Return to Transcripts main page


An Exclusive Interview with Secretary State Hilary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta; GSA Lavish Spending Unfolds; Is Syria's President Al-Assad A War Criminal?; Incompetent On North Korea; Clinton's Message To Kim Jong Un; Clinton As VP In 2012?

Aired April 21, 2012 - 18:00   ET



Hillary Clinton answers my questions about her political future. And it was a surprise reaction from defense secretary, Leon Panetta.

Stand by for my exclusive interview with NATO head quarters just outside Brussels.

Concerns about Presidential security as the secret service reels from a prostitution scandal. We're looking at the culture of the agency and whether it is a factor in this exploding controversy.

And new revelations about wasteful spending of your tax dollars, far beyond one costly conference in Las Vegas. We're learning about numerous lavish trips even for interns by an agency that's supposed to keep federal cost down.

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

Two of the highest ranking members of President Obama's war team re- affirming America's commitment to the security mission in Afghanistan.

Secretary of state Hillary Clinton and defense secretary, Leon Panetta, traveled to Brussels for a meeting of NATO ministers. I went and they joined me for an exclusive joint interview in NATO headquarters. We talked about some of the biggest global challenges as well as politics right here in the U.S.


BLITZER: Madam Secretary, Mr. Secretary, thanks very much for joining us.

HILARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We're glad to be here with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's talk about Afghanistan briefly. $2 billion a week in U.S. taxpayer dollars being spent to maintain the troop level, the assistance to the Afghan people.

Is this money well spent right now, a hundred billion dollars a year for another two and a half years? CLINTON: First of all, Wolf, we are in a transition. And as we transition, the Afghan security forces are stepping up to protect their own people. And as we saw over the weekend with the horrible attacks, luckily they were not successful. And that was because the Afghan security forces which are our soldiers and others of the NATO/ISAF alliance have been training and mentoring.

So, I think that if you look, as we do, at the progress that has been made on the security side but also in other indicators, health and education and the economy, there is definite progress. That doesn't mean it is going to be easy, but we are on the way to fulfilling the commitment that President Obama made about moving toward the 2014 deadline for the end of combat operations.

BLITZER: So this is money well spent, hundreds of billions of additional dollars? Is that what are you saying?

CLINTON: I think you can certainly find fault with any kind of war. And this has been a war. You can go back and look at any of the wars the United States has fought. But, if you consider why we're there and the fact that thank goodness we've not been attacked again since 9/11 and we have dismantled al Qaeda, thanks to a lot of great work when Leon was at the CIA before going to the defense department, I think there is no doubt that America is more secure. Afghanistan is more secure.

But, we're not resting on our laurels. We're looking forward to what kind of relationship we will all have, NATO and the United States after 2014 to help Afghanistan continue on this path.

BLITZER: You trust Afghan's president Mr. Secretary, Hamid Karzai?

LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: He is a leader of Afghanistan.

BLITZER: You trust him?

PANETTA: I have sat down with him. I talked with him. We talk pretty frankly with each other. And, you know, he is the leader and he is the person we have to deal with.

BLITZER: Does that mean you trust him, though?

PANETTA: Well, I mean. Certainly you trust the leaders that you have to deal with, but you always kind of watch your back at the same time.

BLITZER: That doesn't sound like a reigning endorsement of the leader of Afghanistan.

PANETTA: Well, you know. It is true for any leader we deal with.

BLITZER: This one has said awful things about the United States.

PANETTA: I understand. And obviously that's been a concern, but at the same time, we have had the ability to directly relate to him when it comes to some of the major issues that we had. BLITZER: When you served the congress, you were on the budget committee as I well remember. Hundred billion dollars. Do you know what that kind of money can spend in the United States during this tough economic times. And the American public is increasingly frustrated when they see that money is being spent in Afghanistan rather than here in the United States.

PANETTA: I understand what you are saying, Wolf. But, you know what, the whole purpose of this is to protect the American people. That's what this war is about.

BLITZER: Bin laden is dead.


PANETTA: But, the reality is the attack on the United States on 9/11 was planned from where? It was planned from Afghanistan. And our mission there is to make sure we have an Afghanistan that can secure and govern itself and it never again can become a safe haven for terrorist who had planned attacks on our country. That's what this war zone --

BLITZER: You know U.S. intelligence officials are told Congress there are more al Qaeda operatives in Somalia right now than in Afghanistan.

PANETTA: The danger is this. If we don't succeed in Afghanistan, then there is a real probability that the Taliban will come back, establish the same kind of safe havens that they had in the past and who will be the first people to take advantage of it? Al Qaeda. That's what we have to protect against.

BLITZER: Are we asking too much of these American troops who spend three, four, five tours of duty and now these reports posting once again, with dead bodies of Taliban fighters urinating on dead bodies, burning Quran. One American soldier starts killing 17 Afghan civilians including children. Is the stress too much to bear right now on these troops?

PANETTA: There is no question we've been 10 years at war. And obviously 10 years of war takes a toll on people, families. But the reality is, the vast majority of our men and women in uniform have performed according to the highest standards that we have expected.

And for every one incident that we sometimes read about and the kind of atrocious behavior that we all condemn, there are hundreds of incidents where our people have helped Afghans where they have performed courageously in battle.

So, I have been there a number of times as has the secretary. I have to tell you that I am always impressed by the quality of our people that are fighting the battle on behalf of the United States.

BLITZER: Let's talk about Iran. As you know, these talks with the Iranians are continuing. Another meeting scheduled for May 23rd. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says, and I'm quoting him now when he heard about that there will be another round on May 23rd. He said "my initial impression is that Iran has been given a freebie".

CLINTON: Well, I think that is not accurate because what came out of the first meeting was a commitment to a second meeting with a work plan between the two meetings. We are really getting down to testing whether or not there is a willingness on the part of the Iranians to reach some kind of negotiated resolution.

BLITZER: Are you encourage by the first round?

CLINTON: I believe the first round was positive because from our assessment after having no contact for 15 months, the Iranians came back to the table at a time when sanctions are really continuing to put a lot of pressure on the Iranian government, and are willing to talk about their nuclear program which is an important positive step.

Now, we have a long way to go and this has got to be very clearly laid out as to what the international community expects, what is acceptable, of course, to the United States since we are at the table with the B5 plus one. But, there is a chance, and I don't want to sell it, that between now and the second meeting, we will hammer out what the international community represented by the so-called B5 plus one requires of Iran and what Iran is willing to do.

BLITZER: And if they do take these measures, will you encourage the alliance to slow down on these economic sanctions?

CLINTON: Well, I can't answer that because it is so hypothetical right now. I believe in, you know, very clear action for action. We have to see what the Iranians are willing to do. Then we have to make sure that they do it. And then we have to reciprocate. That's what a negotiation is all about. And right now, we are still in the testing stage.

BLITZER: If they don't do what you want them to do, the Iranians, are you -- and you, the defense secretary, ready to use force to destroy their nuclear capabilities?

PANETTA: Yes. The president has pointed out and as I pointed out, we are prepared with all options on the table if we have to respond.

BLITZER: And is there a plan in place? Because I know the Pentagon. I used to cover the Pentagon. There always contingency plans for everything. Do you have a specific contingency plan to do that?

PANETTA: One of the things that I found out as a secretary of defense is we do one hell of a lot of planning on everything. So, I can assure you that there are plans to deal with.

BLITZER: And if you have to do it, will it succeed? Are you convinced it would succeed?

PANETTA: I don't think so there is any question that if we have to implement that plan it will be successful.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: All right. There's much more ahead. On my exclusive interview with Leon Panetta and Hillary Clinton. We will talk about the crisis in Syria and tensions with North Korea.


PANETTA: We're within an inch of war almost every day in that part of the world.


BLITZER: Is the U.S. ready to meet with North Korea's new young leader? Stand by.

Also, new details of the growing secret service prostitution scandal. Former agents are speaking out about the culture inside the service.

And, we've seen the controversial videos. Now, stunning new information about lavish spending by an battled government agency where even interns are living large on taxpayer dollars.


BLITZER: U.S. lawmakers are raising serious questions about the culture of the secret service an whether an exploding prostitutions scandal might jeopardize presidential security.

Our Brian Todd has been taking a closer look at this culture, the agency that is supposed to be protecting presidents of the United States and their families.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And now, there's increasing concern among the law enforcement experts and members of congress about this very as aspect of this case stemming from the fact that 11 members of the secret service were allegedly involved, not just one or two.


TODD (voice-over): It is the sheer number of secret service personnel involved in the alleged incident with prostitutes that is raising serious questions in Washington.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), HOMELAND SECURITY AND GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: It is hard for me to believe it was the first and only time. There were just too many people involved.

TODD: In fact, 11 total. Sources say two supervisors among them leading law enforcement experts to be concerned about potentially a larger problem within the secret service. A comfort level with this kind of conduct. Is this incident part of pattern in that agency?

We spoke off camera with several former secret agents and supervisors who say it is not, that they never witnessed or heard of anything like this. They did tell us of so-called wheels up parties when secret service officers, White House staffers, members of the media get together after the president has left a city and have drinks at a bar or hotel room. They say those get together are comparatively tame.

Jeffrey Robinson who wrote a book on the secret service with the former top agent, says this about those parties.

JEFFREY ROBINSON, AUTHOR, STANDING NEXT TO HISTORY: Do married guys take off their rings at these parties? They often say, wheels up rings off. OK, that's a problem for these married guys and their families. Do people get drunk? Gee, there is a -- there is a new story.

TODD: Robinson says those are isolated incidents, not part of a broader culture at the secret service. There was an incident in 2006 when a secret service agent was taser charged with public intoxication after an altercation in a bar in Waco, Texas.

In 2002, U.S. news and world report published an investigated piece detailing incidents of agents having rock us parties, barroom brawls, sex with underage girls. Some of that information came from dishonored former agents who have grievances with the agency.

There is real concern that there is a cultural problem within the agency.


TODD: Is it?

RIGGS: No. It is not. I mean, I can tell you unequivocally it is not and I have lived it for 31 years.

TODD: Serving under six presidents, Barbara Riggs was the first woman to become a supervisor in the presidential protective division, the first woman to become deputy secret service director. She also supervised advanced teams.

RIGGS: Yes, we have had people who were involved in inappropriate behavior. I mean, after duty, can you go out and have a beer? Absolutely. Can sometimes there be an incident sometimes? Yes, there has been. But, is it systemic? No.


TODD: A current secret service official mirrored that telling us in an agency of 7,000 people, yes, there have been incidents of misconduct, even criminal behavior. This official would not respond to the concerns about a broader cultural problem at the secret service but did say with regard to this incident and others, they have responded decisively and appropriately, Wolf.

BLITZER: I know you have had a chance, Brian, to speak with several former secret service agents in the recent days. How are they reacting emotionally to this incident?

TODD: They are angry. They are really just ticked off, pure and simple. A lot of them have used words like embarrassing and shameful to describe this incident. They really resent the fact that just a few people have seemingly put a huge mark on this agency. You heard the words ticked off, angry, embarrassed quite a lot when you talk to these guys. It is a really - it's a tough thing for them to handle.

BLITZER: Very tough indeed, but this investigation will continue, Brian. Thanks very much.

The growing scandal also involves some U.S. military personnel. I spoke about that with Mr. Defense secretary Leon Panetta and secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Here's more from my exclusive interview.


BLITZER: This story of these military personnel in Cartagena, it is a shocking story. I know that deep inside - I can only imagine when you heard about the prostitutes and secret service agents, U.S. military personnel, I can only imagine, Mr. Secretary what went through your mind, but tell us what went through your mind.

PANETTA: Well, I don't usually use those words in public. But it was - it was very disturbing. And the reason it was disturbing is that whether it takes place in Columbia or any other country or in the United States, we expect that our people will behave according to the highest standards of conduct. That obviously didn't happen here and as a result we're investigating the matter. As a result of that investigation, we'll hold these people accountable.

BLITZER: Diplomatic fallout from this incident? It is unfortunate obviously.

CLINTON: I don't think so much diplomatic fallout as the unfortunate fact that it certainly ate up a lot of the coverage of the summit which was a meaningful get together. Only happens once every three years, an opportunity to show case Columbia. Think about how much Columbia has changed. And the United States with our plan Columbia support has really been at the forefront of helping Columbia emerge as a real dynamo in the region.

As Leon said, there will be investigation both in the military and the secret service. You know, I have had secret service protection for more than 20 years. And, you know, I have only seen the very best, the professionalism, the dedication of the men and women who have been around me and my family.


BLITZER: More of the interview with Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta coming up.

Also, the spending scandal that started with this controversial videos, that scandal growing. Now, we are learning outrageous new details of what one government agency has been doing with your tax dollars.

And Hillary Clinton as vice president, I will ask her about my growing buzz as my exclusive interview with her and Leon Panetta continues. Stay with us. You're in "the SITUATION ROOM."


BLITZER: While many Americans are struggling to make ends meet, we are learning more about what tone federal agency has been wasting your tax dollars. Officials and even interns with the general services administration enjoyed party extravagant junk kits at the places like Las Vegas, Hawaii, Palm Springs, even the South Pacific. That's apparently just a tip of the iceberg.

Let's go to our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. She is up in Capitol Hill.

You have been watching all of this unfold, Dana. And it is pretty shocking.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, especially when you think about what the GSA is supposed to do. Big part of its mission is to try to make the government more efficient, save taxpayer dollars. But throughout four hearings here in Capitol Hill this past week, officials who are supposed to be running the agency really struggled to answer fundamental questions about why they allowed what one chairman called a culture of rampant fraud, waste, corruption and cover ups.


BASH (voice-over): Not only did this 2010 over the top Las Vegas GSA conference cost tax payers more than $800,000, it turns out the lead conference organizer, regional administrator Jeff Neely took eight trips to Vegas to do what they called advance work. The cost $147,000.

REP. JEFF DENHAM (R), CALIFORNIA: My anger and frustration have finally gotten to a boiling point.

BASH: As tails of extravagant spending unfolded during this five and a half hearing, it is clear why.

REP. TIM WALZ (D), MINNESOTA: But 44 bucks for breakfast, I am a big man. I can't spend 44 bucks for breakfast. Somebody had to say that. Are you kidding me?

BASH: The GSA inspector general who investigated it, put it this way.

BRIAN MILLER, GSA INSPECTOR GENERAL: We turned over every stone and every time we turned over a stone we found 50 more.

BASH: This is the tow-storey 2,400 square foot suite where GSA deputy administrator Robert Peck stayed in Las Vegas.

ROBERT PECK, FORMER PUBLIC BUILDINGS SERVICE COMMISSIONER: I questioned the organizers as to the cost. They told me that all the rooms were within the government rate.

BASH: It is unclear what the cost really was. The organizer, Jeff Neely seen here in what appeared to be a Las Vegas hot tub invoked his fifth amendment rights the second day in a row. But he was very much the focus.

Story after story of allegedly skirting and breaking the rules, maybe even the law, to have a good time on the taxpayer dime.

For example, it is against the government rule to spend money for meals at meetings unless awards are given out like here in Las Vegas. So, they regularly made some up. Listen again to the man investigating the whole thing.

MILLER: It was a running joke in region nine that in order to get food you had to give out awards. One of our witnesses characterized them as I guess fake awards and jackass awards and things of that nature.

BASH: Mind bugling, excess went far beyond Las Vegas. At least a week in Hawaii for a one hour ribbon cutting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would a one hour ribbon cutting adjust a seven to nine day trip?

MILLER: Not in the my opinion.

BASH: The GSA still hasn't told Congress how much that one cost, but a 2010 conference for interns in Palm Springs has a price tag of $150,000. Two months ago after the inspector general warned the GSA administrator about Neely extravagant spending, Neely brought his wife along on a 17 day dunged trip to the South Pacific paid for by tax payers. And just last month, a conference in Napa valley wine country to the tune of $40,000. One GSA official said she raised the red flag to no avail.

DENHAM: You notified the administrator Ruth Cox about the upcoming junction and expressed concern, right?


DENHAM: Yes. And, what happened?

BRITA: I expressed concern and asked her to review the plans, make sure --

DENHAM: And that called it off, didn't it? No.


BASH: And that's what made already angry lawmakers here really, really furious, that even after getting the inspector general's report that detailed the way Neely wasted and abused taxpayer dollars, they still allowed him to squander hundreds of thousands more before they finally put him on administrative leave. And Wolf, one lawmaker put it really bluntly. He said you wonder why there is so much distrust of government.

BLITZER: Yes. We expect more shoes to drop in the coming days or weeks. Dana, thanks very, very much.

Work crimes in Syria. Nuclear weapons in Iran, we will talk about those global hot spots and much more as my exclusive interview with Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta continues. I also asked the secretary of state what she would say if, if President Obama asked her to be his vice president.


BLITZER: Let's get back to my exclusive joint interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. I asked them about two very dangerous world hot spots.


BLITZER: On Syria, is President Bashar Al-Assad, according to your opinion, Madame Secretary, a war criminal?

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not going to get into labelling, Wolf, because what I am doing now is trying to see whether or not he is going to implement Kofi Annan's plan.

I don't think it is useful to do anything other than focus on the six points of the plan. Right now, it doesn't appear, once again that he is going to follow through on what he has pledged to the international community he will do.

We are still working to see about getting monitors in to be able to have an independent source of information coming out to the Security Council.

I will be going to Paris tomorrow afternoon to meet with like-minded nations in an ad hock meeting to take stock of where we are. But it was significant that the Security Council endorsed Kofi Annan's six- point plan.

The Syrian government said they would abide by it and yet we still see shelling going on in Homs, in Idlib --

BLITZER: Are these crimes against humanity?

CLINTON: I think what we want to do is begin an accountability project to gather evidence. We really don't want to be labelling what we see, which are clearly disproportionate use of force, human rights abuses, absolutely merciless shelling with heavy weaponry into unarmed civilian areas.

Even shelling across borders now into Turkey and Lebanon has happened last week. We are interested in stopping the behavior, but at the same time, we do want to see evidence collected so that there could be in the future accountability for these actions.

BLITZER: It sounds like the answer is yes. You do believe these are crimes --

CLINTON: Don't put words in my mouth. We're not making those kinds of charges or claims. Our goal right now is if, you know -- if the Assad regime were to say OK, we agree to do everything that Kofi Annan asked us to do, that would be our focus.

Not some future maybe unlikely outcome in terms of criminal accountability. What I'm interested in is let's stop the violence. Let's start the political transition.

BLITZER: Senator McCain says the U.S. should take the military lead in arming the rebels, maybe even going forward with a no-fly zone. Here is the question, we're at NATO headquarters, Mr. Secretary, is NATO impotent in Syria right now?

LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I don't think so. I think that NATO frankly has shown that it can take on the challenges --

BLITZER: In Libya it did, but in Syria --

PANETTA: They are doing a great job. It shows that when the international community comes together and decides to take action we can take action that achieves the result.

BLITZER: The argument is that --

PANETTA: In this situation the international community, Wolf, has not made that decision.

BLITZER: If it does, would NATO take action?

PANETTA: If the international community makes the decision that we have to take further steps so we'll be prepared to do that.

BLITZER: No-fly zone, arming the rebels, all of that?

PANETTA: I mean, obviously that would have to be discussed as part of whatever plan is required in order to achieve the mission.

BLITZER: Any chance China and Russia will go forward with what they did in Libya and allow such a resolution to go forward at the U.N. Security Council?

CLINTON: Well, right now, that's a long shot. There doesn't seem to be any willingness on their part to go further than where we are right now. But this is a fast changing situation.

You know, countries have a lot of relationships. We know that there are relationships certainly with Syria. There are also relationships with Turkey. There are relationships with the Gulf.

There are relationships with European countries, all of whom are very worried about what will happen if Syria either or both descends into civil war or causes a larger regional conflict.

So, I don't think we are even, you know -- I don't think we're halfway through this story yet, Wolf. We're going to see a lot happen over the next few weeks. It truly is up to the Assad regime. They are the ones who hold in their power to end the violence and begin the political --

BLITZER: How much time do they have?

CLINTON: Well, I mean, they are running out of time because they have so many promises, which they have never kept. So their credibility even with those countries that support them --

BLITZER: Like Russia and China?

CLINTON: Like Russia and China are beginning to fray.

BLITZER: North Korea, Mitt Romney says the Obama administration, in his words, incompetence, emboldened the North Korean regime undermined the security of the United States and its allies. You want to respond to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee?

PANETTA: No, not necessarily.

BLITZER: He makes a serious charge, incompetence.

PANETTA: I think it's pretty clear that this administration took a firm stand with regard to the provocative behavior that North Korea engaged in.

We made clear that they should not do it. We condemned that action. Even though it was not successful and it was a failure. The fact is it was provocative and we have made very clear to them that they should not take any additional provocative actions.

I think that was a clear, strong message that not only our country, but the world set to North Korea. Frankly, that's the way the United States ought to be.

BLITZER: If they do an underground nuclear test, for example, what would you do?

PANETTA: That would be, again, another -- worsen our relationship. I'm not going to get into how we respond to that, but clearly we are prepared at the Defense Department for whatever.

BLITZER: Still 30,000 U.S. troops along that zone, between North and South Korea, a million North Korean troops, almost a million South Korean troops, nuclear arms. This is a very dangerous part of the world.

PANETTA: No question. You know, we're within an inch of war almost every day in that part of the world. We just have to be very careful about what we say and what we do.

BLITZER: Does that keep you up at night more than any other issue?

PANETTA: Unfortunately, these days there is a hell of a lot that keeps me up awake, but that's one of the ones at the top of the list.

BLITZER: What are the others? PANETTA: Well, obviously, Iran, Syria, the whole issue of turmoil in the Middle East. The whole issue of cyber war. The whole issue of weapons of mass destruction, rising powers and all of those things are threats that the United States faces in today's world.

BLITZER: We got a lot of issues over there. What do you think of this new young leader of North Korea Kim Jung Un, not even 30 years old yet?

CLINTON: Well, we really are waiting and watching to see whether he can be the kind of leader that the North Korean people need. I mean, if he just follows in the footsteps of his father, we don't expect much other than the kind of provocative behavior and the deep failure of the political and economic elite to take care of their own people.

But, you know, he is someone who has lived outside of North Korea, apparently, from what we know. We believe that he may have some hope that conditions in North Korea can change. But again, we are going to watch and wait.

He gave a speech the other day that was analyzed as being some of the same old stuff and you know, some possible new approach, but it's too early.

BLITZER: You know, when I was in Pyongyang, in December 2010, I was amaze that I had could see CNN international in my hotel room. They watch CNNI very closely. If you had a chance to speak to Kim Jong-U, even a sentence or two, what would you say to him?

CLINTON: I would say that as a young man with your future ahead of you, be the kind of leader that can now move North Korea into the modern world, into the 21st Century. Educate your people. Open up your system.

Allow the talents of the North Korean people to be realized. Move away from a failed economic system that has kept so many of your people in starvation.

Be the kind of leader who will be remembered for the millennia as the person who moved North Korea on a path of reform and you have the opportunity to do that.

BLITZER: Are you ready to meet with him?

CLINTON: Well, under circumstances that don't exist today, the United States, as you know, was willing to try to reach out to him, which we did. We had several high level meetings.

We agreed to provide some food aid in return for their ending some of their uranium enrichment and missile development. And then they do what has been already termed by lee on and the rest of the world as a provocative action.

So, it is hard for us to tell right now, is this the way it will be with this new leader, or does he feel like he has to earn his own credibility in order to have a new path for North Korea. It's too soon to tell.


BLITZER: Will Hillary Clinton run for president of the United States in 2016. Her answer to that question. And Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's surprising reaction. Much more by exclusive joint interview. That's coming up.

Plus, complete analysis on everything you've just heard. Gloria Borger is standing by. We'll break it all down when we come back.


BLITZER: The Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seems to be enjoying her role as America's top diplomat. But could another political campaign be in her in future.

I asked her about that and about the recent photos of her sort of partying in Colombia. Here now more of my exclusive joint interview with Secretary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.


BLITZER: When we were in Cairo a year ago, I asked you a few political questions. We're in political season, as you well know.

CLINTON: Are we?

BLITZER: I don't know if you've heard about it.

CLINTON: I don't know about these things anymore.

BLITZER: Let's go through these questions that I am sure you have been asked. I am going to ask them again.

If the president of the United States says madam secretary I need you on the ticket this year in order to beat Romney, are you ready to run as his vice presidential running mate?

CLINTON: That is not going to happen. That is like saying if the Olympic committee called you up and said, are you ready to run the marathon, would you accept? Well, it's not going to happen.

BLITZER: I disagree.

CLINTON: Well --

BLITZER: I think it's -- it's unlikely I will say that. But if he sees in July that he's going down, he doesn't want to be a one-term president.

CLINTON: You know, Leon and I are in this awkward position because we have both been in politics and now we are in two jobs that are out of politics for all the right reasons so I don't comment on politics anymore. But I am very confident about the outcome of this election and as I've said many times, I think, you know, Joe Biden who's a dear friend of ours has served our country and served the president very well. So, I'm out of politics, but I am very supportive of the team that we have in the White House going forward.

BLITZER: But you would do whatever it takes to help the president get re-elected. You don't want to see him be a one-term president and you certainly don't want to see Romney name one or two Supreme Court justices --

CLINTON: Well, I can just imagine just poor mother. You know, why mother. Why mother. Why mother, no. Honestly, it is not going to happen so I'm not going to speculate on something that I know is not going to be happening.

BLITZER: Let's try this one. I asked my Twitter followers for question for the secretary of state.

Shelly tweeted this. Has Hillary seen the movie the "Iron Lady," about Margaret Thatcher? Isn't it time for a female president of the United States of America? My answer is yes.

Isn't it time for a female like you, for example, in 2016 to run for president of the United States.

CLINTON: Well, let me depersonalize it. Take it away from me. Of course, I believe it is time for a woman to be president. I was just in Brazil with extraordinary president of Brazil at the Summit of the Americas.

We had three presidents, two prime ministers, of countries in our hemisphere. We just saw a woman succeed in the presidency of Malawi. It is happening in the world --

BLITZER: Except in United States.

CLINTON: Well, it will. I just hope I am still around when it does.

BLITZER: Well, let me ask the secretary of defense. If she runs in 2016 -- you're out of politics. Will you support her in 2016 if she runs? It's an easy question.

PANETTA: Are you kidding me?

BLITZER: Of course you will, right?

PANETTA: Of course. She's a great leader. She's been great leader and she will be a great leader in the future.

BLITZER: You know, they really want you, a lot of Democrats, and others. They would like you to run in 2016. I just see you smiling.

CLINTON: I am honored. That is not in the future for me, but obviously, I'm hoping that I'll get to cast my vote for a woman running for president of our country. BLITZER: Did you see those pictures of her drinking a little beer? Did you see those, Mr. Secretary? Those are great pictures.

CLINTON: Well, we were having a good time celebrating the birthday of one of my colleagues. I sometimes forget that everybody is now a potential reporter or photographer. It was a lot of fun. We had a very good time just enjoying beautiful Cartagena.

BLITZER: I love that picture of you texting in the sunglasses. You have seen that one, too, right?

CLINTON: Yes. I have seen that too. Yes, indeed. That actually was very funny. A lot of the back and forth of the kinds of invented dialog was very funny. I got a lot of comments about that.

BLITZER: Of course, you have. Well, thank so much to both of you for joining us. On behalf of all our viewers around the United States and around the world, good luck to you, whatever you decide to do down the road.

Mr. Secretary, you lot on your agenda, both of you do. We're all counting on you to get the job done.

CLINTON: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.


BLITZER: You just heard the complete exclusive interview. Up next, we will assess the politics and what it all means. Standby.

Plus, the two teen girls behind a new song going viral, but not necessarily in a very good way. Jeanne Moos will come up with that.


BLITZER: Our chief political analyst Gloria Borger's here to talk about my exclusive interview with the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

I may be the only person around who thinks it's unlikely, but possible still that if the president sees the poll numbers and he's in trouble in Florida, in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, some of the battleground states. He may have no choice, but to go do that Hail Mary pass.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I don't think it's going to happen. I think first of all the president's poll numbers are looking good. I mean, even though Mitt Romney seems to be moving up a bit. You see that president Obama seems to be ahead by a handful of points.

At this point, that's pretty good for an incumbent president. I also think it will be, really a sign of weakness, Wolf, if he were to remove Joe Biden from the ticket. And it would look like a Hail Mary pass, and it would -- so it would make the president look really weak. So even from a political standpoint I'm not sure that it would be a wise thing to do.

The third thing is I also believe he and Joe Biden have a very good relationship. And that Joe Biden can be of a lot of use to the president on the campaign trail as he has been particularly in the battleground states that you just named. So I would have to say not happening.

BLITZER: Yes, I don't disagree with you. I'm not saying I disagree with you, but I'm still -- I'll see what happens. I've covered politics too long to make any hard and fast predictions right now.

A lot can happen obviously in the next few months. I do think she still has the fire in her belly to run for president of the United States in 2016, whether or not she's on the ticket in 2012 or not.

BORGER: It's interesting, that I don't -- I don't know about. I think Hillary Clinton is clearly one of the most popular women in the world right now.

She's received acclaim from both Republicans and Democrats for how she's done her job as secretary of state. I don't think that if President Obama's re-elected I don't see her remaining secretary of state for the second term --

BLITZER: She said she's definitely out.

BORGER: Right, so if she doesn't do that, maybe she'll do something with the Clinton Global Initiative or do something completely different.

She says she's done with elected office. I think she's enjoyed her time doing the international work. So I would have to say the odds are against it, but she's a Clinton so I'd never say never --

BLITZER: Yes, no. You know what, this is a free country, you can always change your mind. If she wants to change her mind after a year or two and say, you know what, this is something I feel is in my drive.

I really want to be the first woman president of the United States. She can obviously do that if she wants. And she would certainly be a favorite. Not only to get the Democratic nomination but also to get the White House, if she decides --

BORGER: She'd also have a great campaigner on her side, Bill Clinton, not to be underestimated.

BLITZER: A formidable campaigner. That's why we love covering politics because we can speculate about that.

BORGER: Anything, we're already talking 2016.

BLITZER: And then pretty soon 2020. Gloria, thanks very much. Some are calling it the world's worst song. Two teenage girls are behind it. Jeanne moos is talking to them. That's coming up next.


BLITZER: There's a new song going viral, but not necessarily in a good way. CNN's Jeanne Moos caught up with two teenage girls who turned their "Hot Problems" into what many consider a not so catchy tune.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It has a lot to live up to. Does it deserve the title "Worst Song Ever?"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the hell did I just watch?

MOOS: You just watched "Hot Problems," about how hard it is to be hot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These two tone deaf --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They decide to open their mouths and produce this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't even know why it exists.

MOOS: So that everyone on the web can talk about it.


MOOS: Meet the high school seniors with hot problems.

(on camera): You do consider yourself hot girls or you don't?

LAUREN, DOUBLE TAKE: I wouldn't say we're that hot girl, but it is fun to sing about it.

MOOS (voice-over): Lauren and Drew are California girls that wrote the lyrics in two hours, recorded the song at a friend's studio just for fun, they say.

(on camera): Did you ever mean to be singers?

DREW, DOUBLE TAKE: No, not at all. We didn't consider ourselves musically talented.

MOOS (voice-over): Neither does most of the internet. One critic posted "bleeding ears with three words, make it stop."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their voice? Like they're not even singing. It is so stupid.

MOOS: Can't anyone say anything nice? Yes. We found someone who asked, "Is it bad, I found this hilarious." "Me thinks this is a joke."

LAUREN: I guess you can say it is a joke.

MOOS: They didn't seem sure. People are comparing it to Rebecca Black's much ridiculed hit. It may not be flattery, but others are imitating "Hot Problems."

(on camera): How did you feel about seeing some of the reviews that said things like "this is the death of music"?

LAUREN: All the negative criticism that we're getting, we're just kind of brushing it off our shoulders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd rather go to a -- barbershop, let Stevie Wonder give me a free haircut before listening to that.

MOOS: Now he is hot. Jeanne Moos -- I can't get it out of my head -- CNN, New York.


BLITZER: That does it for me. Thank you very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Don't forget for our viewers in the United States, please be sure to join us every weekday from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern. The news continues next on CNN.