Return to Transcripts main page


Mitt Romney in Trouble With Women Voters?; Supreme Court Upholds Strip Searches; Mitt Romney's Secret Weapon; "Mad Men" Disses Romney's Father; Bomb Sparks Fire at Planned Parenthood Clinic; Bin Laden Widows Sentenced in Pakistan; 1.5 Million Credit, Debit Cards Compromised?; Six Killed at California Religious School; Cruise Ship Concerns Grow; 6.3 Aftershock Rocks Southern Mexico; 31 Dead In Siberia Plane Crash

Aired April 2, 2012 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're following the breaking news in Oakland, California, right now, a shooting at a university with multiple people killed. In the last few minutes, we have learned the suspected gunman has been captured.

We're also following other important news happening right now, including the political situation. Mitt Romney may have a big problem with women, the latest sign, a poll showing he trails Barack Obama badly in a dozen swing states because of female voters. But the Romney campaign thinks it has a secret weapon to close the gender gap.

A New Jersey man arrested for an out of date traffic violation is given a humiliating strip search and thrown in jail. The Supreme Court in Washington has just ruled on this case as well. Could it happen to you?

And President Obama upbeat about the odds the Supreme Court will uphold his health care reform law. Speaking for the first time about the deliberations, he explains why he is so confident.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's get to that breaking news happening right now in Oakland, California, a shooting at a university with multiple people killed. In the last few minutes, we have learned the suspected gunman has been captured.

An affiliate reporter from KPIX, Mark Sayre, is joining us right now.

Mark, what is the very latest?

MARK SAYRE, KPIX REPORTER: Wolf, it's been a very sad day here in Oakland this morning.

Let's take a look at the university behind us. This is called Oikos Acupuncture. It's a university where there are students apparently learning the art of acupuncture. Unconfirmed reports now that five people have been killed here. We know of at least four who were injured. What we do not know is was that suspected shooter somehow connected to the university? Was that somebody who perhaps was a student or an employee?

You can take a look at the active situation still under way behind us. We have a big perimeter set up. To continue along the lines of the suspect, we do understand that the Oakland police have now detained and that is the word they are using, is detained, one person who they believe may be responsible for this shooting.

It is not being considered an arrest yet and Oakland police are not saying if there was perhaps a second person involved or more. Still a very active situation here. Unconfirmed reports, five people dead, we did see some of those people being brought out and put on the ground and put tarps on their body. Still unfolding here, a very sad day in Oakland.

BLITZER: Mark, what do we know about this person detained for questioning? A student, faculty, a stranger to the school, do we know anything about this person?

SAYRE: Obvious that is the question we all have is who is this potential shooter?

The shooting did occur inside of the building. So from that standpoint, you could surmise that perhaps the person was a student or an employee. But it is possible that the person just walked in off the street. At this point Oakland police providing us no details on who exactly this person is, what is the person's relationship to the school, to the university.

The fact that they're not even using the term arrest is also interesting, just someone that is being questioned at this point. But there has been a loosening just in the past few minutes of the actual crime scene here, so that would lead us to believe that police are scaling down a little bit and perhaps they believe they do have their man.

But again unconfirmed reports of five people dead. We have seen those people, but unfortunately the police have not officially said that yet, so we have to use the word unconfirmed. But you could clearly see the bodies coming out and being put on the ground and body bags being put over them.

BLITZER: Five people confirmed dead.

Do we know what kind of a weapon was used? Was it a handgun, an assault rifle, anything along those lines?

SAYRE: Not a single piece of information on the weapon that is involved.

What the police have been doing just in the last 15 minutes, they have been actually going into the building to make sure that there are not more people, perhaps students of the university, perhaps hiding in closets, perhaps that need to be evacuated, or perhaps if there's a second gunman in there.

That's what they have been focusing on is getting people out. Four people being taken to local hospitals, at minimum, at least nine people involved, with some sort of injuries, likely five fatalities by the time it's conference, four injuries, what kind of weapon, we just don't know.

BLITZER: Mark Sayre of our affiliate KPIX on the scene, we will check back with you, Mark, but it's a good thing that it looks like they're scaling back if in fact they have arrested the suspect involved in this mass killing, I must say, five individuals confirmed dead.

Brian Snow (ph) is on the campus over there and was walking by apparently.

Brian, you're joining us on the phone right now. Tell us what you saw, what you're hearing, what your role, what your involvement in the school is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just trying to do my normal work run at the credit union.

My aunt was outside, see there's a shooting. But in Oakland, sometimes things like that happen, but it dies over. It doesn't really affect a lot of people. But when I went outside, the cops were coming, don't move, don't move. It just started getting chaotic. And then I heard some shooting out there and I saw a pedestrian come out with a bullet hole. It was getting really crazy right now.

BLITZER: Are you a student at that school?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm not a student at any school around here. I was just at the credit union and I came outside and I went to go check on my aunt, make sure she was OK. Had to bring her back, but they wouldn't let me bring her back because the place was shut down.

BLITZER: You just were there. And you gave us a little flavor of what was going on, a very, very deadly situation. Five, we believe are dead. We don't know if they're students, faculty or who they were, but we do believe now based on the reporting we got from Mark Sayre of our affiliate KPIX, it looks like the suspect has been detained by police.

Brian, thanks very much for calling in.

Tom Foreman, Tom, set the scene for us. Where is this school? I know it's not far from Oakland and San Francisco.


It's Northern California, of course. San Francisco. Over here across the bay is Oakland. Let's move in Oikos University here and get an idea of the lay of the land up here. This is an area that seems to be largely used for businesses and/or education. Here is the university lit up here. It's not a very big place, and you see those are cars right there. It's not a huge complex here, and their Web site say they seem to focus most of all on Christian students, teaching a Christian approach to health care, music, some other things like that, focus on the Korean community here.

Of course, in the Korean community in this country, Christianity is one of the big prevalent religions. But the area around here includes for example a high school not terribly far away. There are several businesses around here that deal with environmental measures. There's a jail down the road, that sort of thing, a superior court here.

There's some schools that teaches avionics, like airplane sort of matters. This is really is very much a business sort of community. As a reporter mentioned a minute ago, maybe it's actually connected to the school that it happened here, but there are also many places around here that could have been a target if you're talking about a general gunman roaming through the area.

A little more sense here. This is a tribute park to Martin Luther King out here on the water. Here is the arena, the Coliseum, where the Raiders play and the Athletics, so it's an idea of what that area would be like and where this happened this afternoon. Not many homes until you go quite some different way from Oikos University here.

We're still trying to find out exactly how many students were in the building when all of this began.

BLITZER: Tom Foreman, thanks very much.

Paul Vercammen is out on the West Coast in Los Angeles following what's going on.

You're getting additional information as well, Paul. What are you learning?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have heard from our affiliate KTVU that the death toll has reached five in this case.

Also we know that five people have been brought to Highland Hospital. And a little bit more about Oikos University. As you heard Tom explain, it's sort of in the warehouse district in the East Oakland area and it's not a huge university. And among other things, on their Web site, they talk about the focus is on acupuncture, nursing, theology.

It seems to be more of a vocational school. Some very tense moments. We believe the gunman entered the school, and they said he was suspected to be a Korean male in his 40s. It all took place at about 10:30 this afternoon. Let's take a brief listen the what police had to say earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A gunman came into the college and fired multiple shots. We do have fatalities. I cannot confirm the number of fatalities we have at this time. We additionally have victims who have suffered from gunshot wounds. I cannot confirm the numbers at this time.


VERCAMMEN: So a suspect is believed to be in custody at this time. You may have heard, they're not sure about the number of fatalities. But as we said, our affiliate KTVU reporting five people are dead and the number of wounded remains in question right now, Wolf.

BLITZER: Paul Vercammen is going to continue to follow the story, and we will stay on top of it as well. He says five confirmed dead, others injured, taken to hospitals. The suspect we believe is in police custody right now. No idea of any motive or anything along those lines. We will stay on top of this story.

Other important news we're watching, including in the political world. He has three primaries tomorrow, including an important battle with Rick Santorum in Wisconsin. But the front-runner Mitt Romney is already pivoting toward the November election and a new poll brings him some new worries about where he stands with women voters.

Our senior correspondent, Joe Johns, is covering Mitt Romney in Wisconsin, one of the primaries taking place tomorrow.

What's the latest on that front, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Mitt Romney arrived here in Green Bay just hours before the Wisconsin primary with the biggest question being how he's going to handle what appears to be a significant problem with women voters.


JOHNS (voice-over): The latest "USA Today"/Gallup swing state poll suggests Mitt Romney is trailing President Obama with women by a double-digit margin, 54 percent to 36 percent.

But the Republican front-runner on the stump in Wisconsin didn't seem phased when I asked if he was worried about the gender gap and women.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm worried about all voters. I want to make sure we win them all.

JOHNS: So why is the gap so pronounced? Some say part of the problem may be the way the Republican nomination race has forced all the candidates including Romney to the right, affecting the debate over health care and contraception, including Planned Parenthood.

M. ROMNEY: Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that. JOHNS: And so how does Romney close the gender gap? So far, his campaign has been leaning on the candidate's wife, Ann Romney, to soften his image. And she's been trying to frame the economy as the biggest women's issue of all.

ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: Women are talking about jobs, women are talking about deficit spending. Thank you, women. We need you, we all need you in November too. We have to remember why we're upset and what we have got to do to fix things.

JOHNS: The campaign sees Ann Romney's strong voice as a secret weapon. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a big Romney supporter, though she said Monday on ABC she would not be Romney's running mate, still thinks Ann Romney is key.

GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The more he puts Ann Romney out there, the more people will realize he has a very strong woman at his side and one that is likable.

JOHNS: But one woman in the audience at the Green Bay event said it's not the spouse that matters.

CLARICE JAROCH, VOTER: What do you think of the wife? Those are so fluff issues.

JOHNS: Still, Clarice Jaroch said she agrees the economy is the biggest issue, as did some of the other women we spoke to at the Green Bay event.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he seems to be in touch on a lot of issues that concern us and our business, so that's what brings me here today.


JOHNS: Among men voters, Mitt Romney and President Obama are basically tied in that Gallup poll. So if Mitt Romney gets the nomination, Wolf, it certainly looks like he's going to have work cut out for him.

BLITZER: A lot of work to do trying to narrow that so-called gender gap.

We will stay in close touch with you, Joe. Thank you.

Long after the Cold War, there's new talk of a supposed Russian threat. Jack Cafferty is standing by with "The Cafferty File."

And three of Osama bin Laden's wives and two of his daughters sentenced to 45 days.

Plus, President Obama's warning to the U.S. Supreme Court about its pending ruling on his health care reform law.


CAFFERTY: All right. Jack's here with the "The Cafferty File".

Good to be in New York, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to New York City. Nice to get you out of the country, and up here to the metropolis once in a while.

All right. Top Democrats, who of them jumping all over Romney for some things he said about Russia. Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton painting the likely Republican nominee as stuck in the old days of the Cold War. It all goes back to the president's so-called hot mic controversy, when Obama was heard asking the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for some space on the European missile defense system. The president said he'd have more flexibility after the election, if he wins, of course.

Romney slammed Mr. Obama after that incident, calling Russia our number one geopolitical foe.

Now, Biden and Clinton are going after Romney for his limited foreign policy experience and for calling Russia enemy number one. Biden says it's not the Cold War 1950s, although we do have disagreements with Russia. Biden says they're united with us on Iran and that Russia is one of only two ways the United States gets supplies to its troops in Afghanistan. Hillary Clinton says Romney's views on Russia are dated, and says there are more pressing policy issues.

Romney's campaign shot back at those criticisms, pointing out that Russia, quote, has opposition to crippling sanctions on Iran, its obstructionism on Syria, and its own backsliding into authoritarianism, referring to recent reelection of Vladimir Putin.

Romney insists that President Obama is too open to concessions when it comes to Russia. A missile defense system has been a prickly issue between the two nations for years. The U.S. and NATO say it would be used to protect Europe against the strike by Iran. But Russia's worried it would violate its sovereignty.

Anyways, here is the question: how big a threat to the United States is Russia?

Go to, post a comment on my blog, or go to THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page.

BLITZER: Who even thought this long after the end of the Cold War, we would even be discussing this?

CAFFERTY: If Obama hadn't had a hot mic, we wouldn't be discussing it.

BLITZER: Be careful.

CAFFERTY: I have to be careful.

BLITZER: You have a microphone in there.


BLITZER: The Constitution may protect you against unreasonable search and seizure. But the Supreme Court has now ruled that an invasive strip-search even for minor offenses is, in fact, reasonable.

Let's go live to CNN's Kate Bolduan. She's following this case for us.

The decision came in a little while ago.


This case came down to a simple question of privacy versus security. The Supreme Court today sided with public safety in a split decision, a case that started more than six years ago with what one man calls the most humiliating ordeal of his life.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): Albert Florence was driving along this New Jersey highway with his family.

ALBERT FLORENCE, PLAINTIFF: We were, you know, not doing nothing illegal.

BOLDUAN: When Florence was pulled over and arrested for unpaid traffic fines he had already paid.

FLORENCE: I was a little shocked, though. I didn't understand why.

BOLDUAN (on camera): After his arrest, Florence was taken here, the Burlington County jail, where he was strip searched. Something every inmate goes through here regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the alleged crime. And that's when Florence said his nightmare was just beginning.

FLORENCE: And I was just told, just do as you're told, wash in this disgusting soap and obey the directions of the officer who was instructing me to turn around, lift my genitals up, turn around, squat.

BOLDUAN: It took six days before Florence was cleared and released, but not before he underwent a second strip search at another jail, after Florence sued, arguing it was a violation of his constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure.

But the Supreme Court disagreed. In a 5-4 decision, Justice Anthony Kenney wrote, quote, "Exempting people arrested for minor offenses from a standard search protocol thus may put them at greater risk and result in more contraband being brought into the detention facility."

The state of New Jersey argued these so-called intake searches are justified because they apply to any person taken into custody.

CARTER PHILLIPS, ATTORNEY FOR COUNTY PRISONS: When you are being lawfully admitted into a prison facility, and he was, at that point, your expectations of privacy essentially drop to zero and the importance of maintaining security rises to about 100 percent.

BOLDUAN: Reacting to the decision, Albert Florence's lawyer told CNN it was, quote, "as close as we could get in this political climate of recent law for the indefinite detention of citizens without trial."

And even before this ruling, Albert Florence made clear he'd continue the fight no matter what the outcome.

FLORENCE: We're just going to fight this thing head on, and make sure this doesn't happen to me or it doesn't to anyone else ever again.


BOLDUAN: And to be clear, this decision in no way requires that every jail strip search people brought in for even the most minor offenses, but it does effectively give correctional institutions authority to do so for any person put into the general prison population, Wolf.

BLITZER: It's an important decision by the Supreme Court. Kate, thanks very, very much.

President Obama for the first time now has spoken directly about the U.S. Supreme Court review of his health care law. While the three days of public arguments did not appear to go well for the Obama administration, the president says he remains upbeat about the eventual ruling.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ultimately, I'm confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress. And I just remind conservative commentators that for years what we have heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, here's a good example. And I'm pretty confident that this court will recognize that and not take that step.


BLITZER: After last week's public hearings, the Supreme Court went behind closed doors, as we expect to get a ruling sometime in June.

We're following this hour's breaking news, the shooting at the California college that's left multiple people dead. We have new information coming in. Stand by for that.

Plus, a fire on a cruise ship is the latest luxury liner mishap. Are they just flukes or are they a sign of a larger problem in the entire industry?


BLITZER: Let's get back to the breaking news out of Oakland, California, a shooting at a college there with unconfirmed reports of five people dead.

Reporter Henry Lee of "The San Francisco Chronicle" is on the phone with us.

Henry, first of all, tell us where you are, what you're hearing, what information have you learned about this mass killing out there?

HENRY LEE, THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE (via telephone): Well, Wolf, I'm standing in the parking lot of a Safeway store in Alameda, California, which is just west of Oakland. The police have surrounded a parked silver Honda that the suspect may have used to make his initial escape from the Oakland religious school. They have detained him. This is the only suspect that they're looking at, so the investigation is ongoing, including the motive and why it's happened.

BLITZER: You're calling it a religious school. Some have called it a university, some have called it a college. What exactly is it?

LEE: I don't have any background yet on the (INAUDIBLE) of this school, but it is Oikos University, which on its Web site says it does provide religious classes, vocational information, also nursing classes at this school. Not much is known about it. It's not too far from the Oakland airport. So, there's a lot that yet we do not know, including whether this suspect is with the school in any way.

BLITZER: Do we know anything about the weapon used in this killing?

LEE: I'm hearing that at least one gunman may have been used. We do not know if that weapon has been recovered or not.

BLITZER: We do believe, though, that the suspect is in custody, is that right?

LEE: That's correct. No arrest has been formally made, but the suspected you're looking at has been detained, at least right now, Wolf, as a person of interest.

BLITZER: And as far as the campus is concerned, does it look like it's calming down? Are there still a major police presence? Or are they evacuating people? Or are they letting people go back?

LEE: Well, it is very chaotic, as you can imagine. Initially, the police were seen that -- the victims and witnesses were seen screaming coming out of the building. There is a heavy police presence now, the SWAT team is still clearing the building. The initially emergency situation has long past, but the certainly, the police are there at the building for a very long time, as well as here in Alameda.

BLITZER: You're saying that the car is believed to be --the car that the police have surrounded there is believed to have been the car of the suspect, is that right?

LEE: That is correct. Now, there might have been one or two vehicles used. I can't tell you if there was any carjacking involved. But there are unconfirmed reports that the initial vehicle might be still at the school, it might be an SUV. And now, I'm looking at a parked silver Honda, Wolf, in this parking lot. So, there might have been multiple vehicles used.

BLITZER: Henry Lee, let's stay in close touch with you. Thanks very, very much.

An awful situation unfolding out there in Oakland, California, five people dead, several others were taken to hospital with injuries and it looks like the suspect as Henry Lee of the "San Francisco Chronicle" just told us on the phone is in custody. We'll stay on top of this story and update you when we get more information.

In the meantime, let's move on to our strategy session, lots of political news to discuss.

Joining us right now are: CNN political contributor, the Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, along with Republican strategist, Ana Navarro.

Ladies, thanks very much for coming in.

Ana, let me start with you because you saw this "USA Today"/Gallup poll. It looks if Romney gets the Republican nomination, increasingly he looks he will. I assume you agree he probably will at this point, he's got a major problem in these battleground states, according to this "USA Today"/Gallup poll, with women voters.

Obama is ahead of him, 54 percent to 36 percent. What a huge gender gap?

It's probably the result of all the stuff we have been hearing over these past few weeks about contraception, birth control, issues directly involving women.

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Absolutely, I'd be with you that it has all to deal with those issues and I'm glad this is coming out this early. It's a very bright red flag that's waving in the air.

We have to pay attention to it. Romney has to pay attention to it. I think it's a signal to him to not talk about these social issues, to talk about the issues that women are really interested in.

And it's the same issues that the other American, the economy, pocket book issues putting on the table. Those are the issues that he needs to concentrate on.

You know, I'm glad this is coming out. I'm glad it's coming out early and I hope it leads to action from the Romney campaign should he be the nominee.

BLITZER: You know, Donna, there's no doubt in recent speeches, if you have taken a look closely at Romney out there on the stomp, he's addressing women more.

He's saying the country's got to create more jobs, women need jobs. They need to get jobs to help their families. He's raising this issue much more assertively I believe. He's seen these polls numbers. He's got a problem of potential disaster with women voters out there.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Look, he's alienating women voters at time that most political analysts understand that women will determine the future of this country.

I mean, we're the majority of voters and of course, increasingly women are voting democratic. He's alienated women on not only reproductive health issues, but I don't think Mitt Romney and the Republicans have a credible answer on the economy.

Women voters want somebody who understands kitchen table issues, somebody who are familiar with their lives and somebody who can address their concerns about the middle class and paying their bills and ensuring that they have jobs in the future. So I don't think Mitt Romney will be able to do the etch-a-sketch and sort of flip the script and get back to being the moderate that he really is.

BLITZER: Do you think, Ana, after he wins the nomination, assuming he wins the nomination, he is going to pivot back to the center and away from the far right?

NAVARRO: And I think that's the keyword, pivot. I don't think in this news cycle that we have now, 24/7, YouTube where everything follows you forever until the day you die, you can really do an etch- a-sketch.

That's a toy from the 1960s and that's a concept from the 1960s. Right now, he need to pivot and what he needs to do is start focusing on those priority issues.

BLITZER: What if he's asked about these sensitive issues like contraception, birth control, these kinds of issues, what does he do? Not answer the question?

NAVARRO: Well, he answers them with nuisances. He answers them leaving wiggle room. He answers them in a tone that does not alienate women. Tone matters in this debate.

I think Mitt Romney himself has not been the one leading this debate, but he certainly is feeling the effects of what the debate has been. A debate that's been taken around by, you know, folks like Rush Limbaugh and others.

And I think he's feeling the effects. So I think tone matters and I think he's got to pivot, Wolf. If he gets asked, he's got to find a way to answer that's not alienating to women. He's going to do something much more than sending out Ann Romney out on the trail who is terrific. We want to hear from him.

BLITZER: She is a secret weapon, Donna. I think you probably agree. Ann Romney, she's speaking out much more assertively on behalf of her husband. She's also having a little sense of humor. Let me play a little clip of Ann Romney, the wife of Mitt Romney.


WBAL HOST: I've seen him like in casual conversation, he comes of very, very, you know, smooth and OK. But sometimes he appears stiff. Do you have to fight back some criticism like my husband isn't stiff, OK?

ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: Well, I guess we better unzip him and let the real Mitt Romney out because he is not. It's just so funny to me that that is the perception out there.


BLITZER: All right, Donna, you agree I'm sure that Ann Romney is going to be a strategic asset for her husband in the general election campaign if it comes to down to that?

BRAZILE: There's no question like Michelle Obama and like other political spouses. She's an asset because she knows the candidate. She could tell us about some of those private moments that perhaps we don't know about that will soften his image among voters especially those who might likely turn to Mitt Romney.

But I do believe Anna is absolutely right, I mean, immigration, he's been forced to go to the far right. On reproductive rights, he's been forced to go to the far right.

He's been forced to go to the far right on just about every issue that matters to women voters, independent voters, Hispanic voters, youth voters, minority voters.

So I don't know how he can pull together the electoral coalition that would allow him to achieve 270 electoral votes unless he pivots really quickly to the middle.

But Anna said it best we have all those favorite YouTube moments ready to let the real Mitt Romney show in the fall.

BLITZER: Anna, you want to respond?

NAVARRO: Yes, we got some great YouTube moments from Barack Obama too. You know, the open mic gaffe and I can tell you on immigration since you brought that up, Donna. You know, we've got the promise that he made the Latino community. And you know, there are a lot of YouTube videos that are going to be out on things that Romney has said, but those YouTubes, they cut both ways. You've got to be awfully careful what you say these days because it will follow you until the day you die.

BRAZILE: But you know, the Arizona moment when Mitt Romney said that the SB1070 will be a model for the nation. We have that one as well. So let's get this one ready because, you know what, this is going to be a very close election, an epic battle.

But I am here to tell you, President Obama will win it and that YouTube moment, it's the one from Al Green when he sings, because that's the mood we all have right now.

BLITZER: We have heard Mitt Romney sing a little bit too.

BRAZILE: Well, you know, let's not make this a singing contest because I think we get into real trouble.

BLITZER: Both the president and Mitt Romney, they're blessed with wonderful wives. Both will help them out there on the campaign trail. All right, guys, thanks very much. Anna, Donna, appreciate it.

Here's a closer look at some other political headlines making news on the CNN Political Ticker. April Fool's Day did not pass unnoticed by Mitt Romney's campaign staff.

They setup an elaborate prank that ended with the Republican presidential candidate walking into an empty room instead of a campaign event. Take a look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Mitt Romney, the next president of the United States!


BLITZER: Happy April Fool's Day. Romney's father, George got a lot of mention on last night's episode of the hit AMC "Mad Men," but it was hardly flattering.

The character, Henry France, is a political advisor is heard on the phone saying he doesn't want his boss appearing with a then Michigan governor. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You should have just gone in to work.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Want me to turn down the TV?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Henry Francis, well, tell Jim he's not going to Michigan because Romney is a clown and I don't want him standing next to him.


BLITZER: Wow, from the 1960s, George Romney then the governor of Michigan. For complete political coverage, be sure to read the ticker at

Osama Bin Laden's three widows and two daughters are now sentenced by a judge in Pakistan. We're going to tell you what now awaits them.

Then after an engine room fire, a luxury liner is stranded in waters frequented by pirates. Just the latest trouble to strike a cruise ship. What's happening out there on the high seas? Standby.


BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, what's the latest?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Wolf. Well, the Planned Parenthood Clinic near Appleton, Wisconsin is closed today after a homemade bomb caused a small fire last night. No one was hurt and the organization says the clinic will reopen tomorrow. Police are investigating, but there's no word yet on a suspect or a motive for that attack.

Osama Bin Laden's three widows and two of his daughters have been sentenced to 45 days house detention in Pakistan. They were convicted today of living in that country illegally.

The judge ordered that all five women be deported back to their native countries after serving their time. They've been in Pakistani custody since Bin Laden was killed last May in a raid by U.S. Navy SEALs.

And the payment processing firm says an attack by hackers may have compromised up to 1.5 million credit and debit cards. Global Payment says although card numbers may have been accessed, card holders' names, addresses and Social Security numbers were not affected. The company says it is investigating the incident and federal officials are also involved -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lisa, thank you.

We're getting more breaking news on that horrible shooting out in Oakland, California. Paul Buchanan is getting new information for us. What are you learning, Paul?

PAUL BUCHANAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I just talked to the chief of staff of the Oakland Police Department, and he says a total of nine people have been shot and he said that he believed that six have been pronounced dead in this Oakland shooting.

He also said that in this area you have mixed use commercial businesses so you may have a school here or a start-up firm nearby. So he does not know if all nine of the people who have been shot are in some way connected to Oikos University.

He also said that they believed that the suspect is in custody and that he was arrested they think without an incident in a nearby city presumably Alamida.

Also they will not be specific at this point, Oakland police, about what the firearm was used, but they're saying, of course, that it was a firearm and again, the headline here Oakland police saying nine people total have been shot and it's believed that six of those people have been pronounced dead.

BLITZER: And we have no information at all about a motive or anything along those lines and no word of what the suspected shooter was saying, if he was shouting out anything at the time, anything along those lines, Paul?

BUCHANAN: No, that's anything discussing at this point. Of course, Wolf, it is not uncommon for a police just to trickle out little bits and dribs and drabs of evidence because, of course, they don't want to compromise their case down the road.

They are saying nothing though at this point about a motive. You know, only that this was a very small Christian college, a vocational school, one that focused on nursing, acupuncture, theology, this sort of thing and music.

Wedge in there near the Oakland airport with a lot of other businesses, but again, nothing about a motive, just that they believe six people have been pronounced dead -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Paul, I know that you have been working this story, you'll check back with us when we get more information. Paul Buchanan on the scene for us, thank you.

Fires, crashes even capsizing, what's going on with the recent spate of accidents and disasters involving cruise ships? We're digging deeper. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Another cruise ship crisis. The latest disturbing accident at sea, CNN's Lisa Sylvester is back. She's been digging deeper into this story for us. Lisa, what's going on with all these mishaps aboard cruise ships?

SYLVESTER: Well, you know, Wolf, taking a cruise, it is a very popular vacation. About 14 million people worldwide took a cruise in the last year. Industry experts say it's a very safe way to travel.

Yet recently there have been a number of incidents and they highlight that the unexpected can happen on the high seas.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): In the dark of night, the Azamara Quest limped into a Malaysian port. The luxury cruise liner was carrying 1,000 people when an engine fire broke out. Passengers and crew were stranded for 24 hours.

It happened south of the Philippines in waters frequented by pirates. On that ship, Virginia Beach President Dorothy Wood, who posted on Facebook, our 17-day adventure has turned, still no AC or hot water, or ability to cook, please send Starbucks this morning.

DOROTHY WOOD, AZAMARA QUEST PASSENGER: I understand that there are some pirates in the area, but we had, as of last night, we had the Philippine Coast Guard beside us and I'm sure that we felt very secure then.

SYLVESTER: It's only the latest of a string of recent cruise accidents and mishaps, the most notable, the capsizing of the Costa Concordia off the Italian coast in January.

Thirty two people are believed to have died in that accident. An engine fire on the Costa Allegra that broke out in the generator room last month then two weeks ago, near Vietnam, the Silver Sea Cruise Line, Silver Shadow ran into a container ship during heavy fog. Are these flukes? Maritime Attorney James Walker says no.

JAMES WALKER, MARITIME ATTORNEY: These things are floating on water, ships sink. There are collisions between cruise ships, which have occurred. There are lesions that where vessels strikes a dock or a rock. They're capsizing. There are these types of catastrophes. There are ships that have sunk.

SYLVESTER: But the risk management company, IJet says cruises are still one of the safest modes of travel.

BRUCE MCINDOE, PRESIDENT, IJET INTERNATIONAL: Cruise ships, they are very safe form of transport when you look at it in total miles per passenger, as far as the amount of people that are out there cruising every day. It's a very, very low risk mode of transportation.

SYLVESTER: In the case of the Azamara Quest, the crew won high praise for the handling of this crisis. Five crewmembers were injured putting out the blaze including one employee who was in serious condition.


SYLVESTER: Now I spoke to a passenger who is from the U.K. He said all of the passengers made it back to Malaysia unharmed and the cruiseline put them up in hotels and most were headed back to their home countries. There were about 200 Americans, Wolf, on board that ship -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Lisa, thanks for that report. Jack Cafferty is asking, how big a threat to the U.S. is Russia? Your e-mail just ahead.

And on our next hour, Bill Clinton opening up about the chances that his wife, that's the secretary of state may run for president in 2016.


BLITZER: Jack's back with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack?

CAFFERTY: The question, Wolf, this hour is how big a threat to the United States is Russia? Mitt Romney made some comments saying that we should be very afraid of the Russian there.

Tim writes, "A better question is how big a threat are we to them. Their military is a hollow shell of what it once was and so they become a reactionary. Their only offensive weapon in a conventional military sense is the destruction of the world. This is from a country with such poor health and high alcoholism that it will be dead in a few decades if it's not careful."

Ryan writes "I'm a Canadian. I married a Russian 14 years ago. I've traveled to Moscow every year for a couple a months at a time. Just spent the last six months there. I have news for Romney, Russia's been capitalist for 20 years. It's a Caucasian country like Canada, modern, progressive, wealthy. I love the place. The people are warm and friendly. Just like North America, they're all fed up with their politicians."

J.K. in Minnesota writes, "Not as much as Mitt would like you to believe." Randy says, "Honestly, I think Russia is a bigger threat to us than Iran. Everybody knows that Russia, China and Pakistan, all want Iran to have nukes. All four countries would then come together to form a nuclear powerhouse with Russia leading the pack."

Larry in Rhode Island, as big a threat as Santorum is to Romney for the nomination." Rene in Illinois, "Russia is clearly not our best friend, but they're nowhere near the threat the Soviet Union was? A better question is why is everybody and everything classified as a threat by the GOP?

I think it's just one more good example of a party that has no positive viable solutions to offer so they continue to fall back on that good old-fashioned scare tactics."

And J.D. writes, "Russia is about the last thing on my list of stuff to worry about and don't forget Sarah Palin's keeping an eye on it from her house."

If you want to read more about this, you go to my blog, or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page.

BLITZER: We got a lot of Canadian viewers.

CAFFERTY: We get a tremendous number of e-mails from Canada.

BLITZER: I grew up on the borders in Buffalo. I love Canada.


BLITZER: Now the summers are great.

CAFFERTY: Buffalo?

BLITZER: The summers are great in Buffalo. Winters are great in Buffalo.

CAFFERTY: No, they're not.

BLITZER: Don't speak ill of Buffalo.

Coming up next hour, a lottery mystery worth hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. Some say, one alleged winner's story simply doesn't add up.

And dozens of people killed in a plane crash, but 12 passengers survived.

And a toddler trapped in a 40-foot well, we're going to show you the emotional rescue.


BLITZER: Here's a look at today's "Hotshots." In Pakistan, plain clothes police officers take part in an operation against the criminal gangs, which threatened so many neighborhoods.

In Fiji, travellers sleep on an airport floor after flooding from a tropical cyclone displaces 8,000 people. In Myanmar, a group of Buddhist nuns excitedly await the convoy of the newly elected reformist, Aung Sang Suu Kyi.

And in Japan, a Macaca enjoys snacking on cherry blossom plants, that's the Macaca right there. "Hotshots," pictures coming in from around the world.

Another powerful earth quake in Southern Mexico. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, what do you have?

SYLVESTER: Wolf, this was a magnitude 6.3 aftershock to a much larger quake that shook the state of Guerrero less than two weeks ago. That one measured 7.4 and like that one, today's earthquake was felt hundreds of miles away in Mexico City. But unlike the bigger earthquake, there are no reports of damages or injuries today.

An investigation is underway into the crash of a Russian airliner with 43 people on board in Siberia, 31 were killed, including all four crewmembers, 12 passengers survived.

The Russian media report that airline officials say the twin engine ATR was trying to make an emergency landing when it went down.

And the death toll in Iraq has fallen to a nine-year low despite continued violence. Officials say 112 civilians, soldiers and police were killed in March, the lowest number since the U.S. led invasion back in 2003.

And it was a happy ending to a harrowing ordeal in Southwest China where a 2-year-old boy fell into a 40-foot dry well. Rescuers pump in air as they made repeated attempts to pull him out, but the boy kept slipping from the ropes. He was finally rescued late in the evening and taken to a hospital. His family was releived to learn that he is going to be just fine. All things considered, that 40-foot drywall drop -- he's going to be okay, though. -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Good news, very good news. Lisa, thank you.