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THE SITUATION ROOM
"We've Dodged A Bullet"; Tornado Aftermath; No Back-Up Plan For Healthcare; Interview with White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer; Rick Perry's Bad Back; Coroner's Report on Whitney Houston; Pepper Spray Used on Students; California Shooting Suspect
Aired April 4, 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 you're in the SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, airline passengers injured on a flight thousands of feet above ground. Just ahead, how it's linked to that monstrous storm that ripped parts of Texas to shreds.
Also, a critical al Qaeda lifeline knocked out in an alleged secret cyber attack. So, who's behind insurgency websites suddenly going dark.
And outrage sweeps the college campus as dozens of students get pepper sprayed by police.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. you're In the SITUATION ROOM.
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BLITZER: First, to the wrath of those vicious Texas tornadoes. Looking at these horrifying images, hundreds of homes destroyed or damaged. It's shocking there have been no reports of deaths or even serious injuries. Some are even calling it a miracle. Rescuers are searching the Dallas-Ft. Worth area once again today to be sure, 100 percent sure that no one is trapped in the wreckage.
CNN's Ed Lavandera is in one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in Texas right now, near the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. What are you seeing, Ed? Tell our viewers.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. We're coming to you from the town of Forney, Texas, which is just on the eastern outskirts of Dallas, and this is what has been left behind after a tornado roared through here yesterday afternoon. In this subdivision, we counted several hundred homes damaged and severely hit by this tornado that ripped through here yesterday afternoon.
And it is just absolutely devastating in this one specific area where we're at, and obviously, we've seen people throughout the day helping each other out trying to clear the debris and clean up. There's glass and wood and wood -- mangled wood, everywhere with nails sticking out, you know, a very kind of treacherous ground here that people are having to deal with as they continue the cleanup process here in the town of Forney.
It will take some time, but there's also been amazing stories, Wolf. I can't remember the last time that I was able to speak with so many people whose homes took direct hits from these tornadoes and able to speak after it. We spoke with the woman just a little while ago. Her name is Sherry Enochs. She was in a home just over this edge right over here.
One of the first homes hit in this neighborhood. She was home alone with her 19--month-old grandson and two other children she was baby sitting, and she told us about what it was like when she saw that storm rolling right at her.
SHERRY ENOCHS, TORNADO SURVIVOR: I saw the tail. You know, I saw the tornado coming across this field.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Sherry Enochs was looking out her bedroom window into a wide-open field south of her home, when she first spotted the vicious tornado gaining steam and quickly advancing headed in this direction right at her. She was home alone with her 19-month-old grandson and two other children.
She was baby-sitting. She rushed them into a bathroom, but she could feel her grandson getting ripped from her arms.
ENOCHS: The wind pretty much took him for a second, and I grabbed him back, you know, to keep the wind pressure.
LAVANDERA: You feel like he was getting sucked out of the house?
ENOCHS: Yes, right out of my arms. And I grabbed him back and put him back, you know, to my chest, and I didn't know if he was OK or not.
Where did you say the bathtub was?
LAVANDERA: Sherry's home exploded all around her, and now, she can't even find the bathtub that protected her.
ENOCHS: Underneath that tool box?
LAVANDERA: How did you get out of there?
ENOCHS: A man helped me. I asked him -- I was screaming, because I couldn't get out, and I had my grandson in my hands and looking for the others.
LAVANDERA: They all walked away with only a few bruises and scratches. Only the grand baby's crib was salvaged. Sherry's home was the first house hit. From here, the tornado continued shredding its way through this neighborhood. From this vantage point, you can see the trail of mangled debris left in its path.
(on-camera) What strikes you as you walk around this neighborhood in Forney, Texas is the incessant sound of home alarms still blaring. The intruder here was a fierce and powerful twister.
(voice-over) Incredibly, no one was killed in the outbreak of tornadoes across North Texas, but the wave of storms left behind unforgettable images capturing a tornado's fury. Watch this video shot seconds before a tornado swooped out of the sky into this neighborhood in Arlington, Texas. Listen to the wind, the howling.
Mike Chambers (ph) had to run inside. When he came out, the first thing he saw was what the tornado did to a neighbor's house right across the street.
LAVANDERA (on-camera): Wolf, so there you have it. I think, you know, what these tornadoes will be remembered for were just the images it all left behind for so many people to see a firsthand glimpse of just how powerful these storms can be -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Amazing stories. I got to tell you, I've been speaking to friends in that area and I even had a chance last night to speak to the mayor of Dallas. I spoke to the mayor of Arlington. A lot of people are thinking it is a miracle. No one killed and very few, if any, serious injuries. Are people talking about that?
LAVANDERA: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think, you know, when you see and you're able to talk to people whose homes took direct hits, and just a few hours later, you're able to talk to them directly, I think one of the things that helped out many of these communities, Wolf, is the fact that it doesn't appear that these tornadoes spent a great deal of time just swooping and moving along the ground.
It seems like they were kind of moving up and down, perhaps, you know, landing on homes and then going up for a little bit, and perhaps, something like that. That situation is the impression that I get in walking around these neighborhoods and seeing the damage that's left behind.
It just doesn't seem like these tornadoes spent a whole lot of time on the ground swooping through large populated areas, and I think that, perhaps, saved a lot of people.
BLITZER: Certainly did. All right. Thanks very much. Good reporting, as usual, Ed Lavandera on the scene for us. Lisa Sylvester is also taking a closer look at the extraordinary video that was captured just as these tornados were touching down. Lisa, we see some truly unbelievable pictures.
SYLVESTER: Yes. You know, Wolf, many people now have cameras on their cell phones. So, we are seeing some pretty amazing videos and views of these tornados and the debris clouds as they swept through North Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tornado down! Tornado on the ground! There it is right behind the tree. Tornado on the ground! SYLVESTER (voice-over): Up close, way to close, tornadoes barreling down on Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Debris is flying. Oh! Holy Moly! Oh, my God! Oh, my God! It's coming. Holy Moly!
SYLVESTER: The National Weather Service says this was more than just a couple of tornadoes. It estimates that six to 13 twisters touched down in North Texas Tuesday.
JONATHAN COOK, WITNESS: A girl that was taking shelter with us pointed up with two fingers and said look up there, and whenever we looked up, we saw two tornadoes at the same time touchdown about an eighth of a mile up from us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're all standing out here taking pictures.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is coming our way, y'all. I swear to God it's coming our way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's coming --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is coming toward us, y'all, get in the building.
SYLVESTER: Amazingly, no deaths were reported, but thousands lost power and hundreds of homes destroyed. The Schneider National Trucking Company reported about a hundred pieces of equipment damaged in that storm. Trucks and trailers tossed around.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The poor city of Lancaster then, you know, it took it on like a blender going through some of these structures, and it's just been devastating in that city.
SYLVESTER: Houses were chopped up, roofs ripped off. Residents say it was over in about 30 seconds, but boy, were those moments frightening.
COLIN LAWRENCE, WITNESS: It sounded like a bomb went off. It was crazy. I felt the house start shaking, and I started praying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was scary. It was so scary. It reminded you the Wizard of Oz when the tornado hit, and everything was going round and around.
SYLVESTER (on-camera): And we received a statement from Schneider National Freight Company. You know, they said despite the extensive damage to their equipment and their trucks, all of their employees are safe and accounted for. And like many others in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, their attention is now shifting to recovery and the rebuilding effort, Wolf. BLITZER: As it should. Amazing what happened there. All right. Lisa, thank you.
Certainly, the strength of this terrifying storm system is still being felt not only on the ground, but also thousands of feet up in the air. Twelve passengers onboard a United Airlines flight from Florida to Houston were hurt when the plane hit weather-related turbulence while flying over Louisiana.
CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers, is standing by at the CNN Severe Weather Center. Chad, that was a wild ride for those passengers. What happened?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It certainly was. In fact, Wolf, from 38,000 feet where they were in level flight, all of a sudden, two minutes later, they were at 32,000 feet. That plane descended 6,000, feet after hitting that turbulence. That turbulence was caused by a line of thunderstorms coming off of Lake Charles, off of the coast of Louisiana, and into the Gulf of Mexico.
Now, typically, the airplanes would fly across the land and into Houston. This plane, remember, started in Tampa, ended up in Houston. They like going along the land for safety reasons, and then, it comes into Houston, but that's not even how this plane went through the night, because this plane knew that there was an awful lot of weather up here.
So, the weather was up here. It was not going to take the regular flight path. It would be up along the big bend along over Pensacola and then finally into Houston. It took a different flight, a different path. It took the path from Tampa straight across, trying to avoid the turbulence in itself, but right there, we go from 37,000, 38,000 feet.
In one more minute, we're down to 32,000 feet and that plane literally descended. People were just being thrown around in that airplane. We're saying most of these injuries were like a whiplash- type injury where your neck was not supported and that's what happened here. This was a very ugly situation, and even right now, we still have turbulence with this.
This was an air (ph) signet that comes out from the federal aviation, and we will see, here's the United States of America, you could see that, and here, the orange areas from Indiana all the way through Kentucky and Tennessee, back down through Louisiana where the turbulence happened yesterday and another area here just to the northwest of the big bend of Texas in Florida, that's where we're seeing some of the significant turbulence, at least right now.
You can always go look at this if you want to know whether your flight is going to be bumpy or not, but no one expected that turbulence that that flight -- this is why you always want to keep your seatbelt on whether you're sitting down or not. Just keep the seatbelt on. It's always safer to keep that on when you're sitting there. BLITZER: Yes. Not just keep it on, Chad, but make sure it's snug, as well. Otherwise, it's not going to do you much good. You got really sit there even if it's smooth, you're flying at 35,000 feet, you think it's not turbulent. You never know. It can happen out of the blue, right?
MYERS: It really can, because you know, it's up to the pilot at some point in time. He looks at his local radar in his plane, and he's seeing what it's seeing out in front of them, but it's up to the pilot to try to fly through the cells. There's a cell over there. I'm not going to hit that one. I want to fly over here.
The problem is the cell where it's raining, the rain, you know, updraft may be going up here, but what goes up must come down somewhere, and so, all of a sudden, you're in an updraft on the other side where there may be hail coming down. All of a sudden, you're in the downdraft and that's where it really gets tricky and pilots have to be very careful.
They never like flying through lines of weather. And they always try to fly around lines of weather. They got very close to flying around it, but there were more cells developing to the southwest of that line, and they got in it rather than around it -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Chad Myers, thanks very much. Doing an excellent job, you were brilliant yesterday covering those tornadoes, and unfortunately, we're going to have to do that again sooner rather than later. Chad Myers reporting.
Another scary scene involving a plane. This one crashing into a busy grocery store. People inside and outside are now reacting. Watch this.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God! I think a plane just went into Publix here. Oh, my God!
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BLITZER: Also ahead, Mitt Romney says President Obama is hiding something. I'll ask one of the president's top advisers about that and more.
BLITZER: Jack's back with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You're probably not aware that time gets away from all of us. Less than two weeks until all our taxes are due. Think about this, it's estimated Americans have to work 107 days just to earn enough money to pay the government the taxes they owe.
A research outfit called the Tax Foundation says Americans will spend an average of 29 percent of their income on federal, state and local taxes in 2012. This is stunning. That's more than what the average family spends on food, clothing, and housing combined. Nationally, the so-called Tax Freedom Day arrives April 17th, which just happens to be the same day taxes are due, but it comes earliest in states like Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Tennessee is the earliest. Tax Freedom Day, March 31st. States with higher incomes, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, their tax burdens don't expire until later in the year. Connecticut is the last one. Tax Freedom Day, May 5th. It goes without saying that not every situations the same, but a lot of people are fed up with the current tax structure. I'd be one of those.
Billionaire, David Rubenstein (ph), calls America's tax system a disgrace. The co-founder of the private equity firm, the Carlyle Group, says the government needs to change the law if they want the rich to pay more taxes. Rubenstein says he's paying what he's supposed to pay under the current law, and it's unfair for people to say that he's not paying his fair share.
President Obama's been calling for the rich to pay their fair share in taxes. He wants to change the law so that people who make more than a million dollars a year will pay at least a 30 percent tax rate.
Here's the question, what does it mean when you have to work 107 days just to meet your tax bill? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile, post comment on my blog or go to our post on the SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page. And after all of that, they still spend a trillion dollars more than they take in down there in Washington where you're from.
BLITZER: David Rubenstein is a very smart guy. I knew him when he was domestic policy adviser for Jimmy Carter. You remember President Jimmy Carter.
CAFFERTY: Yes. He did better in the long run than Carter --
BLITZER: -- to be a billionaire.
BLITZER: He was a young 25, 26-year-old kid working for Jimmy Carter. Stuart Eizenstat, remember those days?
CAFFERTY: Of course, yes. Our audience has no idea what we're talking about. God, you're old.
BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.
It's been a couple of rather tough weeks in certain areas for President Obama. First, an open mic catches him being a little too honest with the Russian president, then some tough questions at the Supreme Court convinced some, at least, including our own senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, who's a real authority on the Supreme Court, that the healthcare reform law could be in deep, deep trouble right now.
All of this while getting slammed by his rivals on a daily, sometimes hourly basis, out there on the campaign trail. Let's discuss what's going on with the president's communications director, Dan Pfeiffer. Dan, thanks very much for coming in.
DAN PFEIFFER, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's talk about the healthcare reform law. I was surprised, personally, when I heard the president say this the other day. Listen to this.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have enormous confidence that in looking at this law, not only is it constitutional, but that the court is going to exercise its jurisprudence carefully because of the profound power that our Supreme Court has. As a consequence, we're not spending a whole bunch of time planning for contingencies.
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BLITZER: How much time, Dan, are you spending on contingencies given the enormous stakes involved the possibility, the real possibility, some would argue, that the Supreme Court will overturn the healthcare reform law?
PFEIFFER: Well, as the president said, not very much, Wolf, because as the president said, this law is constitutional, and the point he's been making here is that this is a law that's constitutional, and that's not just the president's opinion. It's the opinion of a wide array of legal scholars from the right and the left, including some of the most conservative appellate court justices out there.
And so, we feel very confident in that. And the point the president's also been making is that there's a heavy burden on the court here in cases like these, these converse clause cases, which is why he's confident that they'll be upheld.
And you know, you refer to your friend, Jeffrey Toobin, there, and the point that I think Jeffrey was making was he's making a prediction about the court, one that, you know, the president clearly disagrees with, but he's not questioning the constitutionality of the law. That's something that very many people agree on, like I said, from the right and the left.
BLITZER: But I would argue, and correct me if I'm wrong, Dan, that given the stakes involved, millions of young kids who are still on their parents' health insurance program as a result of this law, no preconditions, existing healthcare preconditions, that potentially could go away, caps on how much insurance companies would provide. Isn't that irresponsible not to think about contingencies. It's only a few months away, and if the Supreme Court says these mandates are wrong, the whole thing may collapse.
PFEIFFER: Well, Wolf, I mean, rest assured that we'll be prepared when a decision comes, but you raise a very important point here which is, there are very real consequences for real people in America if either of this law is overturned by the court or, if as the Republican Party would like, the law is repealed through some other means.
There are people who have insurance now whose lives are being saved because they have access to healthcare. They would, otherwise, have. That will go away if the law goes away either through the courts or through, you know, some sort of legislative repeal.
And I think it's incumbent upon, particularly, those politicians who believe so strongly in repeal who say they'll do it on day one in office to explain to the young people who have insurance now why they would take it away, to the children who have pre-existing conditions who were not able to get healthcare two years ago who can get it now, why they think that should go away. Those are -- a theoretical exercise. And so, it's real consequences for real people.
BLITZER: And that's why I was saying, you know, I think it would be irresponsible not think that there could be a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court, ruling it unconstitutional as a result. I'm hoping that the Department of Health and Human Services, officials at the White House are, at least, going through the process of thinking about that so a lot of people won't suffer.
But let me move on to Mitt Romney who now is really, on a daily basis, going after the president. The president now is going after him. Here's Mitt Romney speaking today before newspaper editors.
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MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama's comments to President Medvedev are deeply troubling. That incident calls his candor into serious question. He doesn't want to share his real plans before the election, either with the public or with the press
By flexibility, he means that what the American public doesn't know won't hurt him. His intent is on hiding. You and I are going to have to do the seeking.
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BLITZER: The point that he and a lot of other Republicans are making, if the president's reelected, doesn't have to worry about another term after that, he's going to do whatever he wants, and the American people potentially could suffer. How do you rebut that coming into this campaign?
PFEIFFER: Well, I'd say a couple of things, Wolf. First, what the president said to President Medvedev is something that he has said publicly, and he explained the next day. And it's a very simple fact that it is challenging in an election year to deal with such complicated issues like arms control. And, that's not a secret, and so, it shouldn't be surprising anyone.
Second, the president's plans are very clear. He has been very specific and open. They're available on his website. You know, how he would deal with our deficits, how he would deal with our energy situation, what he wants to do to create jobs in this country.
He is very specific. It's not a mystery to the American people what he wants to do. And so, this seems like a lot of political games being played by Governor Romney and others.
And I would note that on the -- I think it was the very day when the president had that meeting with President Medvedev, Governor Romney was asked whether he -- you know, what agencies he would be willing to eliminate or cut as part of his deficit reduction plan, and he said he didn't want to name them because in his previous campaigns, he talked specifically about (INAUDIBLE) the Department of Education and that it hurt him in the election.
So, he wasn't going to put forward those details. So, I think there's a little bit of -- you know, it may make sense for Governor Romney look in the mirror on this issue.
BLITZER: Dan Pfeiffer, the communications director at the White House, also known as @Pfeiffer44 on Twitter. I follow you. I'm sure a lot of other people do as well. Dan, thanks very much for coming in.
PFEIFFER: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: A close friend of Rick Santorum says the former senator might quit before the race -- before his own state's primary if it looks like he's going down. We're live with what Santorum's campaign has to say about that.
Plus, new claims Texas governor, Rick Perry, was on painkillers while campaigning, but that's not what he told me. We're getting to the bottom of it. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Rick Santorum is backing on Pennsylvania insisting, despite the polls, that he can win his home state this month and quiet calls to get out of the race. Those calls only getting louder after last night's bruising triple loss to Mitt Romney. CNN senior correspondent, Joe Johns, is standing by in Pennsylvania. He's got the very latest on this race for the White House -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, more speculation today about the circumstances under which Rick Santorum might get out of the race. A well-known friend of Rick Santorum's in the state legislature quoted publicly as saying Santorum might get out of the race if it became clear he would not be able to win the state of Pennsylvania.
But the campaign contacted by CNN this afternoon said Santorum has no intentions of getting out of the race until after the Pennsylvania primary. That issue whether Santorum will stay in the race or get out is the one thing that sort of dominated the day here in Pennsylvania.
JOHNS (voice-over): Nearly more media than general public greeted Rick Santorum at this Pennsylvania diner after he lost the Wisconsin, Maryland, and D.C. primaries.
RICK SANTORUM, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just had a breakfast (ph).
JOHNS: And more than ever, the question was about a graceful exit from the race, especially since he'd lost his Senate re-election bid here in Pennsylvania by a wide margin in 2006. And while he holds a lead in the polls here now, Mitt Romney appears to be closing fast. The question, why would Santorum risk another embarrassing loss in Pennsylvania?
SANTORUM: That's a whole different world this time around. First, I'm running for president and not running for the Senate. It's a whole different environment. I think we saw them -- the Pennsylvanians have seen the mistakes of what happened when you give control of the hard left Washington -- in Washington D.C., and you --
JOHNS: He side-stepped a question about Senator John McCain who called Santorum's campaign irrelevant and he didn't seem swayed by GOP history, suggesting runners up in Republican nomination fights tend to get the prize the next time around.
SANTORUM: Next time, you haven't talked to my wife, obviously.
JOHNS: For all intents and purposes next time around though --
SANTORUM: (INAUDIBLE) you haven't talked to my wife about next time.
SANTORUM: We're not -- the last thing we're thinking about is next time.
We have now reached the point where it's halftime.
JOHNS: In fact, his speech the night before had made it clear he thinks this year's race is still a long way from over.
SANTORUM: God bless you.
JOHNS: The campaign's logic is that if Santorum wins delegate- rich Pennsylvania on April 24th and then heads into May, he could do well in most of the contests that month. Santorum aide Hogan Gidley says voters are not that excited about Romney who only won by a seven percent margin in Wisconsin.
HOGAN GIDLEY, SANTORUM SPOKESMAN: But all these states we've had and we won 11 of them two-thirds of the people still don't want Mitt Romney to be the nominee and even the ones that do aren't that excited about it and you've always heard the adage you want your supporters to walk across broken glass for you. These people would walk across broken glass for Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney's wouldn't walk across a parking lot with a pair of tennis shoes and a golf cart to help them along the way.
JOHNS: On the other hand, says Pennsylvania pollster Terry Madonna (ph), Santorum's problem here may be his word choices, the way he talks about things that has caused a tightening in the race.
TERRY MADONNA, FRANKLIN AND MARSHALL COLLEGE: And so I think added to the fact that Santorum has been heavily focused on social and cultural questions in the last six weeks, he often does so in a very controversial and provocative manner.
JOHNS: The Santorum campaign is taking a break over the next several days and then it's back into the trenches in a state both his opponents and his supporters alike say he's pretty much got to win -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Joe Johns on the scene for us in Pennsylvania, thank you. Let's dig a little bit deeper now into this race for the White House, joining us the "Politico" chief White House correspondent Mike Allen. He's the co-author of a brand new e-book entitled "Inside The Circus." There's the cover right there. Mike thanks as usual for coming in.
MIKE ALLEN, CO-AUTHOR, "INSIDE THE CIRCUS": Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: I was fascinated personally by (INAUDIBLE) a lot of juicy revelations in your book, but the whole Rick Perry painkiller issue and how that potentially might have impacted him when he was running for the nomination. You write this. "A bad back doomed any chance Perry stood to break through. It became an open secret that he was using painkillers in sufficient dosages to keep him standing through the two-hour debates." Explain what was going on, what you and your co-authors and your team learned.
ALLEN: Yes, Wolf, Evan Thomas (ph) and I discovered while we were interviewing people for "Inside The Circus" that Rick Perry's back surgery and the effects of it really consumed the campaign, that the campaign never really got on its feet because Rick Perry had trouble staying on his feet. One of his former fund raisers told us that they couldn't even line up the number of clicks, the number of photos with top donors that they needed because Governor Perry wasn't able to stay standing for that long. He was in excruciating pain. Wolf, you've had back pain. You know how it is. It's not something you can fake. It's not something you just grid your way through and so you can get in these long debates and it really hurt him, and we saw that in his debate performance. A manager for another campaign told us in an interview for "Inside The Circus" that he was in a restroom outside one of the debates right before it started and he heard someone singing when they were coming in, walked up, came up to the urinal next to him. It was the governor, and he was convinced that Rick Perry's back pain was part of what was resulting in that behavior.
BLITZER: Because you know the medications can clearly affect your brain. Listen to this exchange I had with Rick Perry on this sensitive subject when I interviewed him in Washington on December 7th.
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BLITZER: Did any of that pain medication, remember that highly publicized brain freeze --
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes.
BLITZER: Do you think you can blame the pain medication or any drugs for causing that?
PERRY: That was probably too many days on the road. It didn't have anything to do with medication --
BLITZER: You were just working --
PERRY: Yes, we were. You know we seven -- seven weeks and raised $17 million. We were on the road a lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That oops moment, Mike, do you believe it was the result in part of the medication, the impact it could have on his brain?
ALLEN: Well, Wolf, we have no way to know that, and the campaign says that pain medication wasn't a factor in the campaign, but what we know is that the back surgery and the pain from it was one part of the reason that Rick Perry's campaign just didn't unfold the way he expected in any way. In interviews for the first time for this book, some of the people were involved in putting together the campaign said that they were convinced that they could raise enough money, that he would be the star, that he would be the Mitt killer, perhaps the nominee. From day one, the money didn't come in.
Governor Perry didn't take off, and some people involved in the campaign said he even seemed to check out. That he was not involved in the details of the campaign. He didn't follow up on polls, didn't ask the campaign about it. Now some of the staff will tell us that that's a sign of a healthy candidate that he was focused on what he was supposed to be, his speeches and his interviews, but it gave the appearance of and being a little of a spectator on his own campaign as his bus rolled through New Hampshire and Iowa looking -- with things looking increasingly bleak.
BLITZER: They put out a statement in response to your book "Inside The Circus." "The governor has stated that July back surgery prevented his regular exercise routine and Perry officials have also repeatedly and truthfully denied that pain medicine was a factor in the campaign. POLITICO's claims are false, unsubstantiated and ultimately harmful to the political electoral process and to the trust in the media that covers the process." Just wanted to put their statement -- do you want to react to that, Mike?
ALLEN: Sure. They have said that the pain medication was not a factor. You can read into that whatever you want to, and the information in our book from Rick Perry came from trustworthy staffers around Rick Perry himself.
BLITZER: The book is entitled "Inside The Circus", it's an e- book, Mike Allen, Evan Thomas, the co-authors and by the way, Mike, happy birthday to your mom who I know is watching right now, a very proud mom as she should be. Thanks very much. You want to say happy birthday?
ALLEN: Very kind -- thank you for your coverage and a shout out to our editor John Meacham (ph) who conceived this. He called the new project teddy white (ph), in real time, so at least that's what we're trying for.
BLITZER: Mike Allen thanks very much.
We are just getting our hands, by the way, on Whitney Houston's final toxicology report. New details about her death coming in, we'll go live to Los Angeles. That's coming up.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN BREAKING NEWS.
BLITZER: We are just getting the final coroner report on Whitney Houston's death, a lot of new details coming in. Let's go to our entertainment correspondent Kareen Wynter. She's in Los Angeles. She's been going through this lengthy document, some of the headlines, Kareen?
KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. We just got our hands on the toxicology report and I have to tell you it's quite extensive, about 45 pages, it has everything from the medical examiner's findings to different drug levels found in Whitney Houston's system, also very, very graphic autopsy report. Some of the things that have stood out so far in this report, it talks about the sequence of events that happened that Saturday the day before the Grammys at that hotel in Beverly Hills where Whitney Houston was staying and it talks about the fact that the singer here had a history of narcotic substance abuse.
And that on that Saturday she was complaining about a sore throat and her assistance told her you know what get in the tub, take a bath, I'll come back and check on you. That was around 2:30 in the afternoon between 2:30 and 3:00 p.m. Local Time. And according to this point, this witness, Whitney Houston's assistant told investigators that when she returned she used a key to get inside Whitney Houston's room which was locked at the time and when she entered the bathroom she found the singer lying facedown in that bathtub filled with water. The assistant immediately contacted the bodyguard. They took Whitney out of the tub and called 911.
So it gives you an idea of exactly what happened on that Saturday right before authorities were called to the scene. What's also telling, Wolf, is -- and again, I'm still combing through this and we're probably going to have to rely very heavily on our medical expert Sanjay Gupta to break down some of the medical verbiage in here, but it also talks about, Wolf, a powdery substance and it refers to that several times in this report again by coroners' investigators here in Los Angeles that they found remnants of a white powdery substance from a drawer and from a mirror in the singer's hotel room at the time.
And they found it in several other locations, as well, as well as spoons. So it will be interesting to see if that's actually tied to the cocaine that was found in Whitney Houston's system. You know investigators from the law enforcement and as well as coroners have been very tight-lipped about what kind of evidence was found at the scene. We were told initially about this report a couple of weeks ago, we were told at the time that Whitney Houston died of accidental drowning, Wolf, and that some of the contributing factors there was heart disease as well as cocaine use. So we just got out hands on this Wolf. We're perusing it and we're trying to break it down for you, but those are some of the highlights here from the coroner's office. We just got this moments ago -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes because a couple of weeks ago they released their initial report, as you point out, saying she did have a history of heart disease. She was taking cocaine. They found marijuana. They found other prescription drugs in her body. I take it in this report, and I haven't gone through it, they just go into the amount of cocaine they found, is that what you're saying?
WYNTER: It's all in here, Wolf, and I'm flipping through and right before coming out to you I wanted to have those levels for you, and it is so thick, it's so extensive, I haven't quite gotten to that yet, but what was telling at the time when investigators held the news conference with the initial report, Wolf, they said that there were acute levels found in Whitney Houston's system meaning that she had just taken the drug, cocaine right before getting into the bathtub that Saturday. So at that time we had so many questions. How much cocaine was found in her system? How much cocaine was found in the room, and I'll bet those answers are in this detailed report. I'm getting to it and hopefully I'll have that for you soon, Wolf --
BLITZER: Does it say -- does it say she was taking cocaine on that specific day just before she was found in the bathtub?
WYNTER: Absolutely and that's something that we knew a couple of weeks ago. That's what the coroner has really emphasized at the time that she took cocaine right before getting into that bathtub. Yes.
BLITZER: OK. Kareen, go ahead and finish reading that report. We'll get back to you. We'll check in with our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He's an authority on all of these matters and we'll continue to watch this story for our viewers. We'll take a quick break -- more when we get back.
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BLITZER: Scenes of pain at a California college after campus police use pepper spray to break up a protest. Mary Snow has been following the story. Mary what happened? It looks very, very dramatic.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well tensions escalated last night. This was an on-campus meeting. Students couldn't get in. They didn't want to use an overflow room. Now Santa Monica College says it's investigating the incident, but the school's president is also defending the actions of the campus police.
SNOW (voice-over): A scene of chaos at Santa Monica College. Students running after being pepper sprayed. The students were upset there wasn't enough room for them at the school's board of trustees meeting. They were there to discuss a controversial plan offering extra courses at higher tuition. Frustrated students rushed the door being guarded by campus police.
KAYLEIGH WADE, SANTA MONICA COLLEGE STUDENT: It was all women in the front and they tried to pin my friend against the wall and I tried to get her from under and when I got her they pinned my arms back, and then, I don't know, everything kind of escalated and people were, like, you know trying to help each other and then they pepper sprayed us.
SNOW: Some who were pepper sprayed used milk to soothe their eyes seen in these photos taken by David Steinman (ph), a Green Party candidate for California's 33rd congressional district.
DAVID STEINMAN, GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE: Imagine the hottest bowl of habanera salsa being splattered on your face, and it continues and it gets worse and worse and worse and the more you rub, the hotter it gets.
SNOW: Santa Monica College released a statement saying "when some of the demonstrators used force there was one discharge of pepper spray used by an SMC police officer to preserve public and personal safety. Unfortunately, it says, a number of bystanders, including college staff, students and other police personnel were affected." But students say the reaction was unwarranted.
WADE: I thought that the actions made by the police were completely unjustifiable like they're ridiculous and really over the top and completely unnecessary.
SNOW: The college went on to say although a number of participants at the meeting engaged in unlawful conduct, Santa Monica College police personnel exercised restraint and made no arrests. Santa Monica is a highly regarded community college. It has gained widespread attention for its plan to raise rates for some of its required courses. Critics say it's a two-tiered system that hurts lower income students. The college says it has no other choice because it's squeezed by state budget cuts.
SNOW: Now the Santa Monica Fire Department was called to the scene last night. It says up to 30 people sought treatment and three were sent to the hospital.
BLITZER: Mary thanks very much for that report.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN BREAKING NEWS.
BLITZER: All right that alleged gunman in that shooting, that deadly California shooting incident has been in court. Dan Simon has been watching what's going on. He is thought to have killed seven people in that shooting incident. Dan, you were inside that courtroom. He is joining us on the phone. Dan, what happened?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): I left the courtroom just minutes ago, Wolf, and this was the arraignment for the suspect, 43-year-old One Goh. This was a routine hearing. The judge explained all the charges he is facing, 10 counts, seven counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder. We got to see the suspect for the first time. He was wearing a red jumpsuit. He appeared expressionless. He was talking to his attorney and the judge explained the rights, explained that he had the right to a preliminary hearing (INAUDIBLE). He also explained that this you know was a case where he would not be eligible for bail and that was about it. We are now waiting for a press conference here in the courthouse with the district attorney, Wolf.
BLITZER: Did he show any emotion or anything like that?
SIMON: Based on my vantage point, he showed no emotion. He did seem to want to talk to his court-appointed lawyer and looked like he had some questions for that attorney. But based on what I could see, he showed no emotion at all, Wolf.
BLITZER: And I know you have been doing a lot of reporting, Dan, on this story. What was his motivation supposedly? Why did he go into that school, a small Christian college, a lot of Korean-Americans there and simply start killing people? SIMON: Well, based upon everything we know at this point, he was very upset with a female administrator at the college and he was specifically targeting that individual. And when he got there and realized that she wasn't there, the rampage essentially began. He pulled a receptionist aside, essentially took her hostage and then led her into a classroom where he allegedly lined up the students by the chalk board or in front of the room and started shooting them one by one.
You know the details of this case are incredibly chilling. We know that six women died, one man died, their ages ranging from 21 to 53 years of age. Some of these women were new mothers, you know had kids you know two, three-years old. And that's what's so disturbing here, Wolf. You have you know mothers who -- you know children who will never know their mothers because of one angry guy who walks into a school and starts shooting.
BLITZER: And then he allegedly went -- drove off and went into a store and started talking about the fact that he allegedly killed these people. Is that right?
SIMON: That's right. You know he seemed not to want to escape. He drove a short distance away to a Safeway Supermarket, went inside the store and talked to a security guard there and said I just shot a whole bunch of people. Confessed his crime and then before you know it police show up and take him into custody.
BLITZER: And he has now been formally charged with murdering seven people. Dan Simon on the scene for us, Dan, thanks very much. Lots of news happening here in THE SITUATION ROOM, we will take a quick break. Much more when we come back.
BLITZER: Let's bring back Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: All right the question this hour is what does it mean when you have to work 107 days just to meet your tax bill? David writes from Laguna-Niguel (ph), California "It means the government is too big and it spends too much money. Think how long we would have to work to meet our tax bill if we also had to pay the trillion dollars that they borrow every year."
Jim in Los Angeles, "Jack, surely you are not referring to the corporate CEOs Mitt Romney, illustrious U.S. senators, Messers (ph) Buffet and Gates, the executive ranks of Goldman Sachs and those with assets of more than $5 million. If the taxes we pay as a percent of income were applied to everyone, it wouldn't be 107 days for the vast majority."
M. writes "If some in the government had -- some in the government had their way, that would be 258 days too few." Greg in Arkansas writes "Kind of an awkward question when you figure out millions of Americans have been out of work for more than 189 days and would gladly change places with any griping, gainfully employed taxpayer where they could trade their unemployment check for a paycheck."
Chris in Florida says "It means there is a huge imbalance between those who pay and those who do not. Millionaires, corporations, billionaires don't count that way and they are the problem. The working class bear too much, the others too little. The number would go way down if the corporations paid their fair share."
J.B. in Nashville says "It simply means we need a new president and we need to oust the real party of, no, the Democratic-controlled Senate. They haven't even passed a budget in three years. Vote them out. Imagine how that figure you mentioned, 107 days, will increase if they remain in the majority. You can kiss your paycheck goodbye."
And S. in Florida says, "Guess I have to hold off on the car elevator for my house." If you want to read more about this you go to my blog, CNN.com/CaffertyFile or through or post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page.
BLITZER: Jack, a lot of our viewers saw you take something out of your ear just now and they are probably wondering what is that all about. Is that a hearing aid you have --
CAFFERTY: No, it's -- you know this is something that I wear when you are in Washington.
CAFFERTY: Since you are sitting right here --
BLITZER: So you didn't need it.
CAFFERTY: -- there is really no point.
BLITZER: So you just decided to take it out --
CAFFERTY: Well, no. There was an echo in it. Sometimes they have something called a mixed minus where you speak a word and a half a second later, it plays back in your ear.
BLITZER: Very annoying.
CAFFERTY: It is impossible --
CAFFERTY: -- for someone with limited intellectual ability like myself to cope with, so I pulled it out of my ear --
BLITZER: How do you think I feel when I am reporting the news and people are talking to me and I'm just reporting the news?
CAFFERTY: But you have tremendous powers of concentration and I don't.
BLITZER: It is a fun job. Harder ways to make a living than this -- CAFFERTY: There you go.
BLITZER: Stick around. I want you to listen to this because this is good. Congratulations to all our colleagues here at CNN. We learned today that the network is being honored with not one, not two, but three George Foster (ph) Peabody Awards this year. The Peabody recognizes excellence, distinguished achievement and meritorious public service in journalism.
The three awards are for CNN's coverage of the Arab Spring. It was amazing, our coverage must say, for "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS", congratulations to Fareed and his excellent team. And also to "CNN HEROES: AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE", which is also a wonderful, wonderful achievement that CNN does every year to honor those individuals who go out of their way when they don't necessarily have to, to help others. Congratulations to CNN for three Peabody Awards this year.
That's it for me. Thanks for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.