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New Urgency on Immigration Reform; Biden Visits the Gulf States

Aired June 29, 2010 - 17:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Rick. Happening now, immigration room jumps to the top of the president's to-do list in the midst of a monster oil spill, major confirmation hearings and economic hardship.

This hour the inside story on what's been happening behind the scene. How much can this president stack on his plate?

Also, we're learning more about an alleged Russian spy ring. Prosecutors described something out of a 1950s thriller, with everything from secret money drops to a mysterious woman at the center of the plot.

And Bill Clinton talks to Wolf Blitzer about the top global challenges in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. And the very personal challenge he'll face when his daughter Chelsea gets married.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The backlash against Arizona's tough immigration law has been percolating for two months now and now President Obama is responding with more legal and political power.

The president is going to deliver an important speech on immigration reform Thursday and the administration's formal challenge to the Arizona law may be filed in a matter of days.

I want to bring in our White House correspondent Dan Lothian.

And, Dan, you and I have been watching these developments for the last 48 hours. The president has been hosting a number of immigration advocates at the White House. What do we expect in the days to come?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, in that speech on Thursday, Suzanne, the president will be reemphasizing his push for comprehensive reform and in many ways, that speech will be focused at members of Congress.

Aides saying that they need everyone's support in order to get this done. One party alone cannot get it done and that Republicans need to come on board in order to move forward. So what you're seeing is the president reaching out to lawmakers and also community leaders.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LOTHIAN (voice-over): Juggling the global economic crisis, a Supreme Court nomination and the disastrous Gulf oil spill, President Obama is now pushing hard on immigration reform, meeting face-to-face with immigration advocates.

The message he got? Get comprehensive reform done this year.

ALI NOORANI, NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM: This far into the Obama administration we were not expecting 1,000 people per day to be deported. We are seeing a continuation of the Bush administration enforcement policies.

As a candidate he's -- he had promised to move immigration reform.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are not going to send them home.

NOORANI: As president he's run into a Republican wall of obstruction.

LOTHIAN: In his Monday's meeting with grassroots groups, the president reiterated his commitment to fixing the broken immigration system and said his administration will continue to work with Congress to act at the earliest possible opportunity.

But earliest depends on political hurdles, which the president acknowledged in a Cinco de Mayo speech.

OBAMA: Of course it's going to be tough. That's the truth. Anybody tells you it's going to be easier than I can wave a magic wand and make it happen hasn't been paying attention to how this town works.

LOTHIAN: Adding to this divisive debate, the Arizona law that gives police powers to check someone's immigration status. The Obama administration is considering a legal challenge to that law which could be filed as early as next week.

Meeting with the president, Noorani and others urged quick action.

NOORANI: Is immigration getting traction? I don't think we can avoid this problem anymore and I think that is really clear to the president and that's what we see in Arizona.


LOTHIAN: Now in the continued immigration and push, President Obama meeting here at the White House today with members of the congressional Hispanic caucus.

Now one official telling me that there is a big political component to this because there are a lot of Hispanics out there who voted for the president because of this very issue and if he doesn't move forward with it, they may not be there for him in the future -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And, Dan, in speaking with a couple of folks who were there with these meetings, with the president at the White House yesterday, they say they believe this is more about who gets the credit and who gets the blame.

That they really do not believe that the White House is going to be able to put forward immigration reform before the midterm elections, that they're simply trying to make this look like the White House is doing everything they can so they can blame the Republicans if they end up not getting anything.

What are you hearing?


MALVEAUX: What is the likelihood that they believe -- the White House believes that they are going to be able to push something through?

LOTHIAN: Well, you're right. I mean, that is what we hear from a lot in the -- a lot of folks in the immigration community, those immigrant rights groups. But the White House saying that this is something that the president has believed in ever since he was in the Senate, on the campaign trail, and after becoming president as well.

They believe that if this can get done in 2010 it really is in the hands of Republicans. And that's why they're calling on Republicans to rally behind this because as I pointed out the White House doesn't believe that they can do it alone.

MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you, Dan.

Well, now dueling confirmation hearings for two very important presidential nominees. We've been watching this all day. Supreme Court pick Elena Kagan and the soon-to-be U.S. war commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus.

Now Kagan is getting the tougher grilling of the two as we saw. As expected the ranking Republican on the committee pounds on Kagan's handling of military recruitment while she was a dean of Harvard Law School.

She defended her decision to briefly bar military recruiters from the school's career office because of the Pentagon's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Here's how she explained it.


ELENA KAGAN, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: Senator Sessions, I have repeatedly said that I believe that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is unwise and unjust. I believed it then and I believe it now.

And we were trying to do two things. We were trying to make sure that military recruiters had full and complete access to our students but we were also trying to protect our own anti-discrimination policy and to protect the students whom it is -- whom -- the policy is supposed to protect, which in this case were our gay and lesbian students. And we tried to do both of those things.


MALVEAUX: But Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, he didn't buy Kagan's explanation. Here's how he came back.


SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I'm just a little taken aback by the tone of your remarks because it's unconnected to reality. I know what happened at Harvard.

I know you're an outspoken leader against the policy. I know you acted without legal authority to reverse Harvard's policy and deny those -- military people access to the campus until you were threatened by the United States government of loss of federal funds.

This is what happened.


MALVEAUX: Now, as a less combative hearing for General David Petraeus, just a short while ago the Senate Armed Services Committee approved his nomination and sent it to the full Senate. Now some of the toughest questions for the general focused on whether the administration is set on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan next summer.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: General, at any time during the deliberations that the military shared with the president when he went through the decision-making process, was there a recommendation from you or anyone in the military that we set a date of July 2011?


MCCAIN: There was not by any military person that you know of?

PETRAEUS: Not that I'm aware of.


MALVEAUX: We're going to talk more about both the Petraeus and Kagan hearings ahead with the best political team on television.

I want to go to the Gulf Coast right now. Vice President Joe Biden is close to wrapping up his day-long tour of the oil disaster zone. He visits the naval air station in Pensacola, Florida this hour. Our senior correspondent Allan Chernoff covered by swing through New Orleans and is joining us now.

Did the vice president have any words of encouragement, any new news for the folks there about how things are going with the cleanup?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, actually he did. This is, by the way, his first visit to this area since the disaster that we had in the Gulf and the good news had to do with fishing.

He spent more than an hour meeting with commercial fishermen right near New Orleans and he said to them, there's been coordination between federal officials and state officials of all the Gulf states to coordinate on exactly one standard for reopening some areas of the Gulf to fishing.

And it turns out there really two areas in the Gulf -- two federal areas -- plus two areas owned by the state of Louisiana that are now being considered for reopening to fishing because projected oil spill movement actually didn't occur and so these areas are not all that polluted or not polluted at all, they are saying, and so they may soon be reopened.

The vice president said he wants fishermen back on the water as soon as possible.


JOE BIDEN, VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: NOAA and the Food and Drug Administration are announcing an agreement today that with all the Gulf states and with the federal government to set safety levels for seafood coming out of the Gulf, so we don't run into what the government pointed, where in state waters they thought it was clear to go ahead back and fish and the FDA said no, it doesn't meet the standard. And where you can do it but we're going to declare it's not edible.

Well, we want one single standard so you all don't have to worry about where you fish, if you can fish, and when the waters are open, whether they're federal waters or state waters.


MALVEAUX: So, Allan, what are the fishermen saying?

CHERNOFF: The fishermen were extremely appreciative. As I said, he spent more than an hour talking with them. And we chatted with one wholesaler who said he's desperate for help.


GARY BAUER, PONTCHARTRAIN BLUE CRAB: That would be a wonderful thing because right now we're having tremendous difficulty selling the product. It seems the public has lost their confidence in Louisiana seafood right now. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHERNOFF: The vice president was extremely empathetic. He talked about how his daughter had attended Tulane, how he had real connections to the people here, and how he simply did not want to see them lose their lifestyle. He said he understood how fishermen are just totally connected to the sea.

Let's have a listen to what he told us.


BIDEN: A lot of people talked about how somehow that, you know, there's no federal role here. Look, man, there's only one reason why the government has to help people in trouble.


CHERNOFF: And indeed, he talked very much about people and trouble. He said, look, you know, you fishermen, you are really tough guys but this is just another whack after Katrina, after Gustav.

And he said, you know, what, watch out for your buddies, clearly referring to that apparent suicide that occurred the other week, Suzanne. So he really brought his heart out to these people and they were very, very appreciative.

MALVEAUX: It sounds like they're listening. OK. Thank you so much, Allan.

Well, on Wall Street today, stock prices were dragged way down by fears that the global economy is heading for another slow down or even possibly a meltdown. The Dow Jones Industrials plunged to more than 260 points at the closing bell. The S&P 500 also tumbled to its lowest level in about eight months.

Well, the disaster in the gulf is forcing some hard-hit fishermen to take handouts. We're going to show you how one community is helping proud but hungry people keep food on the table.

And Bill Clinton weighs in on whether it will take military action to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb.


MALVEAUX: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File."

Hey, Jack. What are you working on?


If this doesn't set off alarm bells for the Democratic Party, it probably should. Newcomer Republicans senator Scott Brown is more popular in Massachusetts than top Democrats like President Obama and Senator John Kerry. We're talking Massachusetts here. The liberal bastion of politics where the late Ted Kennedy held a Senate seat for almost 50 years. A new "Boston Globe" poll shows 55 percent of Massachusetts residents have a favorable view of Brown who's been in Washington for only five months. Eighteen percent view him unfavorably.

Compare that to President Obama who gets a 54 percent favorable rating but a 41 percent unfavorable rating. This is Massachusetts. Or the other state senator in that state, John Kerry. He's been in the Senate for a long time. Fifty-two percent favorable rating but a 37 percent unfavorable rating.

The poll also shows support for Brown runs deep with the majorities of Republicans and independents. And the plurality of Democrats all viewing him favorably. Democrats are hoping to defeat Brown in 2012 when he has to run for a full term. They desperately want to recapture Ted Kennedy's seat.

That was one of the great political shocks of the last 50 probably, was the Democrats losing that seat.

That's a tall order at this point because Brown has become a hugely popular figure on the national stage as well. And that means he'll have no trouble raising whatever money he needs to run for re- election.

People also like the fact that as a candidate, Brown said he would be an independent person in Washington and he stuck to that, at times voting with Republicans but at times crossing the aisle and working with Democrats.

Imagine that. A politician who keeps his word. Hey, the sky can be the limit for this guy.

Here's the question: Republican Senator Scott Brown outpolls Democrats President Obama and Senator Kerry in Massachusetts. What's up with that?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

Stunning, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: I like that question.

CAFFERTY: Not unlike yourself.

MALVEAUX: What's -- well, thank you, Jack.


MALVEAUX: What's up with that? Gee.

CAFFERTY: What's up with that? Yes.

MALVEAUX: All right. We'll get back to you soon. Well, now more on Elena Kagan's Supreme Court confirmation hearing. Joining us to talk about that and much, much more are CNN chief political correspondent and host of "STATE OF THE UNION" Candy Crowley, CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist, Paul Begala, CNN political contributor and Republican strategist, Ed Rollins, and CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger.

Congratulations to all of you just getting through the hearings today.


MALVEAUX: I mean, it was a lot of hours, a lot of work, and some of you were there on the set all day since the early morning. Clearly a lot to talk about. One of the things that they talked about was this 1996 handwritten note that concerned commentators went out there saying that they believe that she was against gun control because of some comparisons she made between the NRA and KKK.

Senator Jon Kyl called her out on this. And here's how she responded.


SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: There is a note while you're at the White House, you were asked whether certain, or you asked a colleague whether there are certain organizations were on a list of organizations eligible for certain tax deductions and you referred to two of them.

One was the NRA, the other was the KKK. And you referred to them as, quote, "bad guy orgs."

KAGAN: I'm sure that was not in my reference. The notes that you're referring to are notes on a telephone poll, basically me jotting down things said -- were said to me.

KYL: But you wouldn't in any event put the NRA in the same category as the KKK, I gather?

KAGAN: It would be a ludicrous comparison.


MALVEAUX: Did she put this controversy to bed? Did she silenced her critics on this?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Ludicrous is a pretty good way to put it to bed, I think. I mean, look, if she can just silence her critics, probably not. I mean I think people have pretty much decided how they're going to vote.

So if you're asking, has she changed any votes, the answer is no. Has she put an end to the issue, I think she was pretty strongly saying, I think it's ludicrous and by the way, that was someone talking to me and I was taking notes. PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right. That last point -- she's a friend of mine, I support her, I was colleague of hers at the White House. And she said something that was very commonsensical, which is rare in a Harvard Law professor, I will grant you.

She said, when I'm on the phone, and I'm taking notes, I usually don't right down what I'm saying. I write down what the other person is saying, and that made perfect sense to me.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Kind of like a reporter. We're taking notes, right?

BEGALA: Right.

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Now the NRA wants to find out who that person was on the phone.


ROLLINS: And they will hunt them down.


BORGER: They know who it is. They know who it is.

MALVEAUX: Was that disarming, do you think, that she just -- just kind of dismissed that and said --


ROLLINS: Well, first of all, that is ludicrous. And these two -- I mean the KKK is an outrageous organization that no one in America would be supportive of today, or very few would be. The NRA is a very important organization and Democrats and Republicans have supported them.

BORGER: You know, and it was a product liability case and what they were trying to figure out was gets an exempt from lawsuits. And so the person she was talking to clearly wanted to make sure that the NRA and the KKK would not be exempt from these lawsuits. So that person said bad and she wrote down bad. End of case.

MALVEAUX: So, thankfully we'll switch the topic. We'll move on to something else since we've done a lot of Kagan today.

Immigration reform. I've been speaking with White House officials, and you know this is something that obviously the president is going to be putting on his calendar. We're going to see a big speech -- the White House is calling it a big speech -- on Thursday. He's been meeting with the Hispanic caucus today. Yesterday it was immigration advocates.

And he is pushing for -- at least the White House looks like it's pushing for immigration reform for this year. Now the latest CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll shows that Americans are feeling a little bit differently about the issue. When they say the main focus on U.S. policy on illegal immigration -- immigrants should be plan to allow them to become legal residents of the U.S., 38 percent say yes, that's the direction we should go. Deporting them and stopping more from coming to the U.S., that is 60 percent.


MALVEAUX: Is there a disconnect here between the Obama administration and what Americans are telling what they want here?

BORGER: Well, if you listen to that poll, if you look at that poll, yes. I remember when those numbers were flipped when Barack Obama was running for president and more people wanted to find a path to citizenship.

And I think what this may be is a reflection of the economy we're living in and that people feel like they are losing their jobs right now. They are not sure about their economic future. And so they're worried about someone else taking their job.

ROLLINS: There's been two presidents back to back who both wanted to do immigration reform. Democrats have had a majority and congressmen in both places have shown no great inclination to move this forward.

And you're certainly not going to move it forward with three and a half, four months to go to an election.

BEGALA: That's right. As my kids would say, NHD, not happening, dude. He can give all the speeches he wants, he ain't got the votes.

CROWLEY: You've got your policy agenda, you've got your political agenda. And I think I would put the speech on immigration in the political agenda. I think he has to show some sort of effort. This is it. But take a look at Capitol Hill, take a look at where some of these people in some of these districts are having to campaign. It's just might.


ROLLINS: With the exception of Harry Reid. Harry Reid obviously wants --


ROLLINS: -- to do something with this once again. I'm not sure anything is going to help him with this.

MALVEAUX: It might be a cynical point of view, but I spoke with somebody who had met with the president on this issue and they believe it's all about just looking to blame the Republicans for the president --

BORGER: Shocking. MALVEAUX: -- looks like he's doing something and they're just putting -- put the blame on down because it's not going to happen for --

ROLLINS: In this particular poll, you're putting the Republicans on the side of the public. So it's a pretty good place for us to be and I would be happy that the president put us there.

BEGALA: It does divide both parties but in interesting ways. I do think that it ultimately strategically, not for this election, but over time hurts Republicans more because it divides their pro business and especially small business but also big ones based from their social base.

In other words, there's a lot of businesses. Those illegal immigrants are working somewhere and they're working for businesses and those businesses are mostly owned by Republicans and they mostly support liberal immigration laws the way George Bush tried to pass.

But then there's the kind of tea party base which really hates the kind of liberal immigration reform that the corporate base wants. And so it divides the Republicans as well.


ROLLINS: Major concessions on this part where he basically is saying, we are the party of small business.


ROLLINS: Usually Democrats claim that --

BEGALA: Just a small businesses that are breaking the law by hiring illegals.

BORGER: And what about Hispanic voters? Well --

BEGALA: You see that's the thing. I mean --

BORGER: That's the Democratic Party calculations.

BEGALA: Ed's home state of California went for the Republicans in '52, '56, '60, '68, '72, '76, '80, '84, '88, nine out of ten elections. And then after they put up this really nasty nativist immigration referenda, which passed, so technically it works. Strategically, Democrats haven't lost in California since. It's been a whole generation of Democratic dominance in California.

MALVEAUX: All right. We -- you got a final thought there --

CROWLEY: Well, I just would go back. It's a different time and a different place. And I think, you know, liberal immigration reform is -- you know, depends on where you started from. What a lot of people are talking about, saying, yes, first we're going to secure that border and then we'll talk about these citizens who are these non-citizens who are here. So it's not exactly come on in. I mean there -- it's not what I would call liberal immigration reform.

BORGER: Everybody wants to secure the border.

CROWLEY: Right. Exactly.

BORGER: Everybody.


BEGALA: But it's not amnesty which is what Reagan signed into.

MALVEAUX: Got to leave it there.


MALVEAUX: Got to leave it there. Be quiet.


MALVEAUX: Well, we'll be watching the hearings again tomorrow.


MALVEAUX: All right. Thanks, guys. Got to leave it there.

It's a popular drug for a common condition. Now a new concern about increased risk of heart failures, strokes, even death. We have details of two troubling new studies.

Plus, President Obama fired him from commanding the Afghan war but is offering General Stanley McChrystal a parting gift. New details are just coming in.


MALVEAUX: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories that are coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Hey, Lisa, what are you working on?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Suzanne. Well, this is just in to CNN. A day after announcing his retirement, General Stanley McChrystal is getting some help from the White House.

CNN's Barbara Starr has learned President Obama is letting General McChrystal retire as a four-star general, waving a law requiring four-star officers to serve three years at that level before qualifying for retirement benefits and payment at that rank.

McChrystal has served as a four-star general for about a year.

The body of Senator Robert Byrd will lie in repose in the U.S. Senate chamber Thursday. Members of the public won't be allowed on the Senate floor but can pay their respects from the gallery above.

The West Virginia Democrat died yesterday morning. Byrd is the longest serving member of Congress with nine terms in the Senate after six yeas in the House.

And the popular diabetes drug Avandia is under new scrutiny after two studies show patients who used it have increased risk of heart failure, strokes and death than patients who took another similar diabetes drug. GlaxoSmithKline which makes Avandia says clinical trials show the drug doesn't increase the risk of heart problems.

The FDA will discuss the drug's safety in two weeks -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, thank you, Lisa.

Bill Clinton predicts that Iran will be toast if it ever uses a nuclear bomb. Stand by for his conversation with Wolf Blitzer about global hotspots and about Chelsea Clinton's big day.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You have to get ready as the father of the bride to walk her down the aisle. Can you do that without crying?




MALVEAUX: Former President Bill Clinton calls it the toughest issue the world faces right now, the very real threat of Iran building a nuclear bomb. Wolf Blitzer interviewed Clinton in South Africa at the CNN global forum which compensated the former president for his appearance. Here's part of the conversation.

BLITZER: Is there any way to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb?

CLINTON: I don't know. I thought you were going to ask me something else. I thought you were going to say, is there any way to stop Iran from being influential in Iraq and the answer is, no, because of the number of Shia in the population and because they are neighbors and have got to get along. When they didn't get along, they fought a war that was horrible for both of them, including child soldiers getting killed by the thousands. So they had to get along.

BLITZER: On that point, there are some who say the big winner in Iraq right now so far is Iran.

CLINTON: Could be. But if you look at the history of the Iraqis, even the Iraqi Shiite who have taken help from the Iranians, various elements in Iranian society, have shown a remarkable stubbornness when it came to preserving the sovereignty in their own decision making. So I don't buy into this, if Iran has a relationship with Iraq, they will be in a tank with Iran every time an issue comes before the U.N. for the next 50 years. I just don't buy that. On the bomb, I think that, first of all, let's be honest. This is the toughest issue the world faces. The story of the massive demonstrations in France yesterday with the Iranian force -- the pro democracy pro freedom forces and they were saying I wish you had tougher sanctions, look at where Iran has -- Ahmadinejad had to steal this last election. The first when he won fair and square because the Iranians, when I was president, was the only country in the world that voted six times by a votes of two-thirds to 70 percent of the people they could vote for. The people wanted to be reconciled with the people of prepared for peace in the east with Israelis. They won the mayors, they won the parliamentary twice, they elected most progressive president twice. The problem is that under the constitution the other 30 to 33 percent is represented and they control the money for terrorism for security and foreign policy generally and they had the right to strike candidates for ballots and laws from the power of the parliament's passing. So if we -- if the sanctions don't work, then the question is, could we stop them from having a bomb by taking military action? The answer to that is, probably but not certainly yes. Probably but not certainly because of the hallowed out -- the North Korea on steroids.

All of the stuff going on in the mountains, hard to reach. But what is the price of doing that? And what is the danger of there having a bomb? Keep in mind, if Iran had a bomb, first thing we need to be doing now is conducting vigorous diplomacy and saying look, you can get one of these but if you think you can use it and apologize and not be toast, you're wrong. They have to know that if they ever use it, they are done. We have to know that if we take preemptive military action, then 70 percent of the people that want to be our friends may flip and become totally alienated. It is a hell of a hard problem. It's the toughest problem in the world today. The major danger of Iran becoming a nuclear power, I believe, is that the physical material that they would have to amass to make these bombs would become the most -- the juiciest target in the world for non- state actors who would like to have a suitcase nuclear bombs. And will the Iranians sell it to them? Will they give it to them? Can it be stolen? Can some corrupt person in the supply chain give it to some other group? And so I still think there is a chance, by the way, that we can not do it, but you're going to have to cut a deal with everybody to keep them on the sanctions path and we're going to have to show the Iranians repeatedly that there is a better way to a normal life with other countries. And we have fought a very delicate line because we don't want to basically gut the forces of democracy and freedom by strengthening the reactionary forces in control by making a deal with them. On the other hand, if you can make a deal that would be enforceable, it would be worth doing. So it's a terrible problem. I'm not prepared to say we can't stop it. But I think you all need to know why it's so hard. There are no good options here.

BLITZER: What about a revolution in Iran? Is that out of the question?

CLINTON: No, I don't think it's out of the question. But it would have to have, on the facts, you'd have to have either the defection of a significant portion of the military forces or you'd have to have all of those kids in the street at election time, a lot of them would have to be prepared to die. I mean, that's just one of the two things that is going to happen. If the whole world saw large numbers of them dying, I think the government would not survive. The system would not survive. But keep in mind, it is a profoundly dysfunctional system because the Iranians are patriotic. None of them want us to bomb them. I say none; very, very few, even the ones that agree with us and don't give a rip about Ahmadinejad and the Mullas. But they are in a system where they keep getting trapped. All their hopes for change are thwarted because of the religious constitution which lets the minority tale bite the majority dog on the things that the rest of the world cares most about.

BLITZER: Final question, and this is just -- this will be a tough one for the president but I know he's got a good answer for it first of all, all of us want to wish you congratulations. Your daughter is about to get married and we wish you only, only happiness. You have to get ready, as the father of the bride to walk her down the aisle. Can you do that without crying?

CLINTON: I don't know and one of the rare arguments that I had with my daughter in high school, and they were rare, she always did great honor to our family. I looked at her and I said, you have to understand, I consider being president my second most important job. I think anybody who has ever had a child believes the best thing that ever happened to them. And I don't know. But I'm profoundly grateful for not only her life but I like my son-in-law to be and I admire him very much. He's a remarkable human being. So I feel very blessed. But I'm going to try not to cry because this is not about me. It's not partly about me. I don't even want to be mentioned in the story but I don't want to stumble walking down the aisle. But I'm going to try. I might not be able to do it.

BLITZER: I suspect you won't. Congratulations Mr. President.

CLINTON: Thank you.


MALVEAUX: They are the heart and soul of the gulf coast's fishing industry but now many of them can't afford to feed themselves.

And a new role for Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol.


MALVEAUX: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories that are coming into THE SITUATION ROOM on the CNN political ticker right now. What are you working on?

SYLVESTER: Hi there, Suzanne. Well Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is the target of a new campaign ad in his home state. This commercial paid for by a conservative group attacks the four-term Democrat and his assertion that he can do more than his Republican opponent because of his seniority in the race. Polls show Reid in a tight race in a lead up to the November election.

Democrats say they are looking for videos like this one. You may recall this. This was a 2006 flick that showed then Senator George Allen using a racial slur at a campaign event, a video that helped derail his re-election. The Democratic National Committee is launching a new web site called the accountability project. It's encouraging volunteers to upload video from Republican events and photos of candidates.

Bristol Palin is opening up about being a mom. The 19 year old is promoting her acting debut. She will be in an episode of ABC family drama "The Secret Life of the American Teenager." Palin's full time job is caring for her son and appears herself in the episode that shows the struggles of a pregnant teen.

BRISTOL PALIN, DAUGHTER OF SARAH PALIN: It's a lot of work. It's definitely a juggling act but it's possible and once you are in that situation of being a teen parent, you know, you have to deal with it. You have to triturate your education and get a job for your child.

She taped that episode back in March.

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Lisa.

We are getting a clear portrait of an alleged Russian spy ring, including a young woman who could be a character in a James Bond movie.

And we'll follow up with a top Republican on the Senate judiciary committee, and why he is questioning Elena Kagan's credibility.


MALVEAUX: Officials in Moscow confirmed that the suspects in an alleged spy ring are Russian citizens but they are calling the charges against them unfounded. An 11th suspect who been missing was arrested in Cyprus and released on bail. We want to bring in our CNN's Deborah Feyerick and prosecutors seem to be like liking this case to a 1950s spy novel almost. It's incredible what is unfolding. What did you learn today, Deb?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. The justice department just a short while ago said that the reason the FBI moved in to arrest these alleged spies is because one of them intended to leave the United States. The justice department not saying whether it was the man who was detained in Cyprus on that Interpol warrant. However, a clearer picture is emerging as to exactly who these people are.


FEYERICK: She is accused of being a spy but Anna Chapman says an acquaintance is not so much James Bond as she is James Bond's girlfriend. The striking 28-year-old entrepreneur seen here on her Facebook page appears to have started, a search engine for Russian real estate. Many of her Facebook friends seemingly of Russian origin. The FBI says she's a highly trained intelligent operative, a spy the headlines read sophisticated enough to elude detection until now.

An FBI agent says Anna Chapman was inside this coffee shop on her computer when a van known to be driven by a Russian government official passed by. It's at that point that FBI agents detected a wireless network signal. They say Anna Chapman was passing encrypted data from her computer to a computer inside that vehicle. Whether real estate was Chapman's real career, another woman in Boston accused of being a spy is also in real estate. On her website Ann Foley is described as a native of Montreal who lived and was educated in Switzerland, Canada and France. According to court papers, her alibi on a trip to Russia was she was working as an international business consultant. Her husband, Donald Howard Heathfield, an international sales consultant for an energy company is also under arrest. Prosecutors say a birth certificate was found in a safety deposit box and though it appears genuine, prosecutors the real Donald Heathfield passed away five years ago. Of the 11 alleged spies, one worked as a journalist for the New York Based Spanish language newspaper El Diario. Vicky Pelaz is accused of traveling to South America where she received $76,000 allegedly for recruiting sources. On a wire tap, her husband Juan who claimed to be born in Uruguay is allegedly telling his wife he and his parents moved to Siberia when the war started.


FEYERICK: Except for the man in Cyprus who was released on bail and passport confiscated, all of the defendants are being detained. Prosecutors are arguing that they are a flight risk. It is so interesting to see who they are. The woman, Ann Chapman has celebrity photographs on her Facebook page, and then the other woman, Ann Foley, when we spoke to her boss, he said, she was very popular when selling real estate. So different picture emerging than the one certainly in that criminal complaint.

MALVEAUX: It is a fascinating story. Thank you so much, Deb.

Jack Cafferty is next with your e-mail. And General David Petraeus makes a pledge, details of what he says will be different about the Afghan war under his command.


MALVEAUX: Jack joins us again with "The Cafferty File" -- Hey, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Well, the question, Suzanne, this hour is: Republican Scott Brown outpolls Democrats President Obama and Senator Kerry in Massachusetts. What's up with that?

Will writes from Euclid, Ohio, "It does not shock me at all. After all a majority of Americans are moderate, centrist independents and not in the political extremes of radical right or radical left as you would prefer to portray them to be. It looks like this guy is actually doing what the people want, and he might make himself a career out of it." Katherine writes from Massachusetts, "Polls are by nature inaccurate. Scott Brown is not nearly as accurate as the "Boston Globe" poll indicates. Massachusetts voters like a maverick but they are still liberal leaning. Don't make any assumptions."

Mel writes: "He is popular all right. My powers of premonition tell me that it is quite possible that this junior senator will run for president and win in 2012 or 2016 and this time, the candidate will have the experience and the fortitude to match his popularity."

A conservative and practical Republican writes this: "It is simple, people are tired of the insider incumbent feel, but they don't want crazy, fringe-element lunatics either. Brown in his practical yet nontraditional approach have seemingly filled that void. Perhaps others can join him."

And Susan in Idaho says: "Let him be president for 18 months and then see what the reviews are."

William says: "He is polling well in the Democratic state, because he's a Democrat. Northeastern Republicans are still Republicans, but they are not insane and idiotic like other Republicans are, and that is why you think it is weird."

And Jim in North Carolina writes: "Everything works in cycles and right now common sense is the new in-thing, and the good folk of Massachusetts have evolved."

You want to read more about this, go to my blog at Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Jack.

Well, fishing families that helped feed the gulf coast for generations are now accepting handouts to feed themselves.


MALVEAUX: In the gulf many hard-hit crabbers and shrimpers now have to accept help they once might have shunned. Our Lisa Sylvester has more.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): At the Bay Area Food Bank some 12,000 pounds of food are loaded up. The mobile food pantry is headed out to an Alabama gulf community where crabbing and fishing is in the blood. Charlie Goodrum's family has been at it for more than three generations. For a man who is used to catching his own fish, it is hard to accept a food handout.

CHARLIE GOODRUM, BAYOU LA BATRE RESIDENT: Things in the bayou are not what they used to be. All of my friends are put out of business. It is tough. Just their livelihood is the fish and the shrimp and the oysters and do what we can to supplement our incomes, and for some of us, that is all we have. SYLVESTER: The boats it is idle. It was a decent year last year, but not this year. Just getting back after hurricane Katrina, but this is a different licking, because it is hard to see an end.

TANYA GOODRUM, BAYOU LA BATRE RESIDENT: If you have a hurricane, you can clean it up, but this is just like you can clean it up, but it is going to still keep coming and coming. A hurricane, you can go everyday and do something. But the oil, it just keeps coming.

SYLVESTER: The Goodrum's are joined by some 300 others looking for food to put on the table. Cereal, eggs, clam chowder and the foods provided by companies, grocery stores and government grants. One-third of the bayou's immigrants are Asian Americans, and this worker used to pick crab and she was making $500 a week, and now it is down the $150 a week.

NORASY SISAVANH, BAYOU LA BATRE RESIDENT: The truck is not coming, and we have no work. Like today, we would have work, but today, we have no work.

DAVE REANEY, EXEC. DIR., BAY AREA FOOD BANK: When you look at our service area, Alabama and Mississippi in particular, they are I think number one and number three in the highest poverty levels in America. So, you have already communities that have a lot of people in need. And the support structure, because of the recession, it didn't grow.

SYLVESTER: Despite the uncertainty, not knowing when the oil leak will stop, and having to go without, folks like Charlie Goodrum have no desire to pack up and leave.

GOODRUM: I have been around the world, but this is home. We will always come back to it. Come back to it.


SYLVESTER: Now, the Goodrum's have not yet filed a claim with BP, but they are planning to do that, and the woman, Suzanne, did receive a $1,000 check from BP. But she says, you know, more than two months after the spill considering a couple of mortgage payments, utilities, car payments -- well, that money is all but gone. She is waiting for another check from BP, but so far Suzanne, she has not received it -- Suzanne?