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U.S. Drone Crashes in Maryland; Jump-Starting the Economy; Tell Jack What You Think; Call for Terror Attacks in the US; Public Spat over Public Spending

Aired June 11, 2012 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: An Obama Cabinet official cited for a hit-and-run after allegedly causing two collisions within a matter of minutes. The White House cites health-related issues. We're digging deeper.

It's been America's eye in the sky over Iraq and Afghanistan. Now a security perimeter is set up at the scene of where an unmanned U.S. drone has crashed in Maryland.

And how far should the U.S. go to jump-start the economy? A bitter debate between the Obama and Romney campaigns, it's now playing out overseas.

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

A member of President Obama's Cabinet is under investigation now for hit-and-run after allegedly leaving the scene of one collision, then causing another. The White House says health issues were a factor. But there are so many unanswered questions.

Brian Todd has been investigating the story for us.

Brian, what are you finding out?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are a lot of unanswered questions, Wolf. Secretary John Bryson, Commerce Secretary John Bryson is now back in Washington after these accidents over the weekend. The information is still somewhat murky.

But we're told the secretary did have some kind of a seizure at some point around the sequence of these accidents.


TODD (voice-over): Law enforcement authorities say Commerce Secretary John Bryson allegedly caused traffic accidents at two different scenes within about five minutes. The sequence started in San Gabriel just north of Los Angeles. At 5:05 p.m. local time Saturday, police say Bryson was driving his Lexus southbound on San Gabriel Boulevard and rear-ended a car waiting at a rail crossing.

DEPUTY TONY MOORE, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: At some point after that traffic collision occurred, he got out of vehicle, made contact with the individuals, but for some reason got back into his vehicle and left the scene. And when he left the scene, he struck the vehicle a second time.

TODD: Authorities say the three men in the first car followed Bryson while calling 911. Bryson then drove into the neighboring city of Rosemead. At 5:10 p.m. local time, police and sheriff's officials say Bryson collided with a second car at the intersection of San Gabriel Boulevard and Hellman Avenue. When police got to that scene...

STEVE WHITMORE, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S SPOKESMAN: They found the commerce secretary unconscious behind the wheel of his Lexus.

TODD: Authorities say there was no evidence drugs or alcohol were involved. A Commerce Department spokeswoman said Bryson suffered a seizure. She says he was taken to a hospital for observation overnight, then released. A Commerce official said he had no security detail with him at the time of the accidents that he was given medication to treat the seizure.

Dr. Robert Laureno of Washington Hospital Center says a seizure is an electrical storm in the brain. Anyone can have one, he says, if they encounter periods of sleep deprivation or suffer head trauma.

DR. ROBERT LAURENO, WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: A seizure in this area, if it was localized to that area, could affect language and speech. A seizure in this area, if localized, would just affect vision. A seizure in this area of the brain could affect leg and not involve the arm.

TODD (on camera): For people who have histories of these things, whether it's one occurrence or more than one, should they be driving?

LAURENO: Well, every state has different laws. And epileptologists in general agree now that people whose seizures are controlled should be able to drive.


TODD: Law enforcement officials in California say Bryson has not been formally charged with anything yet. But he is being investigated for possible felony hit-and-run -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What about the people in the other two cars? What is the status of them?

TODD: Police say two or three people in the first car were treated by paramedics for pain. In the second car, one of the two people complained of pain, but declined medical treatment.

None of these injuries appear to be serious right now.

BLITZER: All right, Brian Todd, thanks very much for that.

But let's dig a little bit deeper right now.

We have just received some new information on Bryson's condition.

Let's go straight to our White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar. What is just coming in, Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We actually learned, Wolf, from a Commerce Department official that Secretary Bryson was back at work today, although we did know he had no public events on his schedule.

And we have also learned that he has not had a history of seizures. According to this official, he had not had a seizure before. There have been some questions about the timing of some of the events in relation to the seizure. And we can't really clear that up, Wolf, because according to this official, the timing of the seizure, the cause of the seizure, the sequence of the events, hard to sort of figure out because the secretary was driving alone and he has limited recall of the events.

We also heard from White House press secretary, Jay Carney, a short while ago sort of about the limitations of some of the information they have given us.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The commerce secretary was alone, he had a seizure, he was involved in an accident. I -- you know, I would refer you to the Commerce Department for more details.

Those circumstances I think speak to some of the, you know, difficulty in getting details. But beyond that I just don't know and I would refer you to the Department of Congress.


CARNEY: I'm certainly not a doctor. I certainly didn't...


CARNEY: ... was not a presiding doctor on this case, so I would refer you to the Department of Commerce.


KEILAR: Now, Wolf, if you take a wider look at sort of the story and how it fits into the last week or so for the administration, this sort of is another in a line of stories that have distracted from what President Obama wants to focus on.

And that is convincing voters that he and his administration are doing what they need to on the economy. We saw bad jobs numbers more than a week ago. And that certainly has been sort of an umbrella, a cloud over -- well over the last week.

There's the bipartisan furor the leak of classified information that we have seen in recent stories and the president's own gaffe on Friday where he said the private sector is fine. We do know that if a blood test comes back showing that the secretary, that there was no alcohol involved -- and a preliminary examination indicates that, a Breathalyzer, Wolf, -- that he may not -- or it's expected he wouldn't be charged with hit-and-run.

BLITZER: But, still, this is a distraction from what the White House wants to focus on.

What do we know about Secretary Bryson? Most of our viewers probably never heard of him. We know he replaced Gary Locke, who is now the U.S. ambassador in China. But tell us a little bit about him.

KEILAR: Yes, he's not really a high-profile guy. And that's why you may not have heard of him, certainly if you're the average person, not as high-profile as Gary Locke.

And we heard from Jay Carney today. He said that he's been an effective commerce secretary. But at the same time, even though Commerce deals with issues of trade and certainly how business -- American businesses relate to government, President Obama, I wouldn't say that he's one of the very closest of the president's sort of economic circle.

And we do know from the White House, from Jay Carney, Wolf, that President Obama only learned about this, this morning, and as of this afternoon had not spoken to Bryson. It was his chief of staff, Jack Lew, who was able to touch base with him.

BLITZER: Yes, I'm a little surprised that we haven't heard from Secretary Bryson himself, either going out, making a statement, reassuring the country that he's OK or doing a television interview or something like that.

But I assume, Brianna, I don't know if you know, they're thinking of doing something. They can't just keep him holed up in the Department of Commerce.

KEILAR: Yes, honestly, I don't know, Wolf, if they are thinking of doing something.

But I was interested to learn that he was at work today. We do know though he's been in touch with his doctors just trying to make sure that his held situation is OK.

BLITZER: Well, we wish him, of course, a speedy recovery. Thanks very much. We will stay on top of this story for our viewers.

Other important news we're following, it's been America's secret eye in the sky over Iraq, then Afghanistan. Now a version of the giant unmanned Global Hawk has actually gone down in the state of Maryland.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, is joining us with more.

These drones have gone down in these other countries, including Pakistan, even in Iran, but Maryland? What's going on?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, not Iraq or Afghanistan, or like you said even Iran. Apparently right now, the Coast Guard is cordoning off the area, establishing a security zone and they're looking to try to sort of make a secure zone before they can get in there and take a look at the wreckage.

But basically this drone was on a routine training flight when it just lost contact with its Navy operators on the ground. As soon as the Navy figured out they had lost contact, they scrambled a manned aircraft who was able to put some eyes on that wreckage. He determined, A., that it had crashed and, B., that it did not hit anything on the ground, that there were no injuries to anyone on the ground.

But, Wolf, this Global Hawk has really put in a lot of use here in the United States. It's done surveillance over some of the California wildfires, looked at some of the damage after Hurricane Ike. It's also deployed obviously overseas because it can fly 11 miles high. That's well above the weather line. And it can go for about 30 hours at a time.

We're told again it was a routine training mission. Right now, the Coast Guard is trying to determine the depth of the water and whether any pollutants in the water might cause trouble for the folks who have to go in and try to retrieve it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And just to repeat, did you mention -- and pardon me if you did -- where this drone was based?

LAWRENCE: Yes, it was based at Naval Air Station Pax River. They have got about five of them. One of is deployed with the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet right now. The other four go through routine training. This one was on that routine training when something happened. And it lost contact with its operators on the ground. The drone costs about $175 million.

BLITZER: One drone costs $175 million? Wow. All right, thanks very much for that, Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon.

Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen is now actively seeking recruits to carry out attacks on the United States. We have details of these new troubling developments.

Plus, the battle for the White House becomes a battle of verbal gaffes. Whose slip-ups are more damaging? But whose are they? We're talking about President Obama's slip-ups, Mitt Romney's slip-ups. We're going in depth. Stand by.


BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the next Congress will be one of the least experienced in decades.

And it might even be more polarized than the current Congress, if that's possible.

Politico reports the House and Senate will be filled with "rookies and sophomores unbound by the institution's traditions" -- that's a quote -- who have "virtually no experience doing serious legislative work," which means it will be hard to tell them from the current Congress.

Here's the deal. The 2010 elections brought in a record number of new lawmakers, mostly Republicans. Remember the Tea Party thing.

Then there were dozens of retirements that have been announced this year, plus the normal expected election turnover come November, all of which means the new Congress could have more than 155 members with less than four years experience.

Some suggest this is a good thing, that it's time to "throw the bums out" -- I tend to agree with that -- and that the turnover will bring fresh blood into a growingly unpopular institution, and for good reason. The current Congress is more partisan and less willing to compromise than ever. Plus, it could be argued a lot of them don't know what they're doing.

One Democratic congressmen told Politico, "There are chairmen of subcommittees who don't know which end of the gavel to use, much less how to get a bill through the Congress." That's a quote.

And as the U.S. heads for that "fiscal cliff" that is looming next year, the makeup of the new Congress that will be elected in November is very much a wild card. We're running out of room to either make mistakes or do nothing.

House Speaker John Boehner insists all these fresh faces have had a positive impact, bringing he calls "energy, enthusiasm and real-world experience" to Washington.

But what have they done for us lately? Nothing. And it could get worse. Here's the question. What does it mean if the next Congress is one of the least experienced in decades? Go to and post a comment on my blog. Or go to our post on "The Situation Room's" FaceBook page.


BLITZER: The lame duck session between November 6th, right after the election, and December 31st is going to be incredibly, incredibly important. That fiscal cliff you're talking about. All these taxes. Tax cuts go away if nothing is done.


BLITZER: A lot of action. If people think they're going to -- we're going to be able to relax after the election, think again. It's going to be a crazy period.

CAFFERTY: And if they get it wrong -- if they get it wrong, we are in huge trouble.

BLITZER: Yes. All right, Jack, thank you.


There are also chilling new signs that al Qaeda's offshoot in Yemen is now aiming directly at the United States of America. For starters, a public appeal for attacks inside the U.S. Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, has been looking into this story. She's got details.

Barbara, what are you finding out?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I want you to have a look at what people are saying about al Qaeda in Yemen.


STARR (voice-over): The Obama administration now starts every day worried that al Qaeda in Yemen is trying to attack the U.S. An administration official tells CNN, there's plenty of reason to worry. Al Qaeda's English language magazine has just issued a call for fighters in Yemen who have U.S. passports, visas or anyone who can legally enter the U.S. and then attack businesses and population centers. The magazine details how to make explosives, but then goes further. AQ in Yemen, known as AQAP, has instructions on how to communicate with its commanders who will approve attack plans.

SETH JONES, RAND CORPORATION: If AQAP in Yemen continue to target the U.S., and we see all indicates that it is, getting somebody with a U.S. passport or an ability to get inside the United States because of visa waiver, is the best way to do it.

STARR: Many experts say AQAP is now a bigger threat than the decimated ranks of the al Qaeda organization, still hiding in Pakistan. With political unrest still weakening the Yemeni government, al Qaeda has a ready influx of fighters from Saudi Arabia, Somalia and the United Arab Emirates. AQAP fighters, now 1,000 strong, triple the size of the group two years ago, operate in strongholds across southern Yemen. And it's a group with growing influence.

GREGORY JOHNSEN, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: We started providing services, delivering water, hooking up houses to the electricity. Things that had never been done by the previous Yemini governments.

STARR: The U.S. has identified four core leaders, including Ibrahim al-Asiri, the master bomb maker said to be responsible for the failed effort to put an explosive device on a U.S. bound airliner several weeks ago. That plot failed because the alleged bomber was actually working for Saudi intelligence. Since then, the U.S. believes al Qaeda has taken steps to approve its security inside Yemen.


STARR: Now, air strikes using those controversial drones have been the major U.S. tool so far to go after al Qaeda in Yemen. But the group appears to still be flourishing. More fighters, more territory, and more plots the U.S. believes are coming out of Yemen directed for the United States.


BLITZER: I know the U.S. has had drone strikes in Yemen targeting some of these al Qaeda operatives. But is there any serious consideration, based on what you know, Barbara, of actually deploying special operations forces, commandos, in Yemen to try to get the guys?

STARR: Well, right now what we do know is that special operation forces are working to help train Yemeni forces to go after key al Qaeda operatives and strongholds. I think you raise a very interesting question, Wolf. If they had a lead on one of those top four leaders on the ground, and they couldn't get a drone in for some reason, would they send U.S. troops? So far, by all accounts, they haven't done it.

BLITZER: Yes, less than 100 al Qaeda operations the U.S. intelligence community believes remaining in Afghanistan right now. Still 90,000 U.S. troops there. More than 1,000 in Yemen. And no U.S. troops in Yemen. That's a little strange. But we're going to be following up on this story as well.

Barbara, thanks very much.

Disturbing video that has an elected official possibly facing child abuse charges. There's new developments in this shocking case.

And look what 22 inches of rain did in Florida. Epic flooding and a state of emergency.


BLITZER: At least 93 people killed in a fresh wave of violence in Syria. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

What's going on, Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that number comes from Syrian opposition activists. They report fresh shelling in the battered city of Homs. And in a disturbing new development, they accuse the government of using helicopters to fire indiscriminately on a town in northwest Syria. The U.S. State Department calls that a serious escalation and a desperate move. CNN cannot independently verify the reports of fighting in Syria.

And it's day two of the manhunt for the suspect in a shooting that killed two former Auburn University football players and wounded a current player. Police believe 22-year-old Desmonte Leonard killed three people in all and wounded three more at an off campus apartment. Two other men who fled with Leonard are also being sought. Police say they believe the gunfire broke out during a fight at a party.

And this video is difficult to watch. It shows a man beating his stepson with a belt allegedly because the boy wasn't throwing a ball well enough. A neighbor recorded it and eventually yelled at the man to stop. Well, it turns out, he's an elected official named Anthony Sanchez who oversaw a powerful southern California water agency. He's now facing felony child abuse charges and has resigned his position.

And take a look at Pensacola, Florida, underwater after up to 22 inches of rain fell in the Florida panhandle and parts of Alabama. Floodwaters eight feet deep inundated some neighborhoods, prompting states of emergency. Even the county jail was flooded. Officials are putting that damage at more than $20 million in Pensacola alone. Look at those pictures, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, that's pretty bad. All right, Lisa, thank you.

They've been trading jabs and gaffes. The Obama and Romney campaigns carrying on a public spat over public spending. And it's getting nastier.

And Jeb Bush suggests his father and Ronald Reagan would both have had a hard time fitting into today's Republican Party. That's coming up in our strategy session.


BLITZER: They're jabbing. They're punching. They're stumbling. The Obama and Romney campaigns are in a public spat over public spending, and it's going global right now. Our national political correspondent Jim Acosta is watching all of this unfolding.

Going global right now.


BLITZER: What's going on?

ACOSTA: Well, it's a nasty fight, but it's an important fight, Wolf. Look past the battle of web videos that is underway between the Obama and Romney campaigns, and there is a real debate going on, not just here in the U.S., but around the world over how to get the economy moving again.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Mitt Romney's campaign just can't get enough of it, churning out another web video linking President Obama's gaffe on the private sector to the weak U.S. recovery.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The private sector's doing fine. Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government.

ACOSTA: The president' re-election team is fighting back by trying to turn Romney's initial reaction to Mr. Obama against the GOP contender.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did ne not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.

ACOSTA: Cue the mayors in Massachusetts on Romney's record.

ROB DOLAN, MAYOR OF MELROSE, MASSACHUSETTS: Local government was cut dramatically. We lost police, firefighter, teachers at rapid rates.

ACOSTA: At the heart of all that back and forth just might be the key question of the election. How far should the U.S. go to jumpstart the economy? Revising the president's private sector comments, Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod argued on CNN's "State of the Union," public sector spending is critical.

CROWLEY: So bottom line, is the private sector doing fine?

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN CHIEF STRATEGIST: The private sector, we need to accelerate job creation in the private sector.


AXELROD: One of the ways that we can do that is putting teachers and firefighters and police back to work because those are good --

CROWLEY: That's the public sector.

AXELROD: That will -- but that will help accelerate the recovery.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The Romney campaign responded with this Web video, showing the president touting his restraint on government spending.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The only time government employment has gone down during a recession has been under me.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But the Obama campaign notes the president did call for more teachers in the same speech, and even pointed to Wisconsin's recalled surviving governor, Scott Walker, who stressed caution and slashing public spending.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISC.: I know in my state our reforms allowed us to protect firefighters, police officers and teachers. That's not what I think of when I think of big government.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The debate is playing out on the world stage as countries take sides in the European debt crisis, Germany arguing for more austerity and leaders in countries like Spain backing President Obama's call for more stimulus-style spending.

ALFREDO PREEZ RUBALCABA, SPANISH OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): Just with austerity, we won't get there.

ACOSTA (voice-over): In an op-ed in a German business journal, Romney's top economic adviser said President Obama's advice to the Germans and Europe has the same flaws as his own economic policy. An Obama campaign economic adviser called Hubbard's column "a dangerous precedent, aimed at undermining U.S. foreign policy."

ACOSTA: Romney is facing what could be a big test on his comments on teachers and firefighters. In the next week he is planning a six-day bus tour that is focused on small towns, where as you know, Wolf, public sector workers wield a lot of influence.

And they carry with them a lot of votes. And I will tell you, the Romney campaign just had a conference call a few moments, Wolf, it just wrapped up. And there was a surrogate for the Romney campaign who said that Mitt Romney's comments on teachers and police officers and firefighters were taken out of context. That is basically in conflict wit what many of his surrogates have been saying throughout the day, backing up Mitt Romney's comments. So we're going to have to get back to the Romney campaign to see exactly what that surrogate was talking about.

BLITZER: So they're trying to clean up what Romney said (inaudible)?

ACOSTA: Well, possibly. That's what the surrogate was saying on this conference call that just wrapped up. But that's not what the campaign has been saying all day long. This is something, perhaps a new development, coming from the Romney campaign.

BLITZER: All right. Let us know. Thanks very much.

Jim Acosta reporting, let's dig a little bit deeper right now in our 'Strategy Session." Joining us now are CNN contributors, the Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona, and the Republican strategist, Mary Matalin.

Let me pick up with Mary, this is a sensitive issue. And Romney seems to suggest, you know what, we don't need to spend more money to hire more teachers, firefighters, police officers. A lot of folks will say what planet is he living on? I'm quoting David Axelrod right now. They'll be upset about that because they think the country does need more teachers, firefighters and police officers.

MARY MATALIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Right. Only people who live on another planet or think in a parallel universe would think that is what Mitt Romney meant.

He said it in the absolute conjunction with the ridiculously expensive and wasteful recall, which validated that public workers, be they firemen, be they teachers, be they any critical service, they need to get their salaries and their pensions in line with what taxpayers can afford. That's clearly what Romney meant.

And I'm sure the surrogate that Jim just referenced meant that we need to do pension reform. The only states that are having any growth now are those doing pension reforms. So that's the epicenter of what this campaign is going to be about.

And the president is saying, reinforcing a negative impression of him that he thinks the public sector creates wealth or creates growth is in direct contradiction with what other Democratic leaders have said about the private sector, the bad jobs numbers and the horrific 1.9 percent growth, which is a result of his public sector spending.

BLITZER: And you heard Romney and his supporters, his surrogates, strategists out there, Maria, say what planet is the president living on when he says the private sector is doing fine?

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, clearly the White House and the president himself have already clarified that comment. I don't think it was the best six words that the president could have used. But I think the American people understand where this president was coming from. And the attacks from the Republicans to try to paint him as out of touch are not going to stick, frankly, because in most polls, the American people believe it's this president who is the one who understands the economic suffering and the economic problems that most Americans , especially middle class and workers are going through.

And the president has always said -- he's always the first one to say that we need to do more to continue to provide growth, to provide job creation in the private sector as well as the public sector. But I think that Mitt Romney's comments are going to come back and haunt him more.

And in fact, we're already seeing from his campaign that they're trying to walk it back because it underscores something that is already alive in the American people's minds about a candidate, Mitt Romney, that really doesn't care much for the middle class, firefighters, cops and teachers, really important middle class workers who fight for our communities, invest in our children's future and keep us safe.

BLITZER: Mary, I assume you saw what the former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, very popular Florida two-term governor, told Bloomberg's editorial board earlier in the day. He said "Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush would have a hard time if you define the Republican Party, and I don't, as having an orthodoxy that it doesn't allow for disagreement, doesn't allow for finding some common ground."

He was suggesting that both George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan would have a difficult time fitting into at least a certain brand of the Republican Party right now.

MATALIN: Well, I worked for both of those presidents. It was a privilege and an honor, and you were there, too. It was very partisan then. They called Reagan, blamed AIDS and homelessness on Reagan. Said Poppy Bush was a wimp and all sorts of other ugly stuff. But this is a different day. It's not a different party.

The party is still united around the same principles of limited government, lower taxes and policies, regulatory policies that unleash the animal spirits in the market, which is what Reagan did, which is why he created 10 times as many jobs and a growth rate twice as great as this recovery.

So when Reagan created the greatest recovery, and Obama has created the worst recovery, it tends to have a different dynamic on those who are trying to find common ground.

We cannot sustain anymore of Obamaomics or any more of his policies. (Inaudible) the environment is different. I would also add that Presidents Reagan and Poppy Bush were famously, personally, publicly and privately, very civil men. They never said about the opponents some of the things that come out of the mouths of the Democratic leadership.

BLITZER: And Mary is right. I did cover bought President George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. And when necessary, they were more than willing to compromise on very sensitive issues with Democrats who had majorities in the House and the Senate. Most of those years they were willing to compromise to make a deal.

Here's the question to you, Maria. A lot of folks are disappointed that this president so far has not been able to come up with a real strategy of finding those Republicans, cooperating with them, working out deals.

CARDONA: The problem, Wolf, is that there aren't any. I mean, this has been the issue with this president, and, frankly, why the Left has been a little bit mad or miffed with him, because they believe he's tried too hard to compromise with Republicans. He's tried time and time again.

And the problem is he hasn't found any Republicans. Where are they? And I'll use one issue as a key example, immigration, frankly something that Reagan was very good at. He gave us Amnesty. And again, if he were alive today and did that, he would be flung out of the GOP as a raging liberal.

But the problem is, for example, on immigration, there are 11 Republicans today that just a few short years ago supported comprehensive immigration reform, including McCain, who had his name on the bill. They are unwilling to support anything like that today. That underscores the problem.

BLITZER: To be continued, ladies, thanks very much.

She waged a high-profile battle against breast cancer. Now "Good Morning America's" Robin Roberts says she's facing another major health threat. We're going to talk about it with our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Plus, a growing struggle as months stretch into years for America's millions of long-term unemployed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I made over $80,000. Now I'm living on not even $1,400 a month. So when the unemployment runs out, then what do I do then?



BLITZER: Close to 13 million Americans are now unemployed, and a staggering number have been out of work for six months or more. There's a lot of desperation out there, and many are losing their safety net. CNN's Lizzie O'Leary has an in-depth look at the long- term unemployed.

Lizzie, what are you finding out?

LIZZIE O'LEARY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this has been one of the most troubling and persistent aspects of the job market during the recession and the recovery, why so many people have been unemployed for so long.



O'LEARY (voice-over): With her tape measure and jeans, Michelle Shearer is both hard at work and out of work.

SCHERER: I believe in God, so something's got to happen here.

O'LEARY (voice-over): She's unemployed like the rest of these women retraining to get construction work. This project, a ramp at a local church, is a volunteer job. Scherer is 50, a college grad, and she hasn't had full-time work in 18 months.

SCHERER: What else do I need to do to myself? Do I need to get a master's degree? Do I need to get a better haircut? You know, what the heck is it about me that I can't get work? Because that feels really bad.

O'LEARY (voice-over): It's painful and the numbers show it's persistent, 12.7 million Americans are unemployed and almost 5.5 million of them have been without a job for more than six months.

HANNAH SHAW, CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES: Having a college degree doesn't protect you. I mean, you're more likely to be unemployed for longer if you're older. But it cuts across all races, it cuts across all occupations.

O'LEARY (voice-over): And the longer a person out is out of a job, the harder it can be to find work. Skills get rusty, connections fade away.

O'LEARY: What do you see when those people come through your centers?

KIRKLAND MURRAY (PH): Well, a lot of those people, they are desperate. They want to get back to work.

O'LEARY (voice-over): Kirkland Murray runs the program where these women were retrained.

MURRAY: You see more and more people coming outdoors.

O'LEARY (voice-over): Seventy thousand more Americans lose their extended benefits this week. Congress voted to end all long-term unemployment insurance by the end of the year.

EDWINA SPENCE: I don't think there's enough people that actually understand and well, they say, oh, they would not have cut off unemployment.

O'LEARY (voice-over): Edwina Spence hasn't worked full time since the end of 2009. She doesn't buy the argument that collecting unemployment kept her from looking for a job.

SPENCE: I've lost everything except my faith and my mind. I've lost everything.

O'LEARY (voice-over): Now with three other women from her retraining program, she started a construction company, a gamble, but after more than two years without a steady paycheck, one she's willing to make.

SPENCE: Stay positive and eventually it has to turn around. It just has to.

O'LEARY (voice-over): Lizzie O'Leary, CNN, Severna (ph) Park, Maryland.



Lizzie, so what can folks who have been unemployed for a long time, relatively speaking, actually do to make themselves potentially more attractive to employers out there?

O'LEARY: Well, this is the key question, because there is a stigma. Even though there's not supposed to be any discrimination against people who have been out of work for a long time, we went to a job fair today, asked some of the people doing hiring there, what do they look for? And they say the key is they say to stay engaged.


LEAH BLOOM, RECRUITER: It really is about being proactive, not just sitting back and applying or waiting for something to happen. They have to take extra steps. They have to get involved. They have to network.


O'LEARY: It's all about staging engaged with the workforce, even if you're not working, trying to do something that shows employers you're being proactive.

BLITZER: Yes, and maybe almost 13 million unemployed, but millions more underemployed, that may have been making $60,000, $70,000 a year. They have a salary now for $20,000 or $30,000, so they're technically employed. But they're not very happy that they have had to take this huge pay cut like that. It's a problem that's not going away. Thanks very much.

Can $125 billion stop the bleeding? Spain gets a big bailout. Erin Burnett is standing by. She's joining us with "What's Next," what's next for Europe and the United States?

Also, she fought a battle with cancer. Now "Good Morning America's" Robin Roberts goes public with a major new health challenge. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be here in the next hour. We'll discuss what's going on.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: On Wall Street, stocks were down sharply. The Dow lost 143 points as excitement gave way to anxiety over Spain's request for $130 billion backed bailout. CNN's Erin Burnett is going "OUT FRONT" on the story.

Erin, is $125 billion enough to stop the bleeding in Spain?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: No, unfortunately, Wolf. I mean, this appears to be the answer, talking to all sorts of people who are invested in those markets, who are buying some of that debt and other experts. Nobody seems to think that this is enough.

The question is, is it setting Spain on the right track? Is it a real process that's going to lead to resolving this crisis, or is yet another Band-Aid? And all we've seen out of Europe, of course, over the past few years is Band-Aid after Band-Aid after Band-Aid, and people really need to see that they're going to step up.

Earlier this morning it had looked like and over the weekend that markets were really going to rally. You saw it in Asia, for example, on the back of this news. But here in the U.S., markets had time to look at it and say is this enough? The answer is no. Do we have confidence Europe is going to come up with the right solution?

The answer still is no, although some are a little bit more optimistic today. So you end up with the market dropping. But I have to say, Wolf, people seem to think that Spain could need a lot more money. Italy could need money. I've seen estimates of another trillion to $4 trillion to $5 trillion is what Europe really needs to deal with the problems.

That, of course, dwarfs the amount of money Europe's put aside for it, which is a huge problem for the whole world, but particularly right here for the U.S. because for Europe to be able to solve this problem, the Fed has to keep the spigots open. The U.S. Is directly right now providing support for Europe. So it comes right here at home to our Fed and to Ben Bernanke.

BLITZER: Yes, there's also a limit to how much Germany can spend to help bail out the southern European countries like Spain or Italy or Greece, for that matter. The problems over there seem to be getting worse.

What's coming up later tonight on your show?

BURNETT: well, we're going to be breaking down, Wolf, exactly how much this might cost and whether these countries really are a new turn on what's a familiar phrase in this country now, too big to bail out, and exactly how big and bad this problem might be. And some of the numbers really are stunning.

I'm going to be joined by Bill Gross, who is the CEO of PIMCO, one of the largest bond investors in the world, has a lot of American pension money put into these economies and find out whether he thinks we're going to be able to get out of this and how much worse it could get for regular -- for all of us and our retirement funds. BLITZER: I'll be watching. Erin, thanks, very, very much.

All right. Jack Cafferty is here. He has got "The Cafferty File," Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question this hour is what does it mean if the next Congress, the one we're going to elect in November, is one of the least experienced in decades? Beth writes, "Gee, it might mean nothing will get done, that they won't agree on anything, that they'll wait until the last minute to raise the debt ceiling, thus causing a drop in the U.S. credit rating.

"Oh, wait. That's what's happening with this Congress. How could an inexperienced Congress be any worse?"

Tom in Philadelphia, "Just like the Congress does now, they'll listen to their contributors. Remember, they are bought and paid for."

Jeff writes, "It means that maybe they'll actually get something done if they don't know how to filibuster or use all the other stall tactics. I think it's wonderful."

John in California says, "Jack, we don't need experience. We need fresh minds with fresh ideas not tied to the old ways of doing business."

Kristen writes from Washington, "It means we'll continue to stall out in Congress. It takes time to become accustomed to the ways Congress does business, and we don't have time to learn on the job. We need a Congress that'll act on our behalf now."

Jeff in North Carolina writes, "It means the more senior members will have even more power in their chambers than they do now. It doesn't matter, Jack, we're too far gone. Send in the vultures."

Wayne in Virginia says, "Maybe with a bunch of new faces, the old worn-out faces will quit, get voted out the next election or come to the realization that people are genuinely tired of the same old B.S."

And M.B. writes, "Who would even notice? Name the last five things Congress has accomplished. Zero."

You want to read more about this, go to the blog, or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page. Wolf?

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

Passions flair as the European soccer championship as fans clash with police. We'll have details.

And Lady Gaga's on-stage accident. The show went on. But in terms of she was really injured.


BLITZER: United Nations workers flee as ethnic violence flairs. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that. Some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM as well. Lisa, what's the latest?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf, it's happening in western Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma, fighting between Muslims and Buddhists has included burning homes and attacks on buses.

At least 17 people have been killed in the violence, which was sparked when three Muslim men were detained following the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman.

And dramatic moments of the British inquiry into Rupert Murdoch's media empire. Former British prime minister Gordon Brown lashed out at Murdoch, basically accusing him of lying when Murdoch testified that Brown threatened to declare war on his company. Brown also attacked Murdoch's "Sun" newspaper for its reporting of sensitive medical information about his infant son.


GORDON BROWN, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I find it sad that even now in 2012, members of the News International staff are coming to this inquiry and maintaining this fiction that a story that could only have been achieved and/or obtained through medical information or through me or my wife leaking it, which we never did, of course, was obtained in another way. And I think we cannot learn the lessons of what has happened with the media unless there's some honesty.


SYLVESTER: And this hearing could affect whether Murdoch keeps control of the British part of his media empire.

Well, things got ugly as passions flared at the European soccer championship. Fans of Ireland and Croatia scuffled with police ahead of the game in Poland. Ireland went on to lose 3-9. And in one of the biggest rivalries of the sport, France and England tied 1-1 in today's match in Ukraine.

And what had happened to Lady Gaga at her concert in Auckland, New Zealand, last night? Yes, take a look there -- oh. She got bumped on the head with a pole one of her backup dancers was trying to move. Well, she finished the concert, but her makeup artist later tweeted, "Gaga suffered a concussion." Her representatives now say that she is doing well. Shows you that accidents do happen.

BLITZER: Yes, I saw her in concert at the Verizon Center here in Washington not that long ago. And, oh, that is painful to see that. Oh, my God. I hope she's OK. Lady Gaga, she's a real, real talent.

Lisa, thanks very much. We wish her, of course, a speedy recovery.