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Bill Clinton Hospitalized; Iranian Protests

Aired February 11, 2010 - 19:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: We are following breaking news. Bill Clinton is hospitalized after experiencing chest pains. Right now the former president is said to be in good spirits after undergoing a procedure to insert two stents in a coronary artery. Now, that is according to Clinton's office.

A source is telling CNN that Clinton is fine. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she left Washington to be with her husband. That's according to a State Department official, and his daughter Chelsea Clinton, she is with her dad, according to her own spokeswoman. While the 63-year-old former president is at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center, that is where our own Mary Snow is live to give us the very latest -- hey, Mary. What do we know?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Suzanne. The hospital really has not given out any details beyond the fact that President Clinton was in fact brought here to Columbia Presbyterian here in New York. The information about his condition coming from his office earlier today, saying that the president had discomfort in his chest, that he had gone to his cardiologist and that two stents were put in one of his arteries.

This is a hospital where he was taken in 2004 for bypass surgery, again in 2005 when he had to have some scar tissue fluids removed. In terms of what's expected of the president and what will happen in the coming hours, the hospital has not scheduled any kind of a press briefing. We do know that Chelsea Clinton is with her father, and the State Department has confirmed that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is heading to New York City -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Mary, I don't know if you can do this for us, but if you will, is there a chance you can pan the camera around? Can we see any of the type of the atmosphere, things taking place there outside the hospital? Is there a crowd that's gathering, people who might be a little bit concerned when they hear the former president is there?

SNOW: You know, I'm having a hard time hearing you, but if you're asking about people kind of gathering, yes, there are a lot of people who are kind of gathering outside the hospital asking what's going on, how President Clinton is doing, and as we know now from his spokesperson that he is in good spirits, and certainly a crush of cameras waiting outside just in case anybody could come out and give any more information about the president's condition, but certainly a scene outside the hospital here in upper Manhattan. MALVEAUX: Mary, we see those crush of cameras. Obviously, we'll come back to you as soon as you've got more details or somebody from the hospital comes out to speak about it. Now as you know, Bill Clinton, he has a history of heart problems. I want to bring in our own Brian Todd to talk a little bit about some of the conditions and some of the incidents that we have.

I covered President Bill Clinton and I know that, obviously, he didn't always eat well. He tried to jog and exercise a little bit, but he managed to change his lifestyle quite significantly after a number of episodes.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Suzanne. Bill Clinton's heart problems directly tied to a history of cholesterol issues. Concerns over his cholesterol, as you mentioned, some of it states at least back to the end of his presidency and as you mentioned also throughout his term in the White House.

His weight is known to have fluctuated. He said some of that was genetic but he also blamed his own poor eating habits. Now around the time he left office in January 2001, a medical report showed he had an above normal cholesterol level and borderline high blood pressure.

His so-called bad cholesterol was 177. It had jumped 40 points in the last year of his presidency. Normal bad cholesterol is considered less than 130. He was given cholesterol lowering medication but later said that he'd stopped taking it because he had brought it under control. He also said later on that he had gone on the South Beach diet and was clear in those years after the White House that he had lost significant amounts of weight.

Then in September 2004, Bill Clinton complained of chest pains, was admitted to New York Presbyterian Hospital where he is now, he underwent a four-hour quadruple bypass surgery then in 2004. Just over six months later, March 10th, 2005, he underwent surgery at the same hospital to remove scar tissue and fluid that had built up after that September surgery.

Jump ahead to today, he undergoes surgery to place two stents in one of his coronary arteries. Suzanne, very significant here, after that 2004 surgery, Bill Clinton is quoted as saying without the procedure, quote, "there is a virtually 100 percent chance I will have a heart attack." It's also very important to note that at no time during all of this has he actually had a heart attack. His doctors have gotten out ahead of this each time and clearly they've done that this time.

MALVEAUX: And Brian, let me just be clear on this. In the surgery that he had in 2004, did they actually stop his heart at one point?

TODD: They did. There are two methods for that kind of surgery. One temporarily stops the heart; the other takes place on a beating heart. His doctor said at the time that the method to stop the heart and oxygenate him with a pump was the safest. They took healthy blood vessels from his chest wall and his leg, stitched them in to bypass the diseased vessels. But yes, his heart was technically stopped during that 2004 procedure.

MALVEAUX: OK, Brian thank you so much, I appreciate it. I want to bring in our own CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He is in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. And Sanjay, you were with the former president really just a week ago. I saw him a couple of weeks at the -- in the Rose Garden. He looked fine. He looked good. He was very energetic. What was your impression when you saw him?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know the same things. I mean you know when you come down and do a trip like the trip he was doing here in Port-au-Prince, it involves a lot of walking, a lot of moving around pretty quickly. You know I didn't notice any problems at all, of course to be fair, I wasn't looking for it nor was I medically examining him.

But he looked pretty good. From my understanding now, Suzanne, and I know you've been hearing this as well, he had -- he'd been having some chest discomfort and then today obviously had the two stents placed. But at no point did anyone say that he'd had a heart attack. It's a little unclear as to when his problems started. Was it today or was it yesterday or was he unsure if it really was a problem. But obviously all we all know that the two stents (INAUDIBLE) -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And Sanjay, what does that mean for someone who has two stents placed in? What does that mean for the future, his activities, what he can, he cannot do?

GUPTA: Right. Well first of all, you know with regard to stents, you know you think about the blood vessels that go to the heart. They're called the coronary blood vessels. You know six years ago he had them bypassed. It's sort of there's a blockage. Instead of opening up the blockage, you simply bypass around the blockage. That's what that operation was.

And there were four blood vessels that were bypassed. We now know that there were some blockages or a blockage that occurred again now, six years later. In this case they put a stent in. I think we may have some graphics to demonstrate what I'm talking about, but it's a little titanium stent that goes directly into the blood vessel, opens it up and that stent stays in there to allow blood to flow to the heart more easily.

It's pretty simple plumbing, not to belittle it or make it sound simpler that it is, but that's sort of the goal here, to just sort of open up the blood vessels. You know he should be able to do the things that he wants to do after he recovers. That's sort of the goal of this operation. He is going to need to probably be more aggressive about his lifestyle changes, diet and exercise.

He may need to have some changes in his medications overall, but as far as his activity, as far as coming to places like this, Haiti behind me or other countries around the world, eventually after he recovers, he should be able to do those things -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And Sanjay, very quickly, can you give us a sense of what kind of physical conditions he was placed under in Haiti? I know a lot of people -- you experienced it, they got very sick. They were breathing in air that wasn't healthy, the water wasn't good, the food. What kind of things did he face when he was there?

GUPTA: Well I think former President Clinton certainly, with regard to water and food, I'm sure that that was provided to him, safe water, safe food. It was very hot down here; it remains hot during the day. He was doing a lot of walking around, obviously a lot of people following him. You know as far as the air goes, there is a fair amount of pollution associated with this big city, like many big cities.

But I don't -- I don't know, I think it might be a little bit of a stretch to connect the dots between his travel or experience in Haiti and the symptoms that he's having now. He may have become a little bit sick after the trip down here. I know I did and most people do, you get a little bit of congestion as a result.

But I think that what he had today in terms of opening up the blockages in his coronary vessels, that was probably a little bit more of a longstanding problem. Obviously, he had the bypass six years ago, but some of the blood vessels in his heart or at least one of them closing off, and that's something that's probably been happening over time -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: OK. Sanjay, thank you so much, really appreciate, obviously we'll get back to you as we get more information.

We'll continue our coverage of the breaking news, Bill Clinton in the hospital. Plus, there are thousands of people who turned out in the streets of Iran today. We have an amazing satellite image to show you.


MALVEAUX: Decorum and dignity face off against disdain and outright damnation against the government of Iran. Now right now the world is seeing competing images and (INAUDIBLE). As President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad boasts of a powerful Iran, others chant "death to the dictator." And on this 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Ahmadinejad talks about a nuclear victory.

Meanwhile, anti government protesters shout about crackdowns on their freedom and being beaten with what one witness describes as weapons against the people. I want to go straight to our CNN's Ivan Watson. He's at Iran desk at the CNN's World Headquarters in Atlanta. Give us a sense of what has taken place on the ground today.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well it's after midnight in Tehran right now. Earlier in the day, hundreds of thousands of supporters of the government gathered, Suzanne. They converged on Tehran's Central Freedom Square, and there they were waving flags and listening to the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad giving a speech praising the accomplishments of Iran in the 31 years since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. And one of the big accomplishments, he said, was despite the opposition of Western governments Iran had succeeded in becoming what he called a nuclear nation because he said that for the first time Iran had enriched uranium to a level of 20 percent. For peaceful reasons, he said, not for weaponize reasons.

You'd need to get it up to something like 90 percent for that, but he called this a major success. The crowds there, according to one eyewitness, said it was a bit like a picnic, a family picnic type day, a day off from work, and government workers distributed food and drinks, milk, juice to the people who had gathered there today -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Ivan. Well, the pride and protest in Iran is being closely watched in the largest concentration of Iranians and that is outside of Iran. And it's in southern California. I want to bring in our CNN's Ted Rowlands who is in Los Angeles where there is a large rally that is taking place. Tell us what you know and how they're reacting to what is taking place in Iran.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well let's be honest, Suzanne, the reaction here is a bit subdued because there was a lot of anticipation around the world of what might have taken place in Tehran. On one extreme they were hoping that millions of people in opposition to the regime would come out in Tehran and would make an international statement, and they were even hoping that at least that Ahmadinejad's speech (INAUDIBLE) disrupted.

That didn't happen, there were people up all night here in southern California. Many of them have come out here and they have moved on with this protest, but when you compare it to June, when those images out of Tehran really fueled excitement here, you could feel it in the streets. I mean people were looking at what was happening there, and they came out into the streets and you could see the exuberance in them.

They're out here. They're chanting but it isn't the same. One of the people that spent the entire night looking for information (INAUDIBLE). Give us a sense. Disappointment, there has to be some disappointment, but also couch it and tell us in your estimation, where do you stand in terms of the regime, and do you think that this revolution, if you will, a new revolution will still transpire?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Actually, this -- the whole start was a big challenge. So people have been fighting now for several months, you know, and the government knows that the people are protesting. Even if people going to the (INAUDIBLE) of the building and saying (INAUDIBLE) they don't believe in, they want to show their existence; they want to show they are protesting, so --

ROWLANDS: So let's be honest, you were disappointed, were you not, with what happened Thursday in Tehran?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was probably expecting the same huge amount --




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be a --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- not end. (INAUDIBLE) day after tomorrow and it will continue. I know that the people have raised up and they will not sit and stand quiet.


ROWLANDS: Suzanne --


ROWLANDS: -- that the idea that the fire is still burning, and while there is some disappointment that more didn't take place in Tehran on Thursday, the sense here is that it's not going away and that things like this and the support around the world will keep this moving at some level and eventually at some point there'll be change.

MALVEAUX: Thank you very much. I want to go back to our Ivan Watson, who has some more information about some of the anti- government protests that were taking place on the ground today. Ivan, what do we know?

WATSON: Well we had the pro-government, a huge turnout of hundreds of thousands of people. There were efforts by the opposition to try to come out and also attend that rally in Freedom Square led by opposition leaders who helped found the Islamic Republic, were architects of the Islamic Revolution, but they were beaten back by large numbers of security forces. Here you see some of the images that the Iranian government did not want people to see, smuggled out through the Internet, through activists with cell phones and other types of cameras and actually use of force to beat people back today as they tried to converge.

In fact, some of the opposition leaders, a former prime minister, his wife was badly beaten by club-wielding security forces. Here you see images of how some of the demonstrators actually ripped apart posters showing the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini and the current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and while in the square, you had supporters of the government walking, stepping on the American flag, here you had dissidence, basically, stepping on the image of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

And we also have other images of protesters being badly beaten, tear gas being used to force them to pull back. There is disappointment though. Opposition activists telling us they were not well organized. They did not know where to converge and they were simply outnumbered by the security forces, a bit of a defeat for the opposition eight months after it coalesced after elections that they accused the government of rigging in favor of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Ivan thank you so much for your excellent reporting. Obviously the White House keeping a very close eye on those pictures, those demonstrations on both sides -- thank you very much Ivan.

Protests marking the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, they're taking place worldwide. In India, an Iranian student holds up a sign calling for a free Iran during a rally. In Sweden a man covers his face while police use pepper spray to try to control a demonstration. And in Pairs, France, a woman holds up a poster during a protest outside the Iranian Embassy.

And in Berlin, Germany, demonstrators carry photographs allegedly showing Iranian youth facing trial. I want to bring in our own CNN's Tom Foreman. You know he has got a different angle on all the events in Iran. It's actually from space. And Tom, I want you to explain what are you seeing from your vantage point -- very unique.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Suzanne, if you look at Iran here, and we're going to zoom in here to that Square that we've been talking about all day here. This is Azadi Square. As we move in you can see this is a nuclear facility, things related to that in Iran that we've been talking so much about. As we move in here to Azadi Square, I can show you what this area normally looks like.

You can see the -- this tower in the middle -- this was originally built to commemorate Persia's long history. Back in the '70's after the Revolution took place it was named Azadi as that point, which means Freedom Square. And this is what it looks like today based on an image from GOI (ph). This is the picture and you can see the big crowds that have filled in all around here as a result of the support here that the government has rallied of people coming in here.

Ivan early on mentioned he believed people were given food and water, all sorts of things to be there, but if you follow out the spokes here on these roads, this goes on for quite some distance. In one case we measured more than 3.5 miles down one of these roads, in other cases it goes very far up into this area. The question is in a picture like this, can we see the protests that Ivan talked about? Not unless they're big enough and organized enough. If they are, we actually can and the areas we've been watching have been places like this -- the universities down here obviously.

Up here you'll see a place called Ebon prison (ph) another area of interest, particularly areas to the north. But the real focal point remains Azadi Square and it remains Azadi Square because that's where many of the revolution protests were held back when Iranian Revolution took place. That's where many of the protests were last year when these people were protesting the results of the election. They tried to gather here -- this is a focal point. Anybody who can control that with a protest has really made a statement.

MALVEAUX: And Tom I just want to ask you very quickly here. We know that the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he's trying to control what the media sees? Can he control these pictures from space? Is that possible?

FOREMAN: No, he cannot. And this is from a private company GOI (ph) who does some tremendous, tremendous work here. And this really I have to say is changing the world in terms of not just intelligence work, but also in terms of public knowledge. And the reason they can't control this Suzanne, because the satellite that took this image is more than 400 miles up in space traveling at four miles a second.

They not only can't control the image, they can't do anything about this satellite. They will fly over that way and this is changing the world not only for how we see things but also for protestors in countries like this. Because one way or another if they get organized enough, we will be able to see them and see the real effect no matter what a government tells us.

MALVEAUX: Wow, it's fascinating. It's amazing. Thank you, Tom, for that very unique perspective. And coming up after this quick break, we'll have more information, more details about the breaking news former President Bill Clinton hospitalized after chest pains -- more coming up.



MALVEAUX: Former President Bill Clinton hospitalized this afternoon. Columbia Presbyterian Hospital -- that is where sources say that earlier he was experiencing chest pains. He visited his cardiologist, went through a procedure, two stents in one of his coronary arteries. He is reported to be in good spirits and he is with his daughter, Chelsea Clinton, by his side at the hospital there, and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on her way to be with her husband, all of this developing this afternoon.

The president seemingly now in good spirits after some -- some heart troubles there. We have some other news that we are following. Our own Lisa Sylvester, she's monitoring all those other stories that are coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now and Lisa, what do you have?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Suzanne. Well five American soldiers are wounded in eastern Afghanistan after a suicide bomber somehow got onto a U.S. base and blew himself up. An Afghan official says the attacker struck in a sleeping area of the base which is located in the Paktiya Province. Early investigations show the bomber was wearing an Afghan border police uniform.

And it was 20 years ago today Nelson Mandela was freed from a South African prison. The 91-year-old freedom fighter marked the occasion by making a rare public appearance in front of the nation's parliament. Mandela became a living symbol of racial injustice in South Africa's apartheid system during his 27 years in prison. Then he went on to become the nation's first black president in 1994.

And after several delays, it was lift-off for a NASA rocket this morning. The Atlas 5 rocket is carrying a solar dynamic observatory. The space agency says this probe will study the sun in greater detail than ever before, and that includes how the sun affects space weather events, like solar flares -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, thank you, Lisa. We have new details as well, we are following the story, obviously, of President Bill Clinton and his heart troubles and our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is in Haiti right now, has some new information, some new details about that. He was just with the former president last week in Haiti. We're going to bring that to you very shortly after this quick break.



MALVEAUX: We're following the breaking news this hour. Former President Bill Clinton hospitalized in New York where he underwent a procedure to insert two stents in one of his coronary arteries. Now in a statement, Clinton counselor Douglas Band, he says that the 63- year-old Clinton was admitted to Columbia Campus of New York Presbyterian Hospital after experiencing some discomfort in his chest. Now you might remember that he had a quadruple bypass in 2004.

Our CNN senior medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he's been in touch with the people close to the former president and he's got some new details to share with us. Sanjay, what do we know? What are you learning?

GUPTA: Just a couple of clarifications more than anything else. First of all, there was some thought that the symptoms the former president had started today, these symptoms of chest pain. In fact, he's had these for a few days, so this is -- been ongoing a little bit, which in some ways perhaps makes it less emergent.

And I think Suzanne you and I were talking earlier and I said that the symptoms came on today and he right away got two stents; was this somewhat of emergency. The fact that the symptoms started a couple of days ago makes it sound like the doctors are understandably concerned but moved along in a fast -- extended over a couple days.

Also this person that's with the president now really wanted to clarify that this really doesn't seem to be related to the workload of the president, not related to his diet and not related to his cholesterol levels. So this must be based on the feedback that he's getting from his doctors and he just wanted to make sure that we clarify that.

Sometimes there's a natural history of coronary blood vessels that just start becoming increasingly narrow. This obviously happened to him back in 2004 and again now six years later. We don't know if it was the bypass graft that was performed back in 2004 or if it was his own coronary blood vessels.

But again, as you know Suzanne two stents placed today and then confirming the president is in good spirits.

MALVEAUX: And Sanjay I just want to be clear here, the fact that we now know that he was experiencing chest pains over the course of several days as opposed to say, this afternoon that put him in the hospital, does that make this less serious than, say, if it had just come on suddenly today? What does that say to you?

GUPTA: Well, I think you know -- no question this is serious. Anybody who has these sorts of symptoms, especially for someone who has had bypass surgery in the past, it's serious. If someone had come in with chest pain this morning and by the afternoon had stents, I guess that would suggest there was a little bit more of an urgency to the whole situation. They really wanted to get this done, they were worried, they needed to get it done immediately.

He had symptoms a couple of days ago and they were sort of monitoring and figuring out what would be the best course of therapy. I think it makes it sound a little less urgent. Obviously necessary and obviously it is very important for him to have this done but it gives him a little less sense of urgency, in my mind.

MALVEAUX: OK, thank you very much.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent out there in Haiti doing an excellent job. Thank you very much Sanjay.

Well, right after the Haiti earthquake last month, Wolf Blitzer interviewed Bill Clinton in his capacity as United Nations Special Envoy. I want you to take a listen.


BILL CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, first of all, Wolf, it appears that an enormous percentage, maybe as many as a third of the country, have been adversely affected by it. We don't know how many people are dead yet. We did -- at last count we had pulled ten survivors out of our United Nations headquarters, which, as you know, was in a five-story hotel that completely collapsed.

We know there are fatalities. We don't know how many. And that's the same for people throughout the island. We still have lots and lots of people with missing family members and we just have to keep hoping that we'll have more rescue teams down there. The United States sent more today, China sent one, Russia is sending a big helicopter or two tomorrow.

People from all over the world are trying to help, but it's a devastating problem. Last night the streets of Port-au-Prince were littered with wounded people sleeping and the bodies of those who had perished. And we're going to have and I think, another three or four really hard days of just clearing through the rubble to find the living and those who have died.


MALVEAUX: Now I want to go to our CNN political analyst Paul Begala and CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger to talk a little bit more about President Bill Clinton's impact. I want to start off with you Paul, obviously you helped him get elected. You've spent some time with him. Clearly, this is somebody who has not slowed down and who is very passionate about what he does.

Does it surprise you that you know perhaps he just keeps going and going?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's just how God made him. I mean, he's the hardest working man in show business. And it may be good advice for somebody else to slow down and take it easy and so forth. It's not in his DNA.

Now, he takes much better care of himself, he exercises, he eats right, he's in good shape. And much more disciplined than in earlier years and I think that's a prudent course of action but he's not somebody who's just going to sit on a beach.

I mean, he was in Haiti several times this year. I think like, five times this year, twice since the earthquake, once just five or six days ago with Sanjay and Joe Johnson and others from our network who were covering him.

It's just the way that he works and he's never going to stop doing that. Now, I remember after he had the surgery, it was just seven weeks later -- this was quadruple bypass, much more serious procedure, open heart surgery -- seven weeks later he was out campaigning with John Kerry and it was a long tough convalescence.

And he did not have the energy and stamina he needed, he did it anyway. And he took the time it's the best medicine, if this is not good for my heart and he said nothing is.

So you just can't keep him down.

MALVEAUX: I want our viewers to take a quick look. We're just getting some new video here now; the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, arriving at the hospital here to join her husband. She was coming out of a van there and if you get a close look, I think you can actually see her walking into Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

And she was with President Obama earlier today, a meeting that she had that was previously scheduled. She found out about the circumstances and quickly got there as soon as she could. This is -- you know, this is a power couple.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Talking about grueling schedules though --

MALVEAUX: No question about it.

BORGER: -- I mean, Hillary Clinton is supposed to be heading to the Middle East. She's apparently delaying that trip a bit. But both of them have terrifically grueling schedules. And I spoke with somebody today who spoke with somebody who's actually with the president and I just want to reiterate something that Sanjay said earlier, which is that the president wasn't feeling well. He said he wasn't feeling well and decided to make an appointment to see his cardiologist. We gather this was over a period of a few days, so it didn't seem particularly urgent to him, but the important thing is that Bill Clinton actually didn't feel well and did something about it which is something that lots of doctors say you ought to do, particularly if you're a patient with this kind of heart history.

And we don't know what caused this. We don't know whether it's his eating habits --

BEGALA: Right.

BORGER: -- a lot of people are saying, absolutely not.

MALVEAUX: And I just want to clarify here, our CNN's Jessica Yellin is getting information that Secretary Hillary Clinton is going to be going on her Middle East trip as scheduled. Leaving --


MALVEAUX: -- on Saturday afternoon, that coming from our own Jessica Yellin.

I want to say, you know, it's interesting to see President Clinton now today -- I've covered him in his last year of his presidency. At times, you know, sometimes people would kind of rib him a little bit. He used to go jogging, but right -- he'll stop at the McDonalds and so --

BORGER: That was his "Saturday Night Live".

MALVEAUX: Absolutely, it was.

But he was engaged in just about everything. He used to come to the back of Air Force in the plane and you know talk about all kinds of things off the record with us reporters. To the point where people would pretend they were asleep so he would go back up to the front of the plane, I mean, it's just -- he had that kind of unique relationship with the press.

What was it like to be this guy, to work with him because he never stopped?

BEGALA: And he's still is that way. I will stress again, though, he has cleaned up his eating habits and has for many years. It's important to him, part of what his foundation does.

BORGER: Of course.

BEGALA: Is work on childhood obesity and it's terribly important to him. He grew up with the typical -- I think dietary habit for the kid growing up in Hot Springs, Arkansas at the time that he did. But he has overcome that.

And I think he's been a wonderful role model for all of us who sort of to try to fight the battle of the bulge and out there running and exercising and working out.

But he's -- the pace of his work is extraordinary, he still travels the world. This foundation that he has, has kept millions and millions of people alive in Africa, principally with HIV/AIDS --


BEGALA: -- and the anti-retroviral drugs that they provide. They are very active, they were very active in Haiti and he -- he can't stop doing it. He couldn't if he wanted to --

MALVEAUX: Force of nature.

BEGALA: -- he's just not somebody who was ever going to sit on three or four corporate boards and make a lot of money, it's just not what motivates him.

MALVEAUX: Not going to happen. We'll thank you so much for your perspective Paul Begala and Gloria Borger.


MALVEAUX: I really appreciate it.

Obviously, we're going to be following this breaking news story and the very latest on former President Bill Clinton.

Plus, how would Ronald Reagan have reacted to the TEA Party movement? We're going to tell you why his sons are arguing over that very question. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.





MALVEAUX: Former President Bill Clinton hospitalized in New York earlier today suffering from chest pains. He underwent a procedure, two stents put in his coronary arteries. We are told that he is resting comfortably, that he is in good spirits; with him, his daughter Chelsea Clinton.

Also we just saw pictures, live pictures of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arriving at the hospital there, New York's Presbyterian Hospital where the former president is resting comfortably. We'll have more details about this coming up.

New details as well that he had been suffering from chest pains for the last couple of days or so before seeing his cardiologist, and then undergoing this procedure. The president said to be in good spirit. Obviously we're following that story but there are other major stories that are happening as well. Our own Lisa Sylvester, she has been watching all of that in the SITUATION ROOM. And Lisa, what do you have?


Well, President Obama will meet with the Dalai Llama a week from today. The White House had previously announced that the president would meet the Tibetan spiritual leader despite Chinese oppositions. China warns that its ties with the United States will be streamed if such a meeting happens. Beijing accuses the Dalai Llama of working towards Tibet independence from China.

And the mumps outbreak in and around New York has now infected almost 2,000 people. Health officials say most of the cases are among young men in Orthodox Jewish communities in New York and New Jersey. The outbreak apparently began at a summer camp for Orthodox Jews.

Rescuers in Houston have been searching today for a man who went missing after a tugboat sank. KHOU TV reports the 56-foot tugboat have five crew members on board when it sunk last. Workers at a nearby plant who saw the boat sinking rescued four of them. It's not clear what caused the boat to sink -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Ok, Lisa thanks for keeping up with everything else that's going on here.

While we continue to following the breaking news, Bill Clinton hospitalized after feeling some chest pains earlier today, well, the question, of course, how is he doing? A close friend and political ally, Terry McAuliffe, he says that he spoke with Bill Clinton just yesterday and spoke with the hospital today as well. And Terry McAuliffe will tell us what he's hearing.


MALVEAUX: More on the hospitalization of former President Bill Clinton is coming up, but first something about another former president.

What would Ronald Reagan say about the TEA Party movement? Well, right now his sons are brothers-at-odds. Michael and Ron Reagan are arguing whether or not their father would support TEA parties -- and get this -- if President Reagan would support Sarah Palin.

I want to bring in our own Brian Todd; he's been working on this as well. This is a very interesting family feud that's happening.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What would Ronald Reagan do? That's the burning question today. Well, Suzanne, we've known for a long time now the Reagans are far from a typical political family, full of contradictions, personal and political and now the two high- profile Reagan brothers, Michael and Ron Reagan, Jr., very publicly at odds over -- of all things -- on the TEA Party movement. This of course, is the grassroots movement of independent conservatives who held rallies, protests, other gathering all over the country since last year. They've made their biggest splash with campaigns against the Obama stimulus program and the bailouts of major financial firms.

Now this dispute between the Reagan brothers stems from a very simple question that Ron, Jr. who is a liberal commentator was asked by Joy Behar during her show on our sister network HLN about two weeks ago. The question: what would your father think of the TEA Partiers?


RON REAGAN, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: I think he would be unamused by the TEA Partiers with their Hitler signs and all the rest of it. I don't think he'd be cottoning to that much at all.


TODD: Now what Ron Reagan is referring to are images like this one behind me. Someone carrying a poster of President Obama distorted to look like Adolf Hitler during a TEA Party rally.

Ron's brother Michael Reagan, a conservative commentator is publicly, prominently disagreeing with his brother on a few fronts here.

Michael Reagan says as a fellow conservative like his father, he has a better understanding of how Ronald Reagan would feel about the TEA Partiers. I spoke with Michael Reagan a short time ago and I asked him about Ron's comments regarding the Hitler images.


MICHAEL REAGAN, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: My father would understand that these are people who are going to show up at these events, and the reality of it is -- the end result is that, in fact, because of their organization, there has been good things happening with the conservative movement across the country.


TODD: Michael Reagan says politically his father would find a lot of common ground with the TEA Party crowd over a few core beliefs. You've got lower taxes, he says that brings them together; smaller government; strong national defense; less government spending.

Suzanne, the TEA Party movement has spawned a lot of public debate over the last few months. Now it's pitted the Reagan brothers against each other of all things but it always sparks debate no matter where you turn with the TEA Party. It's extraordinary.

MALVEAUX: I'm a little surprised to see how publicly they're feuding here. Are there broader tensions between these two brothers, whether politically or personally? TODD: I asked about the personal part of it with Michael Reagan; he downplayed that that a lot. He really wouldn't go into that. But he said something very interesting. He said unlike his brother, he, Michael, campaigned with his father in 1976 and in 1980. He says, "I'm not even sure if Ron voted for him in those elections." That's kind of a provocative comment.

We asked -- we tried to get comment to that from Ron Reagan. We could not reach him this afternoon. He also declined our request for an interview on this whole spat with Michael. So they're kind of going their separate ways for the moment.

MALVEAUX: That should be an interesting thanksgiving dinner.

TODD: Absolutely. If it ever happens.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you very much Brian.

Well, we are following breaking news as well. Former President Bill Clinton hospitalized in New York. We're going to get an update on his condition from a close friend and adviser.


MALVEAUX: We are following breaking news. Bill Clinton hospitalized in New York after suffering from chest pains. A former Democratic party chairman Terry McAuliffe, he's a close friend, adviser to both Bill and Hillary Clinton. And he's been in close contact with Mr. Clinton's aides. He gave us this update on the former president's condition. Take a listen.


TERRY MCAULIFFE, CLOSE FRIEND OF BILL CLINTON: I spoke to him yesterday. I spoke to him the day before, and he was in great spirits. We talked about the Super Bowl. He called me on my birthday, so -- I just talked to the recovery room a few minutes ago. I spoke to Doug Band, who's with the president right now. Chelsea is there. Hillary's on her way.

The president is in great spirits. They'll keep him overnight for observation. Hopefully he'll be out tomorrow and he will back to his old self. He's in great shape. These things happen. There's nothing you can do about it.

They went in and did the procedure and Bill Clinton will be back fighting for people, helping in Haiti, and doing everything he's done. He's in very good spirits. Our prayers and everything, he's in great shape and going to be back to his old self in a couple days.

MALVEAUX: Terry, where are you now? Did you say you're in the recovery room?

MCAULIFFE: No, I just talked to the recovery room up there. I'm actually in McLean, Virginia right now. I just called up there and spoke to Doug Band who's with the president right now. MALVEAUX: What did he tell you? Is Bill Clinton in the recovery room? Can you tell us about that conversation?

MCAULIFFE: He's in great spirits and, you know, he's -- they'll keep him overnight for some observation and hopefully he'll be released tomorrow.

Doug said the president is in great shape and in great spirits and, you know, listen, the president wants to -- you know Bill Clinton, he wants to get back to work helping folks in Haiti. He's been passionate about that.

MALVEAUX: What is he doing now? You spoke -- he's obviously -- is he talking to people? Is he making phone calls?

MCAULIFFE: No, no, no, no. I don't think they'd let him do that as much as he'd like to. I do know that he was on a conference call on Haiti as they were wheeling him into the operating. Doug had to take the phone out of his hands and say, president, that's enough. But I think they've kept the phone out of his hands right now. You know he was working right up until the last second. That's who Bill Clinton is.

MALVEAUX: I understand, too, he did not have to be put under anesthesia, is that correct?


MALVEAUX: Is that correct? Is that what you've learned?

MCAULIFFE: I believe so. I don't know. I did that ask that question. But it's a procedure -- you know it, you know, the president is in very good shape.

First of all, you know, since he had the occurrences before, you know, he has been an absolute health nut. He exercises every day, he eats the right foods and he has taken very good care of himself and he works very hard and that's what keeps him going. He loves life and he loves helping people. Through Clinton Global Initiative and these things, he's traveled consistently throughout the world.

What Bill Clinton thrives upon is helping other people and it may be a tough day today and he's now through it but what Bill Clinton thinks about is all those people in Haiti today. They've lost loved ones and they don't have food and they don't have power and life's tough for a lot of people. That's what he thinks about.

MALVEAUX: Sure. Terry, let me ask you, do you know who's in the room with him? It's Doug, it's his daughter, Chelsea, is there anybody else there? A small group, a big group?

MCAULIFFE: No, I think Chelsea -- of course, Chelsea's there. I think Hillary's on her way up. I think Doug and a few of the staff are probably up there.

You know, listen, when we first heard it, everybody -- I did a quick rosary. Everybody, our thoughts and prayers went out because Bill Clinton has meant so much to so many of us. I was so relieved when I did finally speak to Doug and he said, Terry, he's fine and he's in very good spirits. So we're all relieved.

You know, he will spend a little time recovering but if you know Bill Clinton, Suzanne, he'll be right back at it fighting for other people. He always says it isn't about him, it's about other people. He's going to get out there trying to help people.

MALVEAUX: All right Terry. Yes. We certainly know.

He's a go getter there.

MCAULIFFE: And he's a fighter.

MALVEAUX: He definitely is. Thank you so much, Terry.


MALVEAUX: We have just learned that President Clinton's cardiologist is going to make a statement shortly. CNN is going to bring that statement live when it happens.

Also on the other big stories of the day, that is winter storms from Dallas to the northeast. We'll have more on that very shortly.


MALVEAUX: We are waiting just moments away from a statement from former Bill Clinton's cardiologist out of the New York Presbyterian Hospital to give the very latest on the president's condition. We are standing by for that. We'll bring it to you as soon as we get that.

Of course, there is another major story that we are following and that is the weather. If you're looking to escape the severe winter weather that has blasted much of the country over the past few weeks you may be running out of options. A new storm hitting the southeast right now dumping snow in places that almost never see it.

Our CNN meteorologist Chad Myers is joining us from the CNN Weather Center.

Chad, you know, there are not too many states I think that don't have snow on the ground at this point. There might be others getting snow.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I think maybe there's just two right now. Florida is going to go by the wayside. Alabama is going to go by. We're definitely going to get snow there. We think of Hawaii being a warm place. In fact you can ski in Hawaii on top of the Big Island. You just take your truck and drive up to the top, ski down and let somebody else drive it back up and come get you again.

Look at Lynchburg Virginia here -- this is an iReport. You can go to and take a look. This might be the widest snowman I've seen there. That's Dex 210. Everybody trying to get out of dodge. Look at Atlanta, Georgia; 143 planes in the air right now trying to get away from this. That is Dallas, Texas, right now; 7.2 inches of snow so far, a new record for the day.

Let's take a look at pictures from Frederick, Maryland. These are aerials and the reason why we tell you to put something in your car to keep yourself warm, make sure you have some food in your car, make sure you have plenty of gas in your car because that's what can happen when you can get just snow blowing around across the country.

We're going to see that snow blowing around all the way from Dallas right through Shreveport into Memphis tonight. That snow is going to make its way to Atlanta, Atlanta could get 4 inches of snow and Suzanne, that's like 40 inches in Minneapolis. It will be chaos here. Trust me.

MALVEAUX: All right. Chad, looks like it's going to be another challenging couple days here.

MYERS: Yes, it will.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thanks so much, Chad. I appreciate it. OK.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux in the SITUATION ROOM. Up next is Campbell Brown.