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THE SITUATION ROOM

Earthquake Survivor; Haiti after the Earthquake; Toyota Recall; Congress Approval Rating; Partying in New Orleans

Aired February 8, 2010 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: But no one can quite describe what it feels like, like our own James Carville and Mary Matalin. They both live in New Orleans.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

There are so many stories that cry out to be told in Haiti. This one is certainly amazing. A 21 -- 28-year-old man was pulled alive from the rubble of a market today, almost four weeks after the earthquake. The breaking news coming just as CNN's Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta landed back in Haiti for more of their excellent reporting. Let's bring both of them in live -- Sanjay, first to you. You're there at this field hospital, is that right, where this man is recuperating?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right. You know when we first got the tip that this had happened today, frankly, we weren't quite sure what to believe. We decided to come here, talk specifically to the doctors and nurses that are caring for him. He's being resuscitated in a tent just over here to my left. It's very hard Wolf, to sort of absolutely validate the veracity of something like this.

But I can tell you, all the clues seem to be adding up. We have some pictures of him now, of what he looked like, according to his family, who we also spoke to. They say he probably lost close to 30 pounds during that time frame. He appears to have been trapped in a rice market. Not to the point where he had crush injuries, to the point where he was trapped.

One thing very critical, Wolf, that we kept sort of asking over and over again, trying to get an answer, was the question of whether or not he had any water during this time period. What he told a few of the nurses was that he had a recollection that someone in a white coat would come to him and hand him some water from time to time over the past nearly four weeks, Wolf. But again, when he came in, his vital signs were relatively stable. He had blood work done that looked like he someone who was very dehydrated. But he's being resuscitated right now, right over here in this tent, Wolf.

BLITZER: Sounds like someone who was hallucinating, thinking about if you're going through the rubble like that somebody showing up in a white coat, that's something that your mind can play some games with. GUPTA: I think there's no question that he is confused, he remains confused. When we saw him a little while ago he still thought he was under the rubble. I don't think even as of now, several hours later, he's come to the realization that he has in fact been rescued. According to some of the nurses who spoke to him right when he came in, you know and this is sort of almost haunting when they were telling me this, but they talked about the fact that he had heard bulldozers in the area, bulldozers actually going in that area and excavating particular lots. He was hearing those noises. I think obviously concerned that you know if he wasn't found that bulldozers would come in that lot as well. So I think mentally, physically, emotionally, all very taxing.

BLITZER: Yes, Anderson, after a week away, you're now back there. Anything in these first few hours that you're back jump out at you, surprise you, what you're seeing?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well we spent the whole day driving around the city talking to people. And what's truly stunning is kind of how life finds a way. That even, you know, new businesses have cropped up, even on top of the rubble of old businesses. People are sleeping out in the street.

One young man we talked to was able to have a generator, had some electricity. He was selling -- he would plug people's phone chargers into his electrical outlets and sell the electricity basically so people could recharge their phone.

And the tent city, these makeshift tent cities now house according to the U.N., as many as 500 -- 460,000 people in the city of Port-au-Prince. They've really become like shanty towns. They're much more permanent settlements, corrugated tin houses in some cases, heavy plastic sheeting being used, so it's remarkable the degree to which sort of the abnormal has become normal.

BLITZER: We spoke the last hour, Anderson, about the fear of the rainy season starting in March. What could happen to all those people who are living basically with a piece of cloth over them? It's not even, as you point out, a tent. But you know what, not far beyond that is hurricane season. And God only knows what could happen if a hurricane, or even a tropical storm were to hit Haiti.

COOPER: Well, you know, that's the worst case scenario. I mean this island of course has been hit by -- devastated by hurricanes in the past, terrible flooding (INAUDIBLE) a couple of years ago. But yes, the rainy season is supposed to start very soon, just a couple of weeks, in early March and really no one has a clear answer of what's going to happen to these hundreds of thousands of people who are out sleeping on the street.

I mean some of them don't have any coverings at all or any kind of covering that if they do have it, it will certainly fall apart or get completely drenched and soaked through very quickly in any kind of rain. So there was talk of kind of moving people to more permanent settlements. And tens of thousands of people have been moved, but the vast majority are still in these shanty-like makeshift encampments, which are very susceptible to rain, to bad weather and that's going to only add to the fear of the spread of disease.

BLITZER: Well what about that, Sanjay, the spread of disease? How worried should we be that disease could kill thousands of additional people who happened to have survived the earthquake?

GUPTA: You know, I think Anderson's absolutely right. You know when you talk about what people often refer to as a second wave of disease, immediately in the aftermath of some sort of natural disaster, the reality is I think from experience, we just -- we don't really see that, this idea that you know cholera or typhoid could kill even more people than the earthquake itself.

Having said that, the rainy season poses a whole new set of challenges, what would otherwise be relatively harmless infections can spread much more easily. Tetanus, for example, which is something that, you know, people have never even seen a case of, most people in the United States, that can become a real problem as these spores, tetanus spores sort of become more activated and more likely to infect, so you can see all sorts of things that are really, really worsened by the rainy season. And that -- I think a lot of focus on that right now, Wolf.

BLITZER: Anderson, correct me if I'm wrong, but you and Sanjay personally, you made the decision to go back to Haiti this week. It wasn't our bosses, our executives said you must go back, you guys decided because of our commitment that we're not going to abandon this story even as a lot of other news organizations are simply walking away. Tell me what went through your mind, Anderson, a little bit?

COOPER: Well you know it's interesting I don't think Sanjay or I actually even really talked about it. I think we both sort of independently came to the decision Friday night. You know and I started talking to my producers and he started talking, and we actually hooked up Saturday we decided you know absolutely, we should be coming back.

I think the question isn't why are we back. I think the question is why aren't more people here. I mean this story is ongoing. The hundreds of thousands of people are still in need, which is as great as it was two weeks ago, when a lot of people were here covering this story. So I think there's some -- there's a lot of concern among people here, certainly people here who don't have access to media or television or radio, who are very concerned that you know there's a huge drop-off in the reporting on this story.

I mean look, Wolf, you know this is becoming a shantytown behind me with tens of thousands of people in it, before when we were here it was just a makeshift encampment. These people are not going away anytime soon. And their needs continue -- the needs for doctors and nurses, medical supplies, food supplies and water. I mean it's all the same as it was. It's just there's less interest in it internationally and that's a real concern because that leads to drop- off in donations and that leads in a drop-off to people actually coming here to do the important work that needs to be done.

BLITZER: Yes, excellent thought. Sanjay, do you want to add anything?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I focus on medical stories, as you know, Wolf, and I think there's a thing that I referred to as a venting of compassion. I think after something like this happens, there is an outpouring of compassion, which is a very heartening thing to see. We now know, Wolf, how the story might end, though, if that compassion doesn't continue.

People don't -- they're not getting follow-up, Wolf, after receiving life-saving operations, after receiving amputations. Their lives are saved, but they simply cannot live a life unless they continue to have good resources and good care. You have people who need chronic disease management as a result of what's happening. You have people who don't have homes who aren't getting their medications.

Tuberculosis is starting to become more rampant here. And by the way, Wolf, tuberculosis here in Haiti, if it becomes drug-resistant, that's not something that's isolated to Haiti. That's something that affects the whole world, so people don't -- they shouldn't just need to care. They absolutely have to care about what's happening here. And you can't you know simply do the acute phase of things, save lives and then not follow up, and I think that's what we're hoping to remind people.

BLITZER: And my commitment in THE SITUATION ROOM is to continue our reporting from Haiti every day. We hope you guys will join us while you're there every single day. Thanks very much for what both of you are doing, Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta.

Stay with CNN, by the way, for a special investigation on millions of dollars that simply vanished from Haiti before the earthquake. Join Anderson on "AC360" tomorrow. It all begins at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. He's going to have a lot more coming up later tonight on "AC360" as well.

Let's get to Toyota now, another breaking news story we're following. CNN confirms the embattled carmaker will announce a recall, a global recall of its 2010 Prius hybrids tomorrow. This on top of that massive recall involving gas pedals. Toyota's been getting complaints of brake problems with the Prius.

CNN's Jessica Yellin, as we reported last week, owns one of these Priuses. Listen to her describe the trouble she's had.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I love my Prius except for this braking problem. Here's what happens. Sometimes when you're driving slowly over an uneven surface or a slippery road, and you hit a grate or a pothole, you step on the brakes and they don't respond for a moment. It's as if the brakes aren't getting traction with the ground and you just slip, which obviously can be really scary.

The brakes respond just fine when you're moving at a high speed or if somebody were to jump in front of the car, I'm sure it would stop. It's just a problem at slow speeds over those really bumpy surfaces.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: All right that was Jessica Yellin. Let's bring in CNN's Kyung Lah. She's joining us on the phone now from Japan. Kyung, it's already, what, Tuesday morning in Tokyo, and we're expecting this announcement.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): We're expecting an announcement that there will be a global recall. We're expecting that, Wolf, in just a matter of hours. But for our American viewers, let's break down the timing because we figured out with our Toyota sources exactly how it's going to work.

They're going to first notify the Japanese government announcing that there's a recall here in Japan. Then when NHTSA wakes up tomorrow, when the U.S. government opens for business tomorrow, that's when the recall papers will be officially filed with the U.S. government, and then the recall is on in the United States. But the recall in effect goes into effect in just a few hours when Toyota announces that there will be a global recall.

The problem that you just heard Jessica talking about that's going to be fixed, says Toyota, with software. What they're going to do is they're going to plug in something into your car, and they're going to type all that stuff in, and it's going to make the brake a little more responsive when you drive over that grate or those bumps. The fix is already in place in 2010 Priuses purchased after the end of January.

But it's all those cars before then that need this fix. Toyota says it's fairly simple. They will get to it. We're talking about 300,000 vehicles between the United States and Japan. But Wolf, when you consider there are already millions of cars that they have recalled for accelerators and floor mats, certainly this is a headache that Toyota simply did not need.

BLITZER: Yes, it's more like a nightmare when you think eight million cars already recalled. Kyung Lah, we'll check back with you.

Husband and wife Democrat James Carville and Republican Mary Matalin, they may not agree on a lot of politics, but they do agree on something else -- it involves the city of New Orleans and the beloved New Orleans Saints and what their Super Bowl win means. They're both standing by live. Stand by with us.

And is Iran trying to inch one step closer to building a nuclear weapon? Wait until you hear what Iran defiantly announces it will do now.

And say it ain't so -- after more than two feet of snow in the mid-Atlantic states, including here in Washington, D.C., guess what forecasters say is still on the way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, it's not just that record snowstorm down there that's slowing Washington down. It seems nearly impossible for our lawmakers to get anything done in our nation's Capitol. Some hoped that by putting Democrats in charge of both Houses of Congress and the White House, they might actually get some of the people's business accomplished. Not so fast.

For example, nobody can agree on a jobs bill. With some saying that the Republicans don't want to sign on to any bill that's being pushed by the Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid. More than a year after taxpayers bailed out Wall Street, still nothing in the way of real financial reform. And the bankers are right back making those great big bonuses.

And what about progress on some of the other top priorities of the president -- health care, education, energy, Gitmo. This is all before the Republicans got to celebrating the swearing-in of Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown or Mr. 41, as they call him, who will now give the GOP enough votes to hold a filibuster. It's no surprise that a new Gallup poll shows Congress at its lowest approval ratings in more than a year.

Only 18 percent of Americans approve of the way these clowns are doing their job. And that's down six points in just a month. Seventy-eight percent of us disapprove. Gallup suggests this is mostly due to a sharp decline in support among Democrats, down 15 points since last month. Democrats' approval of Congress, which jumped up once President Obama took office, is now at its lowest level since then.

Republican and Independent approval of Congress has already been below 20 percent for months. So here's the question. Is an 18 percent approval rating for Congress too high? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What did you say, Jack, the margin of error on that poll is?

CAFFERTY: I didn't say.

BLITZER: Because it could be a lot lower than 18 percent given the three or four points margin of error. Maybe it is too high 18 percent...

CAFFERTY: You're such a cynic.

BLITZER: I know. OK, Jack, thanks very much.

Here's a question for Jack and for a lot of other folks out there. What's next for Sarah Palin? Based on what she said you might say she's inched a step closer to deciding to run for president. Certainly many Tea Party activists are urging her to run. But what is her real appeal? Let's bring in our Brian Todd. We asked him to take a closer look at what happened over the weekend and look forward a little bit. BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The weekend was a microcosm, Wolf. Sarah Palin right now hitting on several messages that appeal to the Tea Party crowd -- she slams the Obama White House on its national security record, Wall Street bailouts, deficit spending. It all results in more buzz generated over Sarah Palin from speculation on her future to scrutiny over a very minute gesture.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Her referral to a scribbled note on her hand was a blip during her star turn at the Tea Party convention.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got to start reining in the spending. We have got to jump-start these energy projects.

TODD: But it's what's on Sarah Palin's mind, not her hand, that's now all the buzz, specifically over her future. Some among the mostly Independent Republicans at the Tea Party event chanted run, Sarah, run, feeding off her salvos against the Obama administration over the deficit, Wall Street bailouts and national security.

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On Christmas Day, the only thing that stopped this terrorist was blind luck and brave passengers. Really, it was a Christmas miracle. And that is not the way that the system is supposed to work.

(APPLAUSE)

TODD: Contacted by CNN, a Palin aide downplayed analysts' comments that she's become the de facto leader of the Tea Party movement, but Melinda Henneberger of PoliticsDaily.com believes Palin is exactly that.

(on camera): What is the message that Sarah Palin has that is so appealing to the Tea Party crowd?

MELINDA HENNEBERGER, POLITICSDAILY.COM: I'm not sure it's so much the message as the messenger. She herself is so appealing to that crowd and to a huge percentage of Republican voters, she is the outsider who has so much charisma.

TODD (voice-over): CNN political editor Mark Preston says the Tea Party movement could be responding to avoid at the top.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: The Republican Party is without a leader right now and it's a recipe for success for Sarah Palin to be throwing out these one-liners that is going to invigorate a Republican base that for the most part had been depressed for the past year.

TODD: Preston says Palin is still a polarizing figure and polls bear that out -- a recent CNN survey showing a 43 percent favorable rating for Palin, 46 percent unfavorable. Henneberger believes among those who favor her, there is something that goes beyond Palin's charisma. HENNEBERGER: In groups where I've seen her speak on the pro-life message that really resonates. And I know that when she was governor of Alaska, they were pretty surprised to hear that her national message was on social issues.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Now a Palin aide says it's her messages of limited government, strong national security and reduced spending that's hitting home at the moment, especially with the Tea Party crowd. The aide would not comment too deeply on questions about a presidential run in 2012, only repeating Palin's own remarks that she's not closing that door -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, lot of time between now and then...

TODD: Right, tons of time...

BLITZER: We'll see what happens. Thanks very much, Brian.

Michael Jackson's doctor enters a plea after being charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the pop star's death.

And Boeing tests its biggest jet yet, a stretch (ph) version of the Jumbo 747, this one will carry freight, but there are plans for a model that could carry you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa what else is going on?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Wolf. Well for the first time in three months, the Dow finished below 10,000 at 9,908. Investor concerns about the U.S. economic recovery and Europe's debt woes are thought to be to blame. The Nasdaq and S&P also finished the day down.

Michael Jackson's physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, is pleading not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter in the death of the pop star. Murray turned himself in just a few hours ago. Members of the Jackson family were on hand at the Los Angeles courthouse shortly after the charges were announced. A preliminary hearing is set for April 5th in Los Angeles.

And local authorities are apparently standing in the way of a federal investigation into what caused yesterday's deadly power plant explosion in Connecticut. Five people were killed in the blast and 12 injured. Middletown police aren't ruling out the possibility of criminal activity in the incident, so as a result they're refusing to allow the Chemical Safety Board onto the premises to investigate. That federal board issued recommendations last week calling for improved safety in national gas codes. And the test flight for Boeing's largest plane ever is underway. The Jumbo Jet 747 eight-freighter (ph) took off from Seattle today and is landing at this hour. It measures in at 250 feet in length, that's almost 20 feet longer than existing 747's. And Boeing plans to develop a passenger version of the plane that's more fuel efficient than current models. Wolf, I was just reading online they hope to have about 400 to 500 seats in the passenger version of that -- that plane, so pretty -- pretty good looking...

BLITZER: Yes, I love those 747's and I suspect one of them one day will be a new Air Force One, you know the Air Force One is basically a Boeing 747, so it is a Boeing 747 so they'll get a new one.

SYLVESTER: We'll see if that happens. At the very least, you know, lucky for those folks who got to take that first test run on that. That's a pretty cool thing to do.

BLITZER: Very cool indeed -- all right thanks for that, Lisa.

The Saints, they give their city the whole area a huge boost. I would say they give the whole country a huge boost. Who better to talk about their hometown's rebirth than New Orleans residents James Carville and Mary Matalin. They're standing by live. This is one topic not only they, but everyone can agree on.

And outer space, cyberspace, and the high seas, why the Pentagon says we may be fighting wars to defend those places one day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: I'm just guessing, but you've probably never seen partying like the partying that's taking place in New Orleans right now. Fans are cheering, crowds are gathering. The Saints go marching home after winning the Super Bowl.

Let's go straight to CNN's Ed Lavandera. He's on the streets of New Orleans joining us -- a lot of excitement there, although it looks relatively quiet at this early hour behind you.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well they're just getting warmed up here. The bands have already fired up here on Bourbon Street. And many people here are vowing to make this a week-long party in the city of New Orleans. As everyone knows, we're in the midst of Mardi Gras season heading into the most exciting part of that Mardi Gras season, but right now all of the attention are on the kings, the newly crowned kings of New Orleans, and that is the New Orleans Saints football team.

They arrived back here in New Orleans just a few hours ago. Thousands of people turned out at the airport to greet the team -- Sean Payton holding the Lombardi Super Bowl trophy outside of his car. At one point, he actually got up and was walking along a railing and letting fans touch the Lombardi Trophy as well, so you can imagine the excitement that is in the air here. And Wolf, all eyes preparing for this parade tomorrow afternoon. About this time tomorrow night, tens of thousands of people will descend on downtown New Orleans for the parade as well, so they'll be getting ready for this...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

LAVANDERA: All right, hold on, sweetheart. And Wolf, the newspaper here in town today the headlines said, "Amen". That was the headline screaming from "The New Orleans Times Picayune" and so many people want this newspaper that they have had a run on it, they've gone -- they've gone out -- they've run out of the newspaper, they will continue to print into tomorrow, we understand, from the newspaper. People have been flocking the newspaper offices trying to get a hold of that precious newspaper.

In fact we've heard some people have been buying copies of it for $10, so you imagine the newspaper industry, they love to hear that kind of news. And Wolf, to get a sense of how intense the fascination and the love affair is with the New Orleans Saints in this town, eight out of 10 television sets in the city of New Orleans yesterday were tuned in to the Super Bowl -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I'm not surprised. I think everybody was watching the Super Bowl. Ed's going to be helping us with our coverage tomorrow. We'll have live coverage during THE SITUATION ROOM. That's coming up tomorrow.

Let's bring in two huge New Orleans Saints fans. Our CNN political contributors, the Democratic strategist James Carville and the Republican strategist Mary Matalin. You don't agree on a lot of politics, but you do agree on this. James, first to you. I know Mary's originally from Chicago, but not you. What was it like when New Orleans won, when you finally realized that you won the Super Bowl?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, so much emotion that was built up, and it was like emotion during the game, watching the game. When Tracy Porter picked off that pick six, with 3 something left to go in the game, it looked pretty good. The Colts got down in the end zone, and my catastrophe syndrome started kicking in. I thought, they're going to kick something in. It dawned on me we stopped them. I didn't realize it was like that, it was fourth down and the ball was going to turn over. And when it did, I literally sat town and had to take a deep breath. Everybody was screaming because we were going down the field for the trophy presentation. It's a good thing I had something to do, because I was about to faint I was so nervous.

BLITZER: I believe it. Mary, what was it like for you? Did you really believe it, that New Orleans, which had never been to a super bowl before, was all of a sudden going to win a super bowl?

MARY MATALIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, it wasn't -- yes, I had faith. We were sitting with a couple of sisters. And they predicted there was going to be an interception. They were faithful during the whole game.

BLITZER: When you say sisters --

MATALIN: Nuns.

BLITZER: You mean nuns?

MATALIN: Yes. So I was sitting with the calm and faithful people. And he was on the -- it wasn't just that they won it, it was the way this won it. It was the most thrilling game of any sports fan that would love it. But for the city, and for the country, I heard you saying earlier, Wolf, you're right; America needs that narrative right now, redemption and rebuilding and cheerful defiance to adversity. It's just captured -- it captured the nation. I got e- mails from all around the world, not just -- and all around the country. It's a good feeling.

BLITZER: Because it's way beyond sports. For New Orleans, for Louisiana, James, for the whole gulf coast, for this to happen.

CARVILLE: It is. And because also many remarkable things that are going on. Just as football went into the whole Super Bowl thing is just magnificent for any city to experience. In particular, this one. But, you know, we had a really historic election here in New Orleans on Saturday night, where our new mayor ran across every kind of racial ethnic neighborhood line you can. Racked up 66% of the vote. We had whites voting for blacks, blacks voting for whites. Unbelievable unity in our political system here, our school system, test scores up 24%. We're building a new $1.2 billion hospital. Our political system has been really reformed, our levees are stronger. Real progress is being made here. And we're ready for the attention we're going to get as a result of this magnificent football team we have here.

MATALIN: And we're having fun while we're doing all of this.

CARVILLE: Yeah. And look at the French quarter last night, people down here wearing hats and shirts.

BLITZER: I hope both of you are going to be with us tomorrow. We're going to cover this par rid, live coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Give us a little preview, Mary. I know you're involved in community events. Both of you are involved in getting ready to host the super bowl in New Orleans, what, in 2013. Is that when it's coming to New Orleans, Mary?

MATALIN: Yes, 2013. The whole community is involved in community events. This football team, they walked the walk. They -- they're rebuilding homes. They're in the school. They go to all the restaurants. They support everything. They live here. They live here just as John -- you've had Josh Besh food. It's delicious. People here love it and want to live here. This team wants to live here. And everybody here wants to live here. Rebuilding the community is really a labor of love. And it's fun. It's just fun. It's just unique. All our friends say come down. They couldn't figure out why we moved until they come down there and say, it's paradise. It's incredible.

BLITZER: It was really amazing, a lot of us were surprised, James and Mary, those of us who have known you for a long time, you both had established a life in Washington, D.C. over the years, you and your sweet girls. You were living here. Then about a year and a half, two years ago, you tell all your friends, you know what? We're leaving, we're moving back to New Orleans. James, walk us through why you did that, and what this special event now means.

CARVILLE: Well, you know, we got married in New Orleans. Mary loved New Orleans before she even met me. And when we got married, I've always loved this city. I've lived down here on any number of occasions, prior to moving to Washington. And when Katrina happened, I just -- it really affected me in a very, very deep way. I just wanted to get back and help. And sometimes in late 2007, I started talking to Mary about it. And she was pretty enthusiastic about it from the get-go. And we just felt like there were things going on here that we wanted to be a part of.

We liked Washington. We still have our place there. We're not one of these people that, you know, can't -- both of us, you know, fought long and hard to get to Washington in our careers. But we're just very, very motivated and very moved to be a part of this community, and a part of what's going on here. We've seen so much happen in the time we've moved here. I'll never forget, it was a day that Tim Russert died. It was June of 2008 was our first night here. Obviously we decided to move here considerably longer than that. The children are adjusting. This Super Bowl, trust me, you would know this, Wolf, as big a sports fan as you are, this is really fun and this is really something that people are never going to forget.

BLITZER: You know what, it was a great game. We're so happy for all of the Saints fans. We're so happy for the entire area. You know that I predicted the Saints would win. You know that, right?

MATALIN: You're a softie. But going forward, Wolf, we'll have a lot of time to talk about this. Mitch Landrieu being the mayor here, elected the way he was, with the remarkable percentage of vote. Astounding biracial unity. His vision and his experience, he knows what to do, he knows how to do it. This is going to be quite a political reform model for the rest of the country. As is the state. We have a great governor, Bobby Jindal. And a reformed mayor. We're going to have a lot of good politics coming out of here.

CARVILLE: This will shock you, but we were for Mitch Landrieu. If you hadn't figured that out yet.

BLITZER: I think we figured that out, guys. You'll be with us tomorrow when we have live coverage of the parade.

CARVILLE: You're a sports fan, so you know what it means.

BLITZER: I suffered through four Buffalo Bills Super Bowl appearances. I know exactly what you mean. I wish I would have known, appreciated what you're going through right now.

CARVILLE: On that Ralph Williams -- like granddaughter or something. Very influential team. She was up in the suite for the game. Very outstanding young woman, too. I think she'll do great.

BLITZER: The Bills are coming back. I can tell you that. One of these days they will. Appreciate it.

A powerful Congressman dies. We have new startling information on what caused John Murtha's death. A look at his enormous influence in the area of national security. That's coming up.

Another dangerous snowstorm heading right here toward Washington, D.C. again.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're just getting new information about the death of Congressman John Murtha. Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us on the phone. What are you learning?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're learning that this complication, this is how it specifically happened. The Congressman went in for gallbladder surgery, and a source close to the late Congressman said that they hit his intestines. They hit his intestines. Two days later he was brought back to another hospital where had went into intensive care and, of course, he died today. We're being told that the Congressman's intestines were hit. Or to use another word, were nicked, which can cause an infection and death.

BLITZER: Relatively routine gallbladder surgery and all of a sudden you die from it.

COHEN: Right. That's why we were very surprised when he died after a routine laparoscopic procedure. People usually don't die when they get their gallbladders removed. But if the intestines are nicked, they can die.

BLITZER: Sad story. Thanks very much, Elizabeth, for that update. Men Americans certainly came to know Congressman Murtha, when the Vietnam War veteran changed his mind about the Iraq war and became a vocal opponent.

Let's bring in our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, and senior political analyst Gloria Borger. That speech back in November of 2005, Candy, it really shocked a lot of people, because he was Mr. Gung-ho, pro-war, all of the years. And then all of a sudden he came out with this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN MURTHA: The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It's a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of the members of Congress. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq. But it's time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That was quite a stunning moment as a lot of us recall. He became one of the most outspoken opponents of the war in Iraq. CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the first and one of the most outspoken. At least in terms of where he was to begin with, which was very supportive. A couple of things about that moment, it really changed the temperature in Washington, as far as heating up the anti-war -- outspoken anti-war people on Capitol Hill. But there was also the feeling that Jack Murtha, because he was so close to the pentagon, and so many higher-ups in the pentagon, that he was doing this for the pentagon. That he had not just channeled, but had spoken to them about it. And that in some way, that was their opinion that they couldn't say that publicly.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He was known around Capitol Hill as Captain Jack. He was so close to the generals. He was so close to the boots on the ground. After Abu Ghraib, he was very concerned about the strains on the military, feeling that this was just taking too much of a toll. And so when he came out, it was very clear, as candy said, that it was not just some sort of knee-jerk anti-war person, but really somebody who was representing more than himself in this decision. And it really created --

BLITZER: It was a corner turned.

BORGER: Oh, absolutely. And I remember him as a younger guy when he used to give Tip O'Neill all kinds of problems. This was an independent thinker who came to Congress as a Watergate baby. And was going to speak his mind.

BLITZER: I remember even when I was a pentagon correspondent, in the early 1990s, you mentioned his name over at the pentagon, they would be -- he was in charge of appropriations. They thought he was their biggest ally.

CROWLEY: Yes. And I love the word revered on Capitol Hill. Because he was revered, but he was also feared at some level, precisely for what Gloria's talking about, is that he was a very conservative Democrat, and he knew how to wield power. And he could wield power in either direction. For you or against you, regardless of power. So they respected him at the pentagon. They thought that they had a voice in him. And they knew on Capitol Hill that he understood the system and could wield power.

BORGER: After he came out against the war, he became a very big Republican target. You know, it's not clear he would have won re- election.

CROWLEY: He also had ethical problems people were looking into. It was a rough road ahead for him.

BLITZER: Congressman Murtha won his seat back in 1974, became the first Vietnam War combat veteran ever elected to the U.S. Congress. He died today at the age of 77.

Also, Jack Cafferty coming up.

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BLITZER: Lisa's monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Lisa, what else is going on?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Wolf. Well, a preliminary date has been set for the army's equivalent of a grand jury hearing in the November massacre at the Ft. Hood military post. The army announced that the article 32 hearing will tentatively begin on March 1st. The suspect, army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan is charged with 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of premeditated attempted murder.

Iran informed the IAEA in a letter that it will begin enriching uranium to 20%. That's the threshold for producing a nuclear reaction. The United States has accused Iran of trying to create nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian energy program. Iran insists its activities are for civilian purposes only.

The space shuttle "Endeavour" is on its way to the international space station at this hour. Only five shuttle launches remain before NASA ends that program in 2011. Hard to believe only five left, Wolf.

BLITZER: Still a spectacular sight, no matter what time of the day they do it. Lisa, thank you.

Jack Cafferty wants to know, are the low marks America gives Congress still too high? Jack and your email when we come back.

And a look at how future wars may be fought.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Millions of people are digging out from a weekend storm that dumped more than two feet of snow in Washington and elsewhere. There's more snow on the way. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for tomorrow predicting another 10 to 20 inches. That's a lot of snow. Let's go to Jack for the Cafferty File. Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The upside of all the snow is it keeps the government shut down, right?

BLITZER: For a couple days.

CAFFERTY: Didn't they take the day off?

BLITZER: Tomorrow, too.

CAFFERTY: Good. They can't hurt us when they're not here. The question at this hour is an 18% approval rating for Congress too high?

Bob in Kansas City, Missouri, where I used to work and live, "No, 18 percent is about right. They do some good deeds when it's to the benefit of the rich and corporations. Now if we can manage to replace all of them in the next several elections things will improve."

John writes, "It's incredibly high. It hasn't mattered which party is in the majority for at least the past four administrations. Except for irrelevant differences, our great nation just keeps marching towards destruction."

Ruth in North Carolina says, "When it comes to an appropriate approval rating for Congress, anything that doesn't include a well charged cattle prod operated by a citizen assigned to each elected official is too high. They need to be prodded every time they fail to listen. I'm sure there would be plenty of volunteers to remind the members of Congress that work for us."

Pamela writes, "Want to improve your rating Congress? Try abrogating free trade, putting tariffs back on goods and services, and bring all our American jobs that have been off shored back home."

Linda in Arizona, "Who are these mythical 18 percent who approve? I'd like to hear them defend their position."

Simon in Orlando, "I'm shocked that 18 percent of the population is idiotic enough to think that there is anything but self interest and incompetence running rampant through Congress."

Annie writes, "It's too high by about 17.5 percent."

And Moby in Detroit says, "I have a hard time believing that one out of five people still approve of what Congress has been doing. I guess there are more lobbyists out there than I thought."

If you want to read more on this, you can go to my blog CNN.com/Caffertyfile. No one that I read defending these morons, no one.

BLITZER: Thanks very much. See you tomorrow. A redefining national defense. Could outer space and cyberspace become new battlefields for the military?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's get a preview to see what's coming up at the top of the hour from Campbell.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, Wolf, we're following tonight's breaking news. Toyota as you mentioned earlier getting set to announce another huge recall. This time it's the 2010 Prius Hybrids. Also, we have a CNN special investigation into Toyotas other big recall. Experts telling us that Toyota may actually have no idea what's really going on with its sticking gas pedals. We have all that and a lot more at the top of the hour.

BLITZER: See you then Campbell Brown. Thank you very much.

Battlefields of the future may look very different than those of today. Let's bring in our pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Militaries around the world are redefining what national defense needs to be to deal with threats most people haven't thought of. Where will the world fight in the future? The pentagon says potentially in the global commons, three areas entirely ungoverned. Outer space, the open seas, cyberspace. Even the north and south poles, all areas that China and western governments are eyeing strategically.

DAVID FINKELSTEIN, CENTER FOR NAVAL ANALYSIS: Since both of our militaries are going to be using those global commons, strategic theorists start talking about how those global commons become potentially new battle spaces.

LAWRENCE: Actually, China analyst David Finkelstein says Washington, London and Beijing have less to fear from each other than independent borderless threats like the Somali pirates who hijacked multi national shipping lanes.

FINKELSTEIN: This is why failed states have to be watched.

LAWRENCE: For years the U.S. and other nations kept outer space off limits.

MAREN LEED, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Space shouldn't be weaponized and an area for combat. The fact of the matter is it's a vulnerability.

LAWRENCE: Nobody is predicting the conflict seen in the film "Avatar" but this defense analyst says as satellites become more crucial to national security and daily he life, they become targets. How do nations deal with the threat when they can't tell where it came from? In other words, like a rocket or missile, attacks in cyberspace challenge the ideas of assigning blame or retaliation.

LEED: Where is the national border in cyberspace? What do you do if it's a teenager in London?

LAWRENCE: The pentagon is calling for greater cyber expertise.

LEED: They still have a long way to see, but the rest of the government is even further behind.

LAWRENCE: Leed says right now most governments can't define a cyber attack. Was that security breach just a probe or intrusion? While they're trying to figure it out, weapons systems and key industries like finance and transportation may not be safe from attack.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Remember, you can follow what's going on behind the scenes in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm on twitter. Remember tomorrow here in THE SITUATION ROOM we'll have live coverage of the huge parade taking place in New Orleans following the Saints win in the Super Bowl. Mary Matalin, James Carville, Donna Brazile, they'll all be with us. Our live coverage tomorrow 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Eastern, plus all of the other news. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room." Up next, Campbell Brown.