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Interview With Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili; Presidential Debate Review

Aired August 18, 2008 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And happening now: The United States is accusing Russia of playing a very dangerous game. There are new doubts this hour about whether Moscow is actually withdrawing troops from the Republic of Georgia, as it claims. I'm standing by to speak live with the Georgian president, Mikhail Saakashvili. I will ask him what's happening on the ground in his country right now.
Plus, a new taste of what an Obama/McCain debate may be like. A forum on faith drives home the candidates' very different styles. The best political team on television is standing by for that.

And Tropical Storm Fay bears down on Key West and threatens to slam into the Florida coast with potentially hurricane strength. We're tracking the storm. We will give you the latest on what's going on.

We want to welcome our viewers in United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The Bush administration raising new concerns right now about Russia's intentions -- a senior Pentagon official saying there's -- quote -- "little evidence" that Moscow is actually withdrawing its troops from Georgia, as the Russians claim.

In fact, that official here in Washington suggests Russian forces may actually be digging in deeper inside Georgia.

Let's get the latest from the Georgian president, Mikhail Saakashvili. He's joining us now live from Tbilisi.

Is that your understanding, Mr. President, of what's going on? Have you seen evidence that the Russians are actually withdrawing from your country?

MIKHAIL SAAKASHVILI, PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA: Well, I have seen very little, if any, evidence that they are withdrawing.

What we have seen is and what the world has seen today is that they're widening the zone of occupation. They're invading new towns. And there was business when police in several places tried to stop them, unarmed, just with their cars on the road, and their tanks rolled over and their APCs the police cars and broke through.

They have been distributing leaflets all around Georgia in different towns calling on the population to depose their own government. And I have to tell you that in some places the population met it with civil resistance, with rallies against the tanks, with flags, saying that they will never play by, you know, the rules of the occupiers.

But, anyway, they have been widening the zone. What I'm also worried about is that they have several hundred civilian hostages, mostly women and children, taken by the Russian army. What we know is some kind of internment camp. They are refusing to grant access to International Committee of Red Cross to this -- how do you call them -- these are not even prisoners of war, but basically hostages. And there are also many other worrisome developments.

BLITZER: Here is what the Russian president, Medvedev, says about what's going on inside your country involving Russian troops. Listen to this.


DMITRY MEDVEDEV, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We will continue our resolute policy and maintain security in the entire region with the guaranteed involvement of Russia bringing peace and stability to South Ossetia.


BLITZER: Clearly the Russians, Mr. President, are differentiating between Georgia and these two areas, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

They're suggesting that these two areas are never going to be fully integral territorial parts of Georgia, that they're going to keep their troops there. And I wonder what, if anything, you or the West, NATO, the United States can do about it.

SAAKASHVILI: Well, they have been trying to do this for many years already.

But what they are doing now, it's a cynical defiance to the world. They are making fun of the world and the idea of humanity. What they call as peace and stability involves large-scale ethnic cleansing, documented by Human Rights Watch and other international organizations, involved lots of women and children in internment camps.

It involves rapes, killings, lootings and all kinds of other activities. It involves dropping, as we speak, incendiary bombs on our natural parks and destroying the natural parks that were under the World Bank and other international organizations' protections.

What they have been doing here was unimaginable. And the scale of this is unimaginable for me. I have seen many things about war in Afghanistan or other places, but this is like old Russians' kind of brutality or Soviet brutality of the past in a nutshell implemented in my country.

Do they call it peace and stability? Do they call it peacekeeping? I mean, nothing can be more cynical than that. BLITZER: So...

SAAKASHVILI: And I think this is not about -- I think what the world should do, the world should never recognize it. We will roll back this aggression. My people will never reconcile with it.

And, no matter what, we will not surrender. And, in the end, they certainly will be defeated. Morally, I think they are already defeated, but they will be defeated because there is no such brutal aggression can prevail if the world has future. I'm sure the world has the right future, anyway, despite everything.

BLITZER: Are you satisfied with the response from the United States so far?

SAAKASHVILI: Well, we have been getting lots of solidarities from -- not only from President Bush and members of the administration -- and I'm very grateful for that one -- but also for what has been a bipartisan support, but also lots of ordinary people, ordinary Americans, sending their messages of sympathy, collecting money for humanitarian assistance.

Georgia needs lots of assistance, but, at this point, what Georgia really needs, what Georgian people really need, because they are really resisting heroically -- they didn't panic. They didn't collide. And nobody has ever bombed Georgia in the past. But they went for this. This is a modern, developed European country.

But what people really need is these words of moral support and solidarity, and we are getting lots of it. And that's something that will, I'm sure, stay forever, not only in the history of this country, but in the history of other countries of the region, because everybody is watching. Is free world going to rally, as President Bush said? Is free world going to stand up for its principles or the lies and deceit and the evil that is right now happening to my country, or are all this going to prevail?

And I think, in the end, good will prevail over evil, no matter what.

BLITZER: Mikhail Saakashvili is the president of Georgia.

Mr. President, thanks once again for joining us. We will check back with you tomorrow.

SAAKASHVILI: Thank you so much, sir.

Let's go to Michael Ware. He's our man on the scene right now. He's watching what is happening on the ground.

Michael, the Pentagon is suggesting they see absolutely no evidence that the Russians are withdrawing their combat forces from Georgia. In fact, they see a digging-in of these Russian troops in Georgia, despite the cease-fire agreement. You're on the scene for us. What are you seeing and hearing? MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I spent all day today running around the eastern front of this wall here in Georgia. So, that's essentially the area of Georgia proper, just below South Ossetia.

Now, I will tell you what I saw. In the town of Gori, when I got in there, it's all but vacant of the local population, except the old and the infirm and a few scant families. Now, what those people were telling me was that, whilst the city remains under Russian domination, there appeared to be less Russian troops than the day before.

However, in other positions around the city that I have personally witnessed, I saw Russian troops digging in literally, either gouging trenches into the hillsides, sandbagging positions, cutting fresh foliage to camouflage armor. And, indeed, the incident that the Georgian president referred to, where Russian armor bashed through a roadblock of Georgian police vehicles, I was there, and I witnessed that.

At the same time, I also had a Russian soldier tell me that he and his men were tired. They didn't want war. They just wanted to go home. Yet, at the same time, oddly, given what the Georgian president says about internment camps, I can't speak to that. I have no evidence of that.

But I can tell you, on the front line today, all day, there was discussions of a hostage exchange of some ill-defined nature. So, it's a very complicated, very foggy picture out there. But I can tell you that, as of dusk, when we left this evening, despite Russian soldiers on the checkpoints saying they had orders that they would be pulling back when the sun went down, as we were leaving the front line, those forces remained in place.

Indeed, the incident involving the police guards was in fact a Russian advance of several kilometers and that the Russians in certain positions had, indeed, been digging in throughout the day -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And we are showing our viewers those pictures, amazing pictures, of a Russian tank simply crushing these Georgian police vehicles, smaller vehicles, as they're going through, as if they're nothing. That's what you were referring to.

But, Michael, the charge -- and it's a very serious charge -- made by President Saakashvili that the Russians are engaged in -- quote -- "ethnic cleansing," you have seen any evidence to back that up?

WARE: No, I haven't yet, Wolf. And I'm not sure that any has yet emerged.

I can tell you, though, that the entire area is virtually evacuated of Georgians. Now, obviously, tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of ethnic Georgians fled the region in the face of not only the advance of the Russian army, but in the face of the activities of South Ossetian irregulars or paramilitaries. Now, they're the ones that the locals fear most. They're the ones that the locals claim have been the most brutal. Now, so we do know that there's definitely a pall of fear hanging over what remains of the Georgian population in that area, that, as I said, the area has been evacuated through flight or some other means or reason, and that the Russian troops remain there, and that there's a lot of questions yet to be answered -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Michael Ware, be careful over there. Good to have you on the scene for all of us here at CNN.

Michael Ware is in Georgia.

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

I don't know about you, Jack, but I think I and all of our viewers are happy that Michael Ware -- I don't know if he's happy, but we're happy that he's watching this story for us.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, he's pretty good at that stuff.

The president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, resigned today after nine years in power. It had simply come down to either quit or we're going to kick you out. His popularity had been declining since March of last year, when his opponents say he misused his constitutional powers by suspending Pakistan's chief justice in a bid to run for another five-year term.

He was reelected president in October, but, in February, voters in Pakistan handed an overwhelming victory to Musharraf's political foes, and he was then facing impeachment if he didn't resign. It was a victory for democracy in Pakistan, but a potential setback for the war on terror.

President Musharraf, you see, has been one of the United States' most important allies in the campaign against al Qaeda in Afghanistan since the 9/11 attacks, or at least that's what we have been told over and over again by Washington. For his support, Pakistan was paid $10 billion.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice thanked Musharraf again today, calling him one of the world's most committed partners in the war against terrorism and extremism. But officials in Afghanistan expressed relief, saying that Musharraf had been an ally of the United States in words only, not by actions -- that's a quote -- and blaming Musharraf for Pakistan's failure to crack down on the growing Taliban insurgency in the tribal border areas.

Even the U.S. had been losing patience with Musharraf recently. They confronted the new coalition government in Pakistan with CIA evidence that the Pakistani intelligence service helped plan a terror attack inside Afghanistan against the Indian Embassy in Kabul last month. But, with Musharraf out of the picture now, what's next?

That's our question: What does the resignation of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf mean for the United States and the war on terror?

Go to and post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, thanks. Good question, Jack Cafferty.

The first presidential debate is weeks away, but the candidates may already have given us somewhat of a sneak peek. They're making it very clear where they disagree.

And Barack Obama hitting hard on issue number one, the economy, telling voters they're not better off today. You're going to hear what both candidates are saying out on the campaign trail.

Plus, urgent rescue efforts over at the Grand Canyon, where dozens are evacuated after a dam bursts.


BLITZER: Exactly one week before the Democratic Convention in Denver, Barack Obama is focusing on voters' economic pain and fears. The Democratic nominee in waiting spoke just a short while ago in the battleground state of New Mexico. Here's some of what he had to say.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you think about what's been happening economically in this country, during Bill Clinton's era, in the 1990s, incomes for the average family went up by $6,000.

During George Bush's reign in the White House, we have seen the average family income go down by $1,000. So, people's economic fortunes have been reversed. Unless you are in the top one-tenth of 1 percent in this country, you are not better off than you were four years ago or eight years ago.

And I don't need to tell you the statistics, because you know it in your own lives. It's harder to save. It's harder to retire. You have not seen your wages go up. You have not seen your incomes go up. You have seen jobs shift overseas. You have seen people lose their health care, people lose their pensions.

And you, at the same time, have seen costs of everything from gasoline to groceries to college education go up and up and up. And so people feel squeezed. And they end up for awhile taking out home equity loans to try to make the budget balanced at the end of the month. Maybe they max out on their credit cards, except now, because nobody was minding the store when it came to mortgages, nobody was paying attention to what predatory lenders were doing, people were being induced to take out loans that they couldn't afford, the housing market has collapsed.

And now people can't use home equity loans, and their credit cards are maxed out, and the credit card companies are always changing the terms, because they have been able to maneuver in Congress to get these laws passed. And they don't know where to turn. The American people are not a pessimistic people. They are, by nature, optimistic. And so people are still working hard, or they're looking for work. They're still doing what they're supposed to be doing. But they also are worried that maybe the American dream is slipping away.


BLITZER: Let's go to Senator McCain right now in his own words, the Republicans speaking to fellow military veterans in Florida today, his message, that he's better equipped than Obama to handle an international crisis like Russia's invasion of Georgia.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are many reasons why the Russian invasion of Georgia is of grave concern to America and to our allies. Above all, Georgia is a struggling democracy where Soviet tyranny is still fresh in memory. There are reports now of Georgian villages being razed, civilians being rounded up, and innocent civilians shot. We have seen such things before, as in the Balkans and in earlier periods of European history, and now we must ensure that events in Georgia do not unfold into a tragedy of greater scale. When young democracies are threatened or attacked, and innocent civilians are targeted, they should be able to count on the free world for support and solidarity.

If I am elected president, they will have that support. And in cooperation with our friends and allies in Europe, we will make it clear to Russia's rulers that acts of violence and intimidation come at a heavy cost.


BLITZER: John McCain speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars today in Florida.

With the convention only days away, the announcement is coming very soon. Who will appear on the Democratic ticket alongside Barack Obama? We're about to examine the possibilities.

And making landfall. Tropical Storm Fay passes over the Florida Keys, and is expected to gain strength. We're going to have the latest.

And a baby separated from its mother -- what rescuers are doing to lure a lost whale back out to sea.



BLITZER: The Bush administration has lost a key ally in the war on terror. Is the U.S. hard-pressed or better off now that Pervez Musharraf has stepped down in Pakistan? And we heard from Barack Obama and John McCain back to back this weekend. Now the best political team on television has some idea of what a first Obama-McCain debate might actually look like.

And why the Democrats landing in Denver for the convention may have a sudden hankering for pizza.

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


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

Happening now: A forum on faith gives a good hint at what the presidential debates might actually look like. The candidates show very different styles and offer very different messages.

Is Barack Obama on the verge of a vice presidential announcement? We're watching and reading all the tea leaves, looking at his likeliest options.

And the world is rocked by Russia's assault on the Republic of Georgia, while a key ally's resignation may impact the war on terror. But what is the impact on American voters? All of this, plus the best political team on television.

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

Barack Obama and John McCain will face off in their first presidential debate in just over a month. But we may have already received a little sneak peek at what we can expect. The White House rivals sounded very different messages at this weekend's faith forum out in California.

Here's CNN's Jessica Yellin -- Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Barack Obama treated the forum almost like a conversation. John McCain treated it more like a campaign event. Don't expect this much harmony at the debate.


YELLIN (voice-over): From the two candidates, very different styles.

When asked who he would turn to for advice as president, Obama went to the personal right away.

OBAMA: Michelle, my wife, who is not only wise, but she's honest. And one of the things you need, I think, any leader needs is somebody who can get up in your face and say boy, you really screwed that one up. You really blew that.

WARREN: Your wife's like that, too?

OBAMA: She is.


OBAMA: So...

YELLIN: McCain was on message, hitting a campaign theme.

MCCAIN: First one, I think, would be General David Petraeus, one of the great military leaders in American history, who took us from defeat to victory in Iraq.

YELLIN: At times, Obama sounded hesitant, as when he was asked about his greatest moral failure.

OBAMA: So -- but, look, you know, that -- when I -- when I find myself taking the wrong step, I think, a lot of the times, it's because I'm trying to protect myself, instead of trying to do God's work.

YELLIN: McCain was to the point.

MCCAIN: The failure of my first marriage. It's my greatest moral failure.

Now we've learned the lessons and we should fix it.

YELLIN: John McCain is freelancing less these days and can be expected to hit his campaign message hard at the debates.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, "WASHINGTON POST": And he's been much more disciplined, much more rigid. And I think you saw that in this event. He stuck very closely to his standard issue successful stump lines.

OBAMA: We've got work to do. This is not going to be easy.

YELLIN: But political observers expect Obama to be just as disciplined and say he won't approach a debate the same way he treated this weekend's conversation on faith.

CILLIZZA: He seemed maybe a little too thoughtful, frankly, for the political dialogue. So my guess would be Barack Obama will be a little bit more confrontational, stick more to his standard stump speech and sort of the stump lines that he's found success with, more so than he did over the weekend.

YELLIN: And keep in mind, this audience was much friendlier for John McCain than for Barack Obama. According to the latest CNN poll, 67 percent of white Evangelicals who plan to vote support McCain. So for Barack Obama, just showing up was half the battle -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jessica, thank you.

Let's discuss this and more with our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley. She was out there. Jack Cafferty is joining us and Steve Hayes of "The Weekly Standard". They're all part of the best political team. I guess a lot of people are wondering, Jack, what did you think?

Who did better, McCain or Obama?

CAFFERTY: Well, I think it's interesting, that fellow in Jessica's piece was complaining that Obama was too thoughtful. Imagine that -- complaining that a politician was being too thoughtful.

I think the entire event has been overshadowed by the controversy over the cone of silence. I think there are serious enough questions raised as to why the pastor would say McCain was in a cone of silence when McCain was leaving his hotel and spent 30 minutes on the road in a motorcade; why, when he was asked about it on the show, McCain said, well, I was trying to listen through the wall. What wall? He was in a car.

I think there's a controversy swirling around this and I think the credibility of the entire event suffered because of it.

BLITZER: You know that there's a lot of anger on the left, Steve, about this whole issue of whether or not Pastor Rick Warren misled the huge audience out there when he told them a few times that John McCain was not going to get any added advantage because he was in the so-called cone of silence and couldn't hear the questions.

STEPHEN HAYES, SENIOR WRITER AT "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Yes, but there's not a scintilla of evidence that he did actually have an advantage or that he did actually hear any of the questions in advance.

I think, you know, we're taking Rick Warren awfully literally when he says he's in the cone of silence. I mean I don't think it was sort of, you know, the typical movie reference to cone of silence -- nothing could be heard, it's in a sealed off room.

I think he's surrounded by his Secret Service, he's surrounded by his staff. You take him at his word that he's not actually getting an advantage.

BLITZER: You were out there, Candy. What was your understanding of what was going on?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, clearly, Rick Warren said that John McCain was in a room where he couldn't hear. I have no idea whether Rick Warren thought -- you know, he came out, he was probably someplace. They had arranged to have this happen. I can't imagine -- I don't believe that Rick Warren lied. I have no idea. And, again, we don't have proof that McCain heard anything.

So it's another one of those things that, you know, it does get picked up on the blogs, people say he really wasn't there, this was a forum, you know, that McCain did better than some people expected that he would do. So they're looking at that and saying well, that's because he knew all the questions. And we do have Warren coming out saying, listen, I talked to both of them, actually, and told them the sorts of questions I was going to ask them.

So I'm not sure that this isn't, you know, a couple of days of discussion.

BLITZER: All right...

CROWLEY: I will tell you this. If John McCain did hear some of those questions, we will know. Eventually someone will tell us.

BLITZER: You know, the debates -- the three presidential debates that are going to be happening in September and October, Jack, they do have different styles. And it was sort of foreshadowed on how they dealt with Pastor Warren over the weekend.

CAFFERTY: Well, yes. But again, we have -- we don't know whether or not somebody had an unfair advantage. McCain was crisp and quick and to the point. On the other hand, it was like an appetizer before a big steak dinner -- it sort of left me wanting a little more.

When he says my greatest moral failure was my first marriage, what are you talking about? Tell us what you mean. I think Obama was a little more introspective, trying to get a -- it just takes me back to that forum between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during the primaries. McCain wasn't present at that.

I found that fascinating because both of these people actually seemed to look inside themselves and try to pull out something genuine in the way of how they relate to things like their church, their pastor, the bible, etc.

And to me, some of McCain's answers were a little too pad. I -- you know, why was that a moral failure, your first marriage? Tell us.

BLITZER: Well, we know he got divorced.

But go ahead, Steven, and (INAUDIBLE).

CAFFERTY: But what we know is -- that's one thing. But he didn't tell us and I wanted him to tell us.

HAYES: Well, I don't think John McCain -- I mean given the way he was raised in a military family, I think having him open up the way that he did, to the extent he did, was actually something quite remarkable and something that surprised some of his campaign staff.

But look, I mean, here's what happened. John McCain won the night. I think virtually everybody agrees that he had a better performance that night. I got an e-mail in the middle of it from somebody who supported him back in 2000 who said this is the best he's seen John McCain in eight years.

And then what happened after that is Barack Obama's team, according to Andrea Mitchell of ABC, was telling people that they were concerned that he might have the answers or heard some of the answers. Now, again, there is no evidence of this. And I think to, you know, to suggest that John McCain was doing this in the absence of evidence is really to do him a pretty significant disservice.

BLITZER: I'm going to have all of you stand by. We're going to continue this discussion, but let's take a quick break.

It's likely to happen any day now -- Barack Obama's vice presidential announcement. The best political team on television studying the contenders, the odds, what's happening right now.

Also, the Bush administration says it wants to work with Pervez Musharraf's replacement in Pakistan. There could be some serious implications in the war on terror and the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

And the place where John Edwards kicked off his first presidential campaign -- it's now history.


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

Let's go right to Candy Crowley.

You know, a lot of people expect this week -- maybe as early as tomorrow or Wednesday, Thursday or Friday -- Barack Obama to select his vice presidential pick. And there's a lot of buzz it's coming down to three frontrunners -- Evan Bayh, the senator in Indiana; Joe Biden, the senator from Delaware; Tim Kaine, the governor from Virginia.

If it were one of those three right now, I'd have to bet Joe Biden, only because he's been so silent over these past few weeks. He must be...


BLITZER: He must be crazed right now that there's a crisis with Russia and Georgia and he's refusing every Sunday talk show's request to come on and talk about it.

Candy, what do you think?

CROWLEY: Well, I think that's as good a tea leaf as any. You're right. It could happen Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday Friday, Saturday. It could be any of those three men or someone else.

Certainly, we went through a period of time when it looked like it would be Evan Bayh. And Obama was spending a lot of time in Indiana and people were talking about oh, this would be a good pick because he's from Midwest state and maybe Obama would like Indiana. And now it's Joe Biden, who has been off to Georgia to -- at the request of the president there, talking about, again, getting into his resume's strength, which is foreign policy. So he is currently the buzz guy.

But I don't know that it tells us anything more than the trip to Indiana for Evan Bayh or the upcoming trip to Virginia, where Tim Kaine is governor.

BLITZER: And the other -- when Candy, Jack, says or someone else, a lot of people out there are still dreaming about the so-called dream ticket, although most of the experts say you know what, that isn't going to happen.

CAFFERTY: It's not a dream, that's a nightmare. We'll see how the convention goes, with all of the concessions that have been made to her.

Biden would be a great choice for Obama. He's got the foreign policy chops. He's a little older, a little wiser, a little more experienced. And when it came to negotiations with people like Ahmadinejad, they would eventually agree to anything to just get Biden to shut up.


BLITZER: Steve, what do you think?

HAYES: Well, you know, what will be interesting when we look at this -- and if Barack Obama goes on and wins the presidency, we're going to look back on this decision.

What I'm going to be most interested to learn is when he actually made the decision. Because I think if he's been contemplating or wrestling with this decision over the past two weeks -- as, you know, he wakes up every morning and he deals with these foreign policy crises, he sees John McCain, I think, make some inroads on widening the national security gap again. John McCain's tightening the polls, largely because I think of national security issues.

If he's thinking about those things all day, every day, as he campaigns, does that, in the end of the analysis, affect the way that he's made this decision. And I think if it does, it points to somebody like a Joe Biden or maybe an Evan Bayh. A Sam Nunn.

BLITZER: And the notion, Candy, that Hillary Clinton, you know, could help him, presumably, in Florida or Pennsylvania -- you know, he sort of wakes up, I'm sure, every day, Barack Obama, and says do I want to be elected president and have her and her husband in the White House with me or, on the other hand, do I want to wind up like Al Gore and John Kerry and think about what could have been every day of the rest of my life.

CROWLEY: The Obama campaign believes that they have moved beyond this. They are trying -- at least on the surface, you see Hillary Clinton saying all the right things. You see Bill Clinton at least being quiet at this point.

The Obama camp believes that at the end of this convention, Hillary Clinton is going to go out there and campaign for him. Bill Clinton's going to go out there and campaign for him. There is bad blood. There is no doubt about that.

But it isn't just do you want Bill Clinton in the White House with you. It's also a host of other things, including who contributed to Bill Clinton's library. I mean they just felt that there were a lot of vetting things there that could be problematic. BLITZER: We'll leave it right there and we'll wait until tomorrow -- Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Whenever it happens, we'll report it.

Guys, thanks very much.

Jack, don't leave. We've got "The Cafferty File" still to come.

It's a view of the convention not many people get to see -- the opportunity Barack Obama is giving to 10 of his supporters the night he delivers his acceptance speech in Denver.

And a powerful belief that transcends medical science -- what a new survey says about Americans' faith in miracles.


BLITZER: On our "Political Ticker," Barack Obama has chosen 10 supporters to join him back stage in Denver before he accepts the Democratic nomination on August 28th. They include a retired naval officer, an Army veteran, a single mother and several twentysomething voters. Not surprisingly, most are from states considered to be battlegrounds in November. The Obama camp announced the winners in an e-mail to supporters, also urging them to host convention watch parties in their community.

John McCain is hoping to make a splash in some of the battleground states, as well, the day after Obama's big convention speech the Republican plans a large rally in Ohio on August 29th. Republican and McCain campaign sources telling CNN's John King they're hoping for 15,000 people -- roughly five times the size of McCain's largest crowd to date.

A piece of John Edwards' presidential campaign history up in flames. Yesterday, a blaze tore through the abandoned North Carolina textile plant where Edwards launched his 2004 bid for the Democratic nomination. Edwards famously introduced himself to voters across the country as a son of a mill worker.

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

Let's check in with Lou to see what's coming up right at the top of the hour. What are you working on -- Lou?

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you.

Vested interests and a teachers' union trying to limit a performance for pay scheme for teachers in Denver. That's being watched by schools all across the country. That fight could have a great impact and it could be a huge embarrassment for the Democratic Party during the Democratic National Convention.

Also, the government agency responsible for protecting American consumers from dangerous food and drugs has failed us again. This time the FDA refusing to acknowledge the dangers of a chemical used in many household products, including baby bottles. We'll have that story.

And tonight, corporate America and special interest groups getting together to try to dictate the nation's policy on illegal immigration, business elites putting their interests ahead of the law and your interests.

And among my guests here tonight, Bing West, author of "The Strongest Tribe," a compelling new analysis of the reasons behind the recent success in Iraq.

Join us for that and a great deal more, for all of the day's news, including an amazing admission from one of the country's leading newspapers that it's favoring Senator Obama three to one in its front page articles. We'll have an Independent perspective for you -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: As you always do, Lou. Thanks very much for that.

Let's check in with Jack, once again. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: What does the resignation of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf mean for the United States and the war on terror?

Abdul from Bahrain writes this: "It his simply means that Bush's foreign policy toward Pakistan failed. You can force a dictator to pretend he's on your side against terrorism, but you can't force an entire nation to be oppressed by the same dictator. We need partnership with presidents who are friends with their people, not with those who are hated by their people."

Dan from Maryland: "Can you say trouble? The people of Pakistan and their government are upset with Musharraf, in part, for his work with the United States. Do you really think they'll put somebody new in power who will be more willing to help?"

Sophia writes from Louisville, Kentucky: "Now there can be no question about the military effort we must put forth in Afghanistan. It's time to put up or shut up. We either put enough troops in there or get out completely. The situation was brought about by our failure to commit enough military to Afghanistan immediately following 9/11 because Bush, McCain, et al wanted to go into Iraq, in spite of the fact the available intelligence at the time proved their premise for invading Iraq was wrong.

Spike writes: "Musharraf's resignation doesn't mean anything to Uncle Sam. Musharraf received billions of dollars from the United States, but he didn't deliver his promise. Let's wait and see if the next president will deliver."

And one of the better e-mails I've read in a while from Will in San Jose: "It shows us how pathetic our Congress is. The Pakistani government had a ruler the ruler the people no longer accepted and successfully removed him through the direct threat of impeachment. We have a ruler that people no longer accept and our Congress goes on vacation. It's a sad day when Pakistan can teach us lessons about how to run a democracy."

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

BLITZER: A good idea, Jack. We'll do that. I'll see you back here tomorrow

Jack Cafferty with "The Cafferty File."

Let's go back to Carol.

She's monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

What's going on -- Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, oil prices are tumbling from July's record above $147 a barrel. Crude rose as high as $115 a barrel today, but fell below $113 after analysts said Tropical Storm Fay was not likely to affect production in the Gulf of Mexico.

In Eastern Afghanistan, a suicide bomber blew himself up and his car outside of a U.S.-base, killing 10 people. The U.S. commander in Afghanistan warns that intelligence suggests militants may be planning to attack military, civilian and government targets during the country's independence day celebration.

Well, lost and very confused a baby humpback off the coast of Australia bonded with a yacht it seems to think is its mother. The calf even tried to suckle the yacht. The yacht was actually used to lure the exhausted whale out to sea, where rescuers hope it's going to find its real mom or another pot of whales so that it can feed.

And a new study reveals most Americans and doctors, too, believe in miracles. Today's "Archives of Surgery" reports that 57 percent of randomly surveyed adults thinks God's intervention can save someone. And that's even when doctors say medical treatment will be futile. If their own relative was dying, nearly 20 percent of doctors and other medical workers said divine intervention could reverse a hopeless outcome -- Back to you -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, thank you, Carol. See you tomorrow, as well.

A slice of the pie -- we're going to tell you who wants to make sure Democrats have a craving for pizza when they come to Denver for the party convention. Jeanne Moss has this "Moost Unusual" pizza to tell us about.

And villagers into India trying to make a path to walk across the floods -- one of today's Hot Shots from around the world.


BLITZER: Here's a look at the "Hot Shots" coming in right now from our friends at the Associated Press -- pictures likely to be in your newspapers tomorrow.

In Bangladesh, a boy who lost his parents looks as rescue workers pull bodies after a heavy rain triggered a landslide.

In India, villagers improvise and try to build a walking path as floodwaters wash away roads.

In Pakistan, lawyers gather to watch President Pervez Musharraf announce his resignation.

And in Jerusalem, a disabled turtle -- check it out -- makes its debut with attached wheels that help it move around with ease.

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

There's sure to be a lot of excitement for Democrats at next week's much anticipated nomination convention in Denver. And it starts even before they get off the plane.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos with this "Moost Unusual" look.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You know how everyone is always trying to decipher allegedly real crop circles?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here is the inexplicable

MOOS: And here is the inedible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-two food wide pepperonis.

MOOS: A pizza the size of six football fields designed to make the mouths of Democratic delegates water as they touch down at Denver's airport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These planes land right over the field.

MOOS: That's Kansas crop artist Stan Herd. You may have heard of his Indian portrait or his sunflower or his Absolut vodka bottle. And now he's done this Papa Johns pizza crop ad.

(on camera): By the way, Papa John's pizza -- no relation to that other John -- the one who's not the guest of honor at the Democratic Convention.

(voice-over): You can't just toss some dough to make this pizza. It took a team of a dozen or so a month-and-a-half to create this out of a wheat field. The pepperonis consist of red mulch -- lots of fiber for health conscious Democrats, though one blogger complaining about advertising sprawl called this the mutant cousin of the billboard.

We've seen crop art featuring Larry King.

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: I always wanted to be a crop circle.

MOOS: We've seen Elvis. We've seen Einstein. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Part of Einstein's hair.

MOOS: We've seen Homer Simpson. Sorry, but you can't see the really giant part of a figure sometimes called the rude giant, made out of trenches dug at least 400 years ago in England.

And now we see a giant pizza. And just like when you order a regular pizza, you never seem to get all the toppings you asked for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wanted anchovies on there and I just couldn't figure out the anchovy angle so I talked them out of that.

MOOS: Maybe it would have been more fitting to have this piece greeting the Democratic delegates. Stan is a big Obama supporter and used rocky materials to make this in Dallas back at the time of the Texas primary.

(on camera): Did you include the mole?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Include the what?

MOOS: The mole. He's got a mole.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you know, I...


MOOS (voice-over): There it is next to his nose. But on the rock art, you see a couple of white Labradors, but no mole.

As for the missing slice of pizza, that's crushed limestone.

Who ate that slice?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, the jolly green giant.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: Leave it to Jeanne. That's it for us.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. See you tomorrow. Let's go to Lou.

"LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starts right now -- Lou.