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Obama Works With World Leaders at G20 Summitt; President and First Lady Get Royal Welcome; University Rescinds Student Acceptance letters

Aired April 1, 2009 - 18:00   ET



President Obama works into the night with world leaders on fixing the economy and repairing America's image. On this the eve of the G- 20 summit, how much has he already accomplished?

And a royal welcome for the president in London. We're taking you inside the Obamas' private meeting with Queen Elizabeth. Was there anything to be embarrassed about?

And it's a prospective college student's worst nightmare come true. Thousands got letters that seemed to show they were accepted to a California university until the school said never mind.

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

Just hours before the start of the G-20 summit, riot police are out in force in London, anticipating more massive protests. Today thousands vented their anger about the global financial meltdown. The top issue for President Obama and other world leaders. The president has been capping a very busy day of diplomacy by taking part in a working dinner with other G-20 members. Let's begin our coverage this hour with our senior White House correspondent Ed Henry. He's joining us from London, traveling with the president. Economy, issue number one here. Also, at the G-20.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. That's why the whole goal for this president at this summit is to show he's all over the financial crisis, and he's also trying to bring along some European allies and convince them that they have more in common than where they disagree.


HENRY (voice-over): The president and first lady's real debut on the world stage came at 10 Downing Street, the official residence of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Later they rubbed elbows at Buckingham Palace for an audience with the queen. In between, Mr. Obama got down to business on the financial crisis. Trying to defuse tension with France and Germany over how much stimulus should be pumped into the world economy and how broad new regulation of the market should be. OBAMA: History shows us that when nations fail to cooperate, when they turn away from one another, when they turn inward, the price for our people only grows. That's how the great depression deepened. That's a mistake that we cannot afford to repeat.

HENRY: With the streets of London filling with protesters angry at the G-20 leaders on a series of issues, the president and Mr. Brown urged their colleagues to come together with a sense of urgency for dramatic action.

OBAMA: We've passed through an era of profound irresponsibility, now we cannot afford half measures.

GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: This summit cannot agree to the lowest common denominator. We must stand united in our determination to do whatever is necessary.

HENRY: And the president declared despite the U.S. facing blame for the crisis, and questions about his leadership abroad, America will rise to the occasion.

OBAMA: I came here to put forward our ideas, but I also came here to listen, not to lecture. Having said that, we must not miss an opportunity to lead.


HENRY: The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy and the German Chancellor Merkel held a joint press conference today here in London saying look, they're standing firm, that unless there's real serious regulation crackdowns on both hedge funds and tax havens overseas, they're not going to sign onto whatever these leaders come up with. This is a big test for the president over the next 24 hours to bring them along. Wolf?

BLITZER: I want you to stand by, Ed, because there was dramatic meetings that the president had with leaders of Russia and China as well. We're going to get to that. The president spoke warmly of the British prime minister, Gordon Brown, when asked if he had any advice to give the British leader. This is what he said. Listen.


OBAMA: The only advice I would give Gordon Brown is the same advice that I gave myself during the campaign, and that I've been giving myself over the last three months, which is, over time, good policy is good politics. And if every day you are waking up and you are making the very best decisions that you can, despite the fact that sometimes the cards in your hand aren't very good, and the options are narrow, and the choices are tough, and you are assured to be second- guessed constantly, and that occasionally you're going to make mistakes.

But if every day you're waking up saying, how can I make the best possible decisions to create jobs, help young people imagine a better future, provide care to the sick or the elderly or the vulnerable, sustain the planet, if those are the questions that you're asking yourself, then I think you end up doing pretty good. And the best part is, you can wake up and look at yourself in the mirror, and that, I think, is the kind of integrity that Gordon Brown has shown in the past, and will continue to show in the future.


BLITZER: The president's advice to the British prime minister. Let's get to those massive protests under way in the streets of London today. Violent clashes with riot police, marring mostly peaceful demonstrations. CNN's Jim Boulden is in London for us. Jim?

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the demonstrations and protests here in London have continued into the evening and it's been a wild day in London's financial district.


BOULDEN (voice-over): Some came on bikes. Some brought their tents. Some brought their kids. And some came to cause trouble. The London protests brought out all kinds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time to reclaim the city from the bankers who have screwed it up.

BOULDEN: Hard line protesters made their points about capitalism. Since this is London's financial district, this man decided to enlighten us about the use or misuse of derivatives. Derivatives the bankers are stealing your life savings, pensions and your children's future. It says something that's not in the news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys don't use the word. It's not in the controlled media. We're trying to get the word out. Do people realize the value, look at this number, 1.6 quadrillion. Is that a real word?

BOULDEN: Yes. That's 1,000 trillion. Yeah?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the black hole that we're trying to look out of at the moment.

BOULDEN: As the day wore on with alcohol flowing, there were those who clashed with police. And those with a serious message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're just trying to make a point and draw attention to the big problem there is. And the fact that there seems to be a lot of money awash in the system to bail out banks, but not for the real things that we need, environmental things I'm interested in.


BOULDEN: The demonstrators here at the Climate Camp have vowed to stay all night long, and in the morning march to the east of London to the convention center, where the G-20 summit will take place. Wolf? BLITZER: Jim, thank you.

And this just in from London. Police now saying they did find a man dead at the G-20 protest camp near the Bank of England. He was taken to the hospital after collapsing, and not clear yet why he died.

Jack Cafferty is joining us now with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Did you see the hat that woman was wearing?


CAFFERTY: How can anybody take you seriously when you're wearing a hat like that?

BLITZER: They want to be noticed.

CAFFERTY: Right. If you've got a whole day to spend walking around holding a cardboard sign over your head, you're not busy enough. It looks like the Obama administration is on track to spend about $6 billion over the next five years to expand national community service efforts. Both houses of congress have passed this legislation, it would increase funding for thousands of volunteers and everything from clean energy and health care to education, and the president is expected to sign the bill into law soon.

Among other things, the Edward M. Kennedy serve America Act would more than triple the number of positions in the Ameri Corps program to 250,000, create four new national service corps and other initiatives including a so-called summer of service program to increase community service by students. Create a silver scholars program which would encourage older Americans to volunteer. They would get a $1,000 reward for putting in 350 hours of volunteer service. And it will also increase the stipend that's offered to Ameri Corps volunteers.

Supporters say that during a time of economic crisis, we need service and volunteering more than ever. But critics say the bill is fiscally irresponsible in light of our slumping economy. And they also say the idea of volunteerism is undermined by paying people to do community service. So here's the question. Is now the right time for the U.S. to spend $6 billion on expanding national community service programs? Go to, post a comment on my blog. This is another of those things that Barack Obama talked about on the campaign trail, and it looks like it's going to come to fruition. Wolf?

BLITZER: He said that was a promise and he's trying to live up to it. Jack, thank you.

It's the longest downturn since the great depression. But there are some signs the gloom may be lifting. What those positive indicators are telling all of us right now. Poppy Harlow is standing by.

And the Obamas get a private audience with Queen Elizabeth. Richard Quest is ready with all the inside details.

And the corruption case that just won't go away. Why the justice department has now decided to drop all the charges against former senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.


BLITZER: We'll get back to London and the president's visit there over at the G-20. That's coming up.

Right now here in the United States we are officially beginning the 17th month in a recession. That makes this also official. This is now the longest economic downturn in the country's history since the great depression of the 1930s. Let's go to CNN's Poppy Harlow of -- Poppy?

POPPY HARLOW:, CNNMONEY.COM Yeah, Wolf, let's put this all in perspective for people, because as you said today we are stepping into the 17th month of this recession. Take a look though at this bar chart to give you some idea of where we stand in history. The great depression lasted 43 months. Right now we're at 17. But in the '70s and in the '80s, we saw those recessions last 16 months. Now, every recession has its own story in terms of what brings the economy back and what rights the ship. But we are seeing some positive indicators right now. We want to go through them for you.

Let's first at the housing market, the crux of this entire crisis, we saw not only home building of new homes surge in February, we saw sales of new and existing homes also show a surprising rebound in February. Much better than economists were expecting. When you look at the confidence of the American people, we just learned this week that consumer confidence ticked up in March from the record low levels we've been seeing. And the stock market, despite the volatility this week, it has been on a run, going into Monday's session we saw the Dow industrials up some 17 percent in just three weeks. By far, the best run we've seen since 1982.

That said, those are encouraging signs, there are some big questions out there. I want to go through these remaining questions for you. We're going to get some answers a little bit later this week, especially Friday morning. The world will have its eyes on the March jobs report that is going to come out before the stock market opens on Friday. It's expected that more than 650,000 American jobs were lost last month alone. The unemployment rate is expected to tick up to 8.5 percent. We want to see what the jobs picture looks like, even though this is considered a lagging indicator. Meaning the jobs picture doesn't get better until the economy is already well into recovery.

Another thing we want to look out for, a little later this month, corporate earnings. Especially from the big banks in this country. Citigroup and Bank of America told us in March that both banks made money in the first two months of 2009. The big question, what will their quarterly numbers be. Big questions remain as the corporate earnings and the state of the job market, Wolf. But some positive indicators so far as well -- Wolf? BLITZER: We'll be getting some more indicators in the coming days. Poppy, thank you.

U.S. stock markets started the second quarter with a bang today. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped more than 152 points or 2 percent. The NASDAQ and the S&P 500 were each up 1.5 percent. March auto sales are out today, offered little to get excited about. The numbers were a bit better than forecast but GM sales fell 45 percent from year-ago levels. Ford fell 41 percent. Toyota was down 39 percent.

"LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" by the way, he's going to have the first exclusive live interview with the new CEO of General Motors, Fritz Henderson, that's coming up at the top of the hour on "Lou Dobbs Tonight."

The longest serving republican senator in United States history says he always knew that his corruption conviction would somehow go away. Now the Justice Department is abandoning the case against the former Alaska senator. Let's turn to CNN's Jeanne Meserve. She's watching this truly startling development. Jeanne, what happened?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it really is a remarkable turn-around in an extraordinarily high-profile case featuring a rare intervention by the attorney general.


TED STEVENS, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Nice to see you, I'll have comments later.

MESERVE (voice-over): A 40-year veteran of the U.S. senate, Ted Stevens, convicted last October for failing to list $250,000 in gifts and renovations to his Alaska home on financial disclosure forms. Now the Justice Department which prosecuted the case against Stevens has pivoted and dropped all charges because of prosecutorial missteps by its own lawyers. Stevens' attorney says prosecutors violated the constitution to obtain an unlawful verdict.

BRENDAN SULLIVAN, STEVENS' ATTORNEY: We were sickened by it. Because it clearly told the story of government corruption, as they were hell bent on convicting a United States senator.

MESERVE: During the case Judge Emmett Sullivan repeatedly scolded government lawyers for failing to hand over key evidence to the defense. Finally finding them in contempt. The Justice Department eventually removed them from the case, but the damage had been done. The prosecutors' conduct was so problematic, Attorney General Eric Holder determined it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial.

RICHARD SMITH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: What Mr. Holder did today is to send a clear signal to prosecutors in this country that prosecutorial misconduct would not be condoned.

MESERVE: Wednesday Stevens said, "It is unfortunate that an election was affected by proceedings now recognized as unfair." And he echoed his final good-bye to the senate.

STEVENS: I look only forward. And I still see the day when I can remove the cloud that currently surrounds me.


MESERVE: And that day has come. There will be a final hearing April 7th. Meanwhile, the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility will review the conduct of the prosecutors. They could face penalties from a reprimand to a recommendation for dismissal -- Wolf?

BLITZER: What's the sense out there? Are they likely to be disbarred, these prosecutors?

MESERVE: Well we just don't know. We don't know what the Office of Professional Responsibility is going to find here. They would possibly refer this matter to the state bar associations. It would be up to the bar associations to do anything about disbarring these individuals, if it gets that far.

BLITZER: It really is an amazing development. Democratic attorney general reversing the decisions of the republican justice department, at stake the career, the life, if you will, of this 85- year-old former Republican senator. Thanks very much, Jeanne Meserve.

During his 40-year senate career, Ted Stevens served in some powerful posts, including GOP whip and as chairman of the committee that works to elect republicans to the senate. But his experience couldn't save his job. A closer look at his defeat last year. Stevens lost to democrat Mark Begich by just under 4,000 votes.

North Korea reportedly gearing up to launch a long-range missile. U.S. military officials say the missile is being fueled.

The traffic stop that never should have happened. The police officer pulls his gun on an NFL player outside a hospital while his mother-in-law is dying inside. The officer made an announcement today. We're going to tell you what he said. Stand by for an update.

President Obama talks with China's president. A meeting so important, some are calling it the G-2 summit.


BLITZER: We're going to go back to London shortly to see what's going on right now with the G-20 summit, the president's visit there, the first lady, they met with Queen Elizabeth today. Let's check in with Mary Snow right now. She's monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM. Mary, what's going on?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the senior U.S. military official says North Korea has started fueling a long-range missile. Pyong Yong says its launching a commercial satellite into space as early as this weekend. The U.S. and other nations insist the launch is intended to bolster North Korea's military capability. It would violate a U.N. resolution banning Pyong Yang from launching ballistic missiles.

A police officer who detained an NFL player outside a Dallas hospital while his mother-in-law was dying inside is now resigning. Officer Robert Powell stopped Houston Texans' running back Ryan Moats after Moats rolled through a red light. Powell pulled out his gun and threatened to jail Moats. And while he was ticketing Moats, the player's mother-in-law died. Powell was placed on leave, and he's issued an apology.

There's no winner yet in a special congressional election that was billed as an early test of President Obama's economic policy. Unofficial results in New York's 20th district showed democrat Scott Murphy leading republican Jim Tedisco by just 25 votes out of more than 150,000 cast. There are still 10,000 absentee ballots to be counted in the race. This race will replace Kristen Gillenbrand who left the house to fill Hillary Clinton's seat in the senate.

Senator John McCain wants a presidential pardon for Jack Johnson, who became America's first black heavyweight boxing champion. A century before Barack Obama became the first African-American president. Johnson was convicted in 1913 of having a consensual relationship with a white woman. McCain and New York congressman Peter King say now is a time for a pardon. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Mary Snow reporting.

President Obama gave Queen Elizabeth an iPod today. Did he follow the proper protocol during his royal encounter? CNN's Richard Quest gives us the inside story.

Another piece of a convicted swindler's fortune seized. We're going to tell you what Bernard Madoff has lost right now.

President Obama hires what's called vetting hell. The fallout for all of us. Stand by for the best political team on television.


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

Happening now, three suicide bombers strike provincial government offices in Kandahar, Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai's brother says he was the intended target, but left moments before the attack. At least 14 people are dead.

President Obama's Kenyan aunt gets a deportation reprieve. An asylum appeal hearing is now set for next February. She's been living in the United States illegally since her initial asylum request was rejected back in 2004.

Federal agents seizing Bernard Madoff's assets. Right now, they're on the grounds of the Florida mansion that he owns, just a few hours ago they seized his yacht at a nearby marina. Madoff is awaiting sentencing for running what may be the biggest ponzi scheme in world history.

I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Right now, the Russians are practically beaming about President Obama's impact on U.S. relations with Moscow. Mr. Obama held his first one-on-one talks with the Russian president in London today. He also met with China's leader. Let's go back to our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry. Ed, lots of optimistic talk about a new era of cooperation.

HENRY: That's right, Wolf. A new diplomatic approach from the president, and White House aides believe it's already getting results.


HENRY (voice-over): Following through on his pledge to hit the reset button on their tense relations, President Obama announced a break-through after his first face-to-face with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. The two leaders agreeing to start negotiations on a new arms control treaty that could drastically cut each nation's nuclear warheads.

OBAMA: I think that over the last several years, the relationship between our two countries has been allowed to drift. And what I believe we've begun today is a very constructive dialog.

HENRY: The leaders also pledge broad agreement to work together on Afghanistan and battling Iran's nuclear ambitions. Though they still have sharp differences over issues like the U.S. plan to build a missile defense shield in eastern Europe. U.S. officials acknowledge hammering out an actual deal on reducing nuclear arsenals will be tough, but they're hopeful.

OBAMA: I have agreed to visit Moscow in July. Which we both agreed was a better time than January to visit.

HENRY: The joking continued when Mr. Obama tried his hand at some Russian. A sign the relationship may be thawing.

OBAMA: Thank you. I'm still working on my Russian. The president's English is much better.


HENRY: Not as much jocularity in the president's one-on-one with Chinese President Hu Jintao, but the meeting was warm. Mr. Obama also agreed to visit China later this year and established a strategic and economic dialog, though it will be headed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

OBAMA: I continue to believe that the relationship between China and the United States is not only important for the citizens of both our countries, but will help to set the stage for how the world deals with a whole host of challenges in the years to come.


HENRY: The relationship with China is particularly sensitive because they've bought about a trillion dollars in U.S. debt.

If they stopped, it would put the administration in a major bind -- Wolf.

BLITZER: To put it mildly.

All right, Ed.

Thank you very much.

The U.S. right now under special scrutiny over at the G20 Summit, facing some hard feelings over the global financial crisis, which many see as America's fault and a sign of America's decline.

Listen to what President Obama had to say about that.


OBAMA: I think if you pulled quotes from 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, from previous news reports you might find similar contentions that America was on decline. And somehow it hasn't worked out that way because I think that there is a vibrancy to our economic model, a durability to our political model and a set of ideals that has sustained us through even the most difficult times.


BLITZER: All right. Let's bring in our political -- our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; David Brody, the White House correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network; and our CNN political analyst, Roland Martin.

David, you're there in London.

How is he doing so far?

DAVID BRODY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: Well, Wolf, I think so far so good. I mean I think we're in the benefit of the doubt stage at this point.

I mean look what he did today. I mean he went out with the Russian president and made news. And, Wolf, you know this, anytime you can dominate the news cycle, which they did today -- the White House did today, it's a good day.

But look, in terms of the G20, I think we're all on Sarkozy meltdown watch here. I mean we're waiting to see if tomorrow he will, indeed, go ahead and potentially walk out. No one really thinks that's going to happen, but you never know exactly.

And so I think the way President Obama handles the whole situation tomorrow, at the G20 and some of the sharp that's probably going to come from Sarkozy and Merkel tomorrow, that's something that is worth watching, for sure.

BLITZER: He was very cool -- cool as a cucumber, should we say, Gloria, at his news conference. And it was at, what, 5:00 a.m. Eastern time here in the United States. I don't know if many Americans were awake watching it at that time. But I took a look at it. And he seemed to be pretty much on top of all of those questions.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, he is. And, you know, if Sarkozy is hot, Barack Obama is cool. And the whole world is watching him. And, Wolf, he's walking a really fine line here, because, on the one hand, he has to admit to America's culpability in not having enough regulations that set off this entire financial crisis. But he also has to say, look, we can't stabilize the world economy alone. You guys are going to have to be with us in this.

And clearly, Sarkozy is one of those folks who says no more stimulus. And so we're going to have to watch France and Germany versus the United States and Great Britain.

BLITZER: As you were watching it, Roland, what did you think?

ROLAND S. MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, again, as Gloria said, the president, when it comes to stressful situations, he seems to decompress, bring it all down, take a lot of the drama and all of the hype out of it.

And, so look, what happens tomorrow, he will likely do that. So if you have the French president, who's very just sort of out there, expect Obama to do what he did to Senator John McCain in one of those debates -- flash that smile, calm, cool and collected, empathize, sympathize, but also make it clear that America still is strong. That's really, I think, one of his biggest tasks, and that is to say, look, we are still a strong economic force in the world -- the strongest. And, therefore, he must represent that to the rest of the world.

BLITZER: And it underlines, Gloria, the need -- America needs Europe and all of these G20 countries. They need the United States. There's a partnership if -- if this global economic recession is going to go away.

BORGER: Yes. And I think the president is trying to make that clear. And this is where the question of his strength comes in. We don't know, Wolf, what he's saying to people in private. But he did -- you know, he did say, look, we're responsible for this. We didn't have the regulations that we should have had in this country.

But he also kind of warned them that we can't bail out everyone. You cannot depend on American consumers to bail the world out of this crisis right now.

BLITZER: David...

BRODY: Wolf, can I follow with something?

BLITZER: Yes, go ahead, David.

BRODY: Well, I was going to say, also from a P.R. Standpoint, I mean this is the Gordon Brown show over here. I mean, you know, the British tabloids have been very interested in the plight of Gordon Brown in all of this.

So, you know, when it comes to President Obama, sure, we're going to be watching him very closely. But at the same time, I mean Gordon Brown has invested a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears, if you will, on this summit. So I mean his fate may be decided more than anything that President Obama has to do with it.

And, also, let's remember, in that press conference today, you didn't hear much talk about fiscal stimulus in those opening statements. It was only when the reporters asked the question, because they're downplaying that big time here.

BLITZER: We're going to have more, Roland, on Mrs. Obama coming up. But so far, she seems to be dazzling all the folks on the other side of the Atlantic.

MARTIN: Well, again, I think there's a lot of people who expect it in terms of her being there sort of every woman. And so the same thing that people love about her in the United States, she's sort of projecting.

Look, you know, I've I talked to her many times and that's simply who she is. And that is I'm just going to do me, not be all focused. And, of course, that's -- as we'll talk about later tonight, we'll see what happens -- what folks have to say when she flashes those arms. She'll be like that in Europe.


BLITZER: Let me congratulate all...

BORGER: You know...

BLITZER: Let me just congratulate of you and all of our -- all of our reporters and our analysts. Today, CNN won the 2008 Peabody Award for our coverage of the primary campaigns and the debates last year. Among other things, they said: "With state-of-the-art technology and a small army of reporters, producers and analysts, CNN gave viewers unparalleled coverage of an historic presidential election process."

Guys, congratulations...

MARTIN: Small army?

BORGER: Small?

I didn't think it was small.


BLITZER: all of you.

MARTIN: A small army?

BLITZER: You had a small army... BORGER: It was a big army.

BLITZER: ...but it was a good army.

And we did really well.

Guys, thanks very much.

And Roland Martin, by the way, is going to be coming back a little bit more than an hour from now. He's filling in for Campbell Brown on "NO BIAS, NO BULL," 8:00 p.m. Eastern. And Roland's also going to have an exclusive interview with the president's budget director, Peter Orszag. That's coming up, 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

As we've been reporting here in THE SITUATION ROOM, North Korea plans to launch a rocket over the next few days.

What do you think the U.S. response should be if North Korea does launch that missile?

Submit your video comments to Watch tomorrow's show to see if your video makes it on the air.

President and Mrs. Obama meet the queen of England.

What went on when the cameras went off?

CNN's Richard Quest is in London.

Stand by for details.

And ladies' night at the G20 Summit -- what the spouses are up to while world leaders meet.


BLITZER: It's a moment President Obama and the First Lady likely will never forget -- walking into Buckingham Palace and meeting the queen. Today, they attended a truly royal reception, on this, the eve of the G20 Summit in London.

CNN's Richard Quest is standing by to set the scene -- Richard, how did the visit go?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was extremely well. The Obamas arrived and were welcomed by -- once they got into the audience room -- by her majesty, the queen and her husband, Philip, Duke of Edinboro.

On the key question -- did they or didn't they bow -- people get terribly excited about whether or not Americans ever bow to her majesty. If you look at the tape, Wolf, you'll see that there was a firm handshake. And I would say that there was a respectful nod of the president. And if you look at her majesty, there was a respectful nod back again.

So not so much a full scale bow, but certainly an acknowledgement of two equal heads of state saying hello.

BLITZER: Yes. He did drop his head just a little bit, as you say. He sort of nodded in deference to the queen of England.

What actually, Richard, is the protocol when someone -- a commoner actually meets the queen?

QUEST: There is no protocol. I mean there's a famous case of an Australian prime minister who put his hand around the queen and shepherded her along. I mean all hell broke loose. You'd thought he'd done something disgusting on the palace carpet. And it was nothing like that.

These days -- and I speak from experience. I've met her majesty. They tonight tell you to bow and they don't tell you not to. They don't particularly want you to grab her arm and give it a good, hard shaking. But that's because she shakes thousands -- tens of thousands of hands every year.

Remember Nancy Reagan had problems with her fingers because of the thousands of hands that she had shaken over the years.

So there's no protocol other than respectful decorum. And that is what President Obama said. The queen is noted for her decency, her civility. And, of course, remember one other thing, she has met 10 presidents in her reign. The only one she hasn't met or didn't meet, was LBJ.

BLITZER: Yes, that's right. Queen Elizabeth did meet with those 10 U.S. presidents since taking the throne back in 1952, before Barack Obama was even born.

Her first, Dwight Eisenhower, seen here with the queen back in 1959. Elizabeth previously had met Harry Truman while she was a still a princess.

The queen danced with Gerald Ford at a White House dinner in 1979. There was some embarrassment when, at one point, the U.S. Marine band played "The Lady is a Tramp".

Elizabeth had a warm relationship with Ronald Reagan. The horse lovers bonded on a ride over at Windsor Castle in 1982. Most recently, the queen met with George W. Bush here in Washington during her visit to the United States in 2007.

While the leaders, including President Obama, were meeting at Number 10 Downing Street, the ladies -- the wives, two male spouses, were actually having dinner next door -- Abbi Tatton, come on in and tell us what was going on as the -- I guess these are the first wives, if you will, the first wives club.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: That's what it's being dubbed right now, hosted by Britain's Sarah Brown, wife of the British prime minister, seen here seated in the middle wearing black.

This was the meeting of the spouses of the G20 at Downing Street this evening.

Take a look at the class photo that we just had. We can walk you through some of the people here.

In the silvery suit right here, this is the wife of the Russian president, Mrs. Svetlana Medvedev. Peeking out behind her, you see Laureen Harper of Canada. Moving along there to where Michelle Obama is standing, she's flanked on either side by the wives of the prime ministers of India, of Turkey. And then seated along the front here, the first ladies of Mexico and of Korea.

Plenty more there. But you'll notice that they are all wives. There are two G20 husbands of Germany and of Argentina. They stayed home, no doubt a little bit intimidated or outnumbered, in any case, by all those people we saw there.

There are also on the guest list many British women -- notable British women, which made for interesting seating arrangements. The First Lady of the United States seated next to author J.K. Rowling, author, of course, of the Harry Potter books that her family is known to love. On the other side of her, you've got British Olympic athlete Dame Kelly Holmes.

Also at the table, though, right next to her, British supermodel Naomi Campbell was there, as well -- known for -- most recently for her anger management issues.

On the menu tonight, all catered by British celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, you had a menu of Scottish roast salmon, Welsh lamb and then for after is my favorite, Bakewell tart.

BLITZER: I know. You told me before.

But remind me, Bakewell tart, what is that?

TATTON: OK. You've got pastry, jam, sponge with almonds. And, I promise you, it's delicious.

BLITZER: It's delicious.

And the First Lady is sleeveless again, too, at that dinner.

All right. Thanks very much, Abbi, for that.

A young man's dream realized.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was one of the best moments of my life.


BLITZER: All right. But just as suddenly, his hopes and the hopes of thousands more shattered in the biggest blunder ever by a college admissions department.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They took away my biggest dream of attending UC San Diego.



LOU DOBBS, HOST, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up at the top of the hour here on CNN, violent protests in the streets of London on the president's first full day in Britain for the G20 Summit. This as foreign leaders are awaiting the United States actions to bail out the world economy.

Also, a wave of anti-tax protests all across this country. State and local governments raising property taxes and increasingly citizens are saying that's enough.

We'll have that report and an exclusive interview with a new CEO of General Motors, Fritz Henderson, as he faces a new government deadline to save what was once this country's greatest corporation.

And Michigan's governor, Jennifer Granholm, joins me. We'll be talking about not only the future of Detroit, but the entire economy in the State of Michigan.

Join us for all of that and much more at the top of the hour.

THE SITUATION ROOM with Wolf Blitzer continues in one moment.


BLITZER: A big blunder out in California. A lot of students are simply crushed.

Let's go to CNN's Dan Simon.

He's working this story for us -- Dan, what happened?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I think we're all guilty, from time to time, of accidentally hitting send when typing an e-mail. Watch what happened when it happened to the University of California San Diego.


SIMON (voice-over): UCSD took in 47,000 applications for fall 2009. Just 18,000 were accepted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was one of the best moments of my life. I did contact my family members.

SIMON: Aria Shamuliad (ph) immediately shared the good news when he received this e-mail Monday from the admissions department saying: "We're thrilled that you've been admitted to UC San Diego. Hope you can join us Saturday, April 4th to get an introduction to academic programs."

The problem was, he wasn't accepted. The university erroneously sent out the e-mails to all the applicants -- including the 29,000 previously rejected. The school realized the mistake when confused applicants started calling. Within two hours of the original e-mail, there was this apology notice: "We deeply regret this mistake," it says. "We understand the level of distress it has caused many of you."

MAE BROWN, ADMISSIONS DIRECTOR: We made the entire staff available, including myself, to answer any questions, explain what happened.

SIMON: To be fair, the admissions department has e-mailed rejections two weeks earlier. But apparently many, like Shamuliad, thought the university had reconsidered. He does not accept the school's apology.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not. They took away my biggest dream of attending UC San Diego. And with that happening is completely unacceptable, no matter what the circumstances are.

SIMON: Social networking sites like Twitter with lighting up with harsh comments like: "Come on, UCSD, get your expletive together." "UCSD, oh, no, you didn't." And: "UCSD has pulled one of the best April Fool's jokes ever."


SIMON: Well, the university isn't quite sure how the mistake happened. But nonetheless, it is reviewing its procedures -- Wolf.

BLITZER: They should, indeed.

All right. Dan, thank you.

Let's go back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Maybe get their lawyer on the phone, too. I bet you some of those kids will file suit.

The question this hour: Is now the right time for the U.S. to spend $6 billion expanding our national community service programs?

Doug in New Mexico: "Frankly Jack, all young people ought to spend time in either the military or a national service program as service to their country. It might make a real difference in their attitude while improving oh so many things."

Tom in Michigan writes: "I think it would be best spent on tuition for needy students to go to university. Also, we do not need any more temporary fixes. What we need is jobs, plain and simple -- full-time, fair wage benefit jobs that are permanent and with some hope of making a career out of them."

Justin writes: "Now is absolutely the time. And I plan on joining the Summer of Service as I am a sophomore in high school." Jane in Wisconsin: "It seems like another back door way for the Obama administration to funnel money to corrupt groups such as ACORN and the other community organization groups who helped get him elected."

Bob writes: "Entry level jobs are hard to find, so I support programs like this that will teach skills at low cost. This money will come back to us many times over, as young people gain the experience they need to better care for themselves. What's more, these programs harness our national pride."

And D. in Santa Cruz, California writes: "Absolutely. During the Great Depression, FDR put three million people to work, not volunteering, but building the national parks, etc. I'm a disabled baby boomer but I still have a lot to offer. I will answer my country's call in any way I can. We need to stop complaining, roll up our sleeves and get out of this mess."

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.

I will see you manana, Mr. Blitzer.

BLITZER: See you tomorrow.

Thank you, Jack Cafferty.

Forget the finances, the G20 Summit is all about fashion, protocol, plenty of protesters -- the highlights and the low moments straight ahead.


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

In Afghanistan, a miner works diligently to clear a field of mines.

In France, a tired worker sleeps at a manufacturing plant to protest job cuts. Angry workers held some of their bosses captive.

In India, possible customers look at the specs of the new Nano, the world's cheapest car.

And in Switzerland, an engineer shows off his new sideways scooter at an inventions exhibit.

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

The First Lady's fashion, palace protocol and hard-headed protesters -- CNN's Jeanne Moos reports on the "Moost Unusual" moments at the G20 Summit. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While some of the language outside was salty...


MOOS: ...inside, Barack Obama was practicing his languages, copying Russia's president saying thank you.

OBAMA: Spasiba. I'm still working on my Russian.

MOOS: Saying hello in Arabic.

OBAMA: Wa aleikum ah salam.

MOOS: All that shoving involving protesters...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move it! Move back!

MOOS: ...contrasted with the touchy feely moments inside -- President Obama with the British prime minister, Obama with Hillary, Sarkozy with Hillary, Michelle Obama and the queen -- a meeting the First Lady had been contemplating.

OBAMA: Michelle has been really thinking that through.

MOOS: Mrs. Obama began the day in a J. Crew cardigan and a pencil skirt. J. Crew says the sweater sold out in no time.

But what to wear to Buckingham Palace to see the queen?

Hillary Clinton wore a pantsuit. German Chancellor Merkel wore pants, while the queen wore white gloves. And Mrs. Obama...

QUEEN ELIZABETH II, QUEEN OF ENGLAND: The same thing as this. (ph)

MOOS: ...wore an Isabel Toledo dress covered by another J. Crew cardigan in cashmere -- 158 bucks. But the cardigan disappeared at the next stop, at the 10 Downing Street dinner. Mrs. Obama brandished her biceps.

(on camera): And then there's the minor matter of how to greet the queen.

Is it curt not to curtsy?

(voice-over): Some did curtsy. Some bowed, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Geithner. The president bobbed and Mrs. Obama shook hands.

As a gift, the Obamas gave the queen an iPod loaded with video and music from her majesty's 2007 trip to the U.S.

The world leaders attracted fans and fanatic protesters, who tried to let the air out of police vans and literally broke the bank.


MOOS: Though photographers shooting the melee outnumbered the window breakers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're giving us all a bad name.

MOOS: Some snatched police hats and danced in them. A favorite slogan was "Eat the Bankers!," while this protester just ate his meal in the middle of the street.

(on camera): There was one demonstrator who primarily demonstrated how dumb he was.

(voice-over): He used his hard hat to try to break the glass, but ended up cutting his hand. He let out nerve-wracking screams.


MOOS: But his dumbest move was this.


MOOS: Now that's the summit of stupidity.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: Leave it to Jeanne Moos to find those video clips. Remember, she's regular every day here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're on in THE SITUATION ROOM, by the way, six days a week. Don't forget, Saturday night, 6:00 p.m. Eastern for our special weekend edition.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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