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Coming to the GOP; Pot on Ballot in California; Real-Life Spy Scandal Now a Movie; White House Advisor Explains, Again, That Obama Believes Only Congress Can Rescind 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Law
Aired October 23, 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, THE SITUATION ROOM: Outrage in the gay community after a rocky week for the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Ahead the White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, she responds to one soldier's allegation that the president is, and I'm quoting now, "giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to discrimination and injustice."
Also, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, she's speaking candidly with me about her painful and often wrenching journey from the segregated South all the way to the White House.
Plus, they're leveling a serious charge against former Vice President Dick Cheney-traitor. My interview with the outed CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson and husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
A lot of change and confusion surrounding the U.S. policy on gays in the military. The Pentagon tweaked its "don't ask, don't tell" policy this week. Now only the secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force have the power to discharge openly gay troops. The new rule comes after an appeals court temporarily blocked a judge's order to overturn "don't ask, don't tell". The Obama administration asked for the stay, outraging many within the gay community. I spoke about that with the president's senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.
BLITZER: Let's talk about this, but before we do, I want to play this clip. Because former U.S. Army Lieutenant Dan Choi, West Point grad, served in Iraq, an Arabic linguist. He was on "AMERICAN MORNING" on CNN earlier this morning after you were on CNN, and he had some strong words. He's deeply distressed about the Obama administration and what's going on as far as gays serving openly in the U.S. military.
LT. DAN CHOI, FMR. U.S. ARMY: I just heard Valerie Jarrett talk to you guys, and I'm so absolutely upset at things that she could be saying at this moment. Yesterday, when President Obama, after "don't ask, don't tell" has been dead for a week, no enormous consequences. No people quitting the military because of honest soldiers. And all of a sudden you see this president want to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to discrimination and injustice.
Valerie Jarrett said that gay people, some of us should try to understand the politics and the situation and that we are a nation of laws. We understand that. We don't need a lecture from Valerie Jarrett on that. Civics, day one, American government, checks and balances. When Congress enacts a law that's unconstitutional, whose job is it to strike it down? The courts. I understand the judicial branch is now the only branch of government that is filling its mandate to the Constitution. And that the president is not able to do that upsets me. I'm resentful. Absolutely.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: But do you understand the administration's position, that they say they're committed to repealing "don't ask, don't tell," but want to do it through Congress? They don't want to do it through the courts.
CHOI: No, they're not. I don't think they're committed about all.
ROBERTS: Do you think this is just lip service?
CHOI: I think this is just politics. This is a midterm election calculation from the politicians in the White House and the administration.
ROBERTS: You don't trust them?
CHOI: I do not. Actually at this point I have a message for Valerie Jarrett, and all those people that are -- those politicians in the White House. You've lost my trust. You have lost my trust. And I'm not going to vote for Barack Obama after what he did yesterday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Oh, you know, you hear that from a lot of activists in the gay community right now. They're very, very upset.
VALERIE JARRETT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: Listen, Wolf, first of all, it's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for inviting me on. This is a very important issue. I'd like to address it directly.
The president has said that during his term in office, as soon as possible, he would like Congress to repeal "don't ask, don't tell". It's legislation that was passed by Congress. He can't simply sign an executive order to revoke it, or he would have. So we're asking Congress to repeal it. And until then the Justice Department has no choice but to defend the laws that are on the books. That's what the Justice Department is doing. But we want it to end and we want it to end as soon as possible.
BLITZER: Can -- one legal scholar suggested today that perhaps the president could go ahead and do what he needs to do, but at the same time make it clear to the -- everyone that he thinks this law is unconstitutional. JARRETT: He's done that. He did that as recently as last week when he was at a town hall meeting. He said the thinks that this law should be absolutely repealed. He doesn't believe in this law. He agrees there are gay men and women serving in our military, proudly defending our country, putting their life on the line every single day. That this law has no place in our country. It is an act of Congress and Congress should repeal it.
BLITZER: But as you know, after the elections, almost certainly, there are going to be more Republicans and conservatives in the new Congress than current Congress.
JARRETT: This shouldn't be a Republican or Democratic-
BLITZER: Here's the question.
This shouldn't be, but you know, it could be between liberals and conservatives. Here is the question. Will you push for repealing "don't ask, don't tell" during the lame duck session?
JARRETT: I know that the president has said he wants it repealed as quickly as possible. I think if you look at any kind of surveys, the vast majority of American people want it to be repealed. So it shouldn't be a partisan issue. We do fully intend to push forward. We share the frustration of people who think that it should be done right away. We wish it had been done sooner. We're determined to get it done.
BLITZER: So, if Dan Choi were here, what would you say to him? Because you can see how upset he is.
JARRETT: I appreciate his frustration, I share his frustration. I understand for somebody who has served proudly in the military that he thinks this is an outrage. We think it's an outrage, too. And we think that the focus should be directed at Congress because Congress is the one that passed it in the first place. Congress is the one who should repeal it.
BLITZER: All right. Let's talk a little bit about this new Gallup poll; 54 percent in this new poll say they don't think the president should be re-elected. Or he doesn't deserve to be re-elected. What's happened over these past two years?
JARRETT: We're a long way before the president's election is up. I think our focus should be on the midterms right now. The fact of the matter is our country has been through an economic crisis. Lots of people have lost their jobs. It's more sluggish than we would want. We're certainly moving in the right direction. Until every single person can feel it in their own household, they're going to have frustration and they are going to have anger.
We share that frustration and anger, but let's put it in context, Wolf. When the president took office, we had just lost in the prior six months 4 million jobs. His first month over 750,000 jobs, the next month 600,000 jobs. But what we have seen in the last nine months is nine straight months of private sector job growth. BLITZER: Do you think over the next two years between now and the 2012 election, the economy, the unemployment, all of that will significantly improve?
JARRETT: I'm not the economist, but what I can assure you we are going to do is every single day we're going to be moving to push it forward in the right direction. You've seen over the last couple of months the president announced several new initiatives to stimulate the economy. There are over 3 million people working today who would have lost their jobs had it not been for the Recovery Act. The small business tax bill will reduce cost for small businesses so they can grow and expand.
Our efforts to try to invest in research and development and new forms of technology and partnering with the private sector, our community colleges are going to be revamped to try to help have the private sector help us design the curriculum so there will be real jobs at the end of those programs. So we have a wide range of initiatives, not the least of which the ones we were discussing today that are targeted really to women.
BLITZER: Let's take about that. This new report you have suggests there's still a lot of work to be done to make sure women are on the same playing field, earn the same amount for the equal amount of work that men do. Right now women still earn only about 80 cents for every $1 a man earns for exactly the same job. I know you've -- the president signed certain legislation into law already. Give me one example of what else the president can do right now to improve the situation for women?
JARRETT: Let's take a step back and make sure everybody has the facts. As you said women earn 77 cents on the dollar, also importantly, two-thirds of families now are either headed by a single mom or have two working adults in the household. So the contribution that women are making is more important than ever. Yet, it's still not an even playing field. If you look at the Recovery Act, the small business act, the great resources that our SBA and administration is putting into women owned businesses, 12,000 loans already, leveraging $3 billion worth of capital to small businesses.
We know from many studies capital is important for all small businesses, but particularly for women. So we have a wide range of initiatives and we're not going to stop at that. The SBA is looking to expand their programs. We had a symposium, forum in the White House about a month ago, where we focused on women entrepreneurship. And what can we do to provide them the tools they need to grow and expand. We also had a forum several months ago on workplace flexibility. A lot of women who are in the workforce have challenges balancing the work life balance. Men do, too.
What the report we released then showed is that the employers, who provide flexibility, actually have more productivity. So we have a wide range of initiatives and we're always looking for more to help women be in the workforce, start their own businesses, thrive and grow and contribute to our economy.
BLITZER: I hope you're earning the same as a male senior adviser to the president.
JARRETT: We all make the same under this president. I can assure you that.
BLITZER: I hope there's no discrepancy over at the White House.
JARRETT: There's no discrepancy in the White House.
BLITZER: Are you sure?
JARRETT: I'm positive.
BLITZER: All right, then. We'll double check, as well.
Valerie Jarrett, thanks very much for coming in.
JARRETT: My pleasure. Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: It a very serious allegation ahead. Why a former U.S. ambassador is now calling the former Vice President Dick Cheney a traitor.
Plus, from the segregated South all the way to the White House. My candid interview with the former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Stay with us, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Dick Cheney accused of treason as the new movie debuts about a real life spy scandal. You are about to hear some very harsh new charges. Speaking out, the former CIA officer who was outed by the Bush administration. And her husband and ex-U.S. ambassador who disputed claims about Iraq's so-called weapons of mass destruction.
BLITZER: Joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, two guests Valerie Plame, the former CIA spy. We can call you a spy, right, that was your job?
VALERIE PLAME, FMR. CIA OPERATIVE: Right.
BLITZER: You prefer clandestine officer? What do you?
PLAME: I prefer covert operations officer. The spies are the people that we run. But that is-it gets lost. That's a vernacular.
BLITZER: And Joe Wilson, the former United States ambassador.
JOE WILSON, FMR. AMBASSADOR: And I call her Valerie.
BLITZER: Call her Valerie, and Joe. Guys, thanks very much. Just to be upfront, you're here to promote a new movie called "Fair Game", which about the two of you and what happened. A lot of our viewers will remember when you were exposed as a CIA spy in the midst of a whole scandal. We're going to get into some of that.
Let's talk about right now. Are you still bitter after all these years?
PLAME: No, absolutely not. I think we're in a great country and the justice system did the best that it could. I would have liked to have seen justice served further, but I think bitterness is really a wasted emotion. We're delighted with the movie. It's an important story to tell of that time and place in our history. And we've remade our lives personally and professionally out in New Mexico.
BLITZER: When you say you would have preferred justice served further, what does that mean?
PLAME: What it means is, I think it is very clear, that there were other people involved in the betrayal of my covert identity. There was, as the prosecutor said, Patrick Fitzgerald, there clearly was a conspiracy to defame Joe Wilson and there was a cloud over the office of the vice president. There are a lot of things that were not able to come out.
WILSON: Scooter Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice, which basically means that the prosecutor was unable to get to the bottom of the conspiracy because Scooter Libby obstructed his ability to do so.
BLITZER: The first person to release the identity of Valerie Plame was Richard Armitage, who was the deputy secretary of State.
WILSON: Rich was one of three. The other two were Scooter Libby and Karl Rove.
BLITZER: You firmly believe that?
WILSON: It's not that I firmly believe it, it's been said by Bob Novak, said by Matt Cooper, Judy Miller talked about being with Scooter Libby at the St. Regis Hotel, and her notes have Victoria Flame, which obviously was her interpretation of Valerie Plame. So, I think it has all been documented, Wolf. It all came out in Scooter's trial.
BLITZER: Let's talk about sources and methods. Because at the time, you were-a lot of people at CIA and elsewhere were concerned sources and methods, some of your contacts when you were an active agent for the CIA could have been compromised. All these years later is there any evidence that sources and methods and some of your contacts were compromised?
PLAME: It is exactly why it was so insidious, what happened. Because it's not just me and my career, that is one thing. But the entire network of assets with whom I worked with over the years was compromised, was put into jeopardy. In some cases their lives are really-- BLITZER: Do you know for a fact that that has happened?
PLAME: A damage report was done by the CIA. I never saw it. I know in some cases what happened to certain assets, I don't in others.
WILSON: We have international friends, who found that their relationship with us caused them problems with their government.
PLAME: Even though it was completely innocuous.
WILSON: Even though they were completely social friends.
BLITZER: Your friends or her friends?
BLITZER: All of a sudden they discovered your wife was really a CIA officer.
WILSON: That's right. That's accurate.
BLITZER: Let's talk about some of the people involved. You mentioned some of them. I want both of you to give me your quick reaction when I mention their names what you think about them.
PLAME: I think he has an extremely dark view of the world. And his idea of the 1 percent doctrine, which was, you know, if there's a 1 percent chance of a terrorist attack or something effecting or national security, we're going to do everything to prevent it. That sounds good, except what it really means is it undermines very values that we as a country hold dear.
BLITZER: Scooter Libby?
PLAME: I think he's someone who was doing everything he could to protect his boss, Vice President Cheney. And he was left out to dry.
BLITZER: Well, you say that Scooter Libby is a traitor and that Dick Cheney is a traitor? That's a serious word.
BLITZER: You know as a diplomat what that means.
BLITZER: They betrayed the United States.
WILSON: They betrayed the national security of our country.
BLITZER: Go ahead and explain why you say--
WILSON: By betraying the identity of a covert CIA officer, whose identity is kept secret because it's in the national interest. That that identity be kept secret in order for her to be able to acquire foreign secrets on behalf of our country.
BLITZER: Well, Scooter Libby may have. But is there evidence that Dick Cheney did?
WILSON: There is a cloud over the vice president, that is a Pat Fitzgerald quote.
BLITZER: But It doesn't necessary mean he, himself, told anyone publicly Valerie Plame is really a CIA-
WILSON: He is the one that basically gave the instructions and that also has been documented by the July 14th flight back from Roanoke, Virginia, when he was in the front cabin with Scooter and Kathy Martin. And they got off the plane and that's when Scooter made a phone call to Judy Miller at Andrews Air Force Base that was about a 23-minute phone call.
BLITZER: George W. Bush?
PLAME: I think just as he thinks history will judge him, I believe that as well. I think we might have different interpretations of what that will look like.
WILSON: I agree with that. I would let history judge him.
BLITZER: You don't think he's a traitor?
WILSON: I don't know. I don't know what he knew. We were unable to get that. We were unable to get that in criminal court, we were unable to get there in civil court, because the Supreme Court denied us the right to go ahead and pursue civil charges or civil case against him.
BLITZER: More of my interview with the former CIA spy Valerie Plame and her husband, the former Ambassador Joe Wilson coming up later this hour. Their story, by the way, now a major new film.
And 10 days before the midterm elections the White House goes all out to convince voters the U.S. economy is, in fact, on the rebound. I'll speak with the chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers.
BLITZER: In the days left before a midterm election that could turn Washington upside down the Obama administration is going all out to make the case that the economy is, in fact, on the upswing.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: Joining us now from the North Lawn of the White House Austan Goolsbee, he's the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.
Austan, thanks very much for coming in.
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISORS: Sure, it is great to see you again.
BLITZER: You have a new four and a half minute whiteboard presentation on the White House website. Let me play a little excerpt from it. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOOLSBEE: What we have here are the monthly job losses and job gains in the private sector, for every month over the last three years. And right here in 2007, the recession begins. Over the intervening months, we then have catastrophic job losses that get worse and worse virtually every single month until they peak in January of 2009. The president takes office in January of 2009, and within 30 days passes the Recovery Act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Then we see the numbers begin to improve in terms of the private sector jobs. Here's the question that a lot of voters especially are wondering. A lot of Americans are concerned about. When the president took office in January 2009, the unemployment rate was 7.7 percent and now nationally the unemployment rate is 9.6 percent. Why is that? If the rosy scenario you're showing is accurate?
GOOLSBEE: Well, Wolf, let me say first, I agree with everything that guy in the video said.
What I would say to the question of why the unemployment rate went up is, what you can see from that graph is that we are going down. And it's getting worse and worse and we changed the trajectory, but you still have to come out of a very deep hole. And so, of course, the unemployment rate is going to keep going up while you're pulling out of the hole. The question is, did you change the direction? And the direction before we started doing anything was down and the direction once we started doing things was up. I mean, I think that's the basic point.
BLITZER: That's the point you're trying to make. But for most people if they look at the unemployment rate they see 7.7 percent when he took office and 9.6 percent now. That direction doesn't look good.
GOOLSBEE: Well, look, you shouldn't blame the guy who's trying to clean up the mess for making the mess. I mean, that's my point. There's still a lot of mess and we're trying to get out of a deep hole. And the unemployment rate will go up. It's just going up much slower and we've now had nine straight months of private sector job creation, and generated 863,000 jobs in the private sector over the last nine months. I'm not trying to minimize how tough the recession was. In that video I'm just trying to emphasize it started in 2007, and it takes a while to turn around a ship that's stuck in the worst -- in the worst whirlpool since 1929.
BLITZER: When are we going to see the unemployment rate go down?
Look, the CEA puts out an official forecast, and I'll refer you to the forecast. We predicted at the beginning of this year unemployment would average 10 percent for the year 2010. Barring some terrible development, we're going to come in better than that. And you know, the president knows that the first step is you have to get more private sector job creation before the unemployment rate can come down any significant amount.
BLITZER: And the CEA, is the Council of Economic Advisers, which you head. That report will be coming out. In that long interview the president gave Peter Baker and "The New York Times Sunday Magazine" that aired, he said something startling. He said he didn't realize until it was too late that there's no such thing as shovel-ready projects, which the stimulus package boasted about these shovel-ready infrastructure projects. The president says in public works there's no such thing. How can he say that?
GOOLSBEE: Well, you know, I don't know exactly, but what he was saying was you couldn't pass a project that would instantly go into practice. That said, the Recovery Act was set up to phase over two and a half to three years. And what we saw is that as the money has gone out, about 70 percent of the money has been obligated now at this point. It went in waves and it actually worked out to be pretty good.
I think the important thing is that the White House, the president, months ago set up the Financial Fraud Task Force that includes the Treasury secretary, secretary of HUD and the attorney general. And they are absolutely diligent of, if people violated the law, if they lied to judges, if they're committing fraud, no system should encourage that behavior. And we can't let that continue.
BLITZER: Do you trust --
GOOLSBEE: But I don't foresee this having a devastating impact on housing.
BLITZER: Do you trust the Bank of America and GMAC, these other banks involved in these foreclosures, do you trust they will do the right thing?
GOOLSBEE: Look, it's a trust but verify in any kind of business dealing. This is a matter for the financial Fraud Task Force to think about, for the state attorneys general, and the private sector to clean up whatever mess that they might have made. It's not -- I don't speculate about any individual institutions.
BLITZER: Because a lot of people are worried about these -- the moratorium on foreclosures. It could have a huge impact on the housing market right now. GOOLSBEE: Well, look, you've seen the president saying we ought to be mindful of there are people going out and trying to buy houses, some of the houses people are buying are foreclosure properties. And so -- so you do have to be mindful of not wanting to gum up the works of people being able to buy houses.
At the same time, as I said, the president made clear from the beginning if people are breaking the law, if they're claiming that they filled out documents that they never filled out, those are legal matters, not economic matters, and we simply have to address them.
BLITZER: Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Thanks very much. Good luck.
GOOLSBEE: Great to see you, again, Wolf.
BLITZER: California's marijuana laws. There's a ballot measure that would allow local governments to legalize recreational use of pot. I'll speak with California's First Lady Maria Shriver. We'll discuss that and more.
But first, Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice talks about how segregation helped lead her family to the Republican Party. My interview with her just ahead.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: History played a major role in bringing both Condoleezza Rice and her father to the Republican Party. If it wasn't for history she might not have become secretary of state.
In a new book called "Extraordinary Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family" she brings us her personal history including growing up in the segregated south.
Here's part of my interview with Condoleezza Rice.
BLITZER: Tell us, as you write about this in the book, about your father's decision to become a Republican. How did that happen?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: My mother and father went down in 1952 to register to vote. They were not yet married, but they were courting. My mother, beautiful, light skinned, they poll test her because there was 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. He said, fine, you register. My father, he said, how many beans are in that jar?
BLITZER: He was darker skinned? RICE: My father was darker skinned and a big, kind of intimidating man actually. He said, so how many beans are in that jar? My father who obviously couldn't count the beans was really devastated.
He went back and was talking to Mr. Frank Hunter an old ban in his church and he said, Reverend, I'll tell you how to get registered. She is a clerk down there who's a Republican and she'll register anybody who'll say they are Republican.
Because, of course, this is when the Dixiecrats and the Democrats controlled Alabama completely so my father registered as a Republican and he was a lifelong and actually proud member of the Republican Party 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 officially 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 --
BLITZER: And the soviets.
RICE: And by the Soviet Union. President Carter said that he had never known anything more about the Soviet Union than this and decided to boycott the Olympics. I decided that we needed a stronger foreign policy.
BLITZER: Tell us about the earliest recollection you personally have of segregation in the south?
RICE: Well, my earliest recollection of really racial tension was when we went to see Santa Claus when I was about 5 years old and you know how it is. Every kid does it.
You go to the department store. Santa puts you on your knee, says what do you want for Christmas and so on and so on? We were standing in line and the Santa Claus that day had been taking the little black kids and holding them out here and putting the little white kids on his knee.
And my father said to my mother, Angelina, if he does that Condoleezza I'm going to pull that stuff off him and show him as the cracker that he is.
Little girl, I was kind of moved forward with trepidation, you know, who's going to go off your daddy, Santa Claus, daddy, Santa Claus?
I remember even then that this was a terribly charged moment around something of all things, like Santa Claus. BLITZER: So you remember that even to this --
RICE: Even to this day. I also remember, by the way, my father who was an imposing figure, stood there and Santa Claus decided the better part was to put me on his knee and say, little girl, what would you like for Christmas?
BLITZER: He was a big guy.
BLITZER: It's hard to believe in this day and age, but when you were a little girl growing up here in the United States of America there were restaurants -- you and your parents couldn't go to. You remember that vividly and you write dramatically about it.
RICE: I remember that there were -- we couldn't go to any restaurant except the nice one black restaurant, which was owned by Mr. A.G. Gaston. You couldn't stay in a hotel. You couldn't two to a movie theater or to an amusement park.
Parents handled this, though, in a wonderful way. Little friend of mine said that she had wanted to go to Kiddie Land, which was an amusement park. Her father told her, you know, Kiddie Land isn't good enough for you, we're going to Disneyland.
Because he didn't want to tell her that she couldn't go to Kiddie Land, but the more dramatic part of it was when you traveled like we did from Birmingham to New York, you couldn't stay in a hotel until you got to Washington, D.C.
The restrooms were segregated all along the way and there were signs that said colored and white and for the most part my mother refused to go in a colored restroom.
So these rides were pretty uncomfortable and you took your picnic lunch with you of chicken and pork chops as we did because there was no place to eat.
BLITZER: And then finally the civil rights act was passed, 1964, and you could go to a restaurant. Tell us briefly what happened the first time you went to a restaurant where there were hite people eating?
RICE: Well, a couple days after the Civil Rights Act passed, we went to a restaurant. We walked in and people sort of looked up from their food and literally sort of paused, the whole restaurant.
I think they realized something had changed and they went back to eating and we were served. A few nights later, we went to a drive-in restaurant called Jacks Hamburgers.
I said to my parents, after I got my hamburger and bit into it, I said, you know something's wrong with this hamburger. They turned on the light and it was just onions. No hamburger.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: Condoleezza Rice speaking with me earlier in the week. Maria Shriver certainly has a unique take on California politics as first lady to a Republican governor and a member of the Kennedy family. I'll ask her to weigh in on political brawls in her own state right now.
We'll also have more of my interview with the outed CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson. What does she think of a Russian spy bearing almost all?
BLITZER: Voters in California are getting ready to decide whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The state already allows pot to be sold and smoked for medical reasons.
Proposition 19 if passed would legalize possession of small amounts of pot for anyone 21 years older, over, and allow local governments to license and tax marijuana sales.
Joining us now from Long Beach, California, is the first lady of California, Maria Shriver.
Maria, thanks very much for coming in.
MARIA SHRIVER, CALIFORNIA FIRST LADY: Thank you, Wolf. I'm glad to be here.
BLITZER: I want to talk about what you're doing, what's going on behind you in a few moments. Let's talk about other subjects first, Proposition 19. What do you think about that? How are you as a California resident going to vote on that?
SHRIVER: Well, I think there's obviously -- I'm going to vote against it, but there are a lot of propositions on the ballot. Obviously Senate races, gubernatorial races, but I'm very focused actually on the working poor, which you see behind me and the women of California who are at the vortex of a parenting bread winning care taking epidemic.
BLITZER: Why are you going to vote against it because for practical purposes a lot of folks say, you know, it's almost legal already. If you complain you have a migraine, headache, back pain, insomnia, whatever, you can get a prescription and smoke pot.
Why not just legalize it then the state can get a lot of revenue in taxes and help a lot of the poor people you're trying to help?
SHRIVER: Well, I think that I'm trying to help the poor people here by inciting people, getting people to volunteer. We have waiting lists of people who want to volunteer to help each other.
So I just have a different approach. The women's conference that I run helps women in domestic violence situations, the working poor, so my way of going about it is different than that. BLITZER: Your late uncle, Ted Kennedy spent almost his entire career trying to get health care reform passed. It's now been passed, but it seems to be hurting the Democrats including President Obama right now because a lot of folks don't like it. What went wrong?
SHRIVER: Well, I look at what went right. I think people who have pre-existing conditions like Alzheimer's who might end up losing their jobs will be able to get health care. That's an ongoing thing.
I think certainly as part of the new Medicare you'll be able to have wellness visits for Medicare recipients and get cognitive testing for the first time. That's what's going right.
Employers will also be able to offer employees long-term care insurance. Only 7 million Americans in this country have long-term care insurance, 70 percent of Americans have never sat down to talk about long-term care options with their families.
So I try to look at what went right and encourage people to focus on that as opposed to always thinking about the negative, always thinking about what divides us.
I'm here at an event about what unites us, no one's testing who's Democrat or Republican on this floor. People are getting out, volunteering, people from all kinds of professions. They're helping their fellow Californian or they're helping their fellow American.
BLITZER: I know you come from a long and distinguished Democratic family. Your husband, the governor, is a Republican. I assume you're supporting Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown. Is that right?
SHRIVER: Well, I'm inviting - have invited Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman to the women's conference on Tuesday and so I would never come out in support of one over the other before I speak, invite them to lunch.
They're going to have an incredible conversation people can watch on C-Span. Maybe CNN will cover it with Governor Schwarzenegger. The three of them will be having a conversation about politics, leadership, the future of California.
And I'm very excited that they'll be having that in front of the largest forum for women because women do elect our political leaders. And I think I'm excited to see President Obama focusing his attention yesterday and today to the female vote.
Both of these gubernatorial candidates will be talking to women, not only in the women's conference here in long beach but really all over the country. I think that's really important because women have a lot of concerns in this election, Democrat and Republican and independent women.
BLITZER: Remind our viewers why this cause, women and Alzheimer's, is so important to you.
SHRIVER: Well, my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2003, and women are at the epicenter of this epidemic. They are 65 percent of those who get Alzheimer's, they're 60 percent of those who do the care taking for people with Alzheimer's, and women are primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of American families.
So women are at a unique vortex in this country today. They're breadwinners, they're parents, they're caretakers and businesses and governments have not kept up with the changing American family.
So we issued a Shriver report this week to really focus our leaders, business leaders, government leaders, faith-based leaders and men on where women stand today in the economy, what they're faced with, what they're trying to juggle and to try to get businesses to focus on flexible hours.
Get government leaders to focus on the Alzheimer's project act that would put together within HHS a national strategy for dealing with this growing epidemic in the country.
BLITZER: Tell our viewers what's going on behind you. There's a lot of activity there in Long Beach.
SHRIVER: There are -- there's about a thousand women who will be coming in here. We're doing a three day modern house call for women, which is offering free health and financial services and food services to working women.
So many people don't have the ability to get dental care, mammograms, pap smears, vision, mental health services. They don't know they might be eligible for the earned income tax credit, childcare tax aid and so many services that are out there government does provide that people are unaware of.
The success of the women's conference has enabled programs like this to reach out in the community, bring people together. You see a line wrapped around this university, of women, who are seeking help, need help and I'm thrilled the success of the women's conference and so many people who stepped up to volunteer.
We have waiting list of hundreds of people who want to volunteer to help their fellow Californian. This is putting women front and center because women often leave their health care until after their children, after their parents, after their husbands. They're usually at the end of the line so we're putting them ahead of the line today.
BLITZER: Well, thanks so much for what you're doing. Maria Shriver is the first lady of California, at least for the next few weeks. We'll discuss what happens next you later. Maria, thanks very much for coming in.
SHRIVER: Thanks a lot, Wolf. Thank you.
BLITZER: Who would you cast as Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson? I'll talk to the couple about the new movie about their dramatic and very public show down with the Bush administration.
And a watery ride, one of our "Hot Shots." Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: More now with my interview with the former CIA officer who's cover was blown by the Bush administration. We're talking about Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband, the former U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson.
That real life spy scandal has been made into a major Hollywood film.
BLITZER: The new movie is entitled "Fair Game." Sean Penn plays Joe Wilson, Naomi Watts plays Valerie Plame. Here's a little clip from the film.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is everywhere, my real name.
UNDENTIFIED MALE: Those are the highest office taught to destroy the career of a covert agent to punish me for telling the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your wife is a traitor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How dare you talk about my wife you don't her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People threatened to kill my husband, hurt my children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got to strike back. They'll bury us if they don't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: How close is this film to reality?
VALERIE PLAME WILSON, FORMER CIA OFFICER: It's not a documentary, but it is a really good accurate portrayal of what we went through both personally and in the political maelstrom that we lived through.
The director, Doug Limon really wanted to make it as follow event -- of course, it has to be telescoped because this happened over a series of years as you know and you want to tell a story, and I think it's very powerful.
BLITZER: What do you think?
JOE WILSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR: I think it's an accurate representation of the time that we lived through.
BLITZER: Because it's a drama.
WILSON: It is, sure.
BLITZER: Do they make up something there?
WILSON: Well, of course, they did. Sure, sure.
PLAME: There are things I can't talk about, sources and methods, my operations, precise details. Obviously the screen writer is needed to --
WILSON: They obviously dram advertised it, sure. That's what they do.
BLITZER: But basically it's close enough to reality this you're comfortable with it.
WILSON: I'm comfortable with it.
BLITZER: And you're comfortable with it?
BLITZER: How comfortable are you with Naomi Watts playing you?
PLAME: I could do much worse. She is a fabulous actress and whoever thinks that you're going to have a movie made. The whole thing has been really so real.
But she and Sean both deliver great performances. They've worked together before and I think that chemistry, which exists in real life is there on screen as well.
BLITZER: How comfortable are you with Sean Penn playing you?
WILSON: Well, it's hard for me to judge because I see myself on the inside, but both my wife and my son think that he does an accurate portrayal. My own view is I have better hair and that I eviscerate my dinner guests more adeptly than he does in one scene in the movie.
BLITZER: I guess he's not a good enough actor to capture that kind of evisceration, is that what you're saying?
WILSON: He's a very fine actor.
PLAME: Same intensity.
BLITZER: All right, I want to show something on a much, much lighter note.
BLITZER: And we're going to talk a little about this because you are a former spy. Now, you know about the Russian former spy.
PLAME: We're going with the cute little redhead?
BLITZER: Take a look this picture of --
PLAME: Well, now know why she was hired.
BLITZER: That's a pretty nice picture of the cover of "Maxim" in Russia, right?
BLITZER: When you were exposed -- this is a serious question -- did any of the magazines come to you because you're beautiful, Anna Chapman's beautiful and say, you know what? We'd like you on the cover of "x" magazine or "y" magazine.
PLAME: Well, first of all she's about 25 years younger than I am. I'm a mother of 10-year-old twins. I was asked to be on "Dancing with the Stars," but I politely declined.
BLITZER: But nobody asked you to be on "Penthouse" or "Playboy" or "Maxim"?
PLAME: I think the e-mail got lost in, you know, all the e-mails I get every day so who knows.
BLITZER: It's pretty cool though when you think about it that you know, you're married to a beautiful spy.
WILSON: I am indeed. I'm actually married to a beautiful woman who happens to be a spy. She's also a mother.
BLITZER: I'm sure she's an excellent mother. Let's go through a couple of these things. She was honored, Anna Chapman, when she went back to Russia. She had been exposed. She came back.
They gave her a medal. To a certain degree, do spies even though they're maybe on different side, do they relate to each other? Do they relate to each other? Can you appreciate what her government was doing for her?
PLAME: Absolutely. In the grand tradition of James Bond or -- when spies on opposite ends recognize that you're both doing your best, you're professional, you have a certain recognition of that.
Of course her government, they all -- they packed up their bags and left the United States within 24 hours. You know, they've read the cards. They know what kind of government and world they're going to have to live in. So, yes, of course --
BLITZER: That is an intriguing question. If we could get that cover of "Maxim" in Russia up on the screen one more time -- yes -- that's not the one. That's from the movie "Fair Game." you see her weapon. Do you see how she's holding her weapon? Is that an accurate way to hold a weapon like that?
PLAME: I personally have a problem with how Hollywood in general portrays and the mass media portrays female spies. It's very much sexuality, physicality, how good she is with an AK-47. This is your best weapon, it really is.
BLITZER: When you are out in the field. For how many years do you work out in the field as a spy? PLAME: The CIA prohibits me from acknowledging any CIA affiliation prior to 2002. So you'll have to go out into the vast amount available on the public domain. I am not allowed to say that. I uphold my secrecy agreement. I respect that. You'll have to Google that I guess.
BLITZER: I appreciate the secrecy rules and I don't want to do anything that's going to get you into more trouble than you were before. We appreciate it. The movie once again is called "Fair Game." Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, they play our two guests Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame. Guys, thanks very much for coming in.
WILSON: Thanks, Wolf. Good to see you.
PLAME: Thank you.
BLITZER: A bus bolts from the floodwaters. Just one of our "Hot Shots" for the week, pictures worth a thousand words.
BLITZER: Here's a look at some of this week's "Hot Shots."
In Vietnam, people watch as a bus is pulled from floodwaters.
In Afghanistan, a displaced child stands in front of a bullet-packed wall.
At the Vatican, Pope Benedict's personal secretary replaces the cap that blew off his head during a weekly address.
And at a zoo in Japan, look at this, a baby monkey rides on a baby boar. Both animals have been sheltered at the zoo since losing their mothers.
Some of this week's "Hot Shots," pictures worth a thousand words. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Join us weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m. Eastern and every Saturday at 6 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN and at this time every weekend on CNN International. The news continues next on CNN.