Return to Transcripts main page


Fighting For Their Political Lives; Tea Party's Joe Miller in Hot Water?; Alleged Plot to Bomb D.D. Metrorail; Polls Predict Midterm Results; Michelle Obama on Campaign Trail; Obama to Appear on 'Daily Show'; Tubeless Toilet Paper Roll Debuts

Aired October 27, 2010 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, key Democrats are running scared as they run for re-election with six days to the mid elections. Some incumbents are trying to spin their way out of danger.

Women voters helped put the president in office, now the first lady is more popular than her husband. Can Michelle Obama bring women back into the Democratic fold?

And an alleged al Qaeda wannabe is accused of plotting to bomb D.C. area metro rail stations. But was the public ever in any serious danger?

I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center, and you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Six days to go until the midterm elections and all across the country, members of Congress are sweating right now. Dozens of incumbents are at risk of losing their seats and some high-profile Democrats may be fighting for their political lives. Let's go to CNN's Mary Snow. She's got part of the story. She's joining us from Boston -- Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, to get a sense of that nervousness, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is pouring in an additional $28 million to run ads in more than 60 districts around the country. Incumbents are particularly feeling the heat, and to get a sense of how tough the election is for them, look no further than here in Massachusetts where Democratic congressman, Barney Frank, is up for re-election.


SNOW (voice-over): When Massachusetts Democratic congressman, Barney Frank, spoke at local event earlier this week, along protesters served this as a reminder of his tough re-election fight, one of the toughest in his 30 years serving in the House, so tough that the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee recently loaned his campaign $200,000 of his own savings.

Why did you have to do that?

REP. BARNEY FRANK, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: Because I'm a target from right-wing groups all over the country. SNOW: Frank says the tea party tops the list of groups going after him, but there are also ads like this one from a gay conservative group taking aim at him.

FRANK: So, I was not going to stand by and let all these outside groups barrage me with inaccurate accusations, and I wanted (ph) to fight back.

SNOW: Fighting back isn't something Frank has had to in recent elections, but this year, he faces a political novice.

SEAN BIELAT, (R) MASSACHUSETTS CONG. CANDIDATE: I'm Sean Bielat. And I'm running for Congress to get Barney Frank --

SNOW: A 35-year-old Sean Bielat is a former marine who's won endorsements from Sarah Palin and Senator John McCain, and he says donors from around the country are sending him money.

BIELAT: It symbolizes. Barney Frank has been one of the leaders in Washington, and so many people across this country are upset this year. They're disappointed in the leadership that they've seen, and he's one of those individuals at the heart of it.

SNOW: And being a Democratic incumbent makes the fight all that much harder. Case in point, Michigan Democratic congressman, John Dingell, the longest serving member of the House. Evan Tracey is CNN's campaign ad consultant

EVAN TRACEY, CAMPAIGN MEDIA ANALYSIS GROUP: Dingell in Michigan is another example of one of these incumbents right now that is usually out helping and raising money for other candidates. Now, they're back home and they're raising and spending their own money to try and save their seats.

SNOW: And 14-term Democratic congressman, John Spratt, of South Carolina, who in years passed didn't have to run ads is now in the political fight of his life battling Republican, Mick Mulvaney.


SNOW (on-camera): And, Wolf, Republican, Mick Mulvaney, is getting more than just endorsements. Tonight, Mitt Romney, is, potentially, a presidential candidate in 2012 under Republican ticket, is there campaigning for him -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary Snow, thanks very much. From Boston, let's up to Alaska. Sarah Palin is heading back to her home state to campaign for the tea party candidate who took the Republican Senate primary in Alaska, but that candidate, Joe Miller, suddenly finding himself in some serious hot water over a past ethics violations. Brian Todd is picking up the story for us. Brian, tell our viewers what's going on?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Joe Miller has generated nationwide buzz since he beat Lisa Murkowski in the primary. She is now a write-in candidate. They are running neck and neck, and this development could play at the polls next week. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): For a campaign that's been one of the hottest stories in this election cycle, an ill-timed setback. Republican Joe Miller in a virtual dead heat with write-in Lisa Murkowski in Alaska Senate race admittedly lied two years ago after being caught using local government computers to vote in a political poll that he set up, a violation of ethics rule.

That's according to internal documents from the Fairbanks North Star Borough where Miller was a part-time lawyer. Local Alaskan newspapers and the associated press sued to get the documents released, and a superior court judge agreed this week. I spoke with Reid Wilson of the political tip sheet, "The Hotline," about the timing.

He's basically deadlock with Murkowski in the stretch run here. How much does this hurt him?

REID WILSON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE HOTLINE: Well, any time that something like this comes out in a campaign, it's going to hurt. It especially hurts when it comes out a week before the election. There have been constant questions about Joe Miller's record while he was working for the Fairbanks North Star Borough, and it's yet another sort of chink in the armor here.

TODD: The incident and disciplinary action taken against Miller occurred in March 2008. The documents are posted on the Anchorage daily news website. One is an e-mail from Miller to a Borough attorney admitting everything. "I got on three computers not belonging to me in the office. I accessed my personal website for political purposes participated in a poll. I lied about accessing all the computers. I then admitted about accessing the computers, but lied about what I was doing."

Miller was given a three-day suspension. Before the documents were released, CNN's John King asked Miller about the incident.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is this a fair statement, in your view, that at the time this happened, you were disciplined for something, but it had nothing to do with the reason you left the agency down the road?

JOE MILLER, (R) SENATE CANDIDATE: Absolutely. That's a fair statement.

TODD: Now, Miller is defiant. His campaign said he couldn't do a new interview with us, but sent us this statement from Miller. "I appear to be the only candidate in this Senate race whose entire life history matters to the media."


TODD (on-camera): The judge who agreed to release these documents is state Superior Court Judge Winston Burbank who was appointed by Lisa Murkowski's father, Frank, when Frank Murkowski was governor. I spoke with Judge Burbank over the phone, asked him about complaints by bloggers and others that he was tainted in this matter because of that appointment. He said that appointment was more than a decade ago.

He didn't give at any thought in this matter. He said he owes nothing to the Murkowskis, and he said he gave Miller's side a chance to appeal his ruling before releasing the documents -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, there's also an investigation, I think, still going out into that incident widely reported where some members of the Miller's security detail actually handcuffed a journalist who was covering his story then.

TODD: That's right. It was a couple of weeks back. At an event, the journalist was trying to ask him questions. They handcuffed him and kind of dragged him away, and it's now been found out that those two security people for Miller were active duty soldiers at Ft. Richardson in Alaska. And the army is investigating.

An army official told me a short time ago, from Ft. Richardson, that the two soldiers in question did not have permission from the current chain of command to work on that security detail. They needed that kind of permission. Not clear now if those two soldiers are going to face discipline or not, but the investigation is ongoing.

BLITZER: We'll stay on top of that part of the story as well. Brian, thank you.

So the defeated candidate in the Republican primary, we're talking about the incumbent senator, Lisa Murkowski. She is now running as a write-in candidate. Alaska law says that in order to vote for a write-in candidate, the voter must, of course, write-in the candidate's name in the space provided, but what if the voter spells that name incorrectly?

Alaska official say they'll handle each of those ballots on a case by case basis. That'll be interesting. What if somebody writes in Lisa M. or something like that and is intent enough.

CNN is the place to be on election night. Join me and the best political team on television for up to the minute vote results, analysis of the outcome, what happens next. Our coverage next Tuesday starts at 7:00 p.m. eastern right after the SITUATION ROOM.

Let's get to Washington right now where a Virginia man has been arrested accused of trying to help what he thought was an al Qaeda plot to bomb Metrorail stations in the entire Washington, D.C. area. Our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, is joining us now with details. What do we know, Jeanne?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, 34- year-old Farooque Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, is accused of planning multiple bombings on Metrorail stations in Northern Virginia with people he believed to be members of al Qaeda, but they were really working for the government. The indictment indicates Ahmad believed he was meeting a courier to deliver the results of surveillance when he was arrested this morning at a Virginia hotel.

The government says Ahmed cased four metro stations providing his contacts with video and sketches and recommending a late afternoon rush hour attack to maximize casualties. According to the indictment, Ahmed said he wanted to kill as many military personnel as possible. The government also alleges that Ahmed suggested concealing explosives in rolling suitcases rather than backpacks and offered ideas on where they should be concealed on trains.

Officials say at this point there is no indication he was working with other extremists in this country or overseas, but the investigation is continuing. He made his first court appearance this afternoon. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison. Officials say the public was never in danger here. The FBI was aware of this individual and closely monitoring him -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jeanne, thank you. On this same day that that was occurring in Washington, there was another interesting terror-related development involving Bin Laden, himself. He apparently issued a warning to France, a rich ban on the Burqa, the head-to-toe covering worn by many Muslim women around the world. Our recording said to be from the al Qaeda leader threatens French troops in Afghanistan.

Let's bring in our national security contributor, Fran Townsend. She's a member of both the homeland security and CIA External Advisory Boards. Let's talk about what happened in Washington first. We've seen these instances, the sting operations. They have someone that they suspect potentially could be involved in terrorism, but in effect, they work to see if that person is a real potential terrorist by setting up this fake operation.

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: That's right, Wolf. And the reason it's important, you know, as we've talked in the past, lone wolfs are the most difficult to identity. And frankly, you don't know in the beginning of an investigation if this guy has other like-minded people, and that's why they had him under surveillance for six months or so before they wrapped the thing up.

BLITZER: Do we know why -- or maybe you do, why he was under suspicion to begin with? Why they set up this elaborate sting operation?

TOWNSEND: They haven't said anything about it, Wolf, neither the intelligence community or the law enforcement community. And so, we don't really know why he came to their attention, but it makes sense to me that they let run a period of time to see if they could identify anybody else.

BLITZER: Something clearly aroused their suspicion. And as a result, they said, let's get this fake group of terrorist to see if this guy is going to be serious about this, and apparently, at least according to this affidavit, allegedly, he was. Bin laden. He's now threatening France because of the burqa. How big of a deal is this?

TOWNSEND: This is a very interesting story, Wolf, and I think it's a very big deal. We saw the advisory that the U.S. government put out about threats in Europe. Now, Bin Laden in the past has been criticized by other extremists in the al Qaeda for not giving warnings before an attack. We ought to be very concerned and the French very concerned that this is his way of not only -- look, this ban on the veil and the burqa began in July when their lower house of parliament banned it and then there was the vote in September.

He could have issued this statement at anytime especially before the upper house in France voted if he really wanted to stop it. This feels to me as though it's one of the Bin Laden's statements. He's put out a warning to try and minimize potential French Muslim casualties in the event of an attack. And so, the French authorities need to be taking this not only very seriously, but potentially, as an indication of imminent attack.

BLITZER: Because the earlier had fears of other potential attacks in France itself around the Eiffel Tower and perhaps some other areas where tourists would congregate.

TOWNSEND: That's right. The Eiffel Tower has been evacuated at least twice. They have been on high alert. They have a very, very pervasive law enforcement and military presence on the streets. I think the French are very concerned about the ongoing threat.

BLITZER: Bin Laden's from somewhere. He's still issuing these threats all these years later, and that's worrisome as well.

TOWNSEND: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Fran, thanks very much.

We have less than a week to go before the midterm elections, and Jack Cafferty is taking a closer look at what it takes to get elected. Jack is here with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You want to know why we're in trouble? Political candidates with good hair have a better chance of being elected than candidates with bad hair, whether either of them knows anything about the issues or not, and that ought to scare us all, but it's absolutely true. MIT researchers did a study published in the "Journal of World Politics" and shows that people vote for politicians just because they look the part. That's right.

They will cast a ballot for someone simply because they look smart, or competent or attractive. The research shows it's not a phenomenon that unique to the United States and exists in other countries and other cultures. In the study, this is interesting, 600 participants in the U.S. and in India were shown pictures of candidates in 120 races in Mexico and Brazil. And they were asked who would do a better job in office.

The Americans and Indians accurately predicted the outcomes of these races to a surprising degree based on nothing more than a look at the candidate's faces. According to the study, just by knowing which candidate looked better, these researchers could accurately predict the winner of 68 percent of the Mexican elections and 75 percent of the Brazilian elections. Voting for the good looking candidate is not a new idea.

One of the researchers says quote "ever since Aristotle, people have written about the concern that charismatic leaders who speak well and look good can sway votes even if they don't share the people's views." But the fact that voters around the world in this 21st century with all of the problems we face could be exercising their Democratic rights based on nothing more than good hair or a nice smile is downright frightening and it explains a bunch of other stuff that's going on, too.

Here's the question, what does it mean if voters choose candidates based strictly on their looks? Go to and post comment on my blog.

BLITZER: Not a good idea, Jack. Thanks very much.

Bill Clinton talks to CNN only moments ago. You're going to hear what he thinks President Obama and others should do to improve the Democrats' chances. That interview coming up.

And new information about President Obama's appearance on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart. This is a first for a sitting president on that program. We're learning new details. They've just taped it.


BLITZER: There are some of the most closely watched Senate races in the country. We have brand new numbers just out. The latest CNN/Time Magazine Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows this race is very close. In Nevada, the tea party backed Republican, Sharron Angle leads the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, by six points. Also, remember, there's a 3.5 percent margin of error.

In Colorado, Republican, Ken Buck, and Democrat, Michael Bennett are within one point of each other among likely voters. And incumbents face the extra challenge of angry voters who may hold them accountable on Election Day. Our senior correspondent, Allan Chernoff, is here with more on this part of the story. You've been checking with a lot of voters, Allan, and there is anger out there.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Most definitely, Wolf. And for that very reason, this political season, the Democrats simply cannot depend upon their traditional base, and they may have trouble holding on to independents. We spoke to Scott Walters, a music teacher in Nanuet, New York who recently lost his job. He's a victim of government budget cuts.


CHERNOFF (voice-over): To the trained ear of tenor Scott Walters, there's something terribly off key about the Democratic political chorus led by President Obama.

Call the Democrats tone deaf to you?

SCOTT WALTERS, LOST JOB TO GOVERNMENT CUTBACKS: I think, you know, they've not been listening really well. I'm frustrated and I'm disappointed. You know, we had a gentleman who promised to deliver hope and change and made promises like a fifth grader running for class president.

CHERNOFF: Walters is a union member, the National Education Association. He's unemployed having been laid off from his job teaching music across the state border in Belleville, New Jersey, a victim of government budget cuts. Even so, Walters says, he still believes government at the federal state and local level is too big.

Do you think President Obama can make government more efficient?

WALTERS: No. I don't think that's within his skill set. I think his skill set is from where he comes from, and it's that kind of, from the left kind of viewpoint where bigger government is better for everybody.

CHERNOFF: Walters is a self-described political independent also has little faith that Mr. Obama and the Democrats can turn the economy around. A majority of Americans agree, according to CNN Opinion Research polling. Only 41 percent say that Democratic policies would move the economy in the right direction if the party holds on to Congress, though, faith in the Republicans is not much higher.

What are you hoping to see happen next week on Election Day?

WALTERS: I'm hoping that, you know, the House can be taken over by the Republicans. I'm hoping that, you know, I don't think that the Senate can --

CHERNOFF: Bottom line to you, it's really all about getting rid of big government?

WALTERS: Yes. It's making sure that government again works for the people. You know, not the government trying to make work for the people.


CHERNOFF (on-camera): Walters says that he's simply being intellectually honest as a voter even though he was a government employee who lost his job to budget cutting. The logic behind his politics is that he believes that if government bureaucracy can be slashed, less money will be spent on administrators and there should be more leftover to spend on teachers -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Allan, thanks very much. Good report.

Her popularity rating is 20 points higher than her husband's, but can Michelle Obama help Democrats win back one of their most crucial voting blocs from 2008. We're talking about women. Details of her campaign swing, plus, her appearance on Ellen.

Plus, an interview that ends with a threat. Why did Delaware Senate candidate, Christine O'Donnell tell one radio station she might sue them? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: News of a threat and apology in Christine O'Donnell's campaign. Kate Bolduan is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. What's going on, Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The last few days ahead of the election certainly are tense, aren't they? The campaign of Delaware Republican Senate candidate, Christine O'Donnell, is reportedly apologizing for threatening to sue a Delaware radio station if they did not turn over a videotape of an interview they conducted with her.

According to WDEL, O'Donnell, herself, made the threat, and her campaign manager later threatened to quote "crush" the radio station. They reportedly had not previously agreed to be videotaped and wanted the tape destroyed.

A control center capable of launching nuclear missiles has been taken out of service pending an investigation into a malfunction over the weekend. A top general tells CNN that the computer problem disrupted communications with more than 10 percent of America's land- based nuclear missiles. Early indications are that that the problem lasted for more than an hour. The control center is one of five in the U.S. capable of launching nuclear missiles.

And British airline executives and other industry officials are criticizing what they say are heavy-handed American security requirements. It comes after the chairman of British airways said that U.S. security practices are, in his words, redundant and urged his British counterparts to stop quote "kowtowing" to American demands. Among the security measures criticize, the practice of making passengers take-off their shoes and remove laptop computers from carry-on bags, but there are few U.S. passengers that would agree with that as well.

So, I guess, you could call this an airplane version offender bender, I guess. Part of the wing of a jet pushing back from the gate at the Seattle Tacoma International Airport today clipped the tail of another jet park nearby. Both were Alaska airlines planes, and the passengers on both planes had to get off. Mechanics are reportedly assessing the damage.

After the weather, Wolf, over the past two days across the country and now planes are running into each other. Aye-yi-yi.

BLITZER: That's a problem, a serious problem, and an expensive one as well. All right. Thanks, Kate.

CNN catches up to Bill Clinton as the former president campaigns for Democrats. You're going to hear his advice for President Obama. Stand by.

Meantime, the current president brings his push to young voters to comedy central. We're going to tell you what Jon Stewart is asking the president.


BLITZER: All right. The tea party-backed candidates doing across the country. Let's bring in John King. He's the host of "John King USA" that starts right at the top of the hour. There are several that could be United States senators pretty soon.

KING: You're exactly right, several who could be. Let's go east to west and look at the tea party candidates most of whom shocked Republican establishment figures. We'll get an update on how they're doing. Christine O'Donnell, she knocked off Mike Castle in the Republican primary. She is trailing by significant numbers right now, even most Republicans will tell you, Wolf, they do not expect a Republican victory by the tea party candidate in the state of Delaware.

However, the Republicans are much more optimistic including because of our new poll data today. Rand Paul, the Republican tea party candidate, remember, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, he had another candidate. Rand Paul won that Republican primary. He is now inching out to a bigger lead over Democrat, Jack Conway. Republicans are very confident about Kentucky.

You move west out to the mountain west in Colorado, Ken Buck, familiar story. Tea party guy beat a Republican establishment candidate. He is in a dead heat right now with Michael Bennett. Statistical tie. In our polling, Ken Buck is up one point, but that one is a dead heat. Republicans are confident, Wolf, because of the underlying dynamics in the election.

They think if you're in a dead heat on Election Day, and you're the Republican, you'll pull it out. But this is one is very much worth watching, one of the closes Senate races, if not, the closest Senate race in the country right now.

This one is a fascinating story in the state of Nevada, Sharron Angle, Republican Tea Party candidate, beat an establishment figure in the primary. She's running not only against an incumbent Democrat but the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. Our new polling tonight, Wolf, shows this is still close, but Sharron Angle is not only -- has a lead over Harry Reid, but she's in better standing now than she was in the polling two weeks ago and a month ago. So Republicans look at this race and say, "We think we might get that one.

And one last one we'll talk over here, all the way up to the state of Alaska. If we want to pop out, there we go. Move these guys out of the way. And Joe Miller, this one's fascinating, as well, because of Lisa Murkowski. Joe Miller beat her in the Republican primary. As you know, Wolf, she decided to run as a write-in candidate. This one is a big question mark. Republicans think they will keep this seat. Scott McAdams, the Democrat, is running a distant third.

Lisa Murkowski is said by most Republicans, even those who support Joe Miller, to have the momentum at the moment. He's had some issues in the last 24 to 48 hours, as well. Watch this one here in terms of can someone who lost to a Tea Party candidate in the primary beat them with a write-in candidacy in the general election? That's a possibility up in Alaska. Either way, when it comes to balance of power issues, everyone expects that seat to stay Republican.

BLITZER: That could be quite a Tea Party caucus in the United States Senate, and if you add others that a lot of Tea Party supporters like, like Marco Rubio --

KING: Absolutely.

BLITZER: -- in Florida, that Tea Party caucus could grow.

KING: And so the question is, your Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, they'll be a dynamic like this in the House, but just take the Senate. Mitch McConnell will have several of these Tea Party candidates who are likely to win. Will it be two? Will it be four? We don't know the answer to that.

But they will be pushing for all those things they promised on the campaign. Can we push for a vote to eliminate the Department of Education? Can we do more to cut spending? Maybe dig deep into entitlement programs? So they might not only cause fits to the Obama White House. They might cause some trouble within the Democratic conference, as well. I mean, the Republican caucus, as well.

BLITZER: Could be a whole new situation in Washington, D.C. You'll have a lot more coming up at the top of the hour?

KING: You bet.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

Women voters certainly helped put the president in the White House. Now Michelle Obama, the first lady happens to be far more popular than her husband around the country. Does that add pressure on the first lady? She and another former first lady, Laura Bush, discuss their roles. Our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, is taking a closer look -- Suzanne.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michelle Obama appears on Ellen Thursday, taking on the critics.

ELLEN DEGENERES, TALK SHOW HOST: How do you deal with it as a family?

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: It's part of the job, and that's the good thing about the campaign. It really gets you prepared for all the hard knocks that come along with making really tough decisions.

MALVEAUX: Taking on the bullies.

OBAMA: I tell my kids, is that it is their responsibility to not stay silent when they see something like that happen.

MALVEAUX: And with second lady Jill Biden imploring Americans to support military spouses.

JILL BIDEN, SECOND LADY: One percent of Americans are serving in the military, but we need 100 percent support of American spouses of the military.

MALVEAUX: On script, on message. For Michelle Obama this West Coast campaign swing is all about winning back that critical voting bloc: women. As first lady, her popularity rating is 20 points higher than her husband's, which could make her the administration's best hope for saving the president's agenda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president can't be everywhere. The first lady can't be everywhere. But combined, they can cover a lot of territory, so they do have a lot of responsibility, first ladies do, to be a political partner.

MALVEAUX: Former first lady Laura Bush, like Michelle Obama, was a reluctant campaigner, more popular than her husband. Now, life after the White House is giving her the opportunity to soften the Bush legacy with humor.

Tuesday, she appeared at the same women's conference as Michelle Obama in California.

LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: This is the Laura Bush bobblehead doll. I got this from a friend of mine who found it in the gift shop of the Constitutional Center in Philadelphia a few weeks after the election. It was on the clearance shelf.

When you live in the White House, when you're a bobblehead inside a bubble, reality can get a little warped. When you're married to the president of the United States, you don't worry too much about him leaving his wet towels on the floor, but in Dallas, things are different. Memo to the ex-president, turmoil in the East Timor is no longer an excuse not to pick up your socks.

MALVEAUX (on camera): Laura Bush is clearly liberated from the White House, but Wolf, even her campaigning for midterms back in 2006 could not save the Republicans from losing their majority. Now, just days ahead, we'll find out potentially what the impact is of Michelle Obama -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Suzanne, thank you. Suzanne Malveaux covering the first lady for us.

As the president and the first lady, they're trying to win over women voters. They're also trying to win over the young people's vote, as well.

Tonight, this president will be the first sitting president to appear on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart. They taped the show just a little while ago. Our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian, got information on how it went. We'll watch it later tonight, but what are you learning, Dan? DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We'd love to show you some of those clips, but they're not releasing them till it airs tonight, but some funny exchanges between the president and Jon Stewart, who as you know, is not afraid to really push hard and have some tough questions.

In one exchange, he talks to the president about how he ran a campaign about audacity but what he's delivered is called timid. The president disagreed with that, saying that he pushed very hard for and got health-care reform.

Then there was another exchange where he said how did the president go from a campaign of hope and change to one that now has become please give me your keys back, or don't give them the keys back, referring to that metaphor that the president likes to use about a car stuck in the ditch. The president saying that he knew from the very beginning that two years out people would be frustrated because of the scale of the economic problems.

Again, what the White House is doing here is reaching out to as many voters as possible, in particular, those young people, and trying to go outside of the box, as well. Take a listen.


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You know, whether it is -- whether you're doing something like "The View" or you're doing something like "The Daily Show" -- look, I don't have to tell you guys that not everybody -- there's a lot of different channels for people to watch these days. They get their information from not just television news and cable and newspapers and radio and the Internet, but they get them from -- there's a lot of different places. And the president hasn't been shy about going to the places where people are getting their information and trying to make his case.


LOTHIAN: Now, in the one funny moment towards the end, the president was imagining what a campaign slogan would be in another presidential run. The president saying that it would say "yes, we can, but it's going to happen -- it's not going to happen overnight" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: One other Jon Stewart-related issue. He's got a big rally at the National Mall this weekend. What are you hearing? What are they saying about the potential impact of that?

LOTHIAN: Well, obviously, this is something that Jon Stewart is trying to do to sort of lower the temperature, is what he says, between both sides of the political aisle.

This is something that the president has not talked about openly in terms of endorsing it, but during the interview he did sort of pitch that rally. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked about that. He said he had not talked to the president to get his feelings about what he thinks about it, but certainly, this is what the administration has been talking about all along, that both sides need to lower the temperature and get along.

BLITZER: All right. Not a bad idea. Thanks very much for that, Dan Lothian.

CNN is the place to be on election night on Tuesday. Join us, "The Best Political Team on Television," for up-to-the-minute results, analysis and outcomes. What happens next? Our coverage next Tuesday night begins at 7 p.m. Eastern, right after THE SITUATION ROOM.

The party lost the House in the first midterm election, as his party lost the House in the first midterm election after he was the president of the United States, so what advice does Bill Clinton now have for President Obama? Just a little while ago, CNN caught up with the former president in an exclusive interview. You'll hear what he had to say. That's coming up.


BLITZER: Former president Bill Clinton is here in New York. Our producer, our CNN producer Adam Reece caught up with him in Brooklyn just a little while ago at an event for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo. Listen to this.


ADAM REECE, CNN PRODUCER: What is your sense of how this might turn out? You talked today about low voter turnout. What needs to be done by the Democrats to make a difference and get out?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I believe if every student who voted in 2008 knew how revolutionary the student loan reform was, and knew that under this new law no one would ever have to drop out of college again. We fell to ninth in the world, and we cannot afford that. We go back to No. 1, and if they knew that the leaders of the Republican Party promised to repeal this law, I think the vote would go way up to 2,000 to 10,000 votes per a congressional district, and could change 20 seats.

So there are a lot of things still in play. In my experience, you know, we could have a predictable midterm or wipeout or something in between, and it's impossible to tell now, because I have never seen this many close races in the House and the Senate. I mean, seven or eight Senate races within two points, and a huge number of House seats.

REECE: If you were in Mr. Obama's shoes, what would you be doing in these last few days? He's going around on a big forum on Saturday. What would you be doing differently than he might be doing?

CLINTON: I don't know. I think he's doing fine. I'm glad he's out. I think the more important thing is what do people who aren't him are doing. That is what are all of our surrogates doing, people like me?

I honestly believe that the more the electorate looks like the 2008 electorate, the better we'll be. I think he also should talk about the fact that our plans to bring the budget into balance long-term are better than the Republican plan, which has all been analyzed by the experts including conservative experts. They all say they'll add between 1 and $3 trillion to the debt.

And we -- the Democrats put the pay-as-you-go rule back in that they took out, and they're waiting for the December bi-partisan budget commission which for some reason, they seem to have renounced.

So I think that we've got better plans on that. So, I think you ought to talk about that to try to turn some of the independents, let them know that the stimulus was necessary because we had negative growth and zero interest rates, but in the long run, we're coming back. I think he's doing fine. I'm glad he's out there. I think the rest of us should be working harder.


BLITZER: You heard it. The former president of the United States answering questions from our CNN producer, Adam Reece, in Brooklyn. They were at an event, an event for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Andrew Cuomo.

The Obama factor. Is the fate of Democratic candidates directly tied to the president's own popularity? What our new poll is saying. Stand by.


BLITZER: Let's bring back Gloria Borger, our senior political analyst. We're watching these new CNN/"TIME" magazine/Opinion Research Corporation poll numbers, and we asked how the president is handling his job as president. And what I see here often, there seems to be a correlation. If he's doing well in a state, the Democratic candidates seem to be doing relatively well.

How is Obama handling his job as president? In California, 54 percent among all adults approve; 37 percent disapprove. And in California, Barbara Boxer is ahead of Carly Fiorina, 50 to 45 percent. So I see a little correlation.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, when the White House tries to tell us that this is midterm elections, not a referendum on Barack Obama, take a look at those numbers, because this is about Barack Obama. Midterm elections are about presidents. They're about how you've governed. And try as they might to turn this into a race-by-race-by-race contest, people are voting yes or no about how they think things have gone under the Obama administration.

BLITZER: And take a look. Here in -- in Colorado --

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: -- for example, among all adults, his approval is only 44 percent. In Kentucky, his approval is only 35 percent. BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: In Pennsylvania, his approval is at 45 percent. And if you take a look at in those three states, in Colorado, it's neck and neck between Ken Buck and Michael Bennet. In Kentucky, Rand Paul is ahead 50 to 43 percent in our new poll. In Pennsylvania, Toomey is slightly ahead, 49, 45 percent. So the lower the president's approval number, the more problematic that becomes for the Democrats.

BORGER: If you take a state like Pennsylvania, which is a blue, blue state. Joe Sestak, the Democratic candidate, should be doing a lot better than he's doing. It's very, very difficult, however, when unemployment is high, when two-thirds of the country believe that we're headed in the wrong track, and that is directly related to Barack Obama's popularity.

So, there's no getting away from this, that this is about Barack Obama. And Democrats, as you see, have been trying to distance themselves from Barack Obama, from Nancy Pelosi, from Harry Reid, because they understand that.

BLITZER: Gloria, thanks very much.

Gloria is part of "The Best Political Team on Television."

We'll take a quick break. Jack Cafferty and the Cafferty file right after this.


BLITZER: Let's check back with Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is what does it mean if the voters choose candidates based on their looks?

Tony in North Carolina: "If people voted on the candidates' good looks, how did Henry Waxman, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank and Anthony Weiner ever get elected?"

John in Texas: "It means the voters are as superficial as the candidates. Other than that, it means nothing. The corporate bosses will dictate how they perform."

June writes, "Jack, it means we get what we deserve."

Elisa in California, "What does it mean? It means we're in trouble out here in California. The race for governor is bad hair versus no hair."

Paul writes, "It makes sense when you consider how much of a shallow, materialistic society we live in and how much politicians market themselves as products, using catch phrases and bumper-sticker slogans. We're increasingly short-focused, make near instant conclusions about people and almost everything else, and it doesn't bode well for future competence of our government." Terry in Arizona, "Sorry, Jack, if you're considering a run for president, your chances are slim, very slim."

Dan in New York: "Never underestimate the power of looking good. But you can take some comfort in the fact that, if these predictions are true, Glenn Beck has no political future whatsoever."

Bill writes, "It means some Americans are just as stupid as I thought they were."

Paul in Florida says, "This whole 'attractive' theory flies right out the window. Take a look at Barney Frank. Nice try, Jack."

And Alex in Wisconsin: "Two worlds: Sarah Palin. See ya in 2012."

You want to read more on this, you'll find it on my blog:

BLITZER: He's suggesting Sarah Palin's good looking, so she's going to be the next president?

CAFFERTY: I don't know. There was a picture on one of the Web sites, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, talking about the 2012 presidential campaign gets started, like, next week. Those were the two pictures they choose to illustrate the story.

BLITZER: Thank you. See you tomorrow.

Rolling out a new kind of toilet paper. Where's the tube? CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a "Most Unusual" look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need structure in my life. When it's bent, I'm not happy, so how could it not need this middle tube? Am I correct?



BLITZER: Here's a question: toilet paper without the tube? CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a "Most Unusual" look.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A drum roll --


MOOS: -- for a revolutionary toilet paper roll made -- you better sit down for this -- without the cardboard tube.

(on camera) Do you feel any attachment to this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Only because I call my kids with this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I made bong pipes with this in college.

MOOS (voice-over): Now the makers of Scott Tissue are testing tubeless toilet paper in northeast markets.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really? As long as it works.

MOOS: It's supposed to be good for the environment. Company research shows folks tend not to recycle toilet paper tubes. We recycled one by putting it on our lens for a tube cam.

(on camera) Anyone here? Come on in.

The folks at Scott assure us that, even with the tubeless toilet paper, you can use every last scrap of tissue on the roll.

When you get to that last scrap, what is holding it together?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via phone): It's the tissue itself.

MOOS (voice-over): But people were skeptical.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need structure in my life. When it's bent, I'm not happy. So how could it not need the middle tube?

MOOS: How could it be? Scott says the process is top secret but --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it's a breakthrough in the lining process.

MOOS: They've released video comparing a regular roll to their tubeless version. Watch the final sheets get whisked away. And to think George on "Seinfeld" said toilet paper will never change.

JASON ALEXANDER, ACTOR: And in 10,000 years, it will still be exactly the same because, really, what else can they do?

MOOS (on camera): But does tubeless toilet paper represent the advance or the decline of civilization? I guess it depends on your point of view.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My dog's going to be upset.

MOOS: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He lives for these. He chews them up.

MOOS: They are catnip to cats, birds, too, and kids. How else to make stuff ranging from a rocket to a kazoo? The lowly tube has even inspired tributes on YouTube.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): They're almost irresistible and hours of endless fun.

MOOS: But from a toilet paper maker's point of view, enabling the last sheets to roll off without a tube is something to savor in slow motion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It certainly is -- it is one of the great magic moments.

MOOS: If toilet paper goes tubeless, can paper towels be far behind?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We certainly see opportunities there.

MOOS: Yikes. It's enough to make you hide your head in a tube.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: Don't forget: we'll be here election night starting at 7 p.m. Eastern, together with "The Best Political Team on Television." Right after THE SITUATION ROOM, election results will begin, 7 p.m. Eastern next Tuesday.

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

"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.