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CNN Interview with Sarah Palin; Candidates' Screw-Ups on Camera; Secret Spending Scandal Feared; First Lady for Fundraising

Aired October 18, 2010 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR: Brooke, thanks very much.

Happening now, Sarah Palin talks to CNN. She just helped the Tea Party kick off its final bus tour before the election. And now she's opening up about the movement and the old school politicians she believes are on their way out. The campaign attacks are flying, including some shocking allegations from a candidate's college days and eye-popping claims about homosexuality. We're standing by for a new debate showdowns. They could get very heated tonight.

And new information about where Osama bin Laden is hiding and who may be protecting him right now. We're trying to zero in on the Al Qaeda leader's location.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


But we begin with Sarah Palin. She's certainly helping the Tea Party harness this political power for the final push to the mid-term elections. And she just may be throwing down the gauntlet for the 2012 presidential race, as well.

In Nevada, just a little while ago, she spoke with CNN political producer, Tra -- Shannon Travis.

And Shannon is joining us now with more -- Shannon, let me play this clip of the exchange you had with her.

Listen to this.


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- according to a work ethic. So...



PALIN: Thank you for your encouragement.


(APPLAUSE) TRAVIS: -- and what do you say...


TRAVIS: Governor, what do you say to your critics who say you're way too divisive to forge a consensus?

PALIN: Oh...


PALIN: Oh...

TRAVIS: Critics say you're way too divisive.

PALIN: They're going to say what they're going to say. And if I spent all my time just answering the critics, I might as well close up and shop and do nothing else. Instead we're out here and we're just a -- so appreciating the enthusiasm for the common sense message of Tea Party Americans.


BLITZER: And at the beginning of that clip, sheen, somebody who clearly wanted to encourage her to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

You had an opportunity to go back and forth with her a little bit. We're going to play the entire exchange in our next hour. But give us a little behind-the-scenes.

How did this unfold, what is she doing there, what's going on?

TRAVIS: Well, a little bit of behind-the-scenes, Wolf, is that she was obviously the headline speaker for the kickoff of this fourth national tour for the Tea Party Express. She fired up the crowd. She talked about kicking out the most powerful Democrat in the Senate, Harry Reid -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. She talked about electing his Republican challenger, Sharron Angle.

But after she got offstage, me and my producer, we basically ran around to the back to try and get a little bit of Q&A. She had an interview with another cable news outlet and then she came over. And there were people screaming, "Sarah, Sarah, run for president," hoisting signs and -- and papers and towels and hats over to her to just sign them, trying to take pictures with her.

And so basically, when she worked her way around to us, I just started firing away questions. And that was one of the answers that you just saw from there. So that was some of the behind-the-scenes.

Another interesting note, Wolf, Sarah Palin actually stayed for a while. Me and my producer were trying to figure out how long she stayed and shook hands and signed and took pictures -- maybe at least 40 minutes. So this is obviously her crowd. These are her supporters and she definitely was there to thank them in person. BLITZER: A lot of people think she's setting the stage for a potential presidential run after this election. She's going to have to get started fairly soon in 2011 if she wants to be competitive in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina.

What kind of body language did you get from her today?

And I know that one question was shouted at her.

TRAVIS: Yes, absolutely. That's a great question that so many people are asking. So I put it to the former Alaska governor -- if Tea Party candidates that you supported actually win in just a few weeks, does this set you up very nicely for a potential 2012 bid?

And you'll hear that answer when you play the entire run of the sound in the next hour.

BLITZER: It's not every day she speaks with CNN, since she's working for Fox News Channel. She's under contract. She's not supposed to speak with other cable channels. But, Shannon, you got her to answer a few questions. We'll play that for our viewers, as I say, in the next hour.

Shannon Travis is with the Tea Party Express.

He's covering this story for us, doing an outstanding job, as he always does.

Journalists are not the only ones, by the way, who are traveling around with cameras and microphones and recording devices at these political events across the country. Campaign operatives are working hard to record rival candidates' missteps.

Our senior Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is looking into this part of the story -- all right, Dana, tell us what's going on.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, every election we see a new trend in campaign commercials. A few years ago, it was morphing one candidate into another. This year, it's all about using something as simple as this -- a BlackBerry or a cell phone -- to catch a candidate saying something that can be used against them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mrs. Moore, if elected, will you support Nancy Pelosi for speaker?

BASH (voice-over): That's not a reporter. It's someone with Kansas House candidate Stephene Moore's opponent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you support Nancy Pelosi for speaker?

STEPHENE MOORE (D), KANSAS HOUSE CANDIDATE: This is Dakota. He follows me everywhere and asks me that question. BASH: Dakota is what's known as a tracker -- an opposing campaign's aide or supporter who follows candidates to events, looking for "gotcha" moments to turn into 30 second ads.

Here's an ad in New Hampshire, where Democratic Carol Shea-Porter is caught making what Republicans think is a politically unpopular admission.


CAROL SHEA-PORTER (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE HOUSE CANDIDATE: I think I have about a 90 percent rating with -- with the president. And maybe...


PORTER: -- 93 percent with the House. All along, I have said, you know, this is what I believe.

BASH: It's an exploding trend in political ads this year -- using candidates' own words against them, often with video captured by trackers.

EVAN TRACEY, CAMPAIGN MEDIA ANALYSIS GROUP: It's that candid camera "gotcha" moment. Any time you can get your opponent on film saying something that is not popular with voters and you can put that in your ad and feed it out 30 seconds at a time, it's a much more effective way to run a negative ad.

BASH: Remember, Republican Senator George Allen's 2006 infamous macaca moment?


SENATOR GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: This fellow here, over here, with the -- the yellow shirt, Macaca or whatever his name is, he's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere.

BASH: A tracker shot that and what appeared to be a racial slur by Allen helped sink his campaign. Now, four years later, flip cams, cell phones and advances in technology make this brand of negative campaigning much easier.

TRACEY: This is the macaca moment on steroids, this election.

BASH: And it's a bipartisan phenomenon. Colorado voters see it from both Senate candidates.


KEN BUCK: I am pro-life and I will answer the next question. I -- I don't believe in the exceptions of rape or incest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ken Buck -- he's too extreme for Colorado.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reckless spending has become a habit. Bennet voted for Obama's failed stimulus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I voted for it and I'm glad I did.


BASH: Now, pretty much every major campaign, Democrat and Republican, now has either a paid staffer or a volunteer who goes out on the campaign trail and trails opposing candidates, trying to capture something to use against them. Now, strategists in both parties say the most powerful campaign ad is not one with a narrator's voice, Wolf, but it is that ad that hits an opponent using his or her own words.

BLITZER: Good point.

Dana, thanks very much.

Dana Bash is our senior Congressional correspondent. Grim tidings from the war zone -- Jack Cafferty is here with The Cafferty File -- welcome back, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, THE CAFFERTY FILE: More than years into the war in Afghanistan and there doesn't seem to be a lot of good news to report. From every conceivable angle, things are a mess, beginning with the country's attempts at democracy. What a joke.

Officials have postponed announcing the results of last month's parliamentary elections because of widespread fraud. They are expected to throw out anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of the votes. That could be as many as one million votes.

The fraud included everything from stuffing the ballot box to citizens being forced to cast their votes at gunpoint to election officials and security forces working in cahoots with corrupt candidates.

On the security front, deadly insurgent attacks on U.N. and coalition forces are rising. Seventeen NATO troops have been killed in just a three day period last week and the U.S. has lost 386 troops so far this year.

A recent U.N. report shows 1,200 Afghan civilians died, 2,000 more were wounded in just the first six months of this year.

It's no wonder that American support for this debacle is at an all- time low. The latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll showing only 37 percent of those surveyed favor the war -- one in three. Fifty-two percent say the operation has become another Vietnam.

Meanwhile, remember Osama bin Laden -- you know, the reason we went to Afghanistan to begin with nine years ago?

A senior NATO official says that bin Laden and his top deputy are hiding close to each other in homes in Northwest Pakistan.

No hiding out in caves for these guys. Nay, nay. Instead, Al Qaeda's top operatives are believed to be living in relative comfort, protected by locals and by Pakistani intelligence. Here's the question -- when it comes to Afghanistan, what exactly is the point?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: Next hour, we have invited the Pakistani ambassador here in Washington to come in and answer some of these reports -- very disturbing reports that some of the members of Pakistani intelligence are actually protecting bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri.

Jack, it's a good question you asked and we're going to go in depth in our next hour on it a little bit more.

Thanks very much.

America's fashion plate first lady is about to team up with "Sex and The City" star, Sarah Jessica Parker. We have some new information.

And follow the money -- will those famous words from the Watergate era lead to a major new scandal during this election year?

And a Republican Senate candidate and Tea Party favorite compares homosexuality to alcoholism.

Will Ken Buck's words hurt him on election day in Colorado?

I'll ask Hilary Rosen and David Frum. They're both standing by for our Strategy Session.


BLITZER: New warnings that the U.S. could be ripe for yet another political scandal on the scale, perhaps, even of Watergate, this one stemming from secret special interest money coming into campaigns.

Let's bring in our senior political analyst, David Gergen -- David, let me read to you from Al Hunt's column on He writes this. He says: "The U.S. is due for a huge scandal involving big money, bribery and politicians -- not the small fry that dominates the ethics fights in Washington -- really big stuff. Think Watergate. This year, there is a massive infusion of special interest money into U.S. politics that is secret, not reported. Corporations and other interests will spend more than $250 million of undisclosed funds to affect the outcome of the November 2nd national elections.

Are you as worried about another Watergate-type scandal as he is?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: No. Al Hunt is one of the preeminent journalists of our time, someone both you and I greatly respect, Wolf. But on this particular question of Watergate, I -- I think it's, you see, unless he has evidence -- and "The New York Times" also ran a story yesterday suggesting this would be another Watergate. They had pictures of Nixon all over the place -- and Spiro Agnew.

Unless there's evidence, it's -- it's -- it's -- it's a red herring. They're injecting something and it's a scare tactic to just get people scared -- oh my god, the Republicans are going to bring us another Watergate.

And there is no evidence of that at all.

I do agree with Al Hunt. I think he's absolutely right to champion the disclosure of -- of -- of all contributions. That was something that some Republicans did support early on, when the -- just a few months ago. And I think the disclosure is important. I think Al is right on that.

But why -- you know, the only reason is to reach for Watergate, unless there's evidence, it's like the whole effort like over the last two weeks to say that the Republicans are bringing all this foreign money.

There's no evidence of that and then the Chamber of Commerce and others will come forward and show us all your donors if you want to convince us. And there's not a shred of evidence.

It seems to me that those two arguments are -- they're going to be on the bounds of what I seek happening.

BLITZER: And they said that recent Supreme Court decision made it clear that in some of these organizations, you don't have to disclose where these millions and millions of dollars are coming from.

GERGEN: Well, that's right. The court in this decision that was so controversial said, you know, it basically advocated disclosure. I think it was right. It's been -- as Al Hunt pointed out in his "Bloomberg" piece the Federal Elections Commission has really been dragging its feet, it was a very ineffectual dysfunctional group. They've been dragging their feet.

There is a lot of money coming into this campaign at the last minute. But I do think there a couple of other narratives which are also wrongheaded. Increasingly the narrative is the Republicans are bringing in all this foreign money and that they're basically spending tons and tons of corporate money and they're almost like stealing the elections through their money.

The fact is, I think, the facts at least born out by a big news piece in the "Wall Street Journal" today was that the two sides are relatively balanced now in terms of how much money through all their different channels they're bringing in and throwing into this.

And that the Democratic candidates for the House actually have a little more cash on hand than the Republicans. The Republicans have brought in a ton of money. Is it helping them? Yes. But I don't think it's stealing the election.

I think first public opinion moved into the Republican direction and then money came. It wasn't the other way around. The opinion was already moving. BLITZER: Do you have a problem with the American citizens, employees of foreign companies that may or may not operate in the United States giving money to politicians?

GERGEN: Well, the "Hill" newspaper came out today saying basically they -- and reporting that now we learned that there are employees of foreign subsidiaries who are giving money to the Democratic Party. And that has been -- Republicans are arguing that's foreign money, it's inappropriate, it's hypocrisy to talk about our foreign money when you got this foreign money.

I think if you're working for a foreign company, you're an American citizen working for a plant here in America or say GlaxoKline (sic), a pharmaceutical company, you're working for their subsidiary here, I don't think that's foreign money. I think that's a false charge against the Democrats.

We're getting a lot of mud throwing around here, aren't we?

BLITZER: Yes. Well, there's a lot of money and you know what they used to say during Watergate --

GERGEN: There's a lot of mud, a lot of money.

BLITZER: All of the money. So that's what we're trying to do a little.

All right, David, thanks very much.

GERGEN: Thank you.

BLITZER: We're monitoring some other top stories right now including brand-new guidelines for performing CPR. And this they involve knowing your ABCs.

Plus more of CNN's Q&A with GOP icon tea party favorite Sarah Palin. You'll hear how she's addressing fears the Tea Party movement could end up hurting Republicans.


BLITZER: Kate Bolduan is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now including some important new information. Life-saving information about CPR.

What are we learning?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you know the classic CPR that involves the rescue breast as well as a chest compression. Well, listen to this. The American Heart Association is issuing new CPR guidelines and wants you to remember the phrase CAB.

The C stands for chest compressions which should now be used first and foremost. That's a big change. Before A, which is checking the airway, and B giving breaths. So the guideline encourages fast forceful compressions to be done at the beat of the song "Staying Alive." The Bee Gees? You remember that.

The new procedure is designed for most adults and artificial respirations is still recommended for children. Very important guidelines to remember.

Also two female postal workers are dead after a Post Office shooting in Tennessee. The incident reportedly occurred during a robbery attempt. Now authorities are searching for the two suspects who left the scene and are believed to be armed and dangerous.

And jury selection is under way in the trial for the suspect in the 2001 murder of Washington intern Chandra Levy. Authorities say Ingmar Guandique attacked the 24-year-old while she was jogging then killed her. His lawyers called the police investigation flawed.

The media frenzy surrounding the case resulted from an alleged affair Levy was having with then Congressman Gary Condit.

And a major worker's strike in France is wreaking havoc on travel across the country. Protesters outraged over a government push to raise the retirement age are blocking hundreds of fuel terminals in the region.

About 1,000 gas stations have run out of fuel and some flights out of Paris have been canceled because of it. Officials say fuel is flowing, though, into France from refineries outside of the country.

Can you imagine what that would do to our transportation system, Wolf? I was just imagining that.


BOLDUAN: If all -- most of the refineries were shut down. And you couldn't a --

BLITZER: Relatively young in all of western Europe as opposed to here in the United States. So I guess they want to just keep it.

BOLDUAN: Hot button issue there.

BLITZER: Keep it like that.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Exactly.

BLITZER: But I'm getting back to the CPR.


BLITZER: "Staying alive, staying alive."

BOLDUAN: I know. Don't get me started.

BLITZER: No, no, I want you to --


BLITZER: That's what I was trying to do. You started it.

BOLDUAN: You want to do it?

BLITZER: No, no.

BOLDUAN: We need the song. After the break.

BLITZER: But Elizabeth Cohen --


BLITZER: Our senior medical --

BOLDUAN: She's singing it.

BLITZER: She said something important. For children, though, it's still important to check the mouth because children are more likely to have something --

BOLDUAN: They have something in their --

BLITZER: -- blocking their throat.

BOLDUAN: That's really important, too.

BLITZER: For adults you've got to just compress and hit the chest and get them going.

BOLDUAN: And pretty forcefully. They said don't even worry about breaking ribs.

BLITZER: Like that. OK. Thanks. We're saving lives.

BOLDUAN: We are. And having fun.

BLITZER: And we're staying alive.

He is seen as a loose cannon in this election season. What will Carl Paladino say next to his uphill bid to become the next governor of New York? We're standing by for a debate.

It could be very interesting.

And why Michelle Obama is flying solo after a rare night of campaigning at her husband's stop.


BLITZER: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM, happening now.

She's a major in the GOP. Could potentially be the next Republican nominee for the presidency. Now Sarah Palin is speaking out right here in a rare Q&A with CNN. The full conversation coming up.

New security concerns for the millions of people who use the popular social networking site, Facebook. Does your personal information made available to advertisers?

I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Michelle Obama is in New York City this hour to raise money for Democrats with a little help from "Sex and the City" glamour, shall we say. The actress Sarah Jessica Parker is hosting the DNC event. It's part of the first lady's big campaign swing before the election two weeks and one day from now.

Our senior White House correspondent Ed Henry is traveling Mrs. Obama's -- tracking Mrs. Obama's travels right now.

She's on her own and she was with the president in Ohio, as you know, Ed, yesterday. What's the strategy now on how best to use her during these final 15 days?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, when you talk to the first lady's advisers as I have, it's very clear what they're trying to do. They're trying to bank on the fact that she's got approval ratings of about 65 percent, 20 points higher than her husband in the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll.

I was there in Columbus, Ohio last night. That translated into 35,000 people showing up. A major rally for Democrats on the campus of Ohio State University.

The president doesn't normally draw crowds quite that large right now on his own. She's very popular and he was able to have a little fun talking about how normally he travels alone, just him and his iPod, and now he's got his wife along for the ride telling him what to do, telling him what to say.

He's sort of teasing a little bit. That enables him to be humanized a little, make the political pitch a little bit more personal. And also when you have that large of a crowd, it enables the Democrats to try to rally their base at a time when everyone is talking about the enthusiasm gap and how Republicans are more excited to go to the polls on November 2nd.

The president making sure in key states like Ohio, his people are going to show up on November 2nd, as well, Wolf.

BLITZER: The president and the first lady this week, I take it, they're going to be going basically the same places, but campaigning separately. Why?

HENRY: That's right. They basically want two bites of the apple. They're going to a lot of the same states later this week and early next week. California, Washington state, where there are some big Senate battles. You have Democratic incumbents like Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray in some trouble.

You get the first lady into those states. Maybe she helps get some of the female vote out there, make sure that you lock down those seats. The president doing much of the same. But what's interesting when you look at those he states, instead of having the president and the first lady in maybe some more Republican- leaning states, maybe some of the more so-called purple states that go back and forth, they're sending them to more Democratic states that they're playing defense on. And that tells you a lot in the final days of this campaign, the president and first lady spending a lot of time playing defense instead of offense. The Democrats have so much to defend.

BLITZER: Ed Henry is over at the White House. Thanks very much.

We are less than two hours away from a debate in New York State for the governor's race, one of the nastiest political contests in the nation right now. Let's go to New York. CNN's Mary Snow is standing by over at Hofstra University. Set the stage for us.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the first and potentially only debate between Republican Carl Paladino and Democrat Andrew Cuomo. It has gained so much of the attention nationwide because of its nasty tone. All eyes are going to be on these two leading contenders but all told, there are seven candidates who will be on the stage tonight. One word people keep using to describe what could happen tonight, unpredictable.


SNOW: Setting the stage for what promises to be political theater. On stage, Carl Paladino.

CARL PALADINO: New Yorkers are as mad as hell.

SNOW: The Republican candidate favored by tea party activists vowed to take a baseball bat to Albany. Also on stage, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, current attorney general and son of former governor Mario Cuomo. Joining them, five candidates considered to be big players, including a former black panther and city councilman, a former madam who wants to legalize prostitution and a candidate known as Papa Smurf on the rent is too damn high ticket. Will their 90-minute debate provide substance? Political observer Doug Muzzio is not holding his breath.

DOUG MUZZIO, BARUCH COLLEGE: It's Alice in wonderland. We have the mad hatter. We have got all kinds of characters.

SNOW: The debate comes on the same day a "New York Times" poll finds 59 percent of likely voters support Cuomo versus 24 percent for Paladino. 59 percent said Paladino didn't have the right temperament and personality to be a good governor. The cumbers come a week after Paladino came under fire for comments made about homosexuality while speaking to a conservative Jewish group.

PALADINO: I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family. I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option. It isn't. SNOW: Paladino later apologized for his comments. They were just the latest remarks to spark controversy. He has personally gone after Andrew Cuomo and early on in the campaign he apologized for forwarding racist and pornographic e-mails. If Paladino has any hope in this race says Doug Muzzio, he has to reintroduce himself to New Yorkers.

MUZZIO: Here can't be crazy Carl. He has to have an edge, but not too much of an edge. He has to watch himself. He has to think. He can't have his thoughts go from his spine to his mouth without his brain intervening. He has to exercise some self control.


SNOW: Wolf, as for Andrew Cuomo and what's expected of him tonight as one Democratic strategist told me and said he needs to stay calm, clear, and stay on message. We talk to the libertarian party candidate who is debating tonight. He came out to talk earlier and he compared this to a NASCAR race saying people are not watching the race, they are watching and waiting for a crash. Wolf?

BLITZER: I know some NASCAR fans may not be pleased with that. That's what some folks are saying. With seven candidates, how much time will each one of these candidates get? Are they supposed to get exactly the same amount of minutes?

SNOW: Yes and as you see in the presidential debates back in 2008 with so many candidates on the stage, it will be very hard for candidate to get through. They are getting about a minute to a minute 30 for each answer. Hofstra said all candidates will be given equal time and there will be rebuttals in there.

BLITZER: I remember that first Republican presidential debate I moderated back in 2007. There were nine candidates up on the stage and some were complaining they didn't get the same time as some of the others. We will see what happens. Mary, thanks very much. Mary Snow is going to watch this debate for us.

A former pro football player drives off of a cliff. We will show you the pictures. We're going to tell you what happened. That's coming up.

Dramatic cell phone video after a college student was shot and killed by police.


BLITZER: Kate's back. She is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Kate, an accident involving a major football player.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they're taking a look at this. This is really interesting. Police in California are trying to determine what caused former NFL linebacker Junior Seau to drive his SUV off a cliff near San Diego. Seau was arrested last night for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend but was released on bail. The accident occurred after that. Seau, whose car landed on a beach, was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Students at Pace University, this is really troubling in New York, are mourning the death of a classmate. This dramatic cell phone video you are taking a look at right there was taken in the moments following the alleged police shooting of 20-year-old football player Danroy Henry Jr. Police say Henry hit two police officers with his car during a disturbance and was driving towards a third when they opened fire. Henry's father says he doubts the police version of events.

The fertility doctor who treated the so-called Octomom could lose his medical license. During the hearing today, a lawyer for the California medical board said implanting 12 embryos in Nadya Suleman was "unsafe." Suleman gave birth to eight babies in January 2009. She already had six other children conceived through in vitro fertilization that was administered by the same physician.

Get this. You might be surprised to learn that the Vatican's official newspaper is declaring the ever crude but ever adorable and profane Homer Simpson a catholic. I find this hilarious. I'm sorry They call the Simpsons one of the few in American life to take religion seriously. He points to episodes highlighting grace before meals and belief in the after life.

BLITZER: We will check in with former father David O'Connell. I want a second opinion. He's in New Jersey.

BOLDUAN: Home Simpson a catholic, who knew?

BLITZER: Thank you.

The GOP icon Sarah Palin is speaking out in a rare interview with CNN. Stand by for that.

And President Obama talks about science on a popular television show, just ahead. I will ask the host of the Discovery Channel's Myth Busters about their day over at the white house. They will be here in the next hour in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Let's get to our strategy session right now. Joining us our CNN political contributor, the Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen. Her firm is handling media for a number of candidates including the Florida governor, Charlie Crist, who is running as an independent for the Senate. Also contributor and former George W. Bush speech writer, David Frum. Guys, thanks very much for coming in. Let's talk a little bit about Marco Rubio. He's the Republican nominee for the Senate race in Florida right now. He has decided to appear in the coming days with Sarah Palin at a rally, even though Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina out in California they pointedly decided they were previously committed and didn't appear Sunday at that rally with her Saturday. Is this smart for Marco Rubio in a state like Florida to be seen at the rally with Sarah Palin?

DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think first it reflects where his heart is. He is a more conservative type of Republican than some of the others. I think he also understands that this is a very expensive race and he needs to raise a lot of money. Getting Marco Rubio into the Senate is important for Republicans. He does represent a kind of leadership the Republicans are going to need. He reaches across a lot of boundaries that Republicans need to cross. What it takes to get him over the line, let's do it.

BLITZER: These two women in California though they decided they didn't want to go to this rally for whatever reason. They both told me the same thing that they have a previous commitment they couldn't get out of. Is it smart in California at this stage with two weeks to go to avoid being seen with Sarah Palin?

HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Big difference, California has a much bigger Democratic registration advantage for Whitman and Fiorina to win. I don't think either one will. They need some independents and Democrats to cross over to them whereas in Florida, Sarah Palin is much more popular and so Marco Rubio needs the attention. The fact that he is doing this and she is there for him illustrates why it's so important that voters in Florida reject Marco Rubio. Because Sarah Palin just in the CNN interview today said the Republicans have to wake up. These guys are not coming to town to try and do good things for the American people and try to pass legislation that helps the middle class. They are coming to town to try to stop everything. That is a big negative.

BLITZER: Marco Rubio is way ahead in all the recent polls in Florida, beating Charlie Crist and way ahead of Kendrick Meek, the Democratic nominee. This is at least right now to lose.

FRUM: There will be a huge flood of money in the last 15 days and the Democrats have money. We have been hearing a lot of stories about how impoverished they are. They do have access to resources. Rubio is going to be in the gun sights of those resources. This is a race with a lot at stake.

BLITZER: From Florida, let's go to Colorado right now. This exchange yesterday on "MEET THE PRESS," Ken Buck, the tea party favorite and the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate running against the Democrat Michael Bennett had this exchange with David Gregory.

KEN BUCK: You can choose what your partner is.

DAVID GREGORY: You don't think it's something determined at birth?

BUCK: I think that birth has an influence like alcoholism and some other things, but I think basically you have a choice.

BLITZER: He was asked about homosexuality and is that a choice or is it something you are born with. You heard what he had to say. The question to you, in a state like Colorado, is that going to hurt Buck who is ahead in the polls right now ahead of Michael Bennett?

ROSEN: I actually wasn't sure so I made some calls to colleagues and friends in Colorado and here's the analysis. Everybody who is for Buck is for him, but independents and disgruntled Democrats who may have been holding back, this helps. It shows him for what he is which is out of the mainstream on social issues, not somebody who is thoughtful. You have somebody who has never fought in a war passing judgment on soldiers trying to serve their country honorably. This does not play well for him and it shows why Michael Bennett needs to be elected.

BLITZER: What he said about homosexuality was 180 degrees different than what the president said at that MTV BET CMT young people's town hall meeting the other day. Listen to what the president said.

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I don't think it's a choice. I think that people are born with a certain make up and we are all children of god. We don't make determinations about who we love.

BLITZER: How do you think if at all this will play in Colorado what Ken Buck?

FRUM: I don't understand why candidates have this overwhelming compulsion to answer questions where no one is interested in their views. It doesn't have a lot to do with the job they are asked to do. Not to be -- you get asked a lot of questions as a candidate and some are relevant and some are not. It also burns me that when people like this make these statements, this is a party of Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorinas we're talking about. A lot of events aspire to put forward the most unacceptable face in the Republican Party when there so many people who have a positive inclusive national message. I wish you can get equal air time by saying something sensible.

ROSEN: Carly Fiorina is not supportive of gay and lesbian equality nor is Meg Whitman. It is a trend now. We are seeing unfortunately too much in the Republican Party. In this particular case, this was about don't ask, don't tell. I have to say two things. There is nothing more annoying than somebody suggesting that homosexuality is a choice you know that young people grow up wanting to feel discriminated against and isolated. It's silly. For somebody not to be thoughtful about that is just -- it shows sort of a lack of sensitivity that I think you could stretch across a number of public policy issues.

BLITZER: On that note, we are going to continue the discussion. Thanks very much.

Sarah Palin doesn't often speak to CNN, but she is now. Stand by. She had an exchange with our CNN producer out there, covering the tea party. Stand by for that.

And while you're on Facebook, get this, someone you don't know about may be keeping tabs on you. We'll have the latest on what's going on.


BLITZER: Jack is back with "the Cafferty File." Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question this hour, when it comes to Afghanistan, what exactly is the point?

Frank writes, "They say the point is to protect us from the terrorists. But the only reason they attack us is because we invaded their homelands. I'll bet if we left they wouldn't want to attack us as much."

Tim in Texas writes, "The point is to keep al Qaeda boxed in Pakistan rather than having free rein to have wide-ranging operations in Afghanistan. Actually, if we can get a power-sharing deal between Karzai and the Taliban, we might achieve limited success. Success being defined as having limited al Qaeda ability to design and implement large-scale terror attacks. That said, I fully support having a date to begin withdrawing our troops."

Colby writes, "The point is that if we leave, there will be a power vacuum just like after be helped Afghanistan repel the soviets. Back then, we pulled out because we couldn't see the point of being there anymore. The Taliban eventually ended up filling the power vacuum. If we pull out now without a stable, viable national government in place, who is going to fill the resulting power void?"

Ron writes, "I think we've done all we can do in Afghanistan. We need to pull out now. Staying any longer would not accomplish anything unless we go into Pakistan after Bin Laden, which would only create more problems. What a mess."

W. writes, "Radical Islam is at war with us. It's a world wide conflict. The war will continue until one, radical Islam wins or two, radical Islam decides they cannot win the war. This means the worldwide war. It would be extremely difficult to convince radical Islam they cannot win if we lose in Afghanistan."

And Gordon in New Jersey writes, "The reason we can't just walk away is that Pakistan has about 90 operational nuclear weapons. Bin Laden is in Pakistan. Ahamadinejad was in Lebanon. The Indians are in Kashmir. Israeli settlers are on the West Bank. Karzai is corrupt. Obama is not a Republican. Saddam is not in Baghdad. And the Russians are not in Kabul. It's that simple."

If you want to read more, find it on my blog;

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

Sarah Palin is urging the GOP to man up. Her words. Man up. She's responding to questions about whether the tea party is on the hunt and purge mission. Stand by. She has a rare q and a.

And President Obama set to do some myth busting. We'll talk to the host of a popular show who will share the spotlight with President Obama.


BLITZER: In Iowa, a possible field of dreams for farmers over 7,000 miles away. The agriculture ministers of Afghanistan and Pakistan paid a visit to learn state-of-the-art ways to grow better crops. Our foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty was given exclusive access to their tour. She's now back in Washington. She's joining us live. How did it go, Jill? JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Hey Wolf. You know, you're standing in a corn field out in Iowa, you really see how huge and efficient American agriculture is. It's a world away from how they do farming in those two countries. In Afghanistan, 80 percent of the people are tied to farming. And helping them produce more is key to the U.S. strategy there.


DOUGHERTY: Sunrise in Iowa. The family farm of Sue and Keith McKinney.

SUE MCKINNEY: Welcome to our farm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for inviting us.

DOUGHERTY: Their visitors, agriculture ministers from Afghanistan and Pakistan, brought here by U.S. agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack. It's harvest season. They take a spin on the combine to see how American farmers produce so much. Just one combine can harvest the equivalent of more than 17 football fields an hour.

TOM VILSACK, AGRICULTURE SECRETARY: They can see the possibilities of a maturing agricultural economy, what that looks like and the success that that can bring to families.

DOUGHERTY: Keith McKinney shoes him how his cell phone gives him an edge, with updates on market prices from the Chicago board of trade.

KEITH MCKINNEY, IOWA FARMER: Soybeans are up three.


MCKINNEY: Yeah. And I get that information three times a day.

MOHAMMAD ASEF RAHIMI, AFGHAN AGRICULTURAL MINISTER: The level of education of the farmers here, they can use automated machines, for example. You know, they can use internet.

DOUGHERTY: But agriculture here in Iowa and agriculture in Afghanistan and Pakistan are two different worlds. In those countries, an average farm is 5 to 25 acres. The McKinneys have nearly 2,000 acres, and that's an average-sized farm around here. The McKinney's use the latest farming techniques, but can that translate to Afghanistan?

RAHIMI: It's very difficult to take a model from here and just apply it in Afghanistan. That's why I'm saying if we can get the idea from here and then -- based on the context in Afghanistan, then we can use it.

DOUGHERTY: Pakistan's minister says his country's farmers face huge challenges recovering from devastating floods that destroyed cotton, sugar, rice, and livestock.


DOUGHERTY: $45 billion?



MCKINNEY: They have to use donkeys and mules for power, you know.

DOUGHERTY: Keith McKinney is astounded at how different the lives of farmers in America and in Afghanistan and Pakistan are. But he has some ideas he wants to share.

MCKINNEY: It wouldn't take an awful lot to improve that, you know. Better seed, better cultural practices, those kind of things that are just second nature here.

DOUGHERTY: He hopes those farmers can do what he does, raise enough to feed their families and have plenty left over to sell and make money.

And they also need more information on better equipment. They need more information on the markets. And, realistically, this is going to take a very long time -- Wolf.