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Unemployment Rate Spikes; Will Clinton's Women Supporters Back Obama?; Pentagon Prepares for Presidential Transition

Aired June 6, 2008 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, there's breaking news we're following. Wall Street reeling right now as oil prices surging to a new record high and a dire forecast about things that could be getting worse -- maybe even much worse, possibly within a matter of weeks.

Also, Hillary Clinton on the eve of the end of her campaign -- are her supporters ready to get on the Barack Obama bandwagon?

I'll ask one of her prominent backers, the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And planning is already underway over at the Pentagon for a new commander-in-chief facing unprecedented wartime demands. We're going to share new information we're getting from our sources right now on what's going ahead on the transition.

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

But first, more on the breaking news. A dismal day on Wall Street. Stocks suffering their single worse loss in more than a year. Take a look at this. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 394 points, losing more than 3 percent of its value. And you can put much of the blame on oil. The price of crude skyrocketing almost $11 a barrel. That's the biggest one day price surge ever. And it came close to the $140 mark, before settling in at a record price of $138 a barrel.

And fueling the panic, one leading analyst is now forecasting -- get this -- $150 a barrel crude by the 4th of July.

The markets were already shaky from news this morning that the nation's unemployment rate jumped to 5.5 percent last month. That's the biggest increase since 1986.

CNN's Allan Chernoff tells us what this all means for the economy. Some say there's a recession. Others disagree -- Allan, there seems to be a lot of concern right now in what's going on. And the political ramifications in this election season could be enormous.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf, especially when you see the unemployment rate rise by a half percent in only one month. Even economists who say we're in a recession were surprised. But What happened?

What happened here is that the squeeze we're feeling in our wallets is influencing the jobless rate.


CHERNOFF (voice-over): Our pain at the pump helps explain why the unemployment rates soared in May. So do rising food prices and the mortgage crisis that's threatening so many homeowners. A growing number of Americans are feeling a financial squeeze, so more people are out trying to find work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm looking for a job now because, again, the economy is really, really bad and, you know, I have $3,500 mortgage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When economic conditions get tough, people who ordinarily would not have chosen to come back into the workforce now have to.

CHERNOFF: Nearly 600,000 people tried to join the workforce in May, but only a small fraction actually found a job in the slumping economy. That's why the unemployment rate soared in May -- rising half a percent, to 5.5 percent -- its biggest monthly increase in more than two decades.

LAKSHMAN ACHUTHAN ECONOMIST: We've never seen a half a percentage point rise in the unemployment rate outside of a recession. The diagnosis is in. We're in a recession.

CHERNOFF: The economy 49,000 jobs in May -- a big portion of that loss in construction, which has been shrinking because of the housing slump.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's clearly a sign that is consistent with slow economic growth.

CHERNOFF: The presidential candidates tried to use the bad news to their advantage.

Barack Obama saying, "This is a reminder that working families continue to bear the brunt of the failed Bush economic policies that John McCain wants to continue."

John McCain countering, "We must act now to support workers, families and employers alike. We cannot afford to go backward, as Senator Obama advocates."


CHERNOFF: And we are certain to hear more confrontation between the candidates on this very issue as we approach election day. Wolf, with unemployment rising, there is no doubt that the economy is, indeed, issue number one.

BLITZER: Allan, thanks very much.

We're going to have much more on the breaking news. That's coming up later this hour.

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is poised to bow out of the Democratic presidential contest tomorrow. A blow to her supporters -- and there are millions of them out there right now, but especially devastating for many women.

Carol Costello is joining us now. She's looking at this story.

How hard will it be, Carol, for some of these supporters, especially the women who have been so passionate for Hillary Clinton, to get out there and now support Barack Obama?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's like an emotional punch in the gut. I mean it's going to take a while.

When women hear Hillary Clinton concede on Saturday, it will be like a long hard-fought dream has died. Still, on the eve of Clinton's big speech, there are signs girl power may help Barack Obama after all.


COSTELLO (voice-over): For Hillary Clinton's most ardent supporters, the grieving process is not over. They will be glued to Hillary Clinton's every word Saturday, when she officially ends her campaign.

The question now, will her words heal their deep sense of disappointment and convince them to vote Obama?

Influential Clinton supporters say Obama has work to do.

KIM GANDY, NOW PRESIDENT: Women need to see and hear a commitment from him on the issues that they care about and to under -- not just to feel, but to know that their voices are being heard. And they need to hear that from trusted messengers.

COSTELLO: The National Organization for Women endorsed Clinton and while it's not decided whether to endorse Obama, it says it is time to heal. The famous feminist, Gloria Steinem, paid tribute to Clinton's achievement, telling the, "Clinton showed such courage in the face of the media, that was trying to get her out of the race, and all the misogyny. She put up with that with grace. She enlarged my vision."

But now Steinem says she will volunteer for Obama.

Another subtle sign women are working to unify the party -- Senator Dianne Feinstein has been talking by phone with her long-time friend about healing after this long difficult primary.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: We had obviously talked several times. And, you know, I lost, as you know, a campaign for governor. And I know you have to talk. You're sorting out your feelings. Hillary's going to be giving a big speech tomorrow. Barack is trying to put things together for a major presidential campaign. So there are a lot of decompression, nerve endings, all these things that need to kind of come together.

COSTELLO: Feinstein offered her house for the first meeting between the two candidates since Obama clinched the nomination. But it will ultimately be Hillary Clinton's words that will determine how many of her passionate supporters will support the man whose victory ended their dream of a first woman president.


COSTELLO: And, you know, you have to keep this in mind. A new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows 50 percent of women still want Clinton to hang in there until the convention and 60 percent would like to see her on the ticket. So what she says tomorrow will be very important.

BLITZER: We'll be watching it very, very closely. This is going to be an important speech for Hillary Clinton -- and for the nation. We'll watch it very closely.

And remember to stay with us for our special coverage of Hillary Clinton's rally and her expected endorsement of Barack Obama. You can join me and the best political team on television. Our coverage begins at 11:00 a.m. Eastern. It's all live on CNN and We'll be here working tomorrow again, but it's big.

Jack Cafferty -- he's always big. And he's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, all right. Thanks, Wolf.

It looks like tomorrow will be the end of the line for Hillary Clinton, as Wolf just told you, and Carol just told you. After 16 months of campaigning to become the first major woman candidate for president, she's expected to endorse Barack Obama in Washington. It looks like the Democrats are going to get on their way to trying to heal the bruises of the primary season.

Last night, Clinton and Obama, as Carol Costello just told you, met at Dianne Feinstein's house. Feinstein, who was a Clinton supporter, says the two candidates emerged laughing after the hour- long meeting in her living room, as Carol Costello just told you.

As Clinton prepares to suspend her campaign -- which actually means she'll keep her delegates -- other pieces falling into place for Obama. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who remained uncommitted through the entire process, endorsed Obama today, calling him a once in a generation leader. New York's 23-member Democratic delegation of the House collectively endorsed Obama. Some of them have been among Clinton's strongest supporters. Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, long- time Clinton backer, came out for Obama.

The big question mark hanging over reconciling the party is what kind of relationship will ultimately exist between Clinton and Obama, following one of the longest and, at times, nastiest primary battles ever.

So here's the question: What's the single most important thing for Hillary Clinton to say tomorrow?

Go to You can post a comment on my blog -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right.

Jack, thanks very much.

And we're going to obviously have extensive coverage, once again, tomorrow of Hillary Clinton's speech. Our coverage begins 11:00 a.m. Eastern right here at CNN.

One of Hillary Clinton's biggest supporters, by the way, is the mayor of Los Angeles. But now he's working to help Barack Obama win over Latino voters.

That would be the mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll speak with him next.

Plus, still seven months to go before a new president is inaugurated. That would be on January 20 of 2009. But the Pentagon is getting ready for that day right now. How America's secrets, including those nuclear codes, will be handed over. Barbara Starr watching this story. She's got important information for you.

And a potentially deadly surprise in London left by Adolph Hitler's air force more than 60 years ago. You're going to be amazed what's going on in London right now. That story and a lot more coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: We're standing by. Barack Obama is about to get his biggest endorsement yet, and that will take place tomorrow. That endorsement coming in from Hillary Clinton. And that means Clinton's supporters will be ready to jump on Barack Obama's bandwagon.

And joining us now from Los Angeles, the mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa. He was a huge supporter for Hillary Clinton. He's now supporting Barack Obama.

Mr. Mayor, thanks very much for coming in.

How excited are you -- if you are excited -- about Obama, given the fact that you're totally on board as far as Hillary Clinton was concerned?

ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, MAYOR, LOS ANGELES: Totally on board is the word. I couldn't have been prouder to have worked for Hillary Clinton, a woman of incredible courage and intestinal fortitude. But I can tell you, I'm excited about Barack Obama. His clarion call for change cuts to court all across the nation. And I'm going to work as hard for him as I did for Hillary Clinton. I can tell you, I'll be anywhere he asks me to be to get the vote out and to encourage people to support his candidacy.

BLITZER: If he doesn't pick her to be his running mate, would that be seen -- especially in the Hispanic community, where she is incredibly popular and he wasn't all that popular -- would it be seen as a snub?

VILLARAIGOSA: No. I don't think so. Hillary Clinton campaigned for the presidency, not the vice presidency. Certainly, she would be honored -- anyone would be honored to be vice president of the United States. That's a decision that Senator Barack Obama will have to make.

What I'll focus on is working as hard as I can. And I would submit to you, that's what we all have to do. America needs a change. We need a new direction. And Barack Obama is going to provide the leadership that we need in these times.

BLITZER: Why did he do relatively poorly among Hispanics almost all over the country?

There were pockets where he did well, in Virginia, for example. But by and large, she crushed him, most recently in Puerto Rico just the other day.

How do you explain that?

VILLARAIGOSA: You know, I said it a few times on your show a few months ago. I'll say it again. The Latino community knew Hillary Clinton. They knew Bill Clinton. They had a long history and a long relationship with them. They had a track record with her.

But I'll tell you something, we've seen three different polls have Barack Obama up by anywhere from 14 to 33 points. And we're going to increase that margin, I guarantee you. We're committed to doing that. And you're going to see a groundswell of support among Latinos, from California to Florida and in between.

BLITZER: There's no doubt that John McCain is aggressively pursuing the Latino vote out there. He's got a track record himself in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, although more recently he's said you've got to deal with the borders first.

How worried are you that this Republican presidential candidate will do really well in the Hispanic community?

VILLARAIGOSA: Of course, I have a great deal of respect for Senator McCain. He's been a great public servant. I don't have anything negative to say about him. We are going to work hard, though. We think the country is looking for a change, that Barack Obama is that agent of change that we need right now.

We're going to work very, very hard from our first day to our last. I'm going, as I said, anywhere they ask me to go, just as I did for Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: Arnold Schwarzenegger is a very popular Republican governor of California, twice elected statewide. He's working hard for John McCain.

Is California -- and you're a good political observer out there -- is California potentially in play for McCain in this election?

VILLARAIGOSA: Not if we do our work. This state has gone Democratic over the years and it will continue to move in that direction. Here in California, we recognize just how important it is for us to invest in health care, to ensure that working families and their children have a fair shake, that we're making education our priority, we're addressing the needs of health care. Those are issues that are important to the Latino community in California overall, and I think across the country. And that's why you're going to see a groundswell of support for Senator Obama.

BLITZER: It's going to be exciting and we'll stay in close touch with you, mayor.

Thanks very much for coming in.

VILLARAIGOSA: I look forward to doing so.

BLITZER: There's one big difference between Barack Obama that's catching all the buzz right now. It's not on any one of the issues or their age or their race. It's the way they deliver those speeches. We're taking a closer look at this.

Also, he's on trial for plotting the 9/11 attacks. He says he's willing to die for it. But he had one big complaint about yesterday's hearing at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Get this -- it's about the sketch artist.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Carol, what's going on?

COSTELLO: Well, Wolf, a suspect has been indicted in one of Nashville's most notorious unsolved murders. Jerome Sydney Barrett was indicted by a grand jury on charges of first degree and felony murder in the 1975 case of a 9-year-old girl who disappeared while delivering Girl Scout cookies. Prosecutors say scientific evidence links Barrett to the murder. Barrett is in jail awaiting trial in another 1975 killing.

It's not the easiest job to land, but if you do make Supreme Court justice, you're well-off and you're well traveled. Financial disclosure reports reveal that the nine justices took multiple trips overseas last year. The most traveled award goes to Justice Scalia, who made 33 expense paid trips and visited at least 17 states. And at least six of nine justices reported investment income of more than a million bucks. Around the world, as complaints by criminal defendants go, this one may be as petty as it gets. Accused 9/11 plotter, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, says the artist at his arraignment yesterday made his nose look too big. Photographers weren't allowed in court for Mohammed's first appearance since his 2003 capture, so it fell to an artist to provide a picture. Now she, in fact, agrees with

Mohammed's complaint and has redone her sketch and made his nose smaller -- back to you.

BLITZER: I guess he's a vain kind of guy.

COSTELLO: I don't -- the judge allowed this, too, so...

BLITZER: Jeez. I'm surprised he even saw the picture.

All right, thanks very much, Carol, for that.

An old vote now coming back to haunt John McCain as he visits the key battleground state of Florida. We're going to show you his defense. But will voters in Florida buy it?

Also, a week of Democratic turmoil about to come to an historic end. Has Hillary Clinton made things more difficult by waiting until tomorrow to concede?

I'll ask the best political team on television. They're standing by live.

And royal warriors -- Britain's Prince Andrew talking to CNN about Prince Harry's deployment to the war in Afghanistan. You're going to want to see this.

And more. Lots of news happening today right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


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

Happening now, Hillary Clinton -- she's poised to concede tomorrow at an event here in Washington and is expected to offer her strong support for Barack Obama. But she's still facing criticism for waiting so long.

Remembering RFK -- today marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination and death of Robert F. Kennedy. It was just moments after he claimed victory in the California primary. The presidential candidate was not by an assassin, Sirhan Sirhan.

And Charlie Rangel has led New York lawmakers in endorsing Barack Obama.

Now did he help convince Hillary Clinton to concede on Saturday?

He was a major supporter of Hillary Clinton. I'll ask him. He's standing by to join us live. Charlie Rangel right here.

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

An old vote coming back to haunt the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, just as he's touring the battleground state of Florida. Florida could be decisive come November.

Let's go to CNN's national correspondent, Susan Candiotti. She's there at the beautiful Everglades watching this day unfold.

All right, what was his point? What did he do to try to convince Floridians that he should be president?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's what it's all about. First of all, in trying to prove that he is the greener of the two candidates, Senator John McCain, in fact, made a visit to the Florida Everglades and took an airboat ride to try to make that point.


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): If you're promoting the environment and you're visiting Florida, skimming over the river of grass in the Florida Everglades is virtually obligatory. It is a water and wildlife preserve that is as fragile as it is beautiful.

But Senator McCain is under fire by Democrats for opposing a $23 billion Water Resources Development Act that includes a $2 billion Everglades restoration project.

MCCAIN: They don't get it. They don't get it, that the American people are fed up. They're fed up with the waste of their dollars and the out of control spending that's going to come to a halt when I'm the president of the United States.

CANDIOTTI: McCain says the bill also contained pork barrel projects.

But Democrats countered that McCain doesn't get it, saying the bill only authorized the Everglades project, it didn't include the funding for it.

The presumptive GOP nominee also repeated his support for FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, allowing wiretapping phone calls without court authorization to prevent terrorism. President Bush so far has been unable to win reauthorization from Congress.

John McCain one court has said that he was legal in what he did. Other courts have said that it's not. That's why -- look, the whole issue can be resolved bypassing the FISA bill. And it's as ambiguous as to whether the president acted within his authority or not.


CANDIOTTI: Now Senator Obama has stated that he opposes the domestic warrantless surveillance -- Wolf, back to you. BLITZER: Thanks very much, Susan, for that.

By the way, the Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. It's home to a huge array of plants, fish and animals.

But humans have been taking a serious toll on the Everglades for more than a century. Back in the late 1800s, the first canal was dug, sending the fresh water the Everglades rely on to the sea. As early as 1947, conservationists were warning of the toll that development was taking on the wilderness. But just a year later, a massive water management project made matters even worse.

It would now cost an estimated $20 billion to restore the ecosystem down there.

Tomorrow, Hillary Clinton will officially end her campaign and endorse Barack Obama in a speech that will be closely watched not just by Democrats, but by the entire nation. People all over the world will be watching here on CNN as well.

Let's discuss this and more with our CNN political contributor Donna Brazile. She's a Democratic superdelegate who runs a Washington based political consulting firm. Also joining us, our CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist, Paul Begala, and our CNN political contributor, Alex Castellanos. He's a partner at a media firm that has corporate clients but specializes in Republican political ads. He was an adviser to the Romney presidential campaign as well.

They're all part of the best political team on television.

Guys, thanks very much for coming in.

Donna, what does Hillary Clinton need to do tomorrow to unite the Democratic Party?

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: First of all, Wolf, I think the Democratic Party is already on a path of coming together. I was in Trenton last night with Governor Corzine who's a strong Hillary backer. He talked about Barack Obama and what -- the strengths of Senator Obama on the ticket.

BLITZER: But you know there's still a lot of women especially out there who loved Hillary and they're very frustrated. They're still not on board.

BRAZILE: Wolf, first of all, I'm a woman. There are a lot of my friends. I've talked to Gloria Steinem. I've listened to ordinary woman who've been e-mailing me. Yes, there's some frustration. There's also great anticipation that the two campaigns will come together. They know they have a lot of work to do. Senator Obama will be there along the way.

BLITZER: Has she handled this right, Paul? In other words, there was criticism, as you know, Tuesday night that she didn't concede, didn't make the endorsement, waiting now until Saturday. What do you think?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Criticism? Criticism did not come from Senator Obama who I thought has been remarkably gracious. He's shown extraordinary leadership. He's just as gassed up as anybody could be, right? He's been the one fighting this fight and blazing this trail for his campaign, yet he has shown a grace frankly some of my friends in the media have not. I went and looked.

When I was working for Bill Clinton and we won that primary, we knocked Paul Tsongas out of the race in March. He did not endorse Bill Clinton until July 9. Donna Brazile, the only campaign manager in history to win every single primary, she ran Al Gore's campaign. They beat Bill Bradley in every single primary. Bill Bradley withdrew in March. He didn't endorse Al Gore till July 14. Hillary's going to do in four days what they did in four months. We've been unfair to her.

BLITZER: I think Paul makes a fair point. Alex, what do you think?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It's a little different process this time. This one didn't end early after a few primaries. It's gone on forever. She's had plenty of time to think through this. She is the Richard Nixon of 2008. You're not going to have Hillary Clinton to kick around anymore. The Clintons are probably never going to go away.

BLITZER: There's all these suggestions of McCain now aggressively wooing those frustrated Hillary Clinton supporters to support him. Is that a successful strategy, do you think?

CASTELLANOS: Republicans are -- the generic ballot is so big, the difference this time. Democrats are ten points ahead of Republicans if you just ask who do you want to vote for president, Republican or Democrat. We've got to convert Democratic voters. Hillary Clinton has kept that wound open so long that Republicans have a good shot at getting some of them.

If Hillary wants to unite the Democratic Party she needs to say, boy, I screwed up the other night. Everyone will agree with that. She's got to say, I don't want to be the vice president but I'm going to work my brains out for this ticket all around the country. A selfless thing like that would bring the Democratic Party together.

BLITZER: I don't think we'll hear any of that.

BRAZILE: Absolutely not. She has been a leader in the Democratic Party on so many issues that I think will be very difficult for some of the so-called Clinton supporters to find their home in the McCain campaign. They care about the country. They care about, you know, ending the war in Iraq. They care about health care. On these issues and many more they will come and support Barack Obama.

BLITZER: Talk about the difference in style right now between John McCain and Barack Obama in their speaking. We focused in on the age; we focused in on some of the differences. There's a stylistic difference. Barack Obama may be one of the best orators that we've got right now and John McCain may not necessarily be among one of the best orators right now. I think he'll acknowledge that.

BEGALA: Barack Obama got that silver tongue and golden voice. Senator McCain has -- he's a dreadful speaker, reading off prepared text. He's excellent in interviews. I don't think that's particularly useful for the president to be a good interviewer on Sunday mornings. He's really bad. I don't mean to be insulting. President Bush is also a terrible speaker.

BLITZER: Didn't hurt him. He got elected twice.

BEGALA: He got elected once. The Supreme Court stole it the first time and he won the second time. The Bush time had great advance. The governor of Texas and President Bush looked great at all his events. Poor McCain Tuesday night, the green monster out there from Fenway Park. It looked pathetic.

BLITZER: You'll agree, Alex, he needs some help.

CASTELLANOS: Senator McCain's great strength is he's real. Acting the part is not certainly his strength. At the end of the day it's not about the packaging, it's about a package. The substance is there. No denying Barack Obama is a remarkable presenter and inspiring. That's a great strength in this election. Also a great strength is security. Somebody you can trust. Somebody solid. McCain's strength is that.

BLITZER: I don't think there's any doubts -- there's no doubt in my mind, maybe since Ronald Reagan no American politician has been able to read teleprompter a speech and make it look so natural that the viewers out there have no idea he's actually reading a speech.

CASTELLANOS: He is the guy who can stand on top of the mountain top and say, we're going to go over here. And he lifts people that way. And I think Republicans, we do ourselves a disservice when we say that's unimportant. It's a big part of the job. But also a big part of the job is reassuring people that you can keep the country safe. That you're solid. That you're reliable.

BLITZER: All right.

CASTELLANOS: If this is about the future, Obama's got an advantage.

BEGALA: This is exactly the case George W. Bush made. This is why John McCain is a third term of Bush. He's essentially saying I know I can't inspire you, I have no vision, but I'll bomb a whole bunch of countries. We tried that, seen that movie.

CASTELLANOS: I don't think Senator McCain -- I missed that. He's going to bomb a whole bunch of countries?

BEGALA: All the I countries. We're already at war with Iraq. Next will be Iran, Indonesia, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, probably Indiana. I'm joking. BRAZILE: I just want to say as a Democrat and a proud Democrat, you know, at this moment in our nation's history, it's the Paul Begala's of the world, Hillary Clintons of the world, Bill Clintons that also helped make this moment important to all of us. That's why Democrats will come together. Whether you're a Hillary supporter or a Barack Obama supporter, we have fought the same for the same values. And that's why the Democrats will come together.

BLITZER: How much should Barack Obama use Bill Clinton out on the campaign trail?

BRAZILE: As soon as --

BEGALA: A lot.

BRAZILE: As soon as President Clinton gets a couple good night's sleep, back in the '80s Reverend Jackson enjoyed an airplane trip or two. Bill Clinton will be very helpful to Barack Obama.

BLITZER: You agree?

BEGALA: Oh, yes. Absolutely. You will see this couple, Bill and Hillary Clinton, I'm sure they'll be asked. I don't want to be presumptuous. But if they are they'll be out there every day. Bill Clinton got off a hospital bed to campaign for John Kerry after having open heart surgery.

BLITZER: I remember that.

CASTELLANOS: I think Bill Clinton will help Barack Obama just as much as he helped Hillary.

BLITZER: All right. On that back handed compliment, we'll leave it, guys.

BRAZILE: I can speak for Obama. I'm sure that they will take the help and that will be good for the Democrats.

BLITZER: All right. I know all of you will be with us watching tomorrow morning when Hillary Clinton makes her final speech in this campaign for herself, that is. Our special coverage here on CNN of Hillary Clinton's rally and her endorsement of Barack Obama, that will begin at 11:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN. Please join me and the best political team on television. We're going to have extensive coverage of history being made tomorrow. Watch it here on CNN and

No matter who wins in November, with two wars and rising modest tensions, the transition of power will be different than before. The Pentagon right now getting ready for that transition to a new commander in chief. How America's secrets including the nuclear codes will be handed over. Barbara Starr has new information coming in right now, information you will want to know.

A potentially deadly surprise in London. Left over by Adolph Hitler's air force more than 60 years ago. Now found on the streets. We'll tell you what's going on right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: The next commander in chief of the United States will take office under unprecedented circumstances, assuming control of the U.S. military at the time of war in the wake of the deadliest terror attacks in our history.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. She's joining us now live.

They're already planning on a transition to a new commander in chief, Barbara, aren't they?


The election is still months away, but the national security apparatus in this town is already getting ready for a new president.


STARR: The words that signal the transition of power.

BUSH: Preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States.

STARR: But as John McCain and Barack Obama prepare to duke it out to become the next president, CNN has learned that already behind the scenes, the intelligence community and the military are getting ready for the new commander in chief. Joint Chiefs chairman, Admiral Michael Mullen just formed a team to make sure the president elect can start receiving briefings as soon as the votes are counted.

ADM. MICHAEL MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHMN.: I think prudently we would talk -- the things we just talked about today. Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, those type of topics that the military is always involved in.

STARR: Traditionally nominees begin receiving briefings after the party convention. A president-elect is fully briefed by inauguration day when he takes control of the nuclear launch code. It's the first transition in the wartime in 40 years. Since Richard Nixon took off from Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War, and the first transition since 9/11.

There's no specific intelligence warning of an attack, but there are worries terrorists may be calculating the country is vulnerable during the transition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know there's a threat or a possible threat looming on the horizon. Now is the time to prepare, not after -- after the incident had occurred.

STARR: It's all aimed at getting a new president ready.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When President Clinton was elected in 1992, I and another officer were deployed down to Little Rock, Arkansas. We from CIA provided him a government-wide briefing on intelligence matters every day.


STARR: And, Wolf, CNN has learned that Admiral Michael McConnell, the director of national intelligence, has made it privately known he will be available to stay for at least six months into a new administration if a new president wants him to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Fascinating material, Barbara. Thanks very much for that report.

The Bush administration is negotiating a long-term agreement with Iraq about the presence of U.S. military forces there. Some senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee say they're being excluded and they're not happy about that. Four of them, that would be two Republicans and two Democrats, have written a letter to the defense secretary, Robert Gates, and the secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. They're expressing their deep concern that Congress is not being consulted at all about the deal and may need to approve it. The State Department says there are no secrets and the lawmakers will be informed of their decisions.

John McCain versus Barack Obama. It's a series of town hall debates between the two candidates were to happen, who would come out on top? Frank Sesno's here. He's taking a closer look.

Plus, a royal uncle's role. American's might know him as Fergie's former husband. There's much more to Britain's Prince Andrew than that. He talks to CNN about his high profile nephews, his life now and a lot more. That's coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: John McCain is proposing a series of town hall style debates with Barack Obama. What if they actually happen? He wants ten of them to happen.

Let's bring in our special correspondent Frank Sesno. He is watching this for us.

What can we expect?

FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: You ask what if they happen. Looks like they're going to happen. They're pretty well on track. A spokesman today for Obama says talks are taking place at the highest level. A spokesman for McCain says, I'm quoting, we have an agreement in spirit and we're moving forward. Negotiations are ongoing. Not like they haven't had a lot of practice. Now, Wolf, ask the anchor. Let's see how you do.

How many times did Barack Obama appear on Sunday morning talk shows during primaries, your show included?

BLITZER: I'm going to guess eight.

SESNO: Eight is right, eight times, two on the broadcast networks, one each they say on Fox and CNN.

Next question for you, according to the McCain campaign, how many town hall meetings did he do during the primary season, dozens, hundreds or thousands?

BLITZER: I would guess hundreds.

SESNO: Hundreds is right. He did more than a hundred they say.

BLITZER: That's what got him elected in New Hampshire.

SESNO: Final question for you, Wolf. When does McCain want that first town hall meeting, before the Republican convention, the 4th of July or next week?

BLITZER: I think he wants it next week.

SESNO: He wants it next week. Doesn't look like that's going to happen, however. What McCain says is these events could be, I'm quoting here, debate without empty sound bites and media filtered exchanges.


SESNO: No networks in charge. No script. No spin rooms. Now, there's a concept. But how will McCain/Obama showdown will actually play out is another matter. McCain wants a rerun of his town halls from the primary season. They've been good to him.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First we've got to get spending under control. We've got to eliminate the growth and the size of government.

SESNO: They've allowed him to highlight experience, grit, and policy, to show off his humor.

MCCAIN: We have so little water in Arizona the trees chase the dogs.

SESNO: He's better off the cuff than in a speech. This could be risky business too. 100 years in Iraq, that was a town hall moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for 50 years.

MCCAIN: Maybe 100. As long as Americans are not being injured, harmed, wounded or killed.

SESNO: Remember this one?

MCCAIN: That old Beach Boy's song, bomb Iran? Bomb, bomb, bomb.

SESNO: If Obama doesn't pounce, surely the pundits and bloggers will.

For Obama these events are seductive too. He's done a lot of them. Big crowds reinforce his popular image.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the American people are ready for something new. They want something new on health care. They want something new on education. They want something new on energy policy.

SESNO: A side by side town hall debate would convey stature, gravitas.

OBAMA: I stand before you as the Democratic nominee for president of the United States of America.

SESNO: But there's risk for Obama in the unscripted as well.

OBAMA: I've now been in 57 states. I think one left to go.

SESNO: Fifty-seven states?

The John and Barack show would almost surely draw huge audiences, the ultimate reality contest where the candidates would face voters, not reporters.


SESNO: Voters, not reporters, but in a You Tube interactive, always on, 24/7 world, the question is would this town hall showdown be 21st century Lincoln/Douglas substance or would it be just another made for TV show where they try to out the latest poll tested talking points. That's the first question, Wolf, we'll have asked at the first town hall meeting.

BLITZER: We'll see one of them and how it works out and then have a better appreciation.

SESNO: I think it'll be fascinating staff.

BLITZER: All right. Frank, thanks very much.

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

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: What's the single most important thing for Hillary Clinton to say tomorrow?

D. in Maryland: "Clinton must tell her supporters they need to re-channel their energy to support Barack Obama or the Democrats will lose the presidential election. They're in a unique position to have their voices really heard because without the Clinton supporters, the Democrats lose. The real legacy of the Clinton supporters will be judged in November by their actions. What's more important, a woman president or a Democratic Party victory?"

Art in Detroit: "I've decided to run as a third party candidate. Just joking or wishful thinking, kind of. Many of us still think she's the best choice. That's why we voted for her. In all the vitriol from Obama supporters, especially you, Cafferty, hasn't changed our minds. It's really kind of made some of us anti-Obama. Remember her husband Bill won both times in a three person race."

Weezie in Ohio writes: "She'll get on stage, act like she's being forced to give a speech in support of Barack Obama so she can get the media going again. This in turn will get her supporters hyped up and keep their drama going too. The next thing you know we'll all be in Denver. That's when she'll drop the bombshell, say her campaign is no longer suspended. A leopard doesn't change her spots in four days. She's taking this to Denver, Jack. You just aren't supposed to know it yet."

Alyssa in Grayson, Georgia writes: "This is completely ending her campaign and releasing her delegates. If she doesn't say this than any claim of supporting Obama and unity in the Democratic Party is just shallow talk. She can't be believed or trusted if she insists on staying in this stand by with my delegates in case something happens mode."

And Doug writes from Arizona: "Hillary needs to strongly encourage all her supporters to vote for Obama in November. Right now they would rather vote for McCain which is a third term for George Bush, or not vote at all just because their candidate didn't win. To me this is extremely selfish, petty and childish."

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

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

And we're getting new information about what Hillary Clinton is expected to say tomorrow. Stand by for that.

Also, behind the scenes of Hillary Clinton' decision to concede. What role did Charlie Rangel play? He's standing by live. We're going to talk to Congressman Rangel about Hillary Clinton, how she made this decision and what she's about to say.

And from one prince to another; find out what Britain's Prince Andrew is saying about Harry's wartime tour.

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


BLITZER: A massive German bomb, a German bomb was found in a London canal.

Here's CNN Alfonso Van Marsh.


ALFONSO VAN MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Edward R. Morrow's dramatic broadcast as the Nazi's dropped a torrent of bombs on London during World War II.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The noise you hear about the moment is the sound of the air raid sirens.

VAN MARSH: Adolph Hitler's blitz killed more than 40,000 people. This week construction workers learned yet again that the blitz has an afterlife, uncovering this 2,200 pound unexploded bomb delivered by the liftoff.

Metropolitan police say workers were drudging this canal in order for barges to bring construction material just upstream for the future site for 2012 Olympics when they found the bomb just down over there.

It was not as big as today's bunker-busters used in Iraq, but an army bomb disposal unit called in to diffuse it says it was potentially dangerous.

MAJ. MATT DAVIES, ROYAL ENGINEERS: It has half a ton of explosive in it. That will create a sizable crater. More than important than that is the amount of fragmentation and that could come out of it and that could travel out to 1,500 meters, so quite a long way and people within that are in danger.

VAN MARSH: British officials temporarily shut down nearby London city airport, local train and underground transport systems. Six people were evacuated from this industrial neighborhood destined for redevelopment ahead of the Olympics.

The bomb's exterior, rusty and corroded, the explosives inside degraded and sensitive. Army engineers said at one point the unstable device started making an ominous noise.

DAVIES: It sounded a little bit like ticking or fizzing or perhaps pressure release.

VAN MARSH: Two or three bombs from the blitz are uncovered each year in London, but the engineers were surprised by the size of this one.

SIMON O'BRIEN, LONDON EAST AREA POLICE CMDR.: When I'm being told by my (INAUDIBLE) engineer colleagues that's one of the biggest bombs they have come across in nearly three decades.

VAN MARSH: So it seems this blast from the past will pass without a bang, but it may not be the last to be discovered here.

Alfonso Van Marsh, CNN, London.


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