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Obama Courts Women's Vote; Family Finally Cleared in JonBenet Ramsey Murder; McCain Campaign Ad Blast from Past

Aired July 10, 2008 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, Democrats pounce after a top McCain economic adviser complains about -- quote -- "a nation of whiners." The McCain camp now struggling to get back on its message.

Barack Obama struggling to win over women voters. Hillary Clinton's new pitch on his behalf may not necessarily be enough to help.

And McCain's Straight Talk Express takes a detour when the subject turns to Viagra.

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

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

John McCain's longtime adviser and pal Phil Gramm, was supposed to make him look good on economic issues. But that's not the case right now.

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

Listen to Barack Obama jump on Former Senator Gramm's suggestion that recession isn't a reality. It's all in Americans' heads.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want all of you to know that America already has one Dr. Phil. We don't need another one when it comes to the economy. We need somebody to actually solve the economy. It's not just a figment of your imagination. It's not all in your head.


BLITZER: Let's bring in our own Dana Bash. She's covering the McCain campaign for us.

So, how are they handling it, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, when I first talked to the McCain campaign, I actually spoke to one much his advisers this morning about this, and there was an audible, beleaguered sigh on the other end of the phone.

McCain aides knew right away that Gramm's comments hurt their message and their efforts to get message control.


BASH (voice-over): In hard-hit Michigan, this is the McCain mantra on the economy...

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People are hurting. People are hurting very badly.

BASH: A carefully-measured message that's part feel your pain, part realist, but all optimist.

MCCAIN: But they need to have trust and hope and confidence in the future.

BASH: Given that, quotes in The Washington Times from Phil Gramm, one of John McCain's top economic advisers, were a big oops.

We've become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness. Gramm also said, You've heard of mental depression. This is mental recession.

McCain couldn't distance himself fast enough from his friend.

MCCAIN: Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me. So I strongly disagree.

BASH: He struggled to steer his economic message back on course.

MCCAIN: I don't agree with Senator Gramm. I believe that the person here in Michigan that just lost his job isn't suffering from a mental recession. I believe the mother here in Michigan and around America who's trying to get enough money to educate their children isn't whining.


BASH: Now, surrogate slip-ups have caused trouble for both campaigns. Recently, Barack Obama rebuked retired General Wesley Clark, his supporter, for questioning McCain's military record. But what Phil Gramm said, Wolf, is problematic for McCain because Gramm is a Ph.D. in economics and a top adviser on the issue. And McCain regularly points to Gramm's support when his opponents question his knowledge about the economy.

BLITZER: I know you had a chance to speak with him on the phone, Senator Gramm. What did he say?

BASH: Well, you know, he actually called me before getting on a plane this afternoon. He said he wanted to clarify his comments.

First, he told me he didn't mean to say Americans were whining about the economy, but, rather, many of the country's leaders are. Here's what he said.

He said -- quote -- "The whiners are leaders. Hell, the American people are victims, but it didn't quite come out that way in the story."

But, actually, Gramm is standing by his comments about a mental recession. Here's what he told me about that, Wolf.

He said -- quote -- "We keep getting the steady drumbeat of bad news. It's become a mental recession. We don't have measured growth. That's a fact. That's not a commentary."

Now, Wolf, Gramm also insisted that when he went before "The Washington Times," he was speaking for himself only, on his own behalf, not on the behalf of John McCain or his campaign.

BLITZER: What a story. We are going to have more on this coming up.

Dana, thanks.

Barack Obama has own campaign struggles under way right now, including his efforts to try to win over women voters. He got some new help in that area today from his former rival Hillary Clinton.

Let's go to Jessica Yellin. She's covering the Obama campaign for us.

What is he trying to do to get more of these women into his corner?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he's courting women directly with a new agenda. Barack Obama is leading John McCain among women overall, but he's trailing badly among white blue-collar women. So, it's no surprise that Barack Obama is going after this vote aggressively.


YELLIN (voice-over): Defining a stark contrast with John McCain, today Barack Obama promised to back a law supporting equal pay for equal work.

OBAMA: The problem is, employers aren't treating women fairly. That needs to be changed, and I will change it when I'm president of the United States of America.

YELLIN: McCain opposed the so-called Fair Pay law, saying in part it would lead to too many lawsuits. In breaking with McCain, Barack Obama is appealing directly to blue collar working women, many of whom are undecided in this race.

In the primaries, Obama lost women voters to Senator Clinton. She got 52 percent of the female vote. He got 43 percent. So he's appearing with the popular senator.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: It is critical that we join forces, because the Democratic Party is a family.

YELLIN: And today he unveiled a list of economic policies designed to help middle-and-low-income women.

OBAMA: It's unacceptable that women are denied jobs or promotions because they have got kids at home. It's unacceptable that 22 million working women don't have a single paid sick day. It's unacceptable that millions of working mothers could actually be fired for taking maternity leave.

YELLIN: Among the reforms he's promising, legislation protecting women who don't get equal pay for equal work; a tax break to help pay for child care; and a campaign for new laws guaranteeing that workers get paid during family and medical leave.

One Democratic pollster explains, It's not surprising that many blue collar women would be torn between Obama and McCain.

ANNA GREENBERG, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: These women really struggle between their economic vulnerability concerns and their social conservatism, and which side sort of wins out plays a big role in who they vote for.


YELLIN: Now, Wolf, today, McCain said that many of the promises Obama is making, like on family leave and sick days, are issues that are better resolved between workers and their bosses.

McCain's point, he says this isn't really about women. It's about the proper role of government in people's lives -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jessica Yellin working the story for us -- Jessica, thank you.

A second day of missile testing in Iran and now new questions about the launch of seven ballistic missiles yesterday. Did the Iranians actually fake a photo to make the exercise look even more ominous?

Our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, is working the story for us.

And what are you learning, Jamie?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this photograph, which was an Iranian Revolutionary Guard photograph, was attained and distributed around the world by Agence France-Presse.

And it shows four missiles being fired simultaneously as part of that missile test yesterday. But then the original version surfaced as well. And guess what? It only had three missiles being fired, and one stuck on the lawn chair.

Now, we put the photograph into Adobe Photoshop -- you have heard the term having Photoshopped something in -- just to show you how easy it is to fake this photograph. And what happened, it looks like, after analyzing the photograph, is that you take a little bit of the dust cloud from one of the strikes and you put that down on the bottom, and a little bit of the smoke cloud that went with it, and then you take a little bit of the missile from another part and you add that to the top, and, pretty soon, you have a photograph that looks just like the one that the Iranians released.

And U.S. intelligence, looking at this, they think that one missile that didn't go off probably misfired, and that's why it was fired again the next day. That explains the so-called second day of missile strikes, which U.S. intelligence says was just one lone missile.

BLITZER: Interesting they have Photoshop in Tehran.

MCINTYRE: They got it everywhere.


BLITZER: Jamie, thanks very much for that.

An official promotion today for the chief military office in Iraq, General David Petraeus. The Senate overwhelmingly confirmed him to be the top commander in charge of U.S. forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The senators opted for continuity of leadership, setting aside their differences over the war. The Senate also approved Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno to replace General Petraeus as the overall U.S. military commander in Baghdad.

John McCain is known as a straight talker, but one question leaves him speechless about something some men use. That would be Viagra.

Barack Obama was supposed to do something for Hillary Clinton, but he says he got carried away and forgot.

A pro wrestler turned governor could be ready to fight in the political ring again. We will ask Jesse Ventura if he will go to the mat for a U.S. Senate seat.

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


BLITZER: Senator Barack Obama does something that his critics say puts him closer to President Bush. It involves Obama's vote on legislation meant to help protect Americans, but that some people say puts Americans' telephone and e-mail privacy at risk.

And now some liberals are not very happy with Senator Obama.

Our White House correspondent Ed henry has details -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is a twofer for Republicans. The president gets to beat his chest on a big victory over government surveillance, while John McCain gets to beat up on Barack Obama over another shift in policy.


HENRY (voice-over): The president came to the Rose Garden for the second straight day to bring attention to a major victory for a lame duck, expanded wiretap powers he's been demanding for a long time.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The bill I signed today will help us meet our most solemn responsibility, to stop new attacks.

HENRY: Without ever mentioning the name Barack Obama, the president's public celebration highlights a shift in position by the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. Obama voted for the final bill, infuriating the liberal blogs that helped fuel his rise.


CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Where he has changed what he said before, is on the FISA, on the question of wiretap authority, surveillance, et cetera, et cetera. That's what has gotten the left up the wall, because it's a basic constitutional issue.


HENRY: In October, when he was seeking the Democratic nomination, an Obama spokesman said he would support a filibuster of any bill with legal immunity for telecom companies that aided government wiretapping.

But, Wednesday, Obama supported a bill with immunity for those telecoms, increased government latitude in eavesdropping on people in the U.S. and abroad with alleged terror ties, and a partially scaled- back role for an oversight court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You supported the bill that lets phone companies off the hook.

HENRY: Pressed by an angry questioner at a town hall meeting in Virginia, Obama said Thursday he has not changed his position.

OBAMA: The surveillance program is actually one that I believe is necessary for our national security. An, so, I had to balance, or weigh, voting against a program that I think we need and that had been created so that your privacies were protected, or create a situation in which we didn't have that program in place.

HENRY: Still, liberals see a shift to the center for the general election on national security, a wedge Republican John McCain is all too happy to exploit.

MCCAIN: He was opposed to FISA in the past, and opposed to that, and now he is supporting it -- not the first change in position. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: You can see Republicans starting to make the case that Barack Obama is following in the footsteps of John Kerry, who was dogged by flip-flop allegations in 2004.

Perhaps more worrisome for Obama is the fact that a storyline about him shifting with the political winds could undermine his broader theme, that he's a different kind of politician -- Wolf.

Ed Henry working the story for us at the White House.

A cold case cracked partially open, and now we're learning more about the new method of DNA testing that finally cleared the family of JonBenet Ramsey of her murder.

Brian Todd has been working the story for us.

Brian, you went to that lab, a new lab that did some amazing new DNA testing on JonBenet Ramsey's clothing.


We got a great inside look at the investigative process and how it was used in this case. This is called touch evidence DNA testing. Essentially, they can now pick up a suspect's invisible skin cells on an object, even if it was there for years, and match it up.

It's only been widely used for about a year. But, in this instance, it provided a dramatic break in a turn in a cold case more than 11 years old.


TODD (voice-over): This office park in Lorton, Virginia, may seem an unlikely setting, but this is where the evidence finally turned in the Ramseys' favor, the labs of Bode Technology, where prosecutors from Boulder, Colorado, came for what is called touch evidence DNA testing.

How is it different from traditional body fluid DNA tests?

ANGELA WILLIAMSON, DNA ANALYST, BODE TECHNOLOGY: Touch samples are the samples you can't see. You can't look at an item and say, there's touch evidence. It's not a bloodstain. It's not a seminal stain. It's an area where you think that person may have been grabbed.

TODD: DNA analyst Angela Williamson handled the Ramsey case. She can't show us the long johns belonging to JonBenet Ramsey they tested here, but she takes us through the process with a pair of shorts.

(on camera): This is essentially where the analysis process begins. Say I'm the perpetrator and I have grabbed this piece of clothing, pulled down or pulled down any other direction, and then left it.

Angela, you are going to tell me how you take the sample from this particular piece of clothing, a skin sample.

WILLIAMSON: So, once we know that information, we would mark the area where we think that you have made contact.

In this case, I have marked a large area like this. And I would also include the inside. Then you just get your scalpel blade and take a fine layer of shavings from this off the surface.

TODD (voice-over): The shavings from my skin cells are placed in a small vial. For hard surfaces, swabs are used.

Next step, extraction, using machines like this centrifuge to remove dyes, dirt, bacteria from the skin cell DNA sample.

WILLIAMSON: That one takes about two hours. We have one that takes almost two days.

TODD: Next, the samples are copied, amplified. Extraneous DNA is cleaned out in these hoods with U.V. rays. Then they get a profile. In the Ramsey case...

WILLIAMSON: The DNA profile that we obtained is attributed to an unknown male. There is an XY chromosome present.


TODD: So, in some instances like the Ramsey case, evidence that you can't even see, invisible skin cells, can turn a real corner.

One important part of use, touch evidence is used at the state and local levels on cases. But federal agents tell us there are certain types of touch evidence they do not use because the technology has not been perfected yet. This is when there are only minute amounts of skin cell DNA available, and you could get a false positive with that -- Wolf.

BLITZER: But in the case of JonBenet they had enough DNA?

TODD: They do. The Bode Technology people tell us they got enough scrapings from that pair of long johns to have some credible evidence there.

BLITZER: There are pitfalls, though, as far as false positives are concerned?

TODD: Right.

Let's do a little demonstration. You and I shake hands. OK? Your touch DNA is now on my hand.

Now, if I go out and strangle someone to death, your touch DNA could be on that victim's neck. But the people at Bode tell us that the person who does the actual strangling, their DNA is going to be dominant on the victim's neck.

BLITZER: Don't go out and strangle anybody after this.

TODD: Promise I won't.



BLITZER: Brian Todd, amazing, amazing technology.

Barack Obama had an important job to do, but forgot. Hillary Clinton really needs him to remember.

A top House lawmaker accuses Karl Rove of insulting the American people. What Rove did could put him in contempt of Congress.

And the world awaits the album from the First Lady of France. She could be putting her marriage to the president in song.

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



BLITZER: John McCain usually likes to talk, but one subject made him suddenly clam up, Viagra. Viagra as a campaign issue?

And Barack Obama's suddenly memory lapse and what it might say about his relationship with Hillary Clinton.

And one on one with Jesse Ventura, wrestling with a big decision right now. Should he run for the U.S. Senate?


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

Happening now, John McCain's Straight Talk Express derails on a question about Viagra -- why he doesn't want to discuss that part of his voting record in the Senate. We will talk about that and more with the best political team on television.

Also, new information about the midair surprise that forced Barack Obama's campaign plane to make an unscheduled landing.

And the French first lady releasing her first album since moving into the presidential palace. Does it hit the right notes?

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

BLITZER: John McCain took a brief detour from his usual straight talk when questioned about a topic that's provocative in more ways than one. That would be Viagra.

CNN's Tom Foreman is working the story for us.

All right, Tom, explain what is going on.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Viagra, as you know, Wolf, is a little pill that gives millions of men a little extra. And it appears to have twisted the tongue of the straight talker himself, John McCain.

This story starts with Carly Fiorina, the McCain campaign's national chairwoman and a top surrogate. She was talking about health insurance recently. listen to what she said.

"I have been hearing a lot from women," she said. "There are many health insurance plans that will cover Viagra that won't cover birth control medication. Those women would like a choice."

A reporter asked McCain about this issue yesterday and listen to the senator said.


QUESTION: Earlier this week, Carly was speaking with a bunch of reporters and talked about it being unfair that insurance companies cover Viagra, but not birth control and...


MCCAIN: I certainly do not want to discuss that issue.

QUESTION: I think you voted against...

MCCAIN: I don't know what I have...


QUESTION: You voted against coverage of birth control, forcing the health care companies to cover birth control in the past. Is that still your position?

MCCAIN: I will look at my voting record on it, but I have -- I don't recall the vote right now, but I will be glad to look at it and get back to you.


QUESTION: I guess her statement was that it was unfair that health insurance companies cover Viagra, but not birth control. Do you have an opinion on that?

MCCAIN: I don't know enough about it to give you an informed answer, because I don't recall the vote. I have cast thousands of votes in the Senate, but I will respond to (INAUDIBLE)


MCCAIN: It's something that I had not thought much about. And I did hear her response, but I hadn't thought much about it. I will get back to you today on it. I don't usually duck an issue, but I will try to get back to you on that.


FOREMAN: A McCain spokesperson did get back to us on that, saying that the senator from Arizona supports competition in the health care industry.

We checked, though, and the senator from Arizona has voted against measures that would have mandated insurance companies to cover birth control -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Tom, for that.

Let's discuss this and more with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; Peter Beinart, he's a senior fellow at the Council On Foreign Relations; and Tara Wall, deputy editorial page editor of "The Washington Times".

Guys, thanks very much for joining us.

Gloria, what do you -- what do you make about this?

Carly Fiorina herself, you know, first discussed the whole issue.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: She did. And it was very clear just from watching that clip that McCain's body language was OK, I don't want to mess up here. I've got to self-censor myself. I'm not going to make a Viagra joke. I'm an older candidate. I'm not going to go there and I wish this would all go away.

And, please, can we change the subject?


BLITZER: Peter, what did you think when you heard that exchange?

PETER BEINART, EDITOR-AT-LARGE FOR THE "NEW REPUBLIC": I think it's exactly right. You know, Viagra is never a topic that you want to be talking about as a presidential candidate, particularly when you're an older presidential candidate. And I actually thought it was admirable restraint by John McCain. Remember, he's...

BORGER: It was amazing.

BEINART: ...he's made a series of jokes that haven't played out so well recently, the one about sending cigarettes to kill the Iranians just a couple of days ago. I think he was trying to hold back today.

BLITZER: But, Tara, what about the substantive issue that Carly Fiorina herself raised, that there's one standard for men. They get insurance companies to reimburse them if they have erectile dysfunction. They can go and get reimbursed for Viagra, as opposed to women, who presumably have a much more difficult time getting reimbursed for birth control.

TARA WALL, FORMER RNC SECRETARY FOR OUTREACH COMMUNICATIONS: Yes, well, I -- one could argue, too, that Viagra is not birth control. But, you know, I think, look, first and foremost, Carly Fiorina is actually a very dynamic, articulate speaker for John McCain. She probably should stick with her -- stay in her lane, which is economics. So I think that, you know, in all fairness, she's -- she was talking about what she, as a woman, also hears on a regular basis.

It actually, you know, John McCain's record actually reflects, actually, the more conservative side of John McCain. So, actually, you know, his conservative base would be happy with his positions in that area, because you don't want to mandate something that everyone has to pay for if they personally are opposed to those specific measures. That is, making insurance companies pay for birth control, if you are Catholic and happen to oppose to birth control.

So I think that solidifies his conservative credentials. I agree that the last thing he wants is to end up in some ad down the line, being commented or quoted using the term Viagra as a gray-haired seventy something candidate.

BLITZER: It does, Gloria, underscores his strong historic opposition to a woman's right to have an abortion.

BORGER: It does. And, by the way, that is something that helps him with conservatives. It also underscores the problem that he's been having lately with all of these surrogates -- both candidates have had this -- with surrogates going out there saying things that the candidate wishes they wouldn't say.

I mean he had a problem with Phil Gramm, as Dana Bash reported earlier. He had the problem with Carly Fiorina.

You know, sometimes I think the surrogates don't stick to the talking points. In this particular case, John McCain was smart.

BLITZER: Yes. This is...

BORGER: He didn't want to go there.

BLITZER: This was not a subject he wanted to discuss, Peter. But there is a substantive issue at stake here -- a double standard, allegedly, for men and for women.

BEINART: You know, the big -- this, I think, points to a fundamental problem that John McCain has throughout this campaign, which is that he's being -- he needs to both do well among swing voters and get a huge base turnout. I just don't think right now that looks possible, because conservatives are not that hungry to win. Which means that if they are willing to stay home in a way that Democrats, who have been out of power for a long time, are not.

So this is a classic example of Carly Fiorina trying to help John McCain with swing voting women, but the recognition that if he supports her position, then he's going to hurt himself with conservative Evangelicals and Catholics. He can't have it both ways.


WALL: Well, I think...

BLITZER: Yes, go ahead, Tara.

WALL: And I think -- well, I think it's a legitimate question for the reporter to ask, absolutely. And I think it's an opportunity for him to expand upon his health care initiatives, the health care issues. I think he's got a plan that appeals to women, to all Americans when you talk about comprehensive health care, when you talk about taking your plan with you, being mobile.

I mean there are some issues there that he could certainly zero in on. You can't blame him, though, for initially speaking off the cuff if he has not as well versed on what he believes was an issue that was kind of thrown out there. I think that he did the responsible thing that most candidates should probably do when their surrogates do talk out of turn or out of...

BORGER: But Carly...

WALL: of talking points.

BORGER: Carly Fiorina, Wolf, made a perfectly legitimate point here. And, as Peter says, she was trying to appeal to women, a perfectly legitimate point.

The problem for John McCain was that he couldn't agree with her and he couldn't disagree with her, either, because he just didn't want to go there.

WALL: Well, in contrast to his own record...

BEINART: That's right.

WALL: ...he -- I mean he didn't want to contradict her. But they're -- within the party.

BORGER: Well, but he's the candidate. You know, honestly, he's the candidate.

WALL: Absolutely.

BORGER: He -- and today he said I disagree with Phil Gramm...

WALL: Yes.

BORGER: ...who said we're in a mental recession. So, you know, he's perfectly...

WALL: But, you know, he also...

BEINART: But, you know, there's another...


BEINART: There's a another problem, if I can just jump in.

BORGER: He's capable of doing that.

BEINART: There's another problem, which is that a lot of people on both sides of the issue just don't think John McCain cares very much about this stuff. He doesn't speak with a lot of passion on either side of these kind of issues in the way he does about foreign policy.

BORGER: Well, but that's accurate.

BEINART: And that's what leads both sides to suspect that he's not really reliable.

BLITZER: All right, guys, stand by, because we're going to continue this conversation. We're only getting started.

Something familiar about a new McCain campaign ad slogan -- where we've heard it before. Stand by.

Barack Obama's fundraising slip -- what he forgot to do for Hillary Clinton.

And is the French first lady the first lady of song, as well?

What the critics in Paris are saying.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: A slogan used in a new campaign ad is the same slogan used in a 1979 campaign spot for the U.K. 's Conservative Party of Margaret Thatcher.

We're back with the best political team on television, Gloria Borger, Peter Beinart and Tara Wall.

But let's first go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.

Abbi, give us the background.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, here's the new McCain ad, from his Web site.

Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't hope for a better life, vote for one. Change.


TATTON: Don't hope for a better life, vote for one -- John McCain.

It sounds familiar?

Probably not. But it did to some liberal bloggers, who went back and they did a little digging. Taking you back to London, 1979. Britain on the verge of a historic election. And this is an election broadcast from them from the Conservative Party.


MARGARET THATCHER, FMR. BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And once again, Britain will be back in the race.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't just hope for a better life, vote for one.


TATTON: Let's just play you McCain again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't hope for a better life, vote for one.


TATTON: It's a different accent, for sure, but it is the same slogan. We asked the McCain campaign if that was intentional. They didn't give us a response to that question -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks, Abbi.

Gloria, what do you think?

BORGER: Well, I think campaign ads are not Shakespeare. And I think that change and hope and all that kind of stuff has been a big theme in this campaign. And the tag line in this ad is pretty obvious. And it may have been just as obvious back in that campaign in Britain in the '70s. You know, I don't think it's a question of plagiarism here. You can say that.

I think, you know, that's what this campaign has been about. It's a clever line and that's what it is.

BLITZER: Peter, what do you think?

BEINART: Oh, John McCain should embrace this. I mean there's nobody more popular amongst conservatives than Margaret Thatcher except for Ronald Reagan.

BLITZER: So why didn't he say it...

BEINART: He should absolutely say...

BLITZER: Why didn't he say in the ad, "As Margaret Thatcher said back in 1979," blah, blah, blah? BEINART: Well, because, look, as Gloria was saying, there are only a certain limited number of kind of campaign slogans people have. This is not plagiarism in any serious sense. People repeat these things over and over and over again.

How many candidate have used some riff on change in presidential elections around the world in the last two or three decades?

BLITZER: Some of us remember Joe Biden, when he was running for president...


BLITZER: ...stealing a few lines from a British politician...

BEINART: But that was a whole...

BLITZER: well.

WALL: That was a speech.

BEINART: That was a whole speech...

BORGER: That was a speech.

BEINART: which he was talking about his family.


BEINART: When, in fact, Neal Kinnock had been talking about his family. That's a big difference.

BLITZER: All right, Tara?

BORGER: We're talking...


BORGER: We're talking bumper stickers.

WALL: There are certain themes that just ring into voters' minds -- hope, change. I think it's really a play -- he's obviously playing -- wanting to play off of some of Barack Obama's words. Even the word reform -- we used reform for so long. That was supposed to be tied to Republicans -- educational reform, welfare reform.

Well, now it's changed and hope -- and remember, keep hope live?

We're still using hope.

BORGER: You know...

BLITZER: All right...

WALL: So these are buzzwords that work...

BLITZER: All right, guys...

WALL: ...and that candidates should zero in on.

BLITZER: There was an afterthought for Barack Obama. He made a major faux pas last night at a fundraiser with Hillary Clinton. After he finished speaking, this is what happened.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hold on a second, guys. (INAUDIBLE) carried away.


OBAMA: I've got one more thing that (INAUDIBLE).


BLITZER: All right. He said he had one more thing to discuss even after the music came back on, Gloria. And that was go ahead and try to help Hillary Clinton repay some of that campaign debt.

BORGER: Right. Oops. He should have done it earlier. He should have done it before. He knew he was supposed to do it.

Did he forget? Did he remember too late?

I don't know. He clearly knew that he had made a mistake and that he needed to get back to that microphone. And, you know, he's got a situation right now, Wolf, where a lot of folks in these campaigns still don't like each other very much. They're talking a good game of unity, but they've got to raise a lot of money together. And he's got to be the guy out there leading the way. And he -- he was a little slow on the mark.

BLITZER: He needs those Hillary Clinton fundraisers, those Hillary Clinton supporters, Peter, as you well know.

BEINART: Not as much as they need him. I mean he has an unbelievable financial juggernaut all his own. She's the one who doesn't have enough money in her group of people to retire her campaign debt.

I mean the larger -- if you step back, what is really amazing about the Barack Obama campaign is for a guy who's never played anywhere near this level of politics before is how few gaffes he has made. I mean it's really quite stunning, given how difficult it is day after day to be on the presidential campaign.

And when he does make mistakes like this, they usually respond very, very quickly. They don't let them linger.

BLITZER: You seem to disagree, Tara.

WALL: Well, I think, actually, he's made quite a few gaffes along the way, beginning with his burdening, you know, his girls with a baby and -- you know, there are several gaffes that he's made. There'll be more gaffes to come.

But the issue, too, is the fact about -- the fundraising and the money. I think that, you know, it's kind of obvious in a -- maybe a Freudian way -- that she's not quite as much a priority as folks would like to think she is. And it adds fuel to the, actually, the anti- unity Hillary supporters who are now, you know, blanketing the Web site -- over 200 -- saying we don't need Barack Obama's money, we've raised $10 million for Hillary Clinton. We don't -- she doesn't need him.

So, you know, I think it's adding fuel to their fire and it's...

BORGER: Well, and he needs her.

WALL:'s increasing animosity among them.

BORGER: He -- Barack Obama needs Hillary Clinton to help him raise money, too. I mean next to his list, she's probably got the best list in politics.

BLITZER: But forget about the money, Gloria. He needs her supporters to get elected president.

WALL: Yes. He needs her delegates, her superdelegates.

BORGER: And he does. And, by the way, some of them are still slow in coming around. But Wolf, you know better than I do, that the polls we're looking at, particularly among women, among Latinos, etc. etc. those Hillary Clinton supporters are coming over to Barack Obama. They're not going to John McCain.

BEINART: Let's put it in context. John McCain has a lot more to worry about it in terms of getting Mike Huckabee voters than Barack Obama in terms of getting Hillary Clinton voters.

WALL: But I don't hear Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney asking him to pay off their debts.

BLITZER: All right, guys.

Thanks, all of you.

BEINART: They didn't run up such a big debt.

BLITZER: A good discussion.

WALL: They don't have them. Right.

BLITZER: We covered a lot of ground.

A startling interruption out on the campaign trail. Now we're learning more about what actually happened to Senator Barack Obama's plane.

And Jesse Ventura on a possible run for the U.S. Senate. He tells us what's influencing his decision -- a decision that will be made in the coming days.


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

Lou, what are you working on?


Tonight, we're reporting on a major new challenge to the outrageous illegal alien sanctuary policies of San Francisco's mayor, Gavin Newsom. Many Californians now have had a belly full of him and the policy. And Mayor Newsom, by the way, he still wants to be governor of the State of California.

Also, first it was the presidential candidates. Now it's President Bush's labor secretary. They're all pandering to ethnocentric special interests who could care less what the majority of Americans say, think or feel. And we will be asking the very important question, will anyone in Washington stand up for working men and women and their families?

We'll have complete coverage.

And group and identity politics alive and well on the presidential campaign trail after the crude and hurtful comments by Reverend Jesse Jackson. My guest tonight, former White House adviser Bruce Bartlett. He's the author of a provocative new book, "Wrong On Race: The Democratic Party's Buried Past."

We will dig all of that up tonight at 7:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

Join us for that, all the day's news and more with an Independent perspective -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: See you in a few moments, Lou.

DOBBS: You've got a deal.

BLITZER: Thank you.

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

Carol, what's going on?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, he could have been hacked. Defense lawyers for Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick are offering that explanation today. Kilpatrick is facing eight felony charges in a case involving some potentially problematic text messages. The "Detroit Free Press" published excerpts from those steamy messages back in January. They're between Kilpatrick and a former top aide he's accused of having an affair with. His lawyers tell the newspaper that hackers could have created those texts, so they should not be used as evidence.

Having hours, not seconds, to prepare for an earthquake is an early warning system that scientists in California are working on. They say they've detected geological changes in rock formations at the San Andreas Fault hours before two small earthquakes hit a couple of years ago. In one case, the changes happened 10 hours before the quakes hit.

And Larry King a square?

Well, yes, but in a good way. Our own king of talk now has a Los Angeles intersection named after him. The city council says it's in honor of King's 50th anniversary in broadcast journalism. Larry King Square is along Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.

Congratulations, Larry.

BLITZER: I am so proud of Larry. Congratulations to him. Well, well deserved.

Can you imagine 50 years of this, Carol?

COSTELLO: He started here at CNN, what, in 1985?

BLITZER: Yes. He's been...


BLITZER: He's done a great job for all of us.

All right, thanks, Carol.


BLITZER: Congratulations to Larry.

Jesse Ventura is a man of many looks and many careers. He was a pro-wrestler, an author, and, of course, the outspoken Independent governor of Minnesota.

So what does he do for an encore?

Ventura says he'll announce next week whether he'll run for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger, Al Franken.

CNN's Randi Kaye had an interview with Jesse Ventura. She's joining us now.

Randi, a pretty tough decision, I take it, for the former wrestler-governor.


Governor Ventura has a lot of factors weighing into this decision. He turns 57 next week, so if he runs and wins, he'd be in his 60s by the time his first term is done. When he ran for governor in Minnesota back in 1998, I actually covered his campaign and then his term as governor. So I asked him about one policy he plans to push through as senator if he runs.


KAYE: You've said if you run and win, you would bring a revolution to Washington, D.C. , playing off the title of your book, "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me."

What can we expect to see from a Ventura revolution?

JESSE VENTURA (I), FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: You can expect to see probably the most outspoken senator ever. You can expect to see the good old boys out there getting turned on their ear, because I'm not going play any of the games. And that's what you can expect to see -- talking -- talking to the people straightforward and finding out the truth about a lot of stuff.

I'm interested to see if things are still under national security and you're not allowed to see them when you're a U.S. senator.

KAYE: If you run, what policies would you campaign on? What changes do you want to make?

VENTURA: Well, the changes I want is I would not vote for any bill that increases the monetary or the budget. It would have to be budget neutral. If they're going to pass something new for a certain amount of money, that means they have to cut it somewhere else for the same amount of money, because we've got to do something about this deficit that they're all ignoring.

When you have a country that's $9 trillion in debt, how can you possibly have a robust, good economy with that type of debt hanging over your head?

And you've noticed that neither of these two parties even want to talk about that federal deficit, do they?


KAYE: Now, another policy the governor would like to push through, which we all care quite a bit about, he says he wants term limits for reporters.

When I covered him as governor, Wolf, when I was in local news there in Minnesota, there was no love fest between Ventura and the media. So it will be very interesting to see, if he does run, if he will be able to take the heat this time around. He says yes.

BLITZER: And people are speculating, does he help the Republican, help the Democrat?

He himself came out of nowhere, seemingly, when he became governor of Minnesota. And he reminded me just the other day that he beat Norm Coleman... KAYE: That's right.

BLITZER: ...who was running for governor of Minnesota, who was then, what, the mayor of St. Paul?

KAYE: That's right. He -- Norm Coleman was the mayor of St. Paul. Jesse Ventura had actually been the mayor of a small town in Minnesota. But he beat him and he says if he can debate him, he'll beat him again.

BLITZER: Randi, thanks very much for that story.

We'll watch to see what he decides.

On our Political Ticker, Senator Barack Obama's campaign plane wasn't tampered with. That word today from federal investigators looking into an incident on Monday. Obama's plane had to make an emergency landing in St. Louis when the evacuation chute partially opened during the flight. The NTSB says there's no indication the chute was tampered with or that any components were missing. The chute is in the tail cone of the Midwest Airlines plane.

Remember, for the latest political news any time, check out

The first lady loves songs -- the first lady of France, that is. She's pouring our heart and some of it -- some of it is sort of racy.

Plus, camping out for the iPhone ahead in our Hot Shots.

We'll be right back.


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

In Baghdad, a boy looks at the remnants of a car after an explosion targets the Iraqi Army.

In New York, steel beams are placed, as construction at the World Trade Center site continues.

In Japan, camping outside a cell phone store for the new iPhone.

And in Alaska, check it out -- father and son gaze through binoculars to see a black bear. Some of this hour's Hot Shots.

She was a supermodel. Now she's got a new album out. Oh, and, by the way, she's the wife of the French president making beautiful music.

Do people want to hear it?

Here's CNN's Mallika Kapur.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. It's quite a jazzy one, this one.

MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's out with album number three -- her first as France's first lady. Carla Bruni's album releases in Europe this week, though it's already been available free on her Web site, giving critics like this radio deejay in London a chance to make up their minds.

NICK SNAITH, HEART 106.2: It sound a little bit -- a bit kind of almost Fisher Price My First Album. I mean that's a horrible there is nothing to say, because she -- I mean, she is good. But it's not my kind of thing and I think because of the style of the music, I think she'll be in for a hard time with the critics.

KAPUR: It's not easy pleasing critics when you're Carla Bruni, the former model turned singer turned presidential spouse. It's taken months for the French public, initially skeptical of her colorful past, to warm to her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact she's turned to singing, the fact that she's had so many liaisons and the fact that she's got such an exquisite sense of style, the mixture of all these things is very potent. And the French, who do feel defensive culturally these days, are only too pleased to boost her and also show a great deal of affection for her.

KAPUR: Her popularity is rubbing off on her husband. His approval ratings have improved since the two got married in February and there's often more attention on her than him during trips abroad.

So what kind of relationship do the couple share?

Her songs may hold a clue. In a song called, "You Are My Drug," Bruni sings of a passion more lethal than heroin from Afghanistan and more dangerous than Colombian coke. In another, she croons, "you are my lord, my orgy." She could be singing about her husband, but the first lady isn't telling. She says most of the album was written before she met the president.

It's a bit early to tell if this album will do as well as her first one, which sold around two million copies, or better than the second, which sold only around 400,000. But the first lady says she's not doing it for fame or fortune. She's decided not to hold concerts for this album and royalties will go the charity.

Mallika Kapur, CNN, London.


BLITZER: Wow! What a first lady.

All right, check out our new SITUATION ROOM screen saver and stay up to date on the latest political news. You can download it at

That's it for me. Lou Dobbs standing by -- Lou.