Return to Transcripts main page


Fallen Troops Return to U.S. Soil; Devastating Loss for Navy SEALs; Iowa Straw Poll; Speculation, Anticipation On Which GOP Candidate Comes Out On Top In Iowa

Aired August 13, 2011 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It's the busiest day yet in the Republican presidential race. We're standing by for the results of the Iowa Straw Poll. It's a key early test of the GOP candidates hoping to oust President Obama.

Plus the stock market's wild mood swings. Could we expect another week of plunges and spikes in prices? We're watching the bottom line for your investment.

And it is an epic famine, but the fear is universal. CNN's Anderson Cooper takes us inside a hospital in Somalia to remind us that dying children and their parents aren't statistics they are people in pain.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin this hour with what's happening in Iowa. Right now the state that holds the lead off presidential contest is gauging early support for the Republican candidates. We're standing by for the results of the Iowa straw poll. The winner could get an important boost heading in to the 2012 primary season. CNN's Don Lemon is joining us from Ames, Iowa.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thank you very much for that, Wolf. Joining me here is CNN's Candy Crowley to talk about all of this.

Candy, I walked over, I said, are you hearing anything? What is going on? What do you know?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: They are back there tabulating, they're tabulating. They are using, actually, the same voting mechanism that they do for the Iowa Caucuses, so it is a machine. So it shouldn't be that long. I mean, it shouldn't be that hard to tabulate it.

We still don't know, actually, even how many people came, which obviously the more people came the longer it takes. But I imagine we'll hear in the next 15, 20 minutes.

LEMON: We were talking about Texas Congressman Ron Paul, Herman Cain, the businessman, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum-who by the way, said to you if he didn't place a certain way, high enough, he's is going to get out.

CROWLEY: The problem is, it isn't even so much oh, my gosh, this person placed fifth. It is that donors look at it and they don't want to give any more because you only have so much money. And people like to give to someone they think is going to win. So money starts to dry up after the straw poll.

LEMON: Thaddeus McConner (ph), we are talking about as well, Governor Mitt Romney, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Utah Governor John Huntsman, and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

CROWLEY: John Huntsman can self-fund. So he can stay in if he wanted because he's got money.

LEMON: You think so? Yeah/

CROWLEY: I think so.

LEMON: You know, usually it's me sitting in a studio tossing to you, saying what do we have? And doing this and we are out here-

CROWLEY: Now, here I am and I don't have a thing.


LEMON: It's great to see the energy out here. We had some folks joining us earlier. And there were just tons of people here. That they really bus in from all over the state. They have to show I.D. They feed them. They give them drink. They give them love. Because they want their votes. This shows really how organized the campaign is.

CROWLEY: Yes. And it shows the depth of passion. Because it can't just be, you know, people knocking on doors, hey, I'll give you a $30 ticket and you can go listen to a bunch of politicians if you'll vote for me. You gotta to wanta. These truly are the committed of the committed that come here. It is a very small fraction of the Iowa Caucus vote. Much less of the, you know, voters nationwide. But it is why these sorts of things favor a Ron Paul, or a Michelle Bachmann, the people that ignite sort of fierce loyalty and real passion.

LEMON: Can't go anywhere without seeing a Ron Paul sticker, or a shirt. I saw a guy with a tattoo on his forehead. But standby, we'll talk more about that, Candy.

Because this is big breaking political news here today on CNN. The Iowa straw poll is supposed to be the main event for Republicans this weekend. But some might say the real action happened today in South Carolina where Texas Governor Rick Perry announced he is joining the race. So we go now to Jim Acosta standing by live in Charleston, where he threw his hat in.

So, Jim, what was the reaction in the room for his announcement?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, it was a strong reaction. We talked to several Republicans after this speech who said this is the speech that conservatives have been waiting for. And, you know, Rick Perry I think took a look what was happening in Ames this week, and said I'll see your fried butter on the stick and raise you some shrimp and grits. Remember, South Carolina is just as important, as an early voting state as Iowa and New Hampshire. So he made a big impression on voters here today kicking off his campaign, announcing he's running for president here in the Palmetto State.

It was a very aggressive, fiery speech aimed at the president, basically calling the president a failure on the economy. Perry used the line it's time to get America working again. That also happens to be the title for his new web video at his new campaign Web site put out today. You can see the makings of this campaign coming together. He also brought up some topical references in his speech, referencing the recent downgrade of U.S. credit, and he laid that -- he laid all of that on President Obama's doorstep.


GOV. RICK PERRY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is for nearly three years President Obama has been downgrading American jobs, he's been downgrading our standing in the world, he has been downgrading our financial stability, he's been downgrading our confidence, and downgrading the hope for a better future for children.


LEMON: I don't have a clock out here. You need to tell me-

ACOSTA: And South Carolina Governor Nikki Hailey, who is a Tea Party favorite, herself, here in this state, she praised Rick Perry's decision to come to South Carolina and steal the thunder of the Iowa straw poll. She called at it brilliant move. And so, you know, you can say Rick Perry left this state today having impressed some people in this very important state. He's now in New Hampshire talking to Republicans up there. He's heading to Iowa where you are in your neck of the woods there tomorrow, Don. So Rick Perry is of and running.

LEMON: All right. Thank you very much. Jim Acosta.

Candy, I want to bring you back in here. Is Perry the guy Republicans have been looking for? Because the polls have been showing that people are really not so hot about the candidates who have declared already.

CROWLEY: They have been waiting for him. I don't know if it's who they have been looking for. Let me put it that way. They certainly had--people always like the politician who is just beyond reach, sort of the political version of the grass is always greener. And politicians either come in and live up to all the hype, or they can come in and crash.

LEMON: Don't you miss the studio when you don't have the wind blowing your papers and everything.


CROWLEY: I still like this.

LEMON: Just little things like that. Thank you.

We'll stick around here as soon as the results come in we'll bring home to you here on CNN. Thank you, Candy. Candy and I are going to be here. Remember, CNN will bring you live coverage of the Iowa straw poll results as soon as we get them. Be sure to join me, and Candy, right here for CNN "NEWSROOM SPECIAL REPORT on the Iowa straw poll results. That begins at the next hour at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. I think we make a pretty handsome couple, don't you?

CROWLEY: We look pretty good.

LEMON: We'll bring you those poll results live when they happen regardless of when they come in. All right. Meantime, Wolf Blitzer returns to THE SITUATION ROOM in just a moment. Don't go anywhere.



BLITZER: Investors here in the United States, indeed around the world, are reeling after a wild week on Wall Street. They saw stocks lurch 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 is joining us from London and our Chief Business Correspondent Ali Velshi, he is 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, HOST, CNN INTERNATIONAL, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": 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's something wrong with the economies?

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 market 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 these factors together and you've 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 BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Once again, Richard is a little off on this thing. Because a canary actually tells you when there's a problem in the mine. The appropriate analogy here is 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.


VELSHI: 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 then the next day they'd 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 the canary to be smelling right now.

QUEST: Don't agree. 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", that interest rates to 2013. Come on, Ali, you don't get--

VELSHI: OK, let me tell you why.


VELSHI: I'll give you evidence.

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 cost the U.S. less money to brother than it did before the downgrade. Number two, that selloff because of that French rumor of getting downgraded of Societe Generale? Just a rumor 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 weekly unemployment claims that were lower.


VELSHI: So, where is this double dip recession? Where is this world collapsing? This European debt thing is not new. Bottom line it is not new. The investor overreaction is very new. There's just a slot of skittishness out there for the average-for the smart investor, you find the buys, you hold tight and you stay diversified. Because on days when stocks have been going down, gold has been going up. Bonds have been going up when currencies are going down. This is exactly the time to be in, be mixed, be diversified, and hold tight.


QUEST: Hang on! Hang on. You have thrown everything into that except the kitchen sink. And I suspect that's 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 that double dip recession. What I am saying is 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 it would have read the U.S. Federal Reserve's announcement that they are going keep interest rates close to where they are now, zero to 0.25 percent .

QUEST: Exactly! Exactly!

VELSHI: Until 2013. Teach the bird to read, not just smell and maybe we'll 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 for cheap money. They are doing it because as Bernanke says the economy is considerably weaker. He described the housing market as depressing. And he talked about the problems of unemployment. That's why.

BLITZER: Very quickly. 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, yeah. I think you'll 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'll see buying opportunities. And you are going to be seeing people trying to get out of the market. You'll see this contest. Not only will you see volatility from day-to-day, you will see the kind of intraday volatility that we have seen.

BLITZER: Richard, very quickly, more of the same?

QUEST: Absolutely. Because what's happening is those people who have got profits will have seen what's happened. And when the market recovers they could well head to the door to lock those profits in. We know volatility. Ali can both agree, Lord help us, on one thing, volatility is the name of the game.

BLITZER: We're getting ready for more of that roller coaster with both of you guys. Thanks very much for joining us, Richard Quest, Ali Velshi.

We're also standing by for the results of the Iowa straw poll. As soon as we get those results we're going back to Ames, Iowa. You'll hear it. You'll see it first, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Meanwhile, President Obama, he's trying to rev up the economy with small initiatives. But some say a grand plan is what the country really needs right now.

Plus the death of so many U.S. Navy SEALs in Afghanistan, what impact will it have on one of the U.S. military's elite fighting forces? Stay with us, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: With wild market fluctuations, high unemployment and sluggish growth President Obama is under enormous pressure right now to help create jobs and turn around the economy. He visited Michigan this week to highlight the economy, but he also sounded very much like a candidate.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A couple of people I want to thank.

There are some in Congress right now who would rather see their opponents lose than see America win. And that has to stop. It's got to stop. We're supposed to all be on the same team, especially when we're going through tough times. We can't afford to play games. Not right now. Not when the stakes are so high for our economy.

And if you agree with me, it doesn't matter if you're a Democrat, or a Republican, or an independent, you've got to let Congress know. You've got to tell them you've had enough of the theatrics. You've had enough of the politics, stop sending out press releases, start passing some bills that we all know will help our economy right now.


That is what they need to do; they've got to hear from you.


BLITZER: Those hoping for a grand jobs plan from the president so far have been disappointed. Let's bring in our Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin. She's working the story for us.

Jessica, what is the president doing right now, immediately to try to create some jobs?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he is hitting the road. He's emphasizing a lot of his proposals that are in essence small-bore policies that the executive branch can do on its own. And ways it can prompt Congress to take action.

But what you're seeing him do on the road, Wolf, is try to shore up support for his handling of the economy. In the big scheme of things, he's resisting pressure to unveil any kind of bold new economic plan, which is what many in the business community have called on him to do.


YELLIN (voice over): After touring a hybrid battery plant, an impassioned president Obama told workers:

OBAMA: There is nothing wrong with our country. There is something wrong with our politics.


YELLIN: And he blamed Congress for the recent credit downgrade.

OBAMA: It was a self-inflicted wound.


OBAMA: That's why people are frustrated. Maybe you hear it in my voice. That is why I'm frustrated.

YELLIN: If only these batteries could rev up our stalled economy.

PROF. ROBERT KAPLAN, PROFESSOR, HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL: We're in a fragile period and it will last a while.

YELLIN: Author and Harvard Business School Professor Robert Kaplan teaches CEOs about leadership. And he says they want more economic leadership from the president.

KAPLAN: They want to see an integrated plan from the president of the United States and I think they are not sure what his plan is. They don't quite understand not putting a plan out there because you're afraid the opposition would shoot it down. They are not into the political tactics. They want to see a vision.

YELLIN: Instead the president now vows each week he'll highlight specific policies that could boost the economy. So far the administration has called for tax credits to encourage hiring and training of recent war veterans; announced a new effort to take government-backed homes facing foreclosure off the market by turning them into rental properties. And lower American's gas costs by improving fuel efficiency in cars and trucks of the future. Even some economists acknowledge there's only so much the president can do on his own.

MICHAEL ETTLINGER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: He cannot spend money without the authority of Congress. And Congress isn't giving him the authority to do the kinds of things we really need to be doing.


YELLIN: But, Wolf, that hasn't stopped some critics who are still calling on the president to do more. The latest CNN poll shows that Americans' confidence in the president's handling of the economy has fallen 10 points since January, Wolf.

BLITZER: And Jessica, the president is making it clear he has no great desire to recall Congress from its August recess?

YELLIN: That's right. And when he was in Michigan he said it's because he wants them to hear what the people are saying, which is that they are frustrated with Washington. Listen to this.


OBAMA: The last thing we need is Congress spending more time arguing in D.C. (APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: That's why I'm here. That's why I'll be traveling to a lot of communities like this one over the next week. That's what Congress should be doing. Go back home. Listen to people's frustrations with all the gridlock.


YELLIN: Now to add a little perspective, Wolf, in addition to that it's true also that there's no real advantage to having Congress here in Washington, D.C., unless the president and the leadership in Congress have a legislative plan that they can move forward on. If there's no action here, and there's just more arguing that doesn't serve the White House or the leadership very well.

BLITZER: It just undermines everyone's confidence in Washington. Jessica, thanks very much. Let's dig a little deeper right now with our Senior Political Analyst David Gergen.

David, how much trouble, politically, is the president in right now?

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

BLITZER: When you say -- he doesn't have any major challenges potentially. 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 is right. I think there is a widespread sense in the country that we will need to see more of Mitt Romney, if he becomes a nominee, to make that final judgment. I will say I think he's running a much better campaign than he did the last time. He is a much more effective candidate. But even so, the political odds maker when they look at Romney, they say Obama can beat a Romney. If you just sort of put them head to head. We will have to wait and see.

I have to tell you, what I think is most worrisome is 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: The president is doing what presidents normally do, in August, facing an election. He's out hitting the campaign hustings, making the case for his policies, pointing fingers at the other side, blaming the other side. The problem is these aren't normal times. When you look beyond the volatility of markets this past week, there is-Americans are going through a great deal of distress. And what the Federal Reserve told us is, we'll 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 would 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 to have a set of proposals that are not going to go anywhere, because I'm going to veto them. I have a set of job proposals that you won't approve. Why don't we cut a deal? You have 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, more optimism. Give consumers reason to be more optimistic. Give employers, very importantly, a reason to hire more people.

BLITZER: 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. They are coming back September 7. But the president will 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 took in an economic -- in an economically-turmoil-a 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 have a chance to get away. And I can't nick him for that. I respect his need to get away. 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. It is a place of great affluence. There are Americans who will look at that and why can he go off into this, you know, with these elites? And I'm sitting here stuck at home. I can't pay for the gas to get to the shore or whatever I want to do. That's a tricky one. He's got to be mindful of that.

But I would like to se him call Congress back, get this thing settled on jobs, and then take a well-deserved, well-earned vacation.

BLITZER: David Gergen, who worked for four American presidents. Appreciate it very much for joining us.

GERGEN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Remember, we're standing by for the results of the Iowa straw poll in Ames, Iowa. As soon as we get those results we'll head out there live. Stand by for that.

And more and more Americans are investing in gold amidst growing uncertainty on Wall Street. Just ahead why you might want to consider cashing in.

And a boy, contacting CNN to speak up for his father. One of the many U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan over the past several days. His heart-wrenching story. That's coming up next.


BLITZER: The president of the United States was on hand with remains of 30 American troops who were brought back to the United States, the victims of the helicopter shoot down in Afghanistan.

It's the greatest loss of American lives in one incident since the start of the Afghan war nearly 10 years ago. Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd. Many of the dead were from that Navy SEA unit that was involved in the killing of Bin Laden.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, part of the same unit. But we're told none of those killed were part of that actual Bin Laden raid. Still, this is already a very elite group, a very small elite group and the deaths of 17 SEALs from a very famous unit have a huge impact on the seal forces.


TODD (voice-over): A devastating loss for families, friends and teammates. The 17 SEALs killed in Afghanistan were part of a unit that's elite even among the SEALs themselves. It's officially known as the Naval Special Warfare Development group. At various times it's been called SEAL Team Six.

(on camera): How tough is it going to fill the void of these guys on SEAL Team Six?

COMMANDER RYAN ZINKE (RETIRED), FORMER MEMBER, SEAL TEAM 6: Well, it's going to be a challenge, there's no doubt. Just to be a U.S. Navy SEAL from the point you want to volunteer until you're in combat the first time is about 3-1/2 years.

TODD (voice-over): And says Ryan Zinke at least another two years of training and deployments to be on SEAL Team 6. As a member of that team, Zinke tracked down war criminals in the 1990s.

Zinke and other former SEALs tell us SEAL Team 6 members are taken from the ranks of other existing SEAL teams and that half of the men who try out for the team wash out.

These are commandos who routinely go on very precise capture or kill missions for high valued targets like Osama Bin Laden.

(on camera): How do they think on the battlefield that's different from other SEALs? What do they do that's different.

ZINKE: Well, you know, a large part is you have to identify a threat and often times done in moment's notice, in an instant. You have to determine whether or not that individual is a threat or whether he's not.

And if he is, you have to engage. These individuals can shoot exactly what they aim at. They make that judgment in an instant and they are lethal in what they do. TODD (voice-over): According to former SEALs, there are about 200 members of SEAL Team 6. That means the helicopter crash in Afghanistan took away more than 8 percent of the unit. I spoke about with military analyst Lt. Col. Anthony Schaffer about how the team in Afghanistan could be shored up?

(on camera): Will they have to shuttle guys in from elsewhere, from other SEAL units?

LT. COL. ANTHONY SCHAFFER (RETIRED), CENTER FOR ADVANCED DEFENSE STUDIES: There's one of two ways they'll do the replenishment. First off, they may have to degrade the mission in Iraq to bring people out of existing mission there and move to Afghanistan.

The problem with that, of course, is things in Iraq have not been as stable as people would like them to be. Therefore, you're degrading that mission. The more likely scenario is that they will move one of the standby units, which are training up to go in to move them in ahead of schedule.


TODD: But Schaffer and others say that carries significant risks in missions that are just as dangerous as these risks of mistakes and burn out, Wolf.

BLITZER: Beyond the SEAL Team Six, the overall SEAL units, all of them that's a relatively small number of troops involved.

TODD: That's right. We're told that there are only about 2,500 Navy SEALs complete. I mean, even when they are at full strength. This is a finite group of men who are shuttling in and out of very dangerous, stressful situations all the time. So again, the risk of burnout is there.

BLITZER: And as you well know because you were down in Virginia Beach, Virginia meeting with some of the families, a lot of heart wrenching stories about the fallen including a young boy who contacted CNN and wanted to raise the issue of his own dad.

TODD: That's right. This doesn't bring it home for you, Wolf nothing will. This is a 10-year-old boy from the Kansas City area who lost his father in that crash in Afghanistan and for days now he's been watching tributes to the Navy SEALs who died.

Of course, those are justified tribute, but Braden Nichols has told the world please don't forget about my dad. We have pictures of Braden from a few years ago when he was with his father Brian Nichols. Brian was an Army chief warrant officer. He was not a SEAL, but he was the pilot of the Chinook helicopter that was shot down.

His mother says Braden was so connected with his father that he was like a little version of his dad. Now after seeing the tributes to the SEALs, Braden's mom says the boy asked her why they were not showing his dad's picture. His mom said it was because other people had gone online and posted photos of the SEALs. So with his mother's help, Braden did that. They pulled up They went to the I-Report section and here's what Braden Nichols wrote.

My father was one of the 30 U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan with the SEALs rescue mission. My father was the pilot of the Chinook. I have seen other pictures of victims from this deadly mission and wish you would include a picture of my father. He's the farthest to the left. Sincerely Braden Nichols, 10 years old, Kansas City, Missouri.

Here's the group photo that Braden posted. His dad, of course, sitting farthest left. Wolf, it tugs at your heart.

BLITZER: That I-Report has really gone viral by now, hasn't it?

TODD: It certainly has. I mean, within hours of him posting local news stations reported on him doing this. Tens of thousands of people of Facebook reposted this message on the I-Report section of

People posted replies to him saying be strong, your dad was a hero, how much they admired him and his father. This has really kind of caught fire, this boy's personal story.

BLITZER: Our deepest, deepest condolences to the families of all of those killed.

TODD: Absolutely.

BLITZER: -- in Afghanistan. Thanks very much for that, Brian. Good report.

Starvation literally stealing hundreds of thousands of lives in Somalia, many of them babies. Our own Anderson Cooper has been there and he's got some horrifying stories to share with all of us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With 16,892 Iowans voting the winner of the 2011 Iowa straw poll is Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Thank you, everyone and have a good night.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so there you go. Just as simple as that. It came out over 16,000 votes here and it turns out Michele Bachmann is the winner of the Iowa straw poll.

I want to bring in Candy Crowley here. That was quick, all of a sudden and then on and off.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We want to know about two, three, four, five and six. Listen, let's first just to kind of parse is for her. What has been the wrap? She can bring these folks into. They come to hear her talk, but can she deliver? Well, she delivered.

LEMON: She delivered, yes. You're seeing some of the results there as we get them up. You see that Newt Gingrich 385 votes. There you go, Jon Huntsman, 69 votes. That's not a good showing, Thaddeus McCotter 35 votes.

Candy, weigh in, if any of this surprises you as we're going over this, vote total --

CROWLEY: If you have a vote total of 16,892 and somebody is getting 35 votes that's not good. Scattering got 162. As you say, we're sort of looking at this on the boards as it comes in. But, look, this is great for Michele Bachmann, who answered at least so far as Iowa caucuses go -- I'm sorry as the Iowa straw poll goes that she can deliver.

Now we should also say that the last straw poll we had Mitt Romney won and then he lost the Iowa caucuses. So he did not play this time. He was not - we'll see if it was a big factor, but he certainly was not here trying to win the straw poll as Michele Bachmann was.

LEMON: She got 16,000. Did she get over 16,000 people voted? Did she get over 16,000 votes? I would imagine -- that's what it sounded like. He's going to be on in the 7:00 hour and he's going to explain that for us.

But again what we really want to know is who won the Iowa straw poll and that would be -- there you go right there, Rick Santorum got 1,657, 1,456 for Herman Cain. That's not a bad showing for Herman Cain. What about that for Santorum, 567 for Mitt Romney.

CROWLEY: Right, if there were more than -- almost 17,000 votes cast and you as Jon Huntsman, 69 votes that's not good for business. Thaddeus McCotter from Michigan, a congressman from Michigan, much folks may not heard of him because he doesn't score enough in the polling to actually qualify for coming into debates under the network rules. So, it's unclear to me whether these are final votes or --

LEMON: Exactly what's going on.

CROWLEY: Here's what we know, Michele Bachmann won.

LEMON: According to the gentleman on the stage, we'll say that. But we have to say we're not in control. She got 4,800 votes, 4,823.

CROWLEY: There we go. Ron Paul second. Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, that's actually more than he's been doing. Herman Cain --

LEMON: Well, Tim Pawlenty said if he came in - that was Rick Santorum. Tim Pawlenty did fairly well. He came in fourth.

CROWLEY: I think so. Rick Perry who of course, only got into the race today, but 718 of the faithful came in, true believers. Mitt Romney also didn't play.

So, generally we should pay attention to the top three. I don't think it's the least bit of a surprise. It would have been a larger story, believe or not, if Michele Bachmann had not placed in the top three. That she won is a good win for her. Then we saw I think Ron Paul, who played last time, I believe came in fifth, obviously doing pretty well coming in second. That keeps him going and Tim Pawlenty third. I think the big question will be how, I think people will parse Tim Pawlenty differently.

They'll say, you know, how can you say, I placed third and Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul beat me. How does that keep you going? But it may well be enough to keep him going because third is presentable.

And on down the line Rick Santorum, I think said fifth. He placed fourth. Herman Cain, I mean, all of these folks, you have to ignore the Rick Perry and the Mitt Romney ones simply because they didn't involve themselves in the straw poll.

So it doesn't mean much. Newt Gingrich also didn't involve himself here. Jon Huntsman that's not good.

LEMON: Here's what we know. Michele Bachmann 4,823 votes. Ron Paul 4,671 not a bad showing. Tim Pawlenty 2,293. Rick Santorum 1,657. One, two, three, four, Santorum was fourth. What did he tell you yesterday, if he came in fourth or fifth?

CROWLEY: Fifth I think was his cut-off.

LEMON: Coming in after that 1,456 was Herman Cain and then Perry 718 and then we go down Romney. You shouldn't concern yourself with that because they really didn't involve themselves in the process.

Our viewers -- we're learning -- they showed up on stage and we're sitting here. There they are and as soon as we went to them that's what happened. Here's what's interesting to me, Candy. I'm told by our political producer here, 14,000 last year, this year almost 17,000. What does that say to you?

CROWLEY: Well, it says more people were interested or that we had more people able to get out to vote. I was talking to an Iowa activist the other day who said I think that you will see -- because anybody can vote in this.

You don't have to be a Republican. If you're an Iowa citizen and can vote in the upcoming caucuses, you can come in, show your I.D. and vote. So the way they were translating this was they thought it would be much better, last time it was about 14,000 as you say.

They said this translate into the fact that people are angry and want to come out early and have a voice or you have to also say it also means perhaps people did a good job.

LEMON: You took the words out of my mouth. The campaigns are organized.

CROWLEY: They get it.

LEMONS: Don't go anywhere. Candy and I have much, much more coming up here in the Iowa straw poll. We know who the winner is. We know who's first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, on down the line.

What does it all mean? We're going to break it down for you. A special coming up at 7:00. In the meantime, we're going to take a break. We're back here in just a moment from Ames, Iowa on CNN.


LEMON: Back now live Ames, Iowa. Guess what, we know the results of the straw poll right now and the winner is, there you see it on your screen, Michele Bachmann. Michele Bachmann getting 4,823 votes. You see Representative Ron Paul came in second, 4,671 votes.

Candy Crowley joins me now. We got the others. Here's the interesting thing. How many votes, 718. How many votes did Rick Perry get?

CROWLEY: He's not on this, but he got 718. He did better than Romney, Gingrich, Huntsman, Representative McCotter. He got 718 write-in votes. He just announced this morning. He is now in New Hampshire. Do we have a picture of him? He is at a backyard party in Greenland, New Hampshire right now. Rick Perry. There he is. We'll talk about why do you think he got so many votes. Let's listen real quick.

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are a great country because of the enduring ideals, because of the ingenuity in the private sector. Because of faith and family and freedom that are woven into the fabric of who we are and what we stand for. I believe in America.

I believe in her purpose and her promise. I believe her best days have not yet been lived. I believe the greatest deeds have not been recorded in the annals of history. With your help, with the grace of God, we will get America working again. God bless you. Thank you all for coming.

LEMON: So there you go, Texas Governor Rick Perry. Now we can say GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry. He officially did it. This morning he was in South Carolina and he had a little more energy in his first speech. That was a little laid back. They say if I'm ever going to run for president, patriot, patriot, America, America.

CROWLEY: Better days ahead.

LEMON: Better days, ahead, what do you make? He did well though considering he wasn't even there.

CROWLEY: He did and look, we knew he was going to run so that entices people out. People have been waiting for him to come in. There is some sign that there is dissatisfaction with those already in the race.

Everybody looks better before they actually start to run. But he also had people here that were saying, if you wanted to show up at the straw poll and write in my name. That's good for a write-in. He beat those who actually had names on the ballot. LEMON: And we played right into it maybe because this is the straw poll that everyone is supposed to be paying attention to. Yet Rick Perry really just sort of zapped the energy out of some of the candidates here.

And we've heard people, Candy, you and I have been sitting here talking to folks. A lot of people are really mad. They say he should have done it on Monday. He upstaged the people here and he upstaged Iowa.

CROWLEY: Right, but by the end of next week, it will be gone. Look, Mitt Romney did not come in and spend any great time in this straw poll. Now they have from now until early February Iowa caucuses to come here and court this state.

Should they so desire and I imagine that most of those, at least if they're in the top tier, considered in the top tier, will come here and try to make a name for themselves in Iowa. I think what you have to say about Pawlenty here, I think he will in the end, be the one that has the biggest question mark after his name.

Why? Because he said, look, I have to show some movement. In fact he did. He's been languishing at seventh, eighth, ninth in the polls and he came in third. Yes. He came in --

LEMON: You're talking about Pawlenty.

CROWLEY: Yes. He came in third. Now is that enough? A lot of people said no. Pawlenty has the best team in Iowa. He hired all these people that know this state really well. He had the money. He dumped a million dollars into trying to get folk out to this straw poll and he should do it.

He can't come out and say I came in third to Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul. On the other hand, I think you have to say, look, he did come from pretty far behind in the national polls. And he finished in the top three.

That's enough to keep him going. That may be enough for these look and say, but does Ron Paul really have a chance? You'll hear that chatter, too. He placed second.

LEMON: Here's what I want to say. Names like Michele Bachmann, new name won, Ron Paul, everybody pretty much knows who he is. Tim Pawlenty, fairly new. Rick Santorum, fairly well known name because he is the senator of Pennsylvania.

CROWLEY: But not outside Pennsylvania.

LEMON: Some of the bigger names didn't participate. Does that say anything about the significance or the importance of this poll?

CROWLEY: I think more than that, when you look back over history, this has not been definitive for who will win even the caucuses, much less the presidency. So what you have here is something that will give juice to the Bachmann campaign. That will give juice to Ron Paul's campaign. That may save Tim Pawlenty for a second or third chapter. The question is, what does it mean to the rest of them because this is when -- we're beginning to separate into chapter two. Who gets to play in chapter two?

LEMON: All right, I'm looking here on the other side of the camera, the man who made the announcement, the head of the Iowa Republican Party standing by to tell us what went on behind the scenes. There he is. He's back there and we're going to get to him in a moment. We're not going anywhere. Stay with us. Our coverage of the Iowa straw poll continues right after a break on CNN.