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U.S. and China: The To-Do-List; Lawyer: Ex-Dictator Plans To Stay; More Airplanes Targeted By Lasers; Video Shows Tucson Shooting; Drug Use Issues Raised about Tucson Shooter; NFL Players Lobby Congress

Aired January 19, 2011 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, two big stories in Washington this hour. First, over at the White House, the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, arriving momentarily for a state dinner following a day full of meetings with U.S. leaders. We're taking you inside those negotiations. Stand by for that.

And just minutes ago up on Capitol Hill, the House votes to repeal health care reform. We'll have the latest on what it means for you. All that plus breaking news, and Piers Morgan joins me live this hour.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

All right, take a look at this. You're looking at live pictures over at the White House. The guests are arriving as we speak for the gala state dinner in honor of the Chinese president, Hu Jintao. President Hu is expected to arrive any minute now. It's been 13 years since the last lavish dinner for a Chinese leader. But despite differences on trade and human rights and a growing security rivalry between the two powers, the red carpet is out, the White House is pulling out all the stops to make this a successful visit.

You see Jackie Chan, the actor, right there. He's among the official guests, 225 of them, over at the White House. While the dinner conversations will certainly be polite, there are some tough topics on the U.S.-Chinese agenda right now. Let's go to our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian. The to-do list for this visit is long, important. The stakes are enormous.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, enormous, but some deals did take place. $45 billion worth of deals that President Obama believes will create hundreds of thousands of jobs here in the U.S. But, you know, White House aides have been very clear to point out that a few days of meetings here at the White House with the Chinese president will not knock down barriers. That this is a relationship that will take time to develop. But today, the message was very clear. The U.S. and China see big opportunities, but also have to deal with some big differences.


LOTHIAN (voice-over): In what felt like an unscripted moment, President Obama and President Hu Jintao greeted onlookers at the White House, a warm welcoming ceremony that came with a not so subtle rebuke on human rights.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: History shows that societies are harmonious, nations are more successful, and the world is more just when the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld.

LOTHIAN: In a joint news conference, the president repeated that message, then defended the relationship despite China's well documented human rights abuses.

OBAMA: Frank and candid assessment on our part will continue, but that doesn't prevent us from cooperating in these other critical areas.

LOTHIAN: Because of a translation glitch that led to massive confusion and an embarrassing moment.

OBAMA: I apologize. I thought we had simultaneous translation.

LOTHIAN: President Hu never answered a human rights question posed to him until another reporter followed up.

PRES. HU JINTAO, CHINA: Though, there are disagreements between China and the United States on the issue of human rights, China is willing to engage in dialogue.

LOTHIAN: But Yang Jianli, a Chinese dissident in jail for five years said issues of human rights should be resolved before the U.S. embraces China to tightly.

YANG JIANLI, HUMAN TITLIST ACTIVIST: Human rights are so fundamental. I don't think two countries who have very conflicting fundamental values can be friends for a long time.

LOTHIAN: As human rights protesters shouted outside the White House, inside the gates, a big embrace for relationship both sides said was mutually beneficial. CEOs from U.S. and China met with the two leaders to talk about trade and job creation. China announced it plans to purchase 200 Boeing airplanes, a $19 billion deal, and another $25 billion in contracts for U.S. companies. The White House says these deals will support 235,000 U.S. jobs.

OBAMA: And I believe that we've helped to lay the foundation for cooperation between the United States and China for decades to come.

LOTHIAN: Experts say increasing mutual trust is key to making any significant progress with China, and that negotiations need to be handled delicately.

CHARLES FREEMAN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Not necessarily you say you have to do this for us, but point to areas where it's in China's interest to do the right thing on North Korea currency or what have you.


LOTHIAN: Now, on that currency issue, President Obama did touch on that saying that that low currency is costing U.S. jobs. So, that's something that the two leaders did talk about face to face. And answering a question as to whether or not the U.S. is concerned about China's increasing power, President Obama says that a peaceful rise is good not only for the world, but certainly for the United States, because China can buy more U.S. goods, and it will raise the standard of living for the Chinese people -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Dan, don't go away. I want you to stay with us. I want to show our viewers two live pictures that we're bringing in to you right now. This is the North Portico over at the White House. They're getting ready. The president and the first lady, we believe, will be walking out of that door momentarily. They'll wait for a minute or so as the motorcade arrives bringing the Chinese president, Hu Jintao. They will, then, receive him there. They will all, then, go inside for the state dinner.

You can see that's the driveway at the White House where we expect the limousine bringing President Hu Jintao to be going through that gate very, very shortly. That's the northwest gate of the White House, Pennsylvania Avenue right there. The other live picture I want to show you is the arrival of the guests have been coming in now for about at least a half an hour, maybe 45 minutes. 225 guests are there, including former presidents, movie stars, fashion designers, cabinet members, lots of Chinese officials, lots of Chinese-Americans as well there being introduced.

They're going through the reception over there. And then, they will have a chance to go in. There'll be three ding rooms for this dinner tonight. Let's have a little state dinner conversation of our own. Dan Lothian is still with us. Also, we're bringing in our chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi, our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty. She's over at the White House, and our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger and David Gergen. Jill, you were over at the news conference today when they had that lost in translation snafu. How awkward was it?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It was pretty awkward, Wolf. You know, it appears it was the type of translation they used, but it really made for a lot of confusion. I think the most important moment was when there was a question about human rights asked, President Obama answered it, and then, President Hu, of course, was supposed to answer it, but he didn't, and then went on to another question. And then, it turned out later, another reporter came back and said, hey, you didn't answer that question, and President Hu said, well, I didn't answer it because the confusion with the translation.

And then he went onto answer it. It sounded like a Mandarin lesson, because they were standing there, waiting for huge sections in Chinese of the translation. So, it was a pretty strange thing. Apparently, according to the White House, that's what the Chinese wanted. They wanted what's called consecutive translation, but it created a lot of problems. BLITZER: The business part of this relationship, Ali, is huge right now. Hundreds of billions of dollars at stake. A lot of human rights activists are not happy that the president is hosting this formal gala state dinner this hour for the Chinese leader, but the business stakes are enormous.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: We have entirely skipped over the human rights issue because of the jobs issue. They signed deals worth about $45 billion that the president says will create about 265,000 jobs here in the United States. You saw that meeting with all of the CEOs, and President HU, and President Obama. The reality is we're over the fact that we've lost all these jobs to China because of low manufacturing costs over the last decade or so. The reality now, Wolf, is that America has a shrinking middle class.

China has a remarkably, quickly, growing middle class of consumers. And American company say if we can get access to those consumers, if we can get a fair and level playing field in China where American goods can be bought like Chinese goods, we can get prosperity and some jobs back in the U.S. One example, Wolf, General Motors sold 200,000 more cars in China last year than they actually sold in the United States. So, business leaders are looking for opportunity in China and that could result in jobs back here in the United States.

BLITZER: But, David, as you well know, China exports to the United States about three times as much as we export to China right now. So, they need this market maybe even more than we need their market.

DAVID GERGEN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, that's right. I think that today's meetings do represent progress, and we should hail that. But to keep it in perspective, this $45 billion of new exports that we have announced today, 19 of it was already in the works before the summit with Boeing. But more of the point, a good (ph) point, Wolf, our total deficit with China -- trade deficit is about $275 billion a year. So, this 45 is only worth about two months of that total yearly trade deficit, and this $45 billion in sales are also being spread across several years. So, I think it's good news, but let's keep it in perspective.

BLITZER: And Gloria, getting back to the human rights issue, a lot of human rights activists see what's still happening in China. It's better now than it was 10, 20, 30 years ago to be sure, but still pretty bad by all human rights organizations aspects. They say, you know, it's one thing to receive the Chinese president, have an official visit, give him all the honor, but a state dinner, they say that's going too far

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, the Chinese were clearly insulted by the Bush administration, which did not do a state dinner. This decision was reached, I think, largely because of our business and geopolitical interest in terms of China. It's a hugely important bilateral relationship. And I think today, you saw the president talk a little bit, bleakly, about human rights, and maybe, we will see it again. But this president, don't forget, tonight, he's interesting. He's walking such a fine line. Here he is. The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner and the 2010 winner is a political prisoner right now in China, and the president is hosting a state dinner for China tonight.

BLITZER: Yes. What are they saying, Dan, over at the white house about that? I take it some of these spokespeople at the White House have felt some of the heat in terms of the reporter's questions.

LOTHIAN: Well, definitely. In fact, yesterday, he's doing the briefing. Robert Gibbs was peppered with questions about that. How they are rolling out the red carpet for a country that has so many documented cases of human rights abuses, but Robert Gibbs pointing out that this is a partnership, as I said earlier, that will take time to develop. And there will be differences. You heard the president point that out today. Now, there does continue to be the concern among human rights activists. I was talking to one who said he welcomes the tough talk from the president.

And the president has talked about how he has, in the past meetings, had very tough direct negotiations with them in private, but he wants to see more of that in public. One telling me that, quote, "China only believes in tangible force of power." That they generally ignore, quote, "the undercurrent of conscience." So, he says that the only way that China will shift is if they can get that pressure from the U.S. not only in private, but also in public, Wolf.

BLITZER: And you can see the northwest gate of the White House, the driveway there, is now open. We see a lot of activity. We expect the motorcade bringing President Hu Jintao to drive though that gate very, very soon. The president of China will then emerge. He'll be received by the president of the United States, and we believe the first lady as well. That's the tradition, we assume, that's going on. That will happen over at the North Portico at the White House.

They'll briefly shake hands, pose for photos, and then walk inside and get ready for the dinner. There you see the honor guard getting ready with the U.S. flag and the Chinese flag right there. Jill Dougherty, you and I have covered the White House for a long time. We've seen the state dinners, but when you think about the historic moment right now. A state dinner for the president of china, a communist nation given all the history that's involved, it's a pretty remarkable thing.

We saw Henry Kissinger, the former Secretary of State walking with his wife, Nancy Kissinger, just a little while ago. He's one of the architects of this opening to China, ping-pong diplomacy and all of that. You remember those days. I remember those days. Certainly, our panel remembers those days, and I suspect most of our viewers do as well. So, this is a historic moment when you think about it right now, Jill.

DOUGHERTY: You know, there's no question, Wolf. I mean, this relationship that has been forged and you're seeing the two leaders of the countries tonight. They are going to define the relationship between the United States and China is going to define a lot of the 21st century. They are the two biggest economies. Don't forget China now has eclipsed Japan. It's the second biggest economy in the world after the United States. It is extremely important to the United States for business and for many other reasons.

BLITZER: And you see the president, the first lady, they are now at the top of those stairs. The motorcade has now gone through the northwest gate. Within a few seconds, the limo bringing President Hu Jintao to the White House will be stopping, and they'll be going up. You see the chief of protocol, Capricia Marshall, walking down, gingerly walking down the stairs. She looks gorgeous. The first lady looks gorgeous.

A lot of women have spent a lot of time, as you know, getting ready for the state dinner tonight. The designers are out in full force. Let's just pause. We'll watch and we'll listen as the Chinese president gets ready to walk up the stairs and be received by the president and the first lady.

And now, they're going inside the White House. You can see a brief little arrival ceremony. You can hear in the background some protesters out on Pennsylvania Avenue, anti-Chinese government protesters complaining about the human rights violations. They've been there all day today trying to get their voice heard. You saw the president and the first lady received President Hu Jintao.

You know, Gloria, as you watch that, I guess nobody bothered to tell the Chinese president it was black tie. I'm just joking. I know that the Chinese communist don't like to wear tuxedos, but here's wearing a dark suit and a blue tie as opposed to a formal tuxedo like the president of the United States, but, I guess, that goes along with the territory.

BORGER: Sure. It does. And I can't help but think, you know, we're focusing so much on President Hu, and that the truth is, Wolf, that he's really at the mercy of a very diffuse ruling party, and he's got generals, and he's got corporate interests that in many ways have just as much clout as he does. He could also well be a lame duck. So, we're talking so much about him today and during this visit, but we're not really sure, oops, we lost our picture. Oh, there it is. But we're not really sure about whether he's going to actually be replaced within the next couple of years.

BLITZER: Yes. We'll see what happens. All right. I want all of you to standby. These are still arrivals that are going on over at the White House, but the president, first lady, and the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, they are all inside. They're getting ready for this dinner. They will sit down. 225 people. There will be formal toast. We'll watch all of this unfold. Much more coming up on the state dinner at the White House.

The other big story we're watching this hour, the House of Representatives votes to repeal health care reform. What does this mean for you? Standby for that.

And a key piece of evidence in the Tucson massacre. Police talked about it all day. Then suddenly, they stopped talking. We'll tell you why.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLITZER: For so many Republicans, it was issue number one. Now, they've pushed ahead on the promise to repeal health care reform. The law in the House has been repealed after a sharp debate lawmakers have just voted, 245 to 189 to turn back the clock on one of the president's key achievements. You're looking at live pictures there from the House Floor. Congressman Ron Paul of Texas is speaking.

Three Democrats, by the way, voted with the Republicans. The battle now moves to the Senate where it's unlikely to go anywhere. Let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash along with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger and David Gergen. Dana, all right, let's start with you. Walk us through what the House of Representatives has just done.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they've done from the Republican point of view is keep a major campaign promise, which is to vote to repeal the Democrat's health care plan, which is the law of the land. But a reality check as we've been giving our viewers since we started to talk about this is that it is not going to go anywhere. The Democrats still maintain control of the Senate, and they are vowing to block it, and they have the votes to do that.

But what's next in the House is interesting, Wolf, and that is tomorrow. House Republicans are going to push a bill that will instruct five committees that have jurisdiction to figure out and start to debate and deliberate how to replace this health care law. You remember, the mantra was repeal and replace. Well, replace is going to be next. But John Boehner, the House Speaker, told our (INAUDIBLE) earlier that you know what, we don't want to set an artificial deadline on how long that's going to take. So, it's very interesting that they rushed to have this repeal as the first major piece of legislation, but the second part, they're going to take a little bit longer.

But the big thing that they're going to do, Wolf, as the words of Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, is to delay and defund. That's really, ultimately, what they're going to try to get at this health care law, by tipping away at the funding for it.

BLITZER: David, 50 percent according to our new CNN Opinion Research Corporation Poll, the American public favors repealing all provisions in the health care reform law, 42 percent oppose it. Should we just assume that all those Democrats in the senate, 53 of them, within the two independents, are going to be united and not join the Republicans?

GERGEN: It's possible there'll be a couple who will come over. There are three Democrats who came over to the Republican side of the House, as you know. But I have to tell you, while the Republicans won the vote today, I'm not sure they mounted much of an argument. There doesn't seem to be much conservative mobilization. It's so quite partly because of Tucson, partly because of China, you know, that the action is more symbolic. And I don't think it's made a big splash.

And the Obama administration very smartly just released a report saying that 129 million Americans below the age of 65 might have pre- conditions that would preclude them from getting health care coverage if this bill is repealed. It was a smart thing study to get out there. Then, there's also on the other side, the Republican side, there's a new survey out from Reuters from doctors.

Over 2,000 doctors, 65 percent of the doctors, they post, said they thought health care will deteriorate in this country if this health care reform goes into place. So, there are arguments on both sides, but I don't think it's gotten the kind of traction as a national debate that the Republicans hoped for a few months ago.

BORGER: You know, it's interesting, Wolf, because, I think in a way, the Democrats may have gotten their message across better post- election than they did before the election, because what they have been talking about are the things that you would lose if you lost your health care, this health care reform bill. One of those is coverage for preexisting conditions for children, which has already been enacted, coverage for your older children who can remain on your health care plan until the age of 26 now.

They have gotten that message out. And on the other side, everybody knows, as Dana has been talking about, everybody knows that this is not going anywhere in the Senate right now. So, it's kind of anti-climactic. We knew it was going to happen in the House, but be stalled.

BLITZER: Republicans promise down they would do it, they did it, and now, we'll see what happens. Thanks, guys. We got to move on. Thanks to all of you once again.

By the way, also on Capitol Hill, some members of Congress are getting some big visitors today. Why NFL players are hoping to score a touchdown on Capitol Hill? Standby for that.

And we're also getting new information on the former Haitian dictator, Baby Doc Duvalier. What does he plan to do next? Stay with us.


BLITZER: There are new developments out of Haiti right now. The future of the former dictator, Baby Doc Duvalier. Lisa Sylvester is here with that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM.

What's happening in Haiti?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. Former Haitian dictator, Jean-Claude Duvalier plans to stay in Haiti, even though, he could face charges for corruption and human rights abuses. That's according to one of his lawyers who say Duvalier is even looking into refurbishing one of his old homes. The former strong man made a surprise return to Haiti Sunday after a quarter century exile in France.

Indonesia, thousands of people demonstrated against the country's former president driven from power last week in a grassroots uprising. Unlike previous protests, though, this one was peaceful with no police clashes. Today, the country's interim president promised to sever links with the former regime, which held power for two decades.

And the number of reports of lasers pointed at airplanes reached an all time high last year, more than 2,800 incidents. That, to put it in perspective, is almost double from the year before. The lasers can even momentarily blind pilots. Los Angeles International Airport had the most cases, 102, followed by Chicago O'Hare and Phoenix. Just keeping track -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for that. It's a hallucinogenic herb that's legal in many places. Friends say the alleged Tucson shooting used it. We're digging deeper on what the substance can really do.

And he just announced he's leading the United States Senate, now, John McCain is proposing a new job for Joe Lieberman in the Obama administration.


BLITZER: Another step forward in an amazing recovery by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Her (INAUDIBLE) says the Arizona Democrat will be moved to a rehabilitation facility in Houston on Friday. That's just under two weeks since she was shot in the head during a rampage that left six people dead.

Meanwhile, we're learning new details of the surveillance video that capture the shootings in chilling detail. Sherriff's Department chief investigator, Richard Kastigar, was scheduled to join us this hour to talk about it, but at the last minute, the Pima County Sheriff's Office canceled. They sent us this message. Let me read it to you.

"Until further notice, due to a controversy between the Sheriff's Department and the county attorney's office, no further information referenced the January 8, 2011 shooting will be released." Kastigar did speak earlier in the day by telephone to CNN describing this new chilling video and the disturbing details it captured.


RICHARD KASTIGAR, PIMA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: There's a portion of the tape where you can see very clearly that Jared, the suspect, comes out of one of the doors. He walks around a table, a collapsible, perhaps a six-foot table, and when he does so with very significant purpose, he walks up to the congresswoman, points a gun at her face and shoots. She is barely in the frame of that -- of that video.

The suspect then turns to his left and actually kind of walks out of the perspective or the video itself. And we know from talking to witnesses and others in and around that chaotic scene that he fired indiscriminately from that point forward at people that were seated in chairs. This would have been to the congresswoman's right.

He then turns back to his -- his right, and engages the aide for the congresswoman, Mr. Barber. You can see that he is shot up, in and around the face and neck area. At that very moment, as Mr. Barber is attempting to go to ground, perhaps as a result of the injury or perhaps to flee, you can see the judge, Judge Roll, very purposely put his arms over on Mr. Barber, push him down in an attempt to have him crawl under the table, that actually is an obstruction to the two of them from escaping. It rests behind them.

And it's my estimation that the judge really, I think, offers himself and helps a friend or a colleague by pushing him under the table. But in doing so, he exposes his back to the shooter. The shooter then does shoot him in the back. And you can see before the tape finishes that there's a -- they're starting to really retreat from the opposite side of the table.


BLITZER: That's Richard Kastgar, the sheriff's department chief investigator in Pima County.

Meanwhile, there are questions about drug use by the accused shooter, and one drug in particular that's actually legal in many places. CNN's Brian Todd is working this part of the story for us.

All right, Brian. What's going on here?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, at the moment there's no evidence suggesting that drug evidence is linked to the shooting specifically, but an assertion that Jared Loughner was using a strange hallucinogen has put a spotlight on that substance.


TODD (voice-over): A former friend of Jared Loughner gives accounts of the suspect's alleged drug use. Zach Osler tells ABC News Loughner smoked pot, ingested mushrooms and used something else.

ZACHARY OSLER, FORMER FRIEND OF JARED LOUGHNER: I know he used -- he used salvia divinorum.

TODD: Called salvia for short, it's a natural hallucinogenic herb. Right now, there's no evidence suggesting Loughner's alleged use of salvia had any connection to the Tucson shootings.

We found out salvia is sold over the counter, but only in a few states.

(on camera) Salvia is illegal in many states. It's not illegal here in Maryland. And I'm here at Shockers Smoke Shop in Baltimore with Ryan Grizzell, the owner of Shockers.

Ryan, can you show me where you sell it and get it off the shelf here for us?


TODD: OK. There it is. Salvia Revolution. Standardized extracts. Seventy dollars, not cheap. Why is it so expensive?

GRIZZELL: Actually, this is all we have left for right now. It comes in different strengths. The 60x is one of the higher strengths. It starts off anywhere from 5, and it goes up to like 80x. But usually, if you're feeling effects, you want something around 20x.

TODD (voice-over): Grizzell says it's not a hot-selling item in his store.

(on camera) Thank you.

(voice-over) Then we head to John Hopkins University Medical School, where Professor Matthew Johnson of the behavioral pharmacology unit is just wrapping up a yearlong study of the effects of salvia on about a half dozen healthy people.

MATTHEW JOHNSON, PROFESSOR, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY MEDICAL SCHOOL: Folks would inhale it from the other side of this room divider.

TODD: Johnson says among his subjects, the drug took effect instantly. The high lasted only a few minutes. And --

(on camera) How much of a hallucination does this stuff give you?

JOHNSON: So we were really struck by the intensity of the experiences and -- both perceptual and otherwise that people had. People reported, at the higher doses, being completely transported to another world.

So they're not seeing the room. They're not seeing the study staff like myself. They're interacting with, you know, characters they might call extra dimensional beings or these characters from the spirit world.


TODD: Now, Jared Loughner wrote online about living in an alternative reality where he could control his dreams. I asked Johnson if that's consistent with what his subjects reported in that study.

He said it sounds similar to some of the acute subjective experiences that people had in that study while they were on the drug. He says it's possible the drug could consider psychotic episodes in people who are predisposed to mental illness. But he's found no evidence that suggests that it triggers any kind of violent behavior, Wolf.

BLITZER: How addictive, Brian, is it, and can it cause brain damage? TODD: Johnson says among his subjects, and from what he has found, he doesn't believe it's addictive, mainly because the people who tried it in his study say it's so bizarre and intense, they have no interest in going back and using it again.

There's no evidence, as we suggest, that -- that it triggers violent behavior. They say it is stronger than LSD and mushrooms. But again, not necessarily addictive. No evidence right now that it causes lasting or permanent brain damage, but they do need to do more research.

BLITZER: You signed the credit card. You bought some of it. Right?

TODD: I did. I mean, it's legal in Maryland.

BLITZER: What are you going to do with it? What are you going to do/

TODD: Probably throw it all out. I don't want to be caught with anything that --

BLITZER: Get rid of it quickly.

TODD: Right.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Brian. Bill CNN for it.

TODD: I will.

BLITZER: All right.

Some very, very big men are roaming the halls of Congress today. Why NFL players are now playing in the political field.

And Condoleezza Rice gets serious with CNN's Piers Morgan. What the former secretary of state is now saying was the biggest mistake of the Iraq war. Stand by. Piers will join us.


BLITZER: There are some big and very strong lobbyists on Capitol Hill today. NFL players pressing lawmakers on an issue that could impact every football fan, including me.

CNN's Kate Bolduan is here. She's got the details. What were these players going on the Hill today?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know when you think football you think of me, of course. But these are not your typical K Street lobbyists, Wolf. They traded in their uniforms and their helmets for -- what else? -- business suits. It's a high-stakes game, and the fans, you guys, could end up the losers here.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): Some of the NFL's finest are taking their muscle from the field to the halls of Congress.

JEFF SATURDAY, NFL PLAYER: How you doing, sir? Jeff Saturday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice to see you.

SATURDAY: Nice to see you.

BOLDUAN: A labor dispute between the players' union and team owners threatens to cancel the upcoming season. So players like Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday are lobbying lawmakers, arguing that would hurt more than just the high-salary players.

SATURDAY: The hotel workers, the restaurateurs, all the things that are happening in your city that get impacted. It's a big deal. And it doesn't just impact us.

BOLDUAN: The dispute comes down to a fight over money and the number of games. Owners want to cut salaries to help pay for increased operating costs. At the same time, they want to add two more regular-season games. The players, though, say the NFL is asking for too much.

PETE KENDALL, FORMER NFL PLAYER: -- what I'm trying to get. At this point, we just want to inform the members of Congress where we stand.

BOLDUAN: Although unlikely Congress could take away the anti- trust exemption that allows NFL owners to make billions in television rights.

(on camera) How does coming to Capitol Hill level playing the field? As you say, you're not asking for any legislative action.

SATURDAY: Yes. I think you've had the owners who have been here lobbying for -- for a long time. Just letting, you know, both voices be heard. Hearing both sides of the argument of, you know, what we need to get accomplished.

BOLDUAN: The league calls the players' tactics an unnecessary distraction.

JEFF MILLER, NFL LOBBYIST: The deal isn't going to get done in the halls of Congress, in hearing rooms, in press conferences. It's going to get done through some hard work and negotiation, and the league side is ready to engage in that. And we're hopeful the players will, as well.

BOLDUAN: No matter who's keeping score, that's one thing both sides seem to agree on.

SATURDAY: We're willing to play. Let's just get an agreement in place and move forward.


BOLDUAN: Wolf, it's not really clear how well this lobbying or this very public battle is going to be received. Just take a look at this one statement. This is from the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Republican Lamar Smith.

He said, quote -- and I'll read it to you -- "The owners and players are both literally and figuratively big boys and do not need Congress to referee every dispute for them."

And think about it, Wolf. And for most fans, a labor dispute between millionaire players and billionaire owners might be a little hard to handle these days.

BLITZER: A similar dispute could happen next year in the NBA, as well. Hope it doesn't happen in the NFL or the NBA.

BOLDUAN: No one hopes it gets as far as there being a lockout. But we'll see.

BLITZER: Kate, thanks very much.

He's just announced he's leaving the U.S. Senate, and there's already a push to get Joe Lieberman a new job, this time in the Obama administration. Is that going to happen?

And forget texting, talking, taking pictures. We're going to tell you about the new thing you can do with your phone -- guess where? -- at Starbucks.


BLITZER: Six more states have now joined Florida and 19 other states in fighting the president's and the Democrats' health-care reform law, saying it's unconstitutional because it mandates that everyone purchase health insurance by 2014. Now 26 states altogether have joined to fight -- to fight the health-care reform law.

These are the six states that have just been added to this, all having Republican attorneys general: Iowa, Ohio, Kansas, Wyoming, Wisconsin, and Maine. So 26 states -- 26 states, that's more than half of the 50 states in the country -- now say they find this law unconstitutional because of the mandates that require everyone to purchase health insurance by 2014. We're watching this story.

By the way, it comes on the day when the House of Representatives has voted to repeal the health-care reform law. It goes to the Senate, where it's unlikely to go anywhere there. Even if it did, the president would veto it, and the two-thirds override is not likely in either the House or the Senate.

All right. So that's where it stands on health care.

Lisa Sylvester is here monitoring some of the other important news, including Joe Lieberman. He made it official today.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And it only has been a few hours since independent Senator Joe Lieberman announced that he won't seek re-election next year. But one of his closest colleagues is already eyeing a new job for him: defense secretary.

CNN asked Republican Senator John McCain about it, and he says he hopes President Obama will consider it.

Lieberman backed McCain over Mr. Obama in the 2008 presidential race.

And take a look at this. Spectacular and deadly gas main explosion in Philadelphia. Utility workers were responding to a break of the main when it happened. One worker was killed, and five people were injured, some of them seriously.

Well, this next story gives the term "pay phone" a whole new meaning. Starting today, you can pay for your coffee and just about everything else at Starbucks with your mobile phone. A simple scan takes the bill right off of your Starbucks card.

But the company isn't alone in this new technology. One research firm is forecasting $633 billion in mobile payments annually by the year 2014.

So that is the wave of the future. Literally, you'll be able to pay with your mobile phone.

BLITZER: Wouldn't need a wallet. Just need a phone.

SYLVESTER: Yes. Just carry your phone for everything.

BLITZER: Won't need a credit card.

SYLVESTER: -- pockets everything now.

BLITZER: Thanks, Lisa. Thanks very much.

Condoleezza Rice gets personal with CNN's Piers Morgan, including how much she drank while she was serving as secretary of state. Piers standing by to join us.


BLITZER: Premier week tonight continuing with Condoleezza Rice, perhaps as you've never seen her before. Piers is joining us now.

Piers, you had a chance to speak with the former secretary of state. I want to play a little exchange you had with her on the war, and then we'll discuss.


BLITZER: Listen to this.


MORGAN: Maybe that should have been the argument we used. I do regret that we used, as a fact, that he had weapons of mass destruction, because he didn't. And because the intelligence was wrong. I would like to apologize to the American people for that, for the fact that the intelligence was just wrong.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: And the apology is that the intelligence was wrong.


RICE: I think we've all said that we regret that the intelligence was wrong. But I don't regret that we took the opportunity to get rid of a cancer in the Middle East who had taken the Middle East to war twice, who had used weapons of mass destruction, who was an implacable enemy of the United States, who fired our aircraft every week as they were trying to fly the no-fly zone, who put 400,000 of his people in mass graves, and who continued to threaten his neighbors. Iraq --

MORGAN: If you had your time again --

RICE: Yes.

MORGAN: -- and this is argument you put at the start, which I get it, and with hindsight and the benefit of all the knowledge you now have, you wouldn't have gone to war using WMD as a pretence?

RICE: I think the mistake -- no, I think the mistake -- and this was a mistake -- was to put a spotlight simply on the weapons of mass destruction.


BLITZER: All right. Piers, what do you think? How did she do?

MORGAN: Well, I found that exchange quite fascinating. I've never really understood why more politicians involved in that decision haven't just had the decency really to raise their arms and say, "You know what? We just got it wrong on that intelligence. And we're sorry." Because it was a pretty catastrophic error, regardless of whether you thought it was a good idea or not, because you thought Saddam should go or not. I've always felt that, if you choose something that's a pretext to war, it has to be true if you're in government.

So I found that an interesting exchange.

But in a rather passive interview, which I found compelling, because I'd always imagined Condoleezza Rice to be this rather cold fish. I'd heard reports of her getting up at 4 in the morning to get her daily workout in, which she says she did, indeed do and still now does at 5:30. She gives herself a lane (ph).

But she's very driven. Never got married, never had children, always been a complete workaholic. And yet I found this very touching private side to her, which she opened up about, in which she was giggly and fun, and dare I say rather flirty.

BLITZER: Flirty?

MORGAN: Flirty.

BLITZER: What does that mean?

MORGAN: Well, you know.

BLITZER: I know what it means, but give me an example.

MORGAN: Well, I just suddenly -- I was trying to have a bit of levity here, and I said, "Hypothetically, Dr. Rice, if I was to try and woo you, because you are and remain one of Washington's most eligible bachelorettes, then how would I go about it?"

I thought she would just clam up in the way I'd been warned she would. And in fact, she went off on this detailed account of how I could indeed woo her, and it involved her cooking some fried chicken and some gumbo, which I wasn't familiar with. I'm told is a Southern delicacy. I'm sure you're into gumbo, Wolf.

And then we would watch, apparently, hour upon hour of football. Unfortunately, not the kind I like but the one with helmets and padding.

And it was fascinating. I suddenly saw Condoleezza Rice in a whole new light, a woman that would cook me wonderful food all day and let me watch the football for 10 hours.

BLITZER: You like soccer. We like football.

Let me play this other exchange on alcohol. Listen to this.


MORGAN: Did you drink alcohol when you were in office?

RICE: Well, occasionally. Occasionally.

MORGAN: When you're in your kind of job.

RICE: Yes.

MORGAN: Can you ever actually get intoxicated?

RICE: Of course not.

MORGAN: Never?

RICE: No, no, no. But I would never want to get intoxicated anyway. I don't like that sort of sense that you don't know what you're doing.

MORGAN: Unconventional. You're not in control.

RICE: I'd rather be in control of things like that.

But no, you do have to remember that you are always on. The phone call can come at 3 a.m. in the morning. You have to be absolutely alert if that phone call comes at 3 a.m. in the morning.


BLITZER: She gets sort of personal. So what you're telling us, if we watch the show tonight, we'll see a personal side of Condoleezza Rice that we've never seen before? Is that -- is that what you're saying?

MORGAN: Well, certainly, not that I've seen before. And I saw most of the interviews she'd ever done.

I think she does open up in a very unique way for Condoleezza Rice. What was interesting about the alcohol question, the reason that I asked it, is that Tony Blair, in his recent memoirs, made a point of saying that he was, you know, borderline having an alcohol problem while he was prime minister of Great Britain, and he'd regularly have maybe a bottle of wine at night.

And it always struck me as fascinating to ask a world leader if they can do that, because you would never know when the next terrible disaster may befall your country or, indeed, another country where you would have to immediately go out and address the nation. So were you allowed to drink a bottle of wine?

In Condoleezza Rice's case, she never did. And -- you know, I saw that level of self-control there, which made her the woman she is.

BLITZER: It's his third show tonight. The veteran CNN talk show host, Piers Morgan, 9 p.m. Eastern, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT."

How do you like CNN so far, Piers?

MORGAN: It's great. And by Larry King's standards, I only have 6,997 shows to go before they give me your job, Wolf.

BLITZER: I saw the first three -- the first two excellent shows. We'll see how tonight with Condoleezza Rice goes. Tomorrow night, Ricky Gervais and Friday night, remind me. Who do you have Friday night?

MORGAN: Friday we have George Clooney. I've just finished the Ricky Gervais, and I've got to say one word: explosive.

BLITZER: All right. I believe you, as we saw at the Golden Globes. And you got the big interview. Good work, Piers Morgan. Nine p.m. Eastern, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT." We'll watch.

MORGAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: A different kind of winter sport: car sliding. CNN's Jeanne Moos getting ready to take a "Most Unusual" ride.


BLITZER: These videos may make you cringe a bit, but it's hard to look away as cars slip and slide on icy streets. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a "Most Unusual" look.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's become almost a winter sport. No, not ice-skating. Car sliding, like this almost- choreographed ice dance down a hill in Spokane, Washington, or this pickup picking up speed, headed backwards in Colorado Springs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watch out, watch out.


MOOS: The pickup truck drivers who think they can beat any hill, no matter how icy. Now that everyone has a camera phone, like Liz Smith, we're all able to see the carnage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This sucks, dude. Look at your car. Is this your car?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is your car. Oh, my God.

MOOS: Ian shot pile-ups that damaged more than 20 vehicles.

IAN SMITH, AMATEUR VIDEOGRAPHER: It was really cool to see all the crashes. Thank God nobody got hurt. That's the bad thing. It's really cool.

MOOS: And it's paid off for Ian. His video has attracted advertisers like Cheapo Auto Quotes for insurance. TV outlets have license his video. A tire company might use it in a commercial.

What was the street called where all this happened?

SMITH: South Carefree and Powers.

MOOS (on camera): Carefree?

SMITH: Yes, Carefree.

MOOS (voice-over): Oh, it's Carefree, all right.


MOOS: We thought we'd hand out some medals for some of the most nerve-racking slides.

(on camera) For the best spin we award the bronze medal to this pickup in Spokane.

(voice-over) Kind of reminds us of a spinning skater.

(on camera) For speed and elegance, we award the silver medal for this Jeep.


MOOS: For dumbest attempt and for striking more than one vehicle, the gold goes to --

(voice-over) -- this cocky pickup --


MOOS: -- who thought it could go where no one else was able to. But the truck didn't stop there. It kept on sliding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I tried to tell him. What an idiot.

MOOS: Did we mention the guy who shot this video performs hip hop? This pickup was on its way, all right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): I'm on my way

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --


MOOS: -- New York.


BLITZER: That's it for me. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.