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THE SITUATION ROOM
Romney Ad Calls Obama a Liar; Scathing New Report on Penn State Scandal; Romney's Bain Departure Questioned; Boeing Gets Multi-Billion Dollar Order; First Time Jobless Claims Plunge; 450,000 Yahoo Passwords Hacked; Jackson Suffering "Mood Disorder"; Cheney Holds Romney Fundraiser; Calls for a Deadline to End the Killing; How Wrong Was Joe Paterno?; Hope After the "Killing Fields"
Aired July 12, 2012 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: a brand-new apology from Penn State University, this after a scathing report accuses the university's most powerful people of empowering Jerry Sandusky, hiding his sexual attacks and totally disregarding his victims.
Mitt Romney's new campaign ad calls President Obama a liar. Team Obama says it's Romney who's the liar. We're looking for who's telling the truth.
Plus, the explanation that didn't explain anything -- new demands for Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.'s staff to explain the so-called mood disorder they blame for his dropping out of sight.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin with today's damning new report on Penn State's University's cover-up of coach Jerry Sandusky's sexual attacks on young boys. It says the top people at the university, including the legendary football coach Joe Paterno, hid what they knew and had no regard for the young victims.
Just now, university officials are promising it will never, never happen again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNETH FRAZIER, CHAIRMAN, SPECIAL INVESTIGATION TASK FORCE: You should know that our hearts remain heavy. And we are deeply ashamed.
RODNEY ERICKSON, PRESIDENT, PENN STATE: While in no way lessening our focus on our own failings, we also are committed to helping to build greater awareness of the societal issue of child abuse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: CNN's Susan Candiotti is joining us now on today's scathing report.
The former FBI Director Louis Freeh, he led this study. It was very, very bitter and damming.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was, Wolf.
Right out of the gate, Louis Freeh made it clear that children were victimized because four top Penn State officials did nothing to stop Jerry Sandusky. And Louis Freeh named names, including a man whose name is synonymous with Penn State University, the late coach Joe Paterno.
CANDIOTTI (voice-over): From the moment Jerry Sandusky was marched before the public branded a predatory pedophile, a troubling question has lingered. What did those at Penn State University do to stop him? Now the public has an answer.
LOUIS FREEH, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State.
CANDIOTTI: Louis Freeh, hired by the university to investigate its role in the Jerry Sandusky scandal, delivered a scathing 267-page report, 430 interviews, 3.5 million pieces of evidence, adding up to one major finding about what they did with evidence of child rape.
FREEH: The most powerful people in Penn State University made a decision to conceal this information.
CANDIOTTI: The powerful people named are former president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz, former athletic director Tim Curley, and the man that made Penn State a national football giant, former head coach Joe Paterno.
The report suggesting they engaged in a cover-up, exchanging damning e-mails first revealed by CNN. The four men "never demonstrated through actions or words any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky's victims until after Sandusky's arrest," Freeh wrote.
The board of trustees issued this statement. "We expect a comprehensive analysis of our policies, procedures and controls related to identifying and reporting crimes and misconduct."
The report stating the top four Penn State leaders knew all about 1998 allegations Sandusky abused boys in the shower, but feared opening a "Pandora's box of victims." Freeh said Sandusky's 1999 retirement was not connected to the allegations. He continued to abuse children and had access to the university until his arrest.
FREEH: They were worried about Sandusky showering with a boy because of bad publicity.
CANDIOTTI: Janitors who witnessed "horrific abuse" feared reporting it.
FREEH: If that's the culture on the bottom, God help the culture at the top.
CANDIOTTI: When graduate coach Mike McQueary did report it, officials kept quiet.
In a statement, Joe Paterno's family said, "He is still the only leader to step forward and say that with the benefit of hindsight, he wished he had done more. To think, however, that he would have protected Jerry Sandusky to avoid bad publicity is simply not realistic."
CANDIOTTI: However, Freeh's report disagreed, stating that those four top Penn State officials were more worried about bad publicity for Penn State than having empathy for child abuse victims.
And, Wolf, it appears as though the fallout from this scandal is growing because several attorneys representing victims in this case were at today's press conference with Louis Freeh and said they are gaining even more ammunition for their expected lawsuits -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I'm sure there will be a lot of lawsuits. The question is will there be any criminal charges filed against any of these high- ranking Penn State University officials for allegedly covering up what they saw?
CANDIOTTI: Well, remember, two of them are already charged. Curley and Schultz, the vice president and the former athletic director, are charged with lying to a grand jury and failing to report child abuse.
Graham Spanier, the former president, has not been charged. It is possible certainly. This is in the hands of state prosecutors here in Pennsylvania as a part of their ongoing criminal investigation. They didn't originally have these e-mails until just a few months ago when Louis Freeh's group turned them over to authorities.
BLITZER: Susan Candiotti joining us.
Thanks so much, Susan.
This note: During our new 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour of THE SITUATION ROOM, we will get reaction from the campus. Jason Carroll is talking to students, faculty and others.
Now to presidential politics. Both the Romney and Obama campaigns say their opponent is a liar. Team Romney makes the accusation in a new campaign ad. And the Obama campaign's pouncing on a new report that raised serious questions about exactly when Mitt Romney left his job at Bain Capital management.
CNN's national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, has a closer look at the accusations.
And these are getting nasty. They're getting ugly.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
The Romney campaign is sticking to its claim that the GOP contender left his former private investment firm, Bain Capital, in 1999. But Democrats are pointing to government documents that appear to show otherwise.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What a day.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Mitt Romney has said repeatedly he left his private investment firm, Bain Capital, in 1999.
ROMNEY: I left that business in 1999 to help put the Salt Lake City Olympics back on track.
ACOSTA: But this Bain Capital filing at the Securities and Exchange Commission first reported by Talking Points Memo and "The Boston Globe" and obtained by CNN shows Romney as the COO and president of the company in 2001, two years after the GOP contender says he left the firm.
The Obama campaign pounced on the document as proof Romney has misled the public about his business career.
STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA 2012 DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Either Mitt Romney through his own words and his own signature was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony, or he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people.
ACOSTA: The Obama campaign says the SEC documents are crucial because they prove their attack ads are accurate in claiming Romney was at Bain when the firm was advising companies on outsourcing.
NARRATOR: Newly published documents show Mitt Romney's firms were pioneers at helping companies outsource their manufacturing.
ACOSTA: In its own spot, the Romney campaign insists the Obama ad is a lie because the Republican candidate had left Bain before the outsourcing work began.
Democrats say it's Romney who's lying, pointing to the Massachusetts financial disclosure form from his time as governor, showing he made more than $100,000 from Bain from 2001.
Roberta Karmel, an SEC commissioner during the Carter administration, says the government documents raise serious questions.
ROBERTA KARMEL, FORMER SEC COMMISSIONER: Either the statements in the SEC filings are untrue -- and, as a former SEC commissioner, I regard that as a serious problem -- or they're true, but he wasn't really on the job.
ACOSTA: But in a statement to CNN, a Romney campaign official said: "SEC regulations are complicated and do not square with common sense in this case. Although Governor Romney was not involved with Bain Capital after he left to head the Winter Olympics in 1999, he was still listed on some technical filings. This is nothing more than a quirk in the law."
Steve Pagliuca, a Bain Capital executive who is also a Democrat, said Romney's name remained on some government documents due to his sudden departure from the firm, adding: "Mitt Romney left Bain Capital in February 1999 to run the Olympics and has had absolutely no involvement with the management or investment activities of the firm or with any of its portfolio companies since the day of his departure."
ACOSTA: And the Romney campaign is also pointing to a report from FactCheck.org which recently described that Obama outsourcing ad as misleading. FactCheck.org says today it is sticking to that assessment of that Obama outsourcing ad.
And, Wolf, I just want to share with you a document we just obtained from a Democratic official in the last hour. It is a document filed by Bain Capital with the Massachusetts secretary of state's office in the year 2001. It was signed and filed with that office in 2001. The document shows Mitt Romney listed as the president of Bain Capital -- Wolf.
BLITZER: But the company Bain Capital and the Romney campaign says that was just a technicality, a quirk in the law I think was the exact quote coming from the campaign.
ACOSTA: That's right.
BLITZER: They have got a little bit more explaining to do, I assume.
ACOSTA: That's right.
I did ask the Romney campaign for a statement about this new document which we just obtained. I haven't gotten that response back from the Romney campaign. But what they have said all day long, Wolf, is that, yes, his name does appear on some of these government documents, but that does not prove that he was doing anything more than having his name officially still with the company.
They claim and they have been claiming all day long, Wolf, they're not backing away from it, that Mitt Romney left this company in 1999 to run the Olympics. And that's all they're saying about that fine point at this point, Wolf.
BLITZER: Are they saying he did earn $100,000 a year in 2000, $100,000 a year in 2001, salaries in both of those years?
ACOSTA: They have not explained why that Massachusetts financial disclosure form shows that he was still earning some kind of large income from Bain Capital.
And when I talked to that woman with the SEC, Roberta Karmel, the former SEC commissioner, she explained to me that there are some serious questions that are being raised here, Wolf, because if an SEC form shows Mitt Romney as the president of Bain Capital in 2001, that is a form that investors look at, that firms look at, that outsiders look at to see who's in charge over at Bain Capital. And so if people inside Bain Capital knew that Mitt Romney was not leading that company at that time, was not involved in running that company at that time, that information according to this SEC commissioner might not have been widely known to the rest of the world. And so she said they do have more explaining to do -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. All right. Good. We will stay on top of this. Thanks so much, Jim Acosta.
Meanwhile, the booing turned to rousing cheers today over at the NAACP Convention in Houston. The vice president, Joe Biden, he gave a speech jabbing Mitt Romney on health care reform, on a lot of other issues, opening a new line of attack on voting rights as well.
Our White House correspondent Brianna Keilar has the story.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama appeared at the NAACP Convention in Houston, but not in person.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you keep standing with me, if you keep persevering, like the NAACP always has, then I know that we can arrive there together.
KEILAR: It was Vice President Biden who showed up to slam Mitt Romney. He talked about Romney's support for voter I.D. laws that Biden described as counter to the group's vowing principles.
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was about the right to vote, because when you have the right to vote, you have the right to change things. They see a different future where voting is made harder, not easier.
KEILAR: The Obama campaign cited a scheduling conflict for the president's absence, though there were no public events on his schedule.
In the afternoon, President and Mrs. Obama sat down for an interview with CBS News. But the White House wouldn't say that was the reason for the no-show.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He has meetings all the time. I don't know who he's meeting with. He has the presidential daily briefing.
KEILAR: The campaign rejected suggestions this was a snub, emphasizing the president's appearance before the NAACP Convention in 2009 and Michelle Obama's speech there in 2010.
Present or not, the president and vice president remain popular with this crowd, Mitt Romney not so much, as proven by the response he got Wednesday during his speech, where he outlined how he would cut government spending.
ROMNEY: So, to do that, I'm going to eliminate every nonessential expensive program I can find. That includes Obamacare. And I'm going to work to reform and save...
KEILAR: Now, Wolf, Biden was booed as well, but only when he mentioned that he was wrapping up his speech. And you better believe that the Obama campaign is pointing that out.
BLITZER: Yes, he got a rousing reception today, the vice president, at the NAACP.
KEILAR: That's right.
BLITZER: Our producer, reporter Shannon Travis does tell me, though, that as recently as a week ago, top officials of the NAACP thought, thought that there was a good chance the president himself would attend this convention in Houston. He decided in the end not to go, to send a video and Joe Biden instead.
We're going to more on this story later this hour, also in our new 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour as well.
The Obama campaign blames a scheduling conflict, but lots of people aren't satisfied with the Obama campaign's excuse for why the president skipped the NAACP Convention.
We're also hearing demands for a fuller explanation of what's wrong with Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. He's dropped from sight. His staff says it's for treatment of what they call mood disorder.
And hackers claim they just posted the names and logins of nearly half a million Yahoo! users.
BLITZER: Let's get to Jack Cafferty right now. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Wolf.
See what this quote reminds you of. "This is not a football scandal and should not be treated as one. It's not an academic scandal and does not in any way tarnish the hard-earned well-deserved reputation of Penn State University." Sounds like the Catholic Church, right? Well, in this case, the voice belonged to the late, once great, Joe Paterno, who wrote that letter shortly before he died.
Paterno achieved legendary status at the coach of the Penn State football team. Yet he was busy just like everyone else on that campus turning a blind eye to the pedophile on his staff who had been given carte blanche by Mr. Paterno and the administration at the university to prey on young boys.
A newly released scathing investigation by former FBI director Louis Freeh reveals that everybody knew about Jerry Sandusky for 14 years and did nothing. Kids were raped. Kids' lives were ruined.
And these holier than thou football coaches and school administrators turned a blind eye rather than jeopardize one of the most successful college programs ever. The money and the prestige of the football program were more important to Joe Paterno and his bosses than the ruined lives of young children who were molested, sodomized, raped and otherwise abused by Jerry Sandusky, who was a high-ranking member of that illustrious football program.
Sandusky is going to rut in prison for the rest of his life, and that's exactly where he belongs. And had Joe Paterno lived, he should have gone to prison with him. But to the end, Joe Paterno lived in denial.
Here's the question: how wrong was the late Joe Paterno when he said the Sandusky scandal didn't tarnish Penn State?
Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile, post a comment on my blog, or go to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page. I will venture a guess that that school will never recover from this.
BLITZER: Yes. Sickening -- it's sickening. It's so painful to a lot of us. A couple years ago, I gave the commencement address at Penn State University, got an honorary degree. I met some of those high ranking administration officials over at Penn State University.
It's just so shocking, so hurtful to see what was covered up for so many years when I heard Louis Freeh talk about it today. It just made me sick to think about.
CAFFERTY: Turns your stomach.
BLITZER: Oh, yes. Awful. Awful.
BLITZER: All right. Jack, thanks. We'll get a lot of reaction to that.
Get back to politics right now. The former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is now the target of new accusations stemming from his association with Bain Capital. At issue are when he left the firm and how he documented it with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Joining us now, Jennifer Psaki, the former deputy White House communications director under President Obama. She is now his campaign press secretary. She's joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Serious, ugly, nasty accusations being hurled by both campaigns. Stephanie Cutter, who is the deputy campaign manager working for the Obama campaign on a conference call today said this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA CAMPAIGN: Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony, or he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BLITZER: That generated this reaction from the Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades. I'll put it up on the screen.
"President Obama's campaign hit a new low today when one of his senior advisors made a reckless and unsubstantiated charge to reporters about Mitt Romney that was so over the top that it calls into question the integrity of their entire campaign. President Obama ought to apologize for the out of control behavior of his staff, which demeans the office he holds. Campaigns are supposed to be hard-fought. But statements like those made by Stephanie Cutter belittle the process and candidate on behalf she works."
As the campaign, you're speaking for the Obama campaign right now ready to apologize for those words.
JENNIFER PSAKI, FORMER DEPUTY W.H. COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I think that statement is traditional distraction politics by the Romney campaign. This wasn't a random person at a Dunkin Donuts making accusations about Mitt Romney and how long he was at Bain. These are official SEC government documents.
What Stephanie Cutter was saying on the call today was you have one choice here. You can't have both. Either the information is inaccurate in these documents, and he was misleading in terms of how long he was at Bain, or he's been misleading the American public. It doesn't take us --
BLITZER: There's a third choice which is what they say and what Bain executives now say that there was a quirk in the law. He left in 1999 to go run the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake, severed his ties. But a quirk in the law put his name on those SEC documents even though he had no involvement whatsoever in the firm. That's a possibility.
PSAKI: Well, Wolf, the documents listed him as being the CEO of the company. I think it's hard for most people to believe that he wasn't involved in the decision making during that period of time.
BLITZER: But the guy at Bain Capital who is a Democrat, he says he had no involvement whatsoever. That was just some sort of technicality in these complicated SEC filings, if you will. And there is that possibility.
So, the question is: why would Stephanie Cutter jump to this felony accusation. No one has ever suggested Mitt Romney did anything ever criminally wrong.
PSAKI: By no means, Wolf, I think what she was saying was if he did mislead, which we don't know, we can't answer. The problem for Mitt Romney, there's a lot of unanswered questions.
BLITZER: The question is, before you make an accusation, shouldn't there be more investigation when you start raising the possibility in her words, of committing felony potentially this is a felony? That's a serious accusation.
PSAKI: Wolf, this is a case that's very much in Mitt Romney's camp. They can release more documents, they can release tax returns, they can share with the American people where his investments are and what it's all about and we can get the questions answered. It's as simple as that.
BLITZER: They make -- you have a new ad, the Romney campaign has a new ad. I'm going to play a clip of the ad they have about the Obama campaign. I want to get your reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Mitt Romney and I approve this message.
NARRATOR: When a president doesn't tell the truth, how can we trust him to lead?
The Obama outsourcing attacks misleading, unfair and untrue."
There was no evidence that Mitt Romney shipped jobs overseas.
Candidate Obama lied about Hillary Clinton.
HILLARY CLINTON, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So shame on you, Barack Obama.
NARRATOR: But America expects more from a president. Obama's dishonest campaign, another reason America has lost confidence in Barack Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That's a pretty (INAUDIBLE), very dramatic, too -- accusing the president of the United States of lying. What's your reaction?
PSAKI: Well, look, it's a political campaign. Mitt Romney has an abysmal record on outsourcing. He supported as governor, he profited when he was at Bain from companies that did outsource. And he supports tax credits today for companies that ship jobs overseas. That's pretty clear.
We know they're going to try to cloud the record here because it's a political campaign. When it comes down to it, the American people are pretty smart. And when they look at the records, Mitt Romney's abysmal --
BLITZER: A lot of the fact checkers said that all that outsourcing at Bain Capital was done after he left Bain capital to go run the elections. PSAKI: Well, we don't know when he left, do we, Wolf? So there's a question there. There's no question that companies that he did benefit from financially did outsource. But he also supported it as governor and he supports tax credits now. So the records just don't line up.
BLITZER: Should the president have gone to the NAACP convention and shown his respect for the nation's oldest civil rights organization?
PSAKI: Look, the president has nothing but absolute respect for the NAACP. Everything they represent in their history. And they've been incredible supporters of him and his agenda.
He sent the vice president, who did a pretty fantastic job today and was only booed at the end when he was ending. They were ready for more. I know he wishes he could go to every event he was invited to. Unfortunately he can't. But he was there in 2009. I would bet he'll be back again.
BLITZER: Three years in a row he didn't go.
PSAKI: That's true. I bet he'll be back again. He supports the NAACP. He wishes he could go to everything he is invited to but he just can't.
BLITZER: I think he missed the opportunity. But I said that yesterday.
PSAKI: All right.
BLITZER: Jen, thanks for coming.
PSAKI: Thanks, Wolf. My pleasure.
BLITZER: New numbers on jobless claims have experts sitting up taking note. Fewer first-time filers came last week. Has the jobless picture turned or was it just simply because of 4th.
And later, in our brand new 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour, Washington, D.C.'s mayor under fire and under the microscope. Brian Todd follows an investigation into suspicious 2010 campaign funds.
BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester's joining us. She's got some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Lisa.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Wolf. Well, United Airline says it has cut a new deal with Boeing to build 150 737s for its fleet over the next 10 years.
United did not disclose the value of the order, but at list price the planes are worth $14.7 billion. Boeing is sole supplier under the deal giving the aircraft manufacturer a leg up against its main competitor, Airbus. And U.S. jobless claims by first-time filers have taken a surprisingly steep dip. The Bureau of Labor statistics says about 350,000 people filed initial claims last week that's down 26,000 from the previous week.
The number is the lowest since March of 2008. Fourth of July and fewer planned auto factory layoffs may have skewed the figures a bit.
And Yahoo! hacked. And the ones who did it are boasting about it online. Yahoo! confirms Yahoo! voice, part of its new service, was breached and the user names and passwords of about 450,000 people were filched.
The anonymous hackers turned around and dumped the documents to a web page where they posted the note that the action was not a threat, but a wakeup call to Yahoo! -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, you've got to be careful with all those hackers out there. Thanks. Lisa, stick around. I want you to see our "Hot Shot" that we're showing right now bringing out this hour's "Hot Shot."
Something all of us here in THE SITUATION ROOM have been anxiously awaiting. It's our first look at Violet Sterling, the brand new daughter of our senior producer, Vaughn Sterling and his lovely wife, Robin.
Violet was born at 11:04 p.m. Eastern last night right here in Washington. We're told her middle name is a work in progress. There she is, Violet Sterling. Congratulations to the entire family.
SYLVESTER: Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Yes, I can hear a lot of the ohhhs and ahhhs behind me as everybody reacting to those pictures. Just absolutely beautiful. Congratulations to them.
BLITZER: We all love Violet.
SYLVESTER: Yes, love the name Violet. Absolutely love the name Violet, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Lisa. Thanks very much. Congratulations to Vaughn and Robin.
Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has dropped out of sight and being treated for a so-called mood disorder. Does he owe us a better explanation?
And in our "Strategy Session," the former Vice President Dick Cheney's way of helping Mitt Romney.
BLITZER: A relatively long-term presence on Capitol Hill is conspicuously out of sight lately. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr.'s office says he's being treated for what's being called a mood disorder. CNN's Ted Rowlands tells us this coincides with an investigation into ethics allegations dating back to 2008.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jesse Jackson Jr. is serving his ninth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. His journey into politics started when he was just a kid going to military school and watching his famous father in the spotlight.
ROLAND BURRIS (D), FORMER ILLINOIS SENATOR: Look, I have raised the young man. I know Jesse Jr. I grew up with his dad, with his whole family. I know them all. And it's a great family. He's done a great service.
ROWLANDS: Jackson Jr. won his first congressional election at age 30 going against the advice of his father who thought he was too young. In 2005, Jackson lost more than 50 pounds after undergoing gastric bypass surgery.
Over the years, Jackson has enjoyed landslide re-election victories and has developed a reputation for being a deal maker without the heavy-handed racially dividing tactics some associate with his father.
But like his father, Jesse Jackson Jr. is comfortable in front of a microphone, which he showed at the 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver.
REPRESENTATIVE JESSE JACKSON JR. (D), ILLINOIS: So it was at Lexington and Concord, so it was at Apamattics. So it was in Selma, Alabama. Tonight, I would add and so it shall be in Denver, Colorado, with the nomination of Barack Obama to be president of the United States of America.
ROWLANDS: Jackson Jr. was investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics after a fundraiser told government officials that Jackson was linked to a scheme to raise money for Illinois Governor Rob Blagojevich in exchange for President Obama's old Senate seat.
Jackson was never charged in the case and maintains he did nothing wrong. While his health situation is unclear, his popularity in his district is not. Jackson will likely be able to keep his job if he wants it.
JOHN KASS, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: If he wants to run, they'll back him. Will he win? Yes. Does he have problems? I would think so.
ROWLANDS: And, Wolf, I talked to a senior level staffer this afternoon who has been in contact with Congressman Jackson. He told me that he believes the treatment that he's currently receiving will last at least another week or two. And not to expect any information about his medical condition or his future until that treatment is over.
BLITZER: Ted Rowlands watching the story for us in Chicago. Thank you, Ted.
Let's bring in our "Strategy Session." Right now joining us our CNN political contributor, the Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and our CNN contributor, Erick Erickson, the editor-in-chief of redstate.com.
Donna, do his constituents deserve more information about what's wrong right now rather than just a statement saying he's got some sort of mood disorder?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, I believe in due time and due course his constituents will be informed of what is Jesse Jr.'s condition.
Look, I've known Congressman Jackson -- I call him Jr., I call him Jesse Jr. I've known him all of my adult life. I've known him practically all of his adult life.
He's a great man, wonderful public servant, hard working individual, very smart, very tentative, I know when he recovers from this ailment, he will not only inform his constituents.
But I know his office is working very hard right now to maintain rapport with those constituents whether they're calling for assistance or just calling for information.
So right now the focus is on his recovery. His health is a private matter clearly, but my thoughts and prayers are with his family.
BLITZER: What do you think, Erick?
ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, I think it doesn't really matter. There's a lot of media speculation about what's going on. There have been rumors and misrumors and all sorts of reports, but his constituents would re-elect him as regardless.
So I don't think they're concerned as much as the media's concerned, but they are owed a bit of candor when he's ready until then, prayers with him and his family.
BLITZER: All right, let's change to Mitt Romney and the presidential campaign for a moment. Erick, while I have you, he's going to be a major fundraiser in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with former Vice President Dick Cheney.
And the "Washington Post" says Foster Freeze, that huge, huge "Super PAC" billionaire who helped raised about $2 billion or so for that "Super PAC" supporting Rick Santorum is going to be there among others.
What role would you expect Dick Cheney to play assuming his health allows it and he seems to be making a nice recovery from the heart transplant in March, what role would you expect him to play in this campaign over the next four months?
ERICKSON: God loving vice president, please. I'm sure he'll be talking about foreign policy with the Romney camp if anything at all. I think this is a good show of support tying the party together for Mitt Romney.
I'm sure Donna will have something to say about it being Dick Cheney, but the Republican base loves him. I wish he'd be president.
BLITZER: I think it does energize a certain element to that Republican base, Donna, don't you think?
BRAZILE: There's no question for all of the reasons that Erick just stated. But look I think it also raises some questions in terms of, you know, Mitt Romney's position on so many issues that the American people are clearly opposed to.
I mean, the Iraq war, of course the Bush foreign policy in general. So, look, I understand Mitt Romney got to raise money wherever he can and however he can, but you are the company you keep.
And it's going to also raise some questions about Mr. Romney's own views on foreign policy. Good luck raising money. I'm sure it's a nice time to visit that part of the country.
BLITZER: Listen to Joe Biden today at the NAACP, Erick. He really got that crowd going by saying this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Just close your eyes and imagine, imagine what the Romney Justice Department will look like. Imagine when his senior advisor on issues is Robert Boric.
Imagine the recommendations for who is likely to be picked as attorney general head of the civil rights division, or those other incredibly important positions in Justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Erick, what do you think of those comments?
ERICKSON: Robert Boric? Wow, he's living back in the 1980s. You know, the NAACP by and large are not going to vote for Mitt Romney to begin with. This is playing to the base.
Mitt Romney doesn't have the problems with blue collar white voters that Barack Obama does. But Mitt Romney has problems with black voters that Barack Obama doesn't.
BLITZER: You know, Donna, he did get a great reception today, Joe Biden.
BRAZILE: Wolf, this was like a Sunday sermon. It was energetic, it was inspirational. And I have to tell you, there was a lot of truth that he said today. I enjoyed his speech.
But then again this was a reunion for Vice President Joe Biden. He is beloved in the civil rights community because he's been a champion of equality all of his life. And I think today seeing the vice president there, many people left there uplifted. And of course, they're probably still talking about it this afternoon.
BLITZER: I can only imagine if the president himself would have gone to that convention how he would have been received because the vice president was well-received. Can only imagine how the president would have been received before that group. All right, guys. Thanks very much for coming in.
The international community is imposing a deadline on the Syrian leader, Bashar Al-Assad as the war reaches Damascus, that's the capital.
BLITZER: Fighting in Syria claimed at least 84 lives today. CNN's foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, has learned pressure is mounting for the United Nations to do something that makes a difference.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. On the ground where people are dying, the situation is rapidly deteriorating. And at the United Nations where people are talking there's growing frustration over how to stop this killing.
DOUGHERTY (voice-over): Shelling hits the Syrian capital of Damascus for the first time. Western allies at the United Nations are setting a deadline for the Assad regime.
A draft resolution that gives it 10 days to silence its heavy weapons, stop attacking civilians with tanks and helicopters and withdraw its troops, or face strong economic and diplomatic sanctions.
The threat is part of the so-called Chapter 7 Resolution that potentially could include authorizing military action. But the ink on that draft resolution was hardly dry when Russia threatened to veto it.
Deputy foreign minister telling Russia's Interfax news agency if they decide this knowing that for us the text is unacceptable then we will not allow it to pass.
Traveling in Cambodia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton nevertheless said she was encouraged that U.N. Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan is pushing for a resolution that has real consequences for noncompliance.
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: As our experience of the last year makes it absolutely clear that the Assad regime will not do anything without additional further pressure.
DOUGHERTY: But one Syria expert says all these diplomatic efforts are too little, too late. ANDREW TABLER, SYRIA EXPERT: I think President Assad stepping aside as part of that process any time soon, the hopes for that are dim. That doesn't mean Assad can't go through other ways.
And I think that's going to be increasingly the debate going forward. How much do we put on diplomacy and some kind of ground up strategy?
DOUGHERTY: Yes, ground up strategy. Of course, that means so far there is no willingness at this point, Wolf, for any type of military action.
And there's no agreement among the members of the Security Council about whether Assad has to step down as the U.S. and many other nations want.
So bottom line, prospects right now for ending this killing very soon are very bleak.
BLITZER: Yes, probably nil. The key words very soon. Thanks very much. Jill Dougherty, appreciate it.
The scandal at Penn State University has Jack Cafferty asking how wrong was Coach Joe Paterno when he wrote the Jerry Sandusky scandal shouldn't tarnish the university's academic or athletic reputation. Jack is standing by.
Also, a destructive and deadly avalanche. We'll have the latest.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is back once again with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the question this hour, how wrong was the late Joe Paterno when he said and he actually said this, "The Sandusky scandal didn't tarnish Penn State."
Bill in Wisconsin writes, "The report by Louis Freeh summed that up very well. Paterno thought more of the school and the football program meaning himself than he did those kids. This wouldn't have become the outrage it did had he and others involved shown a little backbone and integrity and actually have the stomach to fight for what's right."
Kirk in Minnesota writes, "Not as wrong as he was not doing something about it when he damn well knew what was going on. So much for Paterno's legacy."
Kim in Kansas, "Beating up on the deceased not very classy, but I have to say, it appears he was at the very least complicit in the cover up and therefore, the condoning of Sandusky's assaults. Penn State will have an extremely hard time avoiding the stench of this scandal for decades to come." Eric writes, "It's amazing otherwise extremely intelligent people can convince themselves that they'll be able to keep this kind of thing secret forever. And forever is what it would have to be. They might as well throw a fish under their bed and then assume that eventually it won't stink up the room."
Jay writes, "Penn State should suspend its football program." And Ralph in Texas says, "Joe was and now he is dead wrong. Tarnished is an understatement. A famous quote from Paterno goes like this, publicity is like poison. It doesn't hurt unless you swallow it. Well, Penn State is about to swallow a boat load of it."
If you want to read more on the subject, go to the blog cnn.com/caffertyfile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you. A former soldier of Cambodia's darkest days now has a new mission. When we come back, our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta meets a former child soldier who has become a messenger of hope.
And later, the U.S. Olympic team heads to London for the 2012 games. They'll be wearing uniforms outsourced to China.
BLITZER: Many of you certainly know Cambodia from the 1970s genocide immortalized in the film "The Killing Fields." A 15-year-old boy was forced to join the army responsible for that slaughter.
But today, his mission is all about hope. Our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta is in Cambodia. He has the story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your own (inaudible). You live by the minute something like that and you're ready to fight not to run.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sano Ray's childhood memories are filled with unimaginable.
(on camera): Did you see, I mean, violence? Did you see people getting killed?
SANO RAY: I see my friend and (inaudible) soldier, you know, killed by landmines blown off their legs, chest gone, hand gone or face gone.
GUPTA (voice-over): At age 15, Sano says he was taken from his family and forced to be a child soldier under the (inaudible) regime.
RAY: I did not know where my parent. I have one sister and I don't know where they were during that time.
GUPTA (on camera): When this was happening, you're so young. You're a child soldier at a very violent time. I mean, did you ever lose hope? RAY: I just want to have a break and not have a hope that one day I don't have to do what I've done. I don't have to live like this. I think that was -- I want to even smell that hope something like that.
GUPTA (voice-over): His initial nightmare training was with a gun, but then Sano got his break. The regime decided to make him a paramedic.
RAY: I did not know anything at that time, but when I look back, I think that was when I am safe from being a killer, a real killer, to be a life saver.
GUPTA: Today, Sano Ray is saving lives at World Vision's Crisis Trauma Recovery Center in Cambodia.
(on camera): These children that you help now, I mean, can you see part of your -- your own life in them? Tell me about them. Who are they? Where do they come from?
RAY: They were children who are victim of secure abuse and trafficking.
GUPTA: This is what happens. I mean, they're actually abused and they're sold.
RAY: Yes, precisely, yes. I don't want these children, this boy, this girl to experience that kind of life I have. I want them to have a big dream for themselves.
GUPTA: Is this your life's worth now? Is that what you will do for the rest of your life?
RAY: This is the thing that I hope make joys in my heart and that dream that better the one to become a good mother, good wife and good father. Those are the dream I think I want. I had dream and I really want to have that dream in their heart too.
GUPTA (voice-over): Sano is now turning his childhood nightmare into hope for others. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Phenom Phen, Cambodia.
BLITZER: And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, happening now, an avalanche plows into a group of climbers burying some under tons of snow. We're getting new details of the dead and missing.
Also, a caregiver apparently hitting, picking and dragging a disabled girl, shocking abuse all caught on tape.
And the pride of the United States of America dressed in uniforms made in China. Some are calling it an Olympic outrage.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.