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THE SITUATION ROOM
Boy Who Fled Chemo Returns; Supreme Court Battle Lines; North Korea's Bombshell; Iranian Government Blocks Facebook
Aired May 25, 2009 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MALVEAUX: Well, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, President Obama might be just hours away from naming his pick for the U.S. Supreme Court. Conservatives are gearing up for a fight. But the president may also face a battle from some of his allies if he doesn't choose a woman.
Iran's government not making any friends' lists. It's blocking one of the world's most popular social networking sites ahead of a crucial election.
And a new security breach at Buckingham Palace. You won't believe what the latest intruders managed to do at the Queen of England's residence.
Wolf Blitzer is off.
I'm Suzanne Malveaux and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin with breaking news. A cancer-stricken teen under court order to get chemotherapy missing along with his mother for a week -- well, now they're home and we're standing by for a news conference at the top of the next hour, hoping to find out where they've been and if he'll now get the treatment doctors and courts say that will save the boy's life.
CNN senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen -- she's been following this story for us -- Elizabeth, what do we know about the boy's medical condition and the latest here in terms of where they are and what they are doing?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, what we know about the boy's medical condition is that shortly before he and his mother took off, he had an x-ray done and it showed that he had lymph nodes -- a lymph node that was growing, that was becoming larger, near his right collar bone and also a mass in his chest that was becoming larger.
Doctors said this was a dramatic worsening of his disease. And at least publicly, his father begged his mother to bring the boy home.
MALVEAUX: And, Elizabeth, the fact that this chemo treatment has been delayed, does that affect, in any way, his survival rate when it comes to taking on this cancer? COHEN: Suzanne, I asked a pediatric oncologist that. Daniel was supposed to have his second round of chemo March 5th -- and assuming that he'll get it now, it will be about two months late. The doctor I talked to said yes, it might. It is possible that it could give him a worse prognosis than if he had the chemo when he was supposed to it. It might also mean that he needs more aggressive chemo. They have to look at what's happened to his disease while he was away.
MALVEAUX: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much.
MALVEAUX: And I know you'll have more at that -- we'll bring that press conference very shortly.
It is a decision that could help set the direction of the country for decades to come and it just may happen hours from now -- President Obama getting ready to name his choice to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter.
Now, conservatives are already spoiling for a fight.
Our CNN's Elaine Quijano is here.
And Republican senators -- obviously, they must be feeling some of the heat from this back and forth -- this chatter.
Tell us what's going on.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, definitely. There is pressure there. But, you know, some might see this as a lost cause. GOP senators just don't have the votes right now to defeat the president's Supreme Court pick. But conservatives insist Republicans should get fired up anyway.
QUIJANO (voice-over): Conservatives are gearing up to fight the president's nominee, fearing what they call a hard left liberal activist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have, probably, a scale. We have a scary nominee and then it goes all the way to terrifying in terms of what they could do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY JUDICIAL CONFIRMATION NETWORK)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: America deserves better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUIJANO: Already, one group has launched Web videos. The target -- three women believed to be on the president's short list, including federal appeals Judge Diane Wood, who says racketeering laws can be used to prosecute anti-abortion protesters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY JUDICIAL CONFIRMATION NETWORK)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Apparently, in Diane Wood's court, opponents of abortion or students who share religious faith get less protection for their expression.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUIJANO: Conservatives say they're prepared to spend millions on attack ads. Supporters demanding an aggressive debate on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and religious freedom. Especially alarming to conservatives, Mr. Obama's preference for someone with empathy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to see that -- that law be equally applied and the empathy talk really, you know, personal feelings getting in the mix, that could spell trouble.
QUIJANO: And in a recent letter, the National Republican Trust Pact warned Republican senators: "Your constituents will hold you accountable should you concede to the president's nomination of an activist judge."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We certainly can't tolerate somebody that -- that seem -- would fit the mold of what Obama has described in the past.
QUIJANO: But moderate Republicans may not want to risk alienating key constituencies, especially if the nominee is a woman or a minority.
A.B. STODDARD, COLUMNIST, "THE HILL": This could become politically perilous for them and they don't want another -- they don't want this to become damaging for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUIJANO: Now, sources close to the selection process say the president has spent much of the holiday weekend narrowing the list of finalists for the high court vacancy. An announcement could come by the end of the week -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: You'll be the first to know, Elaine. And we'll be turning to you.
MALVEAUX: Thanks, Elaine.
Will President Obama named another woman to the Supreme Court?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Actually, I can't tell you the number of women, including Michelle, who say choose the person you think is going to be best. And so -- so I don't feel weighed down by having to choose a Supreme Court justice based on demographics. I certainly think that ultimately we want a Supreme Court that is reflective of the -- the incredible variety of the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Let's turn to our CNN senior political analyst, Bill Schneider -- and, Bill, the first lady may not be pressuring the president here, but -- maybe some. I don't know. But there are certainly others who are being a lot more direct.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the president is getting some pressure from himself because we just heard him say he wants a court that reflects the diversity of the American people. And right now, the court includes eight men and one woman, one African-American justice -- who some blacks argue does not represent their views -- and no Latinos.
President Obama is also getting pressure from women in Congress from both parties.
Here's what California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer said on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "STATE OF THE UNION")
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CA), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Barbara Boxer and Olympia Snowe crossed party lines and have written to the president, said, Mr. President, there's only one woman on the court and there are eight men. Frankly, if it were reversed, I'd be saying appoint a man. You just need that point of view. But of course it's got to the best possible person. And we think there are so many great qualified women out there.
So I guess it's Michelle and his daughter versus Olympia and Barbara.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: But the president always cites his number one criterion -- he wants a justice who can relate to ordinary Americans and their lives.
MALVEAUX: So is he facing pressure from the American people?
SCHNEIDER: You know, not really. In the new CNN poll taken by the Opinion Research Corporation, we asked people how important it is to you that President Obama nominate a woman to the court. Thirty- five percent of men and only 43 percent of women said it was important to them. A majority of both men and women said it was not very important to them that he nominate a woman -- Suzanne.
Thank you, Bill.
The Israeli prime minister -- is he defying President Obama on the controversial issue of Jewish settlements on the West Bank?
We are watching signs the U.S. allies may be at odds.
Also, as North Korea rattles a nuclear saber, Iran's president raises eyebrows with his remarks about his country's nuclear ambitions.
Plus, rarely seen photos of President Obama and how you can be in them -- we talk to the creator of the Obama Time Capsule.
MALVEAUX: Just days after they sat together in the Oval Office, Israel's Prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, may be challenging President Obama on an issue that has caused friction between a number of their predecessors.
Our CNN's Brian Todd joining us again.
And tell us what this is about.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, it's about Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which most analysts say represent one of the most contentious disagreements in this entire Middle East peace process.
It seems the Israeli prime minister is walking a fine line between how he deals with his own cabinet on this issue and how he deals with the president.
TODD (voice-over): Embarking on a new partnership, America's new president and Israel's new prime minister looked to be on the same page when it came to a key sticking point in achieving Middle East peace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM SUNDAY, MAY 24, 2009)
OBAMA: There's a clear understanding that we have to make progress on settlements and settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: But is Benjamin Netanyahu now defying the president on settlements?
Various news outlets, including the Associated Press and "Washington Post," report Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday construction will continue on existing Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
An Israeli official now tells CNN there will be no new settlements. But he says if people in existing settlements want to build a school here and there, maybe expand their apartments if they have another child, they should be allowed to as part of what he calls "a normal life."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
TODD: He and other Israeli officials have said other illegal settlements -- called outposts -- will be removed.
EHUD BARAK, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER: The remaining 22 outposts should be dealt with in a right and reasonable way. First of all, we need to try reaching an agreement by talking. And if we fail, we will do it in a one-sided way by using force.
TODD: But with Palestinians and the Obama team calling for a halt to all settlement activity, is Israel's position on existing settlements a roadblock to peace?
ROBERT MALLEY, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: Those who expect this -- or expected the meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu to end in sort of a knockout blow where Prime Minister Netanyahu says I surrender, I'm to completely free settlements, I think they bought a ticket for the wrong kind of sporting event. This is more like a chess game. These are the initial moves.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TODD: And it looks like the Obama team is not ready to move its pieces again just yet. Asked by CNN for response to the Israelis' position on the growth of existing settlements, White House officials said they had nothing to add to the president's statement on Monday, when he said settlements simply have to be stopped -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: They're being very cautious at this point.
TODD: They are.
MALVEAUX: Tell us about, you know, what -- what are the numbers -- the number of people who are actually in those existing settlements -- Jewish settlements in the West Bank?
TODD: The updated estimates we have are between 250,000 to 280,000. That's a lot of people living on a lot of land that the Palestinians are claiming for a future state of their own. Clearly, maybe the most contentious issue in a peace process as we move forward.
MALVEAUX: OK. Brian Todd.
Thank you so much, Brian.
MALVEAUX: A bombshell from North Korea -- this one a massive underground explosion testing a nuclear device. Sharp criticism from the United States, the United Nations and one after another of the world's major powers. And some interesting comments from a country which is accused of pursuing a nuclear weapon of its own.
CNN's Reza Sayah is in the Iranian capital.
REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, here in Teheran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad didn't directly condemn North Korea's nuclear tests. Remember, these two countries have diplomatic relations. But he did condemn nuclear bombs in general.
In a press conference attended by foreign journalists, when asked about North Korea's nuclear test, Ahmadinejad said what he said before, that Iran is against nuclear bombs and against nuclear proliferation, adding that the only way toward peace is through brotherhood and negotiations.
Of course, Washington believes this is all hot air coming from Tehran. They believe Tehran is using its nuclear program as a cover to build nuclear weapons. In fact, a few days ago, the U.S.'s top military official, Admiral Mike Mullen, saying Iran is one to three years away from being capable of building a bomb.
Ahmadinejad dismissing that accusation and once again calling for a nuclear-free world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY PRESS TV)
PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (through translator): Those who think by amassing nuclear weapons they can gain the upper hand in the world's political equation are politically backward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAYAH: Of course, Tehran and Washington have said they'd be willing to engage one another for the first time in three decades. But Ahmadinejad saying today that any negotiations will take place after the June 12th Iranian presidential elections and any negotiations will take place within the frameworks of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Ahmadinejad adding that no country will take away Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy. Ahmadinejad also continuing his customary poking and prodding of Washington -- renewing hiss invitation to U.S. President Barack Obama for a debate -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Thank you, Reza.
While the U.S. casts a nervous eye on what Iran may be able to achieve down the road, the reaction to North Korea's nuclear test was immediate and blunt.
Listen to President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The record's clear -- North Korea has previously committed to abandoning its nuclear program. Instead of following through on that commitment, it has chosen to ignore that commitment. Its actions have also flown in the face of United Nations resolutions. As a result, North Korea is not only deepening its own isolation, it's also inviting stronger international pressure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Let's turn to our CNN White House correspondent, Dan Lothian -- Dan, you were there when the president made those statements. You saw the body language, the tone and the message.
What do you make of it?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, certainly, some strong language from this president. First of all, the administration putting out a press release and the president making those very strong and pointed remarks here at the White House today.
Clearly, this is an administration that is being tested again. And, again, what this shows -- there are no easy answers.
LOTHIAN (voice-over): A commander-in-chief admitting on Memorial Day that the sacrifices of war are beyond his reach.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I cannot know what it is like to walk into battle. I'm the father of two young girls, but I can't imagine what it's like to lose a child. These are things I cannot know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LOTHIAN: The president says he's humbled to be commander-in- chief, as he places young men and women into harm's way and tries to put out foreign fires. The latest flare-up -- North Korea and its nuclear test, what Mr. Obama is calling a matter of great concern.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: This is a man with a very full plate, even as he's trying to bring dramatic changes on the domestic side.
LOTHIAN: In addition to North Korea, there's Iran and its nuclear ambitions and two wars -- winding down in Iraq and ramping up in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Presidential adviser David Gergen says, this is a crucial moment for the administration.
GERGEN: There's a very great concern that this could be a sinkhole, that we don't have the capacity to bring it aright and to bring peace there. But he has to keep trying.
LOTHIAN: How is the president handling all these charges?
Gergen says it's too early to give him a grade. But he point outs that Mr. Obama has what he called a strong foreign policy team to help the administration achieve its goals.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LOTHIAN: This administration has really been pushing diplomacy over military force. But again, when it comes to Iran and North Korea, that policy is being put to the test -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you, Dan.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in China -- but with the U.S. so far in debt to Beijing, can she press the government there on human rights?
Plus, dozens of people tumble head over heels down a steep hill in hopes of winning an unusual prize.
Stay with us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
MALVEAUX: Alina Cho is monitoring the stories that are coming into THE SITUATION ROOM -- Alina, I know you've got something that is just in.
What are you working on?
CHO: That's right, Suzanne.
You know, just hours after North Korea conducts an underground nuclear bomb test and launches a short range missile, U.N. Security Council members have met behind closed doors. They've just broken up that meeting. And they unanimously have condemned North Korea's actions as a clear violation of U.N. resolutions.
In fact, here is what U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, said a moment ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: The U.S. thinks that this is a grave violation of international law and a threat to regional and international peace and security. And, therefore, the United States will seek a strong resolution with strong measures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: Earlier today, President Obama also called North Korea's action a grave threat to the peace and security of the world.
We move on now to Florida, where there's been a fatal plane crash. The twin engine plane had just taken off when the pilot reported engine trouble and then tried to land at Daytona Beach International Airport. The plane went down about 200 feet short of the runway, killing one person on board and critically injuring another.
Memorial Day celebrations are canceled in Middleboro, Massachusetts due to a fire at an historic church there. The 160- year-old church was heavily damaged by the flames and three firefights were injured while fighting the fire. Officials say it's still too early to know exactly what caused it.
In news around the world, a possible confrontation between Iran and the United States on the soccer field. The head of Iran's Soccer Federation says his American counterpart is floating the idea of an exhibition match that could happen as early as this fall. The U.S. Soccer Federation isn't commenting except to say, well, such discussions are internal until a deal is signed.
And in Britain, a time-honored tradition -- take a look at this. Gosh. Well, it's this year's annual cheese rolling contest. Competitors, well, they chased an eight pound wheel of Duberg Gloucester cheese down a steep 100 foothill. Some, as you see there, literally falling over their -- head over heels. The winner gets the cheese, while second and third place take small cash prices. Those lucky competitors -- now they're taken away in ambulances -- Suzanne, first prize is the cheese?
CHO: Let me get this straight.
CHO: First prize is the cheese. Second and third prize is the cash?
MALVEAUX: I'll tell you...
CHO: I'll take second or third place.
MALVEAUX: Maybe there's some wine with the cheese. I don't know. I don't understand.
CHO: I don't care about the cheese.
MALVEAUX: All right. Thanks, Alina.
CHO: You bet.
MALVEAUX: Iran's government not making any friends lately -- why it is now blocking one of the world's most popular social networking sites. We're on the screen in Teheran.
Plus, he's got plenty of troubles of his own, but Italy's prime minister is offering President Obama some help when it comes to those Guantanamo detainees. He tells CNN what he has in mind.
And forgotten female heroes of World War II -- they provided desperately needed help flying military missions on the home front.
MALVEAUX: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, new skirmishes in the battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party -- we have details of the latest clashes between some of the biggest names in the GOP.
Plus, the first lady in the spotlight -- Michelle Obama a departure from her predecessor, Laura Bush.
Is all the attention a help or a hindrance to her efforts?
And government-mandated vacations -- one Congressman thinks that everyone should get a paid week off. Why people in his district think that's a good idea.
I'm Suzanne Malveaux.
Wolf Blitzer is off today.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
One of the world's most popular social networking Web sites is at the center of a political controversy in Iran coming just weeks ahead of the country's presidential election.
CNN's Reza Sayah joins us once again from Teheran with that story -- Reza.
SAYAH: Suzanne, the Iranian government blocking Facebook with less than three weeks to go before the presidential elections here.
Today, we asked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad himself.
SAYAH (voice-over): Log onto Facebook in the Islamic Republic of Iran and you won't see your friends list -- instead, an unfriendly message in Farsi: "Access to this site is blocked."
At a news conference in Tehran, I asked the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, why block Facebook?
AHMADINEJAD: There are hundreds of thousands -- millions of sites active throughout the world and they are all accessible in Iran. I have to ask and find out what happened.
SAYAH: Supporters of opposition presidential candidate Mir- Hossein Moussavi say they know exactly why -- Ahmadinejad's government blocked Facebook, they say, to remove an effective campaign tool just before the upcoming elections.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): In the past, they used to say we blocked sites that have immoral information. Later, this included politics and Web sites that wrote against the government and these were filtered. But now they seem to be overdoing it by filtering Web sites that are not in line with their political party. SAYAH: Moussavi, who was Ahmadinejad's main rival, was using Facebook to pass campaign updates to thousands of young supporters. Incumbent Ahmadinejad also has a Facebook page, but only a few hundred online supporters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Some of the candidates have decided to conduct their campaigns on this Web site because they thought there are many users in the electronic world and it is expedient to campaign on the Internet. This should not be a big deal at all.
SAYAH: Apparently Facebook was a big deal to a committee made of members of Iran's judiciary and intelligence ministry. According to the semiofficial Iranian news agency that committee blocked Facebook but didn't offer a reason.
When I asked the president if he would call for Facebook to be unblocked, he said not until he finds out what happened.
PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (Through translator): I have to find out if there is a citizen complaint, if so, then the judiciary will handle it. But if there is a complaint by the government, then I have said previously that no restrictions should be imposed on anyone.
SAYAH: Out of the four presidential candidates, no one has more support on Facebook than candidate Moussavi. With that in mind, some say President Ahmadinejad is no hurry to call for Facebook to be unblocked before the elections. Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Thank you.
President Obama is running into a stone wall, even for Democrats, when it comes to the idea of putting Guantanamo detainees on U.S. soil. But Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who has had troubles of his own lately, may be offering a helping hand. He spoke with CNN's international security correspondent Paula Newton, a CNN exclusive.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The Italian prime minister delivering some good news to the White House basically saying he is open to taking Guantanamo detainees.
SILVIO BERLUSCONI, ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER (Through translator): If we can do a favor for the American people and the U.S. government, we will certainly do it.
NEWTON (Through translator): Ten, 20, 30, how many?
BERLUSCONI (Through translator): I don't have those answers. But of course we feel we should do everything possible to lend a hand to the United States. We can't expect them to fight single handedly on behalf of all of us. Terrorism is a phenomenon that affects us all.
NEWTON: (Speaking in foreign language)
BERLUSCONI (Through translator): I have never made any gaffes, not even one. Every gaffe is invented by the newspapers. And if you want, I can give you a few examples. The last time they said that I called out loudly to Obama during a meeting at Buckingham Palace, it was relaxed. We were laughing. It was not a formal thing.
When I saw Obama, whom I had not seen since I met him in the U.S., I looked at him, and said Mr. Obama, I support. And he said, Mr. Berlusconi, I support. We smiled and greeted each other. But if then the media chose to use only the Mr. Obama line, clearly they just say what they want.
NEWTON (Through translator): But the Queen yelled at you.
BERLUSCONI (Through translator): The Queen defended me, she released a statement from Buckingham Palace the following day saying that her reaction had been absolutely not been critical.
NEWTON: And a revealing moment there with Berlusconi. You know, Suzanne, he has a divorce scandal right now that's all over the papers. It's in all the gossip columns in Italy. Allegations of perhaps a liaison with an 18-year-old girl that he denies.
But it's really incredible how he continue says that the newspapers in Italy are out to get him but on the other hand, he says he's one of the most popular politicians in Italy right now with the Italian electorate. Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Thank you, Paula.
President Obama, the fundraiser-in-chief. Where he's going and who's benefits as he rakes in cash for the Democrats.
Plus House speaker Nancy Pelosi in China as the U.S. debt to Beijing grows by the day. Is that compromising U.S. leverage when it comes to human rights?
MALVEAUX: President Obama hitting the road to raise money for Democrats, including the party Senate leader who's having a hard political time at home.
CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser is joining us live.
And Paul, obviously it's about Harry Reid at this point. Is he in political trouble? What are you seeing?
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, the Republicans sure think he is, Suzanne, and they think he's vulnerable next year. They think he's too liberal for Nevada. They think -- they would love to oust him when he's up for re-election next year.
Check these numbers out as well. Brand new poll out this month, and you can see 45 percent of Nevadans say they want to replace Reid. Only 35 percent want to reelect him.
Conservatives announced today, Suzanne, they're going to be up with a new campaign to try to oust Harry Reid next year. But Barack Obama heading out to Las Vegas for tomorrow. A big fund-raiser for Harry Reid. He's already raised a mountain of cash. And he wants to add to that. That's why President Obama is going to be out there with him.
Republicans so far, they don't have a candidate to go up against Harry Reid, Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: And Paul, obviously, an important trip for the president, for Harry Reid. Where does he head out after Las Vegas?
STEINHAUSER: More fundraising for the fundraiser-in-chief. He's heading to Hollywood and he's going to have a big fundraiser Wednesday night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. This one is for the party, for the Democratic National Committee, which right now, take a look at these numbers.
The Democrats are pretty far behind the Republicans when it comes to campaign cash. The Republican National Committee has $24 million on hand, the Democrats only $9 million.
You're going to have some big names at this fundraiser including Jennifer Hudson and Earth, Wind and Fire. They're going to be performing. The president wants to raise money for the party so they'll do well in next year's elections, Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: OK. Paul Steinhauser, thank you so much.
Let's bring in our Democratic strategist and former DNC communications director Karen Finney and Republican strategist Rich Galen.
Thank you for joining us. Obviously, we saw Paul's piece and it seems to be quite interesting here because on the one hand you saw those figures and it really is the Democrats who are behind when it comes to the fundraising...
RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Perhaps the Democratic Party.
MALVEAUX: And we've heard so much, we've heard so much about how the Republicans are in trouble here. How do we explain this? How do we square this?
GALEN: Well, the reality is, as we know here, that in the off years, the nonpresidential years, it's really the campaign committees, the congressional and Senate campaign committees, in the Republican and Democratic aside, where the action is and it's very difficult unless you're in the buildings. It's very difficult to get down and see what's going on in the field. So the -- and it turns out that the Republican campaign committees are doing slightly better, I think, overall than the Democratic ones. But this is kind of the normal ebb and flow.
The nice thing about having the president of the United States is that you can raise a ton of money in a hurry.
MALVEAUX: Is he -- does this -- is he in trouble in any way the fact that the DNC is not raising the kind of money that the RNC is? You've got such a popular president and the majorities in the Congress.
KAREN FINNEY, FMR. DNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Not at all actually and those RNC figures also reflect a transfer of money from John McCain, and if you look at the actual figures of the amounts raised in April, under Michael Steele, the RNC is actually raising less than its sort of historical average. And I can say that he's one who's had to defend the DNC numbers for a long time.
And I frankly would have expected to see them farther ahead because there should be -- they should be able to stoking their base. You've got a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president and you just don't see that. And if you look at what...
GALEN: So the bad news isn't as bad as you...
FINNEY: Well, but also let's look at what they've got for their money. I think we picked up a Senate seat in Minnesota and the House raised in New York state.
GALEN: New York.
FINNEY: So I think we're doing pretty good.
GALEN: Those two things are correct. But, again, it is the races in the field, I mean, that re-elect numbers for Harry Reid, I mean, for anybody who's been around this game for a long time if 38 percent re-elect a senior member of the Senate is very scary. That's why they're out there.
FINNEY: There's one other point that I want to mention and that is, obviously, the DNC probably doesn't take PAC or lobbyists, (INAUDIBLE) would like to join us in that. So again, there's a smaller pool of money. Our money tends to come from grassroots, small donations, whereas the RNC has those big institutional...
GALEN: And you think this Earth, Wind and Fire deal is going to be little, small donors? People stopping in, dropping off their dollars at the door?
FINNEY: Are you saying that the man on the street doesn't like Earth, Wind and Fire?
MALVEAUX: Is it a risk to President Obama, though, that he's out there with the fundraising. He has a lot, an awful lot on his plate. There's a lot to accomplish here. Should he be out there on the road?
GALEN: That's the kind of thing that the opposition always says. But the reality is that the president is also the political head of his party or her party if we get to that point. And this is the kind of thing that they have to do and so I think it's fine.
MALVEAUX: We see Speaker Nancy Pelosi who's in China now, and obviously there's a -- you know, a full agenda there and we have not yet heard her talk about the issue of human rights. And so she is getting some criticisms about that.
Does she need to speak out and does this administration need to speak out about human rights here?
FINNEY: Well, we certainly don't know what she has said private and this administration clearly is trying to sort of turn the page on a relationship with China and have more of policy of engagement.
You saw Secretary of State Clinton there previously. The speaker is there, specifically dealing with global climate change.
MALVEAUX: But wouldn't that be a powerful signal if she said something publicly?
FINNEY: Well, you know, if you look at our relationship with China right now, we have a pretty full plate in terms of the things that we're dealing with. We were reminded today with this North Korean announcement. China is a very important partner in dealing with North Korea, an important partner in dealing Iran, a very important partner in dealing with Pakistan.
So I wouldn't say that human rights is anywhere sort of off the table, but certainly we've got a lot of other issues...
GALEN: Except that Secretary Clinton, in effect, did say it was off the table. And if this were a Republican administration and a Republican speaker of the House going to China, the Democrats, I guarantee you, would be engaged in projectile sweat screaming about how can you go to China and not hold their feet to the fire on...
MALVEAUX: What do you think the role is here of the fact that China has basically bought one $1 trillion of U.S. debt. Do you think that that is playing a role here in the fact that we are seeing an administration that is very, very cautious in its approach with this regime?
FINNEY: Well, it's certainly a dangerous position that the Bush administration, unfortunately, put us into it... GALEN: I knew it's going to be my...
FINNEY: Yet -- and yet it...
GALEN: I knew it was going to be my fault.
FINNEY: Of course. It's yet another area where we're having to clean up that mess, but again, we do have a very full play in our dealings with China.
GALEN: Well, hold on. Timothy Geithner, he ruled out another however many billions of dollars when it looked directly at China in the eye....
FINNEY: He had a deficit when he left office.
GALEN: And he had this sort of attack thing.
FINNEY: And China made...
GALEN: But here, China is going to be the (INAUDIBLE) of the next century. Our decision is going to be how do we react to that? There's a lot more of them than we are. These things, again, over longer terms, geological terms, the secular, that I think that what this administration has to do is get its arms around the entire group of things and not just let the ones fall by the wayside that are really hard.
MALVEAUX: We're going to have to leave it there, Rich Galen and Karen Finney. Thank you so much for joining us.
FINNEY: Good to see you.
MALVEAUX: There is a new book on President Obama that can be customized for you. It's actually your name will appear on the cover, your pictures will be alongside celebrities, plus the book has a lot of President Obama that you might have never seen before. We're going to talk to the author.
And they made themselves at home at the Queen of England's home, that is. The latest security breach at Buckingham Palace.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
MALVEAUX: The legal case is just getting started against four men charged with plotting to blow up a New York synagogue and U.S. military planes. And this one has a new twist.
CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti explains. SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, putting weapons of mass destructions into alleged terrorist hands is what makes this case different.
COMMISSIONER RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE: This is truly a textbook example of how a major investigation should be conducted.
CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Is it a coincidence, a terrorism task force waited until four suspects allegedly planted a car bomb outside a New York synagogue before moving in? Hardly says one former U.S. attorney.
GUY LEWIS, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I do think the Department of Justice, the FBI, they're learning from these past experiences where the cases had been, many people would say, thin to win.
CANDIOTTI: Legal experts cite these cases as examples. Outside Buffalo, New York, a group of homegrown terrorists were convicted of being a sleeper cell after going to an al Qaeda training camp. The men had no specific plans for an attack.
An upcoming case charges plotters at New York and Trinidad with scheming to blow up fuel tanks at JFK Airport, but some legal analysts questioned whether they would have been able to pull it off.
In Miami, despite surveillance video, it took a mistrial and a deadlocked jury before prosecutors won some convictions over a plan to blow up targets including Sears Tower.
But if prosecutors have evidence that puts an allege plot into action, mounting a defense becomes tougher.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: This case wasn't just talk about explosives. It was the actual deployment of what the defendant's thought actually were explosives appears to make it a much stronger case.
CANDIOTTI: Legal experts say defense attorneys are likely to argue entrapment by an informant who instigated an alleged terror plot.
LEWIS: Yes, they are on video. But you know what, they were entrapped.
CANDIOTTI: The FBI says no way.
JOE DEMAREST, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: They still had intention. They did leave the packages of what they believe to be real explosives.
CANDIOTTI: In the years following the 9/11 attacks, some successful homegrown terror investigations involved evidence of some talk but little action. The latest case, authorities say, goes to a much different level. Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Thank you, Susan.
It's home to the Queen of England and home away from home to a seemingly endless series of intruders. Now there's been a new breach at the royal residence.
Our CNN's Tim Lister has that story.
TIM LISTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another embarrassing security lapse at Buckingham Palace. A chauffeur allows two men into the palace garages after allegedly being promised 1,000 pounds. About $1,500. They got in despite palace security measures and posed as businessmen.
But they were actually reporters for the "News of the World" and shot this video of their tour of Her Majesty's limousines. One was even invited to sit inside the Queen's burgundy colored Bentley.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is where Her Majesty sits.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's where she sits.
LISTER: The same car regularly used by the Queen on official engagements. The paper alleges it set up the tour through the chauffeur's girlfriend, and that its reporters went unchallenged throughout their tour.
ROBERT JOBSON, EDITOR, NEWS OF THE WORLD: But it actually exposes a serious lapse of security at Buckingham Palace. We've had so many breaches of securities over the years, but this one is really appalling.
Our investigators are sitting where the Queen sits in the royal limo. Our investigator could easily have been an al Qaeda terrorist with a bomb to be planted inside the Queen's car.
LISTER: Buckingham Palace says quote, "An individual has been suspended pending an investigation." Scotland Yard expressed its concern about the issues raised by the "News of the World" story and said it was liaising with the palace on security arrangements.
This lapse is not the first and certainly not as dramatic as the one in 1982, when the Queen woke up to find a homeless and delusional man sitting at the end of her bed asking for a cigarette. He'd scaled a wall and a drainpipe, evading alarms and guards.
More recently, the footman circled here was an undercover reporter who used fake references to get a job at the palace and who allegedly had access to rooms due to be occupied by President George W. Bush during a state visit.
But this lapse comes after security was supposedly tightened. DICKIE ARBITER, FORMER PALACE SPOKESMAN: You've got to look at the people that are manning the gates and ask them why did they let this person in, why did they let the people in on the say-so of the chauffeur?
LISTER: That's a question both the police and the royal household will want answered.
Tim Lister, CNN, Atlanta.
MALVEAUX: There have been other extraordinary security breaches at the royal residences. I want you to take a look at this. In 1994, a naked paraglider landed on the roof of Buckingham Palace. The American intruder was fined 200 pounds and deported.
In 2003, a self-styled comedy terrorist crashed Prince Williams' 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle, wearing a beard, sun glasses and a dress. He kissed the prince on both cheeks.
And in 2004, a father's rights campaigners dressed as Batman climbed the wall at Buckingham Palace, perched on a ledge near the balcony and unfurled a banner.
Well, a personalized book that puts you next to President Obama and right in the middle of history. We'll talk to the man behind the "Obama Time Capsule."
MALVEAUX: Picture yourself next to President Obama. Well, that is the promise of a new book project called "The Obama Time Capsule." We'll talk to the man behind it in just a moment but first our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton shows us what it's all about. Abbi?
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, this is President Obama's journey but with you, the reader, in it. You can customize this book, "The Obama Time Capsule," to include your name, your photo.
This is what it will look like. So alongside the pictures of the first family, of the president, of the celebrities, of the Bidens, your picture of you, the Obama supporter, will appear right here.
Let's show you one we made earlier to demonstrate what that's going to look like. Here, the picture of the author, Rick Smolan, himself with his family. Pictures and pages like this appear throughout the book so when you see the page of the who's who of Obama supporters, you've got Oprah Winfrey there, Jennifer Aniston and a space for you yourself.
The idea being that you were part of this campaign. Another page has a text message, an e-mail that was sent out the night of the election victory, a space for your name here. There are pages like this that appear in photos, plenty of photos throughout the book, but what's different about this is let's look at that, a space for your name on the front page. Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Thanks, Abbi. I'd like to bring in the author, Rick Smolan.
Obviously, Rick, it's very exciting when people see their name, they see their picture as part of this book. I'm looking at this book now, it's absolutely beautiful, some of the photos. And I think what makes it so unique here, not just customized but these are photos we have never seen before that you have had access to.
I want to start off with this first one. It's inauguration day. It is that moment, he's in front of a huge crowd, there's a red curtain, if you will, that surrounds this picture. How did you come to choose this photo? Tell us a little bit about this moment and what this means.
RICK SMOLAN, THE OBAMA TIME CAPSULE: Well, Suzanne, we actually reached out to hundreds of photographers that were on the campaign trail with all the different candidates over the last two years, and we asked each of them for special photographs that either had never been published or if they had been published, we wanted to do something new with them.
In this case, this particular photograph is President Obama walking out before he took the oath, greeting all of the well-wishers and all the people that are attending the inauguration. And what I love is that red curtain that he's walking through, it's very regal looking.
We went back and got the original photographs. This is a little bit technical but we tried to make these look -- these pictures look better than anything anyone's ever seen before. One of the things that I think that's really important for your listeners or viewers to know is that "The Obama Time Capsule," every single copy of the book is actually printed one at a time.
The book doesn't exist until somebody actually customizes it, so this is the first time in history of publishing that a print on demand book has actually been created for a wide audience like this.
MALVEAUX: Well, let's take a look at another photo that was very compelling and very intimate as well. You captured -- you have a photo that you've selected here of the first couple and this was between inaugural balls. Was this in an elevator? Tell us about this one.
SMOLAN: Yes. This was between inaugural balls. This is a photograph by a wonderful photographer named Kelly Shell. And Kelly works for "TIME" magazine.
What I love about this picture is it's so intimate, and then on the left side of it, we actually created what in my day used to be called a contact sheet. So you didn't just see this wonderful moment but you got to see how this incredible photographer thinks. You get to see all the pictures leading up to and coming after that.
And there's that one very special moment that I think captures this wonderful intimacy that they have with each other.
MALVEAUX: And she's wearing his tuxedo jacket, is that right, between these...
SMOLAN: It was cold. The elevator was quite cold. He took his coat off and wrapped it around her to keep her warm. But you know I think all of us are so -- we find that the warmth and the attraction that the president and his wife have with each other is something that's just so human and appealing, I think something that's been missing for a long time in politics.
MALVEAUX: And Rick, let's take a look at this next picture. This really is one of those moments we hear about the president always exercising. He's very active and he likes to get pumped up before he goes out and give speeches, that type of thing. This at the University of Montana. Tell us about this.
SMOLAN: Well, apparently just before he went out to give a speech, one of his other aides jumped up and did two pull-ups on this, and so apparently he's very competitive, so he had to outdo the aide. So he did four pull-ups.
I love the fact that as you go through this book, this is not just about the campaign or the election. It really gives you a sense of what the experience was for him and his family over the last two years.
MALVEAUX: And Rick...
SMOLAN: And as you said, it sort of weaves your life into that.
MALVEAUX: And these two very intimate moments that we're seeing, the first couple, tell us about this one.
SMOLAN: Well, you can imagine how exhausting this campaign was on any human being. And you know, President Obama and his wife and his children in many cases had a bus that took them basically from -- you know, from appearance to appearance, and this is, again, one of those very rare moments where you got to see just the weight of exhaustion, just being on all the time, and it's just -- again, a very intimate moment just captured on the campaign trail.
MALVEAUX: Rick Smolan, thank you so much for joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM. Very beautiful photos. Very well presented. Thank you so much. Good luck to you.
SMOLAN: Thank you very much.