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14 Dead in New York Shooting Rampage; Unemployment Hits 25-Year High

Aired April 3, 2009 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: Police search for a motive in a deadly shooting rampage in Upstate New York. Immigrants who came to a center seeking help found themselves caught in the carnage.

Also this hour, President Obama impresses what could have been a tough crowd. The French embrace America's new leader and his new war strategy.

And reliving the worst of the Cold War -- newly released tapes capturing John F. Kennedy's nuclear fears and the risks of making a deal with Moscow.

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: In Upstate New York right now, police are planning to search the home of a man who walked into an immigrant services center and started shooting. Fourteen people are dead, including apparently the gunman himself.

Four others are reported to be in critical condition.

Mary Snow is following the breaking news for us.

Mary, we heard from officials in Binghamton, New York, in Upstate New York, and this is a horrible, horrible story.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Really horrific, Wolf.

And we now know from officials that 37 people were able to get out safely. Binghamton's police chief says the shooting was obviously premeditated, but the motive is unclear.

Now, this ordeal lasted about four hours, and, as you just said, Wolf, killing 14 people.


SNOW (voice-over): Police say they received a 911 call around 10:30 in the morning. A receptionist from the American Civic Association said she had been shot. Police say a gunman with a handgun walked into the building and opened fire.

JOSEPH ZIKUSKI, BINGHAMTON POLICE CHIEF: After he shot her, she went down to the ground. He went into a room off that reception area, shot several people, and as he exited, went down the hallway in the building, she crawled underneath a desk and sometime after that, she called us.

SNOW: While the gunman continued to fire, police say about 26 people hid inside the basement in a boiler room. Police say people were in classrooms as the center prepares immigrants to become American immigrants. And many of the people inside do not speak English.

Police say they don't know the motive, but say they believe it was premeditated, as the gunman had barricaded the back of the building with a car. Authorities say they believe the gunman had borrowed the car and they held off releasing the gunman's identity because they weren't 100 percent sure.

ZIKUSKI: Among the dead, there's a male victim that has a satchel around his neck or arms, and there was ammunition in there. Our original information, that the shooter was using handguns, and we did recover two handguns at the scene. So, at this point, not 100 percent, but we have very good reason that the shooter is among the dead.


SNOW: And, again, police did hold back on identifying the gunman. Police also say that, while some people were seen throughout the day being taken into custody in those plastic handcuffs, they wanted to reiterate that these people were not suspects. They say they were taken into custody initially out of caution, when police didn't know if the gunman was still alive -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary Snow, thank you.

The vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, called officials in New York today to offer sympathy and to help after this shooting rampage. And he told an audience in New York City that America must find a way to stop this kind of violence.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would ask you to keep all those folks in your prayers. This is a prayerful community. And I think it's time that we have got to figure a way to deal with this senseless, senseless violence.


BLITZER: The vice president speaking, by the way, over at the Reverend Al Sharpton's civil rights organization in New York City.

This programming note: We're going to have an exclusive interview with Vice President Biden here in THE SITUATION ROOM on Tuesday. The vice president will be interviewed by Gloria Borger and me over at the White House -- the interview, this coming Tuesday, in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's get to President Obama's European tour right now.

Even the French are showing the new American commander in chief a lot of love today, despite some concerns about Afghanistan and past feuds with the United States.

Our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry is in Strasbourg, France -- Ed.


ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's extremely rare for an American president to take questions from foreign students at an open forum, but that's exactly what Mr. Obama did today at a town hall meeting, trying to use a familiar tactic from last year to win over some European allies this year.

(voice-over): President Obama's European tour is starting to look like the campaign trail, rousing crowds in France, "Yes, we can" signs in Germany, even blunt talk at a town hall with local students.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive. But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious.

So, let me say this as clearly as I can: America is changing, but it cannot be America alone that changes.

HENRY: The change message is being recycled for NATO, as he tries to sell allies on sharing responsibility for the war in Afghanistan.

OBAMA: France recognizes that having al Qaeda operate safe havens that can be used to launch attacks is a threat not just to the United States, but to Europe.

HENRY: While President Nicolas Sarkozy will not put more troops on the ground, he left the door open to training Afghan police and providing development money.

(on camera): I wonder what you say to the president's message about bringing troops forward, maybe military training, helping in Afghanistan?

NICOLAS SARKOZY, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): We totally endorse and support America's new strategy in Afghanistan.

HENRY (voice-over): Enthusiastic support from someone who just days ago appeared to be at odds with Mr. Obama over the financial crisis.

SARKOZY (through translator): It feels really good to be able to work with a U.S. president who wants to change the world.

HENRY (on camera): And now Mr. Obama's close ally from the G-20 summit, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is suggesting he's ready to send more troops to Afghanistan, a sign this strategy may be starting to pay off -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Ed Henry in Strasbourg, traveling with the president.

The president also warning North Korea there will be consequences if it goes ahead with an expected missile test launch over Japan.


OBAMA: We have made very clear to the North Koreans that their missile launch is provocative, it puts enormous strains on the six- party talks, and that they should stop the launch.


BLITZER: North Korea could launch its rocket as soon as tomorrow, triggering a new confrontation with the United States and its allies.

Here's CNN's John Vause.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): North Korea's rocket on the launchpad and according to analysts all fueled up and ready to go.

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: This will be their third shot. I think the North Koreans are determined to make -- to get that rocket off.

VAUSE: The North Koreans say they have every right to put a satellite into space, while officials in Washington, Seoul and Turkey and Tokyo argue the same technology could be used for an armed ballistic missile, which means the North is in clear violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution, but that resolution was passed without an enforcement clause.

And there are doubts anyway about just what can be done to a country which has routinely been hit by international sanctions.

DREW THOMPSON, NIXON CENTER: Kim Jong Il has proven to be extremely resilient. The North Korean regime has been resilient. They have resisted a great deal of coercion.

VAUSE: The bigger picture in all this could be the ongoing but stalled negotiations aimed at ending the North's nuclear program, the so-called six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia, and Japan. The North has warned any sanctions because of this rocket launch would kill those talks once and for all. SELIG HARRISON, CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL POLICY: So, for that reason, the U.S. has not been building this up into a big threat. And I don't think it's clear whether there's going to be a serious effort to get sanctions.

VAUSE: And complicating any U.S. response, two American journalists currently being held in Pyongyang and reportedly soon to be tried, after allegedly illegally entering North Korea.

THOMPSON: They will certainly, the North Koreans will try to use them as part of yet another bargaining chip in their ongoing negotiations with the United States.

VAUSE (on camera): Unlike previous launches, this time, the North Koreans have been open and up front, announcing a time frame warning international aviation and shipping. And so analysts believe only a mechanical or technical problem could delay or prevent this launch from going ahead.

John Vause, CNN, Beijing.


BLITZER: President Obama apparently tells top bankers his administration is the only thing between them and an angry public carrying pitchforks. Is that true?

And the G-20 summit is now done, but some are talking about the G-2, the U.S. and China as the biggest economies. How can the U.S. maintain its edge? The "New York Times" columnist, the best-selling author, Tom Friedman, he is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And it's being called the fashion face-off, the meeting between first ladies Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni of France.


BLITZER: The latest figures show unemployment right now at a 25- year high. Take a look at the job losses here in the United States. They have steadily mounted since January 2008, when 72,000 people became unemployed -- 663,000 Americans lost their jobs in March, a figure close to expectations -- 5.1 million jobs have been lost since the start of 2008.

President Obama said more about the economy in France today.


OBAMA: All of us are moving aggressively to restore growth and lending. All of us have agreed to the most substantial overhaul of our international financial system in a generation. No one is exempt. No more will the world's financial players be able to make risky bets at the expense of ordinary people. Those days are over. We are ushering a new era of responsibility.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: The message after this week's G-20 summit, it's a big, complicated world.

But in fixing the world economy, do some countries matter more than others?

I spoke with the bestselling author and journalist Tom Friedman.


BLITZER: Let's talk about the economic situation in the United States and indeed around the world.

These leaders have been meeting all week in London, trying to forge some sort of common ground to deal with this economic global recession. Are we seeing some light at the end of the tunnel right now?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I would be really loathe to say that, Wolf.

I think what we're seeing is this. It's really more about the G- 2 more than the G-20, China and the United States.

BLITZER: Really?

FRIEDMAN: I think that they're really the center of gravity of this whole thing.

BLITZER: Because?

FRIEDMAN: Because they're the world's two biggest economies now. Japan obviously is there as well and very important and the E.U.



FRIEDMAN: But, ultimately, it's, I think -- we're the key drivers of growth.

Now, what President Obama has done is what I would call -- he's done with phase one. If you look at everything they have done since they came to power, stimulus, the huge Fed injection of money into the market to lower interest rates and increase credit, you know, the TARP, the TALF, all these programs basically to try to deal with the toxic assets from the bank, I think if you wrapped them all up in a bow, if you say, this is phase one, OK, this is Obama's best...

BLITZER: Is that working?

FRIEDMAN: And the question is, we're going to know, I think, in the next, you know, six to eight weeks whether it's working.

Now, I look at it almost like radiation therapy. I think Obama knows, I think Secretary Geithner knows that they're going to have to go back to Congress. They're going to have to go back to Congress to get more money.

But they're trying to take this cancer that's been affecting our credit system in this country and irradiate it basically to shrink it. So, they're hoping, if phase one can shrink this thing down, then they can tiptoe back to Congress and say, we just need a few more billion.

If they can't, they are going to have to go back to Congress for something that starts with a T.

BLITZER: Because they want to -- people want to see results.


BLITZER: And the most tangible result will be jobs.


BLITZER: And, right now, the job situation is not good.


FRIEDMAN: The numbers -- we have gone through the first phase, which was defaults in home mortgages from people who shouldn't have been getting mortgages.

Now we're getting defaults from people who lost their jobs, who had legitimate reason to take out a mortgage. So, this isn't done. But I think we're in that phase now where we have laid down the bet. You know, that's what Obama has done and the United States has done. We have laid down this bet. This whole package, will it work?

BLITZER: A lot of people have confidence in the president of the United States. Less have confidence in the treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner. Do you?

FRIEDMAN: Well, yes, I think that's a totally false distinction. It's not like Geithner is off doing his own policies. This is Obama's bet.


BLITZER: Does Geithner know what he's doing?

FRIEDMAN: Oh, I have no doubt about that.

The question, Wolf, is, the problem is so big and so complex. If it were easy, Hank Paulson and George Bush would have figured it out. It's really complicated.

BLITZER: The cap and trade, trying to reduce carbon emissions, this is one of your big passions, and you write about it extensively in your book.

The Republicans say if the president of the United States gets his way, and they reduce these carbon emissions by imposing some sort of what they call a tax that would be on electricity, on gasoline, it would in effect be a huge middle-class tax increase.


BLITZER: And that's the language they're using to say don't even go near those initiatives.

What do you say?

FRIEDMAN: What I say is, you're right. It's a tax. It's a tax that will stimulate enormous innovation, enormous job creation, enormous competitiveness, I think an enormous economic advantage for this country, enormous energy security over the long term.

So, have we not imposed taxes in the past that would make America stronger? Yes.

BLITZER: Would this be a regressive, though, tax, in terms of the middle class would share -- would have a much greater burden than the wealthy?

FRIEDMAN: That I don't know. It depends on what the numbers are.

All I know is this, Wolf, OK? I think the next great global industry is going to be something called energy technology. This week "The New York Times" had an off-lead in the paper how China is investing in electric cars, hoping to lead the world in that.

OK? Gasoline is not going to stay cheap for long. And energy technology, clean power, clean water, clean energy sources are going to be the next great global industry. The question -- I know that for sure, Wolf. The question is, who's going to lead it? And it's not clear that we are. And, if we don't, our standard of living will not be what it is.

BLITZER: In my edition of "The New York Times," it was the lead. It was on the right-hand column going down. It wasn't the off-lead.


FRIEDMAN: OK. Maybe they moved it over.


BLITZER: Right on the right-hand side.

FRIEDMAN: And that tells you something.

BLITZER: You read that article about China and what they're doing. What does it tell you?


FRIEDMAN: What it tells me is that China understands something, that E.T., energy technology, is the new I.T. It's going to be the next great global industry. And they want to own it, because they know...


BLITZER: What's the most important thing the president of the United States needs to do right now?

FRIEDMAN: Frame the issue right.

This is not about a -- you come to the American people and you're going to play right into the Republicans' hands if you say, oh, this is a cap on carbon and we need you to give up your job or your tax. People say, cap on carbon? What does that do to me? Yes, what does that -- I hate that.

BLITZER: So, frame it for me.

FRIEDMAN: Frame it as national security.

BLITZER: Let me hear you frame it.

FRIEDMAN: That the country that owns energy technology, which will be driven by having a fixed durable price on carbon, will have the most energy security, national security, economic security, healthy population, and global respect.

And, by the way, it will be the most innovative country, Wolf, because you can't make a product greener without making it smarter. Impossible. Smarter design, smarter software, smarter metallurgy, that's the only way you can make a product greener. That is going to be next frontier.

We have to own it. And that to me is why, you know, don't let people frame this as just, they want to tax your money to save some polar bears. You know, that's not what it's about. This is about nation-building in America, to make sure we own the next great global industry.

Wolf, if we don't, the chance of your kids and mine having the standard of living we had is zero, because E.T., that's going to be the next big thing. And Jeff Immelt of GE says, I like the way he puts it. He says, if you want to be big, Wolf, you have got to be big in big things. E.T. is going to be the next big thing.

BLITZER: You just framed it. You framed it well.

Tom Friedman.

FRIEDMAN: Appreciate it.

BLITZER: Tom's book is called "Hot, Flat and Crowded."

Thanks for coming in.

FRIEDMAN: My pleasure. Thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: And we're going to have a lot more of the interview with Tom Friedman tomorrow 6:00 p.m. Eastern, the Saturday edition of THE SITUATION ROOM, Tom Friedman. Also, Seymour Hersh will be joining us, Tina Brown, a lot more, 6:00 p.m. Eastern, the SITUATION ROOM, tomorrow.

President Obama packed his campaign skills when he left for Europe.


OBAMA: We must hold firm to our common values, hold firm to our faith in one another. Together, I'm confident that we can achieve the promise of a new day.


BLITZER: Why the president managed to wow the crowd at a town hall meeting in France. We will tell you what happened.

And this Ohio man is facing charges that he was a Nazi death camp guard. He was supposed to be deported. So why might he be staying in America after all?

Plus, a fashion face-off between two very stylish first ladies. Michelle Obama meets ex-supermodel Carla Bruni.



BLITZER: What drove a gunman to open fire at a center where immigrants were taking citizenship classes? We're following the breaking news out of Upstate New York.

And in the height of the Cold War, John F. Kennedy considers a nuclear treaty with Moscow, the fear, the risk, and the uncertainty all caught on tapes that have just been released.

And did Michelle Obama manage to upstage the glamorous first lady of France? The former lawyer and the former supermodel in a fashion face-off.


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

Happening now, 14 people are dead after police say a gunman barricaded a door, then opened fire inside an immigration office in Binghamton, New York. Police say dozens of people survived by hiding in a boiler room. The shooter is believed to be among those dead.

For the first time in nearly two months, the Dow closed above 8000. Investors looked past today's jobless report to log the fourth straight week of gains. And two of America's adversaries are teaming up. The leaders of Iran and Venezuela announced today they will open a joint bank. Analysts say this could help Iran get around some U.S.-led sanctions.

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

The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, says it feels good to work with a U.S. president who wants to change the world.

At the very least, President Obama clearly is changing the way Europeans see the United States and its brand-new commander in chief.

Listen to Mr. Obama today trying to get the message across that the Bush era is now over.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our moral authority is derived from the fact that generations of our citizens have fought and bled to uphold these values in our nations and others. And that's why we can never sacrifice them for expedient's sake. That's why I've ordered the closing of the detention center in Guantanamo Bay.


B. OBAMA: That's why I can stand here today and say without equivocation or exception that the United States of America does not and will not torture.


I think that it is important for Europe to understand that even though I'm now president and George Bush is no longer president, al Qaeda is still a threat and that we cannot pretend somehow that because Barack Hussein Obama got elected as president, suddenly everything is going to be OK.

It is going to be a very difficult challenge. Al Qaeda is still bent on carrying out terrorist activity. It is -- you know, don't fool yourselves. Because some people say, well, if we changed our policies with respect to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, or if we were more respectful towards the Muslim world, suddenly these organizations would stop threatening us. That's just not the case.

We've got to have a strategy that recognizes that the interest of the developed world in feeding the hungry, in educating children -- that that's not just charity. It's in our interests. There is not a direct correlation between poverty and violence and conflict and terrorism. But I can tell you that if children have no education whatsoever, if young men are standing idle each and every day and feel completely detached and completely removed from the modern world, they are more likely -- they are more susceptible to ideologies that appeal to violence and destruction.

If you have no health facilities whatsoever in countries in Africa -- these days, a pandemic can get on a plane and be in Strasbourg or New York City or Chicago overnight. So we'd better think about making sure that there are basic public health facilities and public health infrastructure in those countries, because we can't shield ourselves from these problems. So that means developed countries have to increase aid, but it also means that the countries who are receiving aid have to use it wisely.

Rolling back the tide of a warming planet is a responsibility that we have to ourselves, to our children and all of those who will inherit god's creation long after we are gone. So let us meet that responsibility together. I am confident that we can meet it, but we have to begin today.



BLITZER: All right. Let's discuss what we just heard with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; our CNN political analyst, Roland Martin; and our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin.

He certainly wowed the crowd over there -- Gloria, if you listen to what he said at that town hall meeting, he hit virtually the every point the Europeans love.

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. He did. He knows how to play to an audience, that's for sure. And, look, this has been a really successful summit, by, I think, anyone's standards, for Barack Obama.

Sure, they did -- in political jargon, they managed expectations. They said we don't expect to get the entire stimulus package we wanted. And guess what, they didn't. But they did get a global commitment of $1.1 trillion through the IMF.

And, moreover, they just set a different tone for the United States. You're right, Wolf. He's not George W. Bush. He talked about shared responsibility. And he admitted culpability on the part of the United States for causing this economic mess, but said look, we all have to work together to get out of it.

BLITZER: And, at one point, he even said, Roland, maybe the United States has been too arrogant in the past. You know, those are -- those are criticisms that have often been leveled by the Europeans.

ROLAND S. MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They are criticisms that have been leveled by the Europeans, but also it's a question of simply being honest.

And so what also happens is you will hear the folks from the radio who have already talking on the blogs, how dare the president say those things overseas.

But the reality is we all know it. We just don't want to sit there and admit it. We all can remember the comments about oh, Europe and they don't matter. The point there is, when you need their help, when you need the help of the French and the Germans and the Russians and when you've disrespected them, then they say, you know, you're on your own.

So it was smart of him to do that, but also to criticize them for their anti-American sentiment. That also was important.

BLITZER: Jessica, our friend and colleague, James Carville, the Democratic strategist, wrote a commentary on Among other things, he said this: "If a statesman is one who looks to the next generation and a politician one who looks to the next election, a political consultant must be one who looks to the next tracking poll. Well, I'll go one better and just look at today, April 2nd, 2009. This has most likely been President Obama's best single day since inauguration."

Now, he was referring to yesterday.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: James has a way of making his point very loudly and clearly.

I think that what we saw yesterday was a good day for the president. It reminded me a lot of the day -- the first time he went back to the Senate during the election. He was in the middle of that campaign and everyone came up to him and touched him and wanted a piece of him, even Republicans and Hillary Clinton supporters.

And you saw the same thing -- even folks who opposed his policies yesterday wanted a piece of him.

So it reminds us, again, that he is enormously popular personally, but that doesn't always translate to his policies. And we're even seeing that in this trip.

So he won in the popularity quotient but he didn't get everything he wanted in policy.

BORGER: But you also got to see that he could play on the world stage with everybody else and that there were certain things that got done because Barack Obama was there to kind of broker a deal and make sure the French and the Chinese agreed on tax havens, etc. You know, and even Sarkozy, who seemed to be really, really skeptical of Barack Obama going in, the end, said that it's good to have a president who understands that the world does not simply boil down to American frontiers and borders. So he made a friend.

MARTIN: Hey, Wolf, I want to throw this point in, also. When you also understand that you are not always operating from the position of strength, that you also recognize how you have to behave and how you move within the room -- you know, picking up on what Gloria just said.

So that is, he knew he couldn't walk in there and simply just stampede the room. He had to allow the room to somewhat come to him and recognize that he, as the American president, brought back (INAUDIBLE) with the economy and so just couldn't go walk in there demanding like we have done in the past. BLITZER: Jessica, listen to this. We're just learning from the Politico Web site that at that meeting that the president had last week over at the White House with these high-ranking CEOs, these bank executives, they were defending the very high salaries and bonuses that they receive. The president responded, according to this report: "Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn't buying that. My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks."


YELLIN: Well, look. His administration is also playing to the populist crowd when he needs to. And so he's sort of playing both sides against the center on this one. Wolf, there's understandable wariness on both sides. President Obama has made it very clear that there's going to be a push for stepped-up regulation. The head of the FDIC is calling to break up the big banks.

And so there's a lot of tension on Wall Street about what the administration wants to do. There's also a lot of frustration, because they say until the Treasury came out with this new plan, they were not in contact with the Treasury. They weren't hearing from them very often. And so they feel very, very wary of everything going forward.

MARTIN: But he had to say that because look, he is saying, gosh, I am your partner in this and so you can't go out there and, at the end of the day, screw me with some of these crazy statements. And I'm the one who has to go to the American people and the Congress to ask for the money. And so that was a way of saying, look, we're in this thing together.

BORGER: And I think it was also a warning, which is be careful, you can only push me so far.

YELLIN: Right.

BORGER: And I'm your friend, but after a certain point, you're on your own, guys.

BLITZER: Did you see the report -- Fredricka Whitfield just reported it -- that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, they're now getting ready this year, despite all their horrendous losses, despite all of the billions that the U.S. government has put into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that they're about to go forward with a lot of bonuses -- millions and millions of dollars, hundreds of millions, perhaps, in bonuses -- Jessica, have you seen that?

YELLIN: Yes. But, Wolf, the one thing I've heard from all the bankruptcy and solvency experts -- the restructuring experts I talk to, is that while they oppose bonuses outright, retention bonuses are the one way even conservative people make the exception. They say in some cases, retention bonuses are important to keep the key people.

BORGER: But what...

MARTIN: That's not going to fly with your average person out there.

BORGER: Well, and I...

MARTIN: They're going to say...

BORGER: Here's what's going to happen...

MARTIN:'re getting a retention bonus, I have no job.

BORGER: And I think what you're going to see is a White House trying to restructure or advise people to restructure the way they pay people on Wall Street.

YELLIN: Or rename it.

BORGER: But -- and, also, pay people...


BLITZER: All right...

BORGER: Pay people like -- like most people get paid, which is you get a salary.

MARTIN: Yes. Exactly.

YELLIN: How about that idea?

BLITZER: Guys, we've got to leave it right there.



BLITZER: But I'm going to leave it on this important note for Tuesday. On Tuesday, the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, will be our guest here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Gloria and I are going to be interviewing him earlier in the day over at the White House. You'll want to see it.

In fact, if you have a question for the vice president, you can send us your video questions via iReport. Just send it to CNN -- to We'll try to get some of your questions to the vice president. That's next Tuesday.

President Obama dancing to Beyonce's "Single Ladies" -- not the actual president, but an impersonator. You're going to want to see this report.

And President Kennedy like you've never heard him before in a newly released recording. He's concerned about Russia's trustworthiness as the cold war rages.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: One is a former high-powered lawyer, the other a former high fashion supermodel. Now, the women married to two of the most powerful men in the world, they are meeting.

Let's bring in Kate Bolduan.

She's taking a closer look at these two women -- Kate.


An investigative look at these two women, Wolf.


BOLDUAN: Amid a European travel schedule jam-packed with high profile, high-power meetings, this is the picture the paparazzi have been clamoring for.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): The kiss heard round the world -- the tete- a-tete between Michelle Obama and France's Carla Bruni, may be the most anticipated moment of the Obama's European tour. Just look at the headlines -- "Fashion Face-Off," even "Style Summit."


BOLDUAN: Both first ladies have been called style icons, both charmed the British and both are huge stars on the world stage. But make no mistake, they are very different women.

Carla Bruni, an actress, singer and former supermodel.

Michelle Obama, on the other hand, an attorney known for being down to Earth. In London, she talked about her humble childhood growing up in Chicago.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I was the product of a working class community. My father was a city worker all of his life. And my mother was a stay-at-home mom. And she stayed at home to take care of me and my older brother.

BOLDUAN: At the same time, their lives seemed to mirror each other -- both career driven and successful, now easily adjusting to the spotlight as wives of a president -- the public and media fascinated and fixated on every outfit and photo-op.



BOLDUAN: Now, the cameras will focus once again on the dynamic first ladies when they're expected to have a rendezvous tomorrow. They'll be joined by other NATO spouses for a tour of a cyber surgery center unit at a French hospital and then, Wolf, a visit to a cathedral. BLITZER: Well, let me ask you what -- what I think -- what you think of the -- the clothes these two women were wearing?

BOLDUAN: I definitely don't call myself a fashion maven. My rule of thumb is, if you're not matching the person that you're with at a big profile -- high profile event, then you're good.

BLITZER: So take a look at that picture.

What do you think?

BOLDUAN: Beautiful. The colors -- I can't believe I'm doing this.


BOLDUAN: The colors complement each other. And come on, they look gorgeous.

BLITZER: And we love your outfit, as well. Lovely.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Kate, for that.

One beneficiary of Michelle Obama's European tour, J. Crew.

Our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton, has stitched together a report for us -- Abbi, J. Crew is getting a lot of publicity out there.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Absolutely, Wolf. If you want to dress like Michelle Obama, we are finding that you have to be quick.

After the first lady stepped out in London in J. Crew this week -- or, as the British press called it: "a mid-market American retailer -- that's how they helpfully explained it to their readers -- there was an online surge.

That cardigan that she was wearing there with the sequins, $240 -- $298 online -- sold out very quickly. The skirt as well -- 160 bucks. Get in line. That's also sold out on the Web site.

A spokeswoman for J. Crew saying not only was the online demand overwhelming, they did a survey of their stores around the country and found out that it's not on the shelves there, either.

J. Crew has been through this before, after Michelle Obama decided to wear this selection of pieces from their collection on "The Jay Leno Show" last year. J. Crew put together a special page to help shoppers find them -- or not. Those sold out right away, as well.

You can find this London outfit online, but it's going to cost you. We found the same skirt on eBay now selling for double -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Wow! And what did they say?

How did they describe J. Crew over in England?

TATTON: It's not one that we've ever heard of, so "a mid-market American retailer."

It sounds charming, doesn't it?

BLITZER: A mid-market. OK. It does.

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

They were kept under wraps for nearly half a century -- now you're about to hear recordings of President Kennedy arguing for a deal with the Soviets just months after the world was on the brink of nuclear war.

And President Obama has a YouTube look alike -- why his impersonator is now an Internet sensation.



BLITZER: Almost half a century after the United States and the Soviet Union nearly went to nuclear war, audiotapes are now available shedding new light on a really dangerous period in American history.

Brian Todd has been listening and learning.

What are you finding out -- Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fascinating tapes, as these always are, Wolf.

In these tapes, recently released, we can hear President John Kennedy arguing for a deal with the Soviet Union in spite of the political risks.


TODD (voice-over): Just months after missiles in Cuba brought us to the brink of all-out nuclear war, President Kennedy considers a high stakes deal -- should America trust the Soviet Union and sign a ground-breaking treaty banning nuclear testing anywhere but underground?

PRES. JOHN F. KENNEDY: We ought to try to -- if it does represent a possibility of avoiding the kind of collision that we had last fall in Cuba, which was quite close -- and Berlin in 191 -- we should seize the chance.

TODD: He is making his pitch to America's top nuclear scientists, who will soon testify before the Senate.

Are the Soviets sincere?

The president admits he can't be sure of their motivations.

KENNEDY: The dispute with China is certainly a factor; I think their domestic, internal economic problems are a factor.

TODD: But Kennedy says the U.S. can always withdrew and resume testing, for example, if China gets the bomb.

KENNEDY: In the next 12 months, 18 months, two years, a lot of things may happen in the world and we may decide to start to test again, but if we do, we've at least made this effort.

TODD: Still, the president faces a political risk if he signs the deal -- he's up for reelection in just a year.

MAURA PORTER, KENNEDY LIBRARY ARCHIVIST: He knew that no matter who the candidate was in 1964 for the Republican Party, that they would be using any sort of coming to the bargaining table with the Soviet Union as the Democratic president's been sitting in the White House being soft on communism.

TODD: But the Senate ratifies the treaty overwhelmingly and the president signs it.

KENNEDY: Our hopes must be tempered with the caution of history, but with our hopes go the hopes of all mankind.


TODD: The Kennedy library archivist tells us that she believes that this deal was the first step toward ending the cold war -- Wolf.

BLITZER: When you listen to these tapes -- I know you listened to them carefully -- what do you learn about the president's style behind closed doors?

TODD: Very interesting. You know, he's not sure where these four scientists stand on the matter of signing this treaty. And you can tell it in his voice. So he says to them, look, it's up to you to decide how you're going to testify in the Senate. But then he proceeds to hold forth for 12 minutes, uninterrupted, on why he thinks this treaty is worth signing.

Now, in the end, two of those four scientists supported him in the Senate, one of them went against him and one of them didn't vote.

BLITZER: And tell us about the nuclear test ban treaty, all these years later?

TODD: Well, in 1996, there was a proposal to ban all testing, including underground testing. That was killed in the Senate. But, you know, India, Pakistan, North Korea also didn't sign onto that. They've all, of course, done nuclear testing in recent years. So that -- you know, that's kind of the thing that still governs nuclear testing today. You can still test underground. BLITZER: Thanks very much, Brian Todd.

Fascinating material for all of us to digest.

The president promised he'd create jobs -- and he did. Take a look.


BLITZER: The story behind this Internet sensation.

Plus, a light show at a nuclear power plant -- pictures worth a thousand words.


BLITZER: Here's some Hot Shots.

In Germany, people welcome President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama with banners and balloons.

In France, an anti-NATO activist sets fire to a barricade.

Near Wall Street, protesters fly an American flag with corporate logos instead of stars. They're demonstrating against government bailouts for corporations.

And in Ohio, lightning lights up the night sky near a nuclear power plant.

Some of this hour's Hot Shots.

President Obama is a hit on YouTube -- or at least someone who looks like him.

CNN's Kara Finnstrom has the story of a resemblance that's turned into a job -- Kara.

B. OBAMA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, President Obama has been worked hard to create jobs. Now one lucky man is getting work as a direct result of his election -- but not in the way you might think.



TINA FEY, ACTRESS/COMEDIAN: And I can see Russia from my house.

FINNSTROM (voice-over): Resembling a political figure can pay off. Whether you're Tina Fey or an aspiring actor from Ohio.


IMAN CROSSON, ACTOR, OBAMA IMPERSONATOR (SINGING): I'm in the White House. Now watch your mouth. I'm doing my presidential thing


FINNSTROM: Twenty-seven-year-old Iman Crosson has become a YouTube sensation for his music videos impersonating President Barack Obama.




FINNSTROM: This one, set to a Beyonce tune, has gotten more than 7.5 million views, according to the Web site.


CROSSON (SINGING): You're going to call me (INAUDIBLE)...


CROSSON: I got into it because people at work were just kind of teasing me about every time I came to work, oh, here comes Barack Obama.


CROSSON (SINGING): The country's in the tank...


FINNSTROM: And now he's landed a commercial with Sanyo.

CROSSON: Is it too late to add this to the stimulus bill?

FINNSTROM: His impression is based on careful study.

B. OBAMA: But this isn't about me, it's about you.

CROSSON: He's very pensive and his eyes are constantly almost downward as he's thinking. And he chooses his words very carefully.

FINNSTROM: Crosson's also studied President Obama's dance moves.

CROSSON: And when I saw it, I was like I have to do this dance. Yes, every time I see my mom, she's like do the dance, do the dance.


FINNSTROM: Now that he's got that dance down, wonder whether he can master this one.


(END VIDEO TAPE) FINNSTROM: Pretty tough to master the Wolf dance. But as far as what the president thinks about the impressions of him, Crosson says he hasn't talked to the commander-in-chief, but he has heard from some of his campaign staff. And they say they liked what they saw -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. He's a much better dancer than I am, no doubt about that.

Thank you.

This note to our viewers, on Tuesday, the vice president, Joe Biden, will be our guest here THE SITUATION ROOM. You can submit your questions for the vice president to Then watch the show on Tuesday to see if your questions are answered.

And don't forget to watch THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Among my guests, Seymour Hersh of "The New Yorker" magazine.

Until then, thanks very much for watching.

Have a great weekend.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.


Kitty Pilgrim sitting in for Lou -- Kitty.