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CNN NEWSROOM

Al Qaeda's New Leader; Schwarzenegger Family Reacts to Scandal

Aired May 18, 2011 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And hello to all of you.

We have a developing story, in fact, two developing stories, both of which out of the Pentagon, both concerning the killing of Osama bin Laden.

First off, a remarkable plea from the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen. He just came out and said, please, for the love of Pete, please stop talking about the raid that killed bin Laden. He said government officials are jeopardizing valuable national secrets, risking valuable tools in the fight against terror.

I want to go straight to Chris Lawrence live for me at the Pentagon.

And, Chris, it sounds as though the brass over there is seriously worried and none too happy.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke.

It stopped just short of basically saying, shut up. What -- and, really, the key is not so much what happened in this raid, but Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen seem very, very concerned about the next raid and the one after that and that those kind of raids are going to be much riskier with how much information is now out there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN, JOINTS CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: We have, from my perspective, gotten to a point where we are -- are close to jeopardizing this precious capability that we have, and we can't afford to do that. This fight isn't over, first of all.

Secondly, when you now extend that to concern with individuals in a military and their families, from my perspective, it is time to stop talking. And we have talked far too much about this. We need to move on. It's a story that if we don't stop talking, it will never end, and it needs to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE: Yes. And, again, remember, a lot of what's come out is not just tactics, but also a lot of what we have talked about has been technology as well, from the stealth helicopter to other things that the team used. BALDWIN: Sure. Chris, is there any source of these leaks that the Pentagon, I don't know, is most concerned about, like the White House, for example?

LAWRENCE: Nobody -- they didn't name anyone by name.

Of course, the White House talked about it through the Counterterrorism Office. Leon Panetta at the CIA talked about it. Look, there have been leaks here at the Defense Department as well. Retired SEALs have come out and talked about it. So, I don't think they're pointing the finger at any one thing.

And, look, as journalists, come on, we can't be too critical about all this. We're the ones asking questions for all these details day after day after day, us, FOX, "The Washington Post," "The New York Times."

BALDWIN: Of course.

LAWRENCE: Everybody has reported this and the details just keep coming out.

BALDWIN: And they just say, stop talking about it.

LAWRENCE: Yes.

BALDWIN: I mentioned a moment ago there's a whole other story here, another developing story that emerged from the briefing today also having to do with the raid on bin Laden.

I want you to listen quickly here. This is Defense Secretary Robert Gates talking about the government of Pakistan. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GATES, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I have seen no evidence at all that the senior leadership knew. In fact, I have seen some evidence to the contrary. But -- and we have no evidence yet with respect to anybody else. My supposition is, somebody knew.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, somebody knew in Pakistan, just not the top leadership.

How important, Chris, is that, as we, going forward, reassess our relationship with a nominal, but very important ally here?

LAWRENCE: Well, both Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen said, look, they can understand why Congress and a lot of the American people are so upset about this.

But Admiral Mullen said, look, the head of Pakistan's armor -- army, General Kayani, he said he's not only a peer; he's a friend. And Secretary Gates said that Pakistan really already has paid a price. He used some very strong language, saying, look, they have to feel humiliated that the U.S. was able to go in there with impunity and carry out this operation without them knowing it.

So, he said, internally, Pakistani officials have been paying a price, which could sort of change the dynamic going forward.

BALDWIN: Hmm. Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon -- Chris, thank you.

And there's a whole other big story. Al Qaeda has chosen a new number one, a successor to Osama bin Laden. And would it shock you to learn this man actually opposed 9/11? Take a look at him. He's Egyptian, Saif al-Adel, longtime, longtime al Qaeda veteran. And we're going to talk about that here in a minute.

But we just so happen -- we did a little digging here on my team, and we found, in the 9/11 report, you know, the report from the commission appointed by President Bush, here's what we found. Take a look. This is from page 211 -- quote -- "Those who opposed bin Laden on the 9/11 attacks were weighty figures within the organization, including Abu Hafs, Sheikh al-Masri, and" -- you see that last name there? -- "Saif al-Adel."

Joining me now from Boston, Juliette Kayyem, former assistant secretary of homeland security.

And, Juliette, we have heard -- we have heard about a split within al Qaeda. You have this one camp that supports the attacks on the U.S. and you have this other camp preferring to concentrate on efforts elsewhere. Do we know which camp this guy belongs to?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY ASSISTANT SECRETARY: We have reason to believe he belonged in the camp that was opposing 9/11 just as a tactical decision. There were -- it's hard to imagine al Qaeda can be democratic at times, that people argue about what's the best tactic.

And I think people like him were concerned that such a grand and masterful attack on the United States would just turn the world community and, of course, potentially future adherents to al Qaeda against them. And that's clearly what happened.

There's actually writings from al-Adel later on throughout the -- 2005, 2006, show that he -- a little bit of I told you so, that he was very upset with what had happened to al Qaeda. He eventually then would return back to bin Laden's fold after spending time in Iran.

BALDWIN: Yes. It's interesting you used the adjective democratic.

KAYYEM: Yes.

BALDWIN: I want to pick up on that in just a moment as we look ahead to the process of choosing the new big guy.

But I do want to look back and I just want go over some of what we know. As we said, he's Egyptian. He was born in either 1960, maybe 1963. We're told he served for a while in the Egyptian armed forces. And he was indicted by a federal grand jury here in the U.S. all the way back to 1998.

KAYYEM: Right.

BALDWIN: And that was in connection with U.S. embassy bombings in the -- in Kenya and also Tanzania. The attacks by al Qaeda killed 224 people. So, clearly, Juliette, this guy has been around for a little while.

KAYYEM: Right. He's been on the FBI's most wanted list since -- the terrorist most wanted list 9/11. He's been sort of one of the consistent few names, although most Americans has never heard of him. He sort of served as a chief of staff to bin Laden.

And the fact he's Egyptian is probably the most interesting thing right now, because, once again, al Qaeda is also a global organization. They have to make sure that their global franchise, so to speak, is going to support the new leadership. Bin Laden was from Saudi Arabia in the Arabian Peninsula.

And so someone coming from Egypt is sort of like a trial balloon. And what we believe now is they're putting up al-Adel's name in anticipation of the more permanent name of Zawahiri, who is also Egyptian. So, this is a little bit of al Qaeda saying, look, we're still around. Here is our temporary leadership.

I believe that some of this timing may be targeted to the president's speech tomorrow...

BALDWIN: On the Middle East.

KAYYEM: ... which is going to address the changes in the Arab world, yes.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.

And you mention how Saif al-Adel is likely sort of -- I keep reading the word interim, a temporary placeholder until al Qaeda settles on a long-term replacement for bin Laden.

KAYYEM: Right.

BALDWIN: And here, going back to your word democratic, Juliette, how do they go about doing that? What's the process? Is there a vote? Is there black smoke?

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: I mean, I'm kidding, but, at the same time, like, what are the logistics involved in that process?

(CROSSTALK)

KAYYEM: Well, what we believe -- so, first of all, let's put what we know in perspective. This is mostly -- mostly, this is coming out of sort of reliable Arab press. The U.S. has not confirmed this now. So, what we believe has happened is, there's a tight-knit group of al Qaeda members right now on the Afghan-Pakistan border, probably about eight of them, that have just simply picked one of their own for interim.

In the meanwhile, they're trying to get allegiance from al Qaeda, mostly in Yemen and the Peninsula, but also in Northern Africa, to support essentially al-Zawahiri for the permanent lead.

BALDWIN: Right.

KAYYEM: And that support is shown essentially through a blessing or an allegiance that those organizations would show to Zawahiri.

Most of us -- you will remember that members of al Qaeda showed direct allegiance to bin Laden. That allegiance now has to shift to a new person. And, basically they're doing good old-fashioned vote- counting right now, it seems like.

BALDWIN: Vote-counting. And it's sort of a symbolic manifestation, a blessing, as you said.

Interesting. Interesting.

KAYYEM: Right.

And I think what's important is that that probably means that number two is going to come from Saudi Arabia. And that may be a name that we don't even know of yet, that they're going to just sort of satisfy the geographic boundaries here.

BALDWIN: Showing us, once again, as you said, that they're global.

Juliette Kayyem, thanks you, as always, for coming on.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And a woman loses 120 pounds, but she says Southwest Airlines told her she was too fat to fly. Kenlie Tiggeman is livid. And the airline is responding. You're going to see this video and she's going to tell me her story live. That is coming up. Don't miss that.

Plus, new fallout in the Arnold Schwarzenegger scandal. One of his children actually making a big statement on Twitter after it's revealed Schwarzenegger fathered a child with another woman. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Tough new sanctions on Syria coming from the White House this afternoon, but these aren't just the general sanctions against the country. They single out President Bashar al-Assad and six other senior officials. This is an attempt to stem the regime's fierce crackdown on all those protesters, a crackdown that's seen hundreds killed since mid- March.

Want to go straight to the White House, our correspondent Brianna Keilar there joining me live.

And, Brianna, why is the president specifically going after President Assad and these other officials?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, it's certainly a stepping up not just of the rhetoric, but really in a very really way stepping up drawing a link between the responsibility that President Assad shares for the crackdown that we have been seeing against peaceful protesters in Syria and the deaths there since mid- March.

We have seen more general measures before. This is different because it is specific, as you mentioned. It targets the president, as well as six top officials. And it freezes their assets in the U.S. and also makes it illegal for Americans to do business with these -- with these men in Syria.

BALDWIN: You mentioned, you know, ramping up the rhetoric, and there's certainly been criticism that the president, President Obama, has not dealt with Syria aggressively enough. Also, the timing has to be significant here, because it's tomorrow that the president is delivering a major, major speech specifically on the Arab spring.

KEILAR: Yes. And this is -- this should also be seen, Brooke, as sort of a ramp-up and to give some momentum going into his speech tomorrow.

There have been a lot of questions about Syria. This administration has heard a lot of questions and criticism about whether they have dealt with Syria aggressively enough. And, so, this is to sort of move into that tomorrow, to deal with Syria specifically, but we will also be hearing more generally about this administration's Middle East policy, because some of the criticism that we have heard has been, what is this White House's Middle East policy?

Some have said that, across the board, when it comes to the nations in the Middle East and in North Africa, the Obama administration hasn't really dealt quickly enough, hasn't dealt aggressively enough, and hasn't really sent a clear message.

Now, this White House will tell you they're trying to allow things to progress organically. But some have wondered if it's created a bit of a vacuum and if this could have been a missed opportunity. And we're going to be hearing from President Obama. He will be talking about how this is a moment of opportunity. We will be hearing that a lot tomorrow.

BALDWIN: We will listen for him and his message regarding the Middle East. Brianna Keilar for me at the White House -- Brianna, thank you.

And now to this one, a lot of people still talking about this today, Arnold Schwarzenegger's bombshell admission that he fathered a child with a woman on his household staff, blew up his longtime marriage to Maria Shriver.

But the entire Schwarzenegger family is dealing with the fallout today.

Thelma Gutierrez live in Los Angeles.

And, Thelma, has Arnold Schwarzenegger, has he said anything more today regarding the story?

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, beyond the written statements that Schwarzenegger released, the former governor has kept a very low profile.

Now, last night, a source close to Schwarzenegger told us that he is contrite and realizes he made a terrible mistake. He also acknowledged that he has a lot of work to do to repair his relationship with his family.

Now, we're also told that Schwarzenegger is doing everything he can to take the spotlight off of his wife and children. And those around him are under a very clear directive, Brooke, not to talk about his relationship with Maria Shriver or his children.

BALDWIN: You mentioned his children. I know I have interviewed Katherine Schwarzenegger, lovely. A lot of these kids are on Twitter, on Facebook, and they are still, despite -- despite maybe what some folks are telling them, they are expressing themselves via social media.

GUTIERREZ: Well, you know, we have heard from two of the children via Twitter, 17-year-old Patrick Schwarzenegger, who also goes by the name Shriver. He posted a tweet saying: "Some days you feel like 'expletive.' Some days, you just want to quit and be normal for a bit. Yet, I love my family. 'Til death do us part."

Now, his sister, Katherine, who is 21, followed up with her own tweet, saying: "This is definitely not easy, but I appreciate your love and support as I begin to heal and move forward in life. I will always love my family."

Now, we know that Schwarzenegger is in touch with his family, Brooke. A source close to him told us that he talked to his children the night before he publicly admitted that he fathered a child. We're told that he apologized to his kids and he also talked to Maria, and that he wants to make sure his family has everything they need to get through this, even space.

According to the source, Schwarzenegger said that he would do whatever they wanted him to do to allow them that time and space to heal.

BALDWIN: What do we know, Thelma, about Schwarzenegger's -- the own former governor's future looking ahead?

GUTIERREZ: Well, if we are talking about his political future, Brooke, some analysts say that the damage may be irreversible, especially among California voters.

But in terms of his movie career, we know that he did sign three deals, three movie deals. A source close to Schwarzenegger told us that he's going to be putting two of the big projects on hold to focus on his family, but that he will move forward on a smaller film called "Cry Macho," which is a drama that will begin filming this summer in Los Angeles, again, to be near his family and to -- quote -- "focus on them."

BALDWIN: Focusing on the family.

Thelma Gutierrez, thank you very much.

And now to the scandal involving one of the most powerful financial guys in the world. Listen to this. Three weeks ago, Dominique Strauss-Kahn told a newspaper that he imagined a woman would falsely accuse him of rape. That is ahead.

Plus, thousands saw Oprah's star-studded celebration last night in Chicago. And guess what? I was actually one of them. Still pinching myself that I was even inside the United Center. I'm going to give you the inside scoop of Oprah's final episodes, including which celebrities showed up and my favorite moments. That is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: A couple of stories unfolding right now.

First, a disaster in slow motion. The Mississippi River already at record levels, you know that. And it's expected to crest in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in the next 24 hours. Flooding in both Mississippi and Louisiana has forced thousands of people out of their homes. But even after the river crests, the Army Corps of Engineers says don't look for the water to go away any time soon, flooded areas likely to stay that way for several weeks.

And we have just now gotten word here out of New York that the accuser of Dominique Strauss-Kahn is or was to testify today to a grand jury in New York City. Strauss-Kahn, head of IMF and a prospective candidate for president of France, is being held under suicide watch at Rikers Island, at the jail there. He's accused of sexual assault.

And Air Force One aborts a landing attempt with President Obama on board. This whole thing happened at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, today -- the maneuver, they say, fairly routine. It happens when a pilot who is in the process of landing decides to abort the attempt, in this case because of poor weather and visibility.

Air Force One circled the runway, did finally land safely, President Obama never in any danger. He was headed to Connecticut to deliver today's commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy.

And let's talk about what's trending today. And, first, I tell you what. I'm still sitting here. I can't believe I was there last night in Chicago. Got back here early this morning. Got to witness television history.

It was a dream come true for me, my wonderful executive producer, Angie Massie, who came along with me, my other producer, Elizabeth Hayden (ph). We went to Chicago. We went to the penultimate, really, shows for Oprah this year and to Harpo Studios.

But you probably want to know -- you don't care what I saw, right? You want to know what everyone saw inside the United Center, the celebrities. And I will tell you what. This thing was star- studded.

The shorter list would be of the top celebrities who weren't there, but a couple of the biggest names, amazing to think they were all under the same roof. You had Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Beyonce, Katie Holmes, Jerry Seinfeld, Jamie Foxx, Simon Cowell, Halle Berry, Queen Latifah, Rosie O'Donnell -- take a breath -- Diane Sawyer, Patti LaBelle, Josh Groban, Tyler Perry, Usher, Michael Jordan. I mean, folks, the list could go on.

There's Aretha. She really brought down the house at the very end singing "Amazing Grace." Even the biggest celebrities in the world have been inspired by the queen of daytime talk, like Madonna. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMIE FOXX, ACTOR: I'm sure she was a little uncomfortable sometimes seeing all of this love, but I think it's necessary, 25 years, a bittersweet end, but it was fantastic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is the one that kind of, in many times, gave me a shot to talk to the world. So, when I first came out, I was on her show. I was able. She believed in me enough to put her -- on her show. And now here we are, 10 years later, and she still believes in me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: And given everything that was going on, Maria Shriver, looking gorgeous, by the way, in that blue sequined number, she came out. Oprah never really quite let her go. They were out there on stage with Gayle.

And she was out there to show her love. They go back decades, back to local news in Baltimore. Keep in mind, this was all a surprise. So Oprah was up there on stage. She had no idea who was going to be the next celebrity to show up next.

Also, the show will air, the one we saw -- there were two different shows. They were taped, so two parts. That's May 23, May 24. But the real question on everyone's mind will be, who will Oprah's final guest be? Will she even have a final guest?

I'll tell you what. We had our reporter hats on Chicago. We were asking. They wouldn't tell us.

Oh, here are some of our pictures that we took. This was right outside of the studio, which, by the way, you cannot take a camera inside the Harpo Studio. So, that's the best I could do for you.

And I think we had a couple more. Got a couple more? Here we go. Here's the crowd. So, that's me and then that's Elizabeth Hayden (ph), who line-produces at 3:00, and Angie Massie, my fabulous E.P. And that was inside United Center. Take a look. That was before the whole thing started.

It was amazing. So, thank you very much, ladies, for going with me to Chicago.

Now to this: Congresswoman Gabby Giffords expected to have surgery soon to replace part of her skull. Our own Elizabeth Cohen actually spoke exclusively to her neurosurgeon about how risky the operation is and what may happen just days after it's done. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: You can call it another milestone in Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' recovery. She is expected to have surgery soon to replace part of her skull that was removed after she was shot back in January.

Now, the piece of her skull was taken out simply to allow for swelling, which is common after this kind of brain injury.

In an exclusive interview, senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen actually spoke with Giffords' neurosurgeon about the next steps.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head she defied death. Not only did she live through this traumatic injury, she can walk -- that's her at the top of the stairs -- and talk, and even traveled in an airplane to watch her husband, Mark Kelly, take off in the shuttle Endeavour.

And now, more than four months after the shooting, another huge milestone, an effort to make Gabby Giffords whole again. After the shooting, doctors in Arizona cut a hole in her skull like this one to give her brain space to swell. Now the swelling is gone and her skull can be repaired.

In a CNN exclusive, I sat down with Giffords' neurosurgeon, Dr. Dong Kim, who will be performing the surgery at the University of Texas.

(on camera): Is this a big step in someone's recovery? DR. DONG KIM, GIFFORDS' NEUROSURGEON: Yes, it is a big step.

COHEN (voice-over): Dr. Kim will implant a piece of synthetic bone made especially for Giffords.

KIM: It will just fit in, and then it fits in perfect, as you can see. Then we take these little plates and screws. We went to put in generally one here, there and there.

COHEN (on camera): So this is holding the implant and the real skull together?

KIM: That's right. It really is a significant step. And more than just getting the bone back, it's a marker for where we are.

COHEN (voice-over): Dr. Kim told me patients like Giffords often need another procedure. This one, to get rid of a buildup of fluid in the brain. He inserts a tube to drain excess fluid from the brain to the abdominal cavity. Patients wear this internal drain called the shunt forever.

(on camera): So people walk around with this tubing all their life?

KIM: Yes. Very small. It's elastic tubing. It can last for the rest of their life. And at some point, patients can almost forget that they have it.

COHEN (voice-over): For Gabby Giffords, it's the end of one stage and the beginning of the next, trying to get back to the life she once knew.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: I tell you what, Elizabeth Cohen. Just watching that -- and I'm still marveling at neurosurgery, how they're able to go in, do that, perfectly fit that piece.

COHEN: Isn't that amazing? Yes, it's a custom-made piece. They send a CAT scan to the company that makes these implants, these prosthetics, and they make it exactly to fit the hole for that patient.

BALDWIN: That's amazing.

Do we know when her surgery will be?

COHEN: You know what? We don't. There were reports in some newspapers that it was today. We really don't know. We do know that they want to -- they want her to have this surgery in the near future.

BALDWIN: OK. So explain to me. You have the helmet.

COHEN: Yes.

BALDWIN: Because we have been talking about that it is a softer -- obviously, a softer part of her skull right now, or part of her head missing a piece of skull.

COHEN: Right.

BALDWIN: So what does she have to wear?

COHEN: Well, Dr. Kim explained to me that, when patients have this hole, once they get out of bed and they are walking around or doing physical therapy, they have to wear this, because, God forbid, if they should fall or if something should hit them, they need to be protected because they don't have the skull on one side of their head, basically, so they wear this. You can see that it's lightweight and it's pretty --

BALDWIN: It's soft, it's soft.

COHEN: Right, it's not like a bike helmet.

BALDWIN: No.

COHEN: And he said the wonderful -- it's this wonderful moment after the surgery, when they get that piece back in, that they don't have to wear this anymore.

BALDWIN: This is no longer.

COHEN: Don't need it. And psychologically he said it's a huge boost. And people -- you walk around looking normal again.

BALDWIN: That's amazing. Bottom line she's doing OK?

COHEN: Bottom line, her doctors tell me, she is doing very well and that they - you know, they hope she'll be back to have the brain that she once had but really they won't know that for several years.

BALDWIN: Obviously, it's a good sign that she was in Florida, went back to Houston, went back to Florida to see her husband take off, so we obviously --

COHEN: Right, right, two trips to Florida.

BALDWIN: We wish her well. Keep us posted on the surgery, will you?

And now, coming up --

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've just come in from another flight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I just wanted to say I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We heard all about her medical condition.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to tell me your story on camera?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, I'm very, very sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For what, sorry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm very, very sorry for the manner in which I addressed the --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Why is that airline employee apologizing? Next, you'll hear from the plus-sized passenger behind the camera asking for that mea culpa.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: This week, "CNN In Debt" is focusing on America's job hunt and it's tough to imagine anyone being able to write their own job ticket these days, especially all your recent college grads in places where workers can play games, enjoy flex time, I don't know, telecommute. Has to be a thing of the past, right? Not so in Silicon Valley. Dan Simon explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Feross Aboukhadijeh is used to standing out because of his unusual name, but what really sets this Stanford student apart are the innovative Web sites he's built, like this one called YouTube Instant.

FEROSS ABOUKHADIJEH, STUDENT, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: So, you start typing a few letters and then I predict what you're looking for and then, I just play a video that I think you'll like.

SIMON: The YouTube CEO offered him a job before they'd even met. Other companies are already knocking on his door, and he's only a junior. Choosing a suitor when the time comes will be difficult.

ABOUKHADIJEH: All the companies in this area are trying to compete to be the coolest place to work. Some examples are, you know, like Google and Facebook, they have laundry services where they just say, well, laundry is something that will take you an hour to do every week, so we'll do it for you.

SIMON: Companies are offering perks like free round the clock food because the competition for talent is fierce.

(on-camera): Stanford students considered among the best in the country generally don't have problems finding employment, but this year's crop of computer scientists have it especially good. Silicon Valley is in the midst of a hiring boom with software engineers in high demand.

(voice-over): Keith Rabois is chief operating officer for a start up called Square, a company that turns smart phones into credit card swipers.

KEITH RABOIS, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, SQUARE: It's more competitive in Silicon Valley today recruiting talented people, talented engineers, talented designers than college football where coaches are recruiting high school athletes.

SIMON: So, that means the fine details are important. Another start up called Color likes to show off its basement.

(on-camera): In keeping with Silicon Valley tradition, it's a loose atmosphere, a ping-pong table, a comfy place to sit down. And here they've kicked it up a notch because in this room, you actually have tents and sleeping bags for all those restless engineers burning the midnight oil.

ABOUKHADIJEH: Because that's what it's all about, it's about working hard and playing hard so that's what everyone is trying to do.

SIMON: For Ross, seen here with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, intern for the social networking site last year. He feels blessed to be entering a job market where his skills are coveted. Translation, he could write his own ticket.

ABOUKHADIJEH: If you have an idea for a company, you can get funding for it. If you are -- if you're looking for an internship, there's tons of companies hiring. You can get an interview anywhere and this -- you know, you have a really good shot at getting a job.

SIMON: And the starting salary, $80 to $100,000 a year, that's what it means to have the skills in a hot Silicon Valley job market.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Ping-pong tables and tents, Dan Simon (INAUDIBLE.) Dan, thank you.

And now, it has just about been a week since Newt Gingrich has announced he's running for president but some analysts are saying he's blown his chances. Republicans are bashing him, even a guy with glitter, none too friendly with Newt Gingrich and his wife. So, where does Gingrich go from here? Gloria Borger wrote a fascinating column today, CNN.com/opinion, she's going to go in there live to talk about it, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: I want to pick up where we left off just a moment ago, some American companies are rolling out the red carpet and wooing job candidates with some pretty nice perks.

Dan Simon is live in San Francisco. Dan, we just saw your piece. You know, you had me with the ping-pong table in the basement but you lost me with the tents in the corner for, as you said, the engineers burning the midnight oil. But in terms of driving this kind of job growth inside Silicon Valley, what is it that's driving it?

SIMON: Well, first of all, Brooke, what we're seeing out here, it is really another modern-day gold rush. We haven't seen this kind of hiring since the internet bubble back in the 1990s. But in terms of what's driving all this is really three areas, a social media course led by Facebook and Twitter, anything that has to do with mobile, and also the latest industry term, cloud computing. Those are the three things in terms of what is driving all of this hiring. But these are really for highly skilled positions.

If you look at the open positions in Silicon Valley, there are about 130,000 open jobs and 40 percent of them are for software engineers. So, that's why if you're a computer scientist graduating from a top university, you know, you can really have the pick of the litter with all these great jobs that are available.

BALDWIN: So, Dan, then quickly, hour much -- how much pay are we talking here salary-wise? Pretty decent pay?

SIMON: It's, you know, pretty good pay, $80 to $100,000 for a first job. So, that is great pay for somebody coming out of college. And the benefits that these companies are offering are just incredible because the competition for, you know, the best of the best is so great.

So, in terms of the perks, you know, free food around the clock, free laundry, some companies have in-house doctors, if you're sick, you can just go down the hall. Free gym memberships, some offer housing subsidies, so again, if you're one of these highly skilled people coming out with a high GPA from a top university, you can really just kind of write your own ticket.

BALDWIN: Yes, what was our salary when you and I were working around at college and TV, huh? Dan Simon in San Francisco, thank you.

SIMON: Yes.

BALDWIN: And my goodness, the trials of Newt Gingrich. A week ago, he announces for president and the whole thing now going south. Now, here's the part -- here's a joke, sort of, a guy at an event in Minneapolis dumps glitter -- watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not the --

BALDWIN (voice-over): And there the glitter goes flying on Gingrich and his wife there, it makes a statement about gay rights.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: But now, I want you to listen to this, yet another Republican taking issue with Gingrich for criticizing Republican Paul Ryan's plans which essentially do away with Medicare as we know it. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newt Gingrich, what you just did to Paul Ryan was unforgivable. NEWT GINGRICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I didn't do anything to Paul Ryan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you did. You undercut him in his - in allies (ph) in the house. You're an embarrassment to the Republican party.

GINGRICH: Well, I'm sorry you feel that way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don't you get out before you make a bigger fool of yourself.

GINGRICH: I'm sorry you feel that way.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Oh, Gloria Borger, senior -

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Ouch.

BALDWIN: Ouch, indeed. Senior political analyst. You know, you write about this in your column, you said a candidate throws gasoline on a fire and walks right into it. Let's talk about -- let's talk about some of this reaction from some of these Republicans we just heard from. You know, you wouldn't think it was Paul Ryan that Gingrich criticized, you'd think it was, you know, the pope.

BORGER: Well, but here's the thing, in many ways Paul Ryan carries the holy grail for the Republican party and that's what's so interesting about Newt Gingrich. Because I'm not quite sure whether he had his pulse on the Republican party when he called it a right- wing social engineering, the Ryan budget. I mean, this -- you know, this really attacks the Republican party almost every house Republican walked out on a political limb, voted for that budget which has turned out not to be real popular back home.

And then what does Newt Gingrich do to them? He runs them over with a bus, and so he's not very popular right now among Republicans, particularly ones in Washington who actually voted for that plan. So, you can imagine how they feel about having him as their presidential nominee.

BALDWIN: Well, let's talk about reaction here, and you have the house majority leader, Eric Cantor. Here's something he said, quote, "... many have said he is now finished." From conservative columnist, Charles Krauthammer, he's done.

One more for you, we actually had him on the show last week when he announced, former PR guy, Rich Galen, sooner or later I suspect unfortunately the campaign will collapse from the top because people are going to say I love him and he's really smart but he can't be president. So Gloria, reaction, it's swift, it's unsparing. Does it seem like --

BORGER: Right. BALDWIN: Let me ask you this. Does it seem like from some of these people we're hearing from now, that, hey, they didn't even want him in the running in the first place?

BORGER: Yes, I think there are a lot of people who believe -- and they credit Newt Gingrich. Don't forget, this is a man who engineered the retaking of the house for Republicans after 40 years of Democratic rule in 1994.

So, this is somebody who gets a lot of credit, former house speaker. But they also think that his time has passed, that he can't recreate that, and that he wasn't in touch with the Republican constituency, as I was saying, and how it feels about the Ryan budget plan. He apologized but I think this is a -- this is a very difficult thing for him right now, because he's got to win a Republican primary.

And what's interesting to me is that when Newt Gingrich seemed to be criticizing the Ryan plan, it seemed to me as if he was already talking as if he were in a general election rather than having to win a Republican primary, and he seemed to be forgetting that. So, he doesn't have a lot of friends right now in the Republican establishment nor does he have friends right now in the Republican establishment, nor does he have friends in the Tea Party who are furious about it.

BALDWIN: Well, you write in your column, you say, you know, sort of looking ahead, who will no doubt continue to inflame, even his friends say he can't help it. So Gloria, is he -- is he done?

BORGER: Well, is he done? You know, you've got me. I'm not a -- I'm not a voter in a -- in any primary. I'm not, you know, an official in the Republican party, so it's hard for me to tell you. You saw what Charles Krauthammer said and all the rest. You know, they're the King makers in the Republican -- in the Republican party. I don't know, you know, I think Newt Gingrich is going to have a very tough time now, because we live in a 24, 7 cycle, and these things tend to build on themselves.

Look, Joe Biden had a tough start to his campaign, remember last time around? He called Barack Obama plain and articulate, remember that? On like day one of his campaign, that didn't work so well. Newt Gingrich has a problem because he speaks an inflammatory language, it's not friendly language. He usually uses that kind of language against the Democrats, this time he used it against his own party and that's a problem.

So, I can't say -- you know, I can't say what's going to happen to him, but I do think he's going to have to re-evaluate how he behaves and how he runs his campaign.

BALDWIN: Gloria Borger, as always, I like to tell everyone, you can read Gloria's column, GoCNN.com/opinion. Miss Borger, thank you very much.

BORGER: Thank you. BALDWIN: And another Republican apparently thinking about throwing his hat into the presidential ring. It's a name we haven't heard yet in 2012 talks. Wolf Blitzer has that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Before we get you to Wolf Blitzer in Washington, you are looking at live pictures, there is the president of the United States getting out of the limo and heading on to Air Force One. Remember, he was in Connecticut today giving the commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy.

Remember, we will be seeing the president giving a very, very significant speech, specifically on the Arab spring, the Arab revolution, and many people will be looking to the message from the White House tomorrow. That is from the president there.

Now to Washington where the president is headed now. Wolf Blitzer is joining me now with the latest news hot off the "CNN Political Ticker." And Wolf, I understand someone you had on your show just recently here, New York Congressman Peter King keeping his, what? Political options open, might we see him running for higher office?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Brooke, we might. I just taped an interview with him where we were talking about his role as the chairman of the house homeland security committee and why he's holding hearings next week on the Bin Laden killing, lessons learned and all of that.

But later, I asked him about an intriguing report out there in Long Island where he's from, he's a Republican from New York, that he's not closing the door to running for president of the United States for the Republican nomination. I want you and our viewers, Brooke, listen to this exchange that Congressman Peter King and I just had.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: I saw this AP story that you're not necessarily ruling out a run for the White House, what's going on here?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: What that's about is I'm a product of and National Academy (ph) Republican organization, it's probably the most powerful organization in the country, and last night at their annual dinner, which I wasn't even at, I was actually at dinner with Mayor Bloomberg, the county chairman, Joe Mondello, who's the former national committeeman, he said that he would support me as favorite son for president.

It's an honor to be considered, if they want to pursue it, it's fine with me. Joe Mondello may be looking to increase his bargaining position at the national convention. Well, you know, whatever happens, happens. I'm focused on re-election, but I'm not going to call Joe Mondello off either. BLITZER: So, that's actually suggesting to me that you're to the possibility of running for the Republican presidential nomination, but being open is one thing, but you got to get to Iowa, you got to get to New Hampshire, you got to get South Carolina.

KING: Yes, I know.

BLITZER: Are you thinking about all of that?

KING: No. Right now I have no plans to go to Iowa or New Hampshire. I just know it's the most powerful organization in the country, they want to pursue it and see what happens. I don't expect it to lead anywhere, but I'll leave that up to them and I'm going to pursue re-election.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: So, it sort of suggests to me, Brooke, that he could be a favorite son sort of candidate if the Republican party, and not only in Nassau County, out in Long Island, but New York state wants to put his name forward. It's intriguing to him, obviously, he's not ruling it out. He's by no means saying that he's not interested. In fact, he's suggesting, well, maybe there is a possibility, and let's see what happens over the next few weeks. What it does also say to me, Brooke, is that this race for the Republican nomination is wide right now.

BALDWIN: They need a name.

BLITZER: So many of these candidates deciding not to run in the next few days, you know, Mike Huckabee, Haley Barbour, Donald Trump, Sarah Palin looks like she's not going to run. Some of the Republican leaders, they're begging Mitch Daniels, the governor of Iowa, to run. And others are begging Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, Rick Perry, the governor of Texas.

Some are going to Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida. So, they don't like -- they don't necessarily like the current feel that's out there, and so someone like Peter King, if one of his Republican leaders in Long Island says, you know, why not Peter King? You know, he didn't just dismiss it as ridiculous. He said -- you heard what he said, so it's just --

BALDWIN: He's honored to be considered.

BLITZER: I think it speaks a lot about what's happening in this Republican race for the White House right now.

BALDWIN: Yes, a lot of conversation is out there. Look, if you're Republican, who do you vote for? So, maybe some names will be emerging. Wolf Blitzer, thank you for that. We'll look for more of your interview a little later.

And now to this. This is a story we've been working on here. She says southwest airlines told her she is too big to fly. Now, one woman, she is taking on the airline and, guess what? Southwest is responding, you're going to see her video, she is going to join me live, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: When is someone too fat to fly? Those words are exactly what my next guest, Kenlie Tiggeman and her mother say they heard recently. They were denied boarding by Southwest airlines for a flight, just recently over Easter weekend.

Now, the exchange with a Southwest employee lasted some 45 minutes, happened in full view of other passengers, according to Tiggeman, and so she blogged about it and said that they were singled out. Asked about buying an extra ticket even though the employee admitted that he didn't know what the weight restrictions for Southwest technically were.

Kenlie Tiggeman, she used to weigh 400 pounds, she has lost 120 pounds and says she had no problem on the flight out there. So, the airline says it's official policy is to require passengers to buy a second seat if they cannot fit between the armrest, which are some 17 inches across.

Southwest Airlines has offered a formal apology, also some travel vouchers, and if this all kind of sounds familiar to you, it's because it should. This is the same airline that asked film director Kevin Smith to get off a flight for being overweight himself, even though he was already seated and buckled in.

So, Kenlie Tiggeman, good to have you on. Read your whole blog here last week. And I want to get to something that you wrote, sort of off the top, you said you have never experienced this kind of public disrespect, humiliation, and blatant discrimination ever before. Kenlie, how does this - how did this whole exchange begin? Take me back.

KENLIE TIGGEMAN, PASSENGER, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: Well, first I have to correct you, I have definitely experienced it as someone who weighed 400 pounds. I'm still over weight. I still experience it, but never on an airline and never to this degree. It was -- but I want to say right away, I'm not here to assert that I have the right to encroach on someone else's seat. I'm simply saying that the airline needs to accommodate its passengers and one-third of Americans are overweight. So, you know, it's time to talk about it.

BALDWIN: Yes, and I'm just reading what you wrote on your blog here. But take me back, what specifically happened? Why were they irked with you? What were they saying?

TIGGEMAN: Well, I had been on a flight from Denver to New Orleans via Dallas. And I had to run to catch that flight because there was about five minutes until boarding time. So, I did that and it was fine. I got -- my mother and I both received our boarding passes and there was a public thing going on with another passenger who then said, why aren't you -- you know, why aren't you discussing this with those women as well?

So, she pulled us into their conversation at which point they demanded that we buy an extra ticket to fly. We did get to board but that wasn't until I took my camera out and started -- you know, I used my iPhone to document what was happening and the tune changed quickly. We were allowed to board but not after -- it was 45 minutes of silliness.

BALDWIN: Back and forth. Let me bring up your iPhone, let's play that. Kenlie, let's plan that clip because when - you did sort of -- kind of sort of got an apology from the -- go ahead, set it up.

TIGGEMAN: Yes, yes, we were, at this point, getting ready to board, they had offered us $200 vouchers because we suggested that they had broken a lot of privacy laws.