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The Congressman Who Yelled "You Lie"; Kennedy Letter A "Political Tool"; Wasting No Time with Health Pitch; "He's Tried To Steal the Election"

Aired September 10, 2009 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama today picked up where he left off in his speech to Congress on health care reform. He told a nurses' group that the time for bickering has passed and the time for talking is winding down.

But all the talk today is about a little known lawmaker who stole the spotlight from President Obama with a truly shocking outburst in the Congress.

CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into the background of Republican Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina -- Brian, what have you found out?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Congressman Wilson has apologized to the White House for that outburst. But he's not backed off the sentiment behind it. And he is known as someone who rarely, but passionately, engages.


TODD: (voice-over): An obscure back bencher injects himself literally into the great health care debate.




TODD: An uncharacteristic outburst or was part of Joe Wilson's M.O.?

Yes on both counts, according to journalists who've covered him in South Carolina. They describe a soft-spoken, flag waving Congressman who doesn't get into the forefront of many high profile debates. But when he does feel passionately, he's not afraid to show it.

Witness this exchange on C-SPAN several years ago, when Democratic Congressman Bob Filner opined that the U.S. Had supplied Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction.


WILSON: We never gave stuff like that to him. REP. BOB FILNER (D), CALIFORNIA: I think you need to read your military history.

WILSON: Well, that -- that is absurd and -- and I -- you know, this -- this hatred of America by some people is just outrageous. And -- and we need to get over that.

FILNER: Hatred of America by people?

WILSON: Yes. A hatred of America to say something like that. That we did...

FILNER: Are you accusing me?

WILSON: Yes -- of giving a killer (INAUDIBLE)...

FILNER: That's a pretty (INAUDIBLE)...

WILSON: ...biological weapons to Iraq?

FILNER: Tell me...

WILSON: That is...

FILNER: Tell me...

WILSON: That is outrageous...

FILNER: That is not...

WILSON: ...and you shouldn't say that.

FILNER: ...untrue...

WILSON: And you need to look into it and you need to do accept it.

FILNER: Joe, I am a Congressman -- a representative who was -- who was elected by my Congresspeople...

WILSON: Well, that's -- that was a hateful comment...

FILNER: ...just as you were.

WILSON: ...that you made. That is not...

FILNER: It is a true comment.

WILSON: That is not right and you shouldn't say stuff like that.

FILNER: It is a...


TODD: An early and fervent supporter of the Iraq War, Wilson, observers say, gets his fire stoked by just about any military issue. His four sons all served. One, an Iraq veteran, took time out for running for attorney general back home to defend his father's comments to the president.


ALAN WILSON, JOE WILSON'S SON: People are just frustrated about health care, especially in South Carolina. And that frustration manifested itself last night on the floor of the U.S. Congress.


TODD: Joe Wilson's district is heavily Republican. Observers say an influx of Hispanic immigrants in recent years has sparked tension over jobs and health care -- tensions which had been weighing on the mind of the former immigration attorney.

WILSON: The people who have come to our country and violated laws, we should not be providing full health care services.

TODD: Wilson once worked for legendary Republican Senator Strom Thurmond and the late Congressman Floyd Spence, who analysts say mentored him on the politics of constituent service.

JOHN O'CONNOR, REPORTER, "THE STATE" NEWSPAPER: Congressman Wilson is -- is kind of the traditional South Carolina Congressman who, you know, focuses on keeping the people at home happy and then, you know, when folks have an issue back in the district, they can call up their Congressman. The Congressman will take care of that.


TODD: That's a formula, observers say, that keeps you in office in South Carolina. Since taking over Floyd Spence's seat in 2001, Wilson had not been seriously challenged until last year. His opponent then, Rob Miller, is running against him again. And Democratic Party officials say since last night, he's been able to raise more than $400,000 for his campaign -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Wow! A lot of money in one night, obviously.

TODD: Right.

BLITZER: But Congressman Wilson has received some positive reaction in his district at the same time, hasn't he?

TODD: He sure has. He said today that his constituents have been overwhelmingly supportive. We have seen evidence -- we've been told of other e-mails, other correspondent with him from his district that's been, for the most part, very positive.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.

Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton -- Abbi, this fundraising activity has been extraordinary over the past 24 hours or so.

Tell us more.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Yes. There's been huge amounts of online activity around this story, as you can imagine. You still can't get on Congressman Joe Wilson's official Web site for -- his Congressional Web site -- because of the exceptionally high traffic that he has generated in the last few hours.

But as you can imagine, there are now plenty of sources of information about him online, whether it's on Twitter, where more people have been posting about Joe Wilson in the last few hours than they have about Jay-Z, something that wasn't happening before last night; or whether it's on new Web sites like this one, which is already somewhat of a sensation. It's called Joe Wilson Is Your Pre- Existing Condition. It's not a fan page. It accuses Joe Wilson of pretty much everything that's ever gone bad in the world. He tells me, I look fat in this dress. He tells me that he stole my newspaper.

All of this clicking through to a fundraising page on ActBlue, where there's been frenetic activity. We've just been looking at this. Look at it go up just in the last hour -- $50,000 just as we've been watching in the last hour.

But conservatives are now trying to rally online. We've seen fundraising e-mails from conservative group blogs like Red State telling people to start opening your wallets now for Congressman Joe Wilson. Free t-shirts given away in solidarity with Joe Wilson on Twitter. Really trying to fight this big trend against him that's been growing and growing online -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And we -- we invited Joe Wilson and Rob Miller to join us here in THE SITUATION ROOM today. Both declined. Hopefully, they'll join us, maybe tomorrow and, to talk to us -- one or both, whoever says yes.

Let's go to Candy Crowley, our senior political correspondent, right now -- Candy, all this commotion over Joe Wilson saying "You lie" to the president on the floor of the House of Representatives last night, does it help or hurt the president in terms of the big picture, trying to get his message out and win support for health care reform?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Any time a president, this president, can look totally above the fray and can say we need to all come forward in the spirit of bipartisanship, he looks better than the other guy.

There's all this coverage of what Joe Wilson had to say. It certainly does cut down on the coverage about what the president had to say. But the president had more than an hour last night. He's all over the front pages of the paper. They are not worried at the White House that his message hasn't gotten out.

And they believe that Joe Wilson has gotten out another message, which is that when the president went after his critics, this, they say, was sort of part and parcel of what he was talking about. So, at the moment, it certainly seems to be something that gets people, particularly Democrats, who he needed to rally around the president.

BLITZER: It certainly does.

All right, Candy, thank you.

Let's go to Jack right now once again for The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Wolf, the writing is on the wall for South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. He's from the same state as Wilson. And do you notice...

BLITZER: South Carolina.

CAFFERTY: Yes. There must be something in the water down there.

Sanford refuses to read the writing that's on the wall, however. There is a growing chorus of choices in that state calling on the governor to please just go away. Sanford has been under fire ever since he went MIA for a week last June, lied about his whereabouts and then resurfaced only to admit he wasn't hiking on the Appalachian Trail but, in fact, was in Argentina shacked up with his mistress.

Since then, he's been under investigation for his use of state resources. The head of the Republican Party in South Carolina is expected to ask later today for a party resolution calling for Sanford's resignation. They voted in July to censure Sanford for repeated failure to act in accordance with the GOP's core beliefs, but they didn't ask him to step down. Not then.

This comes just one day after a majority of the Republicans in the State House of Representatives in South Carolina wrote a letter to Sanford, demanding his resignation. They say his actions have been: "destructive to our state's image on a worldwide stage." Among the 60 Republicans who signed that letter, several lawmakers who would pay key roles in an impeachment process, which is something else that's been talked about.

But Sanford isn't listening. He called this latest letter both unpersuasive and unsurprising and said he will not be railroaded out of office by his political enemies.

Want to bet?

A couple of weeks ago, Sanford also rejected his lieutenant governor's request that he resign for the good of the state.

He's going. It's just a question of how and when.

Anyway, here's the question -- why won't South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford go away?

Go to and post a comment on my blog. This kind of stuff, after a certain point, it just gets worse. It never gets better.

BLITZER: Yes. We'll see what happens. He's fighting.

CAFFERTY: He's toast.

BLITZER: All right. We'll see.


BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

No letup in GOP criticism of the president's health care speech -- the party chairman, Michael Steele, is slamming the president's reading of a letter from the late Senator Ted Kennedy. I'll ask him why. He's standing by live.

Plus, the top rival to the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, accusing him of trying to steal the election and blaming him for the Taliban comeback. My interview with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul. That's coming up.

And police say a teen was beaten by as many as 15 men. His father claims police aren't treating it like a hate crime because his son is white.


BLITZER: The president called for an end to all the bickering on health care reform, but he continues full speed ahead. And so does the harsh criticism of his speech before Congress last night.

Joining us now, the Republican National Committee Chairman, Michael Steele.

Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming in.


It's good to be with you.

BLITZER: You caused some uproars by suggesting that when the president, at the end of his speech, referred to a very moving letter he received from the late senator Ted Kennedy, you said that was a political tool.

Why was that a political tool?

STEELE: Well, you know, I appreciated the dramatic, you know, lead-in to my being here in terms of that. And I'm not slamming the president on this. I just thought something like that was -- it so personal, in many respects, and particularly so soon after the senator's death, that I just didn't think it was the right time to reveal that or have that conversation or to say it.

That was all. It was just an opinion. It's my judgment...

BLITZER: Because Senator Kennedy, as you know, said that was the cause of his life -- health care reform.

STEELE: Absolutely...

BLITZER: And he wrote the letter and said to the president: "Read this upon my death."

STEELE: Well, I thought -- I interpreted that as, "Read this," -- you know, I want you to read this and understand how important this is going forward. And some say that was his intent, to have it read publicly.

Be that as it may, the reality of it is that, to me, is more of a diversion and a distraction from the underlying speech itself, which, in my view, the president, I think, missed an opportunity to clearly define in -- in a common sense, straightforward way exactly how we should go about the business of reforming those aspects of our health care system that we have particular problems with.

BLITZER: All right. Let's go through some of the specifics, because he went through a lot of detail during the course of those 45 minutes. One thing he did say -- and it was an implicit reply to the former Republican vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, who wrote an article earlier in the week saying those so-called death panels were, indeed, part of the president's strategy.

Here's what the president said last night.


OBAMA: Such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.


BLITZER: You don't believe the president is calling for death panels, do you?

STEELE: I don't know what the president is calling for quite frankly. And I think there are various interpretations of the language inside H.R. 3200 that leads people to different conclusions.

BLITZER: But what do you think?

STEELE: And I think -- I think the bottom line -- the bottom line, from my perspective, whether you call it a death panel, whether you call it a commission, whether -- whatever you choose to call it, Wolf, I don't really care. I'm concerned about a body of bureaucrats who are going to be in a position to ration health care. They're going to be in a position to make decisions, whether it's end of life or beginning of life, with respect to what I should be doing for me and mine. That's the bottom line and (INAUDIBLE)...

BLITZER: But there are a body of bureaucrats... STEELE: But that's what the...

BLITZER: Aren't there a body of bureaucrats right now in the private insurance industry that make those kinds of life and death decisions?

STEELE: And it's a perfect example of it -- and I agree with the president when he talks about insurance reform. I agree with the president when he talks about the need to make sure that -- that people have greater choice.

How we go about getting that, however, Wolf, is the real debate here. And I don't want to get lost on side issues. I really want to stay focused on what the town halls and all of that has been about over the course of the summer.

The American people are hungry for real answers to some real problems that they have. And the...

BLITZER: All right...

STEELE: And the bureaucracy, in my view, is not the answer.

BLITZER: All right. Listen to this, because this is when the president specifically said that there would be no benefits for illegal immigrants.

And watch what happens.


OBAMA: ...who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false.


OBAMA: The reforms -- the reforms I am proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.

WILSON: You lie.



BLITZER: All right. You heard Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina scream out "You lie".

STEELE: Right.

BLITZER: How embarrassing has that been for the Republican Party?

STEELE: It's not been embarrassing for the Republican Party, but it's been very embarrassing for the Congressman. I appreciate the Congressman not doing the typical Washington move and trying to explain it or justify it. He acknowledged within 30 minutes after the speech was over that that was not an appropriate thing to say as a member of the United States Congress to the president of the United States. And he's apologized.

I know a lot of my friends in the DNC and on the left want to make this the brouhaha so, yet again, we're not talking about the president's speech and what he said, we're talking about personalities and how feelings are hurt and all of that.

The key thing to note here about what the president did say with respect to illegal immigrants is important. But more important is what he didn't say. What he didn't say is the fact that there is no way that they can guarantee that illegal immigrants are not able to access the health care system that he's talking about.


Because what the Republicans want was some verification between illegal and -- and documented. And if I can't tell you access the system and I'm not allowed to ask you whether you are here legally or otherwise for you to prove that you are here legally, if there is a question, then that is a hole -- a gaping hole...


STEELE: which illegal immigrants in this country -- to this country can access the health care system and then we wind up paying for it.

BLITZER: So it...

STEELE: And that's the point.

BLITZER: Are you saying, though, that the president was, therefore, lying?

STEELE: No, I'm not saying -- you're good, Wolf. No, I'm not saying that at all.

Did you hear those words leave my lips?

BLITZER: No, I didn't hear...


BLITZER: I didn't hear you say they were lying to him...

STEELE: I'm not saying that...

BLITZER: I heard you suggest that -- that the president...

STEELE: ...nor am I inferring that.

BLITZER: ...was not necessarily fully up front.

STEELE: No. All I'm saying is there is -- there's a sentence that follows that sentence. And -- and I think the American people are entitled to know the entire paragraph with respect to what the administration has intended and -- and will do with respect to illegal immigration in our health care system. And all I've pointed out, as Republican leaders have tried to close that loophole in H.R. 3200, is that if I access this system as an illegal, you don't know that because there's no mechanism in place to you -- for you to verify that I'm in this country legally and I'm not taking advantage of a system that I'm otherwise precluded from taking advantage of.

BLITZER: Michael Steele is the chairman of the Republican Party.

Mr. Chairman, we'll have you back.

STEELE: You've got it, my friend.

Take care.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

Let's bring in Gloria Borger, our senior political analyst -- Gloria, did the president do last night what he really needed to do?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think he really tried to get back in charge of the debate. And I think he accomplished that to a certain degree. Sure, we're talking about Joe Wilson. But it makes the president look better, I believe, when somebody is doing that from the audience in the Congress.

He looked to me, Wolf, a little more emotional than we've seen him; tougher than we've seen him. And he was talking to that outside audience -- the same audience that Michael Steele was talking to right now, trying to convince those Independent voters and those senior citizens that he's on their side and that what he's going to do for them is going to make life better and not make it worse and not going to cost them more money. If they have insurance, they're going to be able to keep it.

BLITZER: Did you hear a lot of new substance last night or was it more an issue of tone?

BORGER: Well, I think there were some nuggets that we heard. He adopted a plan that -- that John McCain has endorsed. He talked about cost controls in this health care reform plan.

But I think really the tone was more important. It was sort of like Mr. Change Comes to Washington. We were used to this kind of tone during the campaign -- the president saying, look, I'm going to reach out to you, but I'm going to call you on it if I think you're not telling the truth. So we saw a little bit of candidate Obama there.

And he was -- he was walking this fine line. You know, talk to people inside the White House say -- they say they believe that Barack Obama is a transformational figure in American politics. I think what we saw last night from that podium is a president who believes he can be one and who is determined to be one. We don't know how it's going to turn out, but he's got his agenda, he's sticking to it and he's determined to get it passed.

BLITZER: It's a moment of truth for the president right now.


BLITZER: Gloria, thank you.


BLITZER: The top rival to the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, says more U.S. troops can't help his country until the actual government in Kabul cleans up its act.

So just how corrupt is the Afghan government?

My interview with Dr. Abdullah-Abdullah -- that's coming up.

And they thought they were contestants on a Big Brother-type reality show. Instead, they were held captive in a house and their naked images were sold on the Internet. We're going to give you the details.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: Fredricka Whitfield is monitoring some other important stories income into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Fred, what's going on?

WHITFIELD: Hello again, Wolf.

Turkish military police say they stormed a villa in Istanbul to free nine women who were tricked into believing they were reality show contestants. According to local news reports, the women were told that they were being filmed for a Big Brother-type television show. They were made to sign a contract promising not to contact family or leave the building for two months. Instead, their naked pictures were reportedly sold on the Internet. Police say they had been held in the building for about two months. Four suspects have been detained in connection with the case.

A Justice Department report finds that allegations of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct involving staff at federal prisons have more than doubled since 2001. The rise is attributed to efforts to educate and encourage staff and inmates to report abuse. According to the report, 122 prison officials admit to having sex with inmates and more than two dozen say they also smuggled contraband to their sex partners.

The family of the Iraqi television reporter who threw his shoes at President Bush says he may use his celebrity to promote humanitarian causes. Muntadhar al-Zaidi is set to be released Monday after nine months in prison. The television station he works for says he is welcome to return. And he has also reportedly had offers to go into politics. But his brother says he is interested in working to promote the rights of women and orphans.

And the clock has struck midnight for tennis' newest Cinderella. After a string of unlikely victories, American Melanie Oudin lost in the U.S. Open quarter finals last night. The 17-year-old from Marietta, Georgia entered the tournament ranked 70th in the world, beating four higher ranked players on her way to becoming the youngest quarter finalist since Serena Williams back in 1999 -- and, Wolf, something tells me we have not seen the last of her.

BLITZER: No. We -- I saw her on Monday, on Labor Day, at the U.S. Open. She is amazing. She's got a huge future. And she's, what, she's a senior in high school.


BLITZER: She's getting home schooled right now. Only 17 years old -- amazing young woman.

WHITFIELD: And all the folks in Georgia who watch her play say that she is a powerhouse and she's handling this instant celebrity oh so well.

BLITZER: Yes. She certainly is.

All right, thanks very much, Fred, for that.


BLITZER: Afghanistan's risky power struggle -- President Hamid Karzai's top rival is blaming him for the resurgence of the Taliban. I'll speak about that with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah.

And a teen suffers a vicious beating. His father calls it racially motivated and claims that because his son is white, police aren't treating it like a hate crime.

Plus, a family values politician speaks about sex, spankings and skimpy underwear. But his crude comments are all caught on tape in the California state capital.


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

Happening now, Bernard Madoff caught on tape explaining how to fool government investigators. Wait until you hear what he told colleagues years before he was busted for running one of the largest fraud schemes ever.

Also, temperatures can reach 120 degrees and fine dust coats everything -- Anderson Cooper has an inside look at life at a remote Marine base in Afghanistan.

And Wall Street surging -- all three major U.S. stock indices post sharp gains on the day. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 rose more than 1 percent, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained about 80 points, or just under 1 percent.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


Afghanistan's Electoral Complaints Commission has tossed out presidential voting results from several polling stations because fraud -- widespread fraud. And there are thousands more complaints to sift through.

This is an unbelievable situation happening in Afghanistan right now, with dramatic ramifications for the United States and the nearly 70,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. As a partial recount continues, so does an extraordinary feud between the two top Afghan candidates.

And joining us now from Kabul, the former foreign minister of Afghanistan, Dr. Abdullah-Abdullah, who's the major challenger to the current president, Hamid Karzai, in these elections.

Dr. Abdullah, thanks very much for joining us.

Do you believe that Hamid Karzai is stealing this election?

DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, AFGHAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He has already tried to steal the elections. And it has been a state of massive fraud prepared in the past two years, preparations for made for this. I have absolutely no doubt about this.

BLITZER: What, if anything, can you do about that?

ABDULLAH: I think we are still waiting for the legal process, which is the election complaints commission work. Which will be looking into the complaints which are a few hundred serious complaints and thousands of others. Which includes, like, hundreds of polling stations which were never opened, but hundreds of thousands of votes have been reported from those stations. So these are the type of complaints that we're looking into. Mr. Karzai is declaring himself as a winner, which I think he's in a lose/lose situation because he has lost credit before the eyes of the people of Afghanistan as well as the international community by generates such a massive fraud.

BLITZER: There are been allegations that people on your side are cheating as well. Is that true?

ABDULLAH: I wouldn't say that there aren't violations in any other kind. There might be. What I'm calling for is an investigation into those claims. In all cases, none of those things, like no polling station opened and reported has been the case. So what we are talking about is massive fraud, not violations here and there which might have happened by sympathizers of the candidates, including myself.

BLITZER: Why is the Taliban still so popular, maybe even growing more popular in Afghanistan right now? ABDULLAH: I think they are not popular, but they are stronger because of the failure of the current administration. Because of the failure of Mr. Karzai and his government. He turned a golden opportunity into a disaster situation, and that helped insurgency. And today as well, by rigging, by trying to steal the vote of the nation he has done another disservice to the people, which can only lead to the strengthening of the Taliban. So Taliban are not popular, but they are strong. But if you have people on our side, then Taliban are a minority in this country and they could be -- they could be isolated. But not with illegitimate rule. With legitimate outcome of credible and transparent elections.

BLITZER: What do you want President Obama and the U.S. administration to do?

ABDULLAH: First of all, I would like to thank the U.S. for -- for its support throughout the process from the beginning eight years ago. You remember those days. We started from zero. And Afghanistan has made headways in this renewed commitment. This only works when you have a partner in Afghanistan which has a legitimate base. An illegitimate administration cannot be sustained. So, unfortunately, if the fraud decides the outcome of the elections, this will be a failure for all of us, including the U.S. that would be a very unfortunate situation. So what I expect from the administration is to support the credibility of the process. And let the votes of the Afghans decide the future of this country. That's what is expected.

BLITZER: Do you want the United States to deploy more troops to Afghanistan?

ABDULLAH: More troops are need. There is no doubt about it. But we shouldn't be in a situation eight years down the road to ask for lesser troops rather than more troops. That's again because of the failures of the current administration in Afghanistan and some other mistakes in parts of the international community.

BLITZER: Afghanistan is the world's largest supplier of opium, of poppies that goes into heroin. What would you do differently than President Karzai in terms of stopping this? Because most of the world's supply comes from Afghanistan.

ABDULLAH: If anybody claims that my brother is in charge of drug trafficking in Kandahar, like brother of Mr. Karzai, I would be the first one to stop that. Yes, there are numerous allegations about this. Drug traffickers should be stopped. Those who are involved in this illegal business have to be stopped. And I think the farmers have to be helped with substitute crops or alternative livelihoods.

BLITZER: Are you suggesting that President Karzai himself is making money out of this?

ABDULLAH: I think there are a lot of allegations about his brother. There are a lot of evidences provided, international media, international organizations have been talking about it. So even if that's a rumor, this has to be stopped. He has to come clean about it. But there is no doubt that some senior officials or senior people, figures and personalities which are associated with president Karzai's government are involved in this. So the list of the main people which are involved, I think they are available with the use of the administration. I have no doubt about it. Mr. Karzai has not taken any action.

BLITZER: Dr. Abdullah, thanks very much for joining us.

ABDULLAH: You're welcome.

BLITZER: We've invited President Karzai to come into THE SITUATION ROOM, respond to Dr. Abdullah's allegations. So far he has declined. But we hope he'll change his mind.

All right. Let's bring in Fareed Zakaria, he's the editor of "News Week International," the host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria, GPS.

These are really serious allegations Dr. Abdullah Abdullah is making against Hamid Karzai, who's been such a powerful ally to the states in Afghanistan.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is huge. What happened with the Obama administration is they did a strategic review. They sent in 17,000 troops, 20,000 troops, depending on how you count it. They said they were doing it to support the elections. The whole hope here was that the elections would provide clarity, would give legitimacy. They assumed Karzai would win but he would have a renewed mantle of legitimacy. That entire strategy is now awry. It's almost as if we need to go back to square one and say, okay, what do we do now that you have an Afghan government that is not seen as legitimate, no matter how this turning out, and the 17,000 or 20,000 troops have not produced a demonstrable increase in security. What do we need to do?

BLITZER: Some have suggested, think you're one of them, maybe it's time for a dramatic departure of U.S. policy and actually start talking to the Taliban.

ZAKARIA: I think there is absolutely no way to make peace in this country without making tribal alliances. Alliances with various tribes. A lot of them are so-called Taliban. They are fighting against the government. But many senior officials, administration officials, military people, tell me that maybe 80 percent of the people we're fighting are in it for the money or disgruntled with Karzai or disgruntled with some act of some government official. We should be trying to buy these people off.

BLITZER: As the U.S. did in Iraq when they started handing out thousands of dollar checks or cash to individual tribal leaders. And it worked.

ZAKARIA: This is the only long-term sustainable strategy. Tribal alliances making deals. Because when people talk about building up an Afghan army, you've got to remember, this is not Iraq. Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. So the U.S. military has said they want an Afghan army that's 400,000. 400,000- person Afghan army would cost about $3 billion a year. That is three times Afghanistan's entire gross domestic product. You would be spending 300 percent of GDP on the army.

BLITZER: Tell us what you're going to be doing this Sunday on "Fareed Zakaria: GPS."

ZAKARIA: It's all Afghanistan. We're trying to do the strategic review of Afghanistan we hope the administration is doing. We have Dr. Abdullah on and other of the candidates. Four experts with four very different views and Michael Ware from Kabul.

BLITZER: It's going to be an important show. 1:00 p.m.'s TRN on Sunday, Fareed Zakaria. We'll be watching as we always do.

A vicious beating on the streets of Buffalo, New York. Now some are calling it a hate crime.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People would call him cracker or honky when we walked down the street once in a while.


BLITZER: But the victim's father says police aren't treating it like a hate crime because his son is white. We're going to give you the details.

A California lawmaker caught on tape bragging about his sexual exploits. Now he says he has an explanation.

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


BLITZER: A vicious beating on the streets of Buffalo, New York. Police say a teenager was attacked by as many as 15 men. The teen's father says the crime was racially motivated. But he claims police aren't treating it like a hate crime because his son is white. Let's bring back CNN's Mary Snow.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a Buffalo father says from everything he can piece together about a brutal attack on his son last month, race was a factor. But, he says, because of his skin color, he says he doesn't feel the case is being made a priority.


BRIAN MILLIGAN, JR., BEATING VICTIM: I didn't do anything for this.

SNOW: 18-year-old Brian Milligan struggles to talk three weeks after he was beaten on a Buffalo, New York, street. His jaw is broken. He had seven staples in his head and had brain swelling. And he believes his attack was racially motivated.

MILLIGAN: Because of this, me and her, like, you know, like, I'm white and she's black.

NICOLA FLETCHER, VICTIM'S GIRLFRIEND: People would call him cracker or honky when we walked down the street once in a while.

SNOW: The couple says there were comments in the past about their interracial dating. Nicola Fletcher wasn't with her boyfriend at the time of the attack. And Brian can't remember anything about it. A witness told the family she saw a group of more than ten black teens attacking Milligan, and the police are investigating. But Brian's father is frustrated. Because he says there should be more outrage.

BRIAN MILLIGAN, SR., VICTIM'S FATHER: This is a hate crime. I mean, there's no other way around it.

SNOW: The family calls it a double standard. Saying if a black teen had been attacked, the reaction would have been very different.

MILLIGAN: This is what me and my wife don't understand. They're pushing it to the back burners. We're not getting answers from anybody.

SNOW: He wants Buffalo's mayor to declare it a hate crime. So far the mayor has not.

MAYOR BYRON BROWN, BUFFALO, NEW YORK: I believe that the young man was threatened coming to visit his girlfriend who is of a different race. And I think this should be looked into thoroughly. Like I want to see every single crime looked into thoroughly.

SNOW: Pastor Darius Pridgen has stepped in, admitting he was slow to initially react but did so after hearing Brian's father speak out.

DARIUS PRIDGEN, SR. PASTOR, BETHEL BAPTIST CHURCH: He spoke to me and it didn't just have a ring of truth. It was totally true.

SNOW: Pridgen has called on his congregation to speak up if they know anything. But so far, nothing.

PRIDGEN: I think that people do care. But I don't think people are willing to put -


SNOW: Buffalo police say some progress is being made but that more evidence is needed to determine whether this is a hate crime. If it's designated one, the FBI could get involved. Wolf?

BLITZER: Mary Snow, thanks very much.

A congressman trying to explain why he called the president of the United States a liar to his face. Was this shocking outburst planned?

A lawmaker with a family values agenda is now an ex-lawmaker after being caught on tape crudely bragging about his sexual exploits.


BLITZER: Bringing Jack Cafferty once again for the "Cafferty File". Got a lot of email?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of email. I heard from people in South Carolina. The question is why won't South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford go away?

Michael writes from Alexandria, Virginia, "It's really none of my business or yours since we don't live in South Carolina. However, my guess is that he's an egomaniacal fool suffering the delusion that cheap grace will spare him from the divine judgment he so richly deserves."

Gina writes from South Carolina, "Mr. Cafferty, I can only tell you we tend to produce some of the biggest egos in our politicians and Mark Sanford (and Joe Wilson too) is no exception. It is entirely about ego and to Mark Sanford, the only thing that matters is himself, not his wife, not his children, not God and certainly not the people in the state of South Carolina. Pray for us Jack. We need all the help we can get."

Jackie writes from Dallas, Texas, "Because power is a drug and he is hooked. The only way to get him to go away is to impeach him, convict him and dump him just like his wife did."

James writes, "This guy got all over President Clinton for his infidelity and said he should quit. But it is OK he's a Republican. They don't have to tell the truth, be honest or forthright. He fits right in the Republican Party."

Peter writes, "Go away? Come on. He thinks he's entitled to be there just like far too many other politicians. Right Larry Craig? Right Charlie Rangel?"

Katy writes, "His arrogance exceeds his ignorance. I find it a depressingly common failing in 50+ white male Republicans."

Ann writes from Columbia, South Carolina, "The sad part is this great nation must think we're a bunch of educated, rude and unfaithful idiots from South Carolina. This is not true. There are a lot of great people here. Unlike the people who run this state."

And Conner says, "He has BS, Blagojevich Syndrome."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog,, look for yours there.

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty, thank you.

All right there's word of a major break through potentially on the swine flu vaccine. Let's bring in the Dr. Anthony Fauci at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. There's been a lot of speculation that two shots would be required for full protection. Tell our viewers in the United States and around the world what you have learned.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIH: What we have learned from the critical trials that have been done by companies and by the federal government, through NIH and the department of health and human services is that the ability to reduce a response by the vaccine in a single just been shown to be really quite a robust immune response. And the reason that's important, is that there were concern that you would need two doses of the standard type of vaccine which would have implications for supply as well as implications for whether you would be even capable of producing a response that you would predict would be protected. But the date that's coming out literally now that's being put on websites from journals and the things we'll be announcing tomorrow is that a single dose of the vaccine that we have been testing in a very short time after the immunization in most cases in eight to ten days.

BLITZER: So will everybody just need one new flu shot in order to deal with the swine H1N1? Is that what you're saying?

FAUCI: Adults it will be one shot. The clinical trials in children, who generally even with seasonal flu require two shots. And within a period of a couple of weeks, we should have data that would give us the same kind of information we now have for adults, but we can't say for children how many doses they will require, because they generally require two for seasonal flu.

BLITZER: So far everybody is suggesting that the swine flu is potentially most deadly with young people and pregnant women. What about pregnant women? Will they need more than one shot?

FAUCI: You know, in general, we don't think that's the case, we're doing clinical trials in pregnant women now, but if you look at seasonal flu responses and, Wolf, the good thing about these studies, it's telling us that this vaccine is acting like seasonal flu vaccine in its ability to produce response. And we know from years of experience that seasonal flu responses are good in pregnant women, so we'll know more from the trials that we're doing, it should be one, but we don't want to say for sure, but it looks that way.

BLITZER: When is the vaccine going to be ready?

FAUCI: By October 15, we'll have a considerable amount of doses ready to be distributed.

BLITZER: October 15. How many people will be eligible starting October 15? Because we're already then in the flu season.

FAUCI: Well, the people that have been identified as the high priority are ones that you mentioned, Wolf, pregnant women, children from six months to up to 24 years, and also people who take care of children who are less than six months old, health workers and people who have underlying conditions that would put them at a higher risk of the complications.

BLITZER: Do older people need to worry especially about the H1N1 or are they basically okay? FAUCI: Well, older people, interestingly seem to be rather protected from the H1N1 pandemic flu, however we don't want that to be a reason for them not to get vaccinated, particularly against the seasonal flu, because elderly individuals are particularly sensitive to getting serious disease with a seasonal flu. So we want to make sure that the elderly continue to get vaccinated against the seasonal flu, because that's the thing that generally causes problems in the elderly individuals.

BLITZER: Now that you know that, it looks like the one dose shot is going to work. Is there any possibility, doctor, we can get that vaccine before October 15?

FAUCI: There is the possibility, depending on how things go whether we can get the bulk of the vaccine before then, but we expect approximately 50 million doses by October 15, there's a possibility it may be a little bit sooner, but we don't want to say that now because we're not sure yet.

BLITZER: Important news from NIH, appreciate it because a lot of people were worried about those double flu shots which may have been required. Now it looks like you get one shot and that will do the trick as well. Thanks very much doctor, we'll check back with you tomorrow for more.

Let's move on to another story we're following out west, we got top grades from a family values group, that a California lawmaker broke public decency standards when he was caught on camera bragging about his sexual exploits. Now he's saying he was only bragging. To the story contains some sexually explicit statements that some parents might not want their children to hear. Thelma, tell us what's going on.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that conversation was so graphic and so embarrassing, the former California assembly man resigned less than 24 hours after the tape became public.


GUTIERREZ: This is Mike Duvall, a conservative Republican and self-described family values politician, caught here making sexually explicit remarks at the California state assembly.

The lawmaker was unaware he was being recorded on an in house channel at the state capital, repeatedly boasting about sex exploits with a married woman to a fellow committee member before a meeting. The 54-year-old married two-term legislator from Orange County was talking about a liaison with a lobbyist who works for a firm who represents a utility company.

MIKE DUVALL: So the other day, she came here with her underwear. Thursday, and so we had, so we had made love Wednesday.

GUTIERREZ: He received a 100 percent grade from a family values group and he's an outspoken foe of gay marriage. He's also heard bragging about a second woman. DUVALL: She's hot. I talked to her yesterday. And she goes, so are we finished? No, we're not finished.

GUTIERREZ: When the recording was made public, resigned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have such huge issues before the legislature, and he felt his responsibility was to resign and to go home.

GUTIERREZ: Duvall released a statement on his website saying that I want to make it clear that my decision to resign is in no way an admission that I had an affair or affairs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What finished Mike Duvall's career is not the fact that he was unfaithful to his spouse. Plenty of politicians of both parties have survived having an affair on his spouse. What broke his political career, is that he talked about it in front of an open microphone.

GUTIERREZ: An episode that closed the door on his service in the California assembly.


GUTIERREZ: Duvall also said on his website, his offense was engaging in inappropriate storytelling and regrets his language and choice of words. He also said media coverage on the story was an unneeded distraction for his colleagues and so they, quote, turned business in the state.

BLITZER: Happening now, President Obama tries to lower the temperature of the health care debate after a lawmaker's angry outburst, the man who shouted "you lied" at the president is now explaining what happened at this hour, the outrage and the political impact.

What did the president's speech to congress really accomplish? We're going to tell you how he's pushing forward with reform and if he's any closer to getting what he really wants.

And U.S. troops adjust facing the hardships of life in Afghanistan. And Anderson Cooper is right there among them. This hour, more of CNN's unparalleled coverage from the war zone.

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