Return to Transcripts main page


Romney Faces Bullying Allegations; Kidnapper Commits Suicide; Obama's Gay Marriage Bombshell; First Lady: Don't Let Violence Define You; Frozen In Time: WW2 Fighter Plane Found

Aired May 11, 2012 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: A kidnapper on the FBI's most wanted list kills himself in front of his young captives as police close in. We're learning dramatic new details of the final moments of the manhunt. We're standing by for a news conference. It's expected to begin any second.

Also, Mitt Romney tries to focus in on the economy, but keeps facing questions about alleged school bullying 50 years ago. Is it fair for reporters to dig into a presidential candidate's high school years?

And an amazing find in the Egyptian desert, a World War II fighter plane almost perfectly preserved.

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: All right, we're getting new details from a news conference that has just begun, the dramatic case in Mississippi.

Let's go live to Jackson, Mississippi.


GOV. PHIL BRYANT (R), MISSISSIPPI: The Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, special agents response team conducting grid searches of the area, thoroughly combining -- thoroughly combing heavily wooded areas.

It was the diligent effort of these men working in conjunction with the FBI. Today, we have Special Agent in Charge Dan McMullen here with the FBI that has concentrated efforts throughout the region to help Mississippi and Tennessee law enforcement officers.

The Highway Special Ops, Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Narcotics, Guntown Police Department, Union County Sheriff's Department, DeSoto County Sheriff's Department, SWAT Team, Tupelo Police Department, again, Mississippi Highway Patrol, troopers who have to take up the responsibility when these members of the SOG team are off doing this important work.

As I said, the Bureau of Narcotics, Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service and the United States Attorneys Office.

I want to particularly thank again the Department of Public Safety.

Commissioner Santa Cruz and I talked frequently throughout the last week. Now, this was a case that we knew had national implications and concerns.

We knew also that two victims, 31-year-old Jo Ann Bain and 14- year-old Adrienne Bain's lives had been lost, and we wanted to find out why.

I'm very proud of all of these agents, but particularly proud, of course, as governor, of the Department of Public Safety, the SOG team and this department, the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the Bureau of Narcotics, all that have worked so hard to get us where we are at today.

I will recognize commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, the man who led this effort for the state of Mississippi, Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz.

Mr. Santa Cruz.

ALBERT SANTA CRUZ, MISSISSIPPI DHS COMMISSIONER: Thank you, Governor. I appreciate that.

BRYANT: Thank you.

SANTA CRUZ: I just want to echo Governor Bryant's remarks there and to thank every agency that was involved with this.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation became involved in this on May the 1st after finding out that the mother and older daughter had been killed. Our number-one concern at that time was for the safety of the other two children and the safety of our motoring public and the people in this area.

Our MBI agents and the Mississippi Highway Patrol SOG team immediately became involved in this search. We will have other people give you the details on how this search ended. And, like I said, there's no words that I can put out to thank these agencies for the hard work that they have done, and especially our SOG team, which worked diligently in bringing this to an end.

Thank you.

And at this time, I would like to introduce Special Agent Mr. McMullen.


It's certainly a pleasure to be here on behalf of the FBI to say thank you, thank you to all of the officers, investigators, troopers involved in this investigation, the investigation that led to the ending of a nightmare for Alexandria and Kyliyah Bain.

This was an emotional, intense investigation. Over a dozen law enforcement agencies were involved. I can't say enough about the outstanding work of the state police SOG, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries law enforcement component.

It was a ground fight also. We had a lot of technology involved. We had sources reporting, but as the governor said, it came down to feet on the ground.

But I would be remiss if I didn't point out also the importance of the public and their cooperation. I believe this investigation demonstrated once again the cooperative nature of law enforcement in the state of Mississippi at every level, the state level, the local level.

We want to make sure that we maintain a cooperative spirit. We have to do that for the public. It's what the public deserves, and it's what the public expects. And, again, on behalf of the FBI, thank you for rescuing these two children and also for capturing a top 10 most wanted fugitive.

Thank you.

JOHNNY POULOS, MISSISSIPPI HIGHWAY PATROL: Good afternoon. I'm Master Sergeant Johnny Poulos, the director of public affairs for the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

At this time, I would like to introduce two gentlemen that were very instrumental in bringing this to a close, our director of the Special Operations Group for the Mississippi Highway Patrol, Master Sergeant Steve Crawford and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Lieutenant Lee Ellington.

BLITZER: All right.

So we are going to monitor this news conference, but you can see the congratulations going out. They're praising each other and they deserve an enormous amount of praise for what happened in this case.

Adam Mayes killed himself last night. The news broke last night. He had kidnapped a woman, three daughters. The woman and the eldest daughter is dead. The two little girls have survived. We will continue to what is going on, update you if there's any news coming out of this news conference.

But there you can see they're giving themselves a well-deserved round of applause, job well done in this final mission. We will stay on top of this story and we will see what else is going on.

Let's move on to some other news, though, right now.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, is trying to keep laster-like focus on what he feels is President Obama's weak spot. That would be the economy. But allegations of high school bullying are complicating his effort. Our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us now.

Jim, this story doesn't seem to be going away all that quickly. What's the latest?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Mitt Romney was asked again about this alleged incident of bullying down in North Carolina earlier today. He basically gave the same answer he's offered since all of this came up.

It's just the latest example of how Mitt Romney would like to stick to the economy.


ACOSTA (voice-over): The story followed Mitt Romney to the battleground state of North Carolina, popping up not in his speech, but in an interview with a local TV station.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was one who did some stupid things in high school. And if anyone feels that they were offended by that, I certainly apologize.

ACOSTA: Romney declined to say whether he remembered the incident first reported in "The Washington Post" that back in 1965 at a private school in Michigan, a young Romney and a group of friends held down a classmate and cut off chunks of his hair.

The GOP contender's inability to remember what happened is not sitting with Romney's former classmate Phillip Maxwell, who told CNN he is still haunted by what he claims he saw. "I know what an assault is," Maxwell says. "This kid was scared. He was terrified. That's an assault. Romney says he doesn't remember it, and I find it difficult to believe. It's unfortunate that Mitt simply hasn't owned up to his behavior."

The Romney campaign is quietly trying to put the matter to rest by issuing statements from former classmates like John French, who said: "Mitt never had a malicious bone in his body. Trying to imply or characterize him as a bully is absurd."

A Romney campaign spokesperson acknowledged French did not witness the incident.

KERRY HEALEY (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: The real question here is, is Mitt Romney a bully? And the answer is no.

ACOSTA: Romney's former lieutenant governor went on CNN to defend the GOP contender's character.

HEALEY: That his impulses are very kind impulses and there should be no debate about whether or not Governor Romney is a bully.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sometimes people forget the magnitude of it. ACOSTA: In a move to change the subject, The Romney campaign quickly pounced on the president's comments at a Seattle fund-raiser that became a new Republican ad.

OBAMA: And sometimes people forget the magnitude of it. You know, and you saw some of that I think in the video that was shown. Sometimes I forget.

ACOSTA: Mr. Obama's line "Sometimes I forget" instantly ping- ponged among Romney staffers on Twitter.

ROMNEY: This recovery has been the slowest, most tepid since Hoover.

ACOSTA: And Romney didn't forget to bring up the president's comments in that interview with Charlotte.

ROMNEY: I don't forget that. I see that every day and I will do everything in my power to get people good jobs.


ACOSTA: And look for Mitt Romney to stick to the subject of the economy tomorrow, even though he's scheduled to visit the Christian conservative Liberty University in Virginia. Excerpts from Romney's speech so far released by the campaign are all about jobs.

But, Wolf, I will tell you that later on this afternoon, not too long from now, the Romney campaign is going to brief reporters about what Mr. Romney is going to be saying down at Liberty University. So we will have to see whether or not -- there's a chance he may be talking a little bit more about his faith, a little bit more about some of these issues that matter a lot to Christian conservatives who are waiting to hear what the Romney campaign has to say about that in just a little while from now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, you will let us know what they say, Jim. Thanks very much.

ACOSTA: You bet.

BLITZER: Let's dig a little bit deeper right now.

Joining us, Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES." He is the Washington bureau chief of "Newsweek" and The Daily Beast. Also, our chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, she's the host of "STATE OF THE UNION" Sunday mornings airing here on CNN.

Candy, how big of a distraction for Mitt Romney is this whole high school bullying story that has emerged?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim Acosta could have spent the whole top of your show talking about the economy and how Mitt Romney feels about the economy. Instead, the piece was about the high school bullying story. So, yes, it's a distraction. BLITZER: It's a distraction.

But I guess I don't know if they're dealing with it appropriately, not dealing -- how do you -- if you're in a campaign like this, how do you deal with something 50 years old, conflicting memories, or whatever?

CROWLEY: Well, one of the things I thought of immediately was George W. Bush and the whole did he do drugs, did he -- and he said, when I was young and...


CROWLEY: ... irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible, boom, and moved on.

This, you know, well, I don't really remember, but if somebody was hurt, I apologize, why not say, I don't -- if he doesn't remember, I don't remember. By the way, bullying, uh-uh, shouldn't happen. People are stupid at 17, but here's my clear and direct response. It's just -- it's a little mushy. And I think it keeps it going.

BLITZER: Is it fair game? Is it appropriate for journalists to look back at someone's high school? I mean, all of us did silly, stupid things in high school.

KURTZ: Even you, Wolf?

BLITZER: All of us did. Is it appropriate?

KURTZ: Well, I think "The Washington Post" article passed every journalist test except one. It was meticulously reported. Four of the five student eyewitnesses were quoted on the record.

But it's 47 years ago. And so there is -- is there any statute of limitations on this sort of thing? And it does feel a bit like a cheap hit. And Romney, I think, didn't help himself by not denouncing bullying and maybe owning up to it, but is it fair game? Look, as you know, Wolf, when you run for president, everything in your past can...


BLITZER: Four years ago, when Barack Obama was running for president, we learned about his high school years in Honolulu as well, playing basketball. We all remember the pictures.

I guess the point is, if you're running, Candy, for president of the United States, you have to assume everything in your life is going to be scrutinized.

CROWLEY: You absolutely do.

And I'm sort of, of two minds of this. The people that I talk to outside this business go, why do I care about this exactly? It happened 50 years ago. Here's why I think it's important or why it matters, at least to the Romney campaign. He has so far not defined himself to the American -- most American people don't know what Mitt Romney is about yet. Part of that is, he's not the president. They're just not that clear. They haven't been paying that close of attention.

So when something comes out that begins to define you that's negative, it catches on more than if they thought, wait a minute. I know Mitt Romney and Mitt Romney is this kind of guy or he's that kind of guy. Now they're reading these sort of teenage stories about him without a whole lot else to kind of flesh out about who he has become over time.

KURTZ: The clear implication is that this matters because it tells us something about Romney's character.


KURTZ: But it tells -- if so -- let's say it is absolutely true and he was a complete jerk. He was 17.

I don't think it tells us very much about his character now. And while it's of some salacious interest and it's very gossipy...

CROWLEY: But what I'm saying is, he's not telling us about his -- we haven't seen enough of him -- people have not seen enough him to know.

KURTZ: People don't have a feel for Romney...

CROWLEY: They don't have a feel for Romney.

KURTZ: ... because he is a reserved guy who is good at reading speeches about the economy, but doesn't really share about his faith, about his inner feelings. That's just the way he is. Therefore, you are say he's more vulnerable to this kind of story.

CROWLEY: To this kind of story. Fair or not, he's more vulnerable.

BLITZER: And your ex-employer, "The Washington Post," should they have run these long pieces or should they not have run these long pieces?

KURTZ: I don't have any problem with the portrait of Romney as a young high school student.

But the way in this was the lead, clearly designed, it was a very damaging anecdote. It was also clear, Wolf, that "The Post" itself had some reservations about it, because this was published online, not in the paper today. And the "Post" editor was quoted as saying, we felt uneasy putting it on the front page of the paper edition with the story saying Barack Obama embraces same-sex marriage.

So even "The Post," I think, didn't want it to look like it was ganging up on Romney in a week when gay sexual conduct was very much in the news because of the president's dramatic announcement.

BLITZER: But do you remember at all, very briefly, "The Washington Post" four years doing any articles, series of articles like this about Barack Obama?

KURTZ: Certainly looked at Obama's entire history.

BLITZER: High school years?

KURTZ: But I don't remember a piece about what he was like at 15 or 16, other than...

BLITZER: Do you remember?

CROWLEY: I don't remember any, but I wouldn't -- I wouldn't go to the bank with it, but no.

And that's the complaint from the conservative side. They're saying, wait a minute, where is...


BLITZER: Because the conservatives, they're e-mailing me, a double standard.

CROWLEY: Absolutely.

BLITZER: They're looking for dirt on Mitt Romney.


BLITZER: They never looked for dirt, so-called, on Barack Obama.

CROWLEY: Exactly. What about his...

KURTZ: Obama indemnified himself by writing that autobiography in which he acknowledged he had smoked pot, he had used drugs, he had done some things.

So that got recycled by "The Washington Post" and everybody else.

CROWLEY: But he got to write the story.

KURTZ: Not a bad thing for a future presidential candidate.

BLITZER: "STATE OF THE UNION," Sunday morning, 9:00 a.m. Eastern , also at noon Eastern, "RELIABLE SOURCES," 11:00 a.m. Eastern, Sunday morning, only here on CNN.

KURTZ: We'll be talking about this issue.

BLITZER: You have a lot more on this issue. I know you will. Guys, thanks very much.

A bomb-making genius intent on attacking the United States. Chilling new details about a key al Qaeda player.

Also, President Obama's fund-raising haul, will it close the Democrats gap with Republicans potentially?

Plus, the remarkable discovery of a perfectly preserved -- look at this -- World War I fighter plane. But what happened to the pilot?


BLITZER: There's huge relief after learning this week that the latest al Qaeda plot to bomb a U.S.-bound plane was thwarted, but experts see something more chilling, a bomb-making genius who is determined to try to keep blowing up passenger jets with ties to America.

Brian Todd is working the story for us.

So, Brian, what are you finding out?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, by all account, the destruction of this plot is not going deter al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula from trying to attack again. The group is likely closing ranks and their chief bomb maker is still at large.


TODD (voice-over): New, ominous signs that the group responsible for this airline bombing attempt will keep targeting America. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and its master bomb maker Ibrahim al Asiri have recently captured significant territory in Yemen, gained strength and resources.

MUSTAFA ALANI, GULF RESEARCH CENTER: They have the money. They attack many banks to secure cash. There's a number of kidnapping operations that cash secured and they're using this cash to buy new technology, buy new explosive, and basically to train more people. So we are facing a major threat coming from Yemen. No doubt about it.

TODD: Mustafa Alani of the Gulf Research Center was briefed by Saudi counterterrorism officials. Alani and other analysts say al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula may even have access to laboratories. The group's own magazine recently boasted its modest lab was now a modern one. Al Asiri may have similar bombs ready to target U.S.- bound plane, they say, and he's certainly trained others how to make them.

But they're up against an adversary that's penetrated their ranks. Saudi counter-terror officials placed a mole inside the group, a man of Arab origin with Western travel papers who got his hands on the bomb and handed it to them.

ALANI: They have their own people inside. They have very strong connection to the leadership. They have connection to some of the religious leadership, and they have strong relation with the Yemeni intelligence agency. So the task of using human intelligency cannot be done by the American. It needs to be done by the Saudis.

TODD: But Alani says he doesn't believe al Qaeda allowed him to get close to Ibrahim al Asiri. A senior U.S. official says al Asiri may be the most dangerous terrorist America faces. Known as a savvy technician, al Asiri studied chemistry at a university in Saudi Arabia.

Analysts say he became radicalized during the Iraq war, spent time in a Saudi prison and developed a cold ruthlessness. 2009, he's seen here hugging his brother. Al Asiri implanted a bomb inside his brother's body and got him close to Saudi counter-terror leader, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef. The bomb killed his brother, the prince survived.

(on camera): What does it is a about him that he's willing to send his own brother to try to kill a top Saudi official?

KEN BALLEN, TERROR FREE TOMORROW: That tells everything about this man. This man is dedicated to jihad and he'll be willing to give his life. He gave his brother's life. That was a suicide mission.


TODD: That was Ken Ballen who has interviewed several militants in the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He says having a mole inside their ranks is not going to deter this group. He says it will strengthen it. Ballen says now that the mole operation has been revealed, the Saudi infiltration of the group is going to become much harder and in that way, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula may be more of a threat now after this operation, wolf. You can be right about that.

BLITZER: Do we know if this mole was ever close to getting caught?

TODD: We are not quite sure about that, but what we can say is this: that according to Mustafa al Alani, he was briefed by Saudi counterterrorism officials, this was a nerve-wracking operations for the Saudis. He says as he understands it, you know, in these operations, the handlers cannot have daily contact with the undercover agents and they have to do it by second or third hand contacts, sometimes they go days and maybe even weeks without talking to them and the mole has to operate on his own a lot.

And also, apparently, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was on the lookout for people like this. They were wary of outsiders coming into their ranks. So, this was an incredibly dangerous operation.

BLITZER: Brian, thanks very much. Keep up the good work, the good reporting.

Michelle Obama addresses Virginia Tech University graduates and what she's saying to a campus that is still rebuilding from a deadly attack by a student five years ago.

And it may not be the end of the world after all. There's new evidence that a popular rumir about 2012 apocalypse just isn't true. Who knew?

Stay with us.


BLITZER: A foiled suicide bomb in Syria, Mary Snow is monitoring that, also some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

What's the latest, Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well officials stopped a suicide bomb attack today Aleppo, Syria's most populist city. State media reports authorities intercepted a stolen booby trapped minibus. They apparently killed the bomber before he detonated the vehicle carrying 2,600 pounds of explosives. In Damascus, suicide attackers killed dozens of people yesterday.

Here in the U.S., stocks are mixed while all three indexes ended down for the second straight week. Investors reacted to a $2 billion trading loss of J.P. Morgan. The company's CEO Jamie Dimon has cited errors in bad judgment. In our next hour, we'll take a look at what happened to JP Morgan and what it means for your investments

Take a look at this. It's a swarm of bees that attached themselves to the side of a Jacksonville, Florida building. No one was attacked. No one got hurt. Beekeepers say the behavior was part of reproduction. They used a vacuum and moved them to where they wouldn't make so many people nervous.

And in case you were worrying about this, Mayan experts say this year won't bring the end of the world after all. Researchers have uncovered the remnants of the oldest known Mayan calendar. The Mayans used a series of cycles to track time and that December 21, 2012, only marks the end of one such cycle. The scientists say the Mayan calendar will, quote, keep going for billions, trillions and octillions of years. Can sleep soundly tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: Octillions, who knew?

It rallied both Democratic and Republican bases. Whose campaign gets a bigger boost from President Obama's support of gay marriage? Will it be the president or his Republican rival Mitt Romney? James Carville and Bay Buchanan, they're standing by live for our strategy session.

And a desert discovery sparking a mystery. So, what happened to the pilot of this World War II fighter plane?


BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer. Here are some of the stories we're working on, on our next hour.

A $2 billion trading loss at JPMorgan Chase. Does this mean your investments are at risk? We'll report it coming up. A former presidential candidate out on the campaign trail on trial right now. We'll be talking about the prosecution resting its case against John Edwards. How did they do?

And air traffic controllers taking naps, watching movies and gambling all while on the job. A shocking report on safety in the skies. Stand by. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's get right to our "Strategy Session." Joining us right now is the Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor James Carville. He's joining us in New Orleans and in New York, the Republican strategist, Bay Buchanan.

She's also the author of a brand new book "Bay and Her Boys, Unexpected Lessons I learned As a Single Mom." It's an excellent book. Guys, thanks very much for coming in.

James, let me start with you. I'm not happy with the fuzzy picture we're getting over there from New Orleans, but you still look like James Carville and they certainly know how you sound.

Give us your quick reaction. What went through your mind when you heard the president announce his support for same-sex marriage?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, I was happy, and I think it was inevitable and when there's a parade the best place to be is to be the drum major.

And he grabbed the baton and got out in front of this and I suspect he was going make an announcement and probably the vice president's remarks in response to the question made him do it faster than what he planned on, but that happens in politics.

BLITZER: Do you think it will hurt him in North Carolina, Virginia and maybe in Ohio? In 2004, remember Ohio voters passed legislation that banned same-sex marriage?

CARVILLE: It might, but if it does, I think it -- sure, you can't say that something like this won't make some difference somewhere, but also he does seem like he's on the right side of history and Romney looks more reactive in this kind of thing.

And they're going to bring up Romney when he was pro-gay rights than Kennedy was. I'll be totally honest with you. I'm not altogether certain that there's a political advantage with this one between now and November. Long term, there's a real advantage for the Democrats.

BLITZER: I tweeted earlier that the president's historic announcement seems to have strengthen -- helped strengthen his liberal base while at the same time strengthening Mitt Romney's conservative base. Would you agree with that?

BAY BUCHANAN, SENIOR ADVISER TO THE ROMNEY PRESIDENTIAN CAMPAIGN: I would agree absolutely with that. I also agree with James. I don't know how big a role this issue would be in the last couple of days that might last even a week.

But the key issue in this race is going to be the economy, but if I had to balance it I would say Romney benefits and if this was a popular thing and if it was politically smart, Barack Obama would have done it months ago. He wouldn't have waited until now.

He was pressured into this and the fallout is that he's now identified clearly with the left wing of his party more so. He's at odds with Middle America and North Carolina and Virginia.

Thirty states out there have voted down gay marriage. So Mitt Romney is on the side of this issue and American people look at it in the majority clearly.

And then he has the gay community that pushed him to do this and there are talks that maybe they're not happy to go to North Carolina for the convention. And if this starts bubbling up, there could be issues that harm the Democrats.

BLITZER: Well, what about that, James?

CARVILLE: I think that everybody is going to be fine going to North Carolina. I think this is one of these things that the Democratic Party and it's a good place to be. We would have thought it's civil right, a party of women rights and the party of gay rights. I'm completely comfortable with that.

There's some pushback, but if you look at public opinion on this, it's definitely, he's on the right side of history here and again, how -- the conservative base, I'm sure they'll get jazzed up about this and they're jazzed up already.

I'm not sure that it's short term or wash, I'm almost positive long term that it's an advantage for the Democrats.

BLITZER: You know, in two areas on gay rights, Bay, Mitt Romney and the president seem to agree. Mitt Romney has made it clear he doesn't want to reinstate the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the U.S. military. He seems to be OK with letting the military personnel serve openly as gays.

Also he seems to be OK with letting gay couple, men and men, women and women adopt children. So in those two areas he seems to be on the same page as the president. Is that a problem out there for social conservatives?

BUCHANAN: Sure. Some of them are going to disagree with those and let me clarify on the adoption issue. He acknowledges it's a state issue. They had that up in Massachusetts. He did nothing to change it, but he thinks the best route for adoption is for children to have a mom or a dad.

He thinks a traditional family is far better for children and those states that do choose to do otherwise he didn't make any attempt to change it. So that's where his position is there.

As for social conservatives, many of them, some of them out there are concerned about those issues. I heard a little talk about that today, but the big issue and clearly the most passionate issue they feel about is gay marriage and pro life.

And those issues Governor Romney is very solid on. The Evangelical community is already beginning -- have started to move behind him. This will give them even that much more reason to do so.

BLITZER: All right, guys, stand by. We'll have much more to talk about including the first lady's commencement speech. We'll have a live report from Virginia Tech University.

We'll also take a look at the politics of the graduation addresses in this election year.

Also it's like a scene out of "Indiana Jones." We're going to show you the extraordinary discovery from the Egyptian desert.


BLITZER: A high-profile commencement speaker of the Virginia Tech University, the first lady of the United State, Michelle Obama. Today, she urged students not to let the 2007 gun massacre at the university define their school.

Our White House correspondent Brianna Keilar is there for us. Brianna, Virginia, clearly a very important state in the race for the White House.

I suspect it's no coincidence that the first lady picked Virginia Tech University to deliver this commencement address.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Certainly no coincidence, it's a battle ground state and when you talk to students here, Wolf, they are certainly well aware of that, but they were happy to have Michelle Obama to speak here today.

So politics no doubt, played a role in her decision to speak here. But so, too, did the uniqueness of this class. They were high school juniors when the shootings happened here at Virginia, but they still decided to apply and come to school here.


KEILAR (voice-over): It's time to graduate at Virginia Tech.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to throw this and it's going to be great.

KEILAR: Kathleen Whitley and Rebecca Clayton were high school juniors when the April 2007 shootings shocked this campus and the nation. Now they're part of the first graduating class that applied after the tragedy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The shooting does not reflect any part of my four years here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It could have happened anywhere.

KEILAR: Still, the event has become synonymous with their school, something first lady Michelle Obama talked about when she delivered the commencement address here.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: When you all are out there in the world and you meet someone and you tell them that you're from Virginia Tech and they say,, isn't that the school where -- I want you to interrupt them right there.

And say, yes, it is the school where we have some of the best academic programs and professors in the country. You say yes, that is the school I attend. That is Virginia Tech.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like every year there's a little bit less connection for every class.

KEILAR: Rachel Webb did not know the victims, but like many students told us, she remembers them often.

RACHEL WEBB, VIRGINIA TECH GRADUATE: It's a reason to come out to school every day and be excited to be at school because others can't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Virtually no student that was here today was here on April 16, 2007, but it's still a powerful memory.

KEILAR: And it had a surprising effect on the students now graduating.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, our enrolments were up. It was quite amazing.

KEILAR: Alex is a rarity in this class. He committed to coming to tech in the days following the shooting and now he's graduating.

ALEX FOLDENHAUER, VIRGINIA TECH GRADUATE: We have a little bit to pack, but not too much. It's bittersweet, but we're excited for the next chapter of our lives.

KEILAR: Alex will spend the next six months in the Philippines volunteering with his wife, Candace before he starts an engineering job, but first, it's time to move.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you get newspaper?

KEILAR: And here in Blacksburg, Virginia, it's also time to move on.


KEILAR: Mrs. Obama's message here at Virginia Tech was very much tailored to this class, Wolf. She also talked about how she had honored some people that she lost when she was in her 20s, her dad and a friend through service.

And that's something that's been emphasized at Virginia Tech following the shootings, community service as a way to pay tribute to the victims.

BLITZER: Please congratulate all of the graduates over there at Virginia Tech. I went there five years ago right after the shooting and it's a wonderful, wonderful university and all of those grads should be very, very proud. Brianna, thanks very much.

Let's go back to our "Strategy Session" and discuss the politics of graduation addresses a little bit with Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor James Carville and Republican strategist Bay Buchanan.

You know, the president, James, is going to be speaking at Barnard College, part of Columbia University in New York on Monday. Mitt Romney is addressing the graduates at Liberty University in Virginia. Very different schools, shall we say.

CARVILLE: Yes, if you can't accuse them of playing election politics by giving a speech in Manhattan.

BLITZER: No, the point I was going to make it's an all-women's school, Barnard, and he's got a big lopsided majority among women voters right now. But I suspect he's trying to further increase that and Mitt Romney going to this fundamentalist university at Liberty University. Obviously, he's reaching out to Evangelicals.

CARVILLE: I think so. You know, it's fine. There are probably other places that I would go and he might be making a specific speech about something. I think it's fine.

I think it's great that the first lady went to Virginia Tech, which is a great university. Sometimes I wish I had the guts to do it in '92 and to the University of Wyoming.

They would give a commencement speech and it would be funny to go outside the box a little bit and I'm sure we did it and I don't know how much good it does.

BLITZER: Tell us why Mitt Romney, Bay and you support Mitt Romney, why he decided to go to Jerry Fallwell's university, Liberty University to deliver this address. He's a Mormon. There are some on the campus who aren't happy that a Mormon is giving the commencement address there.

BUCHANAN: Yes, there were a few that spoke out, very, very few, I might add. I think this is the key here. We're in that period before a convention where what's most important to Mitt Romney is that we pull the party together.

And the Evangelical conservatives have had a real champion in the race in Rick Santorum. He only dropped out a month ago and to see how they responded after he dropped out to send an invitation to the governor saying come talk to us, we want to hear from you and be part of this campaign.

It was a signal that they were ready to be a part of this great effort and so of course, we responded with a positive yes message and we're interested in being represented in this election.

It's in Virginia, this is great, I will pick up 1,000 volunteers from that commencement addressed and they'll be excited and energized and as James can tell you there's nothing better than a thousand young energetic volunteers in any campaign.

BLITZER: If he could do that that would be very significant. Virginia, the president won it, but it's certainly a battleground state now. Guys, thanks very, very much.

Congratulations all of the graduates Liberty University, Barnard, Virginia Tech and a lot of great schools out there. They and their parents, their loved ones should be very, very proud.

An incredible scene on a busy street, small child falls out of a fast-moving car and it was caught on tape. You're going to find out what happened.

And allegations of naps, internet gambling, watching movies and a lot more, all by air traffic controllers while on the job.


BLITZER: New information just coming in THE SITUATION ROOM in the murder trial of Jennifer Hudson's family. Mary Snow has the details. What have we just learned, Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a verdict has been reached in the case against William Balfour, Jennifer Hudson's former brother-in-law. The verdict will be read at 5:30 Eastern Time.

Earlier today the jury sent the judge a note saying they were split and asking for more information about testimony from an FBI analyst. Balfour pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder in the 2008 killings of Hudson's mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew.

His attorney has said there's no forensic evidence linking him to the case. We'll bring you the information on the verdict as soon as we get it.

Law enforcement officials are searching the Connecticut home of an alleged mobster and the suspect's lawyer says what they're really looking for is hundreds of millions of dollars in missing art.

The pieces went missing in a 1990 heist of a Boston art museum. They include paintings by Degas and Rembrandt. The U.S. attorney's office is not commenting.

Incredible video from China where a man jumped from a moving car to save his young daughter. She fell from the same car. Now according to state television the man says the 4-year-old girl crawled from the backseat into the passenger seat. He said she suddenly opened the door while it was running.

And the late Freddy Mercury was alongside his queen band mates on stage. He tells the BBC they're working on a way to give him a role in the London musical "We Will Rock You."

They insist it's not a hologram. He calls it an optical illusion of sorts. It will celebrate 10 years of the musical. It will be interesting to see what it is.

BLITZER: It certainly will be. All right, Mary. Thank you.

The Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu is ending his bid for Congress. You may remember the sheriff resigned from Mitt Romney's campaign amid scandal in February. Back then he denied allegations that he threatened to deport a former boyfriend.


SHERIFF PAUL BABEU, PINAL COUNTY, ARIZONA: This is outrageous that this has been brought out because I'm a conservative Republican and now they think that somehow there's hypocrisy because I'm gay.

I've never worn it on my sleeve like this is who I am. I don't define myself. We're different in America and we celebrate our differences and we see it as a strength, the beauty of our country.


BLITZER: At the time Babeu stepped down as Romney's co-chair in Arizona. Now he's suspending his congressional campaign to run for re-election as sheriff.

It's a mystery born seven decades ago, but only recently discovered in the Egyptian desert. What happened to the pilot of this British plane?

Plus, the stunning revelation of a $2 billion loss by America's biggest bank. How did that happen?


BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's "Hotshots." In the West Bank, a Samaritan prayer service is marked to end the pass over holiday.

In South Korea, a fireworks show celebrates the opening ceremony of expo 2012. A convention being called the next world's fair. In Egypt, people pause for Friday noon prayer in Tahrir Square.

In New Delhi, India, squirrels play in a garden. "Hotshots," pictures coming in from around the world.

An amazing discovery in the African desert, a World War II fighter plane trapped in time. Officials are search for example clues and the missing pilot.

Barbara Starr is joining us from the Pentagon with more. Barbara, what do we know about this?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is extraordinary. The desert, the Sahara Desert coughed up a secret with not quite a full solution yet.


STARR (voice-over): It sat quietly for 70 years in the Egyptian desert, waiting for someone to find it. The wreckage of a British Royal Air Force P-40, one of hundreds of Kitty Hawk fighter bombers that took on the Nazis across North Africa.

A Polish oil worker exploring the Egyptian desert just came across the wreckage and took these extraordinary images, the plane, mostly intact, after decades in the desert. The cockpit controls, from an era gone by, enough to inspire even modern fighter pilots.

COMMODORE KEN MCCANN, U.K. AIR ATTACHE: I just thought what an amazing, amazing story for an aircraft 70 years ago to have gone down in the desert to be in such good condition and to be found intact after all these years.

STARR: Even some ammunition and guns remain. This archive film shows the plane in action in World War II. In North Africa, its job, to protect troops on the ground fighting the Nazis.

MCCANN: It was an absolute workhouse. It flew extensively throughout that campaign, and some may well say it was decisive in tipping the balance in favor of the allies in North Africa.

STARR: Records show the plane went down in the Sahara Desert on June 28, 1942. According to British newspapers, the pilot is thought to be flight Sergeant Dennis Coping.

ANDY SAUNDERS, MILITARY AVIATION HISTORIAN: I think the important part of the story is the story of the man that was flying it and what happened to him.

STARR: It's believed he was flying the already damaged plane to a repair site when he crashed. These bullet holes, a mystery. Was he shot down?

Parachute remnants suggest the young pilot survived and tried to make himself a shelter from the hot sun, but no remains have been found. He may have died in the burning desert looking for help.


STARR: And British military authorities will visit the wreckage in the desert in the coming days, we are told, and try to determine whether it is feasible to try and search for the remains of this young World War II pilot lost so many years ago -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Amazing story. Barbara, thank you.