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Obama and Clinton to Campaign Together; McCain's Path to War Hero; McClellan Speaks on Capitol Hill

Aired June 20, 2008 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, the countdown to the Obama/Clinton unity tour, as it's called. The two Democrats now are set to hit the campaign trail together. I will speak about that and more with Senator Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod. I will also ask him when Bill Clinton will follow his wife's lead.

And John McCain pulls his punches -- why an expected attack on Barack Obama's position on trade wasn't as intense today as expected. What's going on?

And Obama tries to seal his presidential image. But is his new logo a little too much like the one over at the White House? The best political team on television is standing by.

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

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Hillary Clinton has been on Barack Obama's side now for nearly two weeks. But she hasn't been seen at his side, at least not yet. But that is about to change, and change very dramatically.

One week from today, Senator Clinton and Senator Obama kick off a show of togetherness out on the campaign trail.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. She's watching the story for us.

It is going to be a very important relationship. What do we know? What's going on, Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's going to be a very important relationship, Wolf. Close associates of Obama and Clinton say that there is still some tension between them and their camps. The sticking point, Clinton's debt, estimated as high as $30 million. While Obama's camp says that they will help Clinton pay it off, there is still no deal on the table.

But the aides that I have been talking to today say that these regular conference calls that they're holding have been paying off. And they have set a date for a joint appearance.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): Get ready for the Obama/Clinton unity tour heading to a town near you.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our party and our country are stronger because of the work that Hillary Rodham Clinton has done throughout her life.

MALVEAUX: One week from today, former rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will hit the campaign trail together to promote his candidacy for president of the United States. A reality she accepted two weeks ago, four days after Obama won the nomination.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Today I am standing with Senator Obama to say, yes, we can.

MALVEAUX: Those familiar with Clinton's thinking say this is not about friendship but political accommodation. It's in her interest for her own political future to help Obama capture the White House. Her appearance with him will send a powerful message to her faithful.

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: She's going to be out campaigning. And I think that will say to her supporters, it's OK. The water is fine, come on in.

MALVEAUX: Not too hot, not too cold. No circling sharks. But Clinton supporters are still leery.

REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY (D), NEW YORK: He can't do it all in one day. I mean, there are a lot of people he needs to reach out to.

MALVEAUX: Clinton and Obama met secretly for an hour a couple of weeks ago to try to get comfortable with one another following their bitter race. Voters, to be sure, will be watching their body language on the campaign trail. While close associates of the two say they haven't exactly kissed and made up, they have been working hard to merge their teams.

B. OBAMA: And I look forward to working with her.

MALVEAUX: This week, Obama reached out to key voting groups who had supported Clinton -- Hispanics, union leaders and White women. Wednesday, Obama hosted a Democratic National Committee fund-raiser at the home of Ethel Kennedy, where Clinton and Obama loyalists gave $28,000 a pop to the party. Senator Clinton has called on 100 of her top campaign fund-raisers to meet with her and Obama next week at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., to join forces.


MALVEAUX: Clinton advocates say in it's Obama's interests to retire her debt, because the less time Clinton has to spend fund- raising, the more time she has to go out and campaign for Obama.

And, secondly, with her high-powered donors, she has the ability to raise anywhere from $50 million to $100 million for him -- Wolf. BLITZER: Lots of money there. Thanks very much, Suzanne, for that.

John McCain took a political jab at Barack Obama today from across the border. McCain used a speech before the Economic Club of Canada to tout his own support for free trade and to paint his opponent as a protectionist.

But, then, he suddenly pulled his punches. What's going on?

Let's go to Ottawa. Dana Bash is watching the story for us.

He certainly didn't go as far as some of the pundits expected, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, he tried to abide by that old adage politics stops at the water's edge or, in this particular case, at the northern border. But it was quite unusual. It was a campaign trip where the candidates said it wasn't about politics.


BASH (voice-over): No, this isn't a battleground state. It's Canada.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There aren't any electoral votes to be won up here in the middle of a presidential election.

BASH: Before his visit, advisers called this a chance to establish differences with Barack Obama on NAFTA, the U.S. trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. He did, subtly.

MCCAIN: Threatening to abrogate an agreement that has increased trade and prosperity is nothing more than retreating behind protectionist walls.

BASH: That was intended as a shot at Obama's rhetoric during the Democratic primaries against the agreement.

B. OBAMA: I don't think NAFTA has been good for America. And I never have.

BASH: But, in Canada, McCain refused to really engage.

MCCAIN: This is not a political campaign trip.

BASH: Surreal, since at the same time, McCain's campaign was seizing on the day's theme, firing off e-mails on what appeared to be an Obama change in tone on NAFTA, suggesting to "Fortune" magazine his anti-NAFTA during the primaries was "overheated."

In Florida, Obama tried to clarify his stance on NAFTA.

B. OBAMA: We didn't have enforceable labor and environmental agreements in that agreement.

BASH: But, back in Ottawa, where the candidate who crossed border to talk trade, just wouldn't go there.

MCCAIN: I cannot here. I can as soon as I return to the United States. And I have described it numerous times, and as short a time ago as yesterday. And I want to assure you I will discuss it again tomorrow and in the coming days. But that would then lend a political bent to this visit.

BASH: (OFF-MIKE) So, how is it not political?

MCCAIN: Because we didn't feel it was appropriate for the taxpayers while I'm the nominee of my party to pay for a trip that would accrue to the cost of the taxpayers.


BASH: Now, McCain often points to his extensive experience traveling the world as a senator as one of the reasons why voters should elect him. And he said today, Wolf, that he intends to keep traveling abroad throughout the campaign. But if today was any example, it's a pretty tough task for any candidate to travel anywhere in the heat of a campaign and say it's not about politics -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Fair point. Dana, thanks. Dana is in Canada for us.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty. He's in New York for us with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The interest, Wolf, in this year's presidential election is something we have not seen in a very, very long time, record turnouts for the primaries, young people involved a scale that's virtually unprecedented, hundreds of thousands of new voters turning out.

TV ratings for the primaries reflected a ravenous appetite, especially for the seemingly never-ending Democratic primary contests. The run for the White House this time around has been relentless. Ordinarily, the primaries wind up much earlier. The country then hits the snooze button on politics until the conventions later in the summer.

Interest in the general election traditionally doesn't even begin to surface until some time after Labor Day, but not this time. There will be no recess, boys and girls. It's all politics all the time, right through to November, no letup.

It's a reasonable bet that you will become so sick of Obama and McCain by the fall that Mickey Mouse could stand a chance as a write- in. And while it's tempting to make light of this marathon, it is very, very healthy for our country.

The reason that Washington, D.C., has become the dysfunctional cesspool it has is because we have allowed it to. Maybe this election, we stand a chance of getting it right, finally. But don't kid yourself. There is a lot of pain ahead.

Here's the question: How do you plan to survive the presidential campaign?

Go to Post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope they just watch our show every day, and they will survive just fine.

CAFFERTY: There you go. That's a good idea.

BLITZER: It's a good idea.

All right, Jack, thanks very much.

Democrats try to pick themselves up and dust themselves off. But will the Clinton and Obama camps make up?


DAVID AXELROD, CHIEF OBAMA CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: We just went through a 17-month struggle, the most competitive nominating fight in the history of the Democratic Party. Give us a few days to get our family back in order here.


BLITZER: I will be speaking about it with Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod. We will talk about Bill Clinton's role, the campaign finance surprise, lots more.

And does this look familiar, sort of? Does it look presidential? Barack Obama unveils his own campaign seal. The best political team on television will discuss.

And the former White House press secretary testifying under oath and saying Vice President Dick Cheney should do the same thing. Scott McClellan says Cheney has information that has not been shared publicly about the outing of a CIA covert officer.

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


BLITZER: Now that he's the Democrats' nominee-in-waiting, Barack Obama getting some tougher scrutiny on a wider range of issues, including his rejection of public campaign funding and his position on free trade.

I spoke just a short while ago with Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod.


BLITZER: David, thanks for coming in. AXELROD: Glad to be here, Wolf.

BLITZER: McCain in Canada today was going after Barack Obama for being protectionist because of his policies opposing free trade. He says it's going to cost a lot of jobs in the United States, export- related jobs, and hurt this economy. Listen to McCain's point.


MCCAIN: Demanding unilateral changes and threatening to abrogate an agreement that has increased trade and prosperity is nothing more than retreating behind protectionist walls.


BLITZER: Is Senator Obama if president going to unilaterally abrogate NAFTA?

AXELROD: No. And what he says, he's had a conversation already with Prime Minister Harper. He'll speak to President Calderon. They -- Wolf, his plan, and he's said it all along, is to sit down and say let's make some adjustments and see what we can do.

The reality is that NAFTA has been good in some ways and bad in others. And there are plenty of places -- I note that Senator McCain is making his case in Canada. He ought to come and make it here in the United States and listen to what people around the this country are saying.

We're going to lose our consensus for trade in this country if we don't make the appropriate adjustments to our negotiating and our treaties so that they include standards for workers, standards for the environment. That was Senator Obama's objection to NAFTA in the first place, and I think most Americans agree with him.

BLITZER: Well, what if the Canadians and the Mexicans say no can do, they don't want to make any changes, they like it exactly the way it is?

AXELROD: Well, let's see what happens. Let's sit down and have a discussion about these issues. And that's what Senator Obama is proposing.

But in the larger sense, on the issue of trade, he's saying we ought to take a new approach. He believes in trade. He's said that. He's been very clear with opponents of trade and supporters of trade, that he believes in trade. But he feels that we have to be much tougher in our negotiations, and take into account the country as a whole, you know, our workers, our environment, and put together treaties that are not just good for select interests, but for the country as a whole.

BLITZER: As you know, Senator Obama is getting some sharp criticism not only from McCain and Republicans, but even from Democrats. Some Democrats, some liberal groups' editorial pages, "New York Times," "Washington Post," for his decision to opt out of the public financing -- public funding for his general election campaign.

Russ Feingold, a supporter of Barack Obama, Democrat of Wisconsin, saying: "This is not a good decision. While the current public financing system for the presidential primaries is broken, the system for the general election is not. And he says Obama's decision was a mistake."

Go ahead and explain why Senator Obama decided to change his mind on this.

AXELROD: Let me say that the whole point of campaign finance laws is to try and reduce the influence of large money in our politics. No one's done more to do that at the presidential level than Senator Obama in this campaign. Because of the grassroots support that he's had, 1. 5 million or more contributors, average donation less than $100, he's really returning control to people at the grassroots.

He's refused money from lobbyists, federal lobbyists. He's refused money from PACs. He's now -- now the Democratic National Committee has followed suit.

He's asked these 527 committees who pledged so large in the last campaigns to stand down, and two of the larger ones have disbanded. He's doing more to reform our system as a candidate than anybody in my memory.


BLITZER: But isn't the real -- yes, let me just say, isn't the decision behind this, and let's be blunt, this is going to help him be elected president of the United States? Because he can obviously raise $200 million, $300 million, maybe $400 million, which is a lot more than $85 million that he would get under public financing.

Isn't that the real reason why he's doing this, smart policies?

AXELROD: Wolf, let's be clear about one thing. John McCain's taking this money in the general election, but it doesn't preclude him from raising money for the Republican National Committee. And he's already raised tens and tens and tens and tens of millions of dollars for the Republican National Committee.

By the time this is through, between Senator McCain, the Republican National Committee, and the 527s that he refuses to discourage, they're going to spend plenty of money. And they may well spend more money than we do.

We need to be prepared for that, and we're going to be prepared for that. But on the system of public financing, there's still no clarity as to whether Senator McCain is operating legally right now.

He opted in at one point, he opted out at another point. He used being in the system to get a loan, to get on ballots. Then he said, no, I'm not part of the system. And that issue is still being looked at as he spends all this money in the primary season toward his general election campaign.

So for all his pieties, there are many questions about how he's operating in this campaign. Plus, his average donation is much, much higher, more -- closer to $1,000 than $100. And so I -- you know, I don't think that he is in a position to moralize too much about this.

BLITZER: But it is smart politics on your part, isn't it?

AXELROD: Well, I think that it's good politics to be competitive with your opponents. We expect our opponents to spend a lot of money and to do it with a ferocity that has become the hallmark of the Republican Party in these national elections.

Nobody in America believe the Republicans are not going to have a lot of money. And if you look at how they're raising money at $28,000 a pop for the Republican National Committee, you can see that there's not going to be any tag days over there for John McCain.

BLITZER: One final question. Bill Clinton, he's been sort of silent since Hillary Clinton came out enthusiastically and endorsed Barack Obama. What does that say to you, if anything?

AXELROD: Well, look, I think that Senator Obama has respect for President Clinton. There are only four presidents alive, and he's a repository of unbelievable insights and wisdom about government and politics.

I know that they're going to get together, they're going to have the opportunity to speak, and that he's going to -- and that he's going to be someone who Senator Obama consults with not just during the campaign, but after the campaign. But these things take time.

We just went through a 17-month struggle, the most competitive nominating fight in the history of the Democratic Party. Give us a few days to get our family back in order here, Wolf. We're going to be fine.

BLITZER: But I just want to be clear, you want Bill Clinton out there campaigning for Barack Obama, right?

AXELROD: Bill Clinton is an asset to the Democratic Party. And he is, as I said, a repository of extraordinary knowledge about not just politics, but particularly government and public policy. We want him involved. And I hope he will be.

BLITZER: Do you know when there's going to be a meeting between the two of them?

AXELROD: I do not, Wolf.

Look, again, I don't think that all of these things have to be resolved in a day or a week. We're going to get together. I'm absolutely confident of that. I don't want you to worry about it all weekend long. We're going to be -- we're going to be all right.

BLITZER: All right, David Axelrod, the chief strategist for Senator Obama, thanks very much for coming in.

AXELROD: OK. Thanks for having me. See you.


BLITZER: How did John McCain's years as a prisoner of war shape the views he hopes to bring to the White House? Our own John King went to Hanoi. He is there right now retracing John McCain's past to hero status. You're going to see this. It's something you will see only here on CNN.

And federal investigators say they're closing in on the source of the salmonella outbreak in tomatoes. We are going to tell you where the search is now leading.

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



BLITZER: The president's former press secretary under oath cast suspicion on the vice president, Dick Cheney.


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Only those who know the underlying truth can bring this to an end. Sadly, they remain silent.


BLITZER: Coming up: Scott McClellan's testimony about the CIA leak controversy and who knew what, and when.

Plus, Barack Obama warning, his opponents are going to try to make him into a -- quote -- "scary guy." There's new information coming in to what he has just said. You're going to hear it right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And Obama's vice presidential search. Someone apparently is spilling the beans about who is on the short list.

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


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

Happening now, we're getting new Barack Obama comments just coming in, what he predicts the Republicans will do, some tactics against him in the fall. Not pretty.

Democrats are coming together, except Bill Clinton, at least so far. Where is the former president? Why hasn't he formally endorsed Barack Obama yet? Also, Obama unveils a new seal that looks pretty familiar, very presidential. Is he jumping the gun?

Plus, President Bush's former press secretary testifies under oath. You're going to find out what he's saying about the CIA leak scandal.

All of this coming up, plus the best political team on television.

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

Scott McClellan's tell-all book stunned the Bush administration, stunned a lot of us. Today, the president's former press secretary told all on Capitol Hill, as the congressional panel investigates the outing of the CIA officer.

Let's go live to our White House correspondent Elaine Quijano. She's watching the story for us.

A lot of finger-pointing going on. He spoke today under oath. Update our viewers. Elaine, what's going on?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, a lot of finger-pointing and a lot of questions raised as well, questions that Scott McClellan says the White House should have answered a long time ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And nothing but the truth.

QUIJANO (voice-over): Testifying under oath before the House Judiciary Committee, former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said he does not believe President Bush knew about a White House effort to leak CIA agent's Valerie Plame's identity.

MCCLELLAN: I do not think the president in any way had knowledge about it, based on my conversations with him back at that time.

QUIJANO: But McClellan could not say the same of Vice President Dick Cheney.

MCCLELLAN: In terms of the vice president, I do not know. There is a lot of suspicion there.

QUIJANO: And asked about former Bush senior adviser Karl Rove, McClellan did not hold back.

REP. ARTUR DAVIS (D), ALABAMA: Would you trust Mr. Rove if he were not under oath to tell the truth?

MCCLELLAN: Well, based on my own experience, I could not say that I would.

DAVIS: And, in fact, if Mr. Rove were under oath, would you have complete confidence that he would tell the truth?

MCCLELLAN: Well, based on my own experience, I could not say that I would.

ARTURO: And, in fact, if Mr. Rove were under oath, would you have complete confidence that he would tell the truth?

MCCLELLAN: I would hope that he would be willing to do that. And, as you point out, it doesn't seem that he is willing to do that. But based on my own experiences, I have some concerns about that.

QUIJANO: Democrats lauded McClellan as a truth-teller.

REP. JOHN CONYERS (D), MICHIGAN: I compliment you on what you're doing, what you've done.

QUIJANO: While Republicans blasted his motives.

REP. LAMAR SMITH, (R), TEXAS: Scott McClellan alone will have to wrestle with whether it was worth selling out the president and his friends for a few pieces of silver.

MCCLELLAN: No one else is challenging the themes or perspectives in the book. They're trying to attack me personally.

QUIJANO: As for the White House, a spokesman dismissed the testimony, telling reporters: "I think Scott has probably told everyone everything he doesn't know."


QUIJANO: Now for his part, McClellan challenged other former and current Bush administration officials to testify, including Vice President Dick Cheney. But with a Democratically-led Congress, Wolf, as you know, that is something that the White House has so far refused to allow -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right.

Thanks, Elaine.

Let's talk about Scott McClellan's testimony today -- pretty dramatic stuff -- and more. Joining us, our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; our own Jack Cafferty; and our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley. They're all part of the best political team on television.

Now, quickly to you, Gloria, first, the political fallout from McClellan's testimony.

What do you think?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think we've already had it. And, in fact, the CIA leak investigation is kind of a memory. But it's -- there is a general sense about the Bush administration, given the CIA leak investigation, that it's a very secretive place. And, Wolf, you're never going to get Dick Cheney to testify on Capitol Hill or anywhere else.

BLITZER: You're...

BORGER: He believes in executive privilege. Not going to happen.

BLITZER: I agree.

What do you think, Jack?

CAFFERTY: I don't think we heard a lot that was new from Scott McClellan today, either in his book or his testimony.

What we are continually reminded of in all of this is the absolute abrogation of the Congress's responsibility of oversight of the executive branch of government. Nobody is accountable for any of the things that have gone on in the last seven-and-a-half years in, arguably, the most secretive and perhaps even most corrupt or illegal administrations in my memory. Nobody in Congress does anything about any of this.

Impeachment is off the table. No subpoenas, no contempt of Congress, nobody locked up. The one conviction they got on the CIA leak case was Libby. And President Bush rushed in and commuted the prison sentence. So, I mean it's a joke. The federal government is broken.

BLITZER: Let me let Candy wrap this -- this part of the discussion up -- Candy, go ahead.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can't top that. But let me just say sort of look at it from a news perspective and that is -- I think Gloria is absolutely right. And I think, honestly, there is -- the Bush fatigue long ago set in. I don't think this moves the meter very much. You know, Jack is right and tapped into some anger that is out there -- obviously, a lot of anger that's out there.

But I don't -- it just doesn't seem to me that it's going to move anything, that it's going to change anything, that right now those who dislike this administration are just waiting it out and they're not really paying attention to this sort of stuff anymore.

BLITZER: Gloria, this is just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM from a fundraiser that Barack Obama had in Jacksonville, Florida. The audio quality is not very good, so we'll put the words up on the screen.

But listen to this.


B. OBAMA: We know what kind of campaign they're going to run. They're going to try to make you afraid. They're going to try to make you afraid of me.

(LAUGHTER) B. OBAMA: They're going to say, you know what, he's -- he's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name.


B. OBAMA: Did I mention he's black?



BLITZER: All right. That's going to get some buzz out there.

What do you think?

BORGER: Well, I think Candy could probably speak to this, since she's been on the trail with Barack Obama so much. But it really is as direct as I've heard him talk about people being afraid of him because he's black. I think -- he's talked about the funny name and the lack of experience and all the rest of it. But this rings a little different to me. It's more of the politics of fear versus the politics of hope. But I think he went a step further today.

Candy, I don't know what you think about that.

CROWLEY: Yes, I do. Now, he has said -- apparently said something similar last week, which I missed. But this is definitely not the primaries. He -- you know, could be trying to draw the sting here, saying watch out for this, watch out for this and kind of, you know, doing an offensive position so he won't have to play defense.

But this was a campaign, at least for the candidate who never talked about race or they're going to use race. I remember Geraldine Ferraro said well, Barack Obama wouldn't be where he was if he weren't an African-American and everyone said, oh, that's racist, that's terrible. That's terrible. And Barack Obama said, no, I don't -- I actually don't think it's racist.

So he was -- never, ever said this during the primary campaign, obviously because he knew he was going to have to come back and use these people. But much more direct now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, Jack?

CAFFERTY: Very shrewd. Very shrewd to put this out there now before they do, because they will. What is the word they use, you inoculate yourself against this stuff by putting it out there first. He's nobody's fool. It's pretty funny and it -- but it's probably also pretty much on the mark. I wouldn't be a bit surprised that if -- you know, it's already on the Web sites and the Internet, this kind of slimy stuff. And, you know, you'll get these 527 attack ads going and there will be veiled references to all of this stuff. So it's probably pretty shrewd on his part to touch on all of it right now.

BORGER: And you also see him doing his own biography ad right now to sort of inoculate himself against that kind of attack, talking about his roots, where he grew up and as the product, you know, of a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya. So he's reintroducing himself to the public, also, on this issue.

BLITZER: Well, there is this ugly stuff that's out there on the Web, Candy. And Barack Obama is alluding to it. But you know John McCain. You've covered him for a long time. He's not going to go anywhere near any of that. John McCain wouldn't stand for that, wouldn't allow it to come from his campaign.

But correct me if I'm wrong.

CROWLEY: I don't think he would allow it to come directly from his campaign. But, you know, he's no pushover, as we know. I think this will be a titanic battle. I really do. Barack Obama is very tough. We see him now moving more and more so in that direction. You do not beat the Clintons by not being tough. And John McCain is every bit as much as that.

So I think -- you know, look do I think it will be out there?

We know it will be. There will be things out there about McCain. He understands what it's like to have so-called smear campaigns. So, no, I don't -- I think they'll both talk about having a high-minded campaign.

But when it gets right down to it, you will see a real struggle between the two of these guys.

BLITZER: And it's only getting started.

All right, good point, Candy.

Guys, thanks very much. Stand by. We have more to discuss, so don't leave.

Just ahead, the Obama campaign unveils a new seal. It seems -- it looks very much like the president's seal.

Is he going overboard?

We're going to show you what's going on. That and much more right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Barack Obama unveils a new campaign seal today.

Remind you of anything?

Check it out. We'll discuss with the best political team on television in a minute.


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

Let me start with Jack.

The new seal that was unveiled by the Barack Obama campaign today -- we'll put it up on the screen. It looks very much like the presidential seal. As you know, Jack, instead of E pluribus unum it's got another Latin phrase, Vero possumus, which means yes, we can.

What do you think?

CAFFERTY: I think we're running out of stuff to talk about that matters.


CAFFERTY: Who cares?

I think we ought to talk about the new poll of polls that show Obama expanding his lead over McCain nationwide.

BLITZER: We'll get there in a second.

CAFFERTY: I think that's much more important.

BLITZER: We're going to get to that poll in a second.

Gloria, when he was speaking, he had that seal out on his podium today.


BLITZER: What do you think?

BORGER: Well, I think it's like a little over the top. It's a little arrogant and it's probably some overzealous staffer really worked hard on it, to come up with the counterfeit presidential seal that is Barack Obama.

It's a little too cute. I say lose it.


CROWLEY: I don't know. I just think it's funny.


CROWLEY: I just -- you know, I know it's not deep thoughts here, Jack, but there's just something about it that cracks me up. It's just -- it tries a little too hard.

BLITZER: All right, let's talk about this...

CAFFERTY: Well, you know, you've worked a long time on the campaign trail. You're entitled to some giggles now that it's slowing down some.

BLITZER: Jack, in our new average poll, our so-called poll of polls -- and we've averaged the major polls. A couple of new ones just coming in. Right now, it's a six point spread in favor of Obama among registered voters -- 46 percent for Obama, 40 percent for McCain, 14 percent say they are unsure. It's been holding pretty steadily for him ever since Hillary Clinton dropped out.

CAFFERTY: It's growing, though. And one of those polls that goes into making up that average showed a rather dramatic jump for Obama today.

BLITZER: That was the "Newsweek" poll. A very dramatic jump in the "Newsweek" poll.

Some will say, Gloria, because you've covered politics for a long time, it was inevitable he was going to get a bounce out of Hillary Clinton's dropping out.


BLITZER: But it looks like a pretty nice little bounce.

BORGER: It's a -- it's a nice little bounce. Obviously, he's not fighting Hillary Clinton. They're not in a pitched battle day to day anymore. And, also, with more than 80 percent of Americans now believing that the country is headed in the wrong direction, that's got to work for any Democrat. More people are identifying themselves as Democrats, more than half. So I think that, you know, what you're seeing is a gravitation toward the Democratic nominee.

BLITZER: And, Candy, next week, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- they're going to be together on the stage. And you heard David Axelrod say he doesn't think it's going to be long before Bill Clinton joins that little picture, that photo-op, as well. That -- I assume you think that's going to help Barack Obama even more.

CROWLEY: Well, I do. And I think, actually, that's a little bit of what's helping him in the polls now. I think we thought there would be a bounce right after he got the nomination. What I think what you're seeing now, however, is the Clinton people who, at that time, were saying no way, no how, I'm not voting for that guy are now saying OK. So he's bringing them along.

Certainly, a Clinton tour will help. Bill Clinton is a valuable asset most of the time. And certainly I bet they would like to have him out there for Obama.


CROWLEY: I'm just not sure at this point -- remember, Wolf, when he said that last day, oh, maybe South Dakota -- this may be the last time I'm out campaigning?

BLITZER: I remember that, yes.

CROWLEY: I mean I just -- I feel like he may want to go back and do that senior statesman thing. But we'll see.

BORGER: And, Wolf... CAFFERTY: Let's see how...

BORGER: ...if Bill Clinton campaigns, he's going to have his own presidential seal, OK?



BORGER: And then Barack Obama can have his I want to be presidential seal.

CAFFERTY: Did you see how Candy...

BORGER: They can stand together.

CAFFERTY: ...Candy snuck that qualifier in there, he's an asset most of the time. She kind of just laid that out there real, just subtle, you know, done.

BORGER: It'll be a selective campaign.

BLITZER: He can help, certainly, in some places, like Arkansas, for example. He could help Barack Obama, Jack...

CAFFERTY: Yes, but not South Carolina.

BLITZER: Yes, probably not there. You're right.


BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very much.


BLITZER: Jack, don't leave. We've got "The Cafferty File" still coming up.

John McCain's Vietnam -- our own John King is there in Vietnam right now retracing McCain's POW ordeal. We're going to have the story. You'll see it only here on CNN.

Plus, Michelle Obama taking a leading role as her husband reaches out to women voters. We're going to tell you what she's doing today, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Lou is getting ready for his show that begins right at the top of the hour.

What are you working on -- Lou?


Coming up tonight, Senator McCain earning the title of Mr. Free Trade. He told Canadians today to have no doubt about America honoring its international commitments.

And the FDA will finally send investigators into the fields, trying to find the source of those contaminated tomatoes in Florida and Mexico.

Why did hundreds of people have to become sickened before the FDA finally acted?

And paper ballots making a big comeback. An increasing number of states and cities simply don't trust electronic voting anymore.

Please join us for all of that and more, for an Independent perspective, including a few thoughts about New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks, Lou. We'll be watching.

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

CAFFERTY: All right, the last question of the week for The File. The question this hour: How do you plan to survive the presidential campaign?

It has been relentless.

Marie in Las Vegas: "I don't honestly know how I'll survive, let alone get any work done. Ever since the primaries, I feel like I haven't worked at all. And yet my business is booming. I only pay for gas once a month. I watch CNN all the time or go online like a political junkie. I've changed my status to Independent from Republican. And my family is happier than it's ever been. I think I'd better continue to do what I'm doing -- vote for Obama, keep watching CNN."

Jeff in Hanover, Pennsylvania: "I'm worried deeply about this. I actually like some of what Obama represents. I like some of what McCain represents. And that's what worries me. I'll probably have to stay tuned to all the shameless campaign rhetoric all summer and all fall in order to make this very important decision. I'm worried because that will make me ill."

Jack in Las Vegas: "I'm like a passenger on a sinking boat 10 miles offshore -- I know the swim is going to be tough, but if I don't focus and swim like hell, I don't survive at all. That's how important this election is and while, although it won't be easy, paying attention will be worth it for all of us."

Mwita in Los Angeles: "Glued to CNN like Pavlov's dogs, salivating every time John King touches the big board."

David in Jacksonville, Florida: "Everything's cool, Jack. Beer is cheaper than gas. I'm bound to make it through."

L.A. in Boston: "I plan on getting through it just by watching you and Wolf debate the issues that arise. You complain, Wolf tries to calm you down. It's really fun to watch. I missed you yesterday. Hope you had an enjoyable day off and didn't worry about Hillary, Barack or John while you were out."

And Ray in Florida writes: "Self-medication, Jack.

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog. We had a lot of funny answers. You might want to check it out. The blog is at And you can look for yours there among the hundreds of others.

BLITZER: You took a well-deserved day off yesterday. You went to see "Sex and the City."

Do you recommend it? Should I go see it, Jack?

CAFFERTY: It's about a half hour too long and there were only six people in the theater. I went with my wife because she said she wanted to see it and I almost put a bag over my head. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it isn't great.

BLITZER: Well, you know...

CAFFERTY: It's not a guy movie.

BLITZER: No. A chick flick, right?

CAFFERTY: A chick flick.

BLITZER: But, you know what?

You did the right thing. You went with your wife and she loves you very much for that.

CAFFERTY: When she's happy, we're all happy.

BLITZER: You did the right thing.

CAFFERTY: And the converse is true.

BLITZER: Jack, thanks.

Have a great weekend.

CAFFERTY: See you later.

BLITZER: Bye-bye.

John McCain says he won't use the story of his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam to bolster his presidential bid. But that's not stopping our chief national correspondent, John King, from retracing McCain's past to war hero status.

Let's go to John. He's in Hanoi, Vietnam -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, John McCain's five-and-a-half year history as a Vietnam prisoner of war began here, at Ho Truc Bach (ph), or White Bamboo Lake. It was October 26, 1967 and McCain's Navy Skyhawk, while on a bombing run, was struck in the left wing. He ejected and fell badly hurt into these waters, where local residents rescued him and took him into captivity.


KING: This building dates back to Vietnam's days as a French colony -- Maison Centrale, the Central Jail. To the Vietnamese, it is Hoa Lo Prison -- literally, the fiery furnace. But to the hundreds of Americans held captive here during the Vietnam War, including John McCain, this is the notorious Hanoi Hilton.

Hoa Lo is now a museum, this room dedicated to the Vietnam era. These, the personal belongings -- bowls, spoons, prison uniforms, other items said to belong to the Americans held captive here. This, the wood slat bed and the thin mat the Vietnamese say the American prisoners slept on.

And over here, perhaps the museum's most prized display, said to belong the prisoner now famous, who spent part of his five-and-a-half years of captivity here. The Vietnamese say this helmet, flight suit, the boots and the parachute belonged to then Lieutenant Commander John McCain, when she was shot down. And the light, description of the display in both Vietnam and English, has been updated to note this about McCain -- he is currently a candidate in the 2008 election.

We met earlier today with the nurse who first treated McCain after he was pulled from these waters. She says he was unconscious and that she quickly bandaged his wounds and had him rushed to a local hospital for more urgent care. Nuan Ti Tong (ph) says she hated American pilots for the deaths and damage caused by their bombing campaign. But now, at 81, she says she wishes Senator McCain well -- Wolf.


BLITZER: All right, John, thanks very much.

John reporting for us from Vietnam.

On our Political Ticker today, the vice presidential watch. There's a new report that former Obama rival John Edwards is on the Democrat's list of potential running mates, along with former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn. Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick tells the Associated Press she offered the names of Edwards and Nunn to members of Obama's vice presidential screening team. And she says she was told they were already on the list.

Michelle Obama helping her husband reach out to women voters today. She spoke here in Washington to a group that supports women and families. She emphasized her role as a working mom.


MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA'S WIFE: When will we have policies that truly reflect the realities of families dealing with life in today's society, in the 21st century?

When will our leaders not only support, but champion the cause of working families?

Now I've always been and will probably always be, in some way, shape or form, a working mom.


BLITZER: Remember, for the latest political news any time, you can always check out The Ticker, by the way, is the number one political news blog out there on the Web. That's also where you can read my latest blog post. I wrote one just before the show.

He's the king of talk, no doubt about that.

But is he a guitar hero, as well?

Stick around. You're going to find out why our own Larry King -- yes, Larry is rocking with Motley Crue.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Here's a look at some of this hour's Hot Shots.

In Thailand, a political protester is pushed back after trying to break through a police barrier.

In Austria, riot police try to maintain order as Croatian soccer fans gather before a match against Turkey.

In Bulgaria, a boy plunges into a fountain to beat the heat.

And check it out -- a zoo in Berlin -- twin moose calves enjoying a meal.

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

He interviews presidents and princes. Tonight, though, Larry King is tackling a heavy subject.

Here's Larry to tell us more.

LARRY KING, HOST, ""LARRY KING LIVE": We've got a great "LARRY KING LIVE" for you tonight -- Motley Crue. I spent some time with Mick and Vince and Tommy and Nikki and they showed me the ropes.

Here's a look at some of what you will see.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who likes Larry King?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who likes Motley Crue?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And we're going to be on.




KING: All the guys are going to be here. And you know I'll be asking Tommy about his new girlfriend, his ex, Pam Anderson.

And that's not all. Louis Black rounds out the hour.

It's going to be fun. It's "LARRY KING LIVE" tonight.

BLITZER: We'll be watching Larry tonight.

This weekend on "LATE EDITION," New Mexico's Bill Richardson and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. "LATE EDITION," 11:00 a.m. Eastern on Sunday. I'll see you then.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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