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Bin Laden's Driver Sentenced; Troops Could Leave Iraq by 2010; China to President Bush: Butt Out

Aired August 7, 2008 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, a stunning development that could affect U.S. troops. Iraqi officials tell CNN there's a deal under way for all American combat troops to leave Iraq by the end of 2010. We have details.
And there's no unity over lingering issues between supporters for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. There are differences over money and how to applaud Clinton's primary accomplishments.

And CNN prods the U.S. Navy into revealing that a nuclear submarine has been leaking radiation for more than two years, and that vessel stopped in foreign waters and in the United States.

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

But we begin with breaking news out of Guantanamo Bay, a sentence for Salim Hamdan, the driver for Osama bin Laden.

Let's go right to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

This is going to surprise, it's going to stun a lot much people when they hear what they decided about a sentence for Salim Hamdan.


A very surprising development in the first war crimes trial at Guantanamo Bay. Salim Hamdan, the Yemeni man said to be the driver and courier for Osama bin Laden, sentenced to five and a half years by the military jury at Guantanamo Bay.

But listen to this, Wolf. He gets credit for the five years he has already served at Guantanamo Bay. That leaves Salim Hamdan with a six-month jail sentence at that military facility.

Now, according to U.S. officials, what will happen is he will be segregated from the population. He will serve that six-month sentence as essentially a convicted war criminal. After six months, he will be put back in the general population at Guantanamo Bay, and then once again could become, could become eligible for an administrative review and potential release if he is deemed no longer to be a security threat or have any intelligence of value to the United States.

Now, I must tell you it appears unlikely at this point he would be released back to his home country of Yemen. But I think most Americans would also say it would have been unlikely he would have only been sentenced to six months. Prosecutors had wanted 30 years -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thirty years, and they got basically, effectively, six months more, and then he leaves. It's a pretty amazing story.

All right. We're going to continue to follow this, Barbara. Thanks very much for that update.

There's another major story we're following right now, and it regards a timeline for pulling troops out of Iraq. There's talk of a deal under way right now for all U.S. combat troops to leave Iraq in just two years. If such a deal were to go through, it would dramatically alter the course of the Iraq war and likely the current course of the presidential campaign as well. At least that's a strong possibility.

Let's go straight to our Brian Todd. He's been looking into these details.

What are we picking up, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're picking up some very different tones being taken on this deal between Baghdad and Washington. The Iraqis being much more specific about timetables than the Americans seem willing to be.


TODD (voice over): How close U.S. troops really are to pulling out of Iraq depends on who you talk to, in which capital. In Baghdad, Iraqi officials, including a Shiite member of parliament from the same party as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, tells CNN they've been close to a deal with the U.S. for about a week. They say that agreement would call for U.S. combat troops to leave by the end of December 2010, with the rest of the troops out a year later.

Another important date, they say, June 30, 2009. By then, the deal calls for American troops to leave the cities and stay inside their bases.

But in Washington, much more caution. Two senior U.S. officials tell CNN the two sides are close to a deal on a so-called status of forces agreement, but they say an announcement is not imminent because of unresolved issues.

In Washington, a timetable to withdraw combat troops by late 2010 is seen as an aspirational goal being floated by the Iraqis. In recent weeks, U.S. officials have spoken in more deliberate tones than the Iraqis about a deal and its conditions.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They agreed, the president and the prime minister and their negotiators, that any decision should be based on conditions, should not be arbitrary, and it should not tie the hands of our commanders.

TODD: The U.S. says any deal will pivot almost completely on security conditions on the ground. If U.S. officials aren't talking about timetables, why would the Iraqis?

MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, the Iraqis have a very simple kind of political situation not unlike our own. They want to be seen as running their own country by their citizens in the prelude to various elections they're going to be having as well.


TODD: And a big dispute is over U.S. authority to detain people. The Iraqis want detentions to take place only with a warrant from a judge. But that does not work for the Americans because they often have to move on time-sensitive intelligence and detain people on less than an hour's notice, Wolf, one of many points of contention.

BLITZER: And another major point, sticking point, is illegal immunity for U.S. personnel in Iraq.

TODD: That's right. The Iraqis want to be able to try American personnel, contractors, soldiers, others, who commit crimes there. The Americans say they want either immunity or they want the American officials to be able to try them. That is a very sensitive point in these negotiations right now.

BLITZER: Negotiations continue.

Brian, thanks very much.

There's another episode of diplomatic drama unfolding as well. President Bush arrives in China for the Olympic games, just as China effectively tells him to butt out of Chinese affairs. It's put out a blunt reaction to the president's rather blunt criticism of China's human rights records. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman says, and I'm quoting now, "We firmly oppose any words or acts that interfere in other countries' internal affairs."

Our White House correspondent, Elaine Quijano, has more on what the president said -- Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, in his strongest language of the trip, President Bush criticized China over human rights.


QUIJANO (voice over): Just ahead of his visit to Beijing, President Bush tried to maintain a respectful but firm tone in chastising China for its dismal record on human rights and religious freedom.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America stands in firm opposition to China's detention of political dissidents and human rights advocates and religious activists.

QUIJANO: His speech in Bangkok had been reported on almost a full 24 hours before, after the White House, in a move guaranteeing increased news coverage, took the unusual step of releasing the entire address to reporters ahead of time. The president, sticking largely to the prepared text, aimed carefully-crafted China remarks at a dual audience. First, activists and some U.S. lawmakers who argue his Beijing visit allows China to whitewash human rights abuses.

BUSH: I have spoken clearly and candidly and consistently with China's leaders about our deep concerns over religious freedom and human rights.

QUIJANO: The president's second audience? China's government.

BUSH: We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly, and labor rights, not to antagonize China's leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential.


QUIJANO: In giving his speech here in Thailand, not China, the president intentionally blunted the force of his own criticism, allowing China its big moment, the Summer Olympic games. The president's next stop? Beijing, where his first day will include the opening ceremony -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Elaine Quijano is traveling with the president right now on the way to Beijing.

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

Lots of news happening already on this day, Jack.


Hillary Clinton apparently has not gotten the message yet that it is over. She's now trying to find a way for her delegates to be heard at the convention, saying that it will help unify the party. And she has not ruled out having her name placed into nomination.

Clinton told supporters at a California fund-raiser last week the party will come out stronger if people feel their voices were heard and respected. She spoke of a "incredible pent-up desire" on the part of her supporters, saying people want to feel like it's a catharsis, and then, then they'll get behind Barack Obama.

It's all beginning to sound like group therapy to me.

Under DNC rules, Clinton would have to submit a request to have her name placed in nomination. She said that decision hasn't been made as yet. Several groups of her supporters are planning marches and demonstrations in Denver and are collecting petitions, signatures to nominate her.

"TIME" magazine says in public, Hillary Clinton's doing everything she's been asked to do to help Barack Obama. But behind the scenes, it's a different story, according to "TIME."

Associates say Clinton's still skeptical that Obama can win. And if he loses, that could set the stage for her to run again in four years.

And then there's Bill Clinton, who continues to pout. Earlier this week, he refused to tell an interviewer if he thought Obama was ready to be president, instead giving some lame line about nobody's ever ready, and the Constitution sets out qualifications for president.

He's acting like a 5-year-old.

Needless to say, none of this is helpful to Barack Obama. His campaign and the Clintons put out a joint statement saying that they're working together and the party is "fully unified."


Here's the question. Do you think Hillary Clinton wants Barack Obama to win? Go to, and you can post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.

As Jack just explained, it could be a show of party unity or a clash of political will. There are serious problems right now over what Hillary Clinton's role should be at the Democrats' convention in Denver. Tensions that Barack Obama has also been talking about today.

Stand by. We have a lot more on this story coming up.

Also, a lion goes on a rampage, killing animals, then setting its sights on a woman and a 7-year-old girl. But the woman fights back.

And the governor who was once called "The Terminator" gets tough. Arnold Schwarzenegger battles Democrats in California, but he faces one huge problem.

Lots of news happening right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: In less than three weeks, Democrats will try to put on a show of unity at their big convention in Denver. But behind the scenes, a clash of wills could still unfold. There's an issue of whether or not Senator Clinton will be nominated at the convention, and she's talking about the issue of allowing her name to actually be on a roll call vote.

Jessica Yellin has been looking into this story for us.

And potentially, there could be a nightmare out there for Democrats. What do we know?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the problem is that almost half of the delegates at the convention are Clinton backers. The Democratic Party wants everyone unified behind one person, that's Barack Obama, and it's not at all clear that they will be.


YELLIN (voice over): Barack Obama says all is well with Senator Clinton, as their staffs hammer out plans for the convention.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm letting our respective teams work out the details. I don't think we're looking for catharsis. I think what we're looking for is energy and excitement about the prospects of changing this country. And I think that people who supported a whole range of different candidates during the primary are going to come out of that convention feeling absolutely determined that we've got to take the White House back.

YELLIN: Senator Clinton will deliver a keynote speech at the event, and Bill Clinton's possible role is still being worked out.

Another issue remains unresolved. Will Senator Clinton risk stealing the spotlight from Barack Obama by having her name placed in nomination? Some Clinton supporters are demanding she have a roll call vote for history. Speaking to some of her most ardent backers, she suggested that she agrees.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: What will happen at the convention in respect to, you know, my putting my name in nomination, a roll call vote, and the usual kind of process that occurs at conventions...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vice president.

CLINTON: Well, you know, we're trying to work that out with the Obama campaign and with the DNC. I know just from what I'm hearing, that there's just this incredible pent-up desire. And I think that, you know, people want to feel like, OK, it's a catharsis, we're here, we did it, and then everybody get behind Senator Obama.

YELLIN: If there is a roll call for Clinton, it would happen early in the day, when presumably few viewers would be paying attention. But even some Clinton backers say it's the wrong move. One described it as a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


YELLIN: Now, Clinton could be in a tight spot here, since some of her most passionate supporters are pressing for her to put her name in nomination. There's a risk that they could revolt if she doesn't, in which case Clinton would take the heat for being divisive. And, of course, if she does what the supporters want, Wolf, she'll also be accused of being divisive by putting her name into this roll-call vote.

So, she's damned if she does, damned if she doesn't. BLITZER: And those Democrats, they're looking for a way to be unified coming out of this convention, and we'll see what happens. But that's a critically important issue right now for the Democrats.

Jessica, thanks very much.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, John McCain is using an interesting new way to try to describe how he hopes to fix the nation's economic problems.

CNN's Ed Henry has more on what's going on, as McCain uses a term often used for Iraq.

Ed, what's going on?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's interesting. John McCain was already trying to get political credit for the surge working in Iraq. What's interesting, now he's taking the same approach to fixing the economy.


HENRY (voice over): Using the same language as the war debate, John McCain is now vowing to boost the economy with tax cuts, just as vigorously as he worked to send more troops to Iraq last year.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we need is an economic strategy, an economic surge, a successful economic surge to keep jobs here at home and create new ones.

HENRY: McCain also sharpened his attacks on Barack Obama, mocking his lack of experience.

MCCAIN: All Americans should be proud of his accomplishments. But Washington is full of talented talkers.

HENRY: In a new refrain, he charged Obama's economic approach boils down to increasing taxes and government spending.

MCCAIN: The government's too big, he wants to grow it. Taxes are too high, he wants to raise them. The Congress spends too much, and he proposes more. We need more energy, and he's against producing it.

HENRY: McCain was particularly harsh on energy, yet again hammering the Democrat for urging Americans to inflate their tires.

MCCAIN: He's claiming that putting air in your tires is the equivalent -- is the equivalent of new offshore drilling. That's not an energy plan, my friends, that's a public service announcement.

HENRY: Obama fired back that the tire gauge issue shows McCain is more interested in scoring political points than solving the crisis.

OBAMA: You've got a -- number one, John McCain pretending that that was some centerpiece of my policy, as opposed to a response to a town hall meeting. Then it turns out that John McCain himself said actually inflating your tires is a smart thing to do, as did President Bush.


HENRY: But the McCain camp feels that they are scoring on energy. When McCain blasted Congress today at a town hall meeting for going home, going on vacation before dealing with gas prices, there was a big, big standing ovation. A McCain operative turns to me and said, "We're kicking 'blank' on energy." Clearly, they think they've got Obama on the defensive on this issue -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Ed. Thanks.

Ed's in Ohio covering the McCain campaign for us.

In his own words, Barack Obama focusing in today on Americans hardest hit by the faltering economy. While flying from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Chicago, Obama talked about the core differences between his economic solutions and John McCain's.


OBAMA: Well, we've been talking about the economy the entire campaign. And the stories that I hear on the campaign trail of single moms who can't afford groceries, or don't have health care, folks who have lost their jobs, and if they find a new job they're getting paid two-thirds of what they were making before with fewer benefits, that's been the constant refrain of this election season.

The American people are hurting and they're anxious. And our economic plans specifically provide them relief and meet the short term, putting more money into their pockets, and long-term relief in terms of serious health care policy, an energy policy that can drive down gas prices, making sure that we're investing in roads and bridges and schools and other infrastructure here in the United States that can put people back to work.

So, you know, my sense is, is that during the summer months, people are not going to be paying as much attention as they're going to be paying in September and October. And the key, not just for our campaign, but I think the key for this election cycle, is for the American people to be very clear about the choices that they face when they go into that ballot box on November 4th.

And, you know, the challenges are clear, that John McCain and I have a fundamentally different view of our tax policy. He wants to give tax breaks to corporations. I want to give tax breaks to middle class families.

We have a fundamentally different view on health care. I want to provide health care for all Americans and reduce costs for those who have it. John McCain wants to put forward a Bush proposal that endangers the core (ph) base system. So, on a whole host of these issues, there are going to be some very clear contrasts. And I think when the American people start focusing on those contrasts, they will see two fundamentally different visions of where we can take America.


BLITZER: A schoolteacher looking through a telescope makes a discovery that's amazing scientists. You're going to find out about the so-called "cosmic ghost." That's coming up.

Plus, Barack Obama isn't the only candidate who's getting a lot of traffic out there on YouTube. How John McCain is now getting millions of Web surfers to click.



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

Happening now, Pakistan's ruling coalition leaders say it's good news for democracy. They say they plan to impeach President Pervez Musharraf, but will this unleash civil war, spell some sort of disaster for relations between the U.S. and its critical ally in the war on terrorism? Stand by for details.

Detroit's mayor now in a jail cell for violating the terms of his bond. A judge says Kwame Kilpatrick took an unauthorized trip to Canada. Kilpatrick is facing charges, including perjury and obstruction of justice in a text-messaging scandal.

And your confidential information at risk. We're going to tell you just how ridiculously easy it is for hackers to steal your credit card and account numbers.

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

But, first, let's go to Susan Candiotti right now. She's working on an important story. We're just getting details.

What are we learning, Susan?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we have learned that a man is currently being held without bond in Miami for allegedly threatening to kill Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

This man was arrested and had a brief hearing in court this day, after, according to the Secret Service and an affidavit that we have ahold of, that he was a bail bondsman and he was attending a class in Miami on -- between July and the early part of August.

During that time, according to two people who were taking that class, he made a threat against Barack Obama, and also allegedly made a threat against President George Bush. This man's name is Raymond Hunter Geisel -- or Geisel. He has allegedly, according to the authorities, denied making these threats.

But, in addition to the charges, authorities say that they also seized from his SUV and from his hotel room a number of different items, including a machete, police emergency lights that were wired to his SUV, armor-piercing bullets, which, by the way, are legal in Florida, along with many rounds of ammunition, including for a .9- millimeter handgun, several knives, some tear gas, et cetera.

Now, what he apparently said, according to one witness, allegedly said, is, referring to Barack Obama, that, and using a derogatory term, "If he gets elected, I will assassinate him myself." And then, according to another witness, he allegedly said he wanted to put a bullet into President -- into the president's head.

At the same time, the Secret Service is saying that, when he allegedly made these threats, that President Bush, at that time, was in Kennebunkport, Maine, and that Barack Obama was making some campaign appearances in Florida.

So, again, he is being held without bond at this time and charged only with making, allegedly, that threat against Barack Obama -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Susan, thanks very much.

Susan Candiotti is in our Miami bureau.

Out in California, there's a face-off right now, in one corner, the governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the other, legislators deadlocked over a new state budget.

Let's go to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. He's working the story for us.

What's the governor in California up to, Bill?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he's trying to show that you can be a moderate and a tough guy at the same time.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Showdown in Sacramento, the "Governator" vs. the legislature.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: Until the legislature passes a budget that I can sign, I will not sign any bills that reach my desk.

SCHNEIDER: California faces a $15.2 billion budget deficit. And the state budget is six weeks overdue. Is this the old story of a Republican governor facing down a Democratic legislature? Not exactly. California law requires a two-thirds majority to pass a budget, which means the Democratic majority in the legislature can't pass a budget without some Republican votes.

But the Republicans won't support tax hikes, and the Democrats don't want big spending cuts.

SCHWARZENEGGER: No one can get their way, because they're too far apart. And I think that this is what I'm trying to accomplish.

SCHNEIDER: How? By imposing consequences. Governor Schwarzenegger has ordered pay cuts and layoffs for state workers. He even proposed a temporary sales tax increase, thereby breaking his promise not to raise taxes.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Everything is on the table. And I think this is the only way to really make both of the parties come together.

SCHNEIDER: Bipartisanship is difficult when you have got a legislature filled with entrenched partisans in safe seats. So, the governor faces a dilemma.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the only centrist that is really elected in Sacramento. The other ones are either very liberal Democrats or very conservative Republican. And neither side wants to budge.

SCHNEIDER: So, what can the governor do? Get tough, knocks heads, keep the pressure on. Will it work?

KAREN BASS, CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY SPEAKER: I really do believe that we will have the budget signed, sealed and delivered well before the executive order would go into effect.


SCHNEIDER: Message to the next president: When you have partisan gridlock, you have to be a tough guy to force politicians to come together -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Bill Schneider, with that story.

Meanwhile, there's a U.S. submarine that's leaking nuclear material. We're now learning details, new details, about just how many places the submarine visited. That story is coming up.

And a new McCain ad is full of praise for the GOP candidate, and it's Democrats who have some nice things to say in that ad. Could it backfire? Our "Strategy Session," that's coming up as well.

And Detroit's controversial mayor now ordered to go to jail. You're going to find out what happened and more -- right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Raw and unfiltered, John McCain in the battleground Ohio today. The dismal economy and what to do about it was the focus of his town hall meeting in Lima. He also said he's not out to make friends in the halls of Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCAIN: I spoke up against out-of-control spending. I spoke up against the administration and Congress and Senator Obama when they gave us an energy bill with more than giveaways to big oil and really no solution to our energy problems. I want to take a minute here on this issue because I think Senator Obama might be a little bit confused.

Yesterday, he accused me of having President Bush's policies on energy. That's odd, because he voted for the president's energy bill and I voted against it. I voted against -- it had $2.8 billion in corporate welfare to big oil companies, and they're already making record profits, as you know.

Senator Obama voted for that bill and its big oil giveaways. I know he hasn't been in the Senate that long, but even in the real world, voting for something -- voting for something means you support it and voting against something means you oppose it.

Anyway, my friends, just like on the energy bill, I have argued for reform and change in Washington for years, and it hasn't made me friends. It hasn't made me friends in Washington.

My friends, I was not elected Miss Congeniality again this year. But I don't answer to them, I answer to you. I answer to you.

You will always know exactly where I stand and you will always know, no matter what, I always do what I believe is right for our country. I will put my country first. If there's anything you take from this meeting, I will put my country first.


MCCAIN: For his part, Senator Obama is an impressive orator. I applaud his talent and I applaud his success. All Americans should be proud of his accomplishments.

But Washington is full of talented talkers, my friends. And unfortunately, on issues big and small, what Senator Obama says and what he does are two different things.

Senator Obama says he's going to change Washington, but his plan is to raise your taxes and spend more of your money. It's not my idea of a solution of what troubles Washington. In fact, it sounds a lot like the problem.

In the few years he's been in the Senate, he has requested nearly $1 billion in earmarked pork barrel spending. That's $1 million almost for every day that he spent in office.

We need to end this out-of-control spending in Washington, and when I'm president, we will stop it. And I'm proud to stand before you to tell you that I have never asked for nor received a single earmarked pork barrel project for my state. I'm proud of it.

I will veto. I will veto.


MCCAIN: I will veto every pork barrel bill that comes across my desk. I will make them famous, and you will know their names, my friends. You will know their names. We will stop this corruption.



BLITZER: Senator McCain's creative -- creative new ads are making him somewhat of a hit out there on YouTube.

Let's go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.

Abbi, what is going on? He's got some new popularity out there.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, it's from these videos targeting Senator Barack Obama, the celebrity video that came out last week featuring Britney and Paris, and this one called "The One" featuring Senator Obama and Charlton Heston.

Between these two ads, they have garnered him about three million views on YouTube. Those are the kind of numbers usually enjoyed by Senator Barack Obama. But this week, it's been McCain's YouTube channel that's put him in the top five most viewed list, not bad for a candidate who's called himself computer-illiterate.

Recently, the campaign as really been pushing their message online. One recent initiative has been this one, offering supporters points every time they post a pro-McCain comment on a blog or on a news site.

On YouTube, this message seems to be spreading now, though the last laugh might go to Paris Hilton. Her response ad calling McCain a wrinkly white-headed guy, that one has already topped five million views online -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Abbi. It's amazing. Appreciate it.

Right now, some foreign governments are concerned, after the United States revealed that a Navy nuclear submarine has a radiation leak. It's called the USS Houston. They Navy at first thought it had been leaking some small amounts of radiation since March. Now it turns out the problem has existed for more than two years.

In a report on the leak, the Navy describes it as so small, so small, it was below the limit of detection by personnel on the ship. The military says at no time was there a risk to the reactor plant or to the safety of the crew, the public, or the environment.

During the two years, the sub made stops in Hawaii, Guam, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.

We also have a few more facts about the USS Houston. It's based out of Guam. It's a Navy fast attack submarine, carries cruise missiles and special operations forces, carries out intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

The USS Navy (sic) is one of 54 Navy fast attack submarines currently deployed all over the world. All of them, by the way, contain nuclear reactors.

Top Democrats, even Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, now praising John McCain. It's part of a new Web ad for the GOP candidate. But will it work?

And Hillary Clinton, if she allows her name to be placed into nomination, will it be good for the party or bad? Our "Strategy Session," and a lot more -- coming up next.


BLITZER: There's a story developing out of Beijing at the International Airport.

Our Elaine Quijano is aboard the U.S. media's press charter flight arrived there, planning to cover the president's visit to the Olympic Games.

Elaine, what's going on, on the plane?

QUIJANO: Well, Wolf, it was about two-and-a-half-hours ago that the charter touched down here in Beijing, normally, of course, a delay not an issue.

But what's happening now is that we are in the critical time period where the media may not be able to make the only open press event during the president's time here in Beijing. And that is a U.S. Embassy opening ceremony that was set to -- or that is set to take place just a few hours from now.

I should tell you that, just a short time ago, officials here handed out our passports and departure card and arrival cards. It was moments ago we were told that, essentially, we still don't have any kind of time frame on when we might be getting off this plane.

Now, the White House is saying that there are logistical issues, that the agreements that were worked out ahead of time between the U.S. and the Chinese government about how to transport personnel and equipment from the plane to the hotel, those are the details that are apparently being sorted out right now.

So, of course, they hope to resolve the logistical issues shortly. But, Wolf, we're still waiting. Just so you know, it's about an hour from now is when the press were to have departed the hotel in order to make this U.S. Embassy opening. It's looking like that window is going to be closing here very shortly.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to check back with you, Elaine, and get more information.

Elaine Quijano is aboard that U.S. media press charter, the press charter flight in Beijing right now. She says they have been on the ground, scores of American reporters, camera crews, for two-and-a- half-hours so far -- the Chinese government not letting them off yet. But, hopefully, that is about to be resolved.

We will stay in touch with Elaine. She's covering the president's visit to Beijing.

Democrats, meanwhile, are lining up behind John McCain in a brand-new ad that's making the rounds on YouTube. But the video is an old one, the video in the ad. And it maybe could backfire on the McCain campaign.

Let's discuss this and more in our "Strategy Session." Joining us, our CNN contributor the Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, and Republican strategist John Feehery.

Guys, thanks very much for coming in.

I will play a little clip from this new McCain ad.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: And I have enormous respect for him. He's a courageous, patriotic American who stands up for what he believes.

HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I admire Senator McCain greatly. And he's one of the people we model our campaign over -- on, because he is very direct, very blunt, and nobody has to guess at what he's thinking.

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: I love John McCain. He's a great guy.


BLITZER: All right, Donna, what do you think of that strategy, that the Republicans now have, use the Democrats' own words praising McCain in this new ad?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, as Senator John Kerry said today, that the McCain that he sees on the campaign trail, he wouldn't recognize the old McCain that he's, you know, familiar working with.

It's -- it's a funny ad. It's an attempt once again by the McCain campaign to -- to change the subject. They clearly do not want to talk about the issues. And now they're bringing up tapes of John -- John Kerry and Howard Dean, clearly people who firmly support Barack Obama.

BLITZER: What do you think?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I loved the ad. I thought it was a great ad, because it goes after the independent voters and the Reagan Democrats. It made me kind of chuckle, because I remember a lot of those Democrats were praising John McCain when my ex-bosses weren't really fond of John McCain.

John McCain is the same John McCain. He's a maverick. He's always been a maverick. As he says time and time again, he's -- he will never win Miss Congeniality in Congress. But that's probably a good thing with most Americans, since Congress is held in so low regard.

BLITZER: Donna, what do you think about this -- these latest comments from Hillary Clinton, saying, you know what, maybe her name should be placed in nomination at the convention? Catharsis, she used that word.

This could dramatically divide the Democrats, at a time when, I assume, they want to be unified?

BRAZILE: Well, Hillary Clinton is deeply committed to unifying the Democratic Party.

You probably will see reports over the next couple of days that the Democratic platform will include many of the issues that she raised in the campaign. Senator Clinton would like to make sure that her 18 million voters are respected.

The delegates will go to that convention. They want an opportunity to show their appreciation and support for Hillary Clinton. But there's no question that Senator Clinton backs Senator Obama, and she will campaign vigorously for him throughout the...


BLITZER: But this will revive a lot of bad memories for the Democrats, how bitterly divided the party was during those 50-plus contests.

FEEHERY: This is not happy news for Barack Obama.

The fact of the matter is that I -- Hillary Clinton actually thinks she would make a better president than Barack Obama. She is actually showing -- wants to show her support in the convention, not only for this convention, but for perhaps in four years, when she runs again for president.

I think that Hillary Clinton still doesn't believe that Barack Obama should be president, that she should be president. And I think a lot of her supporters believe that. And, so, this is not happy news for Barack Obama.

BRAZILE: Well, if you look at every poll, every poll indicates that Hillary supporters are now backing Senator Obama -- not everyone. There are still people who will e-mail me tonight and e-mail you tomorrow and say, I will not support Obama under no circumstances.

But, by and large, Clinton supporters are on board. And the two campaigns, despite all of this chatter, they're working very well together.

BLITZER: When you -- when you say that, because it -- it doesn't smell right. It doesn't smell that -- pass that smell test. If she's going to do this, then -- and maybe she's not going to do it when all of the dust settles. Maybe she's just using it as a negotiating format right now.


BLITZER: But you know the history. Whenever there have been these divided Democratic Conventions, usually, the Democratic nominee winds up losing.

BRAZILE: Wolf, I think the media is trying to find something to do at night, other than to cover the speeches. And, clearly, there will be people on the floor that will wear their Hillary Clinton buttons until hell freezes over.

BLITZER: Yes, but it...

BRAZILE: But the truth is, is that the party is unified. I have been to many states and I have talked to the delegates. They want to help Senator Obama. They want Senator Obama to give them assignments. This party will be unified.

BLITZER: That's -- I assume it's good news, you think, for McCain?

FEEHERY: It's historically significant if she does it. History proves, as you said before, that, if she does this, it's not good for Barack Obama.

BLITZER: Guys, thanks very much for coming in. We will watch. We will see what happens.

You have heard about their energy policy, about their economic plans. But what do you know about the candidates' other opinions, like their favorite superheroes? That's coming up next.

Congress has been talking about it, but few people have actually heard of it. Is there really a jail inside Capitol Hill? Yes, there is. And we're going to take you underground to show it to you.

Plus, a car, a laptop and a wireless connection, federal officials say this is how hackers stole millions in the biggest identity theft case in American history. We're going to show you what they did and how they did it.


BLITZER: Barack Obama and John McCain want to be president of the United States, but who would they be if they were superheroes?

"Entertainment Weekly" magazine asked that and other pop culture question. The last movie they saw? The new "Indiana Jones" film for McCain. Obama believes his last movie was "Shrek 3." And if they could battle evildoers as masked crusaders, McCain would be Batman, Obama either Batman or Spider-Man. And their favorite fictional president, McCain says "24"'s David Palmer -- ironic, because he played the first African-American president. Obama favors the president in "The Contender."

And two little known facts: McCain says the singer Usher, who supports Obama, is his favorite, while Obama's children like "American Idol."

Remember, for the latest political news any time, check out That's also where you can download our new political screen saver. And that's also where you can check out my blog as well.

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

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: Do you think Hillary Clinton wants Barack Obama to win in November?

Gail in Illinois says: "In reality, no. She is not a team player. I still worry about her and Bill turning this convention on its head. She wants to bring a vote to the convention floor, using Florida and Michigan's full votes to topple the nomination of Barack Obama. If this scenario plays out, the Democratic Party will have a rift so large, we will never win another national election."

Carlo in Louisiana: "Truth is, Jack, we can't read her mind. All we can go on is what we see. I see a woman who created an army of monsters in her attempt to clinch the nomination, and her polarizing politics not only alienated Democrats, but it has vitalized the GOP. They are using her words against Obama as we speak. Perhaps she regrets some of the things her campaign did. However, the PUMAs and the other bitter supporters are like runaway trains, and I don't think even Hillary Clinton can press the brakes on them."

Ralph in New York writes: "No, Jack, but can you blame her? It is hard to sit on the sidelines or campaign for Obama, knowing that she won at least half of the popular vote and so many elected delegates. Obama did not win the primaries by a blowout, and while she wants to be considered loyal to the Democrats, I am sure the Clintons would love to see a movement at the Democratic National Convention that would give her the nomination."

Therese writes: "The Clintons are campaigning for themselves to win in 2012, and they will step over Barack Obama to get their victory. Shame on them both for putting their own ambitions above the party's goals. They may think they have loyal supporters now, but, if the Republicans win in November, many of us will hold the Clintons responsible."

And, finally, Denise in Brooklyn writes: "The only answer that comes to mind is the fact that you are desperate to create fodder where there is none. Thank you for taking a moment to expose yourself and your associates for the mud-diggers that you are."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at, and maybe you will find it there -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

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