Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Daring U.S. Mission Saves Kidnapped Hostages; Obama: It's Not About Envying the Rich"; Congress Says Farewell To Gabrielle Giffords; Presidential Candidates Appealing to Latinos; Google Watching You; Invasion of the Birds
Aired January 25, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S THE SITUATION ROOM: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, a daring secret U.S. military mission frees two hostages seized in Somalia months ago. We'll take you to the college town of the American woman who was saved, where family and friends are overwhelmed with gratitude.
Plus, bipartisanship at its very best in Washington, as both parties unite to bid the wounded congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, a roaring tearful farewell.
And Google may soon be tracking your every move. Details on a controversial new policy which could have some thinking twice before going online.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
Breaking news, political headlines and Jeanne Moos all straight ahead.
I'm Wolf Blitzer on the campus of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.
And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But first, a harrowing operation that rescued two kidnapped aid workers in Somalia, one of them an American. The mission authorized by President Obama, highly reminiscent of the one that took out Osama bin Laden, even involving one of the same elite U.S. Navy SEAL teams.
Our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, is standing by with the latest on how it all went down.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we all remember what happened during Blackhawk down. So you cannot overstate the risk of putting troops on the ground in Somalia. And, ultimately, it was the president's call to do so.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): Just seconds into the president's arrival at his State of the Union speech, the first hint something had happened.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good job, tonight.
Good job, tonight.
LAWRENCE: At the moment he congratulated his Defense secretary, U.S. Special Operations forces were winding down a dramatic rescue operation halfway around the world. The U.S. military and FBI had been searching for the humanitarian aid workers since October, when Somali kidnappers abducted American Jessica Buchanan and Poul Thisted. Now they had found them -- more than 100 kilometers away. Officials obtained specific intel -- where the hostages were and who was holding them.
But a sense of urgency was building.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE TODAY SHOW," COURTESY NBC)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jessica's health was beginning to decline. She's a young woman in her 30s. And we wanted to act. And -- and they did.
LAWRENCE: President Obama green-lighted the mission Monday night. And the weather was perfect for a Tuesday night assault.
As Secretary Leon Panetta monitored the situation from the White House, Special Operations forces parachuted into the area. Among them, SEAL Team 6, the same elite unit that killed Osama bin Laden, if not the same men from that mission.
They confronted nine kidnappers with guns and explosives nearby and killed all nine. They found the hostages at an outdoor encampment, then hustled them onto helicopters and out of Somalia.
The rescue team took the hostages to Djibouti, the same American base Panetta visited just last month. It's where the military monitors al Qaeda militants, but in this case, a place for medics to examine and treat Buchanan and Thisted.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
LAWRENCE: And officials tell us they're still in the region right now. Both are in good health. They're OK. And they've talked to their families.
But there is still another American being held in Somalia by another pirate group, as well as sailors from South Korea, the Philippines and other countries, as well -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's hope that they're OK, as well.
Chris Lawrence, thank you.
Our Brian Todd is standing by on the college campus of that rescued American woman, Jessica Buchanan, with a closer look at who she is -- Brian, what are you learning? (BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- that can also describe the mood here on her college campus, where people talk about a young lady committed to helping others, even in one of the world's most dangerous regions.
Professor Glen McClure remembers when Jessica Buchanan returned from a trip from Kenya. His former student, he says, presented him with a carved elephant to thank him for helping her land a student teaching job there.
After her capture in October in Somalia, he says, he looked at that figure often.
PROF. GLENN MCCLURE, VALLEY FORGE CHRISTIAN COLLEGE: It's on my bureau and I see it often. I -- I just breath -- breathe a prayer that says, Lord, help Jessica to get through this.
TODD: His prayers are answered. McClure, who taught and mentored Jessica Buchanan at Valley Forge Christian College in Pennsylvania, is, along with everyone on this small liberal arts campus, ecstatic and relieved that Buchanan has been rescued by U.S. Special Forces.
DON MYER, PRESIDENT, VALLEY FORGE CHRISTIAN COLLEGE: It was about 2:00, 2:30 this morning I happened to be checking my computer. Just -- I had been up and just briefly looked at it and I saw this note. And I was like, wow, I can't believe it.
TODD: Valley forge president, Don Myers, says the school had been holding a vigil since October, when Buchanan, who graduated from Valley Forge in 2007, was captured.
Professor David Scolforo's daughter, Christine, is Jessica Buchanan's best friend and former roommate.
PROF. DAVID SCOLFORO, VALLEY FORGE CHRISTIAN COLLEGE: Because every day, you woke up wondering, is this going to be the day that she could be free or is this going to be the day where you get news saying that she is not coming home forever?
TODD: Buchanan's father, a furniture maker in Bedford, Virginia, told CNN off-camera, his daughter is doing well, considering the circumstances.
John Buchanan says President Obama called him, saying, "I have great news for you. Your daughter has been rescued by our military."
TODD: (on camera): Those here who know Jessica Buchanan use one common word to describe her -- "passionate." They say she brought that attitude toward everything, toward her religious beliefs and toward teaching those less fortunate, especially in Africa.
MYER: She could hardly talk about Africa without tears in her eyes. MCCLURE: She had a beautiful relationship with -- with the Lord. And I think that and God's direction, or the Holy Spirit working with her, kind of ignited that passion. And she wanted to continue and follow through with that.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TODD: I asked Jessica Buchanan's father what he would say to the U.S. Special Forces troops who rescued his daughter if he could speak to them tonight. He had five words -- "Thank you. We're very grateful." -- Wolf.
BLITZER: No doubt about that.
You've also spoken with a top official of that Danish refugee council, the relief group where Jessi -- Jessica Buchanan worked, Brian. And you've picked up some information about her security at the time she was captured.
Lots of questions about that.
TODD: That's right, Wolf. I talked to Andrea Khan (ph). He's the secretary-general of that group. And he told me that Jessica and Mr. Thisted did have security with them on the ground at the time they were captured. He believes that those security members were armed at the time. And he didn't mince many words. He said, we are disappointed at what happened, given the fact that they had security. He said they're investigating what happened. They're eager to get a chance to talk to Jessica and Mr. Thisted to -- to find out exactly what those circumstances were. He was not sure exactly sure how many security members -- security team members were with them at the time of their capture.
BLITZER: All right, Brian.
Thanks very much.
Brian Todd reporting.
A dramatic story. Grateful that she's OK.
On the heels of a a -- critical State of the Union Address, President Obama is now taking his message on a three day tour across the country, hoping to make a mark with potential voters. Just minutes from now, the president is expected to touch down in Arizona after a visit to Iowa. Tonight, he heads to Nevada, Colorado tomorrow, Michigan Friday.
Let's bring in our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin.
She's in Arizona awaiting the president's arrival -- Jessica, what does the president need to accomplish, want to accomplish, on this trip?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, he is today pushing manufacturing initiatives, touting tax incentives to expand essentially what would bring more collar jobs to the US. The blue collar vote a big vote segment that he would like to win and will have to work hard to win in the upcoming election.
But among these five states are 48 electoral votes. Those would be important votes that would take him a long way to picking up the White House again in November. And among these states, there are three purple states. There is Nevada, Colorado and Iowa. Those are states that he won, but will have to work hard to win again in November.
Then there's Michigan, usually a Democratic state, but a state they're likely -- they think they're likely to win. But, you know, they've been so hard-hit by the recession, the president's team believes that because they did so much in this administration with the auto bailout, he's likely to fare relatively well there, but, again, will have to work hard.
And then the state I'm in now, Arizona, is a red state, not a place you'd think the president would be likely to pick up. But I'm telling you, Team Obama, they are am -- they are bullish on Arizona because of the Latino vote in this state. And they are persuaded that they have a shot at winning at it, even though the president lost it by 9 points to John McCain. They say it was John McCain's home state and they think they can win it this time, Wolf.
So he's coming here soon.
BLITZER: Yes. The four Republican presidential candidates, they've been hammering the president for his speech last night.
Is he firing back at them?
YELLIN: You know, he's not mentioning the candidates by name. But he is now taking them on indirectly. And, you know, Mitt Romney, in particular, has been accusing the president of playing on the politics of envy with this message about the haves and the have-nots. And the president, in his language, is now pushing back.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it's not because Americans envy the rich. Most of them want to get rich. Most of them will work hard to try to do well financially.
It's because if I get a tax break, I don't need and the country can't afford, then either it's going to add to our deficit, or, alternatively, if we're going to close that deficit, somebody else is going to have to pick up the tab.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: So even if he doesn't mention him by name, he does seem fixed on Mitt Romney. And the Democrats in general are, Wolf, whether it's just to bloody the person they think will eventually be their opponent or now to try to disqualify him and get an opponent they think will be even weaker, all their fire is fixed on Mitt Romney -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, clearly, they fear him, potentially, the most.
Jessica traveling with the president in Arizona.
The House floor erupts in tears -- putting politics on hold, at least for a little while, to bid an heroic Congresswoman good-bye.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gabby, we love you.
We have missed you you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I'm here on the campus of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.
I'm here to moderate CNN's presidential debate in coordination with the Republican Party of Florida tomorrow night. It all starts 8:00 p.m., right here on the campus of the University of North Florida.
You State of the Union Address see several members of Congress crying on the floor of the House of Representatives. But that's exactly what happened earlier today in an emotion packed farewell to the Arizona congresswoman, Gabriel Giffords.
Our senior Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is joining us now from Capitol Hill -- and, Dana, what a powerful, emotional day.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, you said it, Wolf. Look, the fact that Gabby Giffords was shot in the head doing nothing more than her job, meeting with constituents, that has had a profound effect on her colleagues here on both sides of the aisle. That is why when she decided to turn in her resignation today and leave to focus on her recovery, her colleagues gave her a grand and nonpartisan event.
BASH (voice-over): Gabby Giffords' emotional final morning as a member of Congress began as a labored last walk to the House chamber. And ended with a behind the scenes moment captured by CNN, a hug from one of the many workers she encountered during her five years here. On the floor, moving tributes.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) MINORITY LEADER: All of us come to the floor today, colleagues of congresswoman Gabby Giffords to salute her as the brightest star among us, the brightest star Congress has ever seen.
BASH: As each person spoke, Giffords turn in her seat to face them.
PELOSI: She has brought the word "dignity" to new heights by her courage.
PELOSI: Powerful words from fellow Democrats.
REP. STENY HOYER, (D) MINORITY WHIP: Gabby, we love you. We have missed you.
HOYER: Mr. Speaker, I don't know whether you were able to hear that response. As Gabby looked with that extraordinary smile, the twinkle in her eyes, as she said to me and to all of us, "and I miss you."
BASH: Praise from Republicans.
REP. ERIC CANTOR, (R) MAJORITY LEADER: I know I speak for all of my colleagues when I say better we are inspired, hopeful, and blessed for the incredible progress that Gabby has made in her recovery.
BASH: Gratitude to Giffords' staff.
CANTOR: I especially want to recognize her chief of staff, Pia Carusone.
CANTOR: She has demonstrated incredible dedication to her co- workers, to you, Gabby --
BASH: An occasional wave and a smile to husband, Mark, and mother, Gloria. And barely a dry eye in the House.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, DEM. NATL. COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN: I am so proud of my "friend," and it will always be one of the great treasures of my life to have met Gabby Giffords and to have served with her in this body. No matter what we argue about here on this floor or in this country, there is nothing more important than family and friendship. And that should be held on high above all else.
BASH: Debbie Wasserman Schultz lent her friend, Gabby, her voice, reading her resignation letter aloud.
SCHULTZ: Always, I fought for what I thought was right, but never did I question the character of those with whom I disagreed. Never did I let pass an opportunity to join hands with someone just because he or she held different ideals. I have given all of myself to being able to walk back on to the House floor this year to represent Arizona's 8th Congressional district.
However, today, I know that now is not the time. I have more work to do on my recovery before I can again serve an elected office.
BASH: With that, a dramatic line to the speaker's chair to personally hand a teary John Boehner the letter formally ending her service in Congress.
BASH (on-camera): Now, the House gave Giffords a legislative victory to take home with her. It is a bill to ensure that drug smuggling is more effective, at least, I should say a crackdown on drug smuggling is more effective across the U.S./Mexican border. And Wolf, that passed the House unanimously.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Dana Bash up on Capitol Hill. What an emotional day for so many people there. Dana, thanks very, very much. We wish her only, only the best.
Republican White House hopefuls sometimes offer Latino voters a mix message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Mitt Romney (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Presidential contenders, they win over this -- those voters. Can GOP presidential contenders, I should say, win over those voters if they try a slightly different approach?
And Nancy Pelosi bows that Newt Gingrich will never be president. We're taking a closer look at why these two former speakers seem to be nudging a rather serious grudge.
BLITZER: We're here on the campus of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville where tomorrow night I'll be moderating the last Republican presidential debate before the Florida primary next Tuesday, and we're voting now only a few days away the stakes for all of these candidates, all four of them, remaining could not be any higher.
Take a look at this new CNN/"Time"/ORC poll, showing a huge surge from 18 to 34 percent for Newt Gingrich, all but wiping out Mitt Romney's once distant lead. Impressive surge for Gingrich. Joining us now to talk a little bit more about this, our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. Gloria, thanks very much for joining us. It's an impressive surge, you got to admit.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely.
BLITZER: But there's other indications in this poll as well.
BORGER: Well, there are indications in the poll that the moments may be slowing for Newt Gingrich. One way we can look at that is look at how the poll went on assorted days that we took it. For example, I'm going to put this up, on the Sunday, and that is the day after the South Carolina primary, Gingrich was up six points. You see that, Wolf?
So, he had the momentum coming out of South Carolina. But, after the first Florida debate and just before it on Monday night, you see that there was a total flip that Mitt Romney was up nine points. And in our -- in our poll, Wolf, quarter of the voters say they could still change their minds, which shows you how important your debate is going to be tomorrow night.
And also, that these bounces don't really last, because this race has been so topsy-turvy and fluid that voters are undecided, want to keep looking at these candidates down to the last minute.
BLITZER: Because it looks like if you look at the way over those three, four days of this poll, Republicans want to see an assertive presidential candidate. Someone goes on the offensive in these debates --
BLITZER: Because they want somebody who can take on President Obama in November.
BORGER: And that's what Mitt Romney did in the debate on Monday.
BLITZER: And Newt Gingrich held back.
BORGER: He held back. He kind of behaved like the frontrunner. He took the Mitt Romney role, if you will, trying to attack Barack Obama, didn't really go after Romney in the way he's been going after him, and Romney benefited from it. So, people want someone who can beat Barack Obama, and that means who can stand next to him on the stage and take him on.
BLITZER: Because if he can't debate a fellow Republican, it's going to be hard to debate the president of the United States.
BLITZER: Let's talk about the gender gap that we're seeing in this latest CNN/"Time"/ORC poll.
BORGER: And there is a gender gap. So, take a look at this, because Newt Gingrich generally does better with men. And you see here and our polling does, 35 to 31. And, for Mitt Romney, it's the absolute flip again. Romney does better with women, 40 percent to 32 percent.
In South Carolina, because Newt Gingrich won so overwhelmingly, he won with both men and women, but he does generally have a problem with women, maybe it's because of his personal life. Maybe it's because he can be so bellicose at times, but Romney needs to get his number up among men if he's going to win in this state or a presidential race. He just has to be able to win with men as well.
BLITZER: We know Gingrich in South Carolina crushed Romney among conservatives.
BLITZER: Self-described conservative Republicans. What about in this new poll?
BORGER: Well, he's still doing a lot better than Mitt Romney, up by 10 points. Gingrich is 39 percent, Romney is 29 percent with conservatives. You know with that debate Monday night, Romney was asked, as was Newt Gingrich, tell us what you've done for conservatives. Newt Gingrich rattled off an entire political career. Mitt Romney had a bit more trouble in answering that question. And it really spoke to the issue of why conservatives have been so skeptical of him.
And also, you know, Newt Gingrich is attacking him, Wolf, as a Massachusetts moderate, and those words might be sinking in with conservatives. And if you want to win in Republican primaries, you have to be conservative.
BORGER: You do. There's no way around it.
BLITZER: There's no doubt about that. If you're liberal, necessarily going to work up (ph).
BORGER: Right. right.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
Despite the former House speaker's dramatic surge in the polls, another former speaker, we're talking about Nancy Pelosi, the current House minority leader, is threatening to derail his momentum. Let's bring in CNNs Joe Johns. He's got more on this part of the story -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, these two just don't get along very well. Insiders say the bad blood goes all the way back to the 1990s when Nancy Pelosi was on the House Ethics Committee investigating the tax-exempt activities of organizations connected to then Speaker Newt Gingrich.
JOHNS (voice-over): It's one of the best-running feuds in politics, two former speakers of the House at it again, only now it's new, because one of these former high office holders is in the hunt for the Republican nomination. The latest salvo began when Pelosi made a prediction to CNN's John King.
PELOSI: He's not going to be president of the United States. This is -- that's not going to happen. Let me just make my prediction and stand by it. It isn't going to happen.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Why are you so sure?
PELOSI: There's something I know. The republicans, if they choose to nominate him, that's their prerogative. I don't even think that's going to happen.
JOHNS: The "something I know" part of that statement struck a nerve, because Pelosi, who was in the Congress when Gingrich served there and even shot a public service announcement with him on global warning, has hinted before that she knows something about Gingrich that maybe isn't public then. What she said then and now was quickly cleaned up by staff to make clear that she doesn't know any secrets. Gingrich, annoyed, responded sharply anyway.
NEWT GINGRICH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who knows? I mean, you know, she lives in a San Francisco environment of very strange fantasies and very strange understandings of reality. I have no idea what's in Nancy Pelosi's head. If she knows something, I have a simple challenge -- spit it out. Tell us what it is. I have no idea what she's talking about.
JOHNS: Fantasy, reality, secret, or some combination of all three that did not stop Mitt Romney from getting in on the controversy. Wishful thinking, perhaps, or just another opportunity to bring up the Gingrich ethics investigation while he was in the Congress, sowing doubts. Maybe there is a secret, he suggested.
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wish I knew what that was.
ROMNEY: I'd tell people what it is right now.
JOHNS: Problem is, the Gingrich ethics record was released publicly. It is not a secret. It's online for anybody to see. And despite all the wondering about an election year surprise, many Republican insiders have said the former speaker's candidacy may likely rise and fall on what is already known publicly about Newt Gingrich, including his record as a leader.
TERRY HOLT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Gingrich has been a mainstay in the Republican Party for a generation, and in the time that he was speaker, we passed a lot of laws. He had the classic debate with President Clinton over the government shutdown.
Newt has been a divisive figure. For his candidacy going forward, he's going to prove that he can unite the Republican Party and not divide it.
JOHNS: The report on the Gingrich ethics investigation was very long and detailed. It involved a reprimand for the former Speaker, also a call for him to pay $300,000 in investigative costs. To this day, Gingrich claims it was politically motivated -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Joe Johns, thank you.
Outrage over a politician's rather insensitive remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing for the Latino community today?
MAYOR JOSEPH MATURO, JR., EAST HAVEN, CT.: I might have tacos when I go home. I'm not quite sure yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now the mayor is singing a very different tune. We're going to show you.
Also, the problem that grounded an entire fleet of super jumbo jets.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: The president of the United States just landed in Mesa, Arizona. Take a look right there. You see him on the tarmac shaking hands with a few folks who waited at the airport in Mesa, not far from Phoenix.
The president continuing his journey across the country, earlier the day in Iowa, now in Arizona, heading to Michigan, some other states as well. We'll watch and see what the president has to say.
Meanwhile, I'm here on the campus of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. We're getting ready for tomorrow's Republican presidential debate.
Lisa Sylvester is back in Washington. She's monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now, including an Airbus situation unfolding right now, a mystery involving the super jumbo jet.
Lisa, what's going on?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf.
Airbus says its new A380 super jumbo jet is safe to fly, but the company says it has found more cracks in wings during inspections. Airbus says it has worked out a two-stage solution for addressing the problem.
An A380 was forced to make an emergency landing in November, 2010, leaving Qantas to ground its fleet for an investigation. The A380 is the world's biggest passenger jet. There are now 67 in service around the world.
And more of the good stuff, less of the bad. That's the gist of the new school lunch requirements announced today by the Agriculture Department. Starting July 1st, school meals will have to include fruits and vegetables every day. The new rules also call for less sodium, saturated fat and trans fat. Thirty-two million U.S. students eat school lunches.
And the mayor of East Haven, Connecticut, he is in hot water over an off-the-cuff remark made to a reporter. Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr. was discussing the arrests of three police officers and a sergeant for their alleged mistreatment of Latinos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With such tension in the Latino community, with a force of 50 officers, still no police officer of Latino ancestry.
MATURO: And your point being?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing for the Latino community today?
MATURO: I might have tacos when I go home. I'm not quite sure yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVESTER: That didn't sit well with Governor Daniel Malloy, who criticized the flippant response.
Today, though, the mayor sounded a more contrite tone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATURO: My sincerest apologies go out to the East Haven community, and in particular, the Latino community for the insensitive and off- color comment that I made to WPIX reporter Mario Diaz yesterday regarding the recent event affecting our community and our police department. Unfortunately, I let the stress of the situation get the best of me in what is already a serious and unfortunate situation. I regret my insensitive comment and realize that it is my job to lead by example.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVESTER: The mayor insisted that East Haven is an open community and said he doesn't believe the allegations of discrimination are true -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Lisa, thank you.
And politicians are always going after the Latino vote, but experts say that no matter what the language is, actions speak louder than words.
BLITZER: All the presidential candidates certainly know how important it is to win the Latino vote here in Florida, but White House hopefuls are also walking a fine line, staying tough, but not necessarily to tough on immigration.
Speaking in Miami, Newt Gingrich made his pitch. He argued the United States should stop trying to change the Arab world and should just look south.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Consider the Obama administration's policy. They worry about an Arab Spring in Tunisia. They worry about an Arab Spring in Libya. They actually commit forces to covertly help in Libya. They worry about an Arab Spring in Egypt, where we give billions of dollars of aid every year. They worry about an Arab Spring in Syria.
I don't think it's ever occurred to a single person in the White House to look south and propose a Cuban Spring.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Romney also trying to appeal to Latinos. His father was born in Mexico. He refused to take advantage of that, while admitting it might do him at least some good in Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think people would think I was being honest with them if I said I was Mexican-American, but I would appreciate it if you would get that word out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Romney left no doubt though about how he felt about Fidel Castro and where he felt the former Cuban leader is headed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: If I'm fortunate enough to become the next president of the United States, it is my expectation that Fidel Castro will finally be taken off this planet.
ROMNEY: I doubt he'll take any time in the sky. He'll find another region to be more to his comfort. And we have to be prepared. This is the time -- in my opinion, in the next president's first or second term, it is time for us to strike for freedom in Cuba, and I will do so as president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So it's all part of the political strategy here, and it's all part of a high-cost issue involving the presidential candidates, trying to win over Latino support.
We're taking a closer look at the money, an "In-Depth" look of this week.
CNN's Rafael's Romo takes a closer look how the candidates use the language to spread a message.
ROMNEY: My test for the federal --
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You've seen his ads on TV, but chances are you haven't heard him speak Spanish.
ROMNEY: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
ROMO: This is part of a Romney campaign strategy to attract Hispanic voters. In the ads, his son Craig, who speaks Spanish, talks about freedom, opportunity and American values.
CRAIG ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S SON: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
ROMO: Ralph Herrera, a marketing expert that specializes in the Hispanic community, says the strategy is hardly unique.
RALPH HERRERA, LANZA GROUP: They've all done it. Reagan did it in the '80s. Bush did it very successfully -- Clinton, Obama. So they will all reach out to the Hispanic community, especially in these swing states.
ROMO: Here's Barack Obama in 2008.
OBAMA: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
ROMO: "We share a dream," Obama said in the ad. "Hard work can bring success to your family."
OBAMA: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
ROMO: And this is George W. Bush in 2004 --
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
ROMO (on camera): In fact, the tradition of using Spanish ads in presidential campaigns goes back more than half a century.
JACQUELINE KENNEDY, FIRST LADY: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
ROMO: Here's Jackie Kennedy speaking Spanish on behalf of her husband in the 1960 presidential campaign.
(voice-over): "World peace is threatened by communism," she said, advocating for a strong leader in the White House. But many Hispanic groups say actions speak lower than political ads.
JERRY GONZALEZ, GEORGIA, ASSOCIATION OF LATINO ELECTED OFFICIALS: If the ads aren't backed up with that policy substance, then I think they'll fall flat.
ROMO: Voting rights activist Jerry Gonzalez says Romney's positions on immigration are driving away many Hispanic voters.
GONZALEZ: Ultimately, that's how candidates will be judged. Not whether they speak Spanish, or eat an enchilada or two, but whether they really have substantive policy issues that address Latino concerns.
ROMO: Romney has said immigration reform would be tantamount to amnesty and opposes the Dream Act that would provide legal residency to young immigrants in college or those serving in the military.
HERRERA: If I were advising the Romney campaign in Texas and California, in the western states, I could actually go with what has recently come out, are his Mexican family roots, and promote the fact that his family immigrated here 100 years ago.
ROMO: A strategy that also has the potential of backfiring.
Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.
BLITZER: And this important reminder. Please be sure to join CNN tomorrow night 8:00 p.m. Eastern. I'll be moderating the last Republican presidential debate before the Florida primary right here on the campus of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.
Then, Tuesday night, you'll want to stick with CNN for special coverage of the pivotal Florida primary. We'll have complete coverage starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.
Google watching your every move. Up next, the dramatic move that could make you think twice before going online.
And it's hard to tell what you're even looking at here. They're birds, potentially thousands of them, and they're swarming one town. Jeanne Moos is coming up.
BLITZER: I'm here on the campus of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. Some of the students showing up.
I'll be moderating CNN's Republican presidential debate tomorrow night in coordination with the Republican Party of Florida. Our debate tomorrow night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.
If you have a question, by the way, still time. After the show today I'm going into heavy debate prep. Tweet me a question if you want, @WolfBlitzerCNN. It's going to be a lot of fun, a lot of excitement. I'll be interested to hear what you have to say as well.
And there's a change under way right now as far as how your information is going to be stored. Critics are howling over the move.
Lisa Sylvester is joining us now to explain what Google is up to.
What is Google up, to Lisa?
It will allow Google to collect private information on consumers from its various sites in one database. And some privacy critics are outraged.
REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: YouTube should not turn into "YouTrack."
SYLVESTER: Representative Edward Markey is a co-chair of the Congressional Privacy Caucus. He says consumers should have the right to decide if they want information shared among Google platforms.
MARKEY: This is outrageous. Googling is like oxygen to kids and teenagers. What Google is saying is they are going to take the private information of kids and teens, provide no privacy protection.
SYLVESTER: Google says instead of having more than 60 different privacy policies for Google products, there will be only one. The company says it's to better tailor search queries based on your interests.
So if you put in the word "pink," the search engine will know if you're talking the color pink or Pink the singer. Google, on its Web site, saying, "Our new policy reflects our desire to create a simple product experience that does what you need, when you want it to."
But aggregating the information would allow for something else -- for Google to better target ads.
(on camera): Google already keeps tabs on a lot of your information. If you go to Google.com/dashboard, you can actually pull up your Web history. You can take a look here.
This is a recent search that I did for Alma Whitten. She's the director of privacy at Google.
You can look up images, you can look up products, you can look up maps. And Google stores all of this information and uses it to target ads.
(voice-over): Ken Fisher is with the online magazine "Ars Technica." He says it boils down to advertisement
KEN FISHER, "ARS TECHNICA": It helps to remember that Google is the world's largest advertising company. They are the most successful advertising company, and they are also in an arms race against Facebook, but against other advertisers as well. This is really about revenues generated from advertising.
SYLVESTER: Now, Google declined an on-camera interview, but Google is making it clear that it will not sell private information to third parties, that it is just sharing information among Google's various sites. But that information could be used for Google ads.
And I asked a spokesperson, why not just allow people to opt out? And she said it would be too difficult to have two separate privacy policies. But, Wolf, there is a huge outcry over this, particularly online and from some key lawmakers -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Fascinating development. Thanks very much, Lisa.
All right. Imagine this -- swarms of birds so thick, they darken the sky. It's not a plot for a Hitchcock remake, but a nuisance that one Kentucky town lives with every single day.
BLITZER: For the past three months, one Kentucky town has been trying to beat back an invasion.
Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here in La Grange, Kentucky, folks don't just watch the birds, they're living it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gracious.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really creepy. It's kind of like, is the world coming to an end here or something? I mean, it's really -- it's scary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it's like bees.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it's crazy. It's scary, ain't it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like a million.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like we're being held hostage.
MOOS: Held hostage in maybe a three-mile radius by black birds, black birds that fly in like clockwork every evening at dusk to roost in a wooded area --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's spooky.
MOOS: -- then fly out in the morning.
Hair stylist Antoinette Taylor decided to shoot the birds.
ANTOINETTE TAYLOR, HAIRSTYLIST: Nobody believed me, so I had to put it on video.
MOOS: At first, Antoinette says --
TAYLOR: It was exciting because we had never seen anything like that, but now it's getting ridiculous, because there are kids that are actually catching eye infections from the bird droppings.
MOOS (on camera): In that one little area of La Grange, they're using umbrellas, but not just for rain.
(voice-over): The birds are leaving these folks pooped.
TAYLOR: We wash our cars every single day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When it comes down, it sounds like rain coming down. I mean, literally, from inside of our apartment you think that it's raining outside.
MOOS: In Hitchcock's "The Birds," the townspeople worried about being picked to death. But here they're worried about being pooped to death.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you've got it on your leg.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, that's fuzz. That's fuzz.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it? Are you sure?
MOOS: It's more like that scene spoofing "The Birds" in "High Anxiety."
Between 5:30 and 6:00 in the evening, residents like Antoinette Taylor --
TAYLOR: Get the kids. Get the kids.
MOOS: -- make a run for the shelter of their cars.
Bird experts say this is not that unusual. When starlings do it, there's a name for it.
(on camera): Murmuration. Repeat after me, "murmuration."
TAYLOR: Murmuration. What does that mean?
MOOS (voice-over): A murmuration is a synchronized swirl of starlings. The word was popularized after two filmmakers on a canoe trip in Ireland shot the phenomenon and put it to music. Breathtaking.
But in La Grange, Kentucky, they're holding their breath because of the smell from the droppings, and trying unsuccessfully to drive the birds away with noise cannons.
Forecasts for the foreseeable future are 100 percent chance of murmuration.
PAUL MCCARTNEY, THE BEATLES (singing): Blackbird singing in the dead of night --
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really driving all of us crazy.
MOOS: -- New York.
BLITZER: That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The news continues next on CNN.