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Author Looks at Future of Economy; GOP Encouraging Homeless to Run as Green Party Candidates

Aired September 16, 2010 - 18:30   ET



Happening now: shocking new evidence of how much pain Americans are feeling in the economy right now -- 14 percent of the population living in poverty. We are going to show you what it is like for some not very far away from the White House.

Republicans are accused of recruiting people across the street to run as third-party candidates in Arizona. Is there really a ploy to siphon votes away from Democrats?

And a high-speed chase ends in a beating caught on videotape, but it may not be the end for officers involved.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

One of every seven Americans living in poverty, stunning new proof of just how rough the economy has been for so many people. Take a look at this. Government figures out today show the nation's poverty rate jumped to 14.3 percent last year, the highest level in a decade-and-a-half. More than 43 million Americans were in need. That is the highest number in half-a-century of record-keeping.

So, who is living in poverty? The government puts the threshold at $21,954 for a family of four. The White House claims the grim numbers would be even worse without the stimulus act. And I am quoting now the White House straight ahead: "Because of the Recovery Act and many other programs, millions of Americans were kept out of poverty last year," that statement from the president.

Not far from the White House, reality, though, of these numbers, these poverty numbers all to clear.

Our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry, got a firsthand look at the situation.

Ed, you did not have to go very far from the North Lawn of the White House to see real poverty in the nation's capital.


And what is fascinating is this whole economic debate playing out between the White House, Republicans on the Hill has been stuck on whether or not tax cuts should go to the people making under $250,000 a year or richer people making over $250,000 and beyond.

And, yet, I only had to go a few blocks from here to find people making far, far less. I spoke to two people who are unemployed. They're living off of Social Security benefits, just getting a few hundred dollars a month. They are getting a help from a nonprofit called SOME. It stands for So Others Might Eat.

They provide hot meals, but also low-cost housing to try to help these people get back on their feet. I spoke to two people who basically said that this whole economic debate in Washington is missing a crisis occurring just a few blocks from here.


HENRY: We all heard the awful statistics that basically say that the poverty rate in America is now over 14 percent, that about 43 million people are living in poverty, the worst level since 1965.

But we wanted to get beyond the statistics so we went less than about a half-a-mile from the White House. And we have two people living on about $200 a month from Social Security, both out of work.

I want to talk to you, first, Brian, to give us an idea behind the statistics of what it is really like to live in poverty in America right now.

BRIAN POWELL, UNEMPLOYED: Well, first off, it is very demoralizing. It's a perfect lesson in humility. And the biggest adjustment that I had a problem with in the beginning is being able to separate your wants from your needs.

HENRY: And, Alisa, President Obama on Friday at a news conference talked about the poverty agenda. And he said he wants to help people like you. What do you want him to know about what it is like to live in poverty right now?

ALISA MATHIAS, UNEMPLOYED: Right now, it is hard finding permanent housing, apartments on just the income that we make.

To me, if we had more federal, you know, like HUD housing or whatever, for those that are really trying, you know, that really need -- really need that extra help, it would make it better.

HENRY: Sure.

Now, there is this debate going on right now, Brian, in Washington where the president has been debating with Republicans on Capitol Hill about tax cuts and whether tax cuts should go to the people, families making under $250,000 a year or people making above $250,000 a year, whether there should be tax cuts for the rich that are extended as well.

When you hear a debate like that playing out less a mile from where you live over at the White House, what do you think?

POWELL: Well, first of all, it ilk s foreign for me. I wish I could fall in either one of those categories to where I could be hoping I got the tax cut or not. I mean, at the position -- it just doesn't apply to me at all. It is sad.


HENRY: Now, when April Ryan of American Urban Radio asked the president at that news conference last Friday about his anti-poverty agenda, he said, look, you can give federal help and try to target specific communities, but that can only help in the short term.

Really, long-term, the only solution is real job growth. And this is something the president has been working on for 20 months now. And as he, himself, has said, it is painfully slow trying to get that job growth going. And there's people not far from the White House suffering through that right now, Wolf.

BLITZER: It is hard to believe these numbers are so high in the United States of America -- 40 million Americans rely on government food stamps simply to eat every single day.

Ed Henry, working the story at the White House, thanks.

Let's go deeper right now. After months of debate and a lot of arm-twisting by the White House, the Senate today passed a $42 billion measure aimed at giving small businesses a shot in the arm. Democrats say it can create half a million new jobs by making credit more available to small businesses.

Only two Republicans voted in favor of the legislation, though the bill did once have strong bipartisan support.

Let's bring in our chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley. She's the host of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" which airs Sunday mornings 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

Politically, what is going to be the impact of this jobs bill, this small business tax break that passed today?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Listen, it is another notch for Democrats, another notch for the president. And when they go out there and they can say, we did health care reform, we did the stimulus bill, we did Wall Street reform, and we got tax cuts for small businesses.

And the president has been fighting against the image that he is anti-business, so it is a notch, but in practical terms, it is not going to take effect before the midterms. And people have pretty much made up their minds how they feel about the economy. And most of them think it is pretty bad. So, it does help in political terms.

Is it going to help down the line and create those jobs they talk about? I guess we will have to wait and see, because, as you know, there are differing opinions.

BLITZER: When the president says it is bad right now, the economy, but it would be even worse if the Congress had not enacted the legislation that he proposed, is that a tough political sell?

CROWLEY: It is. It is, because you have -- on the one hand, you have these facts, these strong figures, unemployment at 9.6. Poverty rate we're now talking about, not just in the rate, but in the sheer numbers of people in poverty, going up.

You have all of these sort of bad economic figures. And it is just -- it's not a bumper sticker to go, it would have been worse had I not acted, because people don't feel it. And if they don't feel it, it is just hard to argue, as right as it may or may not be, as right as it -- it just is not something that sinks in so much as those other, you know, poverty figures, the unemployment figures, the number of people losing their homes.

BLITZER: It explains the lack of enthusiasm for a lot of the president's supporters in the Democratic Party.

Candy is going to have more Sunday morning on "STATE OF THE UNION."

Thanks very much.

More people may be living in poverty, but money to give needy Americans a better safety net is running out. One major stimulus for the Temporary Assistance For Needy Families program has only two more weeks left. The money distributed to low-income households with children can be used for cash grants, food programs, housing assistance. It also funds a job programs which supporters could put 200,000 people back to work.

As the U.S. winds down its military role in Iraq, a stable government there becomes even more vital to security, but six months after Iraq's election, there is still no new government in Baghdad.

The secular party headed by the former interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, won that vote by a thin margin. I sat down with him earlier in the week to talk about Iraq's future. Allawi tells me he should be the next prime minister. He hopes a new government can be formed by the end of October, but he says, if there is further delay, things could fall apart in Iraq. Are the odds stacked against a good outcome for the Iraqi people? Listen to this.


BLITZER: You know that your neighbors, the Iranians, the government of President Ahmadinejad, that regime basically hates you and doesn't want you to have any role in a future Iraq. You understand that.

I guess that the question is, how much influence do the Iranians have in Iraq right now?

AYAD ALLAWI, FORMER IRAQI INTERIM PRIME MINISTER: Unfortunately, they do have a considerable influence. They have more influence now than before, because of the drawdown of the American forces and the position the United States is in as a whole in the Middle East. And definitely the Iranians do not want to see a prime minister who could perform well, who could be an Iraqi rival and a sectarian prime minister, and who would run a good, peaceful, democratic government.

Unfortunately, this is the case, but definitely we believe the Iraqi and the Iraqi principles will prevail ultimately.

BLITZER: The U.S. has withdrawn all but 50,000 troops from Iraq. And the remaining 50,000 are supposed to be out by the end of next year. How worried are you about the future of Iraq without a U.S. military presence there?

ALLAWI: Well, we are quite worried, because, really, we have not been able to develop a kind of regional understanding and a regional security understanding.

And this is sending problems, shivers throughout the region. We believe that, unfortunately, Iran is trying to influence events in Iraq, elsewhere in the region also. And we think this is not a healthy sign. And we need to work and expedite the functions of proving that there can be a security in the region not based on tensions, but based on economic and trade cooperation.

I think that the remaining period of the American forces should be seen as a chance to develop such a security arrangement in the region. I think both the United States and the United Nations should take responsibility to see that such an agreement is being developed in the whole region. Otherwise, really, the situation could be very dangerous in Iraq, as well as in the region.


BLITZER: Illegal drug use is on the rise here in the United States. It is the highest rate in a decade. And marijuana users are leading the way, we are told. We are going to find out what is behind the increase.

And Republicans in Arizona are accused of pulling people off the street to run as Green Party candidates. Is it a scheme to pull votes away from Democrats?

Plus, a high-speed chase ends with a shocking police beating, all caught on camera. For the officers involved, it may not be the end of the story.


BLITZER: Looks like that tornado warning in New York City has cleared, at least for now. We have some reports of hail, serious winds in Brooklyn, maybe in Queens, but looks like the worst is over with, which is good.

Let's go back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: In the wake of the Tea Party's primary successes, suddenly the game has changed.

The marquee matchup going into November is in Nevada, my home state. That's where the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, Harry Reid, is trailing Republican and Tea Party member Sharron Angle, who's backed by many in the Tea Party.

A new poll of likely voters in Nevada shows Angle and Reid are tied, but -- and this is a big but -- Angle is leading among the crucial Independent voters in Nevada by seven percentage points. A lot of time. Things could change.

Sharron Angle says controversial stuff, like calls to phase out Social Security and Medicare, eliminate the IRS and the Department of Education.

Doesn't matter, just like in Delaware it didn't matter that Tea Partier Christine O'Donnell has a history of financial problems, lots of them, and has used her views on abstinence, among things, to rule out masturbation.

One of the reasons Harry Reid is in big trouble is that he was President Obama's water carrier on such controversial legislation as health care reform. Most people didn't want it, at least not the bill that eventually passed, but thanks to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, we got it anyway.

If there's a single race anywhere in the country that will set up the Tea Party for a legitimate place on the stage in the great drama that will be the presidential race of 2012, it's the defeat of the Senate majority leader. How are the Democrats going to explain it if Harry Reid loses to this woman?

Midterm elections traditionally are a bit of a yawn, but maybe not this time. In fact, you might want to get your tickets early, because this year my hunch is this is going to quickly turn into standing room only. It's going to be good stuff.

Here's the question: What message would it send if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid loses to a member of the Tea Party. It would be, like, huge. Go to and post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: It is a really, really close contest in Nevada, if you read the polls, Jack.

CAFFERTY: They are tied, but she is ahead by seven points among independents right now.


CAFFERTY: Which means if the election was held today, she would win.

BLITZER: And she is usually doing much better among likely voters, as opposed to registered voters, and the Republicans have more likely voters, because they are more enthusiastic. CAFFERTY: Much more enthusiastic. That's true. And I think that is normal, isn't it, for those who are out of power to sort of be champing at the bit to go in and throw the bums out in the midterms. I think that's pretty much the pattern.

BLITZER: You are absolutely right, Jack. Thank you.

All right, more Americans are using illegal drugs right now or abusing prescriptions. And marijuana is said to be at the heart of the increase.

Our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, is looking at all the numbers for us.

What are you seeing, Jeanne?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, drug use is up, but the question is that because current policies don't work or because talk of changing those policies had made drug use look less harmful?


MESERVE (voice-over): Illegal drug use is higher than it has been in a decade. According to a new government survey, usage among Americans 12 over rose from 8 percent in 2008 to 8.7 percent in 2009, with an upswing in the use of ecstasy, methamphetamines, and particularly marijuana.

Among teenagers, marijuana use jumped from 6.7 percent in 2008 to 7.3 percent in 2009, though it is still less than it was in 2002.

GIL KERLIKOWSKE, U.S. DRUG POLICY DIRECTOR: Young, heavy marijuana users are much more likely to report getting D's and F's than A's and B's, are more likely to be in trouble with the law for crimes like theft.

MESERVE: The survey shows a change in teens' attitudes toward using marijuana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marijuana has a very low risk compared to other things, I would say.

MESERVE (on camera): Like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like, well, alcohol for example.

MESERVE (voice-over): The nation's drug czar say fewer teens see marijuana as dangerous because of media coverage of current policy debates.

KERLIKOWSKE: I absolutely cannot rule out that this constant discussion of so-called medical marijuana, marijuana legalization, and the downplaying of marijuana harms that is prevalent in the media.

MESERVE: With California voting in November on a ballot measure legalizing marijuana, that debate has picked up tempo. Earlier this week, former heads of the Drug Enforcement Administration urged the Obama administration to take a strong stand against the measure.

But supporters of legalized marijuana say the new survey numbers illustrate the failure of current policy criminalizing marijuana.

MIKE MENO, MARIJUANA POLICY PROJECT: We need a legal, regulated marijuana market.

MESERVE (on camera): And that will lead to less teen use of marijuana?

MENO: It has for alcohol. It has for tobacco.


MESERVE: In fact, a survey shows the rate of teen alcohol and tobacco use stayed essentially the same during the past year. Other trends, the abuse of prescription drugs, is up, but the use of cocaine has declined 30 percent since 2006 -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much for that, Jeanne.

A gunman opens fire at one of the nation's top hospitals. We are going to give you a full report.

And more bad news for smokers in New York City. It is already against the law to light up in public places indoors. Now the mayor wants to ban smoking outside as well. We will give you all the details, all the top stories coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: Speaking of running, what about running for office?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I actually do paranormal investigations and also spiritual healing, things of that nature. I also study Reiki.


BLITZER: Are Republicans pulling people off the street to run as third-party candidates? Democrats say it is a scheme to siphon votes away from them.

And a high-speed chase, a brutal police beating, and how the cops allegedly tried to hide what happened.

Plus, you heard about the big jump in the poverty numbers. When -- when can we expect a jump in the number of jobs being created?


BLITZER: Let's get back to our big story, the powerful new proof of just how much pain Americans are feeling right now in this still- struggling economy, new figures showing that 43.6 million people were living below the poverty line last year. That is the highest number ever recorded in the United States.

And it breaks down to one in every seven Americans. And for the first time in two decades, the number of Americans without health insurance rose last year to 50.7 million. It has been two years now since the collapse on Wall Street.

Let's talk about all of this and more with "New York Times" financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin. His best-seller is entitled "Too Big to Fail" is now out in paperback, some new updates.

Andrew, thanks very much for coming in.

ANDREW ROSS SORKIN, AUTHOR, "TOO BIG TO FAIL": Thank you for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: You talk to economists and business leaders every day. In the short term -- when I say "short term," in the next year or two, is there any significant improvement expected as far as jobs and the economy is concerned?

SORKIN: I think there is, so that's the good news. The bad news is that it's not going to feel that way for a good long time. To put it in perspective, for us to get back to the go-go years, the 2007 years, we need to create 11 million jobs in this country. That's a huge number.

And to put that in perspective to even get close to that, even over three years, you'd have to generate something on the order of 400,000 jobs a month, and we are so far from that. So to the extents that it still feels like a recession, I can't -- I can't tell you it's going to feel that much better next year or the year after, but I think slowly, we will have upticks.

But we were so overextended to begin with. If you consider the 2000 levels were artificial, it puts it in perspective in terms of how far we have to go.

BLITZER: This fight over extending the Bush-era tax cuts right now for the middle class, for the wealthy, the extremely wealthy, how would that -- how will that play out in terms of the economy?

SORKIN: Well, you know, I think that for the middle class, clearly, the tax cut is very, very, very important. And actually, in most parts of the country, I think you could probably get away with the tax -- with repealing the tax cut for the wealthiest people.

The problem is actually in the big cities. It's the New Yorks, the D.C.s, the Bostons, the San Franciscos where $250,000, as huge a number as that sounds, doesn't go as far as you might think, and the worry is, of course, that some of those families would start spending less. The question is what do you do? Do you take the Peter Orszag approach. He said why don't we extend this out for two more years and deal with it then? The problem is if the economy doesn't get that much better, there may be no political impetus to actually get those taxes back in order the way you want them to in two years from now.

BLITZER: When the government says 43.6 million people in the country are living in poverty right now, 40 million living basically on Food Stamps that the government provide. I don't see that number going down any time soon, do you?

SORKIN: Well, I think it's going to be very, very hard, and when you think about the stimulus plans that have now been put into effect, and we've heard about the infrastructure plan. The government is going to spend $50 billion on infrastructure. That will go some ways towards putting people back to work. Those are going to be somewhat -- I don't know if you want to call them shovel-ready jobs, because the problem with so many of these infrastructure jobs, as much value as gets traded, and by the way, for every dollar that the government spends on infrastructure, they should get about $1.57 out, which is actually much better than the original stimulus plan.

The problem is that these programs -- if you're going to build trains, it may take another 12 to 18 months before they actually put those shovels in the ground. So that -- that's the challenge we face.

BLITZER: The president is ready tonight to go a Democratic fund raiser in Greenwich, Connecticut, with some of his so-called fat-cat supporters out there, but you wrote a powerful piece in "The New York Times" the other day, why Wall Street is deserting Obama. You have all these major Democratic fundraisers who now think he is anti- business and are abandoning him, big time. What's going on?

SORKIN: Well, I actually think that this is more psychological than anything that has to do with policy or legislation. Most of the Wall Street folks who are Democrats who supported him the first time around, I think they recognized their taxes were likely to go up. I think they recognized that financial regulation was going to get tougher. I don't think that's what's bugging them so much. I think it's the sense this villainization issue, the sense that somehow they're all criminals, and they've all been painted with this brush. And I think, you know, for an industry that has a lot of egos in it, it's very tough to hear that over and over and over again.

BLITZER: You see any shift in the White House strategy? Is the president going to calm down as far as the rhetoric is concerned?

SORKIN: You know, I think he still thinks he's some getting political points for it in the rest of America, so I'm not sure he's pulling back. I do think he's trying to extend some olive branches towards Wall Street, towards small businesses, especially, given some of the tax breaks and other things that they're putting into effect.

But in terms of the, quote unquote, fat-cats, I'm not sure he's going to be able to win them back so quickly. BLITZER: The book is entitled "Too Big to Fail," the author Andrew Ross Sorkin of "The New York Times." Thanks very much for coming in.

SORKIN: Thank you, Wolf. Really appreciate it.

BLITZER: Thank you.

A key Republican activist in Arizona is supposedly recruiting people off the streets to be on the ballot.


ANTONY "GRANDPA" GOSHORN, GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE: He came to me and he said, "Yes, you can do it."

And I said, "Cool, where do I go? What do I do?" He pointed us in the right direction, and we took off with it.


BLITZER: We'll explain why Democrats say it's a scam to take votes away from them.

And outrage in Dallas over a videotape of a brutal police beating, but why did it take nearly two weeks for the public to see it? Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Republicans in Arizona are accused of helping homeless people to get on the ballot as Green Party candidates, allegedly in an effort to take votes away from Democrats. CNN's Ted Rowlands has been looking into the story.


GOSHORN: Certificate of nomination, secretary of state of Arizona.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anthony "Grandpa" Goshorn shows off the certificate that declares him the District 17 Green Party nominee for state Senate in Tempe, Arizona.

Grandpa has no political experience at all. He says he drives a taxi, has done some jail time, and was homeless until six months ago.

Twenty-seven-year-old Thomas Meadows is running for state treasurer. His experience includes...

THOMAS MEADOWS, GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE: I actually do paranormal investigations, and also spiritual healing and things of that nature. I also study Reiki.

ROWLANDS: These are two of the 11 candidates in Arizona that Democrats say are a sham, recruited by Republicans to run for the Green Party.

(on camera) Democrats say Republicans are doing this because they know if you add a Green Party candidate to the ballot in any election, it will usually take away votes from the Democrat.

DON BIVENS, ARIZONA DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN: Yes, that is exactly what happens. There are certain voters who go to the poll, and if given a choice between a legitimate Green candidate and a legitimate Democrat candidate will go to the Green.

STEVE MAY, ARIZONA REPUBLICAN: The Democrat Party is essentially saying, "Our voters are so stupid that if there's a choice on the ballot, we'll lose."

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Republican Steve May admits he helped Thomas and Grandpa to run. He says it was all done fair and square.

MAY: In Arizona the rule for a write-in candidate for the Green Party is you need one vote to win.

GOSHORN: He came to me and he said, "Yes, you can do it."

And I said, "Cool. Where do I go? How do I do it?" He pointed us in the right direction, and we took off with it.


ROWLANDS: May says he's known Grandpa for three years and simply wants him and the others to have a voice. Stealing votes from Democrats, May says, is just a, quote, "bonus."

These women didn't buy it.

MAY: ... get on the ballot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the scheme that angers us, and everyone sees it. Everybody sees it. It's a game.

ROWLANDS (on camera): You came across people that had no intention of running for office. You helped them run for office. You changed their party, created -- gave them an avenue to run for office. Isn't that gaming the system, and aren't you making a mockery of it?

MAY: No, it's showing America how democracy works.

ROWLANDS: Really? Are they -- do you want them to be the leaders of your state?

MAY: I want them to be on the ballot in my state.

ROWLANDS: Would you vote for them?

MAY: I want them to be -- that's not relevant..

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Grandpa, meanwhile, thinks he has a chance of winning. (on camera) You don't know what you're doing.

GOSHORN: Not yet. But anyone who ever went into politics for the very first time. The Democrats are worried about the Republicans using us to steal votes from them. We're going to take votes from the Republicans also. I believe the people are tired, and they're looking for something new.


ROWLANDS: And Wolf, people will have an opportunity to vote for Grandpa. The Green Party and the Democratic Party in Arizona went to both state and federal courts, trying to get these candidates off the ballots, but they lost in both venues. So the election is moving on with these parties -- with these Green candidates on the ballot. We should note that, of the 11, four of them have dropped off -- out of their races over the last week.

BLITZER: Got some publicity for Grandpa, and maybe he'll get a few votes out there.

ROWLANDS: You talk to him, and he starts to make sense.

BLITZER: Yes, all right. Ted, thanks very much.

A disturbing videotape surfacing of a police beating in Dallas. And there's more. Wait until you hear what the officers were caught on tape saying just before they got a hold of the suspect.


BLITZER: A warning about the next story. Some viewers may find some of the images we're about to air disturbing.

The chief of police in Dallas, Texas, is appealing for calm after a videotape is released showing officers beating a suspect after a high-speed chase. It's sparking outrage and raising serious questions about why it took nearly two weeks for it to become public.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is joining was the latest. -- Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Dallas police beating captured on videotape happened on September 5. It came to light because someone left an anonymous note, urging Dallas police superiors to take a closer look at the dashcam video, and this is what they saw.


LAVANDERA: When the dashboard video camera first spots Andrew Collins, he's riding his motorcycle on a sidewalk. Dallas police officers Kevin Randolph and Paul Bauer start chasing him, even though they'd been ordered by a superior officer on the radio not to.

Collins speeds off, at times reaching 60 miles per hour, but along the way, the camera picks up a disturbing threat from one of the officers in the car. CHIEF DAVID BROWN, DALLAS POLICE: Someone in the car with Randolph and Bauer, either one, says, "Keep us going. I'm going to kick the -- expletive -- S-H-I-T out of him."

LAVANDERA: The chase lasted a little more than two minutes. Collins gets off the motorcycle and appears to start getting down on his knees to surrender when the beating begins.

Officer Randolph hits Collins five times with the baton. He's been fired. Officer Bauer punches Collins twice. He's been placed on administrative leave. A third officer is also on leave after police say he moved the dashboard video camera to obscure what was happening at the scene. All three are facing criminal charges.

Another three officers are also being investigated and have been put on restrictive duty. Dallas Police Chief David Brown says the behavior is unacceptable.

BROWN: I expect citizens to hold me accountable for ensuring that Dallas officers treat all citizens with fairness and compassion. No one is above the law of this great country.

LAVANDERA: Collins suffered bruising and developed blood clots.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell me how you're feeling?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very sore? Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, just about you?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What you're going through right now? What you're thinking psychologically?

COLLINS: It's not good. It's not good right now.

LAVANDERA: All the officers involved are white, but Dallas' police chief says the beating doesn't appear racially motivated. Instead, he believes inexperience is the issue. All officers involved have been on the force less than three years. But once again, the actions of a few officers threatens the trust of minority citizens, says Collins' pastor.

RONALD WRIGHT, COLLINS' PASTOR: These officers made some poor choices, some bad choices, and at those choices, the entire police department is going to end up suffering for it.


LAVANDERA: We've made repeated attempts to reach Officer Randolph's attorney. He hasn't responded, but we did talk to Officer Bauer's attorney. Bauer is the officer seen punching Collins in the video. Bauer's attorney says that the actions of both officers should be viewed separately, and he says Bauer acted reasonably in getting Collins handcuffed and the scene under control -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Lavandera, thanks very much. Working the story. That story is not going to go away.

Jack Cafferty is asking, "What message would it send if the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, loses to a member of the Tea Party movement?" Your e-mail coming up.

And she is being touted as the new darling of the Tea Party, but wait until you hear what she once said on a show for teens. Jeanne Moos has a most unusual report. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Intriguing question, if I do say so myself. What message will it send if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid loses to a member of the Tea Party? And he very well could.

Jeff writes: "It will mean the American people have had enough. Reid is the poster child for a failed government."

Cody in Indiana says: "The message would be that the American public wants change, and that they believe in giving new people a shot at helping our country turn around. I mean, she really couldn't do as much damage in a single six-year term in the Senate as Harry Reid has done in 24 years. It's all about change, Jack."

Colleen writes: "If I was voting in Nevada, I would be voting against Reid, not for the Tea Party. The Tea Party candidate is weak but not as pathetic as Reid."

Jan in California says: "It proves what the rest of the world thinks of us: we're a bunch of uneducated dummies who can vote."

Joan says: "What do you mean what if Reid loses? He's going down the drain on November the 2nd, and good riddance."

Ralph writes: "All the king's horses and all the king's men said I'm mad as hell and I will not take this any more. We are going to have a Tea Party."

James in North Carolina: "It would be similar to that cell phone commercial that says, 'Can you hear me now?' In order for the Democrats to keep pushing forward these massive spending programs, well, the message would be that they need to take the boat away from the common folks or else get booted out of office."

And Ken in California says: "The message is the electorate in Nevada could be persuaded to vote for Lady Gaga."

If you want to read more on this, go to my blog, -- Wolf. BLITZER: Race in your home state of Nevada. And it is your home state, Nevada, right?

CAFFERTY: It is my home state of Nevada.

BLITZER: That's quite a contest. When you look at some of these candidates supported by the Tea Party movement in Nevada, in Alaska, in Utah, Kentucky...

CAFFERTY: Delaware.

BLITZER: Delaware now, Florida -- Marco Rubio -- they could, if they all get elected, even if most of them get elected, they'll have a little Tea Party caucus in the United States Senate.

CAFFERTY: Well, wouldn't that be refreshing for a change? I hope they all win, and I hope all the incumbents on the ballot get voted out. We're in big trouble in this country, and no, they might not be the answer to all the problems, but the status quo sure as hell isn't getting anywhere, now is it?

BLITZER: They certainly do have a lot of support out there. This is not just a passing phenomenon. I think it's going to go on.

CAFFERTY: Well, I think that thing in Delaware particularly brought the message home that people are ready to try something different, even if it doesn't make a lot -- even if it's, you know, like a woman that goes to an awards show with a piece of meat on her head.

BLITZER: Lady Gaga. All right, thanks very much. See you, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Good luck.

BLITZER: The new Tea Party favorite -- we're talking about Christine O'Donnell -- comes face to face with her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons, at a candidate forum tonight in Wilmington, Delaware. "JOHN KING USA" standing by to show you what's going on.

And Christine O'Donnell's rise is leaving some pundits to say move over Sarah Palin. Jeanne Moos has a most unusual report. That's coming up next, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: And the election is only seven months away!



BLITZER: Let's take a look at some "Hot Shots."

Near the Iraq border and Turkey, Turkish soldiers carry out a controlled blast on an explosive device.

In Eastern Germany a man attaches life-size animal sculptures to the side of a house as part of an art project.

In the French Alps, Olympic athletes hiker to the summit to promote France's candidacy for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

And in West Bengal, India, an elephant crosses a railroad track.

"Hot Shots," pictures worth a thousand words.

You don't often find politicians talking about lust and what teenagers do when they're alone in their bedrooms. Jeanne Moos reports on some most unusual comments from a new favorite of the Tea Party movement.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Get the kiddies out of the room. Most of America never even heard of Christine O'Donnell, but now the first thing they hear is her using the "M" word from an MTV show 14 years ago.

CHRISTINE O'DONNELL, CANDIDATE: The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery, so you can't masturbate without lust.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, ABC's "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Oh, really? And how do you know that exactly? Have you been privately lusting?

MOOS: As if it weren't enough that everyone's comparing her to you know who.

JON STEWART, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL'S "THE DAILY SHOW": Just give her bangs and a pair of rimmed glasses and she'd be a dead ringer. Oh, my God, no!

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": The Tea Party's got a younger model. Watch out, Sarah.

MOOS: As if it weren't enough that even a staunch Republican is dissing her.

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS ANALYST: I mean, there's just a lot of nutty things she's been saying.

O'DONNELL: Everything that he's saying is unfactual [SIC].

MOOS: The fact is our first impression of her is from an ancient show about teens and sex.

O'DONNELL: And if he already knows what pleases him and he can please himself, then why am I in the picture?

MOOS: It's enough to make an anchor wish she could get out of the picture.


MOOS: We haven't heard this much discussion of that since Joycelyn Elders, the surgeon general, got fired by President Clinton...


MOOS: ... just for saying maybe it should be part of a child's education.

(on camera) We in the news media won't even say the word.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: "You know what-ing" while they were alone.

Warning kids not to get busy with themselves.

MOOS: We leave actually saying it to our most outspoken pundits.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: In terms of getting in the bedroom this woman has run against masturbation.

MOOS: And comedians.

KIMMEL: I have a feeling Christine O'Donnell opposes masturbation the same way Bristol Palin opposes premarital sex.

MOOS: In response to all the hoopla over her morality and sex talk 14 years ago, O'Donnell told NBC News.

O'DONNELL: I'm in my 40s now. I've matured in a lot of my positions.

MOOS: But we haven't. Faced with equating the "M" word with adultery, pretend conservative Steven Colbert came up with this solution.

STEVEN COLBERT, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL'S "COLBERT REPORT": Simply marry your hand. I now pronounce you man and hand.

MOOS: Steven, you may say "I do," but I don't.

COLBERT: I will love you forever. Hello, stranger.

MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos.

O'DONNELL: You betcha.


PALIN: You betcha.

MOOS: New York.


BLITZER: Thank you, Jeanne Moos.

That's all the time we have. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.


And good evening, everyone.