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Rick Perry Set to Announce Presidential Candidacy; Volatility to Continue on Wall Street?

Aired August 12, 2011 - 18:00   ET



Happening now: The Republican race for the White House is heating up. The Texas governor, Rick Perry, is poised to announce his candidacy. We are going to get a preview. We will look at what he brings to this contest.

Also, Sarah Palin stealing part of the candidates' spotlight in Iowa or is she? She talks about that, offers advice to the White House hopefuls and more. We're going to hear what she is saying. Stand by.

And a key part of health care reform here in the United States ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court. What will it mean for President Obama's signature issue?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Breaking news, political headlines all straight ahead. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

She certainly is a formidable force in the Republican race for the White House and she is not even a candidate, at least not yet. Sarah Palin stealing some of the spotlight wherever she goes these days and on this day she happens to be in Iowa, along with the declared Republican candidates.

CNN's Don Lemon is also there. He got an opportunity to ask her some questions today.

Don, how did that go?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I got an opportunity to ask her a lot of questions. Wolf, she talked about the performance of the candidates last night in the debate. She talked about why she believes the U.S. credit rating was downgraded. And she also talked about not declaring and whether or not she is stealing the spotlight.


LEMON: Governor, if you had any advice for the candidates, anybody who was on the stage last night, what would you say to them?

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Oh, man, exactly what Bret Baier told the folks. Drop -- thank you so much. Drop the talking points and speak from the heart.

LEMON: You got the media crowded around. Do you think you are stealing the spotlight in a way and not in the race?

PALIN: I don't think I'm stealing any spotlight. In fact, if anybody thinks I'm stealing the spotlight, go, go find the other folks and say hello.

LEMON: So, a lot of people are saying that the Tea Party is responsible for the downgrade in our credit.

PALIN: If it weren't for the Tea Party, the discussion would never have gone where it went. So I appreciate the Tea Party's passion for getting our federal government to realize it needs to live within their means.

No, the last group or entity to be blamed for the downgrade should be the Tea Party. I think the question should be asked, is the president responsible for the downgrade? And I would say yes, because from the top, that -- leadership starts from the top, the leadership of our country.

LEMON: Why haven't you decided? Why haven't you declared?

PALIN: I think there's -- that I'm not the only one who has not decided yet and not ready to announce one way or the other yet, because there's still a -- there's still a lot of contemplation that needs to go into such a earth-shattering, life-changing decision for a family.

LEMON: Can I talk to you about women? A lot of people are pitting you and Michele Bachmann against each other. You think that is fair?

PALIN: Yes, that's so passe to put -- just because there may happen to be two women in the race, that they would, as Michele had put it once, get in the mud and engage in some catfighting. That's ridiculous. It's kind of even a sexist notion to consider that the two women would be kind of duking it out. No. If I'm going to duke it out, I'm going to duke it out with a guy.

LEMON: But are you at all concerned about her popularity or been envious or been jealous?

PALIN: Not at all. I'm glad Michele Bachmann is in the arena. I'm glad that she has had opportunity now to be on stage debating some good ideas. Proud of anybody, male or female, willing to put it all on the line and get out and fight for what's right in this country. Michele is one of those.

LEMON: Do you agree with the submission part?

PALIN: With her answer, that it's -- that's her opinion is that -- to her submission to her husband means respecting her husband. And I respect my husband, too.

LEMON: If Todd said don't run, would you not run?

PALIN: I can't imagine my husband ever telling me what to do politically. He never has told me what to do when it comes to a political step.

And I appreciate that in you, Todd. I respect you for that, Todd.

LEMON: Would you ask her not to run if you felt that...


LEMON: And you can see she is shaking her husband's hand there at the end. She answered all the questions.

And I think it's fitting that we end it by talking about Michele Bachmann and her husband, Marcus Bachmann, there, because just a few minutes ago, Wolf, something very disturbing happened.

Michele Bachmann was supposed to show up at 5:00 and speak for about 20 minutes, as all the candidates have done. She showed up at about 5:30 and spoke for about three minutes. And then on the way out, we have some of the video, reporters started asking her questions. And I asked her very respectful questions about her performance last night, where does she think she's going to end up on the straw poll.

Two of her staff members, two blonde women that you see there in the video, the one in the white and one in the black dress, started elbowing me and pushing me through the crowd and her husband, Marcus, did the same thing. He even pushed me, elbowed me into a golf cart, where I hit my head and caused people to start spilling stuff.

One of our political reporters, Shannon Travis, has been covering her campaign and says he has never seen anything like this. Clearly this was an embarrassing display on their part. I don't know why all of this happened. But it was embarrassing and unfitting -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, it was so nice of Sarah Palin to stay there and answer all of your questions.

LEMON: Every question. Every question.

BLITZER: Did she know who? Did she know who you were, Don?

LEMON: She did. Sarah Palin, she stopped and she answered the questions. And I said, thank you for answering the questions.

She said, Don, thank you for saying that.

I said, you didn't shy away. You didn't try to avoid any of the questions.

And there were hordes of media around her, but she seemed to focus on me. She wanted to answer my questions. And I asked her. I said, I'm not giving you -- this is not a got you question, Governor. I just want to know, how are the kids? She talked about her kids. I said, are you ready to be a grandmother again? And she goes, yes, it's great. She smile and she and Todd talked about that.

And she said, I would tell all the people to do what you do, no talking points. She even mentioned that. You said that at the beginning of the interview, no talking points. Talk from your heart. That's what people want to hear.

But on the complete opposite side, the Bachmann camp did not do that. I don't know what happened. We got swept up in that storm of media, people clamoring and pushed. And I was very surprised when her two campaign aides and especially her husband, Marcus, would push people in the crowd and elbow, especially me, into a golf cart. I don't know what happened. I don't know why they would even choose to do something like that.


BLITZER: Yes. They obviously didn't know who you were, Don, because you are one of the nicest guys around. If they would have known, they would have never done that.

Are you OK? Any injuries or anything?

LEMON: I'm good. I hit my head, but I have got a hard head. And I think that you will agree with that, Wolf. So, I'm fine.


BLITZER: I know your mother. I want to make sure that you are OK.


LEMON: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Don Lemon is going to be covering all of this stuff tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday in Iowa. We will stay in close touch with him.

The straw poll was to take center stage tomorrow in the Republican presidential race for the White House. But a potential game-changer will divert a lot of eyes to South Carolina. That's where the Texas governor, Rick Perry, will announce he is running for the Republican ticket as well.

CNN's Jim Acosta is in Charleston, South Carolina, for us.

Jim, this is going to shake things up, Rick Perry jumping into this contest.


Rick Perry arrives here in South Carolina tomorrow as a major threat to the GOP field. He is more conservative than Mitt Romney and arguably more electable than some of the other GOP contenders. That may explain why the Obama reelection campaign has taken notice.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Washington is broken.

ACOSTA (voice-over): A Tea Party governor straight out of the Wild West, Rick Perry sounded like he was running against President Obama when he was seeking reelection in Texas last year.

PERRY: That's why I rejected federal dollars with strings attached and will fight misguided health and energy policies that will raise taxes on our families.

ACOSTA: Now poised to shake up the race for 2012, Perry could unite Tea Partiers with big business Republicans and Christian conservatives for a showdown with the White House.


ACOSTA: He is not in Iowa for this weekend's straw poll, but he is on the minds of Republicans.

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm very pleased that he's coming in because he represents the status quo.

ACOSTA: Instead, the governor is sharpening his message against front-runner Mitt Romney.

PERRY: Well, I think if you just want to look at the track record of when Mitt was the governor of Massachusetts vs. my years of being the governor in Texas, and I will let those stand on -- mine doesn't need any propping up. We will just let it stand here and let people examine it.

ACOSTA: And while Romney is still holding back...

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a fine man and a fine governor. And the record of Texas I think speaks for itself.

ACOSTA: ... President Obama's reelection team is ready to join the fight. Asked about Perry's recent attacks on the president's economic record, a top strategist blasted back.

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, he's also called for secession from the United States of America and all kinds of other things. We will see when he becomes a candidate what specifically he has to propose, what he has to say. His record will get scrutinized.

ACOSTA: A reference to Perry's comments after a Tea Party rally two years ago.

PERRY: We have got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it, but if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what might -- might come out of that. ACOSTA: Before life in politics made him the state's longest serving governor, Perry grew up poor in the tiny West Texas town of Paint Creek. No stoplight, just a school and a church, it's a half a world away from Washington. At the nearest cafe to Paint Creek, the feelings on a Perry bid are as strong as the coffee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our country has pretty much forgot about Christian ethics. And I believe he's a good Christian man and I think he's going to bring that back into our country like it needs to be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He came from Paint Creek, Texas. He graduated in Paint Creek. He didn't help Paint Creek. So, what can he do for the nation?


ACOSTA: In his speech tomorrow, Wolf, Rick Perry is expected to timeout his record on the economy. But Democrats in the Lone Star State like to point out that that record has not been tested on the national stage and that process begins right now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta working this part of the story for us, big story this, political story, this weekend, thank you.

Our CNN political contributor Bill Bennett by the way has been traveling with Governor Perry. He will join us later this hour for his own insight into the campaign that is about to begin formally. Stand by for that.

Meanwhile, the heart of President Obama's health care reform law unconstitutional. That's the ruling by a federal appeals court today which says the mandate requiring individuals here in the United States to buy health insurance exceeds Congress' authority.

CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is on the phone for us.

Jeff, you are an authority on this. What does this mean, this decision today?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it means sooner rather than later, the United States Supreme Court will have its most important case since Bush v. Gore. They will have to settle what is now a very wide range of opinions in the lower courts about whether this law is unconstitutional. And it is most likely that decision will come out next June in the heart of the presidential campaign.

BLITZER: Yes. And we know there are four sort of liberal justices on the Supreme Court, four conservatives judges, Justice Anthony Kennedy sort of the swing vote in the middle. Do you have any sense of how this current makeup, this current Supreme Court would consider the health care reform law and these -- individual mandate, that controversial element of it?

TOOBIN: I think the four Democrats, Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan, are certain votes to uphold it. I think Justice Thomas is a certain vote to overturn it. The question is, can the liberal, can the Democrats get one more vote? I think if I had to bet today, they could probably get Anthony Kennedy, perhaps even the chief justice, but this is by no means certain and I think this will be, as I said, an extremely high-stakes argument. And the outcome -- we can all make predictions, but the outcome is very uncertain.

And this is of course the centerpiece of Barack Obama's legacy as president of the United States. And it's really going to be before the justices next year.

BLITZER: Yes. We will be watching and waiting and it will come at a critical moment, as you correctly point out.

Jeffrey, thank you.

Meanwhile, another wild week, very wild week on Wall Street, ending on a high note today, the Dow up 126 points. But what can we expect next week? CNN's Ali Velshi and Richard Quest, they are both standing by.

And dogged by persistent high unemployment, what should President Obama be doing? I will ask our senior political analyst, David Gergen.

And blurring the lines between biology and electronics, get this, how a new kind of tattoo can monitor your heart.


BLITZER: Investors here in the United States, indeed around the world are reeling after a wild week on Wall Street that saw stocks lurching from dramatic highs to breathtaking lows in a series of roller-coaster sessions.

So what can we learn from this week and what can we expect next week? Let's get some insight from our experts.

CNN's Richard Quest, he's joining us from London. And our chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi, he is in New York.

Richard, first to you. A truly amazing week. I don't remember anything like this, at least in a long time.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, but what does it mean? Was this just an aberration or was it the canary in the mine syndrome, where what we saw during the week is actually telling us that the air in the markets is bad and there is something wrong with the economy?

Just look at the way the Dow traded throughout the course of the week. A sharp fall as a result of the U.S. downgrade. Then we have a massive rise because of the Fed keeping interest rates low until 2013. Then once again, another roller coaster down because of France and rumors about that. Throughout the course of the week, the markets seemingly never wanted to stop bouncing around and the rumors just kept on flying.

Societe Generale, was this French bank in trouble? Was it going to need help? Ben Bernanke at the Fed saying that the U.S. is growing considerably slower. Jean-Claude Trichet at the European Central Bank saying that there were exceptional market circumstances.

Put all of these factors together and you have got to ask yourself, is it a blip or was the canary starting to tell us that the air is bad?

BLITZER: Well, what's the answer, Ali, to that question?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Once again, Richard is a little off on this thing, because a canary actually tells you when there is a problem in the mine.

The appropriate analogy here would be a squirrel running around your garden. If you have seen any of those, you realize they just run around for no particular obvious reason. This was just jitters. There is a lack of clarity and in the absence of clarity, investors were saying I don't want to be caught holding the bag. So I'm selling out.

And the next day they would say oh, my gosh. Those stocks went down too much so I'm back in. This is market schizophrenia. A canary would actually be telling you something is very wrong. I don't think the gas is in the air for a canary to be smelling right now.

QUEST: Don't agree. And I don't agree because of the reasons underlying what we saw.

Yes, the volatility was there, but the volatility was symptomatic of what's happening underneath. Remember, that considerably slower growth and that interest rates for 2013, come on, Ali, you don't get the Fed...


VELSHI: I will give you evidence. All right.

So, Wolf, the United States gets downgraded. We covered this. You, Richard and me covered this all together. The United States gets downgraded. Guess what. It costs the U.S. less money to borrow than it did before the downgrade. Number two, that sell-off because of that French rumor of getting downgraded, Societe Generale, just a rumor and never ended up being any truth to the whole thing.

Number three, U.S. unemployment came in stronger in July than we thought it did. And then we got the weekly unemployment claims that were lower. Where is this double dip recession? Where is this world collapsing? The European debt thing is not new. The bottom line is, it's not new.

The investor overreaction is very new. There is just a lot of skittishness out there. For the smart investor, you find the buys and you hold tight and you stay diversified. Because on days when stocks have been going down, gold has been going up and bonds have been going up when currencies have been going down. This is exactly the time to be in and be mixed and be diversified and hold tight.


QUEST: Hang on. Hang on.

You have thrown everything into that except the kitchen sink. And I suspect that is not far off. Ali, you had the ECB buying Italian bonds and Spanish bonds to try and rescue that. You have got central bankers admitting that things are slower.

I'm not saying it's a crisis. I'm not saying the double dip recession. What I am saying is that there is an underlying weakness that this market canary is starting to say might have some validity.


VELSHI: Your market canary obviously can't see, because they would have read the U.S. Federal Reserve's announcement that they are going to keep interest rates close to where they are now.

QUEST: Exactly. Exactly.

VELSHI: Zero to a quarter percent until 2013. Teach the bird to read, not just smell, and maybe we would have a more stable market.

QUEST: Oh. And why do you think they are keeping it until 2013? They are not doing it out of some great love of cheap money. They are doing it because, as Bernanke says, the economy is considerably weaker. He described the housing market as distressed and depressing and he talked about the problems of unemployment.

BLITZER: All right, very quickly...


QUEST: And your refusal to...

BLITZER: Very quickly, first to Ali, next week, can we expect more of this crazy volatility?

VELSHI: Oh, yes. I think you will see this for a little while, because obviously if Richard and I can't agree on this, people a whole lot smarter than we are can't agree on it as well. You're going to see buying opportunities and you will see people trying to get out of the market. You're going to see this contest. Not only will you see volatility day to day. You will see the kind of intraday volatility we have seen.

BLITZER: All right.

Richard, very quickly, more of the same?

QUEST: Absolutely because what's happening is those people who have got profits will have seen what has happened and when the market recovers they could well head to door to lock those profits in.

We know volatility. I think Ali and I can both agree, lord help us, on one thing. Volatility is the name of the game.


BLITZER: We are getting ready for more of that roller coaster with both of you guys.

Thanks very much for joining us, Richard Quest, Ali Velshi.

Verizon claims it has been sabotaged and the FBI is now investigating. We're going to bring you the latest into that probe.

And we now know who is on that so-called super committee, but are committee members using their elite status as a fund-raising tool?

Stick around. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: An embarrassing invitation for a United States congressman just appointed to the new super committee on debt. He talks about it to CNN.

Also, what will Rick Perry bring to the Republican race for the White House? CNN political contributor Bill Bennett has been traveling with the Texas governor. He's standing by live to join us with some insight.

And people who never thought they would get a tattoo are now sporting them. And guess what? They could help save their lives.


BLITZER: Here in the United States, some unwelcome attention for one of the newest members of that congressional super committee that will look for some bipartisan ways to cut the U.S. debt.

CNN's Joe Johns has the details.

So, we are talking about one of the -- one of the Democratic Congressmen, Xavier Becerra. What's going on here?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. The congressional super committee just sounds like it could be a super fund-raising tool for the benefit of members who are on it. And believe it or not, the first sign of that came within hours after the last three people were appointed to serve on the super committee.

Yesterday afternoon, one of the top guys at the investment company institute which represents the mutual fund industry fired off an invitation. The invitation was to a fund-raiser with Democratic Congressman Xavier Becerra of California who had just been appointed to the super committee. The invitation was just making sure people knew about a $1,500-ticket event they had scheduled at ICI at the end of the month in Washington. And pointing out Becerra's new committee assignment.

So is this just politics as usual? Well, you be the judge. Becerra's office immediately went public with an explanation. He said he had no idea the supporter was sending out that e-mail, because Becerra didn't ask for the invitation. He didn't ask for the invitation. He didn't know about the invitation, and the event was planned months ago before Becerra was even appointed to the committee.

End of story? Here's the thing. I talked to him on the phone today and asked whether, despite the appearance that this might have created, if he was still going ahead with the fundraiser. And he said yes. Listen.


REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIFORNIA (via phone): I had nothing to do with this latest e-mail. The fundraiser itself had been planned several weeks ago before there was any -- before there was any vote on the Bill to create the super commission. Jim has since apologized for writing the -- that e-mail, and I accept his apology.

JOHNS (via phone): Is it still in the schedule? And are you going to attend, given all the uproar about it?

BECERRA: I will continue to do what I have to do as a member of Congress. So yes, we're going to move forward. I don't plan to do anything differently than what I've done for the last 19 years as a member of Congress.


JOHNS: The mutual fund association, ICI, has taken full responsibility for that invitation and the way it was written. I spoke to them today. They say the fund-raiser was actually put in the schedule way back in January, long before Becerra was even named to the committee, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, there's going to be an enormous amount of lobbying that we can expect in the weeks and months ahead, especially as some of these members of influential groups in Washington are going to try to influence them, one way or another.

Joe, thanks for that report. Joe Johns reporting..

Meanwhile at the White House, jobs were certainly the focus as President Obama met with CEOs of some of the top U.S. companies including Xerox, American Express, Wells Fargo and more.

Let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin. She's got details for us. What are you hearing about these meetings that were held behind closed doors at the White House today, Jessica?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, the president sat down with eight CEOs at some of America's top companies. They earned more than $42 billion in profits just last quarter alone. I'm told that they talked about issues including, you know, what it's like on the ground for companies right now and what more they feel Washington can do to help them.

But in truth, Wolf, there's also a lot the administration would like the business community to do, including lobbying Congress privately and even publicly to pass some of these initiatives the president has backed, supporting job growth and some of these trade policies. You know, this White House and the nation's business leaders have not always had the smoothest relationship, Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, Jessica, the president is going to begin a bus trip next week. I wonder -- he's going to go through several states. Sarah Palin is already criticizing this as campaigning instead of really trying to create jobs. The White House is fighting back, I assume?

YELLIN: Yes. Of course. The president next week will be in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, in rural towns. And I'll point out that the Democrats lost the rural vote in 2010. In the 2010 elections, rural voters helped give Republicans a win in the House of Representatives.

Now no doubt, these are voters the president would want to win back for his reelection next year. But the White House, as you say, and the administration and the president's advisers emphatic that this is in no way political on this tour next week. The president will be emphasizing initiatives that he has backed and will continue to push as president to support rural communes on the economic front and agriculture and in technologies. And we'll hear an awful lot more of that starting on Monday, Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly will. We'll be covering it every step of the way. Jessica, thanks very much.


BLITZER: Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with our senior political analyst, David Gergen. David, how much trouble politically is the president in right now?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He's very vulnerable and increasingly so that, if they were facing a strong candidate on the Republican side, we'd all be saying he could even be the underdog. But the best thing he has going for him right now, Wolf, is the Republican field.

BLITZER: When you say the -- he doesn't have any major challenges, potentially? Because Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, seems to be the front-runner, although he could face a stiff challenge from the current governor of Texas, Rick Perry.

GERGEN: Well, that's right. I think there is a widespread sense in the country that we'll need to see more of Mitt Romney if he becomes the nominee to make that final judgment. I will say I think he's running a much better campaign than he did last time. He's a much more effective candidate.

But even so, the political odds makers, when they look at a Romney, say, you know, Obama can beat a Romney, if you just sort of put them head to head. We'll have to wait and see. But I have to tell you what I think is most worrisome is that we have a wounded president and a weak opposition.

And in terms of governing and leading the country over the next four years, that is not exactly the most hopeful way to go into the next four years, but it could get better.

BLITZER: In this highly charged political environment in Washington, indeed around the country right now, how does the president get out of this jam as far as jobs, jobs, jobs are concerned?

GERGEN: Well, Wolf, the president is doing what presidents normally do in August when facing an election. He's out hitting the campaign (UNINTELLIGIBLE), making the case for his policies, pointing fingers at the other side, blaming the other side.

But the problem is, these aren't normal times. Whether -- when they look beyond the volatility in the markets this last week, there is -- Americans are going through a great deal of distress. And what the Federal Reserve told us is we're going to have a very weak economy for the next two years. Not much job creation, weak growth.

Under those circumstances, I'm among those who believe that it will be good for the president to do something not normal, to try to have a circuit breaker here. I disagree with him about leaving the Congress on vacation. I wouldn't call the whole Congress back. I would call the congressional leaders back and say, "Look, you've got a set of proposals that are not going to go anywhere, because I'm going to veto them. I've got a set of jobs proposals that you won't approve. Why don't we cut a deal? You to give me some of what I want, we give you some of what you want, but at least let's get moving on the jobs front.

Let's get some things that give people more confidence, more faith or optimism, give consumers reason to be more optimistic, to give employers, very importantly, a reason to hire more people.

BLITZER: And what about the optics of the president this coming week, going to Martha's Vineyard for his own vacation? Congress is in recess, what, for five weeks but coming back September 7. But the president is going to be heading for a week's vacation on his own. He can do a lot of work at Martha's Vineyard. He can meet with his staff, be on the phone and all of that. But how does it look in an economic -- in an economically -- turmoil, period of turmoil, if you will, for the president to go on vacation?

GERGEN: Well, Wolf, I think most Americans feel that their president and his family ought to have a chance to get away. And I can't nick him for that. I respect his need to get away, and -- and, you know, it helps to recharge your batteries. We've seen this with recent presidents. They all come back better for it.

The optics question really revolves around Martha's Vineyard. And it is a place of great affluence. And you know, there are Americans who will look at that and say, "Well, why can he go off into this -- you know, these elites? And I -- and I'm here stuck at home. I can't pay for the gas to get to the shore or whatever I want to do." You know, that is a tricky one, and I think he's got to be mindful of that.

But you know, I would like to see him call the Congress back, get this thing settled on jobs, and then take his well-deserved and well- earned vacation.

BLITZER: David Gergen. It worked for four American presidents. Appreciate it very much. Thank you for joining us.


BLITZER: President Obama, meanwhile, welcomed the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers to the White House today. Inviting a champion sports teams to the White House is certainly a long-standing tradition, but the president who roots for the Packers' rival, the Chicago Bears, said this time it stung a bit.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm just going to couple out and say it. This hurts a little bit. It doesn't hurt as much as the NFC championship game hurt, but it still hurts. You know, you guys come to my house to rub it in. What are you going to do, go to Ditka's house next?


BLITZER: Along with congratulating the team for their Super Bowl victory, the president also recognized the Packers' off-the-field community service efforts. Congratulations once again to the Packers.

Rick Perry's announcement tomorrow could be a game changer for Republicans. So what does the Texas governor bring to the table that front-runner Mitt Romney doesn't? And how a love for baseball is helping some Japanese teams recover from that devastating tsunami.


BLITZER: A shake-up looming over the Republican presidential race with the Texas governor, Rick Perry, expected to formally announce his candidacy tomorrow. Let's get some insight from CNN political contributor Bill Bennett, the host of the national radio talk show "Morning in America."

Bill, you've been traveling a little bit with Rick Perry. What are his strengths as far as you can tell? What are his weaknesses?

BILL BENNETT, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the strength is he brings a record of strong, good, executive leadership. That might be worth trying. He's been the governor of Texas for a long time. The Texas record is pretty exemplary, compared to a lot of other states.

He also, I think, is energizing a lot of people. I was with him today in Alabama. Just an anecdote. You know, it's not overwhelming data, but it's interesting. They had scheduled a dinner, Wolf, for the Alabama Republican party for 400 people. And now they've got 1,600 coming out for Rick Perry. So there is a kind of excitement among the base that's very good to see. I just heard Dave Gergen talking to you about, you know, people not getting excited about the field, but there are a lot of people excited about Rick Perry.

BLITZER: Does he bring some weaknesses? I know he's a Texas governor and there are a lot of Americans who don't want to see another Texas governor in the White House. But does he bring any special weaknesses that you've seen?

BENNETT: Not that -- no, not that I see. And I mean, I think it would be irrational to say we've had a Texas governor so we can't have one again. I mean, what would they do in the state of Ohio, which as you know, has the record for presidents?

You evaluate the man on the merits and on his own -- and on his own record. And the record, interestingly, it seems to me, and I should say I'm not part of the Perry campaign. I've endorsed him. I haven't been asked to endorse him. But the record, interestingly, is on the very thing which Americans care about the most right now. And that's the economy. It's about jobs, and it's about what's happened in the state of Texas and whether that could happen nationwide. That was the appeal that I heard Rick Perry making today.

BLITZER: You've already heard a lot of the pundits saying, you know, it's going to shape up to be Rick Perry versus Mitt Romney for the nomination. Do you believe that?

BENNETT: Well, it could be. I mean, there are obviously other talented people, but you know, this is -- you've got Mitt Romney, an incandescently bright guy. And you've got Rick Perry, who's an extremely bright and able politician and who has done a great job as governor.

It has been interesting that the governors continue to have such prominence. You know, they have real jobs; they have real things to do. And when they accomplish them, this burnishes their credentials for national office.

BLITZER: Because there's a suggestion already -- I've heard it at least since yesterday, some people saying, just as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had a long, drawn-out battle for the Democratic nomination four years ago, we could see a similar situation unfold between these two. One was a former governor and a current governor.

BENNETT: Well, you could. You could. And that could happen. And you know, you're very experienced in politics, Wolf. That can have two effects. One, a lot of resources can be chewed up. Meanwhile, Barack Obama has got a billion-dollar campaign, maybe, or will raise a billion dollars.

At the same time, you know, it's -- it can sharpen you to be in these debates and make you a much better candidate for the general election.

So look, I think what we want is good and able candidates to sharpen each other, to put the best person forward. And I think we're going to see that. But there's a lot of excitement about Perry. And we'll know a lot in the next -- in the next two or days.

BLITZER: We certainly will. He'll be in South Carolina, then New Hampshire, then Iowa. He's got a busy weekend in three random states, I should say.

BENNETT: Random, yes.

BLITZER: South Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire.


BLITZER: All right, Bill, thanks very much for joining us. Bill Bennett.

BENNETT: You're very welcome, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.

BENNETT: Thank you.

BLITZER: A different kind of tattoo. This one can monitor your heart, your brain activity and a whole lot more. We have details of an amazing medical advance. You're going to want to see this.


BLITZER: A tattoo that could change the face of medicine. Our Mary Snow is in New York with more on how these electronic devices can track patients. What's going on here, Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is really amazing, Wolf. You know, it can sound like the stuff of science fiction. Researchers have come up with a device that they see as blurring the line between biology and electronics. It also has the potential of being used far beyond medicine.


SNOW (voice-over): When you think of tattoos, medical advances are probably not the first thing that come to mind. But consider this small electronic tattoo of sorts. A study in the journal "Science" says this tiny device can fundamentally change the way patients are monitored.

University of Illinois Professor John Rogers is the study's co- author.

(on camera) How do you see this device being used immediately?

PROFESSOR JOHN ROGERS, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS: In terms of near- term applications, it would be in clinical use, in hospitals for monitoring health wellness, physiological status.

SNOW (voice-over): The beating of the heart, brain activity and muscle contraction, say researchers, could be monitored by this thin, electronic skin that can last about two weeks, replacing uncomfortable, sometimes irritating devices.

But research has found other possibilities in taking the body signals and transferring them to machines. One of them, computer games.

ROGERS: And what we've demonstrated in this paper is the ability to take one of these devices, laminate it on the throat area and use it to record muscle contractions as the wearer is speaking different words. And it turns out that there's sufficient information content in that kind of measurement to allow software algorithm s to interpret it in the form of a limited vocabulary of words that can them be used to control a computer game.

SNOW: Roger says it could be used, perhaps, to help people with larynx disorders to communicate.

But along with the amazement, says one bioethicist, there is also a downside.

ARTHUR CAPLAN, CENTER FOR BIOETHICS, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Remember, what somebody can put on you voluntarily to say, "Let's monitor your heartbeat or let's monitor so chemicals within your body," they can put on you by force. In other words, your boss or the military or some organization can say, "You have to wear this. We want to know whether you're taking your pills. We want to know whether you get stressed out."


SNOW: This kind of device raises questions about potential ways it may be used beyond medicine in the future. The study's researchers say they are focused on practical uses.

And Wolf, down the road, they see it as being used as sort of a smart bandage, for instance, that could one day help heal wounds.

BLITZER: Amazing, as you say. Amazing technology. Thank you.

Meanwhile, new legal hurdles for Casey Anthony. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM. What's going on here?


A lot of interest in the Casey Anthony case. Well, a Florida judge is ordering that Casey Anthony return to the Orlando area to serve a one-year probation sentence for a check fraud conviction. The conviction came before Anthony stood trial for the murder of her daughter, Caylee.

Anthony is believed to have left the Orlando area immediately after she was acquitted on that murder charge. The judge today ordered that she report to the county probation office by August 26.

And for the first time on record, a person has died from a vampire bat bite in the United States. Federal authorities say that a 19-year-old man died of rabies after being bitten by a vampire bat last year. The man was a migrant worker and actually received the bite in Mexico before coming to the United States. But authorities are warning that the bats appear to be migrating north, possibly due to climate changes.

And astronomers say they have discovered the darkest world in the universe. The Jupiter-sized planet absorbs 99 percent of light that reaches it. That's darker than coal and significantly less reflective than black acrylic paint. This newly-discovered planet is about 750 light years from Earth, with surface temperatures believed to be about 1,800 degrees. And there it is, Wolf.

BLITZER: Pretty amazing. All right. Thank you, Lisa. Thank you very much.

Breaking down the Republican presidential debate with candidate Jon Huntsman. He'll tell John king how he thinks he did. That's coming up for our North American viewers at the top of the hour on "JOHN KING USA."

And what happens when you combine diplomacy, disaster relief, and sports? You'll find out. That's next.


BLITZER: You can call it baseball diplomacy. A group of Japanese teenagers escaping the earthquake, devastation in their country through baseball. CNN's Jill Dougherty has the story.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Itsuki Mishiama (ph) is hooked on baseball. He started playing ten years ago when he was 7. Now, that passion is helping him recover from the biggest challenge of his life. His family forced to leave their home in the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

"It helps me to play baseball," he says. "It helps me to forget everything else."

Here, on a baseball diamond in northern Virginia, Itsuki (ph) and 15 other Japanese teenagers who love baseball are taking part in the State Department's first sports exchange with Japan. All of them, boys and girls, lost loved ones, friends, pets in the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March. They've lived in shelters, temporary housing, or with relatives ever since.

The baseball fields they used to play on at home in Japan are gone, so they play on empty lots.

They visited Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The Japanese people have shown great resilience, and they are pulling together to support each other during this time. And sports is a way to bring people together.

DOUGHERTY: Public diplomacy envoy, baseball icon Cal Ripken, tells me he wants to help these kids by tapping into the magic of sports.

CAL RIPKEN, FORMER BALTIMORE ORIOLES PLAYER: It does have a powerful healing mechanism. So, you know, many times you don't know how to articulate a message of caring, but certainly through sport, we're able to communicate that message.

DOUGHERTY: Ryu Dekikuchi (ph), 14 years old, lost his father in the tsunami. "A lot of people like baseball in Japan," he says, "so I feel like, by playing the game, we can help people feel better, cheer people up, and encourage them."

Seventeen-year-old Mani Shigas (ph) is from Fukushima. She says just a snap of her arm as she throws a softball feels good, and the game gives some of these kids like Itsuki Mishiama (ph) hope for the future. This third baseman dreams of turning pro.

(on camera) I can tell. I want your autograph.


DOUGHERTY: Jill Dougherty, CNN, Fairfax, Virginia.


BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. For our international viewers, "WORLD REPORT" is next. In North America, "JOHN KING USA" starts right now.