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New Terror Concerns; New Supreme Court Term Begins

Aired October 4, 2010 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Terror concerns prompt a travel alert for Americans visiting Western Europe, but the alert itself is vague and the threat is unspecified, leaving many people wondering exactly what is going on.

U.S. officials say they have credible information, but, at the same time, they say they don't want to discourage people from traveling to Europe. So just how real is this terror threat right now?

Our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, is working this story for us.

Jeanne, what are you picking up?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, U.S. officials insist they do not have specific information about targets, modes of attack or timing, but the intelligence is so troubling and there's so much of it, the U.S. government decided it had to give travelers a heads-up.


MESERVE (voice-over): European airports, railroads, ferries, hotels, tourist destinations, any or all of them could be terror targets for al Qaeda and its affiliates, the U.S. says, in an alert to U.S. travelers.

P.J. CROWLEY, U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS: We are saying to American citizens, continue with your travel plans, you know, if they include Europe. But be cautious and be aware that we are following, you know, multiple streams of threat information.

MESERVE: One of those streams indicates terrorists with Western passports could try a Mumbai-style commando attack at multiple locations in Europe.

But as one official says, there is nothing definitive about when, where, or how. The FBI and homeland security issued a bulletin asking U.S. law enforcement to be vigilant. It notes that al Qaeda operatives have deployed in the U.S. in the past and references recent attacks involving small arms.

In the words of one U.S. law enforcement official, no one is running around excited here about potential attacks in the United States, but the intelligence is being carefully watched.

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I want to emphasize our guard remains up. Our attention remains focused on the United States as well. And there is a good basis for that.

MESERVE: Americans traveling to Europe didn't seem fazed by the alert.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm concerned, but I actually made a decision that I'm not going to let it stop my trip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not trying to diminish what the government is trying to do, but you have to live your life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you going to do? I can't let those people terrorize me.


MESERVE: Some critics say the travel alert is too vague to be of much use, but the U.S. government is recommending that Americans register their travel plans with the State Department, avoid public disturbances, and above all keep their eyes open, be aware, vigilant, and report anything suspicious -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Jeanne, thank you.

Two Pakistani officials, by the way, tell CNN eight suspected German militants have been killed in what appears to be a drone attack in the northwest part of Pakistan.

Our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, is following what's going on. He's joining us from Hamburg, Germany, to help us connect the dots.

Nic, you're just down the street from the source of one of the intelligence reports behind this threat at a mosque we have reported on before. What are you learning?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the mosque that Mohamed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, and a group around him attended back in late '90s, 2000.

It's also the same place that the group that went to Pakistan to terror training camps and the individual Ahmed Sidiqi, who is in U.S. custody, who has been providing this information about the possibility of these Mumbai-style attacks across Europe, this is where they came from.

Sidiqi himself was a friend of Mohamed Atta's, has been an extremist since back then. Sources here tell us that the government was aware that this mosque was a hotbed of extremism, that they had been monitoring the extremists there. Even their sources allege that the imam there was allowing radicalization, even inspired this group to go to Pakistan. Despite all of that, despite the close attention, this group still managed to put together a plan and take off for those terror training camps, Wolf.

BLITZER: Nic, if the intelligence is coming from Germany where you are, why is the that neither Germany nor any of the other countries really in Western Europe, whether France or Britain, are raising their threat level or issuing similar alerts to folks there right now?

ROBERTSON: You know, the interior minister here said people shouldn't get alarmist about the travel advisory. They shouldn't be alarmist about the situation in Germany.

The sources we talk to here are very sensitive about Hamburg and Germany being sort of seen as a new al Qaeda spot. They are not raising their threat level. They see no imminent threat. But the reality is that when there have been plots in Germany in the past, U.S. service personnel and American citizens have been the target of those planned attacks.

They were thwarted before back in 2007, a huge amount of explosives discovered with that group. They have been sent to jail. But that's the reality, that al Qaeda here has tried to target American citizens before, Wolf. And that may be why the U.S. has given this travel advisory.

BLITZER: All right, we will stay in close touch with you, Nic. Thank you.

Nic is in Hamburg, Germany.

Here in the United States, 15 million Verizon customers could be getting some money back. Verizon saying it overcharged wireless subscribers and it could total as much as $90 million. The company blaming faulty software for the bogus charges.

Verizon says the overcharges ranging from $2 to $6 will show up as a credit for current customers over the next couple of months. The refund is said to be one of the largest in wireless network history.

First, there was the mortgage crisis, hundreds of thousands of home loans in default. Now suits are being filed and big questions are being raised about foreclosures on homes that might have been saved. It's so bad, there's a foreclosure freeze in almost two dozen states right now.

CNN's Mary Snow is joining us. She's working this story for us.

What raised all of these red flags, Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, in some cases where homeowners were challenging foreclosures, questions were then raised about the process through documents. Now the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates national banks, has asked them to review the process. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): Triggering the latest concern over foreclosures, cases like this one in Massachusetts where a Bank of America employee said in a deposition in February that she signed between 7,000 and 8,000 foreclosure documents a month without reading them because of the sheer volume.

Similar cases have been reported elsewhere, leading Bank of America to delay foreclosures in 23 states, doing the same, Ally Financial, which used to be GMAC, the financial arm of General Motors, and J.P. Morgan Chase, which says it's halting foreclosures for 56,000 homeowners.

As these banks investigate whether there were flaws in their process, one mortgage law professor says it exposes a black hole.

KATHLEEN ENGEL, SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: The faulty paperwork is a symptom of a larger problem. And that larger problem is that the money flew fast, the paperwork didn't, and all that mattered was the bottom line.

MESERVE: Complicating things, the Treasury Department says each of the institutions is supervised by multiple federal regulators. And now some states are stepping in to do their own investigations.

Does it mean that banks will allow people to stay in their homes in the long run? Probably not. But there's concern that there will be a deluge of homeowners who may fight against their foreclosures in court. As Mark Zandi points out, the implications can go far beyond individual mortgage cases.

(on camera): In terms of the big picture, the potential fallout from these problems?

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODYSECONOMY.COM: The fallout could be significant if the court system takes a hard line and views this as symptomatic of broader problems in the mortgage servicing industry and it delays the foreclosure process significantly. Then it means that house prices are going to be weaker for longer and so will our economy.


SNOW: Now, Wolf, we have reached out to Bank of America for comment on that specific Massachusetts case that we pointed out. We haven't yet received an immediate response.

Bank of America did say last week that it wanted to be certain that affidavits have followed correct procedures -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Mary. Thanks very much. That's a story that affects a lot of folks out there.

The U.S. Supreme Court's new term begins today, and for the second year in a row, there's a new justice. Last year, it was Sonia Sotomayor. This year, it's Elena Kagan. But unlike Sotomayor, Kagan is sitting out many of the cases.

CNN's Kate Bolduan is here to explain why.

Go ahead and explain, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does require an explanation, Wolf.

Justice Kagan has already recused herself from about 24 pending cases. In all, she's likely to withdraw from about a third of the total cases this term. She's doing this to prevent any conflict of interests relating to her former role as solicitor general, the government's chief advocate before the Supreme Court.

This means Kagan will not sit on the bench during oral arguments or vote on the outcomes of these cases. Among the cases impacted, a very hot-button issue dealing with immigration reform. The court is set to consider in December a challenge to an Arizona law cracking down on businesses hiring illegal immigrants.

Kagan's recusal, of course, then -- this is why this is a big deal, Wolf -- it leaves the possibility of split 4-4 decisions as the terms kicks off.

BLITZER: And 4-4 decisions, and if there's a 4-4 decision, it effectively means there is no decision and the appellate decision, the lower court decision, stands.

BOLDUAN: And what that also means is that the Supreme Court is not setting precedent, which is what the Supreme Court is supposed to do.

One thing that is interesting here is that Senator Patrick Leahy, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he has actually proposed legislation about this that would allow retired justices to fill in for their colleagues on the bench if an existing justice recuses himself or herself from the case.

Some say it's a great idea. Others say it's not because the former justices would be liberals, liberal-leaning. And, to be quite honest, this proposal is not going anywhere any time soon.

BLITZER: Yes. I'm sure it's not going to go anywhere, but it does represent a serious setback for the liberal side of the U.S. Supreme Court. Without her participating in these kinds of decisions, the conservative side could certainly hold sway.

BOLDUAN: I mean, the Supreme Court is about setting precedent. If it's a split decision, they're not really doing their job. The justices' hands are essentially tied.

BLITZER: When the president nominated her, they knew that this was an issue, but they nominated her. She was confirmed. She's a member of the Supreme Court, even though she won't be participating, as you say, in about two dozen of these cases.


BOLDUAN: Right. After this year, she will be on the court full- time.

BLITZER: But a lot of stuff could happen this year.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

BLITZER: So, we will see what happens, very serious matter. Thanks very much, Kate.

When I interviewed Donald Trump two weeks ago, we spoke a lot about politics. Could there be more to his sharp observations and strong opinions than meet the eye?

Let's go to Jack Cafferty right now. He's got "The Cafferty File."

Jack, a fascinating development.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: "TIME" magazine has got itself quite a scoop.

New Hampshire voters were polled on their feelings about Donald Trump and the 2012 election. The telephone calls asked people about several Republican candidates and matchups and included about 30 questions, 30, about Trump.

Voters were reportedly asked if they had heard Trump donated to Democrats in the past and if they thought his appearances on TV would help or hurt in a political race. "TIME" doesn't know who paid for this poll in New Hampshire. Trump told CNN he never heard of the poll, but he's -- quote -- "anxious to find out what it says."

He says he didn't commission it and he doesn't know who did. Trump also says that he really likes the people of New Hampshire because they're strong and intelligent people and they know what's happening in the U.S. is wrong. Sounds like a politician, doesn't it?

Trump insists he's not considering a run, but he adds that somebody has to do something or this country is not going to be a very great country for long.

Experts point out the Republican field in 2012 is wide open, no clear front-runner, and if Trump simply made a couple of trips to New Hampshire and ran some ads, he could become a player pretty fast.

Last month, Trump was in THE SITUATION ROOM. He talked about how President Obama is in trouble, how he doesn't know if he can win reelection, and how he's never seen the current levels of animosity for our government.

Here's the question then. Do you want to see Donald Trump run for president? Go to my blog,

BLITZER: Anxious to get the answers to that question. Jack, thank you.

The second largest port in the United States is virtually shut down tonight because of one massive leaning electric tower. The latest on the costly mess in Houston, we have details.

And a former Democratic vice president tells me President Obama needs to stop reading what he calls idiot boards, the teleprompter, when he gives speeches. You are going to hear it for yourself. Stand by.

And they're nastier than ever. At least some say so. Who is really paying for all those political ads?


BLITZER: Thirty stories tall, leaning precariously. A massive electrical tower shuts down the nation's second largest port. It's leaning over the port in Houston, and no ships are allowed to go past it, in or out.

CNN's Ed Lavandera explains why.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A 300-foot-tall electrical tower is now being held up by a crane in the Port of Houston ship channel. Early Sunday morning, a towing vessel pushing three massive barges crashed into the tower. The power lines are drooping too low, and it's brought the nation's second largest port to a virtual standstill.

CAPT. MARCUS WOODRING, U.S. COAST GUARD: The situation is a little bit unstable out there right now. The lines are sagging. And we cannot allow any vessels to pass underneath obviously with the unstable situation and the chance of those lines falling in the water.

LAVANDERA: It's a fender-bender that's caused quite the traffic jam. Nearly three dozen ships can't get in or out of the Houston port right now. About 100 port terminals and four oil refineries are affected by the shutdown, and every day officials say the Port of Houston does about $320 million worth of business.

This crash could leave a billion-dollar dent in the local economy. The electricity has been turned off, but officials are focused now on getting the power lines removed and the leaning tower off the water with a crane called Big John.

WOODRING: Once the Big John hooks up and takes the load on the tower, then CenterPoint Energy can get up there, disconnect the lines, reel them in, and then we can cut the base of the tower, pick the tower up and put it over on the bank and get the ship channel open.

DANNA JENNINGS, BOAT OWNER: We had 12 people on our boat.

LAVANDERA: The boat traffic jam might be frustrating to those doing business, but a few boaters are enjoying the moment. Every year, the Houston Yacht Club organizes a weekend cruise up the channel near downtown Houston. This was their weekend. And they have got nowhere to go.

JENNINGS: Actually, some of us are kind of happy because we don't have to go to work tomorrow. But don't tell our bosses that. So...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you call your boss?

JENNINGS: Not yet. I'm hoping he sees this and he knows what's going on and I'm off the hook for going to work tomorrow.

LAVANDERA: (on camera): The Coast Guard says it hopes that the power lines and tower will be removed by Tuesday night and then it will take several more days to get the port traffic back to normal -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Ed Lavandera, thanks very much -- Ed reporting from Texas.

The hot political races are getting hotter as the November election gets closer. You can see it in the ads. We are going to show you some of them.

And rescue crews get closer to those 33 trapped miners in Chile. And they're a schedule change that has them starting to pack up to go home.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: A fiery new attack on a convoy supplying U.S. and NATO forces. It's the fourth attack in just four days. The impact on American troops, we have new information.

Also, caught on tape, the recording that Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle probably doesn't want you to hear. She trashes her own party, tries to cut a deal with a rival, and more, all of it caught on tape.

Plus, a former vice president tells me President Obama should lose what he calls the idiot boards. You will hear it yourself. That's coming up.


BLITZER: Some of the hottest races in the United States are getting even hotter right now with a slew of new ads hitting the airwaves and the Internet, but many of them aren't necessarily coming from the candidates themselves or even their own parties.

Our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, has been watching a lot of these ads for us.

All right, Jessica, what do you have?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, if you feel like you're seeing a lot more political ads this year, that's because you are. And if you think you're deluged right now, just wait.

One of the reasons is because so much more spending is coming in to these ads by outside groups. And one of the most prolific is American Crossroads. That's the group dedicated to electing Republicans and backed in part by Karl Rove and former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie.

We put together here a little sampling of their ads going after Democratic Senate candidates in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Colorado.


NARRATOR: Congressman Joe Sestak voted for Obama's big government health care scheme, billions in job-killing taxes and higher insurance premiums for hard-hit families.

NARRATOR: Obamacare is taking health care in the wrong direction. And Jack Conway has gone the wrong way, too.

NARRATOR: Michael Bennet, his mistakes costing us money.

American Crossroads is responsible for the content of this advertising.


YELLIN: And, Wolf, they're just getting going.

American Crossroads tells me that, tomorrow, they will be up with new ads in Colorado, Illinois and Kentucky.

BLITZER: How are the Democrats, Jessica, trying to counter this?

YELLIN: Well, the main source for Democratic outside money comes from unions. It's a variety of them. And, as with most cycles, we are still seeing a lot of ads from the service workers and government employees unions, but there is a new player in the mix, National Nurses United.

They are running ads against Meg Whitman in California and against Sharron Angle in Nevada. That's the nurses organization. Here's a sampling beginning with one targeting California's Latino voters.


NARRATOR: While Democrats pushed through a jobs bill that kept the doors open at local schools, hospitals and senior centers, Republicans voted to lay off hundreds of thousands of Americans. NARRATOR: Here's an extreme angle. Here's an even more extreme Angle.

SHARRON ANGLE (R), NEVADA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: We need to phase Medicare and Social Security out in favor of something privatized.

NARRATOR: Sharron Angle, the wrong angle for Nevada.


YELLIN: They're doing a series of those wrong angle ads, trying to use humor there, Wolf.

But I should say that spending by unions is absolutely dwarfed by the amount of spending by Republican outside groups.

BLITZER: Who is paying for all of these ads?

YELLIN: Well, we don't know. That's an excellent question this year, not one we can always answer, because can't track who's paying for all these advertisements because the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United does not require transparency.

And since that ruling, some of these groups have just popped up. Now, what we do know, overall, the Center for Public Integrity expects that outside groups will spend -- wait for it -- an estimated $500 million in the midterm elections.

In House and Senate races, Republican-aligned groups have already spent $43 million on TV ads alone. And Democratic-aligned groups spent $17 million on TV ads alone, Wolf. Obviously they're paying the bills for those of us in TV, but it's a lot of money going into the political process.

BLITZER: Good for TV stations all over the country. They're making a lot of money on these ads.

All right, Jessica, thanks very much.

YELLIN: Right.

BLITZER: Walter Mondale certainly had a front-row seat to five decades of political history. The former vice president writes about it in his brand-new book entitled "The Good Fight." Stand by for my interview with Walter Mondale, but, first, a few things you should know about him first.


BLITZER (voice-over): He made the vice presidency what it is today, taking an active role in shaping Carter administration policies. He was the first V.P. with a West Wing office and to have weekly lunches with the president.

He delivered one of the most memorable debate lines ever. During his 1984 bid for the Democratic presidential nod, Mondale took a shot at Gary Hart using a phrase from a popular Wendy's commercial.


BLITZER: He put the first woman on a major party presidential ticket. Mondale tapped Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, setting the stage for Sarah Palin two decades later.

He had expectedly tried for a Senate comeback. Mondale was asked to replace Paul Wellstone on the ballot when the Minnesota senator died in a plane crash just before the 2002 election, but Mondale lost the Senate seat he once held.

MONDALE: And in what is obviously the end of my last campaign, I want to say to Minnesotans, "You always treated me decently."


BLITZER: Earlier today, I had a chance to sit down with the former vice president. We discussed a lot of stuff, but I asked him for some specific advice for the current president of the United States.


BLITZER: Let's go through some current issues right now. You were vice president. Jimmy Carter was a one-term president. How worried are you right now, if you are worried, that Barack Obama will be a one-term president?

MONDALE: I think he's going to be a two-term president. But there's a lot of problems weighing on this administration. I think it depends on how he handles all of them, but I think that he's -- he's going to make it through the second term. It looks that way to me now.

BLITZER: What does he need to do to avoid having the same fate as Jimmy Carter, being a one-term president?

MONDALE: He's got to connect with the American people. He's got to -- the American people have to feel that the president senses and -- the suffering they're going through and wants to be a part of the solution.

He's got a lot of strength, but that connectivity, that ability to -- to transmit the fact that he feels for people, I think, is something he needs to work on. I notice he's doing more of these backyard events where he gets in close with a small group of people. I think that's part of what he should do.

BLITZER: He's not showing -- he's not feeling people's pain the way Bill Clinton was capable of feeling pain, the empathy -- empathy factor. Why is that? Why do you think he's not capable, at least so far, of really doing that?

MONDALE: Well, I've seen places when he's done it. The Milwaukee speech, I thought, was terrific. I think some of these backyard events are terrific. But I -- but I think he -- he's very bright. Matter of fact, brilliant. And I think he tends to -- and he uses these idiot boards to read speeches in television, and I think he loses the connection that he needs emotionally with American voters.

BLITZER: You're talking about the teleprompters that he always has when he's delivering a formal speech.


BLITZER: And he's reading it, basically, from a teleprompter.


BLITZER: You don't think that works. Is that what you're saying?

MONDALE: Yes. I think that, you know, if you're looking at the teleprompter, you're here, you're here, you're here. And you're -- your audience is right there. And I think he needs to do more of that.

BLITZER: A fair point. There's certainly an angry atmosphere across the country right now. The Tea Party movement clearly is gaining strength. What in your opinion is causing this anger?

MONDALE: I think people are terribly frustrated. I think they don't see big issues being resolved. A lot of people are hurting. Unemployed. In danger of losing their homes and all the rest. And the -- it shows up in part with the Tea Party, which is really a protest movement in my opinion.

BLITZER: How worried are you about this protest movement?

MONDALE: You know, I -- this idea of protesting, of having third parties, is an old American experience. It's entirely appropriate. These things flare up when the nation is having problems. What I don't like is the kind of rigid, polarized, harsh rhetoric, "my way or the highway" approach. I don't think we'll ever solve our problems by shouting at each other.

BLITZER: Here's what Ben Stein, who is well known to our viewers, a former speech writer in the Nixon administration, what he told me the other day. I want to play this clip, Mr. Vice President, for you.



BEN STEIN, AUTHOR: I think many Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, are still uneasy with an African-American president. I don't think that -- that America lives in a post-racial world entirely. A lot of it does, but I don't think a lot of it does. And I think there is some -- still some undigested feelings about that.


BLITZER: Do you agree with Ben Stein?

MONDALE: You know, I lived in this country at a time when we had segregation. I was in the middle of all the civil rights fights in the '60s and the '70s. And thank God we've gotten rid of official discrimination. In other words, governments can't do that to each other. Thank God.

But it's always a possibility that some of that feeling in people's hearts still is there. It doesn't make it laudable. But the law can't go there. So could it be true in some cases? Possibly. But I would never accuse somebody of being a racist, but I do believe there must be some lingering residue from those old days in which some people find it hard to accept having a president -- ironically, you know, he's got a white mother and a black father. Should make those people think about that.

BLITZER: I guess what Ben Stein is saying is that there are some people that just can't stomach the fact that we have an African- American president, and I wonder if you think that's a significant number or just a fringe element.

MONDALE: See, I don't know. I think -- I think it's out there. But I have no idea. And I've not seen any polls or -- or anything else that would help me answer your question.


BLITZER: The former vice president, Walter Mondale, speaking with me earlier in the day.

Caught on tape. The GOP candidate trying to beat Harry Reid in Nevada. Sharron Angle, the Tea Party darling, tries to convince another candidate to drop out of the race. We have the audio. That's coming up next.


BLITZER: She's trying to unseat the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. Now, an eye-popping recording has surfaced of Sharron Angle trashing her own party, trying to make a deal with a third-party rival.

CNN's John King is here to discuss. He hosts "JOHN KING USA," that comes up at the top of the hour. I'm going to play this little clip. It's hard to understand. We've covered it with -- with words. I want to play this, and then we'll talk about it.


SHARRON ANGLE (R), NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE: That's really all I can offer to you is whatever juice I have, you have as well. You want to see DeMint, I have juice with DeMint. I go to Washington, D.C., and I say I want to see Jim DeMint, he's right there for me. I say I ant to see Tom Coburn, he's right there for me. I say I want to see Mitch McConnell, he's there.


BLITZER: She's trying to convince someone to drop out of the race. But this -- it's pretty explosive.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: It's pretty explosive. Scott Ashjian is the man she's trying to convince to drop out of the race. He is another Tea Party candidate. Sharron Angle won the Republican nomination with the help of the Tea Party Express. There's a Nevada Tea Party group that she questions the legitimacy of. She's essentially saying, "You have to get out of this race, because I can't have the split in the anti-Harry Reid vote. Get out of the race. And if you get out of the race, when I get to Washington, if I win, you'll make big friends in Washington, and it will help you down the road in your political career."

No. 1, that's pretty unusual, but everything about this race is unusual. The fact that he recorded this, and he admits that he recorded it and gave it to a journalist because he didn't trust her. Sharron Angle also goes on in that recording, Wolf, to essentially trash, beat up, criticize the Republican leadership that now is trying to help her against Harry Reid. She's going to be here in town later this week, I think as early as tomorrow, to raise more money from that same establishment Republican leadership she so criticizes in that recording.

BLITZER: She's giving a major speech before these Republican leaders here in town this week. But this race is very, very close right now, isn't it?

KING: And that's what makes it so remarkable. This is probably the wackiest race in the country. You can look at Delaware. You can look at Kentucky, and you can say, really, this one?

But Sharron Angle came out of nowhere, one of the Tea Party candidates that beat an established Republican candidate, shocked the Republican establishment. Harry Reid has spent a lot of money on negative ads against her. She has talked about privatizing Medicare. She has said it's not a senator's job to bring jobs back to Nevada, that that's -- she'd be in Washington. That's the governor's responsibility.

In a normal year, you would think, OK, she would be out of this race by now. But it is a dead heat. It is a reflection of how high Harry Reid's negatives are in the state of Nevada, that she has been able to remain competitive, despite a lot of things that people would think are a little bit wacky and positions that are somewhat outside of what we believed coming into this year was the mainstream. It's one of the lessons of this year.

BLITZER: It's an amazing race, four weeks to go.

KING: Amen.

BLITZER: John, thanks very much. John is going to be back right at the top of the hour on his show, "JOHN KING USA." His special guest tonight is the always outspoken Bill Maher. Be sure to stick around. "JOHN KING USA" starts at the top of the hour.

Taliban militants send a fiery message. Details of their latest attack on a convoy carrying supplies to U.S. and NATO troops.


BLITZER: There's been another attack on a convoy in Pakistan carrying supplies to U.S. and NATO troops next door in Afghanistan. But as disturbing as these fiery assaults are, the message behind them may be even more troubling. Brian Todd is here. He's working the story for us.

Brian, what's going on?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, in this pattern of attacks, the Taliban have had a hand in at least two of them. And it seems the militant group is sending a message that critical supply operations for American and NATO troops are fair game.


TODD (voice-over): An oil tanker burning out of control, symbolizing open season on truck convoys from Pakistan that supply NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan. It's the fourth attack in as many days.

The Taliban claims responsibility for at least two ambushes and says it's created a special squad to target NATO supply operations in Pakistan. I went over the attack locations with CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen.

(on camera) One up here in Rawalpindi. Two here in Baluchistan. Not too unusual. But this one in Sindh province, why is that unusual?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you know, the Taliban, you know, the Taliban stronghold is essentially in this area. So this is a very long way from where they normally operate. The fact that they're operating so far south in Pakistan, it's like -- I mean, they're trying to send a message that "We can hit these convoys wherever." The convoys originate in the Port of Karachi down here, a massive city and port. And right on the southern coast.

And then, you know, I think the fact that they're sitting convoys in Baluchistan is -- it's not as usual. I mean, usually they hit them up here by the Khyber Pass.

TODD (voice-over): Some critical NATO supply convoys are blocked, not by attacks, but from the closure of a critical border gate from Pakistan into Afghanistan. The convoys have been barred from entering Afghanistan since Pakistani officials blamed cross- border NATO helicopter fire for the deaths of three Pakistan soldiers. HUSAIN HAQQANI, PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: We can't take the risk of letting convoys pass at a time when people are enraged. There are tribal people there who are not necessarily fully under the control of the government of Pakistan.


TODD: Pakistani officials tell us they don't expect the suspension of the convoys' passage to last too much longer. Maybe less than a week.

In the meantime, Peter Berger tells me U.S. commanders have tried to increase the number of supplies coming in through the former Soviet republics to the north into Afghanistan. They haven't been able to quite do that yet. So most of the supplies, Wolf, go through Karachi and then up over land, these two passes. Makes them very vulnerable to attacks, and now they're blocked from going over that one pass.

BLITZER: That's very rugged terrain; mountainous area, as well. Thanks very much, Brian, for that.

Would you like to see Donald Trump run for president of the United States? Jack Cafferty is standing by with your e-mail.

And the father of Sarah Palin's grandchild in a steamy new music video. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a "Most Unusual" look.


LEVI JOHNSTON, FATHER OF SARAH PALIN'S GRANDCHILD: Because she -- because she got a few offers.



BLITZER: Time to check back with Jack for the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Question this hour is "Would you like to see Donald Trump run for president?" "TIME" magazine's has got this story that apparently did some telephone polling in New Hampshire, 30 questions about the Donald.

Gordon in New Jersey writes, "No. Despite his smug know-it-all, entrepreneurial arrogance, Trump started his fortune the old-fashioned way. He inherited it. Remember the last president we had who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth but lacked all traces of humility? How did that work out?"

Jeffrey writes, "Our entire political landscape is slowly being turned into an embarrassing carnival sideshow, so we hardly need to add yet another dysfunctional participant to our Washington-based version of 'The Jerry Springer show.' However, considering the unqualified tide of human dreck that's currently being shoved down our collective throats by Tea Party-pandering Republicans" -- hey, you do go on -- "Trump's own sideshow antics could hardly do more damage to us than what appears to be on the horizon."

Roxy writes, "Absolutely. He's a businessman who gets things done, period. I'm a firm believer that he would be the perfect president, and everyone knows he would get in there and make real difference for the good of this country. Donald Trump didn't get to where he is by sitting back hoping for a miracle. He took charge and made great choices for his company."

Bob writes, "Trump for elected office? Are you nuts? The guy is out of touch, out on planet zoom-zoom somewhere. The last thing we need is Donald Trump making decisions that affect and control people. Nice guy to have a cocktail with on a yacht somewhere but political control, no way."

Sylvia in California, "I'll take a business man any day over lawyers to run the country. Yes, he would get my vote."

U. writes, "No, I think Trump's a buffoon with a bad hairpiece who has outlived his usefulness, if he ever had any."

Carol in Massachusetts, "Yes. He'd tell everyone in government and the lobbyists, 'You're fired.' Then he'd start over with economies of scale and run the country like a business. Never mind his hair."

And Annie in New Hampshire writes, "One word: NO. I'm one of those strong, intelligent people they polled in New Hampshire."

If you want to read more on this, go to my blog,

BLITZER: See you tomorrow, Jack. Thank you.

Jack Cafferty with "The Cafferty File."

The father of Sarah Palin's grandchild is taking on a new challenge, honing his acting skills in a hot new music video.


JOHNSTON: I think it's because she...



BLITZER: This just coming in. A federal judge in Atlanta is free on bond after his arrest on charges involving drugs, weapons, and a stripper.

CNN's Brian Todd has the late-breaking story for us.

A federal judge, Brian. What's going on?

TODD: That's right, Wolf. A federal judge in Georgia was arrested on drug and weapons charges after federal agents say that he bought drugs for a stripper with whom he was having an affair.

The judge's name is Jack T. Camp Jr., 67 years old. We have the complaint in front of us. Here's an excerpt from it. "On multiple occasions in the spring and summer of 2010 the defendant, Jack T. Camp Jr., paid C.I.-1" -- that is the identifier for the stripper in this case. C.I. often stands for confidential informant in these cases, says that he "paid C.I.-1 in exchange for sex. When Camp and C.I.-1 would meet they would often use drugs together including cocaine, Roxycodone, and marijuana."

Says that he began buying drugs for this stripper and carried two pistols during at least one of the deals according to these court papers. There's no immediate word from his attorneys. He was freed on $50,000 bond after his arrest on Friday.

But again, this federal judge, who was the chief judge for the northern district of Georgia, Jack T. Camp Jr., arrested on drug and weapons charges in connection with allegations that he bought drugs for a stripper with whom he was having an affair, Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thank you. Brian Todd reporting.

Bristol Palin's former fiance is trying to make a name for himself in the world of music video. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While Bristol Palin was "Dancing with the Stars"...


MOOS: ... her ex, Levi, was rolling in the hay.

BRITTANY SENSER, POP SINGER (singing): I'm ready, I'm ready.

MOOS: Co-starring with a pop singer named Brittany Senser as they sensed each other.

(on camera) How was the chemistry really?

SENSER: Me and Levi, we get along really well. He's a really nice kid.

MOOS (voice-over): The two kids were getting along on the lawn in a new video called "After Love," which debuted on E!

SENSER (singing): What I deserve is more than what you can give.

MOOS: The plot centers on a mom...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is going on?

SENSER: What are you talking about?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With that boy. MOOS: ... who tries to break up the couple.

(on camera) It sure sounds familiar. Where have we heard this before? A disapproving mother trying to keep the lovers apart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): You probably think this song is about you.

JOHNSTON: It is not about the Palins.

MOOS (voice-over): Though the director came up with the plot after Levi signed onto the project. They picked him because...

SENSER: He's good-looking, and he cause -- he causes a little bit of controversy. We didn't realize it would be so much.

MOOS: True, the plot twists are a bit tricky to follow. The mother calls the police, who stop Levi, and then the mother gives him an envelope that causes him to break up with his co-star.

SENSER: It's supposed to be kind of a mystery.

MOOS (on camera): And if you're wondering what Levi does best in this video...

SENSER (singing): What I deserve is more than what you can give.

MOOS: It is his consummate ear nuzzling.

SENSER (singing): Saying over and over.

MOOS (voice-over): The last time we saw this much nuzzling was back when Levi and Bristol announced their second engagement. This video helped doom that. Bristol called it the final straw when Levi flew to Hollywood to do a music video "mocking my family."

Everyone says Levi was very professional and cooperative, even when asked to take off his shirt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was funny on set because everybody chuckled when he said it, but he actually goes, "Wow, this video just got a lot hotter."

MOOS: Levi Johnston being straddled while he straddles the worlds of politics and showbiz.

Jeanne Moos.

(on camera) Is he a good kisser?

MOOS (voice-over): CNN.

SENSER: I thought he was a good kisser, yes, absolutely.

MOOS: New York.


BLITZER: That's it for me this hour. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

KING: Thanks, Wolf.