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Iranian Outrage Boiling Over; Election Aftermath; Swine Flu Shots for Terror Suspects

Aired November 4, 2009 - 17:00   ET


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

And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, police officers high on hashish harboring Taliban militants, even killing coalition soldiers. The Afghan police force riddled with corruption and U.S. troops turn it around.

Also, Americans clamoring for the swine flu vaccine, but the government is tens of millions of doses short right now. I'll ask the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when will supply meet demand.

And fallout from Republican victories in the first major election of the Obama presidency -- what will it mean for the White House and the president's very ambitious agenda?

I'll talk about that and more with his senior adviser, David Axelrod.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


The Iranian opposition roaring back to life on a day that was went to honor the seizure of the U.S. embassy exactly 30 years ago -- the beginning of a hostage crisis that would drag on and on for 444 days.

But today, the usual anti-American tenor of the anniversary is replaced with the outrage of countless Iranians at their own government, who they believe rigged this summer's presidential election, then used deadly force to silent protests. And while that drove the movement into hiding, its anger burns hot as ever.

CNN's Reza Sayah has the latest.


REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At this time last year, ripping down the picture of Iran's supreme leader in public would have been almost unthinkable. Not only did protesters tear down Ayatollah Khamenei's poster, they wiped their feet on it, too. The dramatic video clip was among scores posted on YouTube and social networking sites, on a day Iran's opposition movement made a defiant comeback to the streets. Outside the former U.S. embassy building in Tehran, the Iranian government held its annual anti-American rally. Tens of thousands of government supporters showed up and chanted "Death To America!"

But as they've done since the disputed election, the opposition movement tried to disrupt and hijack the rally by showing up in huge numbers, too. Just a few blocks away from the pro-government rally, opposition supporters chanted "Death to the Dictator!".


SAYAH: Others called on U.S. President Barack Obama for support. "Obama," they chanted, "you are either with us or with them."

In Washington, Mr. Obama said the U.S. wants to move beyond the past, seeking a relationship based on mutual interests and mutual respect. "Iran must choose," the president said. "We have heard for 30 years what the Iranian government is against. The question now is what kind of future it is for."

Video clips showed opposition rallies in the City of Mashhad, Qazvin and Shiraz, as well. A government critic, Mehdi Karroubi, tried to make his way to the rally in Tehran. But according to reformist Web sites, . And, in any case, police chased him and his bodyguards away with tear gas.

Security forces showed little mercy. Not even defenseless women were safe from the baton-swinging members of the Basij, Iran's pro- government militia.

The violent crackdown eventually disbursed the crowds, but Iranian historian Hamid Dabashi says Iran's opposition movement is far from over.

HAMID DABASHI, IRAN HISTORIAN: The stamina and the -- the duration of it is quite extraordinary. And what we are witnessing on every occasion, on every anniversary that usually the government uses for its own propaganda purposes, the opposition moves in and the link that exists between a very young population and very seasoned leadership of people like Mir Hossein Mousavi and Karroubi will sustain the course of the developments.


SAYAH: According to reformist Web sites, opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi tried to attend the rally, as well, but security forces blocked his car from leaving his office. In a little more than a month, the government is planning another public rally on Iran's annual Students Day. Opposition supporters say they plan to crash that event, as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Reza Sayah reporting for us.

Thank you, Reza.

In Afghanistan, five British soldiers have been killed by an Afghan policeman whom officials say just went rogue. He was on the roof of a police checkpoint in the Southern Helmand Province when he opened fire, killing the five soldiers and injuring six other British troops, along with two Afghan policemen. The gunman fled. A search is going on right now.

Officials say he's been a police officer for three years and had graduated from a police academy in Kandahar.

Afghan -- Afghanistan's fledgling police force is riddled -- riddled with potential security holes, including sympathy for the Taliban and drug use -- lots of it. And it falls to U.S. forces to try to close those gaps.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, has the story.

He's embedded with the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division in Kandahar.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 82nd Airborne soldiers rumbled through Southern Afghanistan, heading to remote police checkpoints. We rode with them through an area saturated with Taliban, as they dodged roadside bombs.

STAFF SGT. ANDREW JENNINGS, U.S. ARMY: We try to follow roads. In these narrow places like we're going right now, it's just, you know, where they want to put them.

LAWRENCE: At our first stop, we meet this checkpoint's new police chief, who just took over a month ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, yes, got you.

LAWRENCE: The last man to hold the job was arrested for housing Taliban right here at the police station.

LT. SEAN RYAN, U.S. ARMY: During an operation, when -- when the U.S. soldiers would go out, he would bring the Taliban into his checkpoint and pretend that they were just A&P.

LAWRENCE: Lieutenant Sean Ryan says he put his trust in the police chiefs.

RYAN: And, you know, if they're dirty, if you will, I mean, you know, they have access to things. They can -- you know, they have access to government centers and stuff like that. And it's absolutely deadly.

LAWRENCE: Lieutenant Ryan has developed a detailed training plan for the Afghan officers in his district, but sometimes they bring other people into the station.

RYAN: And they hand out an A.K. And you wonder, who are you?

Do you have an I.D.?

LAWRENCE: Some officers embrace the training. Others sleep through their shifts or don't show up at all. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it depends how much hash they smoked that day.

LAWRENCE: Sure enough, at another stop, we see an officers swaying so badly he can barely stand. His eyes are glassy. He's high.

(on camera): Less than 100 meters from the main road in the police station, farmers are growing a massive crop of marijuana -- stacks and stacks, rows and rows just as far as the eye can see.

(voice-over): The 82nd Airborne does what it can, but they aren't experts in evidence collection or investigation.

MAJ. SCOTT BRANNAN, U.S. ARMY: We don't have the skill set initially to be able to mentor how to run a police station.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That way if I'm searching him...

LAWRENCE: But Major Scott Brannan says his soldiers are patient because they have to be.

BRANNAN: People that get killed, people that quit, a lot of times you have to do the same class three or four or five times.


BLITZER: Chris Lawrence filing that report.

He's embedded with the 82nd Airborne Division in Kandahar.

We hope he's OK.

Jack Cafferty is joining us now with The Cafferty File.

You know, our reporters -- I say it all the time, Jack, but it's worth repeating -- they really risk their lives to get us the news.

CAFFERTY: Yes. And he's been doing some nice stuff over in Afghanistan. And that piece that we just watched -- and, I mean, it just occurs to me how -- how utterly frustrating it must be for our troops, at times, to try to deal with all that they're expected to deal with and come out on top.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has raised serious doubts about the future of health care reform by saying that he can't promise a health care bill that will pass this year. Quoting here: "We're not going to be bound by any time lines."

Well, those words were barely out of Reid's mouth before his office issued a statement saying their goals remain unchanged and they want to get health care reform done this year and send a bill to the president by Christmas.

You don't suppose the White House wasn't happy with Reid's initial assessment, do you? Delay on health care is probably about the last thing this president wants.

First, it will bring back memories of President Clinton's failed attempt to reform it. And it means that other legislative priorities -- the energy bill, immigration, the regulation of Wall Street -- all remain on the back burner.

Plus -- and this is huge -- once 2010 rolls around, all 435 members of the House and one third of the Senate will be up for re- election.

Good luck getting these lawmakers to commit to a controversial health care bill ahead of those mid-terms.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports the House health care bill, which is headed for a vote soon, would cost $1.2 trillion or more over a decade. See, the Democrats in the House have added on billions and billions of dollars in additional spending. After saying $900 billion was the limit on what he wanted to spend for health care reform, I just wonder if President Obama would sign one that costs $1.2 trillion just so he can claim victory.

Here's the question -- what happens to the chances of health care reform if it does not pass this year?

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

BLITZER: Yes, it was quite a jolt from Harry Reid yesterday, Jack. And I put that question to the president's senior adviser, David Axelrod. Stand by. You'll get his answer to your question, as well.

But it's a powerful question, indeed.

We talk about that and what's going on in Afghanistan and a lot more. Stand by.

Also, the swine flu vaccine shortage hitting the U.S. military right now -- we're learning that hundreds of troops have fallen victim to the H1N1 virus.

And like many families, the first family sometimes struggles with school grades. President Obama reveals what it took to get one of his daughters to improve.


BLITZER: The White House is shrugging off Republican gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey as local politics. But the settling dust from the first major election of the Obama presidency begs the question, how will the outcome impact the president's very ambitious agenda?

And joining us now from the North Lawn of the White House, the president's senior adviser, David Axelrod. David, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about going forward. Now, issue number one, health care reform. I'll play a little clip of what the president has said in recent weeks about this priority.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now is the time to deliver on health care.

Now is the time to pass health care. We're not going to wait another year.

We are going to pass health care reform, not 10 years from now, not five years from now, we are going to pass it this year.


BLITZER: All right. To paraphrase a sportscaster out there, not so fast, my friend. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, says maybe not this year. It might have to be pushed into next year.

That would be a severe blow to the president, wouldn't it?

AXELROD: Well, let's see what happens, Wolf. We're still -- we're still confident that we're going to get this done. And I know Senator Reid is working hard to get it done. And I think the speaker is working hard to get it done. And. You're going to see --. You're going to see things move. And we'll see where it all -- it all ends up.

But we are confident we're going to get this done.

BLITZER: Is it OK if you move the agenda to next year as opposed to this year?

AXELROD: We want to get it done this year. That is our -- that is our goal. And we're going to continue to work at it (INAUDIBLE)...

BLITZER: What's the problem...

AXELROD: But the important thing is...

BLITZER: Why is Harry Reid saying...

AXELROD: ...the important thing is to get it done.

BLITZER: Why is Harry Reid all of a sudden saying that he might not be able to get it done this year?

AXELROD: I mean, part of the problem is that they're waiting on scores from the Congressional Budget Office. (INAUDIBLE)...

BLITZER: Those are estimates of how much this will cost?

AXELROD: Exactly. And they've been backed up because they were working on the House bill. And so that's delayed the entire process.

And then when you add in holidays and so on, there are only a certain number of days in the year. But we're still hopeful that we can move this process along. I believe the will is there to get this done. I talk to members all the time. And what I hear from all of them is we have to get this done, this is a -- an important opportunity and it's one the American people want us to finish. And -- and they're determined to finish it. There are some issues that they have to work through, but I don't think those issues are insuperable barriers. I think people have the real will to get this done.

BLITZER: Because a lot of people are suggesting that some of the moderate Democrats, some of those Blue Dog Democrats, the conservative Democrats, could have a chilling effect from what happened in the elections in New Jersey and in Virginia. The Republican candidates overwhelmingly carrying the Independent votes in Virginia -- 66 percent went to the Republican, 33 percent to the Democrat in New Jersey. According to our exit poll, 60 percent went to Christie of the Independents, 30 percent went to Governor Corzine, the incumbent Democrat.

How worried are you now that some of those moderate conservative Democrats are going to get cold feet and say to themselves, we've got to get out of here?

AXELROD: See, I think those folks are smarter, Wolf, than perhaps you do. And they're going to look at the Congressional race that took place yesterday in Upstate New York, which was really the only national race of consequence yesterday. We picked up a seat that was a Democratic seat in California in a special. But here's a seat that we won that was in Republican hands for 140 years. You had a Democrat who campaigned vigorously on the president's platform -- Vice President Biden was there the day before the election -- defeating a conservative candidate who had run a moderate Republican off the ballot and was supported by Governor Palin, Governor Pawlenty and the entire Republican Party leadership. And they lost the seat they've had for 140 years.

That's the race that I think most members of Congress are going to look at with interest. And that's the race they should, because the message was if you embrace the president's agenda and -- and stand up for the things that he's fighting for, to get this economy growing again for health care, for energy and for education reform...

BLITZER: All right...

AXELROD: ...then you will do well and you'll energize voters and you'll get the kind of turnout you need to win your race.

BLITZER: But the president did go to New Jersey. He did go to Virginia. He campaigned for the Democratic candidates. He tried to help them. And some folks are asking, did he lose his magic?

AXELROD: Gee, I don't think so, Wolf. If you look at those, those were statewide races. They were very much impacted by state issues. And let's give the candidates who won credit, as well. I think that -- you know, you look at Virginia. Mr. McDonnell ran on what could have been an Obama campaign plan, in the sense that he appealed to more progressive instincts and people talked about bipartisanship. He didn't -- he didn't use the -- the Palin-Pawlenty game book and he ended up doing -- he ended up doing pretty well.

But those were state races, they weren't national races. When you look at New York 23, that was all about the national issues. And we won a seat that we had not won in 140 years.

BLITZER: Well, a lot of people would disagree with you, because that conservative candidate didn't even live in the district and -- and it was sort of a crazy situation where the official Republican...

AXELROD: Wolf, everybody...

BLITZER: ...candidate...

AXELROD: You -- I don't...

BLITZER: Yes, go ahead.

AXELROD: I wasn't listening to your program over the weekend, but every pundit and wise man in this town predicted that he was going to win this race. He had become the de facto Republican candidate. And -- and, in any case, what you saw there was, I think, the future of the -- the near term future of the Republican Party -- civil war in which the right-wing ran the moderates out of the party. And they ran right to the Democratic candidate. And I think that has some harbingers for what's to come.

BLITZER: Let me wrap up with Afghanistan, because you've said the president is going to make up his mind within a matter of weeks.

Thomas Friedman, "The New York Times" columnist, wrote this the other day: "We simply do not have the Afghan partners, the NATO allies, the domestic support, the financial resources or the national interests to justify an enlarged and prolonged nation building effort in Afghanistan."

Here's the question -- is the president rethinking his entire strategy right now and, in the end, might come around to Friedman's conclusion?

AXELROD: Well, I don't think anybody has ever embraced the notion of -- of nation building, Wolf. The goal the president set forth from the beginning was how do we disrupt, dismantle and destroy Al Qaeda, because that's where the threat is to the American people.

He's going to pursue the strategy and the requisite tactics to support that strategy that will lead us to that goal. And that's -- that's -- that's been his motivation from the beginning. It continues to be. He's working through the options and he'll make a decision.

BLITZER: But the notion of starting to withdraw troops, let alone forget about increasing the number of troops, but starting to withdraw, that's off the table, is that right?

AXELROD: Well, I -- I think it's clear that there's a threat in the region that we have to address. And the president is not going to walk away from confronting that threat. The question is, how best to do it. And that's what he's working through right now.

BLITZER: And within how many weeks are we talking about?

AXELROD: Well, I don't want to put a number on it, Wolf. But it -- you know, he's going to make a decision within a few weeks. And -- and he's going to make it when he -- when he's satisfied that we have arrived at the right answer.

Understand that we're just now completing the arrival of the troops that he ordered in March. Any troops that would be ordered in after, you know, during this period, won't arrive until the spring and summer of next year. So he has the time to make the right decision and he's going to.

BLITZER: David Axelrod, thanks very much for coming in.

AXELROD: OK. Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: We've seen the long lines, we've read about the critical shortages -- so when will the federal government finally have enough swine flu vaccine for everyone who really needs it?

I'll ask the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Thomas Frieden is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


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

WHITFIELD: Hello again, Wolf.

Hello, everyone.

An update to anyone at Microsoft who thought they were safe after to year's layoff of some 5,000 people. The company just announced that it would fire another 800 employees. This is the first year in Microsoft's corporate history that there have been such widespread job cuts.

A regional train erupted into flames in Philadelphia today. No one was hurt in the blaze, but it added to a commuter nightmare in the second day of a strike of union bus, trolley and subway drivers. A transit official said the train fire appeared accidental. The regional trains are operated by a different, non-striking union. And finally, the mystery of the bare bears. A German zoo reports that three females spectacled bears have suddenly begun to itch all over and lose their fur, as you see right there. It looked kind of odd. Zoo officials say the cause is unknown and while they search for a cure, they are applying anti-itch creams. As winter approaches, visitors -- visitors, rather, to the zoo say they feel sorry for the hairless bears named Dolores, Bianca and Lolita. Now, they're looking a little, Wolf, like the hairless dogs and hairless cats and pigs that many of us have come to know. But they're a little more uncomfortable about it. It looks like they're itching.


WHITFIELD: Poor bears.

BLITZER: Poor bears. Nice bears.

Thanks very much, Fred.

Disturbing details are emerging about the case of that alleged serial killer in Cleveland, Ohio. And you won't believe what the neighbors are now saying.

And federal health authorities -- they've had months to prepare for the swine flu outbreak.

So why is there a vaccine shortage?

I'll ask the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



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

Happening now, 30 years ago, American diplomats were taken hostage in Tehran. But today, the streets were filled with anger -- and not aimed at America, but at the revolutionaries who now lead Iran.

Can a moderate still win in a Republican primary?

We'll ask the Florida governor, Charlie Crist. He's running for the U.S. Senate and running hard against a GOP challenger who calls himself a true conservative.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


Reports that terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center might soon be vaccinated against swine flu are raising questions about the Obama administration's priorities.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, has been looking into that.


BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: As Americans wait in lines across the country to get the H1N1 vaccine, the Pentagon this week finally began shipping limited vaccine supplies to troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Under Pentagon guidelines, tens of thousands of troops on the front line and those headed to war are the top military priority to receive the vaccine. Even so, supplies are severely limited. Only half of what is needed is now on the way.

GEOFF MORRELL, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: Right now we don't have enough to even take care of all of them.

STARR: The Pentagon is defending plans to offer the vaccine to detainees at Guantanamo Bay as well as those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prisoners are considered to be high risk but a lower military priority than troops, health care workers and civilian personnel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I haven't heard an assurance that detainees will get it after civilians in this country.

MORRELL: Barbara, Barbara, you're -- you're presuming that I have the knowledge and the wherewithal to tell you the protocols that are being used for the general population here. All I can do is speak to what the priorities are in this department.

STARR: Troops at home also a priority because they will be called upon to help in towns across the country if the crisis grows. The military's top defense commander has teams to launch into action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be to provide things like potentially logistics, movements of supplies, maybe additional health care providers that could assist in immunization.

STARR: Barbara Starr, CNN, the pentagon.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And joining us now, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas Frieden who has been testifying on the hill. Thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Last spring, we all knew that the swine flu, the H1N1 was coming so you had a lot of time to prepare for this. Here's the question. What happened because we were expecting by October things would be in place?

FRIEDEN: Basically three problems. First, the flu started late. It was April, May. Usually flu starts in September, October, November, so we got a late start on making vaccine. Second, it came back early. Usually flu season doesn't peak until December, January, February. Here we're already October, November with lots of flu so you had less time to start and sooner time that you needed it and the vaccine strain was growing slowly so it couldn't grow fast enough. We're stuck with technologies that are tried and true and we're confident in their safety but they are too slow.

BLITZER: So how far behind are we right now?

FRIEDEN: We're far behind.

BLITZER: You were hoping that a million doses would be available by now, right, like 100 million.

FRIEDEN: We have 32 million doses out, a lot more than nothing but a lot less than what we'd like it to be.

BLITZER: What would you have preferred right now, 100 million, 120 million?

FRIEDEN: There's no magic number. We want there to be enough vaccines so anyone who wants to be vaccinated can be especially people in the priority groups.

BLITZER: And so when will that number -- when will you have enough to make sure that anyone who wants the vaccine should get the vaccine and will have it?

FRIEDEN: At this point we're just going week by week and working with states and localities to make sure that whatever vaccine comes off the production line gets into doctors' offices, hospitals, clinics, schools, where it can be given as rapidly as possible.

BLITZER: So you're reluctant to give us a prediction when things will be fine.

FRIEDEN: We're taking it week to week. We said last Friday we hope to have 10 million by the end of this week and we think we'll meet that. This Friday we'll see how much we expect in the coming week.

BLITZER: Just clarify that one little nugget because there's been a lot of concern about the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, that they are going to get the vaccine before people here in the United States who really need it. What's the situation on that?

FRIEDEN: It's really a Department of Defense issue but I believe that not to be the case. What we have done at the federal government level provided for the uniformed armed services, provided an allocation of vaccine just for the people serving in the military, and what happens with detainees and others is a different issue.

BLITZER: Is this H1N1, this crisis right now, and it is formally called a pandemic, worse than you thought it would be, about what you thought it would be or not as bad?

FRIEDEN: Influenza is the late predictable of all infectious diseases. We've had good news and bad news. Two pieces of good news. First, it's not more severe than seasonal influenza so we were afraid that not only would it spread widely but that it would be very deadly. It's a serious illness. It's a moderate illness for many people who get it, but it's not that increased deadliness we were worried about and the second piece of good news we got is only a single dose of vaccine is needed.

BLITZER: Even for little kids.

FRIEDEN: Except for kids under ten. Everyone else is well protected by just a single dose.

BLITZER: There are a lot of women out there who are pregnant and they are in the high-risk category. They need to get this vaccine, who are worried about the effect it could have on their baby. I want you to look into the camera and tell them that they have nothing to worry about if that's what you believe.

FRIEDEN: I understand the concern of anyone who is pregnant not to have any medication or shot or other thing that would increase their risk of having a problem or their baby having a problem. What you have to recognize is that there's a risk to not being vaccinated. Not being vaccinated puts you and your pregnancy at risk. We've seen rates of hospitalization and death among pregnant women much higher than the general population. So in everything there's a balance between risk and benefit. Not getting vaccinated also has a significant risk, and this vaccine is made in the same way the vaccine -- the flu vaccine is made every year. Same factories, same companies, same safeguards, same mechanisms and it has an excellent safety record.

BLITZER: The seasonal flu, that kills how many people in the United States every year? I've heard a number of 30,000. I don't know if that's accurate.

FRIEDEN: We estimate that about 36,000 people are killed by seasonal flu every year. The big difference is that 90 percent of people killed by seasonal flu are over the age of 65. With H1N1, 90 percent of the deaths have been in people under the age of 65.

BLITZER: Is it possible that 36,000 people will die in the United States from the H1N1 this year?

FRIEDEN: Only time will tell how many people become ill. Right now the impact looks to be larger than most flu seasons on younger people and less than most flu seasons on older people, but the rest of the season, flu season lasts till May. We have a long time yet.

BLITZER: Is there enough regular seasonal flu vaccine available for the American public?

FRIEDEN: There have been nearly 90 million doses sent out and the seasonal flu vaccine is strictly between the manufacturers and the market. Nearly 90 million doses sent out and another 25 million on the way, but unprecedented demand so we are seeing shortages of seasonal flu vaccine because there's so much awareness and concern about influenza

BLITZER: I received the seasonal flu vaccine as I do every year, but at some point down the road when it's available and all the priority people have received their H1N1 vaccine, do I still need to get the H1N1, do you believe?

FRIEDEN: We hope that there will be enough for everyone who wants to get vaccinated to get vaccinated, and we don't know what the rest of the flu season will hold, so even if H1N1 begins to wane throughout the country, we don't know that it won't come back come flu season which traditionally peaks in December, January and February.

BLITZER: So the answer is yes, if it's available.


BLITZER: And you'll get it, too.

FRIEDEN: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Have you received it already?


BLITZER: Even though you're among first responders right there.

FRIEDEN: We're looking at health workers who are working in hospitals, emergency departments full time as being the highest risk for health care workers.

BLITZER: Well, we're counting on you Dr. Frieden. Thanks very much for helping us better appreciate what's going on.

FRIEDEN: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: A cell phone rivalry turns into a lawsuit. Verizon Wireless takes a jab at AT&T and even mocking a well-known tag line. Now the battle is heating up.

Plus, President Barack Obama revealing that even the first family isn't immune to school struggles.

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: She started internalizing that so she came and she was depressed.


BLITZER: $20 million a point, that's how much the New York City mayor paid for his lead in a race that sent political tongues wagging with its relatively thin victory margin. Let's go to CNN's Mary Snow in New York watching all of this.

Mary, why was this as close as it turned out to be?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it seems the polls predicting a clear victory missed brewing anger over the fact that the mayor was actually seeking a third term where two had been the limit until the mayor actually sought to change that. It was also a race for only one in four New York voters actually cast a ballot. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Even for those who live and breathe New York politics, Mike Bloomberg's mayoral race was a stunner.

DOUG MUZZIO, BARUCH COLLEGE: I was speechless. I -- I couldn't get the words out of my mouth to express my surprise.

SNOW: Surprise at this moment.

BLITZER: This is looking a lot closer than a lot of people thought would be the case.

SNOW: Democratic challenger Bill Thompson who was outspent roughly 14-1 came within striking distance of beating Bloomberg who is expected to be a shoe in. In the end, Bloomberg won by five points.


SNOW: The slim margin came after Bloomberg is believed to have spent $100 million of his personal fortune to get re-elected. Why does he think it was so tough? The New York City mayor compared himself to other incumbents.

BLOOMBERG: A tough economy, says political science professor Doug Muzzio, was a factor, but he says New York voters were mostly angered by Bloomberg's move to change the law and run for a third term.

MUZZIO: They were ticked off about term limits. They were inundated with TV ads and flyers and you saw more of Michael Bloomberg than Derek Jeter during the World Series and the playoffs and you got 15 mailers from Mike Bloomberg and it reminded people that this guy was an out-of-touch rich guy who is trying to buy their vote.

SNOW: Bloomberg says pollsters have high favorability ratings and the question is will his influence be diminished now that voters have shown their anger? Lee Miringoff is director of polls at Marist College.

LEE MIRINGOFF, DIRECTOR, MARIST POLL: He's almost in a lame duck role at this point so he'll really have to rev it up and be very clear about what the agenda is. It wasn't what the campaign was about. It was about running. Governing will be a very different picture coming down the next four years.


SNOW: And while this tough race might embolden Bloomberg's critics, political watchers also say a third term will also embolden Bloomberg since he now does not face re-election. Wolf?

BLITZER: Mary Snow in New York watching the story, thank you.

Verizon has been mocking AT&T, and now AT&T is firing right back with a lawsuit. They are accusing Verizon, there's a map for that ad, that takes cues from Apple and there's an app for that iPhone campaign of being misleading. Let's bring in Abbi Tatton who will clarify all of this for us.

Why are they suing over these ads, Abbi?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTEREST REPORTER: You've probably seen these commercials they have run during "Monday Night Football" and they have plastered all over the Verizon website. Now AT&T wants them gone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you want to know why your 3G coverage works so great on Verizon Wireless, there's a map for that, and if you want to know why your friend's 3G coverage keeps her out of touch, there's a map for that, too.

TATTON: It's those maps that are now at the center of the lawsuit that was filed yesterday by AT&T wanting those Verizon ads pulled off the air, offline as well. They allege that these ads are misleading, misleading people to think that if you're in the white section of the AT&T 3G coverage map you're getting no coverage at all, and AT&T is saying that's not the case. You are getting coverage in the white section, just not the 3G coverage that makes accessing data so much faster. Now this is a touchy subject for AT&T who has been bashed online, especially by iPhone users about complaints about spotty coverage, hence the ad from Verizon in the first place.

BLITZER: What's Verizon going to do about it?

TATTON: Well, Verizon is pointing out that there's a line in their ad that says service is available outside the 3G coverage area. Beyond that they are standing firm. A spokesman for Verizon Wireless e-mailing today to call the law suits and I quote, dumb.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Abbi, for that.

President Barack Obama shares a disappointing academic performance by one of his daughters.

OBAMA: Malia came home the other day. She had gotten a 73 on her science test.

You're going to hear how the president and his wife reacted and hour their daughter rose to the challenge.

Stand by. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Speaking at a middle school in Madison, Wisconsin, today, President Obama shared a personal story about how one of his daughters is doing in school.

OBAMA: These aren't my prepared remarks but I think it's important to note that Malia and Sasha are just wonderful kids, and Michelle is a wonderful mother, but in our own household, with all the privileges and opportunities that we have there are times -- look, there are times when kids slack off. There are times when they would rather be watching TV or playing a computer game than hitting the books, and part of our job as parents, Michelle and my job, is not just to tell our kids what to do but to start instilling in them a sense that they want to do it for themselves.

So Malia came home the other day. She had gotten a 73 on her science test. Now she's a sixth grader. Now there was a time a couple years ago when she came home with like an 80 something and she said I did pretty well, and I said no, no, no. That's -- I said -- I said our goal -- our goal is 90 percent and up, so she -- but -- here's the interesting thing. She started internalizing that and I said, well, what happened? Well, you know, the teacher, the study guide didn't match up with what was on the test. So what's your idea here? I'm going to start, I'm going to study harder, I'm going to change how I approach it. So she came home yesterday, she got a 95, and she was high-fiving. But here's the point, she said, I just like having knowledge. That's what she said. And what was happening was she had started wanting it more than us. Now once you get to that point, our kids are on our way. But the only way they get to that point is if we're helping them get to that point. So it's going to take that kind of effort from parents to set a high bar in the household. Don't just expect teachers to set a high bar. You got a set a high bar in the household, all across America.

BLITZER: President of the United States sharing some candid comments about his daughter Malia. Do you think that's smart to tell everybody in the world how Malia is doing in school, 73, she worked hard and then she got a 95? Do you think Malia is happy about that?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't know. It doesn't matter. She's a child and she has no voting stock. The point is it's an object lesson from a very high profile parent on how you reach kids and get them focused in the right direction. I have got four daughters, I used to tell them, look, you don't have anything else to do in this life. You don't have a job, you don't have to buy the groceries, your job is to go to school and learn something. So do your job. You go to school and I'll go out to work and at night we'll sit down and have a conversation. If I'm not going to work and you're not going to school, it's not going to be happy times around here. It was an important story.

The question this hour, what happens to the chances of health care reform if it doesn't pass this year?

Jay in Flemingsburg, Kentucky, "If health care is delayed into next year, it is dead in my opinion. I'm a life long Democrat. I want to add if the Democrats do not this done with a public option, they're dead."

David in Oregon, "Reid and Pelosi are the reason nothing is getting accomplished. They will be the reason Democrats lose in the next election. Both of them need to be replaced. It isn't that the Democrats have poor ideas, they simply have poor leadership."

Judy in Arizona writes, "I sincerely doubt health care reform will ever pass. The Republicans are sticking to their, 'Don't get sick and if you do, die quickly,' health care plan and the Democrats couldn't work with each other to put out a fire."

Zack writes, "Health care reform is doomed and the insurance companies will be the big winners, soon nobody will have health care unless they're very rich."

Lauren in Chicago, "If we're lucky, it's dead in the water. President Obama committed a fatal error in not putting his name on any of the proposals in congress leaving it up to the special interest groups to float their own bills and to congress to sort through the mess."

Morris in New Jersey says, "Not very likely, while many Democrats insist yesterday's vote was on the local issues, their heads are in the sand. People like me voted Republican because we don't trust the Democratic leadership. A health care plan with 2,000 pages and not a soul knows what's inside? Who in there right mind would vote for a politician who votes for something he or she has not even read."

Ben in New Mexico says, "They played this one off so well, I thought for a while they were serious about health care reform. Now I'm laughing with them."

And Tommy says, "A delay would be President Obama's second worst nightmare, his first is the health care bill itself. See you in November of 2010."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, we got lots of them, they're on the blog at You had little meetings with your daughter while she was growing up.

BLITZER: But I didn't tell the whole world how she was doing in school.

CAFFERTY: Let's talk about it.

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty, thank you very much.

The body county is climbing in a growing case of serial killings. Details of a gruesome new find in a house of horrors. We're live with some new developments.


BLITZER: We have received word of an 11th victim discovered at what's become a house of horrors in Cleveland where a registered sex offender is now suspected of being a serial killer. Let's go to our national correspondent, Susan Candiotti. She's on the scene for us.

What's the latest, Susan?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we learn more disturbing details with each passing day. As you said the coroner now says that that skull that was discovered yesterday in a bucket in the basement of the house that you see over my shoulder does belong to an 11th victim. He has described all of the victims as African-American women, nearly all of them strangled. But several questions remain, including how could one person have pulled this off, especially one with a pace maker.


CANDIOTTI: The shockwaves are hitting even veteran judges.

JUDGE RONALD ADRINE, CLEVELAND MUNICIPAL COURT: In 208 years of being on this bench, this is without question the most serious set of allegations that I have ever faced.

CANDIOTTI: But how in the world could suspect Anthony Sowell or anyone allegedly murder so many victims hiding at least 11 bodies in the middle of a busy neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was nobody know it because everybody sees him around here walking, strapping, picking up cans like a normal person.

CANDIOTTI: Could a normal person invite women in only to have them vanish without anyone noticing? All but one of the women dug up a backyard and found inside the house are nameless. And until there's a DNA match, no one yet knows who they are or where they came from. The one identified victim is 52 years old from a town outside Cleveland reported by her family a year ago. Sowell is an ex-Marine, a registered sex offender who spent 15 years in jail and landed in his family's home living alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For him to have went to these extremes is just messed up because people don't deserve to have to die like that.

CANDIOTTI: It's not that neighbors didn't smell something awful, a city councilman says even he got a call about it in 2007.

ZACH REED, CITY COUNCILMAN: We received a phone call from a resident that said councilman, there's a foul odor that's coming from across the street and it smells like a dead person. Not dead meat, not dead animal, dead person.

CANDIOTTI: The house is next door to a sausage plant, a smelly sausage plant. A criminal profiler says that killer got lucky.

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: They should have gone knocking and they should have gone into that home to see if something was amiss there.

CANDIOTTI: Police say they only investigated two calls at that house, one two years ago and the one that lead to the discovery of the first bodies. They deny they dropped the ball.

DEPUTY CHIEF EDWARD TOMBA, CLEVELAND POLICE: We're starting from the point where we got to that house on October 30th and we are working backwards, we're going the keep -- from the time he was in prison, before that, it's going to be a slow process.


BLITZER: Susan Candiotti, reporting for us.