what are you learning?


Well, the meeting is going on right now. It's actually at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, right across the street from the building we're in here.

As you said, this meeting was not talked about. We learned about the meeting today and learned from Senator Harkin as he was going into the meeting just a little while ago that as many as 18 senators were invited to the meeting. But what we saw were three senators going in -- Senator Harkin, as we mentioned, of Iowa; Senator Harper and Senator Salazar of Colorado.

Now, when we asked him -- when we asked Senator Harkin, why are you having this meeting, what are you going in for, he said every simply this is a meeting of undeclared superdelegate senators just like himself.

They're getting together, as he says, to discuss what, if anything, we might do after the polls close tomorrow night together.

Now, this, of course, comes on the heels of people on Capitol Hill -- sources saying that there's a large group of senators that have been talking about what to do when these primaries come to a close. And we did ask him the question, you know, could they -- are they talking about coming out together, as you said?

And he said well, we'll just -- what we're doing right now is we're going to wait. We're going to talk. We're going to go into this meeting. And he says that he's maintained that he's not going to declare until the polls close -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. So the chances of them emerging tonight with announcement, I take it, would be very slim?

BOLDUAN: Well, we'll have to wait and see. I mean this meeting was a surprise itself. But the way it sounds is that -- what it's been billed as, when we've gotten to Senate aides, is that it's a meeting to just kind of meet and talk -- of senators in a very similar situation. So they'll definitely be talking about if they could possibly come out together.

And, if not, then, of course, separately. But we'll have to wait and see. And it's got to be a quick meeting because they have a vote at 5:30.

BLITZER: All right. A bunch of undeclared -- about 18 or so undeclared senators meeting behind closed doors right now to determine whether or not they're going to be declared.

By the way, we're going to be speaking with one of those senators very soon, Senator Jon Tester of Montana. He's standing by live to join us. We'll pick his brain. We'll ask him what is going on.

His wife may be making a last ditch effort, but Bill Clinton seems to be hinting that it's a last hurrah.

Let's go back to Carol Costello. She's got some interesting clues that are coming out of this Clinton campaign.

What are you picking up, Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, clues abound today, Wolf.

Something Bill Clinton said on the campaign trail is, well, it's causing some to believe the end is near. Remember, this comes from a man famous for never gives up. But in South Dakota, while speaking before a crowd of Democratic voters, Bill Clinton said this could be the last time he has such an active role in presidential politics.



WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This may be the last day I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind. I thought I was out of politics until Hillary decided to run. But it has been one of the greatest honors of my life to be able to go around and campaign for her for president.


COSTELLO: That's all he said about that. And then he went on with the rest of the speech. But that, coupled with the Clinton campaign announcing she will spend Tuesday not in Montana or South Dakota, but in New York, and the political blog Politico is reporting the Clinton campaign hasn't figured out its schedule past Tuesday. It's becoming a little clearer this may be the end of the road -- or maybe the beginning of a new journey -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Carol. Stay on top of this story for us.

Lots of stuff going on behind-the-scenes.

The last two contests are tomorrow in Montana and South Dakota. Ultimately, the math seems to favor Barack Obama in a major way. But Hillary Clinton is making a last charge.

Let's go out to South Dakota. CNN's Jim Acosta is on the scene for us.

They're almost at the finish line. What, they've had 48 states and all those territories, only two states remaining, one of them where you are -- Jim, what's the latest?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Hillary Clinton is sounding more optimistic than her husband. She told reporters last night on her campaign plane that it's too early to write her political obituary. And she has a new poll out that might be on her side, showing that she's opening up a big lead over Barack Obama here in South Dakota.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Whether or not Barack Obama ends the primary season stumbling at the finish line states of South Dakota and Montana, he is talking like a nominee -- a nominee who's dropping hints about how his Democratic rival could become an ally in the fall.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She has been a great senator for the State of New York. And she is going to be a great asset when we go into November to make sure that we defeat the Republicans. That I can promise you.

ACOSTA: But for now, Hillary Clinton is still sounding her original battle cry.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But the question is, who is prepared to govern?

Who is ready on day one?

ACOSTA: And she is still campaigning with gusto, determined to show the nomination is within her grasp.

H. CLINTON: Our main job at the end of this historic, closely contested primary season is to nominate the next president -- who must be a Democrat. That is our goal. So I am very, very grateful.

ACOSTA: And Clinton is airing this new ad, which again makes her campaign's much disputed claim she holds a popular vote lead over Obama.


NARRATOR: Seventeen million Americans have voted for Hillary Clinton -- more than for any primary candidate in history.


ACOSTA: But Obama has won most of the Democratic Western showdowns. A new poll shows him leading Clinton in Montana's Big Sky country. And he's already secured South Dakota's biggest endorsements. On the verge of making his own history, he worked in a visit to Mount Rushmore, where he was asked whether he sees his face in granite some day.

OBAMA: I don't think my ears would fit. There's just only so much rock up there.


ACOSTA: And we should note that Hillary Clinton has also worked in her trip to Mount Rushmore during this campaign, Wolf. And she is clearly on Barack Obama's mind. The senator from Illinois repeated what he said yesterday in South Dakota to voters in Michigan, telling folks there that Senator Clinton and himself "will be working together in the fall."

Of course, we don't know exactly what he means by that. He says they're going to be working together -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jim Acosta.

He looks pretty good over there at Mount Rushmore.

Jim, thanks very much for that.

Jack Cafferty, you'd look good at Mount Rushmore, too.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, that'll happen.

Let me ask you another question.


CAFFERTY: Back before Michigan and Florida broke the rules by moving their primaries up, and the DNC said if you do that, we're not going to count the results, both campaigns agreed to that, did they not? BLITZER: That's correct. They did.

CAFFERTY: Hillary Clinton agreed at one point not to count Michigan and Florida if they moved the dates of their primaries up.

BLITZER: That's correct.

CAFFERTY: Well, just a little clarification.


CAFFERTY: How can I miss you if you won't go away?


BLITZER: Now the DNC says they do count, albeit half the delegates, not a 100 percent of the delegates.

CAFFERTY: I know. And she's not happy about that.

BLITZER: No. She's settling for the Florida. On the Michigan, she doesn't like the way the DNC divided up the delegates.

CAFFERTY: Yes. He wasn't on the ballot, so I guess she thinks she should get them all.

BLITZER: That's correct.


We have some bad news for John McCain, who has spent the last couple of weeks beating up on Barack Obama because Obama said he would be willing to meet with leaders of countries considered to be enemies of the United States. Most Americans -- most Americans support Obama.

McCain was at it again today, speaking to a pro-Israel group. He said it's hard to see what a summit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would lead to "except an earful of anti-Semitic rants and a worldwide audience for a man who denies one Holocaust and talks before frenzied crowds about starting another."

Well, guess what?

A new Gallup Poll suggests the country backs Obama. Fifty-nine percent of Americans responding to this Gallup Poll say it's a good idea for the president to meet with the president of Iran.

Here's the breakdown -- 71 percent of them are Democrats, 58 percent of them are Independents, and, surprisingly, 48 percent of them are Republicans support this kind of diplomacy.

This is despite the fact the polls also suggest few people in this country view Iran favorably and it leads Americans' list of top U.S. enemies in all the world.

The same poll shows a majority of Americans, 67 percent, say the president should meet with leaders of other foreign countries who are considered enemies of the U.S.

Apparently, we're getting tired of cowboy diplomacy here.

Obama is the only of the three candidates who has said he would personally meet with leaders of countries like Iran, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela. Both Hillary Clinton and John McCain have criticized him for that position.

Here's the question: What message does it send to John McCain when most Americans say it's a good idea for the president to meet with Iran?

Go to You can post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: And he made another statement today, Ahmadinejad.


BLITZER: We're going to be sharing that with our viewers pretty soon, as well. But you alluded to it. He's not -- he's not a shy guy.

CAFFERTY: He's not putting this drum in the closet any time soon.

BLITZER: No. Not at all.

All right, stand by.

We're going to be coming back to Jack soon.

We're going to get more also on the breaking story we're following. Two hundred and two superdelegates have an important decision to make in the coming day or days. You just heard that some in the Senate are meeting behind closed doors right now.

Who will they support? How will they make up their minds?

Coming up, I'll speak to one of those undecided senators, Senator Jon Tester of Montana. His state votes tomorrow. We'll talk about what's going on.

Also, Barack Obama says goodbye to his Chicago church.

But is there any way he can leave this controversy behind?

And later, a major decision by a judge ending one of the largest custody cases in American history. But questions remain -- serious questions.

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


BLITZER: At, there's a closed door meeting underway on Capitol Hill. Those undecided senators -- those who have not yet declared their preference for the Democratic presidential nominee -- they're meeting behind closed doors. This as Hillary Clinton makes a final push in the final primary states of South Dakota and Montana. Barack Obama fights to avoid any unpleasant surprises in those two remaining states.

Let's discuss what's going on with Senator Jon Tester of Montana. He's an undeclared superdelegate.

Senator, thanks very much for joining us.

SEN. JON TESTER (D), MONTANA: Thank you very much for having me.

BLITZER: Your state's got a big primary tomorrow.

Who would have thought way back when that Montana and South Dakota, June 3, would wrap this all up?

But why did you decide you didn't want to go to that meeting that's underway right now behind closed doors, with all your undeclared colleagues on the Democratic side, to discuss what to do?

TESTER: Yes. Well, I mean I just -- I literally just got off the plane from Montana about 15 minutes ago. So I couldn't have went to that meeting anyway.

But what we're going to end up doing is see we're going to see how it plays out in Montana, how the election goes in Montana. We're due to have a record number of voters turn out for this primary, which is -- I think it's good news for democracy, it's good news for everybody. And then, after that vote is tallied, we're going to, you know, we'll take that into account. We'll take into account who can win in November. We'll take into account who speaks best for rural America. And that's how my superdelegate vote will be...

BLITZER: So as of this...

TESTER: ...will be cast.

BLITZER: As of this point, you still haven't made up your mind or you just don't want to declare it?

Is that what...

TESTER: Well, I want to wait until it all plays out in Montana. I think that what's happened over the last couple weeks in Montana and South Dakota has been nothing short of amazing, with Senator Obama and Senator Clinton crisscrossing both of those states and giving us the kind of exposure to national candidates like we've literally never had before. So it's just really neat to have people, you know, see eye to eye with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton and others.

So, it's been really good for the state.

BLITZER: Good for both Montana and South Dakota. There's a new ARG poll in Montana, in your state, which shows it's pretty close -- Obama with 48 percent, Clinton 44 percent, unsure, 8 percent. It does show she's got a wide lead in South Dakota right now, which is a surprise given some of the earlier polls -- the same ARG poll.

What do you think is going to happen?

You know Montana about as well as anyone.

Who's going to win tomorrow?

TESTER: Well, I think they've both worked very, very hard and they're both great candidates that I think will do a great job come November. And we'll just see. I mean, like you say, I think Obama has got a little lead in the polls right now. We'll see if that comes to fruition on Tuesday. You know, the polls have been wrong before and they have been right, too. So it's anybody's guess.

But ultimately, in the end, like I said earlier, I anticipate a record number of voters. And there's energy in Montana about this race like never has happened before.

BLITZER: Some of your colleagues have said, you know what, they would love to see the so-called dream ticket emerge -- Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He seems to have a pretty impressive advantage right now.

How would you feel about that?

TESTER: Well, I think Hillary -- I mean I've heard reports before. I think Hillary is on the list and she should be. But, ultimately, in the end, this is -- I think it's Barack's decision...

BLITZER: But what do you think?

TESTER: ...if he ends up being the nominee.

BLITZER: But what do you think?

TESTER: What's that?

BLITZER: What do you think?

TESTER: Well, I think there's a lot of great people out there that can do a lot of great work as vice president of this country. And it really is Barack's decision. His is the opinion that really counts.

BLITZER: But how do you unify your party -- the Democratic Party pretty much divided right now. There's the Obama Camp, the Clinton camp. You want to unify them going in with a strong force against John McCain.

TESTER: You're exactly right. And, you know, whoever decides to bow out of this race -- and, hopefully, it'll be shortly after Montana and South Dakota's primaries are over with -- I think what they say is going to be critically important as far as the unification of this party. And typically after primaries are over with, people get behind the nominee and move forward. And it's never been a problem in the past. So I anticipate, you know, whatever happens shortly after Montana and South Dakota that the party will be unified -- and stronger than ever before, I might add.

BLITZER: All eyes tomorrow on your state, Montana, and South Dakota, as we wrap up what's been a very, very long process. Senator Tester, thanks for joining us.

TESTER: Wolf, thank you very much for having me on.

BLITZER: Senator Jon Tester, Democrat of Montana.

It's been one of the biggest sore points of Barack Obama's campaign and he left his church after 20 years.

But has he left behind the problems that the Chicago pulpit brought to his campaign?

Brian Todd is standing by with a closer look.

Rhetoric or threat -- Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, once again, turning his attention to Israel, with a strong warning predicting its destruction. You're going to hear exactly what he is now saying.

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


BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Carol, what do you have?

COSTELLO: Well, Wolf, President Bush is pressing to have his tax cuts set in stone. He used today's five year anniversary of the signing of the measure lowering rates on capital gains and dividends to lobby for continuing the cut. Mr. Bush says allowing them to expire in 2010 would harm the economy.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You hear a lot of talk out of Congress about, you know, the economic slowdown. And we understand there's an economic slowdown. And we're concerned about the economic slowdown. And -- but one of the things that they can do to help make sure that this economy is -- recovers, like we believe it will -- is to make the tax cuts permanent.


COSTELLO: Both Democratic presidential candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, have called for raising income taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, revs up its surge for an American wanted for treason. A new FBI campaign counts a $1 million reward for information leading to 29-year-old Californian Adam Gadahn's arrest or capture. Gadahn allegedly worked for Al Qaeda. He was indicted in 2005. Gadahn's face will show up on match books, handbills and in posters in Afghanistan. Pakistan says he was killed in a February missile strike, but the FBI says it has no conclusive evidence of that.

A Brazilian newspaper reports that a subsidy of Blackwater Worldwide has bought a fighter plane. The paper says the U.S. military's security contractor both the fighter for $4.5 million in February. The propeller-driven plane is the same used by Brazil's military. The newspaper quote's Blackwater's president as saying the plane will be used for training.

Iran's president heaps fresh and fiery rhetoric on Israel, saying: "This origin of corruption will be wiped off the Earth soon." President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's latest veiled threats to Israel came in a speech honoring the late Ayatollah Khomeini. The state news agency quoted the Iranian leader as saying Israel had a 60-year track record of aggression and would soon disappear from geographical charts -- back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Carol.

Carol Costello will be back with us shortly.

Senator Barack Obama -- he's now sounding less and less like a candidate and more and more like a nominee.

But what is he saying about his chief rival?

That's changing, as well.


OBAMA: Senator Clinton has run an outstanding race. She is an outstanding public servant. And she and I will be working together in November.


BLITZER: So what does that mean, they will be working together in November?

With the primary season winding down, is unity next for the Democratic contenders?

I'll go one-on-one with Democratic strategist and Clinton supporter, James Carville. He's standing by live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And later, home awaits hundreds of children being returned to their parents at a polygamist ranch in Texas. The court says they must go back and must go back right now. The state says it will do its best to make sure the kids are safe.

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


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

Happening now, President Bush takes a stand against a Senate bill requiring big cuts in greenhouse emissions. The measure would require industry to cut emissions by 70 percent over four decades. The White House says the president would veto the bill in its present form.

A just released University of Utah report finds that a fatal coal mine collapse last August was so quick, the six miners who died probably had no chance to escape. The Crandall Canyon collapse measured a magnitude 3.9. The report says it was not caused by an earthquake, but rather the collapse was the quake.

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

Senator Ted Kennedy's surgeon says that today's operation to remove a malignant brain tumor was successful and should cause no permanent neurological effects. According to a family spokeswoman, Kennedy said after the operation he felt "like a million bucks."

Let's go to our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who himself is a neurosurgeon and knows a great deal about this.

Sanjay, all right, what can you tell us about the surgery first?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, first of all, it's obviously very good news that he's talking and he's able to communicate with his wife like that. He had an operation, as we've talked about so many times -- and I'll spin this brain around -- on the left parietal lobe of his brain.

Wolf, the reason this has been so -- of such concern to so many people is that this part of brain that's lighting up in red is close to an area here that is responsible for motor strength and an area here responsible for speech.

He had this operation done while he was awake, Wolf, so they could basically try and figure out how close this tumor was to those specific areas. They'd ask him to squeeze his hand, raise his arm, identify objects on flash cards. It's pretty remarkable stuff. And, again, he was awake through the whole thing -- Wolf.

BLITZER: This is normally followed up, Sanjay, by chemotherapy and radiation for a period of weeks.

What do we -- I guess the bottom line is when are we going to know if he's really going to be OK?

GUPTA: You know, that's a good question, Wolf. And it's hard to say. I mean these are -- when we talk about malignant brain tumors, you measure progress in weeks and months, not days and hours. So it's going to be some time. It will probably be at least a week, and maybe two, before he starts the chemotherapy and radiation. You want to let him recover from the operation. You want to let these wounds heal on the top of his head. That all has to happen.

He may be a candidate, after that, for experimental therapies. That's something that they've actually done a lot of at Duke. And they've been one of the things he found attractive about Duke. Brain cancer vaccines, for example -- teaching the body to fight off tumor in the future.

It is hard to know right now -- right now, he's just going to recover from this operation and start the chemo in the next couple of weeks.

BLITZER: Well, we, of course, wish him only, only the best. We're praying for him, as all of our viewers are, as well.

GUPTA: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Sanjay, thanks very much.

A degree in mathematics might help when it comes to trying to figure out how the Democrats' delegate count will actually end up. With only two primaries left, the campaigns are making calculations based on superdelegates and popular vote totals.

The latest polls show Barack Obama leading Hillary Clinton in Montana by 4 points. Clinton is ahead by a huge margin in South Dakota -- very surprising -- 26 points.

CNN's John Roberts is here with us at the magic wall watching all of this.

There's a lot of what if scenarios.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's take a look at where we are right now with the delegates as of today. Barack Obama is 46 away from the finish line. Hillary Clinton is 202. I hope my Canadian friends forgive me for writing on top of their fair country but that's where we are right now.

Let's take a look at where we could be as of tomorrow night. Montana is still Barack Obama country at this point. Latest polls show that he's leading by a slim margin. So I think you could say, would they split the delegates? Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and give him a couple of more delegates than Hillary.

South Dakota, this is the real change. Remember there was some polling that was done back in March that showed Barack Obama up by ten points or so. Now it's got Hillary Clinton up by a substantial margin. It looks like a 60/40 split there which is what Puerto Rico was looking like prior to her landslide win there which she went up to 60 percent.

So we're going to give of the delegates that are available, we're going to split it this way. Hillary Clinton would come away with 13 oops. That's backwards. Hillary Clinton would come away with 13, Barack Obama would come away with 10. Let's plot that on the graph and see where we are when we match that all up. Hillary Clinton has moved a little bit ahead. You know, three delegates, 13 delegates as opposed to 11. It's only a couple delegates here and there. There's still nine left. These are John Edwards' delegates. Potentially most of those, not all, would go to Barack Obama so let's give a couple more there and get these up to Hillary Clinton because John Edwards, as you know, Wolf, has endorsed Barack Obama.

It leaves 202 superdelegates because the numbers have changed somewhat. Today 24 away from that magic number of 2118. Barack Obama still all he needs, that many superdelegates and he's across the line. We're hearing that there's 17 senate Democrats that are going to endorse Barack Obama according to Gloria Borger. With those, he only needs a handful more and he's across the line.


BLITZER: All right. We'll be checking back with John Roberts for more on that. John, thank you very much.

With the presidential primary season nearing an end, the notion of a so-called dream ticket getting lots of buzz, especially today. Let's discuss this and more with our political contributor the Democratic strategist and Clinton supporter James Carville.

James, all right. Tell us what's going on right now because you understand this political season about as well as anyone.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, what's going on now is, I mean, I honestly think that they're going to let people in Montana and South Dakota vote. I want to be able to touch that thing like John Roberts does and all those numbers flash out. I love our map up there. I think that tomorrow night, you know, some people are going to announce and I think they'll go from there. But things are starting to happen pretty quickly right now.

BLITZER: You know yesterday he called her after she won decisively in Puerto Rico and now we're hearing a pool of reports saying he's looking forward to sitting down with her at a time and place of her choosing. What's going on this front, the notion of the two of them getting together, possibly as running mates?

CARVILLE: Again, as running mates, I'll leave that a little bit in the future. The truth of the matter is that we've had a 50/50 election. The AP says she won the popular vote. Maybe somebody else says something differently. The point is the political reality is going to set in here and I suspect that Democrats at some point are going to want them to sit down and talk. I suspect that they will. That's going to be something that's going to be governed by Senator Obama and Senator Clinton.

BLITZER: Are you among those who say effectively for all practical purposes it's over?

CARVILLE: Well, I think that she has -- let's wait and see what happens here. These polls are a little shocking. So I have no idea how accurate they are. I think we go through tomorrow night. I said some time ago down in South Carolina that I thought that Senator Obama would be the likely nominee. I still think that that's the case. But this is politics. Anything can happen. You know, she has a case to make and she's pursuing the case and I think she ought to be allowed to pursue that case through tomorrow night.

BLITZER: You've worked with Bill Clinton for a long time. We remember your role back in '92 in helping him become the president of the United States. Todd Purdum, a long time Washington reporter covered the White House for the "New York Times," married to Dee Dee Myers, former press secretary for President Clinton. He's got a new article in "Vanity Fair" which I'm sure you've seen by now. We've spoke with him in the last hour. I'm going to play this little clip because there's some explosive allegations against your former boss.


TODD PURDUM, NATIONAL EDITOR, VANITY FAIR: What I'm saying is that some of his own aides are concerned about these reports. That's all I say. And I think the point here is I'm not quoting Ken Starr's operatives. I'm not quoting opposition researchers for Barack Obama. I'm not quoting Republican lawyers or private is. I'm quoting people who work and used to work and still work for Bill Clinton.


BLITZER: What do you think about this article?

CARVILLE: First of all, Todd Purdum is a friend of mine. I've been crazy about Dee Dee. I think this is just -- anybody that's going to a Washington cocktail party, a Washington dinner party in the last year, this is just regurgitation of stuff. All this bunk feeds off everything else. Truth of the matter is the most successful post president in history, I am honored that he's my friend. I think that something like 1.3 million lives of the fastest growing foundation in the world. "Vanity Fair" has got -- I think Todd's an honorable guy. They've got a history of getting involved in a lot of Hollywood stuff. I just let this go in one ear and go out the other. It doesn't amount to a whole lot.

BLITZER: James Carville, thanks very much.

CARVILLE: You bet. Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Barack Obama has left his long-time church where harsh rhetoric rang out from the pulpit but has he left behind the controversy that hurt his presidential campaign?

John McCain and Barack Obama battle over Iraq. They battle for Jewish voters. Who's got the edge when it comes to the Middle East?

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: The harsh rhetoric from its pulpit certainly plagued the presidential campaign leaving Barack Obama to resign from his long-time Chicago church. Does this end the controversy?

Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He's looking at the fallout. It continues.

Brian, what's going on?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At least a little bit, Wolf. You know when he was asked about church controversies, Barack Obama said he didn't see this coming, didn't think his faith would be subject to this scrutiny. Going forward the questions about this may not be so much on his faith as on his judgment.


TODD: Trinity United Church of Christ might be in his rear-view mirror but analysts say Barack Obama's associations with the men who spoke from its pulpit may linger politically.

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: People say he's been a member of this church for 20 years. His affiliation with Jeremiah Wright has been very close. Jeremiah Wright baptized his children and married him. I think that is a question people have. Why didn't you make this move before it was politically awkward for you to stay there?

TODD: The Obama campaign says he's answered that in his speech on race after Reverend Wright's controversial sermons appeared on YouTube.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The truth is that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than 20 years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another, to care for the sick. And lift up the poor.

TODD: Obama's repeatedly denounced Wright's remarks and guest speaker father Michael Phleger's mockery of Hillary Clinton also on YouTube. Some analysts say these controversies have fueled more questions about who Obama really is, what he really believes about race relations, questions that will likely continue. Another part of the fallout, the idea this placed what one analyst calls one more burden on the back of Democratic unity.

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: He's got a tremendous job to do, a difficult job to do. It'll take him the whole summer to piece the Democratic Party back together, to get the Clinton people on board.


TODD: Now, in the meantime, Obama seems to be putting off a decision on a new church, saying he probably won't select a new one until January, quote, when we know what our lives are going to be like. Wolf?

BLITZER: Is he giving any indication, Brian, what kind of church he's looking for?

TODD: He would only say he'd go to a place where he could reflect on god, hear some good music, put some money in the collection plate, things like that but he does say he is not going to approach this move with the idea of avoiding political problems. It will be something a lot of people are going to watch certainly.

BLITZER: Brian, thank you for that; Brian Todd reporting.

The next chapter is now under way in the case of those hundreds of children seized from a polygamist sect ranch in Texas. Dozens of them are now returning to their compound, a court ordered their immediate release after nearly two months in state custody.

CNN's Susan Roesgen is joining us from the ranch and she's watching this story for us.

Susan, what's going on? How is this process unfolding?

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, you know these shelters where the kids were taken are so far away from here, in some cases hundreds of miles a way. The kids have not actually come back here to the ranch. I'm actually inside the secretive polygamist compound tonight. They're going to have a news conference in a little bit. We're not sure what they're going to talk about but we do expect some of the children to come back here tonight. Even though the state of Texas, Wolf, says that those children might be in jeopardy here.


ROESGEN: It's a victory for the parents. Some went immediately to the shelters where their children have been kept for nearly two months. A court order requires Texas officials to release all of about 450 children whisked away from the Yearning for Zion ranch in an April raid. Child abuse investigators still suspect at least some of the teenage girls on the ranch have been sexually abused, married and impregnated by older men to satisfy the demands of the secretive polygamous cult.

MARLEIGH MEISNER, TEXAS CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES: I still feel very strongly about our case and I feel very strongly about the safety and concerns we have regarding these children. That's why our investigation will continue.

ROESGEN: But the Texas Supreme Court ruled that taking all the children away from the ranch in the course of that investigation was going too far. More than 100 of the children were under the age of four. Yet the state has won a victory too. The ranch gate cannot be kept closed. Investigators are free to check on the children in unannounced visits.

WILLIE JESSOP, RANCH SPOKESMAN: The toll on the children is certainly showing. But we are grateful that the court at least allowed the mothers and children to come back even if we wished it was a better order. But hey, it gets the children and mothers back so we'll take it.


ROESGEN: And now while we wait Wolf for this news conference apparently to be conducted by one of the fundamentalist church of Latter Day Saints, that's the name of this polygamist compound of one of those spokesman, we're also waiting for again some children to come back tonight. We do know, however, that not all the kids will come back here. Some of the mothers, at least 18 of them, have decided to move elsewhere. Their children will be taken with them in new homes. And at least one lawyer, Wolf, has said that she does not want her teenage client to come back here because the lawyer says this is a girl who has been sexually abused and she might be abused again.


BLITZER: All right, Susan. Thanks very much. We'll stay on top of this story, lots of implications going on.

One split second. That's how long it took for a soldier to react to save the lives of four of his comrades giving his own life in the process. We'll have the story behind the medal, behind his Medal of Honor.

Plus, an update on our breaking news. There's a secret meeting with uncommitted superdelegates under way right now; U.S. senators, Democrats, getting together on Capitol Hill. We're live with that and a lot more coming up. Lots of news happening today right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: President Bush today presented the Medal of Honor to the parents of a soldier who died saving the lives of others in an act of heroism that took place in the blink of an eye.

Our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre has the story.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The few seconds it takes to look at this photograph of 19-year-old Ross McGinnis manning his 50 caliber machine gun is about the same amount of time McGinnis had to decide whether to jump out of his humvee and save himself or sit down and take a live grenade for his buddies. Inside, the platoon leader.

SGT. 1ST CLASS CEDRIC THOMAS, U.S. ARMY: You have a split second to make a decision. What are you going to do? Are you going to get out or are you going to sit on it?

MCINTYRE: The medic.

SPEC. SEAN LAWSON, U.S. ARMY: There's no right or wrong for that. If he jumped out nobody would have blamed him.

MCINTYRE: The soldier who saw the grenade come in.

STAFF SGT. IAN NEWLAND, U.S. ARMY: I gathered pretty directly what was about to happen. I dropped my rifle and started to put my hands up to cover my face.

MCINTYRE: And the driver who thought he was dead.

SGT. LYLE BUEHLER, U.S. ARMY: It was scary. I can tell you that. All I knew, I didn't know how much time I had. I just -- I didn't think I had enough time to get out of the truck.

NEWLAND: McGinnis yelled out grenade. By the time it registered what happened the grenade went off.

LAWSON: He wasn't going to leave us. He sat back down.

NEWLAND: McGinnis had jumped back on the radio where is the grenade was lodged welcome like a chair and he a sat back on it.

MCINTYRE: He saved your life.

BUEHLER: I think about it every day.

MCINTYRE: In a White House ceremony, Tom and Romane (ph) McGinnis accepted the posthumous Medal of Honor from President Bush.

TOM MCGINNIS, FATHER: He was a very young man. He didn't have an exceptional adventurous life. His life was a short story with a sad ending.

MCINTYRE: The parents are proud but still grieving for a son who struggled but found himself in the army.

MCGINNIS: Ross was a happy, very energetic, likable boy. I hesitate to say man because we didn't get to know him too well as a man. The lives of four men who were his army brothers outweighed the value of his one life. It was just a matter of simple kindergarten arithmetic. Four means more than one. He was a hero to us long before he died. Because he was willing to risk his life to protect the ideals of freedom and justice that American represents.

MCINTYRE: Jamie McIntyre, CNN, Washington.


BLITZER: What a heartbreaking story that is. Jack, I don't know what to say. We've heard a lot of those stories. This is one courageous young guy.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indeed. There are more than 4,000 young men and women who paid the same price that young man did, perhaps not under the same circumstances. But they have nothing left to give. They're all gone. The question this hour is what message does it send to John McCain when most Americans, this is according to a recent Gallup poll, say it's a good idea for the president to meet with Iran? Most Americans think it's a good idea.

Mary writes from Alabama, "I think Obama will win against McCain in the fall. This poll shows Americans are fed up with the diplomacy of attack first, ask no questions. Bush and his gang have made a rag bag of American diplomacy and moral leadership. Since Hillary tends to use words like nuke and obliterate and voted for the war and Bush's declaration that Iran was a terrorist state that only leaves Obama. McCain, the Bush clone, isn't even worth mentioning."

Michelle in New York writes, "McCain doesn't care what the American people want. If he did, he'd change his message. Republicans view the inhabitants of society as 3-year-olds who should be seen but not heard."

Jen in Reading, California writes, "As much as I value the opinion of the American people, the vast majority of them are not foreign policy experts and any president, Republican or Democrat, shouldn't make policy based solely on the gut feelings of a large group of individuals. I'd feel better if 60 or 70 percent of accredited foreign policy experts agreed with Barack Obama on his diplomatic endeavors."

Jan in Tennessee, "If meeting with Iran enhances the road to peace, then I say go for it. The meetings should be in a neutral site such as Switzerland for safety reasons. The Bush foreign policy has been a disaster. We need to change course. I see nothing wrong with speaking with our enemies."

Ted in Phoenicia, New York writes, "It's the same message we're trying to send McCain about Iraq. We don't want another patriotic lecture. We want you to listen to the American people."

Karen in Pennsylvania, "What good would it be for McCain to talk to other leaders? I don't think he can hear." That's cold.

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


BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.

London's new mayor has banned drinking alcohol in the city's subway system in order to create what he's calling a better traveling environment. But when a party was organized online before the start of the ban, the result was chaotic.

Let's go to our internet reporter Abbi Tatton.

Abbi, what happened? ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, what to do when faced with an imminent ban on drinking on the London subway system. Organize one last binge. That was the suggestion on this post on the website Facebook in the last couple of weeks. And it turns out that thousands of people on Saturday night took that post up on their suggestion. The pictures have been posted online, people drinking martinis, champagne, people in costume. You can see from the YouTube video people were packing themselves into the subway cars. As you can imagine, as the midnight deadline approached, things got a little out of hand. Six subway stations were closed, multiple reports of damage to subway trains and 17 arrests. Online today people are discussing whether this revelry got way out of hand and was wasting police time while others are even talking about a reunion to come.


BLITZER: Abbi, thank you.

Repercussions still ringing out right now from the release of Scott McClellan's White House insider book. The Vice President Dick Cheney weighed in today. We'll tell you what he said.

And a fight to the finish. Obama may be talking like he's sewn up the nomination but Senator Clinton is pouring it on in South Dakota. In the meantime, Bill Clinton's camp is hopping mad. We'll talk to the writer of a less than flattering "Vanity Fair" article, Todd Purdum.

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


BLITZER: News from our political ticker, the Vice President Dick Cheney says he thinks former Senator Bob Dole got it right when he called Scott McClellan and I'm quoting now, a miserable creature. Cheney made the congressmen when he was asked today what he thought of the former White House press secretary's tell-all book. Will Dick Cheney actually read it?

DICK CHENEY: I haven't read Scott McClellan's book. I don't plan to read Scott McClellan's book any time soon.

BLITZER: He had some other things to say. We'll tell you what they are later.

Remember, for the latest political news any time, you can check out CNN

Lou is getting ready for his show that begins in one hour.

I know you're working on a lot of stuff, but the war in Iraq as a campaign issue between Barack Obama and John McCain, how do you think it'll play out?

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: No one knows the answer to that question. Right now it's pretty clear that the Democratic Party has cast itself in a very difficult position because not only Senator Obama, but Senator Clinton and other leading Democrats have really invested themselves in failure in Iraq. To his credit, Senator McCain, I don't have much, as you know, positive to say about any of these candidates. But McCain is a sponsor of the surge strategy. Last month the fewest American deaths since the war began. If this were to be a, rather an anomaly, a trend that would continue, it would put the Democratic candidate for president in a very difficult position.

BLITZER: Despite the $10 or 12 billion a month that's being spent?

DOBBS: Despite that. The real issue is not treasure, but life and blood. And we Americans cannot tolerate our young men and women being killed at the rate at which they have been.

BLITZER: What about Obama's argument that he had the good sense back in 2002 to say this would be a blunder, don't do it. McCain was gung ho, let's go for this war.

DOBBS: Well, give him credit for that but he's not sitting on a national stage with any consequence for his view. So that judgment is, give him credit for that, but I don't think it's the moment.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens. Thanks, very much, Lou. You've got a show coming up in one hour and we'll be watching.

DOBBS: All righty.

BLITZER: Thank you.

And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, there's breaking news on Capitol Hill, a meeting of undeclared superdelegates who could ultimately decide the Democratic presidential race. Are they getting ready to choose sides right now?

Plus, the Democrats' endgame.