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"They Threw Us Out of Iraq"; Why Won't Trump Rule Out a Run?; "I Simply Do Not Know Where the Money Is"; Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Spy?; Interview with Newt Gingrich; Interview with Donald Trump

Aired December 10, 2011 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Newt Gingrich acknowledges his surging presidential campaign still could implode. This hour, my in-depth interview with the Republican presidential front-runner on his policies, his past mistakes and his battle with Mitt Romney.

Also, Donald Trump's stunning claim that the U.S. should have seized Iraq's oil fields to pay for the war. Stand by for my interview with the always outspoken billionaire who says he still might run for president.

And if you crack this code, you may be recruited as a high-tech spy.

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


BLITZER: I saw a very upbeat Newt Gingrich this week, with a series of new polls showing him way ahead in the Republican presidential race. I spent time with him behind the scenes here in Washington before we sat down for our in-depth interview. This is a man experienced big highs and big lows in his political career. And he's not ready at least publicly to presume he's got the Republican presidential nomination all wrapped up.

Listen to our conversation here in Washington.


BLITZER: Mr. Speaker, thanks very much for joining us.


BLITZER: We got some new polls, and I know you've seen those numbers and you're doing remarkably well, double-digit leads in South Carolina, in Florida, in Iowa. You're moving up even in New Hampshire.

But your critics say you, Newt Gingrich, are fully capable of imploding, if you will, making a mistake, a blunder that could turn things around. Are you worried about that?

GINGRICH: Sure. That would be a bad thing to do. I mean, is it possible? I guess. On the other hand, I've had a very long career, and I have a very public record. And I think people are coming to decide that they like substance and they like somebody who actually has balanced the budget, reformed welfare, cut taxes, gotten it done for real.

So, I think there's probably a little more resilience in my support than in some of the earlier folks who made a run at this.

BLITZER: I have been surprised, and I don't know if you have been. Some of the Republican congressmen who worked with you in the 1990s, Contract with America, the Republican revolution, and you know these guys like Joe Scarborough, for example --


BLITZER: -- or Peter King of New York, Tom Coburn. They've suggested, used words like erratic, undisciplined, a train wreck. And they know you well, these guys. Why are they saying that?

GINGRICH: Look, I think, if you are a very aggressive leader and you drive to get things done -- I mean, we drove to get welfare reform, we drove to balance the budget for four straight years. I think in a legislative body, there's sort of a go along to get along collegial attitude.

I wasn't there in a collegial job. I was there as the leader, and my job was to drive through change on a scale that Washington wasn't comfortable with.

And, you know, if you are a genuine outsider forcing change, you're going to have, at least, some bruise feelings. And I don't apologize for that. I think I've probably learned some more. I think I'll probably be more effective this time.

But you look back, you know, we switched the fiscal condition of the United States by $5 trillion in a four-year period.

BLITZER: But you worked with Bill Clinton closely on that.

GINGRICH: I was able to negotiate with the president, but --

BLITZER: You couldn't have done it without him.

GINGRICH: Oh, no. Look, if I didn't pass it, he couldn't sign it, and if he didn't sign it, it didn't matter that pass, so we had sort of balance -- this is exactly the Constitution supposed to do.

But I do think there were times when the pressure of getting things done or, you know, frankly, making a compromise to get Bill Clinton's signature.

There were some of the guys who were further to the right and said don't compromise, Wolf, then you wouldn't get welfare reform.

BLITZER: Why would Tom Coburn say something and I'm paraphrasing, you know, Newt Gingrich, when he was the leader, he had one standard for himself and another standard for others?

GINGRICH: I don't know. You would have to ask Tom Coburn.

I mean, look, I wish everybody had loved me, but I'd rather be effective representing the American people than be popular inside Washington.

BLITZER: Can you taste this Republican nomination right now?

GINGRICH: No. I think it's -- look, remember, I was way down here, and now I'm up here. So, I know you can go way back down here.

We still have a lot of work to do. With the next four weeks in Iowa, then a real rush in New Hampshire, then on to South Carolina, then on to Florida and Nevada.

I mean, all of those within about a month. So, I think if we have a little interview right after Nevada we'll have a better sense of how real it is and what's actually --

BLITZER: Is it too early to say that it's yours to lose?

GINGRICH: Yes, I will. I mean, it's either Romney or mine. We're the two --

BLITZER: What about the other candidates?

GINGRICH: We're the two frontrunners. I think, it's a fair thing to say without diminishing anybody. The both of us haven't -- you know, have different kinds of strengths, but Romney is a very formidable opponent.

BLITZER: Obama-supportive Democrats, White House officials, Obama campaign officials, they say -- they look forward to running against you. They're nervous about Mitt Romney. They think he might be more electable. Independents might go to him a little bit more than you, but you, they look forward to fighting.

What goes through your mind when you hear that?

GINGRICH: You know, it's probably a sign of my age, but I remember in 1966, Governor Pat Brown, Jerry Brown's father, was really concerned about a moderate mayor of San Francisco named George Christopher, and he really wanted to find some right-wing actor that he could beat easily.

And they were thrilled that Ronald Reagan was running. Reagan beat him by a million votes.

I am perfectly happy for the Obama people to decide they want to beat up on Romney. This is a little tough on Romney, but that's fine with me.

When I get to the general election, if I'm the nominee, after the president has those seven, three-hour debates, we'll see how they feel about it. BLITZER: I'm old enough to remember Jimmy Carter in 1980, when his aides heard that Ronald Reagan was going to be the Republican nominee. They were doing some high-fives at that time.

GINGRICH: That's exactly right.

BLITZER: So, you got to be careful what you wish for.

I want to get to some foreign policy issues, but we've got some questions from Facebook. We asked our viewers to send us some questions for you. Let me go through a few of them and get your answers.

"You've said on occasion that it is OK for politicians to change their view if new information is available. Can you recall the most important position you've changed and why you decided to make the change?"

GINGRICH: That's a really good question without getting hung up on the most important. I'll give you an example that's a little awkward nowadays. Trent Lott and I used to kid that we were the last two decisive votes for the Department of Education. In retrospect, it was a mistake. I think it is way to --

BLITZER: To create the Department of Education?

GINGRICH: Yes. We voted in 1979 to create it. I think, in retrospect, that was an error, and it hasn't worked. So, that would be an example.

BLITZER: What else?

GINGRICH: I think that the --

BLITZER: I'll give you an example. You've been criticized for the healthcare mandates. You supported them, and now, you say you oppose them.

GINGRICH: Yes, that would be a good example in the sense that when Heritage Foundation and mostly every conservative was trying to stop Hillarycare, we used the mandates as a way of blocking her, because we thought they were less damaging.

In retrospect, we were wrong, because what happens, once you go to a mandate, you have turned so much power over the government that the politicians rather than the doctors end up defining healthcare. And so, it was a mistake.

BLITZER: Let me ask you the question I asked Ron Paul at that debate I moderated in Tampa with the Tea Party Express.

You're a 30-year-old healthy young man. You know what, you're making a living. You got a good job. You could buy health insurance, but you decide not to. You'd rather go to ball games or whatever.

But then you get critically ill for whatever reason. You're in intensive care. You have no health insurance.

Who should take care of you?

GINGRICH: John Goodman probably has the best answer to that in a book called "Patient Power" where he says what we ought to do have a refundable tax credit to help people buy insurance. You don't want to boy the insurance, fine. Your share of the tax credit goes into a charity pool. Something happens to you, you're taken care of by that charity pool so that there is -- so that you are taken care of.

BLITZER: The charity pool, taxpayer money or private individuals?

GINGRICH: It's taxpayer money. It would be the tax credit that you would have used to buy the health insurance. And the result is that you may not get a private room. You may not get everything you want, but you are taken care of.

And I think it's important to look at that and to try to figure out, are there practical ways we can help people who don't insure themselves without automatically making them eligible for everything everybody else gets who's paying the price, you know, writing the check every month and --

BLITZER: But you know, you're a 30-year-old. You know, you know what -- they're going to take care of me. I could be in intensive care for a year. It could cost a million dollars. They'll take care of me.

What's the incentive to go ahead and buy the insurance?

GINGRICH: But the fact is we do that.

BLITZER: What I'm asking, is that appropriate, because you're supportive at one point mandate?

GINGRICH: No, I don't think it's appropriate. And I think that it is, frankly, cheating all of your friends and neighbors. But I also think that the price of getting to a mandate is too great in the constitutional liberty to do it.

BLITZER: So, the state -- and a state mandate was wrong and a federal government is wrong?


GINGRICH: Because it politicizes the system.

BLITZER: Mitt Romney stands by his decision in Massachusetts.

GINGRICH: Yes. And I think he was wrong. The difference in Mitt and I is that I think I was wrong and I changed. I think down deep, he thinks he's wrong, but he's being stubborn.


BLITZER: Complete analysis of my interview Newt Gingrich. That's coming up. Also, what he needs to do to stay at the front of the pack.

Plus, a rare inside glimpse of U.S. combat on the frontlines in Afghanistan. Also coming up, dramatic new video as U.S. Marines battle the Taliban.

And a stunning reversal of fortune for a former political and financial power house. Why Jon Corzine says he is coolest about what happened to millions and millions of missing dollars.



BLITZER: Newt Gingrich now has double digit leads in several key early voting states. Let's talk about that and more with our CNN chief political correspondent, the host of "STATE OF THE UNION," Candy Crowley, and our senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein.

Guy, thanks very much for coming in.

It's an amazing come back if you will from nowhere last summer. We all basically run amok. I think it's fair to say.

In our latest CNN/"TIME"/ORC poll -- if you take a look at the numbers, Iowa, Gingrich had 33. Romney, 20. Ron Paul, 17.

New Hampshire, look at this. Romney still ahead, 35. But gingrich is moving up. He's got 26 percent in New Hampshire. That's pretty good.

Go to South Carolina. Gingrich way ahead there, 43 percent to 20 percent over Romney. Everybody else in single digits in South Carolina.

I'm very impressed, Candy, Florida -- 48 percent for Newt Gingrich. Romney, 25 percent. Everybody else in the low single digits.

Newt Gingrich, who would have thought?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, without a candidate setting foot in Florida we should add. Listen, I think Florida, it's interesting. It reflects certainly the headlines. It reflects Republicans.

I think in some ways, Newt Gingrich's personality matches the mood, certainly of the Tea Party part of the Republican Party. They want someone who can just take it to the president. And he has been the one who in debates and, you know, on the stump has been out there.

I think Mitt Romney has been too cautious. He's run too careful of a campaign and allowed others to fall. Mitt's probably not going to fall. He may be, you know, true to form and do something to implode himself.

But Mitt Romney, if he wants this thing, has got to get out there and get it. BLITZER: The establishment Republicans, Ron, you know this, Candy knows it, all of us who know a lot of these Washington-based establishment Republicans -- they want Mitt Romney.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And they're concerned about Gingrich as a nominee because his history is that he's been a volatile, political figure and often his moments of greatest triumph is right when he falls deepest into the ditch.

But having said that, if you look at these polls, what's really striking is the consistency across the states with the exception of New Hampshire, even when you look down at the subgroups. It's a reminder of how much this race is being shaped by national factors rather than local factors. And the dynamic really inverts what we saw earlier in the fall.

Through the fall, Romney had a very favorable correlation of forces. The center was coalescing around him. And the right was dividing among several candidates, Perry, Bachmann, McCain and Gingrich. Now, the reverse is happening. In these polls, Tea Party activists, evangelical Christians are uniting around Gingrich to a greater extent than we saw around any candidate.

And meanwhile, it's the center now divided because Gingrich is proving competitive with Romney there as well.

BLITZER: Mitt Romney surrogates are beginning to go after Newt Gingrich; Mitt Romney himself not so much. Although this ad came out. I'll play a little clip of it. It implied -- I use that word directly, it implied some criticism of Newt Gingrich.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm married with the same woman in 25 -- excuse me, I'll get in trouble -- for 42 years. I've been in the same church my entire life. I worked at one company, Bain, for 25 years. And I left that to go off and help save the Olympic Games.

If I'm president of the United States, I will be true to my family, to my faith, and to our country. And I will never apologize for the United States of America.

I'm Mitt Romney and approve this message.


BLITZER: I'm sure he did.

All right, 42 years. On the other hand, Newt Gingrich has been married three times.

CROWLEY: Yes, we get it.

BLITZER: I belong to the same church my entire life.

CROWLEY: I am steady. I am sure. I am reliable. I am not mercurial. I don't have three wives.

I mean, you know, we get the subtext. And clearly -- and then they're putting and Romney's wife is out there talking about the Mitt Romney she knows. So, they're doing what they need to do. As I say, he has been too buttoned up in this campaign just waiting for everyone else to fall away.

BROWNSTEIN: So, on the one hand, clearly, one of Gingrich's greatest vulnerabilities is the sense that he has not steady and reliable. Certainly in his (AUDIO BREAK) gorilla outside leader as he was the king of the heap as speaker. Only two years after he was speaker, he had a serious re-election fight, renomination fight as speaker that he barely won. And two years after that, he was out.

On the other hand, for Mitt Romney, to center his campaign on the argument that "I am a man of constancy" is pretty tough when you look at the long list of issues on which he has switched position. And in fact, the super PAC associated with him is on the air in Iowa criticizing Gingrich on three issues, immigration, climate change and individual mandate -- on an all of them, Romney at least once had the same position that they're criticizing Gingrich about.



CROWLEY: This particular ad was about temperament.


BLITZER: Is it enough? In the next three and a half weeks, is it enough? In the next three and a half weeks, does Mitt Romney personally have to go on the offensive? There are going to be a couple debates? Does he have to go on the offensive?

CROWLEY: Sure. I think he has to be aggressive. Absolutely. You can't expect that it's going to come to you.

And he needs to be out there. I mean, I don't think you're going to see wildly personal attacks if that's what you mean. But he has got to after Newt Gingrich.

BLITZER: Is it too late?

BROWNSTEIN: No, it's not too late. I think we've seen the debates with enormous impact in the race. We've seen candidates rise and fall before. All the polls show that many Republicans are still willing to make up their mind, change their mind.

But the biggest concern for Romney has to be that his number is actually quite steady. I mean, you know, it's not really going down tremendously in this Gingrich surge. But it's not going up either.

And what you're seeing is that to a greater extent than before, those voters have always been there and are dubious of Romney are now consolidating around Gingrich to a greater extent than they did around any other single candidate earlier in the process.

CROWLEY: And let's at least remember that Romney is going to have a lot of help in those debates because what we know is three tickets out of Iowa. So some of those people on that stage, this is getting to be their last time. So they can be very aggressive, too.

BLITZER: So you think Rick Perry or --

BROWNSTEIN: We know that Ron Paul does not like Newt Gingrich.

BLITZER: Ron Paul we know, yes.

BROWNSTEIN: That we know. We have a history of that.

BLITZER: We'll discuss that a little bit later, guys. Don't go too far away.

Also, a fierce U.S. counterattack on the Taliban ahead. The dramatic video we're getting captured by U.S. Marines in the line of fire.

Plus, Donald Trump, he's in THE SITUATION. What he's calling, quote, "tragic" about the U.S. troop withdrawal in Iraq.


BLITZER: Now, a remarkable "you are there" video from the battlefield in Afghanistan. It's as close as most Americans will ever get to combat. A U.S. Marine Corps cameraman turns the lens on a fierce counterattack against Taliban forces. Watch this.



U.S. MARINE: It gets out of nowhere. I'm in a sleeping bag still. So, all of a sudden you hear the flair going off and RPG and fire started going off.


U.S. MARINE: Just to the northwest of us, across the Helmand River, there is a ridge line up there. There are caves in the ridge line that they'll crawl into and they engage us from there.


U.S. MARINE: They're using ammo. By the time after a couple hours, we probably had 100 left and that was it. It got really bad real quick.


U.S. MARINE: I had 30 millimeter grenades hit inside the compound, getting close, real close. We took a casualty -- took a couple casualties. You hear about people being battle-tested. This one tested the boys. U.S. MARINE: We have to get him on the bird as fast as possible.

U.S. MARINE: One hell of a day. I mean you're thinking, yes, regular patrol. Any other day. It ain't happening that way. I mean, our people are like everyone has to be ready from now on. You never know what's going to happen from now on.

We lost one person, injuries. I mean, who knows what's going to happen next.

U.S. MARINE: Another day, man. Another day.

U.S. MARINE: Hopefully whoever sees this will know this is actually happening. At the end of the day, we're the ones out here.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: These are the men of First Battalion 6th Marine Regiment in southern Afghanistan. We checked in, Wolf, all of the Marines wounded in this firefight are recovering -- Wolf.


BLITZER: What an amazing video. All right. Barbara, thanks very much -- Barbara Starr is our Pentagon correspondent.

Coming up, Donald Trump in THE SITUATION ROOM. He unleashes some of his sharpest criticism yet of President Obama.

We'll get analysis of the interview. Candy Crowley and Ron Brownstein, they are standing by for that.


BLITZER: For better or worse, Donald Trump is certainly positioning himself as a potential kingmaker in the Republican presidential race and as a possible, possible independent third party candidate. Trump's political influence is under renewed scrutiny.

I went to Trump's office in New York City to talk about politics and foreign policy.


BLITZER: Iraq, all U.S. troops are going to be out by the end of this month. Are you happy about that?


BLITZER: More than $1 trillion.

TRUMP: $1.5 trillion to be exact. Tragic, tragic waste of lives and money, and that we left there without taking the oil is unbelievable. Iraq is second largest --

(CROSSTALK) TRUMP: Like hell it is. They have the second largest oil fields in the world, oil reserves. Second largest after Saudi Arabia.

We spent $1.5 trillion, thousands of lives and I'm not even talking about the wounded where I see them all the time. I love them. No legs, no arms, their face gets blown to pieces.

And my attitude was much different because what's going to happen, as sure as you're sitting there, Wolf, is that Iran will go and take over the oil fields and they'll take the reserves more importantly because they're backward. But they have the largest reserves after Saudi Arabia.

Now, if that happens --

BLITZER: The U.S. should have taken over those oil fields?

TRUMP: Absolutely. And you know what we should do, every soldier's family that was killed, $5 million.

BLITZER: From Iraq?

TRUMP: You know what that is? Peanuts. That is peanuts compared to the kind of numbers you're talking about.

Every soldier that was wounded, $3 million or $4 million, whether they lost their arms and their limbs and their face, $3 million or $4 million. These kids are going to be out for the rest of their lives, they're going to be paying medical bills and they don't have the money to pay 'em. They're going for the rest of their lives for operations -- $3 million dollars or $4 million or $5 million for every soldier that was badly wounded. And we have many of them walking. I see them all the time because I help them.

So we leave Iraq. And we didn't leave by the way, they threw us out. Just so you understand. I know you like the president and all that stuff, but a little less than some of the folks at MSNBC.

But we got thrown out of -- we got thrown of Iraq. We didn't leave Iraq. They said we don't want you here anymore. The council said no. They're not sure. Let me tell you, as sure as you're sitting there Iran is going to take over Iraq and they're going to take over those oil reserves.

BLITZER: So the whole thing was a waste of time? Waste of money?

TRUMP: Much worse than that. Not a waste of time. Excuse me. It wasn't a waste of time. It was a waste of lives and what about the Iraqi lives?

BLITZER: In fairness to president Obama, you remember the president who started the war.

TRUMP: I'm not -- excuse me. Have I been a supporter of Bush? The answer is no. That war should have never -- look, Saddam Hussein did not knock down the World Trade Center. And one good thing about Iraq, he killed terrorists. He was very good at killing terrorists. There were no terrorists in Iraq. Now it's Harvard. It's like going to Harvard for terrorism.

Saddam Hussein killed terrorists. He would wipe them out so fast. And right now they're using Iraq as the primary breeding ground for terrorists.

So here's the thing. If Iran is going to take over Iraq and the oil reserves, why don't we just keep the oil reserves?

BLITZER: That's your fear.

TRUMP: How stupid, look, how stupid can we be? Thousands of lives, tremendous number -- 30,000, 40,000 people horribly injured. We get nothing. What do we get? Nothing. Now we're handing it over to people that in a couple years will be our enemy.

BLITZER: It's $2 billion a week, that's what the U.S. is spending to keep 100,000 troops in Afghanistan right now at least through the end of 2014, another three years. That money -- $100 billion a year, money well spent?

TRUMP: No. It's not well spent. It is poorly spent. You have to understand, I'm a military person. I believe strongly.

BLITZER: What would you do?

TRUMP: I would get out quickly. It's just -- it's never going to be good. It's never going to be good.

BLITZER: End result in Afghanistan will be like the end result in Iraq.

TRUMP: Here's the difference. No, probably even less except there is a difference. Iraq has oil. Afghanistan basically doesn't. So --

BLITZER: They do have some natural resources.

TRUMP: By the way, you know who is taking out all those?


TRUMP: China. While we're fighting, China is taking it out. So we're fighting. And China is taking all those mineral reserves. I mean, how stupid are we? So Afghanistan is different, but we have a problem with Pakistan, but Afghanistan, get out.

We have to rebuild our country. We're rebuilding. You know, you go to Afghanistan. There is a school. It gets blown up. We rebuild it. We build a road to the school. They both get blown up.

We rebuild. In the meantime, if you want to build a school in Brooklyn or Iowa or California, you can't build them. Is there something wrong? BLITZER: Yes, I know you write about that eloquently in the book. You also write, and I've written about this as well, I don't know if you did it first or if I did it first, but a trillion -- $1 billion, that's what the U.S. spent to liberate Libya, $1 billion.

TRUMP: Much more than that, but that's OK.

BLITZER: That's the official number.

TRUMP: If they say that, it's much more.

BLITZER: The U.S. throws about $30 billion into Libyan assets. I read a blog saying, you know, the billion the U.S. spent from that frozen assets and the State Department says that is under international law.

TRUMP: It's a sovereign country.

BLITZER: To liberate their country, the U.S. got NATO involved.

TRUMP: OK, so here's the greatest. You take Libya. So Gadhafi is bombing the hell out of these people. It's over six, seven months ago. They come to the United States, which is basically NATO. They come to the United States for help. They say please help, help. We're being routed. They're being routed.

Now Obama could have said we're going to help you. We want 50 percent of your oil, 50 percent of your oil. Instead, he just helped them. Now, they throw us out and that's the end of it.

And a person who's meaner, tougher, and more vicious than Gadhafi will end up taking over Libya. It's already basically happening. Now if we ask right now and then they say the great fighters, you know, we liberated.

They didn't liberate anything. They go into a city and get routed. Now they go into a city because we're bombing the hell out of that city before they walk into the city. In some cases, they fought a little bit. But basically, we routed the city. We killed the city.

And then they walk in and say we're great freedom fighters. The fact is, they come from Iraq and fighting us. They come from Iran these people and what do we get out of? Now the $1 billion is a phony number. It's not the real number.

You know that and I know that, but still, even at $1 billion, what did we get out of it? Now if six months ago when these people who had lost because Gadhafi, believe it or not, was a lot stronger than some people thought, they lost.

It was over. Had Obama said we're going to help you, we want 50% of your oil. They would have said absolutely 100 percent OK. Why didn't he do it? You said he would never do that.


TRUMP: Is he stupid? Let me ask you, is Obama stupid?

BLITZER: It goes against --

TRUMP: Why would he never do that?

BLITZER: Because that goes against international law.

TRUMP: It doesn't go against any international law. First of all, there is no country because you're talking about these people there is a revolution. Why wouldn't Obama say we want 50 percent of your oil and we will help you?

BLITZER: Do you think Obama would ever do that?

TRUMP: Well, why wouldn't he do that? Do you think he's stupid, Wolf?

BLITZER: No, he's a very intelligent guy.

TRUMP: Really, OK, well, you tell me that, I'm not so sure.

BLITZER: He comes from a different background than you do. You're a business guy.

TRUMP: Here's the question. It takes you five seconds, we'll help you, but we want 50 percent of your oil. They will say thank you very much.

In fact, you could ask the 75 and they would sign that, too. You know what? Then we wouldn't have to feel so guilty if we took it. Now if you go back right now and say by the way, we helped you, we would like 50 percent of your oil, they would laugh in your face.


BLITZER: Donald Trump, vintage Trump, I may say, blasting President Obama's foreign policies. We're going to talk about it and a lot more. Candy Crowley and Ron Brownstein are coming back.

And more than $1 billion of his client's money missing. Now lawmakers are demanding answers from former senator, former Governor Jon Corzine.


BLITZER: Get some analysis right now, my interview with Donald Trump and more.

Joining us once again, our chief political correspondent, the host of "STATE OF THE UNION," Candy Crowley and our senior political analyt, Ron Brownstein.

You know, he's interestingly enough, Candy, he says if he doesn't like the Republican nominee after May when "Celebrity Apprentice" is over with, he may still run. CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And we can talk about it all through the "Celebrity Apprentice." Yes. I mean, sure, he may. I don't know if he will.

I do know that the history of third party candidates, no matter how well funded, has not been good in this country. You know, is he serious? I don't know.

There are still a lot of people that look back to what he was thinking about running as a Republican. We don't think any of that was serious. That it was geared for ratings not toward any love of the public life.

BLITZER: If he would have said, I'm not going to run. I'll support the Republican nominee. A lot of Republicans would have been happy, but by leaving that door slightly open, he irritates someone.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And he insures attention as Candy said. I just find myself wondering that interview if Simon Cowell has an Iraq policy.

But, look, I mean, I think there is a legitimate issue here, whether it's Trump or not, about whether Barack Obama and Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich or whoever the Republicans pick are the only major candidates in the field in 2012.

We are in a period extraordinary dissatisfaction with both parties. And the opportunities there for someone either slightly left of center or perhaps well right of center. If Mitt Romney is the choice, given the resistance he's facing among conservatives, is it completely implausible that Ron Paul might run?

Who is really raised the flag for libertarians? Even against New Gingrich who he doesn't like. So, you know, it is possible that the field will be larger than it looks today, but I'm with candy. I think Donald Trump is unlikely to be one of those people on the playing field.

BLITZER: The conservative columnist wrote a piece this weekend suggesting that if Ron Paul does run, it almost surely would guarantee President Obama's re-election, looking at the numbers. Even if Ron Paul could get five or eight, you know, percent of the vote in some of those key battlegrounds there.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, playing the role of Ross Perot.

BLITZER: He assumes 80 percent of the vote, which are from Republicans as opposed to from Democrats.

CROWLEY: Sure. I think that's absolutely right. And it is like, you know, Ross Perot redux in the sense of that's what Ross Perot did. George Bush the father and that group still hasn't forgiven Ross Perot for what they believe was losing them the election I think can you probably say.

BROWNSTEIN: There are different clusters of discontent that could be mind for a third party candidacy. I mean, Trump is that blue collar, economic nationalist. Feeling that we're kind of economically overtaken by China and they're kind of skeptical of the world.

Paul is something very different. He's probably done a better job, I think, much better job in this campaign than before, probably better than anyone at kind of elevating and articulating the libertarian point of view. He has found an audience within that Republican constituency.

So if he gets to the end of the road and says, well, either Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney is too status for me and decides to go run, there will be I think some people who will be listening more than there was in 1980 when the libertarians had a candidate --

BLITZER: Some suggested the reason he wouldn't do it is because he wouldn't -- didn't want to embarrass his son, Senator Rand Paul who's a Republican.

CROWLEY: We should say that Ron Paul has given no indication that in fact, you know, he asked repeatedly, I think we all have. He's said -- I mean, never quite says no. He says you can't say no. I'm not thinking about it. It's the furthest thing from my mind. This is what I'm doing.

BROWNSTEIN: The reality is that there are a big chunk of conservatives, particularly kind of national level who are dubious of both Romney and Gingrich for different reasons. So if one of them ends up with the nominee, you'll probably see some of that agitation with the big check on that being the reluctance to divide a vote.

BLITZER: In addition to all these Republican candidates out there, there is also a Democratic candidate who wants to get re-elected, that would be the president of the United States. He delivered a major speech in Kansas this week. And he basically laid out, I think, his agenda for re-election, I'll play a little clip.


BARACK OAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It's heartbreaking enough that there are millions of working families in this country who are now forced to take their children to food banks for a decent meal.

But the idea that those children might not have a chance to climb out of that situation and back into the middle class no matter how hard they work, that's inexcusable. It is wrong. It flies in the face of everything that we stand for.


BLITZER: You wrote a column in the national journal this week outlining the comparisons he's trying to make between himself and Teddy Roosevelt.

BROWNSTEIN: Look, he went to Kansas with Theodore Roosevelt to deliver one of the most famous speeches of the 20th Century, his new nationalism speech at a ceremony dedicating a battlefield to John Brown in 1910.

And Roosevelt basically argued that government had to take a larger role in the economy as a counter weight to the concentrating power of great wealth and corporations to provide opportunity for average Americans. That was the tradition that the president really forcefully reached for in his speech this week.

There was another element of the Roosevelt speech, which was talking about the need for national unity as a precondition of solving problems. It is striking how much more muted that was in the president's speech, especially given the way he was introduced to us in 2004 and 2008.

BLITZER: -- the United States of America.

CROWLEY: Exactly. Listen, I think in some sense this is almost always what elections are about when it's a Republican versus a Democrat. What is the appropriate size of government? What is the role of the rich?

It's why we have a progressive income tax. It's because we believe that the rich should pay a little more for the overall good. I think what's different now and why this may have more resonance because populous themes have not particularly, if you want to call it a populous theme, have not been successful in the past.

Why it may have some renaissance now I think is that we add on to it to top, but not only are there the rich people, but so many people think the rich people got there by breaking the rules. So there's this sort of, yes, they're rich, but they're also breaking the rules. I think that adds to, you know, kind of the potency of this mess.

BROWNSTEIN: Not only more in equality, less upward mobility. That combination I think produces a very volatile politics and we're seeing that in our national life over the last decade and for many years to come.

BLITZER: It will be a tough, tough campaign, the general election campaign. All right, see you on "STATE OF THE UNION" on Sunday. Ron, thanks a well.

More than a billion dollars missing. This former U.S. senator, ex- governor says he doesn't know where that money is. Details of Jon Corzine's grilling on Capitol Hill.

Plus, an online mystery, whoever tracks this code has the chance to become a spy.


BLIZTER: A very humbling return to Capitol Hill for a former Senate heavyweight, the former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine who is being forced to explain how more than a billion dollars went missing if his now bankrupt brokerage firm, MF Global.

Let's bring in Lisa Sylvester. She has been really reporting seriously on this whole collapse of the firm. What happened here?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jon Corzine, former senator, former governor of New Jersey, former head of Goldman Sachs. This is the first time he has spoken publicly about mf global.

And corzine says, MF Global had so many transactions, particularly in the final chaotic days of the company that he is not certain what happened to customer money.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you solemnly swea that the testimony you're about to give --

SYLVESTER (voice-over): A contrite former Senator Jon Corzine on Capitol Hill in a much different role. The former chief of MF Global was asked how his firm cannot account for more than a billion dollars in missing customer funds.

JON CORZINE, FORMER CEO, MF GLOBAL: I simply do not know where the money is or why the accounts have not been reconciled today.

SYLVESTER: Federal regulators and the FBI have now launched investigations. Corzine didn't take the Fifth, but he couched his responses, noting that he didn't have access to relevant documents that he says are essential to him testifying accurately.

REPRESENTATIVE JAMES LUCAS (R), OKLAHOMA: Did you authorize a transfer of customer funds from the segregated accounts?

CORZINE: I never intended to break any rules whether it dealt with the segregation rules or any of the other rules that are applicable.

SYLVESTER: Keeping customer funds separate from company accounts is a bed rock in the investment world. It appears that cardinal rule was broken. MF Global placed risky bets on the European sovereign debt market, investments that led to a spectacular collapse and bankruptcy.

In testimony, Corzine acknowledged that the company's chief risk officer warned him and the board that the firm was overexposed. Within months, the risk officer was let go. But Corzine says there were other reasons why. James Koutolas represents MF Global customers now trying to recover their money.

JAMES KOUTOULAS, COMMODITY CUSTOMER COALITION: You have a guy here who points out exactly what they're doing. He is a whistle-blower in effect. He came to the board and Corzine is like, no. You know, how dare someone question me?

SYLVESTER: Corzine offered this to those impacted.

CORZINE: I mean, this with all sincerity. I apologize both personally and on behalf of the company to our customers, our employees, and our investors.

SYLVESTER: Former MF Global customer James Mayer found little comfort. Mayer had $200,000 with the brokerage firm, only $11,000 now recovered.

JAMES MAYER, FORMER MF GLOBAL CUSTOMER: At this juncture, if we don't get any money in the next couple weeks, the only money we have left that wasn't in these trading accounts is my son's college money.


SYLVESTER: And there will be two more congressional hearings next week. The Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Financial Services Committee also intend to subpoena Corzine.

As far as getting money back to customers, the trustee hopes to get about 70 percent of the money restored to the customers in the coming weeks -- Wolf.

BLITZER: The 70 percent is better than zero, but still not 100 percent.

SYLVESTER: Yes, and then they're going to still have to haggle it out and the courts what happens to the other 30 percent if, people are actually going to be made whole here.

BLITZER: What a fall from grace. Thanks very much, Lisa.

U.S. troops making the long journey home from Iraq. That and more coming up in our "Hot Shots."


BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's "Hot Shots." In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a vendor sits between piles of fresh fish outside her shop waiting for customers.

In Italy, a child waits for the pope's arrival as crowds gather at the statue of the Immaculate Conception. And Scotland, heavy winds batter a water front prom an ad.

In Kuwait, look at this. U.S. troops play basketball during a stopover on their way back home as the withdrawal from Iraq continues.

"Hot Shots," pictures coming in from around the world. >

Do you happen what it takes to become a spy? Britain's intelligence agency wants to know and the answer may ultimately come down to a unique new online puzzle. Let's bring in our own Brian Todd. He has details of this challenge that is now out there -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Wolf, you know, British officials have said their computer systems are constantly under attack from hackers. And they're now using some real creativity to recruit top talent to fight back.


TODD (voice-over): Here's your challenge, 160 combinations of numbers and letters and a countdown clock. You've got just a few days until your deadline. If you crack this code, could you be the next real life James Bond?

Maybe not, but if you're a British citizen and you solve this puzzle, you could be recruited for Britain's next generation of high-tech spies. Posted online, publicized on Facebook and Twitter, it's put out by the Government Communications Headquarters, Britain's version of America's National Security Agency, a kind of whiz bang eavesdropping post whose mission is to help catch terrorists.

This agency once posted job ads inside video games. An official tells this puzzle got thousands of hits and at least 50 people have solved it. If you do that, you're congratulated, offered a chance to apply.

(on camera): What do you think of this as a recruiting tool?

MARK STOUT, INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM: I think it's a great idea. One of the things that it does is brings awareness of the need for people like this.

TODD (voice-over): Former CIA analyst Mark Stout is an expert on code cracking at the International Spy Museum in Washington. He says for people with reasonable training and math and computer science, this code probably isn't too hard.

(on camera): What kind of crucial intelligence can you gather by code breaking?

STOUT: Well, code breaking signals intelligence as we call it can be tremendously valuable because it's one of the rare forms of intelligence that if done properly, if you can get access to the right things, gives you the enemy's intention. What are they really thinking?

TODD (voice-over): Stout and other experts say governments like Britain need cyber warriors more than ever. Officials at the Government Communications Headquarters say they want people with an interest in so-called ethical hacking.

Illegal hackers need not apply. How will that play? Marc Maiffret is a former hacker who co-founded a firm called E-Eye Digital Security. He says sophisticated hackers might find this puzzle gimmicky.

MARC MAIFFRET, E-EYE DIGITAL SECURITY/FORMER HACKER: The thing that I would have found funny or interesting as a teenage hacker would have been to actually hack the server that's hosting this challenge and actually change the challenge to have some funny message or some other thing.


TODD: Other cyber experts say this code is just too easy. An official at the British Government Communications Headquarters says it's not designed to be overly difficult, more to promote awareness of what that agency does.

Marc Maiffret and others say if that's the goal, it's worth it to get teenagers and other young people excited about careers in legitimate cyber espionage -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We know that code cracking also has helped take down some high profile terrorists.

TODD: That's right. You know, Mark Stout, the guy we interviewed, said the governments of the U.S. and other places will never reveal that. He points to the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. He said that raid depended on signals intercepts, courier cell phone.

In turn, they may have had to take a lot of things of the internet and decode that information. But again, he says the National Security Agency is never going to reveal that. And we may never know the exact role in code breaking in the Bin Laden raid. But he says it likely did play a role.

BLITZER: Never in the long time, maybe in 50 years or 100 years maybe they'll reveal it.

Thanks very much, Brain, for that. That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer. Join us week days in the situation from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern, every Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN, and at this time every weekend on CNN international. The news continues next on CNN.