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THE SITUATION ROOM
Miles to Go for Haiti Relief; Rush to Save A Dying Boy; Britain Raises Terror Alert Level; President Takes "Lumps," Vows Fight; What's Improved, What Needs Improvement; "Little Paradise" Hit Hard
Aired January 22, 2010 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Rick, thanks very much.
Happening now, an exodus from the Haitian capital -- hundreds of thousands of people reportedly are on the move right now. We're tracking the earthquake victims and their ongoing search for help.
Plus, the tie is gone, the fight is on -- President Obama tries to convince people in the heartland that he's one of them.
And the Fed chairman could wind up like many other Americans -- out of a job. This hour, why some Democratic senators are turning against Ben Bernanke and going against the president's wishes.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
In Haiti right now, the aftershocks keep coming -- the kind that shake the ground and the kind that tear at people's hearts. We're staying on top of all of the angles of this disaster.
Today, an elderly woman was rescued after 10 days in the rubble, just as hopes of finding more survivors were fading. And officials say hundreds of thousands of Haitians are fleeing Port-au-Prince, the capital, right now, hoping to find cleaner, safer shelter outside of the ravaged city.
Let's turn to our chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.
She's on the ground in Port-au-Prince.
She's joining us now with more.
It looks like a massive exodus from Port-au-Prince is unfolding right now -- Christiane.
What -- what's really happening?
CHRISTIAN AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, it's hard to tell. We, from this vantage point, haven't really seen that. In fact, what we've seen is more of these tent cities and tent dwellings springing up behind us.
But what we do know is over the last 24 hours or so, the government and other authorities have been saying that they want to move some 400,000 to 500,000 people who are homeless out of the capital and to move them elsewhere. And today, when I came through the city, I certainly saw people who were lined up for -- for a long, long way -- many, many blocks outside the still functioning, but barely functioning, immigration and emigration office -- in other words, to renew their passports or just to get new passports because those -- many of them had lost them and people wanted to -- to leave.
So that is underway, because, still, although so many supplies are coming in now to the airport, the connection between supply and demand is still not quite firm enough. That means that not many people -- or not enough people are getting all the food, the water, the shelter, the sanitation, the medical equipment and supplies and treatment that they need -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Have you seen evidence, though, of more violence or looting?
Because earlier in the week, we saw that. I don't know if it's really still happening.
AMANPOUR: Well, here's the thing, Wolf. It has happened a little earlier in the week. But despite sort of the pictures and the stories, it really was small scale. It really was localized. It was just in a few instances. And, in fact, by the end of the week, the U.N. had pronounced Port-au-Prince mostly stable and calm.
What we did see today, not a -- a little -- just a little bit away from where we are right now, was a bit of vigilante justice, whereby a man we saw dead in the street. He had been stoned to death. The people around him, the crowds -- just right here -- had said that they believed he was one of those who had escaped from the prison that first day of the earthquake which collapsed so many buildings, including the prison, and that he had stolen something.
So -- so that's what they were saying. But anyway, justice was taken into their own hands and he was lying dead on the street.
But these are, as far as we can tell and as far as we can get reports from even outside Port-au-Prince, these are very isolated incidents.
BLITZER: And the -- the government of Haiti, is it -- is it really in charge over there?
Or is it basically they've delegated all sorts of responsibilities to the U.N. or the U.S. or others?
AMANPOUR: You know, it's a bit of both. The fact of the matter is that the government, on the very first day of the earthquake, said, we need help, we cannot cope on our -- on our own. And has been reported over the last nine days since the earthquake or more, that just about all the major ministries were either damaged or flattened. Ministers have had to sort of reconvene. As you know, the president, Rene Preval, operates out of a -- a building near the airport there, the police headquarters.
And so it's a very difficult way to -- to -- to function right now. Slowly, slowly they're getting back. But the truth is, as you say, the bulk of the emergency relief operation is being done mostly by the United States, by the other -- the U.N., by the other foreign and international forces who have been coming here. But everybody is very careful to say that it's done in coordination and at the behest of the Haitian government.
BLITZER: All right, Christiane.
Thanks very much.
This is an important programming note for our viewers. Christiane's program, "AMANPOUR," will be live from Port-au-Prince this Sunday, 2:00 p.m. Eastern.
American donations to earthquake relief now have topped $355 million.
Our Brian Todd has been tracking the flow of aid and the rescue efforts. And he found himself at the center of an attempt to save a dying boy's life.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): Those who run critical aid through this airport, stung by complaints that supplies aren't touching down when they should -- not getting off the tarmac fast enough -- now say they've streamlined the operation.
CMDR. CHRIS LOUNDERMON, U.S. NAVY: The aid is flowing, and not only from the United States government and the United States military, but all around the world.
TODD: Officials say up to 160 flights a day are coming through, compared with about 25 just after the earthquake. But this is also where victims are brought when they need to get out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get him on a MediVac. Get him back to the States or we're going to lose him.
TODD: As we're finishing up a live report, an American man rushes up to us, tells us he's got a boy who has to be MediVaced immediately. He says he's a businessman working independently with aid groups.
When we checked this out, we find 8-year-old Owis Rataz (ph) in the back of an SUV, cradled in the arms of a missionary -- an I.V. drip attached, barely hanging on.
CHARLES BEALL, AMERICAN BUSINESSMAN: This -- this boy is suffering from a severe brain trauma. We just brought him from Hope Hospital, the Safarrah (ph) Hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince, where the doctor said that if we cannot get him MediVaced to a U.S. hospital or another hospital that could operate on him immediately, that he was going to die.
TODD: Charles Beall says he's just looking for anyone to tell him how to get Owis on a MediVac flight and he doesn't know where to start. I offer to take him to the U.S. military's command center, which is right next to a field hospital.
(on camera): As my photographer, Floyd Dermis (ph), and I are hustling down there with him, we spot CNN's medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta.
(voice-over): Dr. Gupta is a neurosurgeon and we ask him to take a look at Owis.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE).
TODD: We all pile in the SUV and head for the field hospital. While we wait outside, Owis is given some medication inside and quickly stabilized. Minutes later, he's brought out, taken to a chopper and airlifted to the U.S. Navy ship, Comfort. Later, Beall tells me how he was able to get the boy on the tarmac, even though he's not officially connected with any aid group.
BEALL: So I talked a couple of police officers downtown into riding in front of us and then I hired a car. We -- we placed the boy in a private vehicle and the two police officers led us all the way through.
TODD: He says he talked his way through three checkpoints at the airport. I then spoke to one of the doctors who treated the boy.
(on camera): But what would have happened if he had been held up outside the airport, if somebody hadn't let this guy in and -- what would have happened?
MAJ. SHEA BRANNAN, U.S. AIR FORCE DOCTOR: Who knows?
He was critical. He -- he was sick. He -- he was very critical when he got here.
TODD: (voice-over): We're later told that Owis was in stable condition on board the Comfort. One commander at the airport told me, this wasn't just one guy sweet talking his way under the tarmac. He said officials at the checkpoints look at who's coming through and if they can see that patients look this boy need critical care, they'll let them through.
Brian Todd, CNN, Port-au-Prince.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: CNN's Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta are part of a major event tonight called Hope for Haiti Now. George Clooney, Wyclef Jean are hosting this global telethon, featuring many entertainers. You can see it right here on CNN in just a few hours from now, 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Joint Terrorism Analysis Center has raised the threat level of terrorism to the U.K. from substantial to severe. This means a terrorist attack is highly likely. I have to emphasize the fact it doesn't mean an attack is imminent.
BLITZER: All right, you heard it, the breaking news out of London. The British government now raising its terror threat level from substantial to severe. Severe is the second highest level of alert in Britain.
Let's go to our CNN international security correspondent, Paula Newton, in London.
It sounds pretty ominous.
What's going on -- Paula?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, a few things here, Wolf.
Apparently, the tipping point, one security source tells us, is threat levels -- the security alert coming out of India. Specifically, that was an aviation alert. But it involved militants connected to Al Qaeda trying to carry out attacks both in India and perhaps in other areas in South Asia.
Again, though, Wolf, this was the tipping point. As the organizations and security organs here look at all the different intelligence, Wolf, it's been a busy few weeks, as you and I both know. And I think with that Afghanistan conference coming up late next week here in the country, the fact that the Taliban says that it's specifically targeting that conference, that they decided to take no chances.
What's interesting here is that we have, at certain times, for years, been under a severe threat level. It was just earlier last year that they decided to lower that threat level. Again, the threat level being raised here.
And I can tell you, Wolf, one thing that really makes them jittery are things like the Mumbai-style attack that we saw at the end of 2008. You know, many people are more vigilant in airports right now. And certainly we've seen lots of examples as to why they need to be. But those other attacks, Wolf, when you're talking about, you know, shopping malls, hotels, railway stations, they want people to be on extra alert.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to have much more on this story coming up later here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Paula, thanks very much for that update.
We're staying on top of what's happening in Haiti right now. We're going to go back to Port-au-Prince. Ivan Watson is seeing some incredible things on this day.
Stay with us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with The Cafferty File -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: Wolf, as President Obama marks his first anniversary in the White House and the State of the Union approaches -- next week, as a matter of -- he is getting blasted from all corners.
"New York Times" columnist Paul Krugman writes that doubts he had about the president since the primaries have been realized, including that Mr. Obama may not be ready to fight for what his supporters want.
In a piece Krugman titled, "He Wasn't the One We've Been Waiting For," he describes the president talking about health care, saying lawmakers should, "Try to move quickly to coalesce around elements of the bill that people agree on."
Krugman mocks that message, saying it's like the president is telling lawmakers to run away.
And when Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about Krugman's critique, well, you know what he did. He ducked the question, just like when he was asked about openness for the health care negotiations.
Meanwhile, from the right, Pat Buchanan is suggesting in a column today that white voters are one group that might be of particular concern to President Obama. His column is called, "Has Obama Lost White America?"
Buchanan explains how the racial breakdown of the vote in recent elections in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia could spell trouble for the president.
In 2008, Barack Obama took a larger share of the white vote -- 44 percent -- than either John Kerry or Al Gore had done before him. But since then, Republicans have won these three major races because there were more white voters. And Republicans swept that vote in what they're calling Reagan-like landslides.
So here's the question -- how have your views of President Obama changed during his first year in office?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jack.
President Obama, meanwhile, is promising Americans in the heartland today that he'll never stop fighting to give them jobs. He took his new, more populist pitch to Ohio, one of 43 states reporting an increase today in unemployment.
Our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry, filed this report.
He's traveling with the president.
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the president had a town hall meeting here at Lorain County Community College. And what was interesting is this was his most extensive public comments yet on the Massachusetts special election debacle for Democrats.
The president sort of making fun of it at certain points, mocking pundits and getting laughter here by saying all the pundits are saying, will Obama survive this and whatnot?
The president saying, look, I'm going to take some lumps. He was very blunt about that, but also said and had this refrain of, I'll keep fighting for you, no matter what. He kept coming back to that, saying he's not going to give up fighting for the health reform bill, saying he's not going to give up fighting for more jobs.
And the crowd here seemed to respond to that.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So long as I have some breath in me, so long as I have the privilege of serving as your president, I will stop fighting for you. I will take my lumps, but I won't stop fighting to bring back jobs here.
OBAMA: I won't stop fighting for an economy where hard work is rewarded. I won't stop fighting to make sure there's accountability in our financial system.
OBAMA: I'm not going to stop fighting until we have jobs for everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: But here in Ohio, the job situation is very bleak. New statistics just out this morning greeting the president upon his arrival here in the Buckeye State, that, basically, unemployment has gotten worse here, going from 10.6 percent to 10.9 percent -- worse than the national average. That's why House Republican leader, John Boehner, who hails from this state, was charging today that the president's stimulus plan has not worked.
The president insisted to this crowd, though, that without the stimulus, we could have been in a second Great Depression. The president also laying out a second jobs plan.
So we decided to ask some of the people who were in the crowd here what they thought about this charge from Republicans that maybe the president spent too much time on health care, not enough time on jobs.
We tracked down one person, in fact, who, at one point during the town hall, asked the president if they could shake hands. It turned out they did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
And did you get to do it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I did. And it was so exciting. I really wanted to shake his hand and I really wanted to meet him.
HENRY: He's facing some criticism that he's been focusing too much on health care and not enough on jobs and that's really big here, obviously.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. For me, I believe that he -- I don't think he is focusing too much on health care, because it's something that's essential right now and it's something that we need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Now, some of the president's advisers say we'll hear a lot more about this second jobs bill when the president addresses the nation in his first State of the Union this coming Wednesday night. He had already had talked previously about how he wanted to have more infrastructure spending, maybe some small business tax cuts in the second jobs plan.
But now, there's a whole new dynamic on Capitol Hill. He's going to have to get some Republican votes. He may have to sweeten it with even more tax cuts.
A lot of this still remains to be seen -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Ed Henry on the scene for us in Ohio.
We're going to have prime time coverage of the president's State of the Union address starting 8:00 p.m. Eastern Wednesday night right here on CNN.
We're going back to Port-au-Prince in just a little while. Ivan Watson has an incredible story to share with all of us.
BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Lisa, what's going on?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. In rain-soaked Southern California, officials lifted evacuation orders for many in the Los Angeles foothills. A week of rain is expected to finally ease. Hundreds had to leave homes because of the mudslide threat. And we want to show you this dramatic video. And you want to take a look at the this. It's of a dog being rescued from a flooded Los Angeles river. You can see a firefighter. He was drop by helicopter to save the dog. And after a short struggle -- and he did get some bites on his arms -- the firefighter managed to put on a harness -- you see it there -- and hoist him up -- hoist the dog up to safety. Figure that.
American Airlines is furloughing up to 170 pilots because it has too many pilots after reducing its flight schedule. In late February, the carrier will put 80 of its almost 8,000 pilots on leave. The rest of the furloughs are due by July.
And the murder trial of Scott Roeder has begun in a Kansas courtroom. He's the man charged with the shooting death of an abortion provider, Dr. George Tiller. Roeder has admitted killing Tiller, arguing it was justified to save unborn children.
One small Tweet for astronauts and one giant leap for the Internet -- astronauts on the International Space Station finally have a live connection to the Web and they've already begun Tweeting live from space. Now, before, Tweets had to be relayed through mission control. But now, thanks to a software upgrade to the Space Station residence, they can Tweet, they can surf the Web using a system that uses a laptop to control a desktop computer on Earth.
And I know you are quite a popular guy, aren't you, Wolf...
BLITZER: I like to...
SYLVESTER: ...on Twitter?
BLITZER: I like to Tweet, too. I'm going to start Tweeting to the people up there. That will be pretty cool.
SYLVESTER: Yes. I think that's really exciting. I mean -- and it's live. That's the big thing...
SYLVESTER: And is it's in real time so...
BLITZER: I've been doing it now for a few months. It's a lot of fun.
BLITZER: OK. Thanks, Lisa.
Thanks very much.
Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent, is on the ground in Port-au-Prince. We're going to be talking to him when we come back.
BLITZER: We're bringing you up to date right now on the Haiti quake disaster. Incredibly, an elderly woman was found alive after 10 days in the rubble in Port-au-Prince. Doctors say she's in critical condition.
Despite the rescue, some teams, though, are scaling back the search for survivors to focus on expanding aid efforts.
Hundreds of thousands of Haitians are fleeing Port-au-Prince in the hopes of finding better shelter outside of the crumbling capital. For those who do stay, foreign engineers have started leveling land on the fringes of the city to build those tent cities meant to house, eventually, at least 400,000 people.
Ten days after this earthquake, many people are assessing how much has improved versus how much desperately needs improving.
Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is sizing up the situation -- Sanjay, have things gotten better or worse over these nearly two weeks you've been there?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've certainly gotten better, Wolf. There's no question about that. But remember where we started, first of all, where Haiti was even the day before the earthquake. And we talked about this a lot. But obviously, this is a country that is very impoverished. And, as a result, you have that affecting everything, including the medical infrastructure -- few hospitals, so many patients, one of the -- one of the lower physician to patient ratios anywhere in the world.
But over the -- and right during the time of the earthquake, obviously, a lot of people sort of just figuring out how to react to this earthquake, at least initially -- Wolf, obviously, a lot of people died during the earthquake and a lot of people lived.
But there were a lot of people who were sort of caught in between, if you will -- they were alive, but -- but just dramatically injured. And that's where the medical focus has been for the last couple of weeks.
At first, you know, there were just stories of hardly any resources at all -- forget about antibiotics and pain medications, you simply couldn't even get I.V.s, water or just basic supplies to these people.
That has started to improve. There's 300 water and food stations now around the city. MREs, which are known as meals ready to eat, those have been dropped off, about 600,000 of them. So that has improved.
But there's still this frustrating, nagging issue of getting some of these basic medical supplies -- antibiotics, which can prevent potentially life-threatening infections; pain medications to ease suffering at this time; and instruments to perform these operations, which we've talked so much about. It's better, but nowhere near where it should be, Wolf, certainly not this far out.
BLITZER: And I take it the country could use a whole lot more doctors, nurses, medical supplies and sophisticated equipment, which we sort of take for granted here in the United States, but which would be essential in keeping people who survived, but are badly injured, alive.
GUPTA: Yes, you know, it -- it's interesting, because every natural disaster sort of has its own personality. You don't know exactly what you're going to get. But the tsunami, for example, there were people who died and -- but the people who lived, for the most part, weren't injured. They needed food, they needed water. They didn't need a lot of these medical supplies that we're talking about.
As far as personnel goes, actually boots on the ground, that has improved probably the most significantly when it comes to medical care. I mean there's a lot of doctors and nurses that have shown up from all over the world, people flying into the Dominican Republic, coming across the border. Some planes, as you know, Wolf, have been able to land at the airport at Port-au-Prince. So personnel-wise, I think they're coming up to speed.
But the other issues, the supplies, the -- the instruments, all -- all the medications that we were talking about, that is still not up to snuff.
I will say that, you know, I -- I had visited the airport. I've seen some of these places where they have stockpiles of the these -- these particular supplies. And it's particularly irksome, because so many of those supplies are here in country, here in the city even, but getting them distributed from the airport to -- to these critically devastated locations has been a real challenge. And it -- it's unclear as to exactly why that is.
But supplies in the city, getting them distributed now, that -- that really is going to be the goal, I think, over the next week and several more days after that.
BLITZER: Our correspondents are busy. They're getting out beyond the Haitian capital right now and they're trying to get a better sense of the damage on the day the quake hit.
CNN's Ivan Watson filed this report from what's now being called "Little Paradise."
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're reporting to you from the impoverished fishing village called Petit Paradis. And that means "Little Paradise." It's a stunningly beautiful place. The people here, though, have been hit hard by this earthquake and in a new way. They have been describing what they -- what appears to have been, on the evening of the 12th, something like a tidal wave -- a tsunami-like wave that claimed the lives of at least four people here.
If you look over my shoulder here, this is a lone tree and some bushes. And a little bit more than a week and a half ago, the beach extended out to there. You could walk out there until, as these fishermen have described to me, Mr. Steve Badio (ph) here, on the day of the earthquake, the water receded, and then a huge wave swept in.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WATSON: And Steve says the water receded and there was a rumbling sound, like a helicopter, and then a huge wave swept over. And he earlier told me that it swept away his father and two of his infant nephews age two and four.
And another fisherman says his sister was doing laundry by the sea and she was swept out. And to add to the tragedy here, none of them were able to hold funerals, because they have yet to recover their bodies of their loved ones.
Ivan Watson, CNN, in Petit Paradis in Haiti. . (END VIDEOTAPE)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And this important note to our viewers, CNN's Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta are part of a major event later tonight called Hope for Haiti Now. George Clooney and Wyclef Jean are hosting this global telethon featuring many entertainers. And you can see it right here on CNN just a few hours from now, 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Stick around, I think you're going to want to see this.
There's trouble for the president of the United States and his nominee to continue serving at the Federal Reserve. We'll update you on that and more, when we come back.
BLITZER: He may be the leader of a free world, but he's sounding more and more like a man of the people. As you heard earlier from the president in Ohio, sounding sort of populist right now as he vows to help everyday Americans.
Let's go to our CNN national political correspondent Jessica Yellin. She's taking a closer look.
What are you seeing, Jessica?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, President Obama is picking a big fight with the big banks. And it has plenty of Democrats asking, "Really? What took him so long?"
For months, members of Congress have been hearing from constituents angry about this, big banks giving their executives big salaries when taxpayers saved their hide. So, now, President Obama said he wants Congress to break up some of the banks, separating your deposits from their risky gambles.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Never again will the American taxpayer be held hostage by a bank that is too-big-to- fail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: Well, guess what? Members of Congress have been focused on that very issue for months.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: We will end for all time, I hope, too-big-to-fail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must consider radical reforms aimed at improving accountability.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
YELLIN: And they haven't just been talking. You know, we point out when Congress does nothing. Well, this is one of the times Congress has been on the case.
Last year, the House and the Senate held 132 hearings related to financial reform and regulation, and they wrote 2,845 pages of legislation. They've acted. They haven't just talked.
The House has passed a bill on financial reform legislation in consultation with the administration, but all last year, the White House was not pushing the very measure the president is talking about now. And the Senate, they spent months writing and working through a compromise bill which also did not include the measure. And now, this bill is stuck in Senate committee.
Now, both the House and the Senate, they could have used the president's big P.R. push on all of this last year when health care was sucking so much oxygen out of the room. And the questions Democrats are asking now, Wolf, is: why didn't the president make Wall Street reform his top public priority when the country was primed for it during the backlash to the AIG bonus scandal?
Remember this outrage?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC TALK SHOW HOST: They pay now $165 million in bonuses to the idiots who sunk the company.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would be for an exemplary hanging or two.
JACK CAFFERTY, CAFFERTY FILE: The people running it have run it into the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
YELLIN: Well, now, Wolf, we're back to this, with Republicans emboldened and voters wary about government action, there's concern about all the banks' money, but there is also concern among Democrats that the support from the president -- the public support is coming too late.
BLITZER: Here's the question, Jessica. Has the White House been working with Congress on financial reform at all?
YELLIN: Yes, that's the irony. The treasury sent hundreds of pages of suggested legislation to the Hill last year, so it makes the big P.R. push now even more curious. Why wasn't this a communications P.R. priority before?
And also, there's no detailed information on the proposal the president put out yesterday. It was just an announcement. They say they'll work through the specifics with Congress -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jessica, on that story -- Jessica Yellin.
We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we'll take a closer look at Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman. Is he trouble? Is his confirmation on the rocks right now?
BLITZER: What if one of the most powerful and influential men in the world soon loses his job? You remember the cover there. It's "TIME" magazine. The Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, "TIME" magazine's Person of the Year. That was late last year, but this year, he could be swept up in a wave of populist revolt.
Here's the irony: What if the very job that earned him Man of the Year also makes him the outcast of the hour? President Bush first appointed Ben Bernanke. President Obama wants him to stay in the job.
Our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash is working the story for us.
Dana, you've spoken to a lot of Democratic senators, what are they saying?
DANA BASH, CNN SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll just tell you, moments ago, Wolf, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, put out a statement saying he will vote for the nomination of -- to approve the nomination of Ben Bernanke. The fact that that is even news, that he was uncommitted until just now, gives him a sense of how uncertain Ben Bernanke's future is to have that second term at the Fed.
A number of Senate Democrats have told us today they really aren't sure. They are uneasy about voting for him. They are hearing frustration from back home about mismanagement on Wall Street, about the fact that taxpayers had to bail out Wall Street, and, of course, those bonuses. And they say that Bernanke has some blame there. And he should take some blame there.
And two leading Democrats, liberal Democrats, Senator Russ Feingold and Senator Barbara Boxer, they are both up for reelection and they both issue pretty scathing statements today, saying that they will vote against Bernanke's confirmation.
Here's what Senator Boxer said. She said, "Dr. Bernanke played a lead role in crafting the Bush administration's economic policies, which led to the current economic crisis. Our next Federal Reserve chairman must represent a clean break from the failed policies of the past."
Now, I spoke with the Democratic vote counter, Dick Durbin, he is the Senate majority whip, earlier today, and he said that they are so uncertain because of opposition like I just said and because of people leaning against voting for Mr. Bernanke, they are really relying on Republican support to get the 60 votes they will need to break a filibuster and reconfirm him.
BLITZER: Well, how likely are the Republicans to vote to confirm?
BASH: It's actually really unclear. He was, of course, first appointed by a Republican president, President Bush, and there were four Republicans who voted for him in committee. But I spoke with the Republican leadership aide, he said that they are not doing a head count. So, it's really not certain how they will vote.
And privately, they are really reveling in the fact this is a problem -- a political problem for President Obama. They say this is now his nominee and that he should be able to shore up his Democrats in the Senate to get this passed. And, you know, it is -- it seems as though that this is part of the fallout, Wolf, from Massachusetts. The Senate Finance Chairman, Max Baucus, he even admitted to me today that there is a lot of angst after Tuesday's results, and that is feeding into the problems that Ben Bernanke is having.
But those who support Ben Bernanke here, they say that they are very concerned that if he goes down, Wall Street will simply -- will simply meltdown if that happens.
BLITZER: All right. Dana, thank you.
In Ohio today, the president rattled off some of the negative things about living and working in Washington. He was tireless and fired up about bread and butter issues like jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Hello, everybody. So long as I have some breath in me, so long as I have the privilege of serving as your president, I will not stop fighting for you. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The question for our analysts today: what if the president's attempt to be populist sticks? His rivals in the Democratic primary tried the same approach and even used some of the same words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
THEN-SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I've been fighting for you my whole adult life, and I will keep standing for you and working for you every single day.
JOHN EDWARDS (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm out here in the trenches, working and fighting for you.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BLITZER: All right. Joining us now, our political analysts, Gloria Borger and David Gergen.
Is this populist trend, David, likely to continue?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it sure seems like it, Wolf. And listen, there is much to be said for a president being on the side of the people. When Franklin Roosevelt, during the New Deal, he couldn't get the economy back up and running, but people felt very strongly he was on their side and they supported him through that period. So, there's much to be said for it.
But, Wolf, I have to tell you, there's also dangers here. First of all, it sounds contrived. You know, two days ago after Massachusetts, to be out there -- three days after Massachusetts, to be out there with this kind of rhetoric, it doesn't seem to fit him. And it's not -- he needs to be authentically himself.
And secondly, there are all sorts of questions about policy itself. If the Democratic answer to the Massachusetts election is to fire Ben Bernanke, they're nuts. They could easily bring on a tailspin on Wall Street. They could bring this economy -- which is already fragile -- down.
They have to think about this very carefully, about what the substance of what they're doing. It's not -- it's the rhetoric. The rhetoric is going to lead them into some really bad places if they're not careful.
BLITZER: I know you've been speaking to a lot of people in town, Gloria.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
BLITZER: And I guess you're getting some mixed response?
BORGER: I am. And, look, it's easy to blame Wall Street. People are angry at Wall Street. But, you know, one thing Bill Clinton always used to say is that just because the voters are angry doesn't mean that they want their leaders to be angry. And I think that could be a problem for President Obama.
I spoke with one top Democrat who is very close to this president, who has actually spoken to this president, and he said, look, you can feckless if you're pointing fingers and blaming others. And that can turn into a problem for him. So, I agree with David.
And he's got to -- he's got to strike a fine balance in his State of the Union speech next week, fine to come up with solutions. But don't start pointing people, because the people could turn around and say, "You know, you have something to do with this, too."
GERGEN: Yes. And other part of this, Wolf, is, it's not at all clear that if you start villainizing various, you know, many industries, starting with the banks but many others, and the president engaged in some of this yesterday after the Supreme Court decision, if you make people in corporate America the bad guys, how do you think they're going to work with you on economic recovery?
GERGEN: Don't they have to be partners in putting this economy back on track?
BLITZER: David, listen to this, because you'll remember this. November 1994, right after the Democrats lost the majority in the House and the Senate, a huge setback for then-President Bill Clinton, you were working for him at the time. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: I ask them to join me in the center of the public debate where the best ideas for the next generation of American progress must come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He was appealing to the Republican leadership at that point to join him in the center. You remember that sort of pivot by the then-president.
GERGEN: Absolutely. And, by the way, it worked. It was part of his recovery. There was an argument with that administration whether he needed to go further left or come more to the center. He decided to go back more to the center.
There were some aspects of it that I think people found unattractive, but, by and large, it worked and he got -- so he got welfare reform done. He wouldn't have gotten that done over time without Republican help. He also helped to balance a budget...
GERGEN: ... working with Republicans and left a surplus. Last president -- first president and last president to leave a surplus. So, there's -- I think there's much to be said, and I'm biased, but I think it's much to be said.
BORGER: But it worked eventually, David. You wouldn't you agree? I mean, you know, this has happened earlier on in this administration. Right now, you have a Republican Party that feels very empowered. They don't feel like it's in their self-interest quite frankly to work with this president right now.
You had Republicans at that time working with the President Clinton because they had overreached and the public was starting to turn against them, if you'll recall, and Newt Gingrich had overreached. And so, then they decided, well, maybe it's in our interest to work with Bill Clinton.
BLITZER: I think they're all studying -- taking lessons from Bill Clinton in that pivot back in '93-'94.
We'll continue this conversation, guys. Thanks very much, Gloria and David.
We're going to go back to Haiti in just a moment to get the latest developments on what is going on.
BLITZER: Check back with Lisa Sylvester. She's monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Lisa.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
Oil prices fell below $75 a barrel and in trading today after government figures showed that the U.S. is using less energy. Also hurting oil prices was the fall in U.S, Asian and European stock markets after President Obama proposed tougher bank regulations. The Dow fell 217 points. That's the biggest drop since October 30th. And it's down more than 430 points for the week.
Auto dealers are fighting back. At least 900 General Motors and Chrysler dealerships took up the ax (ph) as the Detroit automakers went through bankruptcy plan to appeal their shutdown. The American Arbitration Association says almost 3,000 dealerships were scrapped. They have until Monday to file for an independent arbitration of their case.
And it may help you the communicate, but according to a British study, executives constantly using their BlackBerrys are less productive and more stressed. A psychologist involved in the study suggest users respond to e-mails in batches and try to stick to a maximum of 12 hours of use during the workweek.
And I got to tell you, that's going to be very tough for many of the people in our line of work, right, Wolf?
BLITZER: Much harder. I think you right. We're all -- some of us are obsessed, but some necessarily aren't. SYLVESTER: Yes. I think that our thumbs start to hurt after a while.
BLITZER: All right. Lisa, thanks very much.
Let's check in with Jack, he's got the "Cafferty File." I don't think that his thumbs are a problem as far as that BlackBerry is concern.
CAFFERTY: It's not, it's never an issue for me.
The question this hour is how have your views of President Obama changed during his first year in office?
Kathy writes, "The thing is, my opinion of the president has not changed. Have you ever felt so strongly about someone and at the same time you were also truly praying that you were wrong? I feel that this nation is in quicksand and the chances of rescue are getting smaller everyday."
Joe in Massachusetts writes, "I donated and worked for his campaign and obviously I voted for him. I expected more openness, attention to Main Street America's issues, specifically, jobs, home mortgages and health care. I expected more bipartisanship.
We got attention on health care, but with poor execution, and leadership from President Obama. The current bill is built too much on spending and special deals and not enough on cost reduction. We got little or no focus on the rest of the agenda, and we certainly didn't get openness. I am a disappointed independent. And I voted for Scott Brown just to send a message."
Seby writes, "It didn't change my mind. He's still working hard to clean up the mess. He has to be a bit more aggressive, however."
Becky says, "He's proven himself to be unready and ill-prepared. He's assembled a juvenile group of 'yes men' who will advise him right into being a one-term president. He has a poor understanding of foreign policy and a poorer understanding of the fabric of America. He doesn't understand economics and the strength of the free market. We didn't elect an emperor and someone needs to get that message to him. If he apologizes to the world one more time, I'll throw up."
Jonathan in Virginia says, "A year later, we have realized as a nation that Obama is no savior, but how could he have lived up to the expectations that people had of him? People are quick to talk about all that's gone wrong in the past year. But with the mess the Bush administration left, who can blame him?"
And Larry in California says, "Where's the audacity? The president is eloquent at talking the talk. For me, on many issues, he is poor at walking the walk. And his time is quickly running out."
If you want the read more on this, you can go to my blog as CNN.com/CaffertyFile -- Wolf. BLITZER: Some of those e-mails are pretty harsh, Jack. I'm sure if the White House goes and reads them, they're not going to be all that happy.
CAFFERTY: They probably will.
BLITZER: All right. Jack, thank you.
We're going back to Haiti in just a few moments. Brian Todd is there. He's got an incredibly important story to share with you, including a story about mass graves.
BLITZER: A warning about our next story. It contains graphic and disturbing images and content. Certainly, if you have children watching, you may not want them to watch.
In Haiti, there are so many bodies in the streets that very few places to put them. Piles upon piles of the dead are being buried in mass graves. One man handling them says he recently received 10,000 bodies in a single day.
Our Brian Todd has more now from Titanyen in Haiti.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I'm here in an area called Titanyen, just northwest of Port-au-Prince. It seems like just kind of an excavation operation going on here with rubble being moved that might have been cleared from the city. We found out, there's something very, very different.
(voice-over): A dump truck pulls up the slope and moves into position. This notch in the open hills just northwest of Port-au- Prince takes in some debris from the earthquake, but the massive trenches about 10-feet deep serve a much more grim purpose. This is Titanyen, where a road maintenance company run by the Haitian government is depositing bodies into a mass grave.
(on camera): We weren't quite sure what was coming out of the dump truck when it was first dumping some cinder block and a lot of rock and some trash. Clearly, you can see a body there with the flies swarming around it. We believe there is another body underneath this corrugated metal, because flies have congregated under there. There appears to be a bone sticking out right there, and the smell here is pretty overwhelming.
There they go. Watch.
(voice-over): In an instant, an earth mover covers them in dirt and gravel. The site manager Fulto Fakir (ph) says tens of thousands have been buried here without ceremony, that he received about 6,000 in one day. Many of them don't arrive intact.
While we were there, another convoy pulls up. Amid the rock, cinder and metal dumped, a human arm protrudes, and on the other side, a hand.
An official with the International Committee of the Red Cross tells it does not condemn this practice outright, but with the translator's help, I asked Fakir about one criticism the Red Cross does have.
(on camera): There's criticism from the International Red Cross from some churches that you're not allowing bodies to be photographed for identification. What does he say to that?
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED TRANSLATOR: He says he has never seen the Red Cross around here and he doesn't know anything about it. So, he has to do what he's doing right now, because of the smelling of the bodies.
TODD (voice-over): Other members of Fakir's team say, in their bloated, dismembered condition, many of these victims cannot be identified.
Shovel operator Esther Biksamer (ph) points to where she buried several bodies this morning. She says, in 10 years working construction, she never imagined doing this.