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THE SITUATION ROOM
Bill Clinton Hits Campaign Trail; Interview With Condoleezza Rice
Aired October 15, 2010 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: They were once bitter rivals. Now they're together on the campaign trail, former President Bill Clinton lending his star power to Jerry Brown's race for California governor and for others.
Also, the end of the space shuttle program? Not so fast. We are learning new details of a possible extra mission.
And my interview with the former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She is sharing remarkable stories about growing up in the segregated South, and one incident involving a racial slur that is seared her into her memory.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin, though, with 18 days, 18 days until the election that could rock the political landscape here in Washington. Former President Bill Clinton is now campaigning for Democrats in California. Indeed, this hour, he is campaigning for Jerry Brown who is battling Republican Meg Whitman to be the state's next governor.
He is a former two-term governor and the current state attorney general. She is the billionaire former CEO of eBay who set the record for personal campaign spending, donating already $119 million to her own race, and more is on the way.
Mr. Clinton is trying to help Brown despite some past bad blood between the two of them. Listen to these clips from a 1992 debate when they were rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1992)
JERRY BROWN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is funneling money to his wife's law firm for state business. That's number one.
BILL CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't care what you say about me, but you ought to be ashamed of yourself for jumping on my wife. You're not worth being on the same platform with my wife.
BROWN: I'll tell you something, Mr. Clinton.
CLINTON: Now wait a minute. BROWN: Don't try to escape it. Ralph Nader called me this afternoon. He read me article from "The Washington Post." I was shocked by it.
CLINTON: Does that make it true?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I remember that debate. What a debate it was.
Our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is in California for us right now.
Jessica, it was pretty ugly then, but a different story today. What is happening right now?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first, Wolf, before we get to the Jerry Brown/Bill Clinton time together, Bill Clinton is about to appear any minute now in Orange County, California, with three-term incumbent Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.
Now, you know he has been a rock star for Democrats on the campaign trail this season. He is trying to help her out in a tough race, because she is a three-term incumbent, so she is getting the anti-incumbent attacks right now, but there is also another problem she faces. She said in her race that the Vietnamese and the Republicans are trying to throw her out of office, a slip-up for her, because her opponent is Vietnamese and many of her voters are as well.
She apologized but now Bill Clinton is trying to lend her a little helping hand. Also, you know, his big theme this season has been not just the economy, Wolf, but also deficit spending. He is one of the Democrats who can really take on the Tea Party argument about big government spending, because as you know -- you covered this White House -- he is the only president in the modern era to have balanced the budget.
And his argument will be today and it has been on the campaign trail that he says the Republicans only started caring about the deficit when a Democrat got in office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: People ask me all the time, what great new economic idea did you bring to Washington that got rid of the debt? And I always say, arithmetic.
CLINTON: I had this really dumb idea that if two plus two was four in Little Rock and Las Vegas, it would probably still be four when I got to Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: No surprise, Jessica, that he is campaigning for Loretta Sanchez, who was a big supporter of his.
But it is to a certain degree a surprise that he is going out of his way to campaign for Jerry Brown, not only because of what happened in 1992, but what even happened a few weeks ago.
YELLIN: That is right, Wolf. These two do not like each other very much.
And Meg Whitman, Jerry Brown's rival here in California, even used a piece, a clip of Bill Clinton's sound in an ad attacking Jerry Brown, and in response to that, Jerry Brown came out publicly making a pretty snarky quip about Bill Clinton and the Monica Lewinsky affair. He later apologized. Bill Clinton has since endorsed Brown.
And tonight we will see them together for the first time on a stage. I will tell you, I am going, everybody is going to watch their body language. You have got to wonder if they will have to have someone stand in between them. I do not expect these two candidates to hug, despite the endorsement, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's see how close they get. We will see what they say and what they do.
Jessica, thanks very much.
We will watch it as well, and get the information to you.
Here is a scorecard by the way on another hot race we're watching, the battle for the Delaware seat formerly held by the vice president, Joe Biden. The Republican is the Tea Party-backed Christine O'Donnell. The Democrat is Chris Coons. She's a former marketing and media consultant and longtime politics commentator.
Some of her past remarks have come back to haunt her, including a 1999 TV appearance in which she said she used to -- quote -- "dabble in witchcraft." That prompted a recent ad in which she states, and I'm quoting her now, "I am not a witch." You've all seen that ad.
Chris Coons is a lawyer and two-term county executive. And the latest CNN/"TIME" magazine/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows Coons leading O'Donnell by 19 points. But Democrats are not taking any chances in this race. President Obama and Vice President Biden were in Delaware today campaigning for Coons.
And the president put to rest rumors that he was considering Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential running mate in 2012.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The single best decision that I have made was selecting Joe Biden as my running mate, the single best decision I have made. I mean that.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Joe has been an extraordinary vice president, a great friend, a fighter, somebody who knows what our core mission is, which is making sure that we are growing this economy on behalf of a middle class so they can aspire to live out the American Dream. Joe has lived out that dream. He hasn't forgotten where he came from.
And so I know that me taking him out of Delaware for a while was frustrating, but I assure you it was worth it at least for me, and I think for you.
OBAMA: So I am grateful to all of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Meanwhile, the former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is not holding back as she makes the rounds in these, the final weeks running up to the November 2 elections. She is even taking an apparent swipe at the first lady, Michelle Obama. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: You know, when I hear people say or have said during the campaign that they had never been proud of America until -- until that time, I think, haven't they met anybody in uniform yet?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, let's bring in our senior political analyst Gloria Borger.
It is obvious she was referring to what the first lady said back in the 2008 campaign.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it was controversial during the 2008 campaign. The first lady said, for the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country.
And that became a controversy, but honestly Michelle Obama has taken on the plight of military families and veterans as one of her major issues. She has met with military families, along with Dr. Jill Biden, Joe Biden's wife, met with military families, been involved with the Veterans Administration.
Some folks say she is responsible for getting a very good VA budget approved this year, and so, and she is also involved in returning veterans and their families and the plight that they face. So, I think, in fact, if she was referring to Michelle Obama, which it seems, perhaps Sarah Palin needs to sort of take a look at what Michelle Obama has been doing as one of her main initiatives as first lady.
BLITZER: It sounded almost like a line -- a canned line from a speech she had been using earlier that she sort of revived. BORGER: Exactly. Right. It's one of those things. Sarah Palin, as you know, gives a lot of speeches these days for a lot of money and it's probably one of the lines, you're right, that she was using from day one. Maybe it needs to be updated.
BLITZER: And the first lady's job approval numbers are pretty high, 65 percent or so -- 65 percent of the American people think she is doing well.
BORGER: These are two popular women, Sarah Palin with her own constituency, and Michelle Obama, as you know, is now out on the campaign trail. She was just out in Chicago for that Senate race. She is going to be out for the next two weeks.
And she probably won't respond to this comment, but both of them popular in their own way. The question is, Sarah Palin, is she going to run for the presidency? That sure sounded like a pretty political speech to me, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, sounds like she is seriously thinking about it.
BORGER: Yes, does.
BLITZER: OK. Thanks, Gloria.
Many Democrats are facing an uphill battle because of voter frustration with the economy. And there is mixed news on that front today. The government is reporting a $1.3 trillion deficit for the current fiscal year, fiscal year 2010, a lower-than-expected rise in inflation, 0.1 percent, and a better-than-expected jump in retail sales, up 0.6 percent.
But the news remains grim when it comes to foreclosures of homes. They were up 4 percent in the last quarter alone.
Now some outraged homeowners are fighting back.
Here is CNN's Casey Wian.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is an example of just how absurd the nation's home foreclosure issue has become. The former owner of this $3.8 million house in the Newport Coast section of Orange County was just arrested for trying to break into the house with a hammer on the advice of his attorney.
(voice-over): Rene Zapeda admits he fell behind on payments for his luxury four-bedroom home with a guest house. Fifteen months ago, the bank foreclosed, and he and the wife were evicted. Now he has an unorthodox plan to get the house back.
RENE ZAPEDA, HOME FORECLOSED ON: Just break a window.
ZAPEDA: I'm -- got inside the house. It is my house.
WIAN: Michael Pines is Zapeda's attorney.
MICHAEL PINES, REAL ESTATE ATTORNEY: They were wrongfully foreclosed on and wrongfully evicted. And we are going to get them back into the house.
WIAN: Not so fast, says the Newport Beach Police Department. It promise to arrest anyone breaking the law. As only an attorney could, Pines tries to turn the tables on the police.
PINES: I want to let you all know, if you go on this property, you are trespassing. The lawful owners of this property are Mr. and Mrs. Zapeda. They are instructing you not to go on to their property. We're going to now retake possession of the property.
WIAN: Or not. Zapeda walks to the back of the house and breaks a window. He and his attorney are promptly arrested, clearly their desired outcome, because they invited CNN and other media to watch the break-in. Both were quickly bailed out of jail.
(on camera): Do you believe breaking into your house, or the house that you believe is yours, is actually going to help you to get back into it for good?
ZAPEDA: Yes, I believe.
ZAPEDA: Well, because it is still my house.
WIAN (voice-over): Pines is among a growing number of lawyers challenging foreclosures on grounds a company that many banks use to expedite filing foreclosure documents has no legal standing. Pines has instructed other clients to move back into their foreclosed homes.
PINES: It will be their burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that my client was trespassing, and they are going to have to prove that. And I wish them a lot of luck.
WIAN: Chase, the bank now overseeing the sale of the house for $3.8 million, has stopped using the company at the center of the national foreclosure document controversy.
A spokesman says Chase obtained a court order allowing the sheriff to evict the Zapedas twice previously and that, "Unfortunately, we had to seek police assistance again because of the additional trespassing and criminal damage to the property."
The bank hasn't decided if it will press charges.
(on camera): Now that attorneys general in all 50 states have formed a task force to investigate home foreclosure fraud, they are going to have a difficult time unwinding complicated cases like this one.
Casey Wian, CNN, Newport Coast, California.
BLITZER: Californians are poised to vote on legalizing marijuana. Proponents say it would put Mexico's drug cartels out of business, but one sheriff calls that nonsense.
Plus, the historic events that turned Condoleezza Rice and her father into Republicans. We are going back to the segregated South. My interview with the former secretary of state, that's coming up.
BLITZER: Big disappointment for the family of David Hartley. He's the American who went missing while jet-skiing on Falcon Lake at Texas-Mexican border.
Mexican officials say they have suspended their search for Hartley's body. Tiffany Hartley says she was with her husband when he was shot to death on the Mexico side of the lake September 30. Investigators believe he was shot by gunmen connected to a Mexican drug gang.
Tiffany Hartley was to meet with FBI and Mexican authorities today.
In another state bordering Mexico, voters will get the chance to vote on whether or not to make it legal to smoke pot just because they want to. The measure will be on the California ballot in November.
CNN's Ted Rowlands is joining us now from Los Angeles with more.
If this proposition passes, some people say it would kill Mexico's drug cartels. But what is going on right now, Ted?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, that would make sense. If they make it legal, then that business gets away from the Mexican cartels and that would reduce the level of violence. But according to a new RAND study, that may not be the case.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): Of the estimated 3,300 metric tons of pot consumed in the United States each year, as much as two-thirds of it comes from Mexico, according to a study released by the RAND Corporation. But the study also concludes that legalizing pot in California would barely impact the drug cartels.
BEAU KILMER, RAND: It is important to realize these groups have portfolios. They're not only trafficking in marijuana. They're trafficking in methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine. They participate in other types of services. And so they generate revenue from a lot of sources, and exporting marijuana to California is only one of them. ROWLANDS: The study concludes that drug cartels would only lose between 2 percent and 4 percent of their export revenue if pot were legal in California, because Californians grow so much of their own. Legalizing pot say opponents won't hurt the cartels.
LEE BACA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF: The whole argument about taking away crime profits and reducing crime is all nonsense. It's not going to change the motives of the cartels. It's going to increase the motives of the cartels, because they want to sell their drugs here as well.
BOB WEINER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DRUG POLICY SPOKESMAN: They will find a way, and they will simply underprice the even lower price of consumption that we have now. And you will have even more drugs available, because you will have competition from the black market at a lower price.
ROWLANDS: Those in favor of legalization disagree, arguing that violence in the U.S. and Mexico would drop.
NEILL FRANKLIN, LAW ENFORCEMENT AGAINST PROHIBITION: Every day that we wait, 50 more people die in Mexico. Every day that we wait, in the cities of the United States, we have young men and women who are dying at the hands of violent drug dealers.
ROWLANDS: Now, Wolf, there was one scenario that the RAND study came up with that could potentially hurt the cartels. And that is if legal pot was sold in other states than California, if it was illegally sold in other states, but the odds of that happening because, of course, the federal government's guard will be up if pot is made legal here in California.
In fact, that is assuming that the federal government even allows California to legalize marijuana. That is something that we don't know at this point. We will have to find out what the federal government does, if indeed that Prop 19 passes here in California.
BLITZER: And, Ted, we're getting some more information on this part of the story right now as well.
Even if Californians do vote to legalize marijuana, the federal government apparently plans to uphold its anti-drug laws in the state. The Associated Press reporting that the attorney general, Eric Holder, has now written a letter to former chiefs of the Drug Enforcement Administration, vowing to vigorously enforce federal drug laws in California.
Holder reportedly calls efforts to legalize pot, and I'm quoting now, "a significant impediment to fighting drug traffickers."
Nazi-inspired images, symbols, and decor, you can see it in Berlin at a controversial first-ever exhibit about Adolf Hitler.
And breaking through -- the world's longest tunnel comes out on the other end. It took only 14 years.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: A return to the White House, the former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice back on very familiar turf. We will talk about her meeting with President Obama today, also talk about her brand new memoir, growing up in the segregated South.
Plus, alleged fistfights between those Chilean miners in the first desperate days of the ordeal, there is new information coming to light.
BLITZER: A new mine drama unfolding right now, just days after the successful rescue of those 33 miners in Chile. This time, it is in Ecuador, where four miners are feared trapped following a collapse inside a gold mine in the southern part of the country near the border with Peru.
The men are believed to be about 500 feet underground. Officials think they have enough air to last five or six days. Some 50 rescuers are working to reach them right now, possibly within 24 hours. We will stay on top of this story for you, get you more information.
Medical officials in Chile say all but two of the rescued miners there have now been released from the hospital and the remaining men are being transferred to another facility for more treatment.
Meanwhile, there are some troubling new details emerging about their ordeal and possible discord among the men.
Brian Todd is looking into this story for us.
What are you picking up, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, by most accounts, along the way, the miners showed unity and cohesiveness during their time underground, but we're now we are getting indications there was some discord during that period.
One miner who left the mine before the collapse later got a letter from a trapped miner. The miner who had left told "The Washington Post" -- quote -- "There were fistfights,' but he would not say what they were about. One miner interviewed in his hospital bed betrayed no signs of discord during their ordeal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD VILLARROEL, RESCUED MINER (through translator): We just had to communicate and talk things out. We had problems. We just talked them out. (END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: But other miners and their relatives told "The Post" the men made a deal to keep the discord secret. And CNN has been told they have made a pact to split the proceeds equally from things like book deals, interviews and appearance fees -- Wolf.
BLITZER: But there could some fracturing of that deal, couldn't there?
TODD: There could be.
One miner, Victor Segovia, reportedly has been offered a lot of money to publish a diary he kept. And because he was the sole author of that diary, he may not have to share the proceeds. And they may have some friction over that as well.
BLITZER: They could have some friction over that.
BLITZER: But they did show some extraordinary discipline during the course of this ordeal.
TODD: Discipline and unity. During the two-weeks-plus, between the time the mine caved in and the time they were discovered, they were so low on food that they had to ration it in very, very small amounts.
If you take a look at this bottle cap, one of the miners says that they got down to -- the food rationing got so low, they had to take about half-a-teaspoon of tuna a day per man. That is three- quarters of this bottle cap's worth of tuna for one day per man. They stuck to that. And it saved their lives. They made the deal. They stuck to it. That saved their lives for those two weeks.
BLITZER: We are really happy that it did, and 31 of the 33 now out of prison -- out of prison -- out of the hospital.
TODD: Right. Out of the hospital, right.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for that.
Condoleezza Rice back on familiar ground, the former secretary of state here in Washington, D.C. She is promoting her new book. And she met today with the president of the United States over at the White House.
First, though, she stopped here in THE SITUATION ROOM, and I asked her if she had a message she wanted to give President Obama.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The president nicely invited me, knew I was here, and we'll talk about a range of foreign policy issues. BLITZER: Is there something on your agenda?
RICE: No, it's frequently done, you know, that former cabinet secretaries go, and particularly on the foreign policy side, and see the sitting presidents, and I'm very much looking forward to it, and whatever is on his mind.
BLITZER: If there -- this is a period of transition personnel in his administration, in his cabinet. If he offers you a job are you interested?
RICE: Come now, come now, Wolf. I've got a job, and he's got really fine people around him. He -- he's picking the brain of a former secretary of state, and that's perfectly appropriate right now.
BLITZER: As soon as you hear that the president has invited you to the Oval Office, the first thing on my mind is that would be a bold move on his part.
RICE: I know, but presidents do this. It's a nice feature, actually, of our democracy that, particularly on the foreign policy side, the foreign policy -- people who have been involved in foreign policy do this from time to time.
BLITZER: All right. Do you speak with the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton?
RICE: I do from time to time, but again, when you're in those positions, the opinions and the advice of people who aren't following the issue on a daily basis is somewhat limited, but whenever Secretary Clinton is in need, she will call me.
BLITZER: Let's talk about this book. It is an extraordinary book. It's not an ordinary book. The book is entitled "Extraordinary Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family." It's got a great picture of you and your mom and dad on the cover.
I want to go through some of the history, because it helps explain to our viewers here in the United States where you're coming from, your childhood growing up in the segregated south.
BLITZER: It was an emotional, frightful, terrifying period for you as a little girl.
RICE: Well, this is really one of the crucible periods in American history. In Birmingham, Alabama, the most segregated big city in America, a black family couldn't go into a hotel, couldn't take a kid to an amusement park. I didn't have a white classmate until we moved to Denver when I was 12.
And so in that sense, that and the fact that by 1962, 1963, it had become Bombingham, a place where bombs were going off in communities all the time. It was a difficult place. But this was also a story of triumph of family and their values and a little community that believed that, while you might not be able to have a hamburger at Woolworth's lunch counter, you could be president of the United States if you wanted to be.
BLITZER: We sent a producer and a camera crew down to Birmingham. Take some pictures. I want to put them up on the wall behind me. Take a look over there, the Westminster Presbyterian Church. You see that -- what it looks like today. What goes through your mind?
RICE: All -- what goes through my mind is all the time that I spent in that church, not just on Sundays, because my father also believed very strongly in using the church as a social force. So we had tutoring in that church, and we had French lessons. And that little church is still there and still prospering. My grandfather actually founded that congregation in the 1940s.
BLITZER: Wow. And now, we also have some video of some of the neighborhood, of this area. This is what it looks like today, obviously, a lot different than in the '50s and '60s when you were growing up. And it's -- it's integrated, desegregated city, but it was totally different then.
Let's talk a little bit about that blast that killed those four little girls. Remind our viewers what happened where you were, because take a look. That's archival video.
BLITZER: Of what happened?
RICE: Yes, this is 16th Street Baptist Church. And in September, September 16, 1963, my parents and I had just arrived at our own church. It was fairly early in morning, but my mother was the musician for the church, and so we were there getting things ready.
And suddenly, there was a loud thud, almost like a roaring. And in those days in Birmingham, which as I said had become Bombingham. You knew that a bomb had gone off someplace.
And at first we thought it was perhaps in our neighborhood, but pretty soon, well before cell phones, people called to say that a bomb had gone off at 16th Street Baptist Church. It wasn't long after that that we learned that four little girls had been killed, and it wasn't long after that that we learned their names.
And everyone knew one of those little girls or more, because Birmingham was a small community. And one of the names was Denise McNair, a little girl with whom I had played and gone to kindergarten. There's a picture in the book of my father handing Denise her kindergarten graduation certificate when she was 6 or 7. So it was a really sad and terrifying day for us in Birmingham.
BLITZER: And you tell the story of how your parents raised you and wanted to make sure you didn't feel like a victim, even though there was this hatred in Birmingham of black people. What did they do to make sure that you grew up and had self-confidence and poise and could succeed?
RICE: Well, my parents and really their friends, and the whole community were people who just demonstrated to us that you might not be able to control your circumstances, but you could control your response to your circumstances.
And the best armor against everything around you was to be well educated, to work hard, to be twice as good as if you had to be, to do their languages and their culture better, meaning the white man. And so, we had our French lessons, and we had our ballet lessons. And we were just encouraged to have high expectations and high ambitions, even in a place that could have had a stultifying effect on those ambitions.
BLITZER: Much more on any conversation with Condoleezza Rice coming up. We'll hear what a jar of jelly beans had to do with her father's shift to the Republican Party, and what Russia had to do with hers.
And later, the space shuttle program winding down. But it may get one extra hurrah before it's grounded for good. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: If it wasn't for the Soviet Union, Condoleezza Rice might not have been secretary of state. History played a major role in bringing both her and her father to the Republican Party. She explains what happened to them both as my interview continues.
BLITZER: Tell us, because you write about this in the book, about your father's decision to become a Republican.
BLITZER: How did that happen?
RICE: My mother and father went down in 1952 to register to vote, and they were not yet married, but they were courting.
My mother, beautiful, light-skinned, they poll tested her because there were poll tests for blacks in those days. The poll tester asked her, "So you probably know who the first president of the United States was."
She said, "Yes, George Washington."
And he said, "Fine, you register."
My father, he said, "How many beans are in that jar?" BLITZER: Darker skinned?
RICE: My father was darker skinned, and a big kind of intimidating man, actually.
And he said, "So how many beans are in that jar?"
My father, who obviously couldn't count the beans, was really devastated. And he went back, and he was talking with Mr. Frank Hunter, an old man in his church. And he said, "Oh, Reverend, I'll tell you how to get registered." He said, "There is a clerk down there who's a Republican, and she'll register anybody who will say they are Republican," because of course, this was when the Dixiecrats and the Democrats controlled Alabama completely.
So my father registered as a Republican, and he was a life-long and actually proud member of the Republican Party for the rest of his life.
BLITZER: And you, too?
RICE: And me, too. I didn't start as a Republican. I first voted for President Jimmy Carter. But I became a Republican largely around foreign policy issues initially, because I was attracted to Ronald Reagan's strength.
BLITZER: When you were studying the Soviet Union, the former Soviet Union and you were learning Russian and all that, that's when you decided you felt more comfortable in the Republican Party?
RICE: Well, it was really after the invasion of Afghanistan. I had just...
BLITZER: By the Soviets?
RICE: By the Soviet Union, and President Carter said that he had never known anything more about the Soviet Union and this and decided to boycott the Olympics. And I decided that we needed a stronger foreign policy.
BLITZER: I want to wrap it up on a passion that you have, a passion that I have, a lot of the viewers have, which is NFL football.
RICE: Ah, yes.
BLITZER: I know your biggest disappointment is that you're not the commissioner of the NFL.
RICE: Well, I told Roger Goodell, who is a very good commissioner of the NFL, that his job looked pretty good when I was struggling with the Iranians and the Russians everyday, but from Northern California, his job doesn't look so good any more. I'll be a fan and leave it at that for now.
BLITZER: He gives up that job, is that something?
RICE: Speculation. Let's...
BLITZER: I sense that you might be open to that.
RICE: I'm always open to sports management. I loved when I was provost of Stanford, that Stanford athletics reported to me and I enjoyed managing big-time college sports. And, oh, by the way, the Stanford Cardinals are very good this year.
BLITZER: I know they are. Let's wrap it up with how you became a young girl growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, a fan of the Cleveland Browns, of all teams. Why?
RICE: Yes. Even that has to be situated in the times and in segregation. Alabama had no team. In fact, the Deep South had no teams, in large part because of segregation. And the Washington Redskins actually would have been the closest team, but they refused until the very end to have black players, so they couldn't be our team.
The team that was on TV most often, the Cleveland Browns, Jim Brown, Paul Brown. And so my father, who was a football coach when I was born and wanted me to be his all-American linebacker, and taught me all about the sport, that was his team. And so every Sunday we would follow the ups and downs of the Cleveland Browns. In those days, it was mostly ups. These days it's a little harder to say that.
BLITZER: And then, once there was an NFL game in Birmingham.
BLITZER: You went.
RICE: I did.
BLITZER: And you write about it and I read about it. Tell our viewers what happened at that game.
BLITZER: This is the first time you've been allowed. Black people couldn't even go to the stadium.
RICE: That's right. And so we go to Legion Field when the Dallas Cowboys play the Minnesota Vikings. And my mom and I had bought new suits. We were so excited. And the -- Bob Hayes, the great sprinter, was playing for the Cowboys. He took the opening kickoff 100-plus yards.
And we were cheering wildly. And I'll have to use the word. The man behind us -- and I don't think my parents thought I heard him -- the man behind us said, "Oo-ee, look at that nigger run."
And it just said something at that time about the South. It said something about the still deep wounds of segregation and how far we had to go. But the amazing thing is that, when I go back now to that same city of Birmingham, it's had several black mayors. It's had several black city council members, including a little girl that I played with, Carol Smitherman. It has had a black woman in the position once held by Eugene "Bull" Connor, the police commissioner at the time. And so, it shows how change comes.
As you nicely said, I'm not that old, and that was my experience as a child. And now I've been secretary of state. It says something quite wonderful about America that we're able to overcome these old wounds and these terrible times and move forward. And it's a good lesson that history's arc is long, not short.
BLITZER: I hope you become the commissioner of the NFL some day, and I can only imagine your father and your mother, if they were alive, what they would say.
RICE: They would -- they would say, you're prepared for what's ahead of you and you're God's child and go get it. And thanks to them, I've had a fulfilling and quite unique life.
BLITZER: The book is entitled "Extraordinary Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family." The author is Condoleezza Rice.
Madam Secretary, thanks very much.
RICE: Thank you. Great to be with you.
BLITZER: An endorsement from beyond the grave. We're going to show you one candidate's unusual campaign ad.
BLITZER: Troops get a warning about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Fredricka Whitfield is monitoring some of other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What's going on, Fred?
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, Wolf. Hello, everyone.
Don't do anything rash. That's the message from the U.S. military to the troops when it comes to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. A recent court injunction has stopped the military's policy of barring known gay troops from serving. The Defense Department says it will follow the injunction, but that it would continue "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" if an appeals court cancels the injunction.
And for the second year in a row, there will be no cost of living increase in 2011 for millions of Americans on Social Security. Due to the recession, inflation has been low the past two years, and the government says prices are up only slightly over last year. More than 58 million seniors and others receive Social Security checks.
And Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski is out with a new ad featuring the late senator, Ted Stevens. In it, he tells voters, quote, "I trust Lisa and her commitment to keep fighting for us."
Murkowski is running as a write-in candidate after losing the Republican primary to the Tea Party-backed Joe Miller. Polls suggest that Murkowski and Miller are actually neck and neck.
And staying in Alaska now, here's a sneak peek at "Sarah Palin's Alaska." That's the name of the former governor's new documentary series airing on TLC. Each episode will feature Palin and family members sharing the country's final frontier with viewers, from salmon fishing to hiking along a glacier. The show premiers November 14 -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for that. I'm sure a lot of people will watch that show. Appreciate it.
The clock is ticking on NASA's long-running space shuttle program and the thousands of jobs that go with it. But there's a chance the space agency will eke out one more mission than expected. Is it worth the cost, though? And the risk? We have new information right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: NASA's shuttle program will soon end, but maybe not quite as soon as we thought. And that would be very good news for thousands on the brink of losing their jobs.
CNN's John Zarrella is joining us now in Florida.
What's changing in the space agency's timetable, John?
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, a year ago, Wolf, 6,000 United Space Alliance employees worked processing shuttles. When the last one lands, only 1,000 of those jobs will be left.
But there's a chance now that many of those people could hold onto their jobs for a little while longer.
ZARRELLA (voice-over): The end is etched in stone. Exactly when is, well, up in the air. There are two space shuttle flights left.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Main gear touchdown.
ZARRELLA: But NASA's new budget, signed by President Obama, calls for adding one more flight next June. Maybe. Florida Senator Bill Nelson...
(on camera) This is where you were?
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: Yes. I was in the middle seat.
ZARRELLA: ... spearheaded the effort to get the added shuttle curtain call. It would allow NASA to stock the space station with tons of extras: computers, spacewalk gear, experiments, all kinds of spare parts. And it would save jobs for a few extra months.
NELSON: If I put on my parochial state of Florida hat, or the Texas senators put on theirs, then an ease of the adjustment of the workforce is clearly one of the concerns that we have.
ZARRELLA: Those arguments don't fly with everyone.
FRED GUTERL, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN": The rule of thumb is, whenever the space shuttle flies, it's a waste of money. The space shuttle is hugely expensive for what it does.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six, five...
GUTERL: And it's not that safe, which is why it's being discontinued.
ZARRELLA: Bottom line: are spare parts worth the risk and the cost? How much? About half a billion a flight. On top of that, the budget only calls for the added mission.
(on camera) But you don't have the money funded yet for that additional flight. It's not there.
NELSON: Well, we're going to get it. But...
ZARRELLA: Are you nervous about that?
NELSON: Well, of course I am. I mean, you have to deal with senators that one senator can stop the whole works.
ZARRELLA (voice-over): Some money would come from leftover cash in the 2010 budget. The rest, likely siphoned from other NASA programs.
(on camera) So if there is an additional launch, the space station will get a lot of extra stuff. Shuttle workers will keep their jobs a little bit longer, and the local economy will get a tremendous boost. An estimated 1 million people will come for the launch, spending approximately $30 million.
(voice-over) From Titusville to Cocoa Beach, standing room only.
ROB VARLEY, SPACE COAST TOURISM: It's going to be a celebration around here.
ZARRELLA: Rob Varley heads Space Coast Tourism.
VARLEY: Our phone is ringing off the wall. "Oh, my God, you know, I've never been to see a shuttle and now it's the last chance."
ZARRELLA: To see the space shuttle's last dance.
ZARRELLA: If there is a final flight, Wolf, it will be the shuttle Atlantis with a four-member crew. Target date, June 28. We're saving you a hotel room, Wolf. I expect to see if they do it.
BLITZER: It could be fun. It would be exciting.
BLITZER: The last shuttle. Thank you very much, John. I know you will be there. Appreciate it very much.
BLITZER: Just ahead, sorting through firecrackers in India. One of our parting shots to wrap up this week. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Here's a look at "Hot Shots."
In India, workers assemble firecrackers in advance of a Hindu festival.
In Moscow, fans lay flares during the Russian football league championship.
In Gaza, Palestinian children play on a beach as the sun sets.
And in France, a dog stands on his hind legs while playing in a fountain.
"Hot Shots," pictures worth a thousand words.
This programming note: if you missed the debate in Delaware between Christine O'Donnell and Chris Coons, the debate I co- moderated, you can watch it right here on CNN tomorrow, starting at 4 p.m. Eastern. It will go from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.