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Stories of Survival in Haiti; Health Crisis in Haiti

Aired January 19, 2010 - 18:00   ET


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

Happening now: pulled alive from the rubble exactly a week after Haiti's devastating earthquake. It is happening right now. In the midst of death and destruction, there are stunning stories of survival and courage. We will share them with you this hour.

But quake survivors still face death from injuries and disease. Why is there such a critical shortage of doctors and medical equipment on the ground in Haiti right now, a week after the earthquake?

And two hours from now, the polls close in Massachusetts. A Republican makes a strong bid for what had been considered a very safe Senate seat for Democrats, why health care reform may hang in the balance.

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

It has been one week since the powerful earthquake crushed Haiti's capital.

In the latest developments right now, Haiti's prime minister says authorities have recovered some 70,000 deaths, bodies actually recovered. Some estimates suggest the toll may run much higher. The State Department says 28 Americans have been confirmed dead. Others are presumed right now to have died.

U.S. troops from the 82nd Airborne took up positions at Haiti's ruined presidential palace and some moved to the capital's general hospital shattered by the earthquake. United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-Moon says the Security Council has approved the deployment of another 2,000 U.N. peacekeepers and 1,500 police officers.

Amid so much death and despair, there is an extraordinary story of hope and survival. It's unfolding right now. For nearly the entire week since the earthquake struck, no one knew that a woman lay trapped under the ruins of a back. Her husband kept a vigil and then, then, just a little while ago, a remarkable rescue.

Reporter Bill Neely captures it all.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BILL NEELY, ITN REPORTER (voice-over): In the ruins of Haiti, the signs aren't good. It's day six. The diggers tear at the rubble, making survival beneath unlikely. The scavengers at the banks search for money, not the living. One man looks on.

Roger (ph) still believes his wife, a bank worker, just might be alive. He rushes in every time ground is cleared. This time, someone hears a noise. He calls for silence, then for his wife, Janette (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, she's there! She's alive!

NEELY: "OK, she's there, she's alive," he says. They scrape away stones to expose a small hole and allow the first light to reach the woman in six days, her husband overwhelmed.

I can hear Janette talking. I put a microphone in and ask her if she's injured.

"Yes," she says. "My fingers are broken."

She tells me she needs water. "It would be a great pleasure. I'm thirsty, and I can't see," she says.

Then, a message for her husband: "Even if I die, I love you so much. Don't forget it."

The risk of her dying remains. Not her husband, nor anyone here has the equipment to get her out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you like to take a look?

NEELY: Suddenly, help arrives, firefighters from Los Angeles.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her hair right there.


NEELY: They push a tiny camera into the hole, and Janette is revealed. Her head is moving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. We're going to get you something to drink first.

NEELY: They get her water and then begin cutting in to the cables and beams around her, then our first clear sight of her, dust in her eyes, smiling, wincing, but alive.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's amazing. She's in incredible shape for -- for the time period she's been in there.

NEELY: There is just one major worry now, an aftershock.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We may not have a whole lot of time. Once it goes, it goes.

NEELY: On a camera, they have seen Janette's hand pinned under a beam. Free it, and she's free. A rescuer reaches her hand. She is in pain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang in there, Janette.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Janette, we're almost there.

NEELY: But, within three hours of first hearing her voice, she emerges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three.

NEELY: Her first words, "Thank you, God," and then an astonishing moment.


NEELY: The words of her song, "Don't be afraid of death."

She told me she always thought she would survive, but she wondered why this had happened to her.

Did you think you would live, Janette? Did you think you would live?




NEELY: Well, this has been an absolutely remarkable rescue, the most remarkable thing of all is the life that's bursting from this woman's lungs.

But, obviously, six days after this earthquake, the chances of finding anyone else alive in this rubble are now very slim.

MAN: All right, nice and easy.

MAN: Hi, Janette.

NEELY: Janette Samfour (ph) is alive. And, for her husband, it's a miracle.

But her survival is the exception in a city of death. She drove away as if nothing had happened to see for herself the horror that had been hidden from her.

Bill Neely, ITV News, Port-au-Prince.


BLITZER: What an amazing story of survival. Let's go back to Anderson Cooper. He is on the scene with us.

Anderson, you witnessed another survival story exactly one week after this earthquake hit.


And there are rescue operations going on right now, trying to save four people who international rescue workers because are trapped in the rubble.

I saw with my own eyes a woman by the name of Anna Zizi (ph) being pulled from the wreckage of the diocese building right next to the National Cathedral, which is completely destroyed. She had been trapped for seven days. They say she had no food and no water. How she made it -- she's an elderly woman in her 70s -- is remarkable.

Her life still, though, very much hangs in the balance. She was brought a block or two away to a makeshift clinic that has been set up in basically a small block-long public park where some doctors and medics are trying to get aid to people. They are performing operations on some people in the open.

I saw one operation under way as I was there, but they need an orthopedic surgeon. They need an operating theater. This woman is in her 70s. And they were appealing for anyone who was in the area or could offer up -- any of the aid organizations that could offer up one of their operation theaters.

They very much want to save this woman. And the German team from (INAUDIBLE) Germany is still on site. Night has come. They have brought in lights. They are determined. They believe for sure that there are two people. They say one of the persons actually sent a text message last night. They sent in dogs twice today. They got positive indications both times.

They heard tapping as well. And they have some very sensitive listening device, that they -- they have basically confirmed that there are people alive in there, and they are working very hard. They say it may take several hours, Wolf, but they are going to work through the night if they have to.

BLITZER: What is so worrisome, Anderson, is this woman who has survived a week in the rubble, unless they get the orthopedic surgeon and unless they get some sophisticated medical treatment for her, she could die. How worried are they about that?

COOPER: Well, they are incredibly concerned. I mean, it's incredibly infuriating, not only for international search teams, which risk their own lives to pull people out of the wreckage and still seven days on find people found in this wreckage, which is just unbelievable in and of itself, but then to have there not be enough doctors on the ground or operating rooms, it seems impossible to believe that someone could survive in the wreckage and then die because they can't get medical attention. There is a number of shock-related traumatic injuries that can occur to a person. There is something called a crush syndrome which can occur to a person who has been trapped under rubble for a long period of time. They need medical attention, not matter how they may seem initially, even if the spirits are high after being pulled out of the wreckage.

I talked earlier to a doctor with MSF, Doctors Without Borders, Medecins Sans Frontieres, and they are incredibly frustrated. Their cargo planes with supplies have now I think on three occasions, at least two that I know of, been turned away because of overflow at the airport. And they have had to now land in Santo Domingo. They have had to drive supplies across the border. That has taken precious hours, if not days in some cases.

And people have died because of it. The operating room I was at earlier today, they had two operating rooms up and running in Cite Soleil, the poorest neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. But they could have had more. They had enough doctors. They just didn't have enough supplies.

BLITZER: What a heartbreaking story all around.

Anderson, we are going to check back in with you. I know you are going to have a lot more coming up at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, two hours of live "A.C. 360" alter tonight.

We're also going to check in with Ivan Watson. He's at one of these rescue operations that is still going on a week after, a week after this earthquake hit. We are also going to check with some doctors on the ground in Port-au-Prince right now and ask them, what do you need. They obviously need a lot right now.


BLITZER: A massive medical emergency is unfolding right now in Haiti. There is a critical lack of doctors and supplies. They are needed desperately to care for the injured.

In fact, some who survived the quake under the rubble may not survive their injuries because of a lack of medicine or equipment or doctors.

Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is in Port-au- Prince. He's joining us now.

Sanjay, what are you seeing on the ground? I know you just came back from one of the hospitals there.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it is interesting, because they are still bringing in survivors to the hospitals, Wolf.

We were just out at a hospital near Cite Soleil, which is one of the most devastated areas after this earthquake, and they are still bringing in survivors there. What is hard, and I think frustrating in many ways, is that you are starting to see more and more health care personnel at these hospitals and at the clinics surrounding these hospitals, but these patients are coming in very, very ill, Wolf.

When someone has been trapped for that long, besides the fact that they haven't had food, they have hardly had any water, they have significant injuries to their legs that is causing a release of toxins all through their blood, affecting their kidneys, their hearts. A patient like that, Wolf, for just frame of reference, would probably be in an intensive care unit in most countries, would be on a breathing machine, would probably be getting all types of medication.

And instead, if they get to the hospital at all, they are lying on cots underneath the sun with no sort of plan to try and do the necessary procedures to take care of them. So, this is frustrating. And part of that is because they simply don't have equipment or the other resources to be able to carry out these operations, Wolf.

BLITZER: Because you have been hearing the breaking news. This woman, a 70-year-old woman, Anderson Cooper is over there, survives a week under the rubble. She is rescued. But now she may die now -- we hope she doesn't -- because they need a sophisticated surgeon to deal with her, deal with some of their injuries.

And there are at least four others who may be alive in that rubble as well. It is so frustrating, as you point out, but it has been a week. Why isn't that equipment there?

GUPTA: I really wish I knew the answer to that, Wolf. And I think the doctors who are working at these hospitals, we were at a hospital where the Partners in Health doctors, a large relief organization, have really staffed that hospital pretty well. They have a lot of doctors there, a multinational team, doctors from all over the world.

But they're -- I mean, it is hard to even say this, Wolf, but they are literally going to supply stores, buying hacksaws, and using vodka to sterilize those hacksaws and performing these operations if they can using primitive anesthesia.

So, why haven't the relatively simple supplies that can perform these procedures in a much more humane and effective manner, why they haven't arrived at these hospitals is just really hard to say. I think there has been a huge emphasis still on security, stabilization. And that has supplanted I think to some extent this emphasis on getting these medical supplies to the hospitals.

But it is very frustrating, I think, mainly for the doctors that are working at these hospitals. They want that equipment as well to be able to perform these procedures to the best of their abilities, Wolf.

BLITZER: Sanjay, we're going to check back with you. I know you're as frustrated as anyone on the ground right now in Haiti.

This important note to our viewers. You can make a difference. You can help those who are helping Haiti. Go to our Web site, It would be important if you made a contribution to one of those good organizations.

Let's go back to Jack Cafferty right now. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The United States is telling millions of Haitians made homeless by last week's earthquake, don't try to come here.

Homeland Security and the Defense Department say they are taking strict actions to avoid a mass exodus from Haiti, with concerns that it could lead to a refugee crisis in places like Miami or perhaps deaths at sea.

A U.S. Air Force cargo plane flies for hours everyday over Haiti broadcasting a message from Haiti's ambassador to the U.S. that things will be even worse if they attempt the trip, and that any refugees will be sent right back to Haiti. Officials plan to take any boats with Haitians caught at sea right to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

And they are clearing out a federal jail in Miami to make room for Haitians who might make it here. It does not appear that Haitians have been trying to flee the island by boat yet, but officials worry that, as conditions continue to worsen on the ground, the chances of an exodus could go up.

Since the earthquake, the U.S. has allowed only 23 Haitians into this country to get medical help on humanitarian grounds, as well as allowing some Haitian orphans to come here temporarily.

The United States says it will give temporary amnesty for 18 months to Haitians who were in the country illegally before the earthquake. But the so-called temporary protected status, which could affect as many as 200,000 Haitians in the United States, will not apply to those who try to get into the country from this point forward.

So, here's the question: Should the U.S. bend immigration rules and allow Haitians into this country as refugees?

Go to Post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And it is a sensitive subject. You are going to get a lot of e-mail on this one, Jack.

CAFFERTY: We already have, actually. They put this question up on, and we have gotten a tremendous outpouring of responses already.

BLITZER: Yes, I am sure. All right, Jack, thanks very much.

We are going to check in with a doctor who is on the ground in Haiti right now. We will see what he is up to right after this.


BLITZER: We are going to speak with Dr. Robert Fuller of the International Medical Corps. He's in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, right now. He has got an amazing story to share with us.


BLITZER: Let's go back to Port-au-Prince right now.

Dr. Robert Fuller is joining us from the International Medical Corps.

What is the biggest problem, Doctor, that you face right now?

DR. ROBERT FULLER, INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CORPS: Well, we still have far too many patients that are far too ill for the facility that we're operating out of at the general hospital here.

BLITZER: Do you have the medical equipment, the surgical equipment, the anesthesia, the stuff that you need to save lives?

FULLER: Well, things are coming together. It is certainly not the way it is back home, but we are slowly by slowly getting more and more pieces.

We right now have seven operating rooms up and running on the campus. We really could use 20, probably. At times, we run so low on medications, it gets difficult to know whether we're going to be able to continue to operate, and then we will scrounge some more.

We are starting to see the beginning of the pipeline of the aid that is flowing into the country start to arrive at our campus finally, and we are hopeful that, as that aid starts to come in and we can organize it and use it to its fullest, we will get more effective at getting patients seen and cared for.

BLITZER: What is so frustrating, not only to me, but to all of our viewers, so many people, Dr. Fuller, is that someone is saved from the rubble after several days, now a week, but they die because there isn't the proper intensive care, medical attention that they require. I am sure you have seen that up close over these past several days. Have you?

FULLER: Oh, absolutely. We have many patients die everyday.

Some -- we don't have any intensive care, as you mentioned, at our facility, and I don't expect we will for some time. But it is just the line is so long to get -- you know, you only have so many operating rooms, and these patients need to have surgeries in order to save their lives. And, so, somebody has to wait. And people are dying in the process.


FULLER: It is a really tough time.

BLITZER: ... is that going to happen? Those kinds of intensive care units, the sophisticated hospitals that, you know, we take for granted, can it be possible to do that on a temporary field basis model? FULLER: Oh, I think that will happen. I think that, with all the aid flowing in, in probably a handful of days, our hospital will have intensive care capability, and other hospitals might as well.

This is the referral hospital. It's really the biggest hospital in Port-au-Prince. And it is a place where the sickest people always were sent. And I expect we will have ICU care, but way before we need ICU care, we need to be able to operate on all these people that have crushed extremities that need to be amputated to save their lives.

BLITZER: How many doctors and nurses are with you from the International Medical Corps? And tell the viewers what the International Medical Corps is.

FULLER: Well, the International Medical Corps is a volunteer group that runs out of the United States. They operate throughout the world. Their principal mission is to respond to disasters and then to help the communities develop infrastructure for health care, including education and health care resources like midwives or what have you, all around the world.

My mission as an emergency doc on their team is to get in. And we have 18 clinicians, mostly doctors and some nurses, all emergency personnel. And we are in charge of triaging new patients, and doing treatment in the field, preparing them for the operating room, and caring for them after they leave the operating room.

BLITZER: Where are you from, Doc?

FULLER: I'm from the University of Connecticut in Farmington, Connecticut.

BLITZER: Well, good luck. And thank all of the men and women who are working with you to save lives. Appreciate it very much, Dr. Robert Fuller with the International Medical Corps.


BLITZER: He's doing important work, saving lives.

Appreciate it very much.

The U.S. military is playing a lead role in relief efforts. There right now are approximately 11,000 U.S. military personnel in Haiti or on ships offshore. These include U.S. Army airborne troops providing security on the ground and Marines from a newly arrived amphibious group.

U.S. Air Force personnel are keeping the airport going at 10 times normal capacity. That is 180 flights arriving in a day. Dozens of military and Coast Guard helicopters are conducting operations to at least nine landing zones offshore, the U.S. aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson and its escorts, along with the ships linked to the Marines and five U.S. Coast Guard cutters.

More vessels are on the way, including the hospital ship the USNS Comfort, due to arrive tomorrow morning. It is a floating hospital that will save a lot of lives.

We are going back to Port-au-Prince in just a moment for more on what is going on. Our own Ivan Watson is standing by.


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

Happening now, a grim milestone in Haiti -- the country's prime minister now says at least 72 -- 72,000 bodies have been recovered, with tens of thousands more unaccounted for.

American search and rescue teams ready to deploy to Haiti -- so why are they still on standby in California, in Texas and Ohio?

The race that could determine the fate of health care reform for the entire United States -- we're only an hour, an hour-and-a-half or so away from the first results in that special election to fill the Senate seat of the late Senator Ted Kennedy.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


A full week after Haiti's devastating earthquake, we're seeing rescues that could only be described as miracles. And that's fueling hope that more survivors will be found.

Let's go to CNN's Ivan Watson.

He's with the rescue crews in Port-au-Prince right now -- Ivan, what are you seeing?

What's going on?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the German rescue crews are hard at work here on what they believe was a church school in downtown Port-au-Prince. And, remarkably, Wolf, just hours ago, they succeeded in pulling out a woman in her 70s, Ena Zizi, pulling her out from the rubble. And just a remarkable turn of events. It was a German, Mexican and South African team that detected her, pulled her out and has been treating her. She has some injuries -- a crushed femur. And there has -- the call has been put out...


WATSON: Those are the sounding dogs, the dogs that have been helping sniff out people who may be buried in there. And now this woman had some serious injuries. There's been a call out for an orthopedic surgeon to treat her for a crushed femur.

Right now, the German crew behind me -- right now, the German crew behind me is still working, Wolf. They are trying to reach what they believe may be another victim. They say they've detected heart rates of perhaps a meter or two away from where the workers are right now. But they're sifting through gravel and sand. It is very difficult to get through that. And they can only fit two workers at a time to dig through this very delicate substance right now, to try to reach what they believe could be another victim alive just a yard or two away -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And not far away, I take it, maybe there are two more -- two more individuals who may have survived a week in the rubble.

Is that what you're hearing as well, Ivan?

WATSON: That's right. My colleague, Anderson Cooper, has been reporting that another rescue operation has been underway just several blocks from here. Another two victims believed to be there. Now, this is really remarkable, because I was at another location earlier today, Wolf, where rescue crews from the U.S. and Turkey actually pulled out -- this is from the supermarket, a five story building that collapsed. And they had been digging for days and -- and pulled out five people over the course of the weekend. But then they made the determination that there was no more work to do at that location. And it was agonizing for relatives who had been keeping up a vigil, nonstop, day and night, beside the ruins of that location.

The U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, he says some 90 people have been rescued by a coalition of different rescue crews that have rushed in here and that are working all over the city.

And we'll keep you up to date on what exactly is going on here at this cathedral -- at the ruins of this cathedral -- as this German crew struggles through the night to try to dig through for what they believe is a victim possibly two yards away from their workers.

BLITZER: Do they have the necessary fuel to keep those lights going throughout the night, to continue to search and rescue operation through the night?

WATSON: I'm going to get back to you on the fuel situation here. I've seen them pulling out all sorts of gear -- drills and saws and -- and things like that. We don't see a whole lot of the lights back here, which suggests that they may need some generators -- some kind of lighting here.

And one other difference from some of the other rescue sites that I've been at throughout the city, Wolf, is I'm not hearing that there is a local on the ground that is helping these rescue workers with some kind of a floor plan. To try to find victims in these mountains of debris is incredibly challenging. It's a bit like detective work. They have to tunnel through. It's dangerous. They don't want to unsettle the debris that's haphazardly stacked up.

And finding where exactly that person is can be very difficult. It can help to have somebody who has a floor plan, who can say this room is where somebody could be, they might have sat at a desk in this location. And they don't have that cooperation at this location.

They said they believe this was a school, that there were some, perhaps, 20 children inside when the earthquake struck, along with several adults -- Wolf. BLITZER: We're not going to stay very far away from the story.

Ivan, stand by.

If you get word on what happens over there, just let us know. We're going to go right back to you as soon as we get some developments.

Ivan Watson is on the scene of this dramatic search and rescue operation in Port-au-Prince.

We'll stay on top of this story.

We're also watching what's happening in Massachusetts -- a very important election underway. Polls close at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. We're watching what's going on. Already one campaign is accusing the other of some campaign irregularities. We'll update you on what we know, right after this.


BLITZER: Two big stories today -- what's happening in Haiti. We're watching dramatic search and rescue operations. Also, what's happening in Massachusetts -- a very important Senate special election.

We'll check in on both of those.

But let's check in with Betty Nguyen right now.

She's monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION.

What else is going on -- Betty?

NGUYEN: Well, Wolf, the FBI is challenging an article questioning the legality of telephone records it acquired in the five years after 9/11. "The Washington Post" says the Bureau illegally collected more than 2,000 phone call records between 2002 and 2006. An FBI spokesman today says the FBI was, quote, "lawfully entitled to acquire every phone record at issue."

Well, the Justice Department is expected to release a report on emergency phone record requests as early as tomorrow. And we'll be following that for you.

Also this, much of California is underwater. The second in a series of storms is producing heavy rain and wind and has Southern California bracing for flooding and mudslides. Just look at that video there. The National Weather Service says a tornado is probably to blame for flipping over a car, smashing windows and tearing off a roof in Orange County. Forecasters now say the storm is related to El Nino.

And a week after Haiti's devastating earthquake, there was another quake in the Caribbean. This one struck off the Cayman Islands. It measured at 5.8 and it apparently caused no damage or injuries, thankfully -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Betty, we're going to get back to you, too.

Thanks very much.

We're going to get back to what's happening in Massachusetts very soon. This is a critically important election unfolding right now. It could be a huge, huge upset -- a major setback for the Democrats. We're watching what's going on. Polls close in about an hour and 20 minutes. Our coverage of that and Haiti, right after this.


BLITZER: In a little bit more than an hour, the polls close in Massachusetts. A special election for the U.S. Senate seat of the late Senator Ted Kennedy is turning into a national cliffhanger. It pits Massachusetts attorney general, the Democrat, Martha Coakley, against Republican state senator, Scott Brown. Many expect Brown to pull an upset. And that could have stunning implications for the fate of health care reform in Congress, among other issues.

Our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is over at the Coakley headquarters in Boston -- Jessica, turnout is supposedly pretty good.

Is that good for Coakley, bad for Coakley. What's going on?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, turnout is pretty good. The secretary of state's office says they expect more than 1.5 million people to come out and vote -- double the number that voted in the primary that happened not so long ago.

And under normal circumstances, turnout in this state would be good for the Democratic candidate. But nothing about this race is normal or typical. And so Coakley staffers are scratching their head, trying to make sense of what high turnout means.

It could mean that it's great for them. It could mean that the Republican opponent's energized supporters are just turning out in very big numbers.

Coakley folks I speak to say, look, they feel like they've done everything they can today -- got -- turned out their voting operation. Now they're just waiting to see.

Coakley, the candidate herself, did talk to reporters today. She was asked about whether she's resentful that the national media, as it was put -- as it was put to her, has, quote, "thrown her under the bus" and also asked about reports that the White House is making contingency plans for health care in case she should lose.

And here's what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARTHA COAKLEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS SENATE CANDIDATE: I think that Bay State voters are going to decide what's best for Massachusetts. They know me. They know my record as attorney general. You can ask me those questions tomorrow, but today we're looking forward to a victory.


BLITZER: What's with these suggestions...

YELLIN: So, again, Wolf...

BLITZER: ...that...

YELLIN: ...focusing on...

BLITZER: Yes, I was going to say, these suggestions...


BLITZER: ...that we're getting from Coakley campaign workers of campaign -- or election irregularities.

What are they suggesting?

YELLIN: Sound familiar?

Yes, we covered some accusations like this back in the 2008 campaign. Her lawyers have been brought in and they spoke to reporters, saying that in three different precincts, at least, voters were given ballots that were already filled out for the Republican opponent. They say those are spoiled ballots and possibly call into question the integrity of this election.

But they would not take the next step and challenge the election or say that they're going to challenge it. They just put that out there for the media and for the public to digest. And already the Brown campaign has responded, calling this a sign that they are a desperate campaign and saying that this was a pre-dated political attack.

So the barbs are flying already, Wolf, and polls haven't even closed here -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And Jessica is going to be with us throughout the night.

The polls closing at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, about an hour and 15 minutes or so from now.

So what happens if the Democrats lose this Massachusetts contest and their 60 seat super majority in the Senate goes away?

Could House Democrats be open to rubber-stamping the health care reform bill already approved by the Senate?

Listen to the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Our eye is on the ball of passing legislation. In order to do that, we have to resolve some differences, establish some priorities, make some decisions. And that's what we're doing. Whether -- whatever happens in Massachusetts, we have to do that. And whatever happens in Massachusetts, we will have quality, affordable health care for all American. And it will be soon.


BLITZER: All right. Let's go to Capitol Hill.

Our senior Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is standing by.

She sure sounds as if they're going to pass health care reform one way or another.

The question is, how?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is the question. Certainly, she had some resolve. All of the Democratic leaders in the House did. And, you know, it was number two in the House, Steny Hoyer, who gave legs today to the idea of perhaps the House trying to just simply pass the Senate bill in order to avoid a second Senate vote in which they would not have that Massachusetts' Senate seat. And he said the Senate bill would be better than nothing.

But, Wolf, you and I talked about this last night. There are so many provisions in the Dem -- the Senate bill that House Democrats simply don't like. And the fact is, that would be very, very for it to pass the Senate bill in the House.

It was reinforced, the -- the tough road on that was reinforced by my conversations with several House Democrats today. And the biggest example is the fact that the Senate bill has attacks on high cost plans. One hundred and ninety House Democrats wrote a letter saying that they would vote against that. One of those Democrats is Joe Courtney of Connecticut.

I spoke with him earlier today.


REP. JOE COURTNEY (D), CONNECTICUT: I certainly would be willing to listen to ideas about ways to do a -- maybe a two bill strategy, if that were necessary. But again, I -- I just think there are so many flaws that I think a lot of House members would really struggle to just sort of do one vote and walk away with the Senate bill as is.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: But, Dana, correct me if I'm wrong, with -- without knowing what the result is in Massachusetts, it's hard to predict what the Sen -- what the Democrats on the Hill will do.

BASH: Very, very hard to predict. And that is what I was told by so many Democratic sources, especially in the leadership. They said, look, you know, we just have to wait to see what the results are. Because the way House Democrats, in particular, will react could be quite different than what you would think that they would -- the say that they would react right now. In particular, we're talking about some of the House Democrats who are in swing states -- in swing districts, I should say -- those who have very Republican constituents.

And I've got to tell you, Wolf, some of those Congressmen, they are already -- forget about Massachusetts. Certainly that would be a watershed and it would be very symbolic, losing a Democratic seat in Massachusetts. But they are already very, very worried.

I spoke with one Democratic Congressman. He is from a Republican leaning district. He told me that he doesn't need Massachusetts to tell him how upset constituents are and that when it comes to health care, he said he voted yes the fact of the matter. He isn't even sure he could vote yes again. He said, I'm at the point now where everybody back home hates this -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. Obviously, a lot of people are rethinking it.

All right. Dana is not going away, either.

A Democratic loss in Massachusetts could certainly have huge implications for how the White House does business going forward.

Let's bring in our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger.

If Coakley loses, what's the president going to do?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, as Dana points out, he's got to figure out what to do about health care and he's got to do it very quickly, because there's not much patience for it right now with the American public.

Then I think what he's going to do is he's -- we're going to see a pivot from this president, Wolf. And he's going to turn to what these voters care about, which is their jobs, the fact that Wall Street seems to be doing pretty well and they're not doing pretty well. So we may see a pivot to, I care about you, I heard your message -- a certain degree of humility and I'm listening to you, those Independent voters who helped bring me to the White House in first place.

BLITZER: One way or another, given the losses the Democrats suffered in -- in Virginia, then in New Jersey and maybe now in Massachusetts, there's got to be some important lessons for this White House. BORGER: Yes. You know, the White House itself is saying, look, we need to learn to communicate better. Because they say, look, this health care bill was good, but, clearly, we didn't tell the American public how this bill would help them. You have an American public, Wolf, that doesn't trust government to do much of anything. And yet the Obama administration proposed a big government plan.

So they didn't explain that well enough. They're going to have to go back to the drawing boards and figure out where they kind of got lost in all of this.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to have extensive coverage. The polls close in about an hour and 10 minutes. We'll see what time we start getting results and when we can project a winner. We'll see what's going on.

All right, Gloria is going to be with us throughout the night, as well.

We're standing by.

We'll go back to Boston and speak with our own John King.

But when we come back, we're going to Port-au-Prince. We're going back to Haiti. There's a dramatic development unfolding right now, as part of the search and rescue operations.


BLITZER: NBC is negotiating a new settlement with Conan O'Brien, paving the way for Jay Leno to return as the host of "The Tonight Show." In the meantime, the very public battle is making for some must-see TV.

CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a Moost Unusual look.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): This is how to put your feet up on the desk when you're about to leave that desk behind. Oh, sure, Conan fans protested.


MOOS: And their protest against NBC ended up on NBC's Web site. Fans went nuts when Conan himself jogged by. All they were saying...


MOOS: ...but at least it gave us the chance to savor a late night smackdown.


CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST: What the hell happened there? (END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: With other comedians imitating Leno...




MOOS: Jimmy Kimmel did his whole show impersonating Leno and dissed him on Jay's own show.


JAY LENO, HOST: Have you ever ordered anything off the TV?

KIMMEL: Like NBC ordered your show off the TV?

LENO: Yes. Yes. No, no. No, no.


MOOS: Letterman took some of the sharpest jabs. He even showed Leno taking over a dead talk show host's show.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Jay Leno at Merv Griffin's grave.

LENO: Your local news starts right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the television industry, there are two types of talk show hosts -- Jay Leno and those who have been victimized by Jay Leno.



LENO: Even David Letterman is taking shots at me, which is a surprise. Usually he's just taking shots at interns. I couldn't believe...



MOOS: The deadliest shots were aimed at NBC Universal's president, Jeff Zucker.


JON STEWART, HOST: He's like the Cheney of television. He's just shooting shows in the face.


MOOS: Zucker was taken aback by the blowback.


JEFF ZUCKER, PRESIDENT, NBC UNIVERSAL: People delivering death threats over a program moving back a half hour.


MOOS (on camera): As if the late night drama wasn't animated enough...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Zucker tried to get O'Brien to fall in line by threatening to keep him off the air.


MOOS: A Taiwanese tabloid's Web site turned it into an animation -- with Leno as a tubby Superman and Conan as The Hulk.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's pretty much said, hell no, I won't go. NBC management was getting insulted night after night on their own network.


MOOS (voice-over): Five years ago, Conan was thrilled to get "The Tonight Show."


O'BRIEN: I give my heartfelt thanks to everybody at NBC, particularly to Jay Leno.


MOOS (on camera): But that was then, this is now.


O'BRIEN: Just coming to work in the morning now has gotten really uncomfortable.


MOOS: In the end, Jay made nice.


LENO: Through all of this, Conan O'Brien has been a gentleman. He's a good guy.


MOOS: Why feel bad for talk show hosts, who seem to have nine lives?



Oh, yes.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos...


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: Jay "Big Jaw" Leno...




O'BRIEN (singing): Incompetent moron.


MOOS: New York.


BLITZER: Now we'll switch gears.

When we come back, we're going back to Port-au-Prince. There's a dramatic search and rescue operation underway right now.


BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack for The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is, should the United States bend its immigration rules and allow Haitians to come into this country as refugees?

J. writes: "And put them where? They can live in a refugee camp here or in Haiti. If they are here, we bear the cost. If they're in Haiti, we might be able to get the U.N. to pick up the cost. The U.S. is already overspending on everything. We no longer have the luxury of being the world's savings grace." Andre writes: "Absolutely. Giving Haitians refugee status would help establish America as a moral authority in the Caribbean and around the world. Being viewed as a compassionate, helpful neighbor, good for our national security and could be useful in trade negotiations. Haiti will eventually emerge as a more stable, more prosperous state. And when it does, Haitians will remember how much America helped in this catastrophe."

Mark writes: "The people of Haiti need to stay in their country and help to rebuild it. Considering only 50 percent of the people have any education at all and most only two-and-a-half years of schooling, what could they do here? Basically, with zero skills, nothing. They would just be more drain on our social programs, requiring free medical care, welfare and food stamps. We're helping them in their time of need and we'll continue to do so, but they need to stay there."

Diane writes: "Yes. If we can spend hundreds of millions bailing out the banks -- or billions -- who made questionable investments, we can help these people, who, through no fault of their own, find themselves with absolutely nothing."

Vicki in St. Paul writes: "If we can look the other way for Mexicans, despite their exporting of drugs and violence into the United States, then why not for Haitians? Are Hispanics in general and Mexicans in particular really more deserving or in greater need? Doesn't immigration work best when it's broadly-based? Aren't immigrants more likely to become Americanized and English speaking when the immigrant community is more diverse?"

And Cassiel writes: "Fix Louisiana first, then we'll talk."

If you want to read more on this, you can go to my blog at and spend the next several hours just fascinated with all of the stuff that came in on this question -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Some will do that, Jack.


BLITZER: I have no doubt.

Jack will be back.

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

Happening now, a new rescue from the rubble in Haiti a full week after the massive earthquake that's creating new hope that more survivors will be found.

Plus, the gripping story of three Haitians found in the wreckage in the dark of night. It's an emotional end to their adoptive mother's long battle to bring them to the United States.