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THE SITUATION ROOM
Who's in Charge in Haiti?; Health Care D-Day in Massachusetts
Aired January 19, 2010 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Rick, thank you.
Happening now, an astounding rescue in Haiti -- a woman pulled out of the rubble alive seven days after the quake. This hour, new stories of survival and desperate need.
The fate of health care reform for all Americans is now perhaps in the hands of Massachusetts voters.
Will a Republican win Ted Kennedy's former Senate seat and strike a heart at the Democrats' power?
Stay with CNN to find out.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in CNN's command center for breaking news, politics and extraordinary reports from around the world.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
it happened almost exactly one week ago right now -- the ground split open. Haiti was torn apart. Haiti's prime minister now telling us at least -- at least 72,000 bodies have already been recovered. And the United Nations estimates three million people are still in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medical assistance right now. All of that unfolding.
We have a lot of questions we want answered in the hours and days ahead, including who's in charge of the Haitian government and of relief operations right now?
Why have there been delays in distributing aid and how much longer will rescuers actually search for survivors, including Americans believed trapped in the Hotel Montana and elsewhere?
Let's go to CNN's Anderson Cooper.
He's on the ground in Haiti watching all of this for us -- Anderson, some dramatic developments today.
Update our viewers.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Wolf -- yes, Wolf, we may lose our shot, so I'm just going to turn to this quick.
There is a -- an old building here that's been destroyed. They just pulled an elderly lady out of it. She is alive. They have found a woman alive seven days after this quake began. There are two more people they believe -- they're pretty convinced -- are alive in there. They are desperately trying to get to them because the clock is ticking. The fact that someone could survive this long is extraordinary -- the fact that two people could be found alive in one building.
Add to that two more people a few blocks from now they believe are also alive. Another team is searching.
This is a team from Germany that's searching.
But, Wolf, what we have just learned is extraordinarily disturbing. The woman, Ana Aziz (ph), who was pulled out of here alive -- she's in her 70s. She was taken about a block or two to a clinic. But they don't have the operating theater that they need. They are trying to find someplace to take her now. If anybody is hearing this message in Port-au-Prince and has access to a hospital that has a surgical theater that can handle this woman, the -- the medics over here don't know how to get her to a surgical theater. No one has been responding to them to get this woman. And this is a woman who has survived this long. If she dies now, after she has been rescued, that -- that will just be adding insult to injury. She has a fracture of her right femur. She's in shock. She -- she has numerous fractures in (AUDIO GAP).
BLITZER: Unfortunately, we've just lost Anderson Cooper.
We're going to try to reconnect with him. But you heard is urgent appeal. If anyone is listening right now and has access to a surgical unit in and around Port-au-Prince, this woman needs treatment. She needs treatment badly. It would be horrible -- she survived seven days in that rubble -- only to see her die now because equipment is not available. We know the Israelis have a sophisticated surgical unit around there. We know that aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier, the Carl Vinson, which is offshore, they have a surgical unit there. This woman needs treatment. She needs treatment badly right now.
We're going to stay on top of this story and reconnect with Anderson and find out what's going on.
And remember, he's also saying there are indications two others are alive right now in that same rubble -- two other people. And this, presumably, is going on elsewhere.
We're going to be checking in with search and rescue teams throughout the Port-au-Prince area, including at the Hotel Montana, to see what's going on there.
I think we've re-established contact with Anderson -- Anderson, are you back with us?
COOPER: I am. I'm on a beeper. I'm sorry my shot went down. But it is essential that this woman get medical attention and quickly. But they just cannot find -- I mean this is -- this is the problem now in Port-au-Prince, seven days since this earthquake struck, a woman live, she can be pulled out of the rescue -- out of the wreckage by search and rescue teams who are risking their own lives and yet there is no place to take her because there are simply not enough operating rooms working right now.
We have two -- there's two members of the eight -- of the 82nd Airborne who are on site providing security. They're going to be leaving soon. U.S. personnel could possibly take this woman for -- for medical treatment. But the -- the doctors who are here, the clinicians who are here cannot get anyone to respond to take this woman and -- and, you know, try to leave. They tell us that it is very upsetting. They want this woman to survive.
BLITZER: Because we've heard this horrible situation unfold over these past few days -- someone survives for two or three or four or five days to be rescued, but then dies because there isn't adequate medical treatment. It's not the first time, Anderson, we've heard this is unfolding there.
And the question is where is the medical treatment?
Where are the sophisticated units, the -- the surgical units that -- that should have been in place by now?
COOPER: Well, I mean, there's a lot of groups here who are trying -- Doctors Without Borders. I was at their clinic earlier today. They -- they only have another day's worth of supplies. They are desperate. And their supplies continue to be turned away from the Port-au-Prince airport.
We're told that the Haitian government has put more of an emphasis on food and water and heavy equipment than they have medical supplies. That seems to be exactly the reverse of what it should be, given that there are so many people in immediate medical need, who immediately need to have surgery.
But -- but not only this woman, Ana Aziz (ph), who -- who is alive right now. There's going to be two more people, they believe, pulled out of this rubble in the next few hours. And there may even be two more people a few blocks from here pulled out of the rubble. That's going to be possibly as many as four people -- five people alive today who need -- who need medical attention.
If they can't find a hospital facility that -- that can do surgery on this woman right now, where -- what's going to happen when they get four more live people?
I don't know if anybody is hearing this broadcast who is in Haiti, who is in a position to -- to contact the German search and rescue team, which is on site here and responsible for this site. But if they can or if they contact -- can contact, I don't know, the 82nd Airborne Troops who are here and get somebody in authority to -- to at least say, you know what, yes, bring her to my operating room, this woman's life could be saved.
And there are going to be four other people here who are going to need medical attention and they're going to need it fast. And I'm just told this woman survived. She did not have access to food. She did not have access to water. How this woman survived is just stunning.
BLITZER: It is amazing.
And, Anderson, we're going to stay on top of this. And, once again, you heard Anderson. I'm echoing his appeal. If you're watching us right now in and around Port-au-Prince and you have an opportunity to airlift this woman or get her to some sort of hospital, whether offshore or -- or in and around the airport facilities, someplace, she desperately needs it. And more are on the way. They're saving these people's lives. They're rescuing these people. It would be horrible, indeed, if they survived seven days in rubble only to die within hours of being rescued because they didn't have the proper medical attention.
We'll check back with Anderson on that.
In the meantime, thousands more U.S. troops are on the ground in Haiti right now. They're fighting to break through barriers to delivering aid.
Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, in Port- au-Prince.
Here's a simple question -- and I suspect with no simple answer -- Chris.
Who's running the show right now?
Who's in charge?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, as far as we can tell, Wolf, it looks like the United Nations is in charge and in conjunction with the Haitian government, with the State Department -- USAID, being in an advisory role, making suggestions.
But the reasons for all this delay -- you're right, it's very complex. Two big reasons, who. What we may -- what we've been able to find out -- bureaucracy and diesel fuel.
Let's take bureaucracy first. We were out at a field hospital earlier today and it was a -- and ran into this group from Israel, a small group. They came over and basically they were telling us, what we saw at the airport -- the same thing, all that aid stacking up, huge pallets of aid sitting there and stacking up. More and more coming.
But why wasn't it getting pushed out faster?
Why wasn't it getting, you know, pushed out here to the people who actually needed it?
Well, one of the -- the organizers of this charity, that's pretty small, he said a lot of the big organizations just got bogged down with trying to make everything perfect -- getting too concerned about security instead of just running with it and getting that aid out on the street as quickly as possible.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN SCHNEIDER, ISRAAID: We were able literally to land, take our gear off the airplane from Santa Domingo and to go right to the hospital. And I think, you know, some of the other forces maybe are just bogged down in red tape, bureaucracy, building that -- that beautiful village out there in the airport, with tents and air conditioning and everything else. And they're not -- they're not getting in, you know, to see the people enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE: Yes, another big problem, diesel fuel. You need it to run generators. You need it to run those trucks. You need it for just about everything here right now. And there is an extreme shortage of diesel fuel.
We have been talking to a lot of the aid agencies who say -- they say their stuff is getting bottled up at the airport because they don't have the trucks yet in place that can get it transported to where they need it, to set up these networks of -- of distribution.
But now, what about solutions?
Well, there is some good news coming. And some of it is coming, in fact, from Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez has now shipped nearly a quarter of a million barrels of oil to the Dominican Republic. It's going to get in the D.R. tomorrow then start to make its way here. That's going to be a big help.
In terms of medical supplies, the USS Comfort, from the U.S. military, that -- that will be arriving tomorrow, also. There's going to be a big deal for a lot of these patients and a lot of the folks who need some of the medical supplies.
Also a big change we're seeing now, the group from Israel that -- that just hit the ground running, they were out there for three days with pretty much no security or just local guys that they hired. Today, the 82nd Airborne showed up. And now they're helping to guard. And I talked to one of the -- the commanders of the 82nd. And he said, you know, we're really going to start pushing deep into the city, establishing some positions in the heart of the city, not being on the fringes.
So perhaps we're -- we're starting to see a turn, Wolf, where -- where some of this aid is going to get out a lot of faster.
BLITZER: How big of a deal is security right now, Chris?
LAWRENCE: Well, I -- I asked the -- the rep from Israel. I asked him, I said, you know, have these people made too much of a big deal about security? And he thought they did. He thought that, you know, a couple isolated insolates -- incidents had been blown out of proportion and that these huge security concerns were in people's minds, that the Haitian people, for all they've been through, have been relatively peaceful, that you didn't necessarily need this huge armed escort to get the aid to the people.
On the other hand, some aid agencies say what will happen is you start handing it out and when the crowd gathers, the strong end up taking the aid. A lot of the women and the children get pushed out. They don't -- they don't get anything.
BLITZER: Stand by, Chris.
We're going to be checking back with you.
We're also going to be checking back with Anderson Cooper. He's on the scene at this rubble exactly one week after the earthquake hit Haiti. There is a suspicion right now -- a good suspicion there are two more people alive in that rubble and maybe two others not very far away.
He's staying there. We're going to go back. We'll update you on what's going on. We're also following a hugely important election in Massachusetts. It's happening right now. The polls are getting ready to close at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Much more of our coverage coming up right after this.
BLITZER: Let's get back to Anderson Cooper and that active search and rescue operation that's underway right now, in just a moment.
But let's check in with Jack Cafferty.
He has The Cafferty File -- Jack, two big stories we're working on today, Haiti and Massachusetts.
What once seemed unthinkable might become reality. Democrats are in real jeopardy of losing the Massachusetts Senate seat held by the late Ted Kennedy for almost five decades.
It took just about a week for the Democratic candidate and state attorney general, Martha Coakley, to literally implode. Several polls released going right into the election this morning showing Coakley trailing the Republican, Scott Brown, by as many as 9 points.
Coakley led Brown, who was unknown and under funded, by more than 30 points back in November. Up 30, down 9 in a period of 60 days.
Advisers to President Obama say privately that they think Coakley is going to lose that special election up there today. They have apparently grown increasingly pessimistic about her chances after a series of missteps.
Some analysts suggest that, in some ways, the Republicans have already won regardless of the vote count, by forcing the Democrats to invest time and money in a race to defend Kennedy's old seat. The Democrats brought out their big guns in Massachusetts, including President Obama and former President Bill Clinton.
But it may not be enough.
This being politics, you can bet the Democrats are already busy trying to figure out where to lay the blame for a potential loss. Chances are they will paint Coakley as a terrible candidate, which she was; who ran a poor campaign, which she did.
But it's clear the stakes couldn't be much higher. A loss for the Democrats in this election in Massachusetts could destroy the president's attempts to push through his legislative agenda, especially health care reform. And it will send a very strong message to Democrats up for reelection all across the country come November.
So here's the question, how would the Democrats explain a loss of Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts Senate seat?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog.
If there is such a thing as a sure thing in politics, this was considered a sure thing.
CAFFERTY: And now it's not.
BLITZER: One -- one political expert here said if she loses, it would be the biggest upset he could recall. So that would be big, indeed.
All right, we'll watch it closely.
Stand by, Jack.
Let's go to Boston right now.
John King is working the story for us -- John, you're from Boston. You know the people of Massachusetts. You're speaking to them.
What are they saying?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, without a doubt, Republicans feel the momentum here and Democrats are nervous. I've been checking in with Democratic operatives here all day and none of them are confident in victory tonight, although they are not ruling it out. They are hoping for a bit of a miracle in the end here.
But they concede the momentum has gone Republican Scott Brown's way. And they say he has done pretty much just what President Obama did back in 2008 -- tap voter anxiety about the economy, tap voter anger at Wall Street, tape voter anger at the fact that Washington is so partisan.
You know, in a close race like this, you go to some of the swing areas, where there are so many Independents. And even though many people think Massachusetts is a Democratic, liberal state, the majority of the voters here are registered now as un-enrolled or Independents.
One of the places that I like to check is Braintree. It's just south of Boston, not far from where I grew up in Dorchester. It is about half Independent voters.
Interesting at lunch today, Wolf. We sat down with three voters -- one Republican and two Independents. Both of those Independents voted for Obama just 14 months ago. Neither voted Democrat this time.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: A show of hands -- if you voted for President Obama, raise your hand. So we have two Obama votes and both of the Obama votes did not go for the Democrat this time.
What does that say about the state of Democratic energy, the state of the Democratic agenda just a little more than a year -- just a year after Obama took the oath of office?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because he's talking out of both sides of his mouth right now.
DEBI LONG, MASSACHUSETTS VOTER: There's an arrogance in the party. There is an arrogance that emanates through him, which is -- you know, I know these are pretty strong words, but I -- you know, I -- voting for change and not really seeing it.
KING: You didn't vote for Obama, obviously. But in you -- in your lifetime here in Massachusetts, do you think one year after he wins the state and a huge Democratic victory not only here, but nationally, that Massachusetts would be on the verge of maybe sending a Republican senator to Washington?
TOM WATTS, MASSACHUSETTS VOTER: I'm shocked. I mean...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is scary.
WATTS: I'm 37 years old and I -- I don't remember -- I don't think there was a Republican senator...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
WATTS: ...in my lifetime.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: For the record, Massachusetts did have a Republican senator very early in his lifetime, 30 years ago. Edward Brooke was the Republican senator. But the Democrats have controlled both Senate seats since then, Wolf.
It was interesting. I saw Scott Brown this morning when he voted.
And I asked him, what would the message be if you win this election and Democrats try to rush through a health care bill before you get to Washington?
And he said, in his view, if that happens, that voters across the country will be outraged and they will take it out on the Democrats in the mid-term elections come November.
So the polls are open until 8:00. It's a very close race here. But Republicans feel the momentum, Wolf. And we'll keep watching it until they close. And, of course, we'll be here for the results tonight.
BLITZER: How wary should we be, John, about these polls?
This is a special election. We don't know what voter turnout normally is in a special election, so it's hard to -- to make predictions, because the polls have fluctuated.
Give us a little perspective.
KING: It is very hard. Massachusetts has never done this before. And remember, they changed the law so that this special election would happen. It is just unpredictable. You don't know who's going to turn out. There was some snow this morning and it's rainy today, although turnout has been relatively high. The state secretary of state says he's pretty impressed with the turnout so far.
But polls in special elections are more unreliable or less reliable than an everyday poll. But we do know this, Martha Coakley was well ahead, as Jack Cafferty just noted, by 20 or 30 points, and the momentum has clearly swung.
Now, let's let the people vote. The Republicans think they have the edge, but Democrats have a better infrastructure in terms of turnout operations in the state. So we'll see what happens tonight.
But look, the people are voting today. And my simple policy on election day is forget any polls, let the people vote and then we'll do the counting.
BLITZER: It's a good policy, indeed.
All right, John, is not going away. He's going to be working late into the night. We're all going to be working late into the night -- tonight tonight.
The polls in Massachusetts close at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. That's when THE SITUATION ROOM ends. But I'll be anchoring our coverage and we'll be getting results, we assume, fairly soon after 8:00 p.m. Eastern. But we'll watch those tabulations continue on through the night. And whenever we can project a winner here on CNN, we will.
John King is up there in Massachusetts; Jessica Yellin.
David Gergen will be here with us; Gloria Borger.
We'll have the best political team on television working this story for you, so don't go very far away.
I can't stress enough how important this election is for the policy initiatives of the Obama administration and the Democrats up on Capitol Hill.
We're going to go back to Port-au-Prince in just a moment and see what's going on. This is a serious situation right now. Rescue workers are trying to save lives exactly one week after this earthquake hit. They've just found an elderly woman. She's alive.
The question is, will she get the medical treatment she needs to survive?
BLITZER: John Mayer performing on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE" during last night's telethon for Haiti relief. A lot of people watched and a lot of people gave money. The telethon raised almost $9 million, almost $6 million for the American Red Cross, more than $3 million for UNICEF.
US charities report raising more than $220 million to help Haiti in the first six days after the earthquake. That's about half of the initial donations made after Hurricane Katrina, but it's more than the $163 million pledged after a week after the Asian tsunami. More money is needed. If you have an opportunity, go to CNN.com/impact. You can impact your world. A lot of good charities helping people in Haiti right now.
We'll go back to Port-au-Prince shortly. But let's check in with Betty Nguyen.
She's monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION right now -- Betty.
NGUYEN: Hi there, Wolf.
Well, President Obama sends his 2011 budget proposal to Congress next month and it is expected to do include an additional $1.35 billion for education. Mr. Obama visited an elementary school in Fairfax County, Virginia to announce plans to use the money to continue his Race To the Top challenge. Now, the program offers incentives for states to revise, strengthen and implement plans for education reform. Iran is effectively rejecting an international plan for it to swap out most of the enriched uranium it would need to create a nuclear warhead. Now, under the plan, Iran would receive, in return, refined fuel rods that could power reactors, but could not be used in weapons. Iran's formal response would keep any exchanges on its own soil and would delay those exchanges for at least a year -- enough time for Tehran to stockpile enough material for a nuclear weapon.
Japan Airlines has filed for one of the largest bankruptcies in Japanese history. Asia's largest carrier, weighed down by a $26 billion debt load, has begun a reorganization under Japan's version of Chapter 11. The plan includes slashing some 16,000 jobs, cutting routes and moving to more fuel-efficient aircraft. Delta Airlines and American Airlines are in a fierce tug of war over an alliance with the airline -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Betty, stand by.
We're going to get back to you.
We're going right back to Haiti in just a moment.
Soledad O'Brien is standing by.
She's got a compelling story of survival.
And we'll also check in with Anderson Cooper. He's working that search and rescue operation that's underway right now. They suspect there are at least two more people -- maybe four -- alive in the rubble.
BLITZER: Here's the latest on the situation in Haiti.
A full week after a magnitude seven earthquake struck, a woman is pulled alive from the rubble near Haiti's National Cathedral. Rescuers say there may be two other people alive under the same wreckage.
Anderson Cooper is there. We're checking in to see what else is going on.
Haitian authorities say they've recorded more than 70,000 deaths. That does not include bodies buried by families or collected by the U.N. mission in the stricken country, and military officials say about 2,000 U.S. troops are on the ground in Haiti and thousands more are just offshore. They say an eventual total of 10,000 U.S. troops is planned to deal with this crisis.
You've heard so much about the devastation in Port-au-Prince. Let's travel to another of Haiti's largest cities. We're talking about Jacmel. It's 25 miles from the capital. The situation there is also dire, while the pace of relief is even slower in Jacmel. Our special correspondent Soledad O'Brien also went there.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So this is now the hospital in Jacmel. They had damage to the actual hospital, excuse me, so they moved everybody outside. Even before the quake, there were Cuban doctors here and Haitian doctors and they were responsible for bringing everybody outside. They've been joined by a team from Argentina, a Chilean team, there are Canadian doctors as well working on patients but what the doctors tell us their biggest problem is that they've sort of reached their limit. There are orthopedic issues here that they cannot deal with. They have broken limbs, things that they cannot manage, head injuries. So they're sort of stuck and what they need are anesthesiologists and orthopedists to come here to work on these patients. Also they say they've been working around the clock since this clinic was set up, and they are exhausted. So there are many needs here, about 70 patients. While things are much improved, they tell us, it's still rough going for the folks who have come to this makeshift hospital in Jacmel.
BLITZER: We're going to check back with Soledad in a little while.
Meanwhile, some of the sick and dying are being cared for on the American vessel the "USS Carl Vinson." It's sending out helicopters to bring back patients to its 51 hospital beds and three operating rooms. Brian Todd is aboard the "USS Vinson." It's an aircraft carrier. He filed this report from the deck of the ship where he's literally watching lives being saved, as well as at least one life being born.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the medical staff here is working around the clock to stabilize some critically injured patients, but there's one who provides much needed balance to all the despair.
TODD: Look into almost any bay and the look you often get back shows fatigue, stress, sadness. Among the eight patients this night on the USS Vinson's medical ward, there are multiple crush injuries and amputations. Some of the worst off are the youngest. Right through here is the ship's intensive care ward. All three patients in there are in urgent need of additional care. We're not allowed to shoot video in there, because all three are children. You have to have their parents' permission to film them and their parents have not been found yet, but that's not the case for the very youngest. This is Vinson, named after the aircraft carrier where he's spent the first three days of his life. He was only three hours old when he was brought here. His mother hadn't yet delivered him when she escaped her collapsing house in Port-au-Prince. She says she spent three days sleeping outside a hospital where no one treated her. Finally a U.S. coast guard team got her to a cutter to be medevaced by helicopter. Just before she went into the chopper, she went into labor. The pilot describes how fast one of the crewmen delivered Vinson right on the deck. LT. TIM WILLIAMS, U.S. COAST GUARD: I mean 30 seconds to a minute, it was like the baby is crowning, it's coming out right now, they laid her down, and within a couple seconds, I saw a baby in his hands.
TODD: A little light at five pounds, but healthy. I asked through his mother through an interpreter about perspective down the road. What will she tell her son about his experience when he's older?
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said she will explain the whole thing to her son about how god saved him, because the whole house collapsed from top to bottom. So she's going to tell him to respect god.
TODD: She has no home to go back to but is eager to see her husband. He survived the earthquake, but because there was no room on the medevac, he hasn't seen his son yet -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Brian Todd's aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier the "USS Vinson" just offshore Port-au-Prince.
We're going back to Port-au-Prince in a moment. We'll speak with a representative of the American Red Cross, the American Red Cross doing incredibly important work right now, they're trying to save lives. Stay with us. Our coverage continues right here in THE SITUATION ROOM after this.
BLITZER: Exactly a week since this earthquake hit Haiti. Lots going on right now. Most important the effort to try to save lives. Joining us on the phone our CNN contributor, retired U.S. Army General Russel Honore, and Winnie Romeril with the American Red Cross. She's in Port-au-Prince. Tom Foreman is here at the Magic Wall with us to help us better appreciate what's going on, but let me start off with Winnie.
What's it like right now for the American Red Cross in Haiti? How are you guys doing?
WINNIE ROMERIL, AMERICAN RED CROSS: Wolf, you probably have heard our building was destroyed in the earthquake our offices. In fact we had staff inside what it happened. They were able to escape out the wall that blew out the side of the building, and in the park that's next to the Red Cross, there are about 700 people living just there together, they're homeless now, and we're taking care of them as well as thousands of other people around the city. We are distributing water and getting first aid out there, and supplies. It's really rough going, but we feel like we're making progress.
BLITZER: What's the biggest problem you have right now, Winnie? ROMERIL: I think the biggest problem is the stopgaps in trying to get the aid in and distributed out. We're ready to distribute aid, but it's so hard to get in, because the infrastructure won't tolerate the massive effort we need to get under way. The port is out, the airport has limited capacity. Even with all this being done, they've bolstered the capacity 150 percent, but it can't go any farther. It makes it hard on this end. The Red Cross saw this was going to be a problem. We've been bringing everything out from the Dominican Republic as much as we can. 400 people so far we're brought in with all of our supplies coming in by cargo every day, several times a day. That's how we've been trying to make it work.
BLITZER: I want Tom Foreman to show us that route you take from the Dominican Republic, which shares this island with Haiti. It's not that easy just to fly in and make your way to Haiti.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely not. If you look at the entire island here, look at the airports that you could potentially use and you can see first of all, there are only a few that are really close enough to be able to make this an easy trip. For example, this one over here, you're talking about coming quite a distance, six or seven hours on a good day when everything is working right and it hasn't been working well. There is a road that runs along here. So if you come from here normally three to four hours but there's a problem with that and I'll show you why. This is the very thing that she was just talking about a minute ago, as we move in a little bit closer to that site, you'll see here what's going on on that road. Look at these pictures. These were taken along that road and you can see two-lane highway, massive traffic jams running for miles and miles. In many cases you have simple difficulties of the road, potholes, big deep ones from water that sort of thing, from floods in the past, difficult to get over.
Wolf, in my experience, when you're in a earthquake zone like this, the problem on a two-way road is one lane will back up for miles and miles and miles, and the other lane either has to be kept clear for outbound traffic or for convoys going in, and keeping it open that long all the way from here into Port-au-Prince is very difficult to keep it clear enough for a convoy, and once you get here, look at what we marked here, the blockages on the roads inside the town. Even if you follow that road all the way in and get right here to the airport to the distribution point, getting it out through the town, Wolf, tough.
BLITZER: Let me bring in General Honore. General, you've seen these problems, you know something about logistics, building these roads, tell our viewers what the U.S. military potentially could do to clear up the situation?
RUSSELL HONORE, LIEUTENANT GENERAL RETIRED: Well, we've got a lot of capacity that's just arrived with the seabees, and they'll be able to get the port open, Wolf, but the issue is things will get worse before they get better, even as we speak, as the requirement for food will go up. You have 2 million people scavenges for food. Actual put more demand on the first responders to provide food. That means also a bigger burden on the medical system. We need to start talking about evacuating the vulnerable population. Some of those people are injured, some of them are elderly, some pregnant, some disabled, and the babies. We niece to stop messing around and we need to tell the United States mill to open two more airport. We have the capability to do it. We need somebody in Washington to wake up and make it happen. We can't wait for the U.N. to figure out that it needs to be done.
BLITZER: General Honore, stand by, I want to get back to you, Winnie, Romeril with the American Red Cross, we appreciate everything you're doing. Good luck to the men and women of the American Red Cross. They're saving lives right now in Haiti. Tom Foreman's not going away.
We're not going away, we're standing by. There is new information developing right now in Port-au-Prince on this search and rescue operation that's under way. It's been exactly a week, and they've just taken an elderly woman out, she's alive, but she's in desperate need of some surgery. They can't find the surgeons, the doctors, the medical equipment. There's an appeal. We heard Anderson Cooper on the scene, and there's potentially two others still alive, maybe four, we'll go back to Port-au-Prince right after this.
BLITZER: We're going to go back to Haiti in a little while. But let's check in with CNN political contributor Democratic strategist Paul Begala, and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos. He advises the Republican National Committee as well.
Massachusetts, a huge contest tonight, Paul. How did this happen? What happened?
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: First off, woe betide any politician who takes the voters for granted. We don't know what's going to happen today but the first 30 days of this campaign, the Democratic nominee had only 19 events. Martha Coakley, attorney general, she won in the primary.
BLITZER: She assumed it was just a done deal?
BEGALA: She certainly acted like it. I haven't talked to her, I don't know her, but I think that's always a problem. Take nothing for granted, particularly with 10 percent unemployment. A little lower in Massachusetts, but they've lost 40,000 jobs in that state in the last two months. If General Coakley wants this job in the Senate she probably should of worked a little bit harder for it. Now Brown did apparently go out and campaign very hard from day one.
BLITZER: But there's no doubt that the voters in Massachusetts, if they defeat the Democrat for Teddy Kennedy's seat, they'll be sending a pretty strong message to Washington.
ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: That's right. And we just, the Republican National Committee did a survey last night. One of the questions was do you want to continue in the same direction that Ted Kennedy was leading, our do you want a new direction and new ideas? Voters in Massachusetts are saying about 5-3 that they want new direction. I think a lot of that, despite the tremendous respect and affection they have for Ted Kennedy in that state, times change. Right now Coakley I think you're right, ran a terrible campaign, but it's also a horrible environment. Voters think that Washington isn't listening.
BLITZER: Did the RNC spend a lot of money in Massachusetts? How much did the RNC spend?
CASTELLANOS: I think the RNC spend in about $500,000 to that state, not that much compared to what the Democrats could have put in earlier, I think, and didn't, but the RNC put it in at the right time.
BLITZER: Coming on the heels of losing in Virginia.
BLITZER: Losing in New Jersey, both states the president carried, New Jersey decisively, and if they lose in Massachusetts, what does that mean?
BEGALA: I think it's big, big trouble. I don't know that I have the creative capacity to even imagine how bad it would be if the Democrats lose the Massachusetts Senate seat. What if the Republicans in a Bush administration were to potential lose a Mississippi seat? What would the Democrats be doing? I would say it is bad times generally and bad times for Democrats, and Coakley ran a bad campaign, but ask yourself this Alex, if Teddy Kennedy were on the ballot, would he be winning? Landslide, right? So candidates matter and campaigns matter, landslide and we all know it. So you have to step back and not blame Obama and not even blame the economy. Candidates and campaigns matter.
CASTELLANOS: If you don't want to blame Democrats and Obama, if you want to go into the next election delusional like that, it will hurt Democrats even more. This is a populist revolt against a government in Washington led by Barack Obama and the Democrats that isn't listening to the American people. They're spending money like crazy. It's scaring people and Democrats even in ...
BLITZER: Hold on a second, if Scott Brown wins today, and we don't know if he will or won't, is it the end of health care reform?
BEGALA: No, no.
BLITZER: How do they pass it?
BEGALA: If it's the end of health care reform, it's the end of the Democratic majority.
BLITZER: How do they do it if they only have 59?
BEGALA: They have several strategies. The one I like best is the House can take up the Senate bill. The Senate has passed a bill. We all remember from Schoolhouse Rock -- BLITZER: If the House passes exactly the same bill without changing a comma, letter or a word, the president can sign it into law.
CASTELLANOS: And we can call it the Thelma and Louise strategy for the Democratic Party because they would be - the American people have just said even in Massachusetts, the most Democratic state, voters have said stop, step on the brakes, instead the Democrats stepped on the gas and drove over the cliff. This is not what the American people want.
By the way, that survey last night, ask voters in Massachusetts, if you knew Scott Brown would be the deciding vote against health care reform, are you more likely to send him? 47 percent more likely to send him, 37 percent less. Even Massachusetts does not want this liberal government takeover.
BEGALA: Scott Brown voted for a health care plan at least as liberal or more liberal. The state of Massachusetts has it and the people of Massachusetts love it.
BLITZER: But he's not going to vote for the president's.
BEGALA: No, because he's playing politics. He's a politician and we understand that. But the Democrats need to act in principle if they are on to taking on companies they should be for it when it is popular and unpopular.
BLITZER: And the polls close at 8:00 p.m.
CASTELLANOS: And the Democratic majority will end.
BLITZER: And we will have extensive coverage here tonight on CNN. We are watching what is happening in Haiti right now with the search and rescue operations amid the rubble. We are going back to Haiti for our coverage.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack for Cafferty file -- Jack?
CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: How would Democrats explain the loss of Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts Senate seat if in fact that happens later tonight?
Albert writes: "Massachusetts is an enlightened state with universal health care, gay marriage, a black governor and a white majority supporting Obama in 2008. Since then, Obama spoke out stupidly against the police in Cambridge, a city with a black lesbian mayor and a mouthy professor who disturbed the peace yelling this is what happens to a black man in American. Well if Ted's seat is lost, it is Obama getting slapped upside his head by the majority."
Wyatt writes from Gales Ferry, Connecticut: "I'm from Connecticut. I cannot believe that Massachusetts of all places might rescue this country from the mistake it made giving Democrats total and absolute control of government. Hell just might be freezing over tonight as pigs fly over Beantown."
Walt in New York writes: "Hi Jack, just the thought of losing this particular seat to a Republican, this Republican is mind boggling and depressing and yet here we are. I am certain this election is sending chills down the spines or lack thereof of the incumbents. I'm sure someone will come up with a plausible reason, but there is really only one explanation, voter discontent."
M. writes: "I think the Democratic standard of it's George Bush's fault could work here. Somehow, some way it must be Bush's fault, right?"
Pete writes from Massachusetts: "I have to say Martha deserves to lose with her negative campaign and her nonchalant attitude like she's the chosen one. I received at least 10 phone calls from her campaign, all bad, not one stating what she would do for Massachusetts. She has a Democratic arrogance that I also see in Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and something that the country does not need anything more of. I voted for Brown in order to end universal health care."
And finally Gary writes from Michigan: "The most specific way to explain the Democratic loss in Massachusetts would be to confess that the mascot is not really a donkey, but rather a jackass."
If you want to read more on this, we have a lot of mail, and go to the blog on CNN.com/CaffertyFile.
BLITZER: I thought that point that Paul Begala made, if the Democrats lose a Senate seat in Massachusetts, it would be as if the Republicans if there were a special election in Utah or Wyoming or Texas losing a Republican seat to a Democrat, and that would be a startling development, too.
CAFFERTY: Well, a couple of things. I think that a lot of this has to do with the opposition of universal health care since there already is such a thing in the state of Massachusetts and those people probably don't want to pay anymore for health care than they do already, and the other thing is this anti-incumbent emotion that perhaps is beginning to get a little momentum in this country. I mean, some of the people have been sitting in the seats forever. It is time to throw them out and get some fresh blood in there, and this might be the beginning of that. I would think that the incumbents must be nervous going into the midterms.
BLITZER: Well, we will count the ballots here at CNN.
CAFFERTY: And then there is that.
BLITZER: That is important. Don't go away, Jack, because you will be back soon.
We are going back to Haiti in a moment. Stay with us as our coverage continues in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: There are so many sick and dying in Haiti right now and so few places for so many of them to go to stay alive, but one place is getting a lot of praise right now for how fast and efficiently, it is saving lives. CNN's Paula Hancocks has more.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These operating tables in Israel's Haiti field hospital are proving vital and so much so that Israel is staying at least another month, and twice as long as originally planned. Well over 300 patients have been treated here so far, and other medical facilities have been referring the severe injuries here. The maternity ward saw the first birth Sunday night. The mother was so thankful that she named the baby Israel. This entire hospital took just eight hours to assemble.
LT. COL. DR. BENJAMIN SENDER, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, ISRAELI MILITARY: It is built to be very mobile, agile, to be deployed quickly. It's built on tents, and not on a rigid construction. So, it is very easy to deploy.
HANCOCKS: And it has been deployed widely helping Turkey cope with the devastating 1999 earthquake. Israel's military was one of the first on the scene during that disaster, and in the neighborhood and not just with medical aid. This is what Israel is fairly well known for, its search-and-rescue dogs. These dogs will find any sign of life within the rubble. And they have in at least ten disasters around the world, according to the Israeli military. In 2006, they were deployed to Kenya to help locate survivors in the U.S. embassy bombing. Israel's Haiti effort is drawing praise for the speed and efficiency. Not surprising, when you consider Israel's military has frequent search-and-rescue drills preparing for any potential attack on its soil and given it's location on the Syrian-African rift (ph) fault line, Israel is preparing for its own potentially devastating earthquake in the future.
Paula Hancocks, CNN. Ramni (ph) Army Base, Israel.