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THE SITUATION ROOM

Middle of a Blizzard; Powerless in D.C.; Winter Storms; Iran on the Brink; Quake Victims; Government Shutdown; Unemployment Racial Divide; Warm Embrace Political Kiss of Death?; New York Governor Faces Rumors Again; Charlie Wilson Dead at 76

Aired February 10, 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: And happening now, the blizzard of 2010, breaking records, stopping millions of people in their tracks. We're bringing you the best and the worst of this monster snowstorm and what we can expect in the immediate hours and days ahead.

Plus, Iran's new revolution. The nation is on the brink of a symbolic anniversary. This hour, fears of new confrontations on the streets.

And the governor of New York declares he is quote, "black, blind and still alive". It's a new attempt by David Paterson to fight what he calls sleazy rumors.

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

If you're somewhere along the snowbound East Coast of the United States right now you know that getting from here to there is very difficult and in some cases impossible. A blizzard warning here in Washington, D.C., is expiring right now. But at one point earlier in the day the snow was falling at a rate of two inches every hour.

Thousands upon thousands of air travelers all across the United States have had flights canceled because of the storm. Roads, very treacherous right now. Many people can't even get out of their homes. Businesses as usual have come to a cold and grinding halt.

Our WTAE affiliate reporter Sheldon Ingram is joining us now from Pittsburgh. Sheldon tell us what you are seeing right now in Pittsburgh.

SHELDON INGRAM, WTAE REPORTER: Well, good evening to you, Wolf. The snow is starting to come down now. And we should first tell you that Pittsburgh and Allegheny County are still under a state of emergency that has been in effect since Saturday and will remain in effect for seven days. I want to give you an idea of what we're dealing with here in Pittsburgh.

As you see, the streets are snow covered. This is actually as good as it's been all week long. The Pittsburgh region with hit with two storms in the span of four days and combined, the two storms dumped roughly 30 inches of snow in the Pittsburgh area. As a result, the region suffered four weather related deaths.

In one case, it was a grandfather and a granddaughter who died of carbon monoxide poisoning because of a generator inside the house. Also the two storms knocked out power to roughly 150,000 homes and businesses in the region and even at this hour, roughly 30,000 homes and businesses are still without power.

And the National Guard was called in on Monday as much of the city was paralyzed for a few days to allow emergency crews to gain access to the major road ways. All in all, this is the worst storm that has hit the Pittsburgh area since the troubled blizzard of '93 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sheldon Ingram from our affiliate WTAE in Pittsburgh. Stay warm -- try to stay warm, Sheldon.

Let's go to CNN's Kate Bolduan right now. She's on the national mall here in Washington, D.C. Kate, it's quieting down a little bit but it's still bitter cold, right?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Still bitter cold, and you can probably see and hear the wind. The winds, Wolf, are fierce at times. The snow, well it's everywhere. It's here. But as you mentioned, it is tapering off a little bit.

Just a point of reference, you can see the Washington Monument there. When it is white-out conditions like it was earlier today, you could not see it at all. So you see that the snow is tapering off but that by means that this thing -- means this thing is over because it is still bitterly cold and windy.

And a big problem as a result of that is power. Pepco (ph) the utility company has been out trying to get power back online. Hit number one for residents, the storm over the weekend. Hit number two, what we are experiencing now and for some, it's been turning into a dire situation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything that we have right now is depending on this generator.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): One hundred and eighty people live in Victory Forest (ph), a senior living facility in Silver Spring, Maryland. Living with no power except emergency lighting and elevator service.

FELICIA WHITE, BUILDING ENGINEER, VICTORY FOREST: It means no heat. It means not be able to recharge medical equipment.

BOLDUAN: Building engineer Felicia White is trying to keep all the residents comfortable, warm and in some cases alive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For some of these people it seems like it could become a dire situation if something doesn't happen soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes and that is our biggest concern is that someone like Mr. (INAUDIBLE) won't be able to get his treatment. I'm trying to keep a check on everybody that (INAUDIBLE) here.

BOLDUAN: Thousands of people remain without power in the region, but it's been slow going for Pepco, the area utility company as crews battle winds gusting nearly 40 miles an hour.

(on camera): This is one of the Pepco crews out trying to get the power back on in places throughout the D.C. metro region. Back here there are five houses -- we knocked on all doors. No one is there. We had to snow shoe in because the snow is so deep in some places. Talked to Pepco, they think these houses have probably been without power since Friday and if you have the means, you wanted to get out before this next one blew in.

(voice-over): Residents in neighborhoods like this one in Kensington (ph), Maryland are facing nearly impassable roads as plows focus on the major thoroughfares.

JOHN TRESTINI, KENSINGTON, MARYLAND RESIDENT: We just have wicked cabin fever so we've been wanting to get out and so we had a good excuse to get out to the grocery store.

BOLDUAN: Back at Victory Forest seniors are hoping and praying they don't need to get out.

DORIS TYSON, VICTORY HOUSE RESIDENT: There is too much snow out there to go to the hospital.

BOLDUAN (on camera): You are just trying to be careful so that doesn't have to happen.

TYSON: That's right. Keeping my pressure at a certain point, keep quiet and just take what comes. That's all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Now Wolf, we contacted the utility company after we left that senior living facility just to make sure that they knew that they were without power. The good news late this evening, we did get a call, the power has been restored in that senior living facility. And I know that all of those residents are very happy about that because it was a very troubling situation when we were there earlier today.

BLITZER: Yes, that loss of power is devastating in these kinds of bitterly cold situations. Kate, thanks very much. Kate Bolduan is on in the National Mall.

Let's go to our meteorologist, our severe weather expert Chad Myers. Take us back, ahead what is going on?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well the snow is tapering off for D.C. and Baltimore as well, but boy I'll tell you what, Baltimore now 15 inches of snow on the ground. In some spots, even higher numbers than that. Still snowing in D.C. and New York and all the way up even into Boston. But New York, all the way up even into Long Island, that is where it's going to continue to snow all night.

Even into Philadelphia, snowing all night long, so what does that mean? That means we are still going to pile up some snow, especially in the Berkshires over a foot deep, still to come yet. Everywhere else where you see this light purple, that's about four to six inches before it finally stops.

Look at some of these winters -- look at some of these numbers here from Eldersburg (ph) and Ortana (ph) and Jefferson, over two feet of snow already and in many spots, Wolf, it is still snowing. Let's focus on Baltimore for just a moment, Baltimore, a lot of flat roof houses.

If you take 40 inches of snow, which is basically what they have had over the past two storms, and you put it on top of a 1,500 square foot flat roof, that's about four inches of water times 1,500 square feet, Wolf that is 30,000 pounds of weight above you on your roof. Already 22 collapses of homes in D.C. and still more could come. You start hearing that plaster crack or your home moving, time to get out -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Look at this picture behind me. That is Buffalo, New York, Chad, in 1977, the video, some of us remember that blizzard in Buffalo. I'm sure you do.

MYERS: Yes.

BLITZER: Compare that, what happened in '77 in Buffalo with what is happening now.

MYERS: Well, the winds were stronger in the Buffalo storm. And the winds piled up snow eight to 10 feet deep. I don't have any reports like that happening right now. What happened in Buffalo was actually it was so much snow, all of the doors were snowed shut. You literally couldn't get out of your home because you couldn't open up your screen door. It was all the way to the roof. And what we did, opened up the garage door, let the snow fall in and then shoveled out from there, in fact, shoveled in, in some spots just to try to get a path to the road -- crazy.

BLITZER: Crazy times right now as well. Who would have thought Washington, D.C. --

MYERS: Yes.

BLITZER: -- and other spots would suffer from this kind of blizzard. Thanks Chad.

MYERS: Sure.

BLITZER: Speak out against the government and you might be executed. That's the possible punishment in Iran. Anti government activists have already been executed, but is death a deterrent for other activists planning to protest a major government anniversary tomorrow? They are planning to protest the government.

They have lost their homes, so now they are making homes out of cardboard, tin, bed sheets, whatever they can, makeshift cities are popping up across Port-au-Prince. CNN's Anderson Cooper is standing by. And holy smokes, why would someone try to smuggle drugs using Jesus?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Now Thursday in Iran. The 31st anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Republic and members of the opposition are reporting a government crackdown with arrests and an information blockade. CNN's Ivan Watson is manning our Iran desk this hour. Ivan what are you picking up?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, the government has said they will absolutely not tolerate any opposition protests, but take a moment to listen to this cry of defiance coming from the roof tops of Tehran.

(SHOUTING)

WATSON: Wolf, that's the cry of (INAUDIBLE) God is great. And that has been a recurring theme we have seen for the past eight months from the opposition moment, the so-called green movement which has refused to die as it has challenged the legitimacy of the Iranian government despite the arrests of thousands of people, despite the execution of two opposition activists by hanging two weeks ago and despite the fact that another opposition activist was sentenced to death yesterday for being accused of seeking to subvert to overthrow the government.

Now we see that the Iranian government does not want these symbols of defiance to come out right now. There is a virtual information blockade on anything not related to the strictly controlled media, Wolf, so what we have seen is in some neighborhoods satellite television signals being scrambled. We've seen the Internet slowed down dramatically and reports that even G-mail has been blocked. And we checked with a Google spokesperson, he said quote, "we can confirm a sharp drop of traffic in Iran." Quote, "We strongly believe that people everywhere should have the ability to communicate freely online. Sadly, sometimes it is not within our control" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So based on everything we are seeing and hearing, Ivan, how worried is the Ahmadinejad government about these protests?

WATSON: I think they are very worried right now. We have seen new measures never seen before to try to control the crowds tomorrow in what is supposed to be a state sponsored march through the streets of Tehran. Let's take a look at who we are dealing with right now in the so-called green movement.

It is led by Mir Hossain Moussavi (ph). That is a former prime minister. Mehdi Kararube (ph). He is a former speaker of the Iranian parliament, and Mohamed Khatami (ph), a former president. These are all former high ranking people who are the nominal leaders of the green movement. And they are the ones who are pushing, calling for people to come out into the streets on Thursday in Tehran -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We will watch it very, very closely with you, Ivan. Thanks very much.

Let's go to Haiti right now. With much of the capital lying in ruins, many survivors of last month's earthquake are now living in tent cities. CNN's Anderson Cooper takes us inside. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): For the homeless, the hungry, tent cities offer the only refuge.

(on camera): It's estimated there more than 450,000 homeless people living in makeshift settlements all throughout the city of Port-au- Prince. This is one of them in the -- in a park very close to the presidential palace, right in the downtown part of the city. As you can see, it's become really like a mini-city within the larger city of Port-au-Prince.

(voice-over): The camps are filled with kids. Schools are shut and there is little for them to do. People here are constantly working. Washing and cleaning whatever they have. Building new structures to live in.

(on camera): The structures in these settlements have become much more permanent. Initially people were just using you know a bed sheet to block out the sun, to try to give themselves some shade. But now people have started to scavenge pieces of wood like this. They're building frames, as you can see, right over there. And then on those frames, they will use particle board or in some cases corrugated tin like this to build walls.

(voice-over): At night in some places, there are a few street lights but most people live in darkness.

(MUSIC AND SINGING)

COOPER: Someone has brought a truck with speakers and plays religious music to lift people's spirits.

(on camera): These makeshift encampments take on a whole different character at night. There is electricity in some areas. Like here you can see actually street lights are working, so the city has actually got electricity going. People have sort of set up some businesses around -- around the lights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

COOPER: No, I'm OK, thank you. A lot of people try to offer themselves up as translators. People are just looking for work wherever they can. Here are some folks selling jewelry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

COOPER: Good, how are you doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm very happy to see you.

COOPER: Yes, thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

COOPER: Thank you. Thank you. A couple of people have been drinking a little bit, you can tell. But at night, a lot of people who spent the day out scavenging for food or for water or for any kind of employment, they come back here. This is where they're sleeping at night, so really takes on a whole new character.

Individuals and families get together and try to sell what they can. Little mini-restaurants have sprouted up. People basically find a table and put together whatever they can. Here they are actually making juice. Well gee they are using papaya.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like this one is selling (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: They're selling spaghetti over here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Spaghetti and juice here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, right there is the juice.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Family cooking some plantains to sell. It's become almost a cliche to talk about the strength and resilience of the Haitian people, but some cliches are true and Haitian people have suffered for generations through many governments and through corruption. They've survived an awful lot and what you see here on the streets on any given night is survival.

(voice-over): Every day, every night is a struggle, and not every one will make it through. We found this young woman burning with fever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need the help to go in hospital, you know.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's very, very, very sick.

COOPER (on camera): Very sick (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's supposed to see a doctor to see exactly what she has.

COOPER: What's wrong (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

COOPER: You come across people who are sick and ill and in any other place, would be under a doctor's care. But here, even now, it's hard to get to see a doctor. If you don't have something -- an acute emergency, getting to see a doctor for primary care, for pain management or something it's not that easy.

(voice-over): A medic tells us the woman likely has a bad infection and could die if not treated. We stop filming and arrange for her to get taken to a hospital. This is life in the new Port-au-Prince. Even now it seems the specter of death is never far away. Anderson Cooper, CNN, Port-au-Prince.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Anderson and Dr. Sanjay Gupta they're going to have a lot more from Haiti coming up later tonight, "AC 360" 10:00 p.m. Eastern. They are there on the scene for all of us.

A respected hurricane researcher fired. Is it because of whom he criticized for the Katrina disaster that devastated New Orleans?

Plus, unemployment and an astonishing racial divide. It's a crisis that has President Obama huddling with African-American leaders.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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: Hey there Wolf. Well a fired hurricane researcher is suing Louisiana State University. Ivor Van Frueden (ph) led the investigation into why New Orleans levees failed during Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. He says the university pushed him out because he was too critical of the Army Corps of Engineer, which he says is an important source of funding for LSU. The university's chancellor says he reviewed the issue and is quote "confident that the process was handled appropriately."

And a shooting at an elementary school in Knoxville Tennessee, where police say the principal and assistant principal were shot and wounded. Officials say they've both been treated and have a quote "good chance of surviving." They say a school employee is now in custody as the only suspect. Most of the students had gone home for the day at the time of that shooting.

And NASA is postponing the launch of a rocket carrying a solar observatory. The launch which has been delayed three times now because of windy conditions in Florida is now scheduled for tomorrow. NASA says the first of its kind observatory will study the sun in greater detail than every before. And among the other things it will look at the sun's role in space weather events like solar flares.

And a drug bust involving Jesus, yes that's right. Officials at the El Paso, Texas border crossing they caught a woman yesterday transporting marijuana hidden inside framed pictures of Jesus. They say they found a total of 30 pounds of marijuana in three pictures. Now the port director says that this is actually becoming common for smugglers where they use religious objects, children, even senior citizens to try to get drugs into the country. Makes you wonder Wolf what is this world coming to?

BLITZER: Yes, well you know those dogs they can sniff it out. It doesn't make any difference what they are hiding the marijuana in but a lot of times they can find it. All right, Lisa, thank you.

The snowstorm that has been pounding the Northeast is bringing Capitol Hill to a standstill. Congressional hearings, key negotiations all on hold. We will have a live report from an eerily quite Capitol.

Plus a college student says officials at a Philadelphia airport mistreated him all because he had Arabic flash cards. Now he's taking his case to court.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Right now, the government of the largest super power in the world, largely closed for business, the reason, snow lots of it. And it's not just an inconvenience, it's putting a lot of congressional business on hold. Let's bring in our congressional correspondent Brianna Keilar -- Brianna, you're up on Capitol Hill, not much activity today, huh?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, Wolf. As you know, many people, critics all of them say Congress doesn't get a whole lot accomplished even when all of the lawmakers are in town, but this snowstorm has certainly shut down Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(SOUNDS)

KEILAR: This is so unusual. I feel like one of the very few souls that is even here on Capitol Hill. This, for instance, would on a normal week day be a very busy entrance to one of the House office buildings. And the entire Capitol Complex is home not just to the more than 500 members of Congress, but the thousands of employees who work here.

But look outside, you see all of the snow, and because of this storm, it's virtually a ghost town. This was going to be where the headline of the day came from, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the House. This is where the Toyota recall hearing was going to be, but it's been canceled.

The hearing room is closed. And today we will not hear from the CEO of Toyota U.S. or from Ray LaHood, the Secretary of Transportation. And here we outside of the House Chamber where we were expecting to see a vote this week on a measure the Democrats say would increase competition in the health insurance industry.

Obviously that's not going to happen and it could be about two weeks before we see votes (INAUDIBLE) the House or the Senate because both chambers are in recess next week. One of the things that's on hold right now is negotiations in the Senate on a jobs Bill. In fact Senator Hatch is one of the senators who's been really involved in that.

(voice-over): The Republican Senator's office was shuttered be we did find his spokeswoman at work.

(on camera): What you are doing here?

ANTONIA FERRIER, SENATE STAFFER: Number one, there is important work that I need to do on behalf of my boss, Senator Hatch. Number two, I was honestly getting a little bit stir crazy.

KEILAR (voice-over): Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer lives near the Capitol and drove in before the snow picked up.

(on camera): Hi Senator.

SEN CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Hi, nice to see you.

KEILAR: Nice to see you.

SCHUMER: Pleasure.

KEILAR: One of the things that you've been working on is the jobs bill.

SCHUMER: Right, I've been spending a lot of time this morning on that.

KEILAR: Is it -- is it -- is it sort of a setback to have a day off like this or does it actually kind of give you a little breathing room and some time to work on it?

SCHUMER: Well it's both. You can't move things forward legislatively because obviously there are no debates on the floor. But the overall bill has probably changed a little bit today and probably for the better. And it may be because we had a lot of time to sort of talk and catch up with people.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Senator Schumer was one of really just a handful of lawmakers who were here on Capitol Hill today. And while the House is out for the rest of the week and next week of course as well, the Senate is actually scheduled to be in tomorrow, Wolf, but no votes.

BLITZER: We'll watch it with you. Brianna thanks very much. Brianna Keilar up on Capitol Hill.

Despite the bad weather, lots of snow, President Obama did meet with African-American leaders over at the White House today for an urban economy summit. That's what it was called. One of the top issues, the astounding racial divide in unemployment. While the overall national rate dipped to single digits last month, the jobless rate for African-Americans is soaring. CNN's Lisa Sylvester is here with the raw numbers. Lisa, what's going on?

SYLVESTER: Well Wolf, this is a story that you can really tell by taking a look at the numbers. And I want to show you this. First, the unemployment rate for the nation is 9.7 percent. When you take and break it down racially, let's take a look. We want to bring up whites. Here it is three years ago 2008, 4.4 percent. January, 2010 last night, 8.7 percent. That's bad. But not as bad as Latinos. Take a look. 6.4 percent in January 2008. Now at 12.6 percent. But when you take a look at African Americans, and this is what is so telling here, they started off at 9.2 percent in 2008. And now it's at 16.5 percent as of January. And this is the disparity people are talking about. We are going to leave that up there now. And take a look at whites and African-Americans side by side. 16.5 percent, 8.7 PRN. Nearly twice as high for African-Americans and that is why there is concern in the black community.

BLITZER: That's why the president had the meeting at the white house today. Lisa, thanks very much.

The vice president Joe Biden spoke about the key issue of jobs in an interview with our Larry King. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: You optimistic about a jobs bill?

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: I am. I think the job bill will be less than what is needed but it will be very helpful. I think the house already passed a jobs bill. I think the Senate will pass a jobs bill. And Larry, look, by the spring people are going to have more confidence in the policies we put in place. I think we're going see it's not going to be 7 million jobs in the next six months but you are going move from we lost 20,000 jobs last month, to -- I'm making a number up, 50,000 or 12,000 and then 100.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The vice president also discussed the issue of terrorism with Larry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Last week on terrorism, the heads of the major U.S. intelligence agencies told Dianne Feinstein that an attack is coming certainly in the next few months. What do you make of that?

BIDEN: Let me put it this way. The idea of there being a massive attack in the United States like 9/11 is unlikely in my view. But if you see what is happening with al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula, they have moved to frightening attacks.

KING: Detroit.

BIDEN: What you are seeing is a concern to us. Is you will see the concern relates to somebody like a shoe bomber, the Christmas attack, or someone just strapping a backpack on them with explosives that are indigenous and blowing up walking --

KING: That is going to happen?

BIDEN: Well, I think there will be attempts. I have been really impressed. I have been you there eight presidents. I was chairman of the foreign relations committee. I have been really impressed with the success we had building on the last administration and dealing with these.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Larry's full interview airs later tonight 9 p.m. eastern on "LARRY KING LIVE" here on CNN.

A college student raises red flags for carrying Arabic flash cards at an airport. Now he is claiming he was mistreated by authorities and he is taking the case to court. Stand by.

A simple hug with President Obama gets complicated for Florida's governor Charlie Crist. His support of the president's stimulus plan is now being used as political ammunition by the guy who wants his job. And a blizzard in the northeast, material for the late night talk shows. A chilling look at the latest jokes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

What else is going on Lisa?

SYLVESTER: Hi again Wolf. Iraq is ordering former Blackwater employees to leave the country within the next week. This follows a January declaration that those who worked for the military contractor are no longer welcome there. Iraqis were outraged at Blackwater after they were involved in a shooting in Baghdad that left 17 civilians dead.

A California college student studying Arabic said he was wrongly detained, almost five hours, at the Philadelphia airport. He said he was handcuffed and abusively interrogated last summer after they found Arabic flash cards. He's now suing the Transportation Security Administration. The Philadelphia police department and the FBI, all three agencies aren't commenting.

And Google says that it will start testing a super fast broadband network. More than 100 times faster than a traditional broadband speed. It will allow customers to download a full length high definition movie in less than five minutes. They can build the network and consumer can go out and choose their own service provider. No word yet on when this test network might be up and running.

A little good news for Toyota. A new study out shows the Japanese auto maker actually gets fewer customer complaints per car than most of its competitors. Edmunds.com looked at more than 200,000 complaints over the decade and found Toyota ranked 17 out of 20 car makers. It comes as Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide including the Prius hybrids. Wolf?

BLITZER: Lots of cars being recalled. Thanks, don't go away.

Also today by the way, a new alert for Honda owners. The carmaker is expanding a recall to replace hazardous air bag inflaters. Almost doubling the number of vehicles affected worldwide to more than 950,000. It includes 2001 and 2002 Accords, Civics, Odysseys and CRVs and selected 2002 Acura TLs.

Florida's Republican governor haunted by a hug. Could his embrace of President Obama cost him his Senate nomination. And rumors raining down on the New York governor. Now he is fighting back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Could this warm embrace be the kiss of political death? A year ago today, Florida's governor Charlie Crist openly hugged President Obama. These days it might feel like a cold shoulder because President Obama's popularity has fallen and Charlie Crist is in a bruising Republican primary fight for conservative candidate Marco Rubio. Let's go to Candy Crowley. It's getting tough down there.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is speaking at the sight of the crime, can Dick Army, and he has been instrumental in brings the tea party movement together. It's not just the hug. The hug is symbolic of the stimulus plan. He went down there and was embraced by Crist who said we need the plan. And flash forward to a year later, stimulus plan, fairly unpopular. People think it's a lot of money spent for not enough jobs, and Mark Rubio, used to be a state house leader s using it against Crist saying he is not a true conservative.

BLITZER: That could help Rubio in a primary. But in a general election, maybe not.

CROWLEY: Maybe not. And why you get just a little push back when you talk to the people around the Rubio Company and say he is a tea party candidate. They say, no, he is a candidate and they came on the band wagon. Not that he doesn't go to the tea party events and take money from the conservatives and also those who are openly tea party members. But it does speak to a general election where the tea party movement is not as popular as it is now in the conservative side of the country.

BLITZER: Richard Nixon used to say, you right to the right and the general election, you run to the SNE center. That is Marco Rubio's strategy.

CROWLEY: You know Crist can raise a lot of money. This is not his first rodeo. And Rubio, this is not all.

If a Republican can win Ted Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts, in the current environment, anything is possible.

CROWLEY: We are talking about a primary that is months away. And anything is possible.

BLITZER: Candy Crowley, assume getting ready for your second state of the union 9:00 a.m. eastern. Do you want to tell the viewers anything?

CROWLEY: Lots on of things special. You have to tune.

BLITZER: No not ready to announce yet. She will. Thanks very much.

New York's Governor David Paterson declaring today I'm black, I'm blind, and still alive. His defiant message to critics delivered on the radio as rumors keep swirling. Mary Snow is following the uproar. What is going on?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The controversy has marked a bizarre chapter. He is addressing a rumor that stemming from a story about him that doesn't exist.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GOV. DAVID PATERSON (D), NEW YORK: I don't know why I would be resigning.

SNOW: One day after declaring he's not resigning, New York governor David Paterson is on the offensive, beating back a rumored scandal that's mushroomed onto the front pages of new York's tabloids, all rooted in speculation that an upcoming article may drop a bombshell about his personal conduct, but after being interviewed by the Times, Paterson went on "Imus in the Morning."

PATERSON: I was not asked any questions about any of these salacious stories that were so about as outrageous as uninformed sources could produce, and creating what for any public official is a dismal, almost Kafkaesque situation, because you could respond to the rumors about the rumors.

SNOW: It's not the first time he's addressed questions. In 2008, they revealed they both had extramarital relations in the past. Paterson says it was an effort to be transparent when he took over as New York's governor when Eliot Spitzer resigned over a prostitution scandal. By publicly addressing new rumors, Paterson is opening the door to questions like these --

DON IMUS, HOST: Now, my question for you is, since that time, have you in any configuration, had any kind of romantic or sexual relationship with anybody other than your wife?

PATERSON: No.

SNOW: In the interview he dismissed a gossip item that a state trooper found him in a utility closet with a woman.

PATERSON: We don't have a utility room in the executive mansion, and state troopers do not patrol inside the mansion.

SNOW: Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf who was not aligned with any gubernatorial campaigns say the rumors may not have gained as much traction if New York state politics weren't in so much chaos and if the governor wasn't facing such a tough election.

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's not that he's unpopular, people see him as not being up to the task at the moment. That's a very big difference. What it may do if it works out one way or the other is to in fact create a great deal of sympathy for one David Paterson.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SNOW: Paterson has been critical of "The New York Times" for not going public about the rumors. "The New York times" in a statement says it's not responsible for what the news organizations are reporting and said the rumors are not coming from the "Times".

BLITZER: There is some speculation they are going to publish something tomorrow? Is that what you're hearing?

SNOW: There had been. And also speculation it could be published last week. The only thing we know about the story is what Paterson in his news conference, it was going to be a profile piece about him. He is planning to run for governor. And this piece has been in the working. As far as the contents that is still unclear, the speculation is the "times" is working on the story and people may have started to talk about what they have heard. That is all speculation.

BLITZER: We will wait and see. Thanks very much. Our political story in New York.

By the way, the governor of New York, David Paterson, will face Larry King tomorrow night. "LARRY KING LIVE," 9:00 p.m. eastern.

He was a larger than life U.S. Congressman. Details on the death of Charlie Wilson.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Teresa Heinz Kerry has been diagnosed with breast cancer and she and her husband, John Kerry, were interviewed by Larry King. He spoke act the breast cancer. Here is an excerpt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Did you talk to anyone about it?

TERESA HEINZ KERRY, DIAGNOSED WITH BREAST CANCER: I didn't talk to almost anyone for three months. I couldn't deal with answering questions and talking about it. I had to process what I was doing and being quiet was the way to do it.

KING: Now?

KERRY: Now -- I did make this op-ed for the Pittsburgh papers when the mammogram came up and I said, this is not right.

KING: Not to get them?

KERRY: Yeah, 40 year olds. That was my coming out that stunned a lot of people.

KING: Sure did.

KERRY: But I didn't want to do it until I was ready to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: That interview airs later tonight, 9:00 p.m. eastern. Larry's got a powerful show. Joe Biden and Teresa Hanz Kerry. She is a very, very strong woman. Going through radiation treatment. She wants to get the word out about breast cancer. You want to see that later on "LARRY KING LIVE."

Charlie Wilson has died at the age of 76 after years of heart problems. The Texas Democrat retired in 2007 after serving 12 terms. He was best known for his personality and his work to help Afghan freedom fighters defeat the Soviet Union. That inspired "Charlie Wilson's War" starring Tom Hanks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open it over there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did I guy like you get into the agency?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A street guy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You ain't James Bonds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You ain't Thomas Jefferson. Call it even.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's assume I'm here because I am good at this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You drink?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Charlie Wilson was a great guy. I knew him well when help was a United States Congressman. Often spoke with him. A great American a great patriot. He did amazing work in Afghanistan and it helped lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union. He helped that process move forward. Our deepest condolences to his family.

He is a new senator, now Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown is about to by come an author. A spokes woman says Brown will write a book about his life and his come from behind victory to capture the Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy. Multiple have expressed interest in his memoirs and part of the proceeds will go to charity.

For all the political news, you can check out CNNpolitics.com. You can get behind the scenes on what is going on in THE SITUATION ROOM. go to twitter.com and readily tweets.

The massive snowstorm in the northeast is a hot topic on the talk shows. You will find without out what comedians find so funny.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's check in with Campbell and see what is coming up at the top of the hour. Campbell what are you working on?

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: We are of course going to have plenty to say about the snow. There is more happening tonight. We're going to meet a hero of 9/11 who is helping out on the scene of the earthquake disaster in Haiti.

Plus, we have a CNN special investigation and take to you the south Florida pain clinics that are largely unregulated and suspected of supplying illegal prescription drug users from all over America. We've been looking into it. We have a fascinating piece.

BLITZER: We'll be watching Campbell. Thanks very much.

The snow may be causing misery in the northeast but some are fining the lighter side. Take a look and listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, COMEDIAN: God, I don't think Washington has seen a snow job like this since the last stimulus package. Nancy Pelosi had to sit in your driveway and defrost her eye balls. Sarah Palin had to cancel and speech because she didn't want to take her gloves off to read. That cold. That cold. [ applause ] and all the snow, President Obama told all nonessential white house employs not to come in. Actually, just Joe Biden.

JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: Some horrible weather coming here. Supposed to be so much snow in New York, people might get stranded at work, which means Governor Paterson gets one more day in office. The snow can be bad. I was reading in Colorado a man was rescued after his SUV got stuck for three days. Toyota owners said, at least it stopped.

DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: Are you like me? Are you tired of the cold in New York City? So cold today, I had to throw more stocks on the fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

LETTERMAN: A lot of snow in Washington, D.C. the city came to the biggest stand still down in Washington, D.C. because of the snow. The biggest stand still since the Democrats got the super majority. It's the biggest -- it's awful. But President Obama will let the Democrats handle the snow. Just let the guys in the party handle it. They will put it on the backburner and hope it melts. That's what they're going to do.

BLITZER: Not so funny for a lot of us here in Washington, D.C. and the snow. Let it go away for now. Remember you can follow what's going on behind the scenes here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm on Twitter. Get my tweets, twitter.com/wolfblitzercnn, wolfblitzercnn all one word.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Up next, Campbell Brown.