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Devastation in Haiti; Coakley vs. Brown

Aired January 19, 2010 - 19:00   ET


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

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.

Stand by for live coverage of the crisis in Haiti, we're going back. We're checking in on what's going on. There's a dramatic search and rescue operation under way. We'll go there shortly, but first now less than one hour polls close in one of the most significant special elections in memory.

Voters could give Democrats an historic kick in the teeth. Republicans have a good shot at winning the U.S. Senate seat long held by the late Senator Ted Kennedy and that could cost Democrats their 60-set filibuster proof majority in the Senate and possibly, possibly the president's dream of health care reform.

The best political team on television is all over the story. We will be throughout the night. Right now let's go to our chief national correspondent John King. He's in Boston. John, set the stage now less than one hour from when the polls close.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And Wolf, Republicans are confident tonight. As you noted, another hour of voting here in Massachusetts and consider the moment here. It was a seat held by liberal Ted Kennedy for 46 years. This is a state that Barack Obama just 14 months ago carried by more than 25 points and yet Republicans think they can win this special election tonight and send a message not only to Massachusetts and the country.

Their candidate Scott Brown campaigned against the Obama health care plan. He campaigned against the Obama stimulus package. He said the president was spending too much money and not creating enough jobs. Wolf, he says he would go to Washington as the 41st senator, meaning with 41 votes, Republicans would be able to hold things up in the Senate and force the president and force the Democrats perhaps to compromise on health care and other issues.

Scott Brown is a state senator here, a relatively unknown man until the final weeks of this campaign. He cast his vote earlier this morning in his home town of Renton (ph), and on the way in to vote and the way out of voting, I asked him key national questions about this election.


SCOTT BROWN (R), MASS. SENATE CANDIDATE: (INAUDIBLE) I'm very excited to be here and vote as I've done in probably every election since I was 18.


KING: ... the message to President Obama if you win tonight?


BROWN: I'm hoping I can go and show him my truck and play some basketball with him.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: If they tried to have the House just pass the Senate bill, if you win what kind of message would that be?


BROWN: I think that speaks for itself. I think people would be outraged and I think people would pay for it in 2010 in the next mid- term elections.


KING: Now, Republicans have not had a senator from Massachusetts, Wolf, in more than 30 years. They have, though, had success at the statewide level until 2006 for 16 years before that. Republicans did hold the governor's seat here in the state of Massachusetts. Again, they are very confident tonight.

Scott Brown says he believes if he gets sent to Washington, it will force more transparency, more compromise, more conversations between Democrats and Republicans. They are counting the votes in the final hour here, Wolf. The poll is still open, then they will count the votes.

Republicans are very, very confident although Scott Brown himself said some polls show me ahead, some polls show me behind. He said he would make phone calls throughout the day. It's an old ritual since he was at Alderman (ph). He goes through his white pages in his home town calling friends and making sure they got out to the polls. We'll see (INAUDIBLE) Wolf, in just a couple of hours.

BLITZER: I see they got a little band behind you over at Scott Brown headquarters. I assume they're getting ready for a celebration. But you know Massachusetts politics. They count ballots pretty orderly there, don't they? It shouldn't be that long after 8:00 p.m., less than an hour from now Eastern Time, when the results start coming in.

KING: It is a state known for a relatively quick count, and they're generally pretty quick and successful here. The question is how close is the race? We'll (INAUDIBLE) look into some key communities early on. There are simple questions.

Is there a big Democratic turnout in Suffolk County, which includes right where I am, the city of Boston? What happens in the suburbs just around Boston and more importantly for Scott Brown, what happens in the suburban and rural communities outside of Interstate 495, get out into the more rural, more conservative parts of the state? So they do tend to count relatively quickly. The key precincts come in pretty fast. We'll know, Wolf, at least we'll get some early hints in just a little more than an hour.

BLITZER: All right, John, don't go away, we're going to be counting ballots all night and see how long it takes to project a winner. We're going to be checking in with Jessica Yellin. She's over at Martha Coakley headquarters right now. We'll go back there later.

But right now let's get back to the crisis in Haiti. There is a dramatic search under way for survivors in the ruins of Haiti, a situation that is unfolding even a week after the earthquake hit. A woman in her 70's is alive, safe, apparently right now, after a week of being trapped in the rubble. CNN's Anderson Cooper was on hand for the remarkable rescue.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: They just pulled an elderly lady out. She is alive. They 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 (INAUDIBLE) that three people could be found alive in one building.

Add to that two more people a few blocks now they believe are also alive. Another team is searching. This is a team from Germany that is searching. But Wolf, what we have just learned is extraordinarily disturbing. The woman (INAUDIBLE) Aziz (ph), who was pulled out of here alive, she is in her 70's, 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 now in Port-au-Prince and has access to a hospital that has a surgical theater that can handle this woman, 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, then that will just be adding insult to injury.

This is the problem there in Port-au-Prince, seven days since this earthquake struck, a woman can live, she can be pulled out of the (INAUDIBLE), 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 are two members of the 82nd Airborne who are on site providing security. They're going to be leaving soon. U.N. personnel could possibly take this woman for medical treatment, but the doctors who are here, the clinicians who are here, cannot get anyone to respond to take this woman and you know privately they tell us that 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 surgical units 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 in their clinic earlier today. They only have another day's worth of supplies. They are desperate (INAUDIBLE) 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 not only this woman (INAUDIBLE) who is alive right now. There are 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 medical attention. If they can't find a hospital facility that can do surgery on this woman right now, what's going to happen when they get four more live people? I don't know if anybody who's hearing this broadcast who's in Haiti who's in a position 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 can contact -- I don't know -- the 82nd Airborne troops working here and get somebody (INAUDIBLE) to at least say, you know what, yes, bring her to my operating room, this woman is likely to 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: What an amazing story. Let's go live to the scene right now. Ivan Watson is there for us. A lot of rescue workers behind you, Ivan. What's the latest?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. We just had the arrival of a search and rescue team from Poland. They're going to be joining the German team that are operating here. One of the Polish workers telling me that they brought tools (INAUDIBLE) cameras to help in this operation to try to reach at least one person, possibly more, that they believe are somewhere in this mountain of rubble behind me.

They've been detected with some special kind of mining listening devices that seem to have found the location of at least one person by their heartbeat. And of course, we've heard Anderson Cooper talk about that incredible rescue of Anna Azizi (ph). I just went to look at her at the clinic just around the corner on the other side of this shattered cathedral in Port-au-Prince.

She was laying on the ground in the open, being treated with an I.V. Terrible conditions to imagine for somebody who has just spent seven days buried without access to food and water to then be in the open air, laying on their back in a dirty field with little better for medical care. We understand that she is going to be taken by Anderson Cooper's team in a pickup truck hopefully to get medivac and better care.

BLITZER: We hope she survives this ordeal. I was shocked to hear a little while ago, Ivan, from a doctor with the International Medical Corps, there is no such thing as intensive care units anywhere around there that she would, in a normal situation, be in a hospital and be in intensive care and undergo major surgery, but it's not even close to the sort of conditions that exist right now. I'm sure you've seen what exists and it's very sad.

WATSON: It's very sad, because you have such hope and such excitement when somebody is pulled out, especially after this period, seven days buried in the dark, which is just almost hard for any of us to comprehend. And then to not even have the kind of care that we might expect in the states that somebody would treat after enduring such an ordeal.

And there have been heart breaking stories of other people -- victims of this earthquake who have survived in awful conditions that have been taken out and we've been overjoyed and nearly celebrating to then learn that they passed away soon after being seen by doctors because the infrastructure just isn't here in this country right now. At other locations in the city, I've seen some search and rescue teams packing up and leaving sites, and that is very difficult, Wolf, for some of the people who are still looking for missing loved ones.

At one location I was at today, there were mothers of missing children, there were husbands of missing wives, and they -- it was very difficult for them to watch an American and Turkish team pack up and leave because they said there was no more work that they could do there, and these relatives, an agonizing vigil sitting next to a mountain of rubble, holding out hope saying we're going to go in ourselves now to try to dig for our victims and we're sure they're still alive. These are the types of circumstances that people are dealing with right now in shattered Port-au-Prince.

BLITZER: Ivan, thank those German and Polish rescue workers for all of us for the important work they're doing to try to save some lives. We're going to check back with Ivan and our other correspondents on the ground in Port-au-Prince. That's coming up throughout the hour. Also we have a dramatic reunion of survivors and family members. Stay with us.


BLITZER: We got a dramatic reunion of mother and kids, that's coming up, but Jack Cafferty has got "The Cafferty File" right now -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Obama said over and over during the campaign that cameras would be allowed to cover the health care negotiations. Remember? He lied. No cameras permitted at the secret talks to reconcile the Senate and House versions of health care reform and for good reason.

The White House and congressional Democrats have cut a deal with union leaders to limit the reach of attacks on high-end health insurance plans. Health plans covered by union contracts will be exempt from the 40 percent tax until 2018, $60 billion worth of exempt. Taxing so-called Cadillac plans were supposed to be one way to pay for this massive health care overhaul, but under this deal, taxes will only raise 90 billion instead of the expected 150 billion over 10 years.

Union leaders were at the negotiating table with House and Senate leaders and administration officials for three days while, of course, the cameras were kept out. President Obama and the Democrats, they're digging their graves here with what critics are calling a sweetheart deal. This is just naked politics, Chicago style.

Union leaders had warned earlier that Democrats could lose their support if the final health care bill included a tax on Cadillac plans, so the leadership paid them off to the tune of $60 billion, which, of course, the public will have to reimburse us for. All done out of sight of the news media and out of sight of the public, those taxpayers.

Meanwhile, the fate of health care reform could well depend on the outcome of that special election to replace Senator Edward Kennedy in Massachusetts. A lot of people feel that health care reform could be dead if the Democrats lose that Senate seat today because that would take away their super majority of 60 votes.

Here's the question. Are you surprised unions were invited in to secret health care negotiations? Go to post a comment on my blog. If you open the window, you can smell it all the way from Washington.

BLITZER: I believe you, Jack. Thank you. Jack Cafferty will be back with your e-mails. Stand by, Jack. I want you to listen to this next report. You're a father; you're going to want to watch this.

One of the most amazing stories to emerge out of so much death in Haiti, separation and desperation plunge a mother's hopes into the dark, and then out of nowhere there are rays of light.








BLITZER: You just witnessed on tape, if you could see it, they are from a family that feared the worst. Fortunately, though, saw the best. Here to explain just what happened are Kennedy Granger, Justin Yarborough (ph) and Kennedy's three girls rescued from Port-au-Prince, Bianca, Fafan (ph) and Angel. Thanks to all of you for coming in.

And Kennedy, let me start with you. It's an amazing story with a really good ending. Tell our viewers what happened.

KENNEDY GRANGER, FOUND KIDS IN HAITI AFTER HOUSE COLLAPSE: Well, I had -- I was separated from my daughters. We actually were just in Haiti a couple of weeks ago, and when the earthquake hit, I was back in San Antonio where I live and I couldn't get in touch with them for pretty much the whole week. I had no idea where they were. So as soon as I could, I contacted as many friends as I could. We planned to go to Haiti, Justin and I and another friend of ours, to try to find them because we had no idea if they had survived or, you know, how they were living.

BLITZER: The three girls, your daughters, they were living in Haiti. They were not allowed to live with you in the United States because the Haitian authorities wouldn't let them, is that right?

K. GRANGER: That's right, it's actually an adoption case. We got approved for the adoption in the United States but the Haitian authorities was really slow in the process.

BLITZER: So you were going back and forth between the U.S. and Haiti to spend time with your daughters. All right, so the earthquake hits, you don't know if they're alive or not. And then Justin, you come into the picture. What happened?

JUSTIN YARBOROUGH, HELPED REUNITE MOTHER WITH HAITIAN KIDS: Yes, sir. Kennedy came to see me and we sort of spoke awhile about what the problems were and I started to assist her in small things, travel, what the situation was like on the ground, getting as many Intel briefings as I could. And the small things started to become larger things. We sort of spoke and it was such a compelling story. When you look into the eyes of a distraught mother, you want to do nothing more than help and so there was a moment where I just said, Kennedy, I want to come with you. And when she agreed and let me come, the journey began. It was a very arduous one, but it's one that had a happy ending, one that we're all very proud of. BLITZER: Kennedy, how did you get to Port-au-Prince from Texas?

K. GRANGER: Well we booked a flight to the Dominican Republic...

YARBOROUGH: It's a long story.

K. GRANGER: Yes, it is a long story -- booked a flight to the Dominican Republic and we were planning on going by bus, but it was really unsure, and I'm sure you know that it's pretty -- it's pretty unsafe on the ground. So somehow through divine intervention, and Justin and Junior, who is my friend, they got to talking to some people who made it so that we could take a helicopter over to the American Embassy in Haiti.


YARBOROUGH: Wolf, there was a U.N. official -- pardon me Wolf -- there was a U.N. official at the airport, and a bunch of the military personnel, U.S. military personnel left their contact with him. We contacted him. We went to the air force base there and were able to secure a flight over.

BLITZER: You got lucky on that, but you know what, good things happen to people who are smart and work really hard at the same time you guys did. All right so you get to Port-au-Prince, and Kennedy, you did not know that your three daughters were alive at that point, did you, but you went right to the house?

K. GRANGER: Yes. Well, it took us a couple hours to get to the house, so it was pretty dark when we got there. And the guys and I just started walking down the street, and I was looking for the house but I couldn't find it and finally I saw that all that was left was a gate, that the house was entirely pancaked and flattened and I started to panic at that time.

BLITZER: So what happened? Where were the girls?

K. GRANGER: Well, I had no idea. I started screaming and I started screaming out their names, and all of a sudden out of the dark, they started shouting, mom, we're here. We're here, mom.

BLITZER: Let's hear from one of them. Who wants to tell us what happened next -- one of your daughters. Go ahead.

K. GRANGER: Angel?

ANGEL, REUNITED IN HAITI WITH ADOPTIVE MOM: Well, what happened was amazing. Like it was so amazing (INAUDIBLE) when finally we saw mom coming was -- everybody was crying at the same time but it was amazing.

BLITZER: Angel, I know a lot of your neighbors said the three of you should go to the soccer stadium where there was -- a lot of people were just congregating to get food and water, but you decided you wanted to stay near the house. Tell our viewers why.

ANGEL: Yes, I wanted to stay near the house so if a friend of mom comes or mom comes so she could find us or something like that.

BLITZER: Kennedy, what was it like when you saw these three girls?

K. GRANGER: I just -- I couldn't stop screaming. It was -- I mean not just crying, but screaming from joy, from relief. You know, I saw the house, and I thought nobody could have survived that because there was nothing left. And I just feared the worst, and they were there and that's all I ever wanted. And I don't really want -- that's all I want out of life, just knowing my kids are OK.

BLITZER: And now all of you are in -- you're in Boca Raton, Florida, is that right?

K. GRANGER: That's right.

BLITZER: You got permission finally to get your girls out of Haiti?

K. GRANGER: Yes. Yes, we did.

YARBOROUGH: After great -- great help. We had some wonderful assistance.

BLITZER: Who helped you the most?

YARBOROUGH: The U.S. Embassy and the Consul (ph) was great.

BLITZER: United States ambassador...

K. GRANGER: There was...

BLITZER: ... and his staff in Port-au-Prince they really came through?

K. GRANGER: Yes, they did.

BLITZER: All right, well, what a wonderful...


BLITZER: What a wonderful story -- go ahead, Justin. Give me a last thought.

YARBOROUGH: Last thought is, you know, this was an incredible journey and we are so grateful and so thankful to all of the people that made it happen. You know, the orphanage, the U.S. Embassy, all of the military personnel there, the aid workers. That really helped us serve a larger cause and helped them, and now we're all back home and Americans -- we're all American citizens now and we're certainly happy about that...

BLITZER: Well good work and...


BLITZER: ... Kennedy, you're lucky to have a good friend named Justin Yarborough, aren't you?

K. GRANGER: Absolutely, absolutely. And I also want to thank the St. Mary's Law School (ph) community.


K. GRANGER: They mobilized really quickly and got us some money that helped us fund our trip and helped us help other people over there, so I want to say thank you so much, everyone.


BLITZER: We're just thrilled that all of you guys got out, especially the three girls. You survived the earthquake. You'll tell us about that ordeal the next time we talk, but we really appreciate your coming in and sharing this story. There have been so many horrible stories coming out of Haiti.

Thank God we have a good positive one to share with our viewers at this time as well -- Kennedy Granger, Justice -- Justin Yarborough and the three girls -- Angel, raise your hand -- just want our viewers to know who Angel is -- there she is. And Bianca, which one is Bianca -- there she is -- there's Bianca and Fafan (ph), is that you?

K. GRANGER: Fafan (ph).

BLITZER: Yes, OK, good. Welcome to the United States. We're happy you guys are all back safe and sound. Thanks very much for coming into our Situation Room.


K. GRANGER: Thank you, Wolf.


BLITZER: All right, we're going to continue our coverage of the two big stories we're watching this hour, what's happening in Haiti right now, also getting ready, the polls closing in about 35 minutes in Massachusetts -- much more on both right after this.


BLITZER: At the top of the hour, the polls close in Massachusetts. You can see we're 31 minutes, 55, 54 seconds away from the polls closing. It's a special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat of the late Senator Ted Kennedy. A Republican is making a very strong bid for an upset. It would be a huge upset. Health care reform may hang in the balance. We're going to have full coverage. That's at the top of the hour, 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Stand by. We'll have results coming in shortly after the polls close. But in the meantime, let's return to our top story. It's one week since the massive earthquake in Haiti and yet people are still being pulled from under collapsed buildings alive. And that's giving hope there are more survivors to be found. Among the search and rescue teams, Bob Zoldos, he's a task force leader for Fairfax County, Virginia Urban Search and Rescue. He's joining us on the phone from Port-au-Prince right now. Bob, how is it going?

BOB ZOLDOS, FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA URBAN SEARCH & RESCUE (via phone): Good evening, Wolf. It's going well. In fact as we speak, we're working a live rescue, so we're proud to be able to report that. We're still a long way from getting the person out, but we're working on that as we speak.

BLITZER: We heard a lot of interest in what's going on at the Hotel Montana (ph) where there were a lot of Americans and some parents believe maybe their kids may be still alive. I know that your team has done work there. What's going on at the Hotel Montana (ph)?

ZOLDOS: Well, yes, sir. Our team has been there four of the seven days. We were there all day today with actually two (INAUDIBLE) squads (INAUDIBLE) teams, so we had a very large group there searching, and we found nothing today. We also -- there were six other international teams that worked all day. We still have one crew there this evening and it's still an ongoing rescue site, so we're still hopeful that we can find somebody alive at that hotel.

BLITZER: So you haven't given up on the Hotel Montana (ph)?

ZOLDOS: No, sir, that's why crews are still there and you know we'll continue and to search every board and every (INAUDIBLE) we believe (INAUDIBLE) and you know but there's always that chance so...

BLITZER: And you've got dogs sniffing and other sophisticated equipment as well; is that right?

ZOLDOS: Yes absolutely. We start looking for people just by our canine members that can sniff out scents of humans. Then we move on to location which is done by our search cameras and some listening devices to hear vibration. From there we can narrow down the area that the person could be in, and we actually do a physical void search where we put people in the void and we find them by putting eyes on them.

BLITZER: What's the longest that someone has survived in rubble like this based on your personal experience? We know the Fairfax County, Virginia search and rescue operation is one of the best in the world, and you guys have gone out all over the world. It's now a week. How realistic is it to believe people could survive longer than a week?

ZOLDOS: Well, there has been longer survival times. The longest that we know of is 14 days in the Philippines, but it did rain there the whole time, the person had food, they were entombed and there was no physical damage. Here the weather hasn't rained at all, it's very, very hot and it's difficult buildings because most of the people are pinned when they're trapped. There is a physical insult to the body as well. Typically it's five to seven days, but we're still looking this evening and pulling somebody out alive, so, you know, there is obviously always people that can survive longer and that's why we're out here looking for it. BLITZER: Well, we wish you only the best and we're grateful to all the men and women of your team. We appreciate it very much, Bob Zoldos, of the Fairfax County, Virginia search and rescue team.

Dozens of Haitian orphans are now in Pennsylvania thanks in part to Pennsylvania's governor, Ed Rendell. He was so moved when he saw their story right here in THE SITUATION ROOM on Saturday that he called the Haitian ambassador of the United States. He was on the show, and he got the ball rolling. CNN's Mary Snow picks up the story from here.

Mary, you're in Pittsburgh right now. Tell our viewers what's going on.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right now what's going on, Wolf, is there has been some very emotional reunions. Families who had been in the process of adopting some of these orphans are now making their way here to Pittsburgh. The Department of Homeland Security and Immigration Services are working with these families. It's unclear right now how long this process is going to take, but as for these 53 children, doctors say they're very surprised about the good shape they're in considering what they've been through.


SNOW: Some were swaddled in paper blankets, others just had on t-shirts but they didn't seem to mind as they faced the brisk Pittsburgh air. 53 of Haiti's littlest victims were flown here after their orphanage suffered damage. They'd been outside for the past week. The orphanage is run by two sisters from the Pittsburgh area, Ally and Jamie. They were more scared for the children's safety at each passing day. A medical team from Pittsburgh along with Pennsylvania's Governor Ed Rendell got permission Sunday to fly into Haiti and get the children. They almost left empty handed late Monday after problems with documentation for some of the children. But in the end, they were able to take the orphans back to the United States. Jean Griffiths and Ross Haskell were hoping that 17 month old Alexander was in the group. They flew in from Wichita, Kansas.

ROSS HASKELL, ADOPTIVE FATHER: No one ever told us that yes Alexander is on that plane but we heard it from someone who we trusted so we said you know it looks like this is going to happen.

SNOW: It turns out Alexander was in the children's hospital at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where other adoptive parents who were already involved in the process with these children anxiously awaiting. Time came for the Haskells.

HASKELL: We're going to see him right now.

SNOW: How do you feel?


SNOW: Less than an hour later, the couple emerged. They told us Alexander had slept for most of the trip. Take us inside that moment. What did you say to him?

HASKELL: I don't think I said anything.

JEAN GRIFFITH, ADOPTIVE MOTHER: I just kissed him and hugged him and checked him out and made sure for myself that he was okay.

HASKELL: We don't know what's going to happen. We learned nothing about when the adoption will process, and it doesn't matter. We will worry about that later. He is safe and he was asleep.


SNOW: And Wolf, some of the children were able to leave Haiti because the Department of Homeland Security granted them humanitarian wavers and the Pittsburgh team said at one point yesterday they even had to turn to the white house for help. Now officials say most of these children were in the process of being adopted, but not all. Seven of them were not and they will ultimately be put up for adoption here in the United States. Wolf?

BLITZER: That's a good story and I'm glad the kids made it. We were here in THE SITUATION ROOM Saturday night with the Haitian Ambassador to the United States Raymond Joseph when he got a call from the governor, Ed Rendell, and I remember seeing the ambassador and he said, I've got to call the governor, he needs my help, and he went out and Raymond Joseph, the ambassador, did a good job helping those kids come to the United States get through that paperwork.

SNOW: Yes and the governor's office and the hospital here says that was really a turning point in this effort. The hospital officials said they had been trying to get to the area. These two women who ran the orphanage were from this area. They have been watching their flight and seeing those children had just produced an outpouring of sympathy and support and they wanted to do something.

BLITZER: Getting through the paperwork is not easy. Thank you very much, Mary Snow, for that story.

Both the Haitian ambassador to the United States and the U.S. ambassador to Haiti, they're both cutting through a lot of paperwork right now to save lives and we're grateful to both of them.

We're going to continue to watch what's happening in Haiti. Also, they're getting ready to close the polls in Massachusetts. We'll go back there. Stay with us, our coverage continues.


BLITZER: They close the polls a little bit more than 20 minutes from now in Massachusetts. A lot riding in this special election for the U.S. Senate. Will a Republican actually be elected from the state of Massachusetts? Let's go to Boston right now. Our political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is over at Martha Coakley headquarters right now.

Are they getting ready for a celebration over there or not so much?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Not so much, Wolf, I have to say. The spirit here is not terribly high. They are always keeping -- holding out hope that the urban voters will come out because they say they vote at the end of the day, you know, the stronghold Democratic voters, but the mood here is subdued. I've talked to a number of leading Democratic members who have been very downcast all day saying things like, if this can happen here in Massachusetts, Democrats across the country should be scared about the mid-term elections. This is scary for Democrats. That's what one lifelong Democrat tells me. Of course, it's a special election and a very few votes can make a big difference. You never know what happens and the Coakley campaign is already laying some groundwork charging that there are some voting irregularities, so there could be some legal issues ahead. Of course, that depends on how close the vote count could be later tonight so we'll find that out shortly.

BLITZER: Yes they close the polls in 20 minutes to be precise. Don't go away. Jessica will be with us throughout the night.

Gloria Borger, our senior political analyst is here as well.

If the Democrats in Massachusetts loses, it's one thing in Virginia, maybe another thing in New Jersey, but in Massachusetts? What does that say to the Democrats?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well I was talking to a bunch of Democrats today asking this very same question and the answer I got resoundingly is the Democrats have to do a better job of talking to independent voters. Right now a majority of independent voters in this country disapprove of Barack Obama. They're unhappy because they believe he hasn't delivered the kind of change that he promised, and there is a belief that he sort of misinterpreted his mandate, that the mandate for change was not necessarily a mandate for bigger government, because voters just don't trust government right now.

BLITZER: There might be a little bit of good news or silver lining for Democrats if -- and it's still a big if -- if Coakley loses.

BORGER: Well, the silver lining is, one, that Barack Obama may decide that he needs to talk to Republicans, call Republicans' bluff. Now, there are a lot of folks who say it is not in any interest of the Republicans to see this president succeed, so we'll have to see what happens. Also, Wolf, this is early. They have time to recoup.

BLITZER: That's the silver lining, if they can get their act together between now and November. Maybe they can salvage the mid- term Congressional elections in the house and Senate. We'll see what happens tonight. Let's count some ballots and see who wins. You're going to be with us throughout the night as well.

BORGER: I will.

BLITZER: We'll have extensive coverage here on CNN. We're also going to check in with our own chief correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He has some thoughts on health care reform. It's a fragile situation right now. We're going to talk to him in Port-au- Prince when we come back.


BLITZER: Polls close in Massachusetts in about 15 minutes. We should start getting results shortly thereafter. We'll have extensive coverage. I want to bring in our chief medical correspondent doctor, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, you're in Port-au-Prince and we know the important work you're doing, but you're also, like all of us, very interested in the state of health care right now. Assuming the Democrat loses in Massachusetts and the house has to pass the Senate's version, what does that do for those who are uninsured or underinsured in the United States?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems to come down to a few basic things. One of the biggest things is this idea if you have some sort of preexisting condition. If you've been sick at some point in your life or been diagnosed with some sort of illness, there's been this concern that it's going to be hard to get health care insurance in the future. People in those situations are going to be helped by this, really in a few different ways. They can't be discriminated against in terms of buying health care insurance. There will be caps in terms of how much that health insurance would cost and the type of health care insurance they get would have some sort of minimum. It wouldn't be this bare bones policy that wouldn't cover much, Wolf. They want to create these national high-risk pools. You sort of pool together people who have preexisting conditions nationally, and as a result they're using those large numbers of people, you can start to negotiate good health care premiums.

I should point out, some of the critics have said, look, we've tried high-risk pools in the past at the state level. That hasn't really worked. Will this work at the national level? They're just not really sure. Also keep in mind Wolf, we're talking about this now, January of 2010, but a lot of this really wouldn't take place until about four years from now, 2014. At that point people would be required to have health care insurance, and if they couldn't afford it, they would get some sort of subsidy. I think that's basically how the uninsured and underinsured population would be affected by this.

BLITZER: What about those who already have insurance? If the Senate version were to pass, if the house were to pass it, the president signs it into law. How would this new law affect those Americans who already have health insurance?

GUPTA: That's a great question, and if you've been listening to the president really since the campaign on this particular question, the standard line is if you have health insurance and you're happy with it, nothing will change for you. There is also talk if you happen to insure more Americans, get most of the Americans insured, could you create a healthier population and subsequently start to bend the cost curve downward. Healthier people don't cost as much money. That's basically what that means. Again, that's theoretical and the critics will say, look, will that really lower cost? We're not sure. Will you have to raise taxes? Possibly, to try to pay for this. And for those who have health insurance right now, if this starts to be expensive with regard to the health care plan you have, might you see a reduction in the types of benefits that you have. Again, that's what the critics say, but the president has said for quite some time nothing will change if you have health insurance and you're happy with it.

BLITZER: The polls close in 12 minutes. We'll start watching the votes being counted. We'll get results shortly after the top of the hour. Sanjay Gupta will be watching with us as well. He's also got his hands full in Haiti right now doing incredibly important work as a journalist and a physician. We'll continue our coverage of both stories, in Haiti as well as the election in Massachusetts, right after this.


BLITZER: Get right back to Jack for the Cafferty File. Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question this hour are you surprised unions were invited into secret health care negotiations? You know the ones that candidate Obama said during the campaign would be broadcast on C-SPAN.

Tim writes, "Why would anyone be surprised that unions were in the meetings? This administration is corrupt. They needed all these organizations and need to pay them off to retain their support. If you enlist the devil's support to win there's always a pay off at the end which is the beginning of the end of the Obama administration and Democrat rule."

Walt writes from Salt Lake City, "Jack, not surprised at all. This president campaigned on openness, transparency and change. It wasn't going to be business as usual under his presidency. My god, how many of us really believed him and voted this hypocrite into office."

Casey in California writes, "I guess that makes up for all the insurance and pharma lobbies in secret negotiations with Republican senators."

Rod in Chicago, "I hope the Republican wins in Massachusetts and this whole mess of flawed stupid legislation is flushed for something that actually helps people instead of politicians."

Bob in California writes, "No, the unions are a major constituency of the Democratic Party and those union health care plans were bargained for at the expense of wage gains. So no wonder union leadership fought hard to keep their gains. That's what unions do. No different than the oil lobbyists who met with Cheney secretly to develop our energy policy. That's how things get done in Washington." Corey writes in Georgia, "No Jack, I'm not surprised. Whether it's behind the door health care negotiations or undercover lobbyists, the American people are constantly being ignored. It's beyond contemptible."

And Richard in Wisconsin, "Of course not. The unions and Obama have been in bed together since the beginning of his campaign. I agree with you, I live in Wisconsin and I can smell it here."

If you want to read more on the subject, you can find same on my blog, It's really late so I'm going to go now.

BLITZER: Get a good night's sleep, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you, see you tomorrow. Let's check in with John Roberts. He's filling in for Campbell Brown. Give us a preview.

What's coming up at the top of the hour, John?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening Wolf. Good to see you.

As you know, the polls close in about seven minutes in Massachusetts, this all-important Senate race. Is this going to be the night that Ted Kennedy's seat that he held for 46 years goes down in defeat and switches hands to a Republican? Can you imagine the fallout if that happens, both politically and for the health care bill? What will Democrats do about health care if a Republican takes that seat? Wolf, I know that you're going to be following all the results for us tonight. We'll see you in a few minutes on that.

As well, continuing breaking news out of Haiti. Rescuers continue to pull people alive from the rubble as we're now into day eight of this catastrophe. Apparently they're after four more and may get them out within the next 60 minutes. So Wolf, we'll be watching that closely along with the election results and we'll see what happens in Massachusetts. What a race.

BLITZER: Two huge stories you're going to be all over. All of us will be working tonight and that's good. Good for all of us, good for our viewers, we hope. Thanks very much. See you in a few moments, John; John Roberts filling in for Campbell.

We'll take a quick break. More of our coverage after this.


BLITZER: Less than four minutes away. When the polls close in Massachusetts, it's a special election for the late Senator Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. Fears of a possible GOP upset have certainly the Democrats are scrambling to figure out how they can salvage a health care reform bill. Let's bring in our senior white house correspondent Ed Henry.

Ed, what are they saying over at the white house? ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, they still insist publicly they have hopes that Martha Coakley is going to win. But I can tell you I just spoke to a top adviser to the president who sounded very pessimistic about the chances of Coakley winning, at least in private adding very simply, "Campaigns and candidates matter," a clear shot at the fact that this white house believes that she ran a very poor campaign.

Publicly, they will not admit they're working on contingency plans for what to do on health care, but privately we're told top Democrats, especially on capitol hill, are working on various other scenarios, and one that's picking up steam is trying to pick up the Senate passed health care bill that does not have a public option and basically get house Democrats to pass that through very quickly in the next few days, and then a part two of that, try to get Senate majority leader Harry Reid to makes some fixes to that bill because remember they've been trying to change that bill and do that through what they call reconciliation, basically a budget maneuver where you don't need 60 votes, you just need 51 votes. What they would do there is basically make changes to the so-called Cadillac plans, for example, where as you know in recent days labor unions have carved out a more favorable deal for themselves. That's something they hope to change in this next round. But they are scrambling, trying to find some way to get this health care reform passed in the next few days because they realize the president spent so much political capital on it. If this were to go down, it would be a big, big problem for this white house.

BLITZER: They're scrambling up on Capitol Hill, the Democrats. Let's bring in Dana Bash, our senior Congressional correspondent.

Dana, what are you learning about the health care plan if the Democrats lose in Massachusetts?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm down in the basement of the capitol because the house Democrats, all of them, are having their regular meeting right now. I got a chance to talk to many of them, and the thing that we were talking about last hour, the leading idea to deal with a loss in Massachusetts, which is to just have the house pass the Senate health care bill, we talked about the fact that that is unlikely because there is house Democratic opposition. Boy, did I hear that loud and clear.

Just a couple of examples. I started to ask Bart Stupak, he's a Democrat of Michigan, what he thought. I couldn't even get my question out before he said, no, no, that's a non-starter. We can't pass the Senate bill for him. The issue is abortion, but for other Democrats that I talked they're worried that the senate bill doesn't go far enough in terms of affordability, and they believe it's wrong handed in terms the tax imposed on high-cost insurance plans. Right now the snapshot in time is right now any example of that particular idea is going to be a very, very hard sell. We'll see what happens when the polls close and results come in and people digest that.

BLITZER: Are there still any optimists as far as the Democrats are concerned up on Capitol Hill? BASH: There are. There are optimists because the mood, I think, among many Democrats, probably fair to say most Democrats, is they don't see any action politically other than not passing health care. If they can't get this big bill through, they're talking about just passing the small parts people agree on.

BLITZER: All right. Dana is going to stay with us throughout the night, so is Ed Henry. All of our reporters, they're standing by. We have lots to report on what's going on. We're not going to neglect the situation in Haiti at the same time.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We continue our coverage right now with John Roberts filling in for Campbell Brown.