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Syria Attacks; Interview With U.S. Ambassador to United Nations Susan Rice; McCarthy-Like Smear against Hillary's Aide; Bill Clinton Visits Rwanda

Aired July 19, 2012 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Syria attacks, and the U.S. lashes out at Russia and China, accusing them of reprehensible and immoral support for a dictator.

New evidence that the FBI missed clues that may have prevented the Fort Hood massacre.

And the Mississippi River sinks near historic lows because of the epic drought. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Intense firefights along Syria's borders with Turkey and Iraq. Syrian rebels tell CNN they have seized the main crossing into Iraq, along with smaller security posts along the border. In the capital, Damascus, an opposition activist says pro-government forces are shelling anything that moves.

As the violence explodes, President Bashar al-Assad appeared on state TV today, a day after an attack that killed three of his top officials, including his defense minister and his brother-in-law. The video shows Bashar al-Assad with his new defense minister.

Over at the United Nations, China and Russia, they have vetoed a new Security Council resolution aimed at halting the violence in Syria once again. Russia calls that draft resolution bias. The Obama administration is calling the vetoes deplorable.


BLITZER: And the United States ambassador to United Nations, Susan Rice, is joining us from the U.N. right now.

Ambassador, I know you have got a lot going on. Thanks for taking a few moments to talk to our viewers here in the United States and around the world.

You said something that jumped out at me at the Security Council today. You said now you, meaning the United States, will intensify work with a diverse range of partners outside the Security Council to bring pressure to bear on the Assad regime.

Specify. Who are you talking about now?

SUSAN RICE, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We're talking about the over 100 countries that are part of Friends of Syria group that are very much aligned with the United States and the majority of countries on the Security Council who believe that it's necessary to increase the pressure on the Assad regime to stop the killing and to make a political transition.

We have been working with these countries. We have also been working within the Security Council. What Russia and China did today by vetoing a third resolution was really to slam the door, at least in the short term, on any effective action from United Nations Security Council.

So, whether it is humanitarian assistance, providing non-lethal aid to the opposition, ratcheting up the economic pressure and sanctions, providing political support to the opposition, we will continue to do all of those things and intensify those efforts with countries in the region and partners around the world who share our objectives and share the aspirations of the Syrian people for a democratic future.

BLITZER: The Russian ambassador to United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, he responded to your accusations this way. I will play the clip.


VITALY CHURKIN, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: For them to fire away this biased rhetoric, saying nothing about the larger picture of their policy, to me is hypocritical.


BLITZER: Hypocritical, that's a strong word. What do you want to say to a man you know quite well, Ambassador Churkin.

RICE: Well, first of all, he can call our policy whatever he wants, but theirs is reprehensible and immoral, because they have three times now made the very harsh and cold decision to back Assad to the bitter end, at the expense of the Syrian people and at the expense of regional peace and security.

I don't know that even my colleague Vitaly Churkin, if you gave him truth serum, would be entirely comfortable with the position he was compelled to defend today. The reality is that Russia and China are isolated outliers without the international community. They have put all their chips yet again on a sinking Assad vessel, and they're making a big miscalculation over the long term, both in terms of their interests and in terms of how history will judge them.

History will judge them as having stood by a brutal dictator, at the expense of his own people and at the expense of the will of the international community and the countries in the region.

BLITZER: Yesterday, I interviewed King Abdullah II of Jordan. And he wants Bashar al-Assad to go, no love on the part of King Abdullah for Bashar al-Assad, but he did confirm that there are pockets of al Qaeda among some of these rebels, these opposition forces in Syria. Listen to what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING ABDULLAH II, JORDAN: Our information is that there is a presence of al Qaeda in certain regions inside Syria, has been there awhile. And again one of the worst-case scenarios, as we are obviously trying to look for political solutions, would be that if some of the chemical stockpiles were to fall into unfriendly hands.


BLITZER: Ambassador, how worried are you that some of those chemical weapon stockpiles will fall into the hands of al Qaeda in Syria?

RICE: Well, Wolf, first of all, we are well aware.

And I spoke of this in the Security Council today, that Syria has large chemical weapons stockpiles. They have thus far been willing and able to secure them. And the message that we underscored in the Security Council today is that it is their responsibility and obligation to secure them, not to transfer them, not to use them against their own people.

And if they were to consider doing otherwise, then those individuals would be held accountable. Al Qaeda is indeed at least a presence in Syria, as it has been in Iraq and elsewhere in the region. It is a very small component of what is an overall conflict that is building. But I think obviously it is the responsibility of the Syrian regime to ensure that their chemical weapons remain secure.

BLITZER: Is it the position of the United States government that the president, Bashar al-Assad, could leave, could find sanctuary let's say in Russia or Iran, someplace, let him go, get out of Syria, or is it the position of the United States government that this man must be held for possible war crimes charges before the International Criminal Court?

RICE: Ultimately, we are very much supportive of accountability for the crimes that have been committed in Syria.

How the Syrian people choose to handle and judge those that have committed crimes is for them to determine. But, certainly, the U.S. point of view is that Assad has to go. It is long past time for him to go. And when he does, the people of Syria will have the opportunity to chart their own future, to forge a government that reflects their will, and they will then make those sorts of determinations.

BLITZER: Ambassador Rice, good luck. Thanks so much for coming in.

RICE: Good to be with you again, Wolf.


BLITZER: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney issued this statement about the failed U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria.

Among other things, he says: "Russia's veto again shows the hollowness of President Obama's failed reset policy with Russia and his lack of leadership on Syria. President Obama has given away generous concessions on missile defense and nuclear arms to Russia, but has received little in return, except obstruction and belligerence" -- that statement from Mitt Romney.


BLITZER: Meanwhile, a scathing new report suggests the FBI ignored crucial clues that might have prevented one of the worst attacks ever at a U.S. military base, the Fort Hood massacre.

Plus, House Speaker John Boehner told me he rarely talks to Mitt Romney. Is the Republican's inner circle a little bit too tight? We will discuss.

And Bill Clinton revisits the scene of what he has called one of his biggest regrets. We are going there live.


BLITZER: A new investigation is out on the worst terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. And it suggests that important clues may have been missed, clues that might have prevented the massacre at Fort Hood in Texas more than two years ago.

CNN's national correspondent, Suzanne Kelly, is joining us. She has got the latest details.

Suzanne, what are you learning?


Well, the report casts a really critical eye on what signals were missed or just not communicated, signals that might have prompted a closer look at Major Nidal Hasan. Inside the 173-page declassified version of the report are hints at what went wrong.

The report includes e-mail exchanges between Hasan and radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an al Qaeda recruiter. He was killed last year, you will remember, Wolf, in a drone strike in Yemen.

Now, Hasan has visit al-Awlaki's Web site and sent the cleric an e-mail saying it was logical to justify suicide bombings. The report also shows that an FBI analyst in San Diego labeled that e-mail exchange not a product of interest and not pertinent.

Now, in response to a request by the San Diego unit to go and question Hasan, one agent recounted a conversation for investigators, saying: "This is not San Diego. It is D.C., and the Washington Field Office doesn't go out and interview every Muslim guy who visits extremist Web sites. Besides," the response continues, "this guy has legitimate work-related reasons to be going to these sites and engaging extremists in dialogue. Washington Field Office does not assess this guy as a terrorism threat."

Now, you will remember, Wolf, that Hasan was a military psychiatrist. It shows you just how complicated it is in figuring out what leads to follow.

KING: Suzanne, what else do we know about whether there was any indication ahead of time that Hasan may have been planning an attack?

KELLY: We know that investigators were monitoring Hasan's e-mail account in the weeks before the 2009 shootings, and the report found that based on his e-mail exchanges, there was no actionable evidence that Hasan was actually planning an attack.

But the report did say that sharing the information that the FBI had with Hasan's bosses at the Department of Defense would have been appropriate and consistent with FBI guidelines.

Now, Congressman Michael McCaul, who has been briefed on the classified version of this report, said that earlier he was disappointed in the FBI handling of the case.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: Having worked at the Justice Department, the way the FBI handled this information, not sharing with the commander of Fort Hood -- they knew they had a man talking to Awlaki in Yemen, a known terrorist, probably the most wanted terrorist in the world, and yet this information wasn't reported to Fort Hood.


KELLY: Now, Wolf, this report makes 18 recommendations, but the investigators decided not to suggest any disciplinary action.

As for Major Nidal Hasan, he is currently awaiting court-martial, and that's expected to begin next month. And if he's found guilty, he could face the death penalty.

BLITZER: Suzanne Kelly with the latest on that front, thanks very, very much.

Let's go back to Kate. She has got some other news.

What else is going on?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're watching what's trending here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Wolf's favorite part of the evening.

Number four on our trending list tonight, you are looking at 48 tons, we will show you, of silver hauled up from a World War II shipwreck. The treasure is worth about $38 million, and it's been sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic since 1941 when a Nazi torpedo sunk the ship. Treasure found.

Number three in our trending tonight, a missing toddler found in the rushing water of a sewage pipe a full day after he went missing. He's soaking wet, obviously, but safe, fortunately, after apparently falling into a drainage system while playing.

Stay the there. The top two trending stories are coming up next.


BOLDUAN: Let's get back to our list of what's trending this evening here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Number four on our trending list, 48 tons of silver discovered three miles below the surface of the North Atlantic, it is worth millions and there could be more bars down there. So get your scuba gear ready. Just kidding.

Number three, a missing toddler is found alive in the rushing water of a sewage pipe. It took 24 hours for Colombian searchers to find him. But, fortunately, he is OK.

Number two trending tonight, Florida is recalling more than 11,000 new Escapes because the fuel line can crack and cause fires. If you drive the affected model, the company says don't drive it until the problem is fixed.

And number one tending tonight, is the president of Chick-fil-A against gay marriage? He says -- quote -- "Guilty as charged." Some fans of the chain are expressing support, others disgust, like "The Office" star Ed Helms. He said this in a tweet -- quote -- "Chick- fil-A doesn't like gay people? So lame." He went on to say, "Lost a loyal fan."

This has been making waves on Twitter and on -- all over the Internet today. A lot of people talking about it.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

BOLDUAN: Mm-hmm.

BLITZER: Some top Republicans are firing back at Congresswoman Michele Bachmann for what they see as an attempt to smear a top aide to Hillary Clinton. We will discuss what's going on here.

And is Mitt Romney's personality limiting his support within his own party?


BLITZER: Happening now: a frank assessment of what President Obama could do in a second term in my exclusive interview with the king of Jordan.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia talks to CNN in a rare interview.

And see what happens when you speed down a highway in the wrong lane.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. I have been very upset about a McCarthy-like attempt to smear one of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's closest aides, Huma Abedin, someone I have known for years.

Representative Michele Bachmann and four other Republicans in Congress wrote a letter to the State Department deputy inspector general back in June raising questions about Huma Abedin. They cited a report that three of her relatives, her late father, her mother and her brother, were -- quote -- "connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations."

They then added: "Her position affords her routine access to the secretary and to policy-making."

The insinuations are outrageous. And I am glad that Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee four years ago, went to the floor to denounce Bachmann and company.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I understand how painful and injurious it is when a person's character, reputation and patriotism are attacked without concern for fact or fairness.

It's for that reason that I come to the floor today to speak regarding the attacks recently on a fine and decent American, Huma Abedin.


BLITZER: Others Republicans have joined Senator McCain in condemning the smear.

Ronald Reagan's political chief, Ed Rollins, wrote a piece for entitled "Shame on you, Michele."

Listen to what the House speaker, John Boehner, told me today.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Everything that I know about her makes it clear that she has got a sterling character. I am not sure what the basis of these claims may be.

But this is dangerous stuff to be throwing around without a lot of facts.


BLITZER: A State Department spokesman says -- and I am quoting now -- "These accusations are nothing but vicious and disgusting lies. And anyone who traffics in them should be ashamed of themselves."

But Bachmann is apparently not ashamed and is not backing off. In her latest statement, she insisted her words were being distorted. She says she was simply seeking -- quote -- "answers for questions regarding the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical groups' access to top Obama administration officials."

She goes on to say, "This is just the latest example of the dangerous national security decisions made by the Obama administration." She adds, "I will not be silent as this administration appeases our enemies instead of telling the truth about the threats our country faces."

So here is the truth about Huma Abedin, as someone who's known her for a long time. Yes, she is a Muslim. But the last time I checked, there was nothing illegal about being a Muslim in America. There are millions and millions of patriotic Muslim Americans.

Huma is also married to former congressman, Anthony Weiner, who happens to be Jewish.

Senator McCain said it best when he said he's "proud to know Huma and to call her my friend." Me, too.

All right. So let's discuss what's going on. Joining us, our CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger; also, CNN's national correspondent, John King. That's John King and Gloria Borger. We'll get it right. I think our viewers know by now who is who.

Gloria, let's talk a little bit about -- you know Huma Abedin. I assume you know her.


I think this is craven. There's no way to describe it. This -- Michele Bachmann is in a tough race for re-election in her district. She's trying to raise a lot of money. One way to do it is to draw attention to yourself and to portray yourself as somebody who stands up for people who think the way she does.

And I think that this is about, and as it always has been when she raises these issues, it's about getting attention to herself. Remember during the campaign at one point when she was running for the presidency, she talked about the president's trip to India costing $200 million? Well, not so much. Or the HPV virus causing mental retardation? Well, not so much. She got the attention she wanted, and it's a way to raise money.

BOLDUAN: This is not the first time Michele Bachmann, as Gloria says, has said such things, kind of gone out there. But you also heard Speaker Boehner. He's not defending her.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You can say such things and go out there if you wish, if you wish to appeal to a tiny slice of the party, if you wish to play lowest-common-denominator politics.

But as someone who has had her own name challenged, her own credibility challenged, Michele Bachmann and the other congressmen who wrote these letters should know better than to put somebody's name in there, especially somebody who by all accounts -- Republican John McCain, our independent friend here, Wolf Blitzer -- I have known Huma for years. Not very well; she's not a friend, but I've been around Secretary Clinton and Senator Clinton, first lady Hilary Clinton. She's always been around. She's always been somebody who works 18, 20, sometimes 22 hours a day when necessary.

One of the congressmen involved today, Congressman Rudy, said it was not their intent to make Huma the center of this. Well, then why did you put her name in the letter? Why did you talk about her family?

BOLDUAN: I thought it was interesting, because he -- pretty much he did say he doesn't regret -- he regrets that her name, that she has become the media focus of the story, but he doesn't say, "We regret using the name."

KING: She's a top aide to the secretary of state of the United States. They put her name in there for a reason.


BORGER: And by the way do you think that -- and do you think this woman has not had security clearances? I mean, do we think that she's...

BLITZER: Anybody who gets into a position like that goes through security clearances.

You know, earlier, I spoke with Hilary Rosen, our Democratic strategist. And she says, well, you know, Michele Bachmann is not really relevant, but she is relevant. She's not only a member of Congress, she's a member of the intelligence committee, and there's four other relevant members of Congress who also signed that letter.

BORGER: If you're a member of the intelligence committee and you have a serious concern about somebody's status, and -- and you think that they may have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and it's serious, would you raise it publicly or would you raise it privately within the confines of the intelligence community?

BOLDUAN: Excellent point.

BORGER: To the people that you need to talk to, whether it's at the CIA, or the Department of Defense or within the State Department.

KING: All right. A lot of things in politics require nuance. I think this one is pretty simple. Put up or shut up. If you have any evidence, put it up; if not, shut up.

BLITZER: We're looking at Michele Bachmann, since I do think she's relevant. Let her come on the show. We'll discuss and get her perspective on this, and we'll continue this conversation.

Let me play another clip of my interview with the speaker, John Boehner, today. Because we spoke about his relationship, or lack thereof, with Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Do you spend a lot of time talking to Mitt Romney?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I talk to him once in a while, but I don't spend a lot of time talking to him.

BLITZER: Has he consulted with you about who his vice- presidential running mate should be?

BOEHNER: He has not.


BLITZER: I was sort of surprised by him. He's speaker of the House of Representatives.

KING: Yes. He's the leader of an institution that has a 12 percent approval rating in the United States of America now, Congress.

I'm not surprised in the sense that, in no offense to Speaker Boehner. One thing you do hear when you talk to the staff, is that the Romney staff is in very close communication with the leadership staff. Both on the House and the Senate side. They let them know if they're going to do any major policy thing, if he's going to be in the neighborhood.

Mitt Romney has met privately with both Mitch McConnell and Speaker Boehner. Not a lot of communication, in part because they don't know each other very well. Mitt Romney is an unknown guy, and in part on purpose. Mitt Romney wants to run as somebody not tainted by Washington. And the last thing he wants to do is be seen shoulder to shoulder, even though he would like the advice of Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell and other Republicans, privately.

BOLDUAN: Well, Gloria, what's your take, because you're talking to a lot -- you're talking to a lot of Romney folks. I sense from the Capitol Hill side of things, is also that the speaker is very comfortable with what we're talking about, the vice-presidential picks, very comfortable with the names that are out there on the top of the list.

BORGER: Yes, I think -- I think he's comfortable with it, but to the point about Mitt Romney, he's not a schmoozer. Mitt Romney is not a politician who comes out, pats you on the back and says, "Oh, what do you think? I'm thinking about Tim Pawlenty. Do you think..." Mitt Romney don't do that.

There are three people right now who knows about -- who know about the vice-presidential pick and where it is, and that's Mitt Romney. That's Ann Romney, and that's Beth Myers, who is running this.

There are people vetting potential candidates, but it's like the blind man and the elephant. Some are vetting some; some are vetting the others. But nobody's got the full picture here, and that's exactly the way Mitt Romney wants it. But he doesn't strike me as a man who -- he's not Lyndon Johnson, you know. He doesn't sort of call people up and say, "Oh, what are you thinking about this? What should I do about that?"

KING: I think it also tells you a lot about Speaker Boehner. I think he is increasingly confident and comfortable in his position, and he doesn't need, you know, Mitt Romney to tell him how important he is, or to cater to him. He understands Mitt Romney has a job to do in this election. Speaker Boehner has a job to do, leading the Republicans, try to keep the majority of the election...

BOLDUAN: He's got a big enough job.


KING: Increasingly confident, even in challenging Michele Bachmann there. People early on said is he beholden to the Tea Party interests? I think you saw a very confident speaker in your interview today who's not worried about Mitt Romney. He'll do his job, and Mitt Romney will do his.

BORGER: And who wants independent voters to vote Republican. Right?

BLITZER: Guys, excellent discussion. Thanks very much.

BORGER: You're welcome.

BLITZER: Senator John McCain seems to be confirming his "maverick" nickname. He sits down with our own Piers Morgan tonight, talking about everything from big-dollar campaigns to Sarah Palin to Michele Bachmann interview tonight on Piers Morgan.

Also, it's a varied cast of characters that you might call the VP bunch. We're taking a closer look at Mitt Romney's choices and whether his future running mate should have some second thoughts.

And we'll also flash back to one of Bill Clinton's biggest regrets. It's back on his radar right now.


BLITZER: Trayvon Martin shooting defendant, George Zimmerman, gave his first interview. It didn't go to Barbara Walters, but TV viewers watched her today try and try and try. You're going to see what happened. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Former president Bill Clinton is in Rwanda for the launch of a cancer center and other projects. CNN's Erin Burnett is there with him. She'll join us in just a moment.

But Bill Clinton has acknowledged that one of his biggest regrets of his presidency was his failure to stop the genocide that engulfed Rwanda back in 1994. I asked him about that during our interview last month.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we could have saved everybody in Rwanda, but 300,000 -- I mean, 800,000 people were killed in about 90 days.

BLITZER: Mostly with machetes.

CLINTON: Yes, mostly with machetes. And it takes -- you know, it would have taken -- we weren't as fast as we are now. It would have taken a while to mobilize and get here. But I wish I had done -- sent some troops there earlier. And I think that, if the world had acted more quickly, we could have saved at least a third of those who were lost. So I regret it.


BLITZER: Let's bring in Erin Burnett right now. She's joining us from Rwanda. You're going to be anchoring your show from there tonight. Erin, tell us a little bit about the time you spent with the former president today and your special interview with him.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: You know, it was a very interesting day. I have to say, Wolf, he is incredibly passionate about farming and agriculture. And the man knows a lot about it. And he's building a soy plant here that he thinks is going to be transformative.

We spent some time there. We also talked about the situation in Rwanda. It was amazing to me the number he gave. You know, he was sharing his regret, which I know he spoke to you about, as well.

When you look at the nearly 1 million people who died here, the president told me that with a mere 10,000 American troops, he thinks he could have saved a third of those lives. Ten thousand American troops. And it clearly seems that that small investment to save so many lives is something that still haunts him today.

We spent some time at the genocide memorial. I have to say, Wolf, it was something that truly stirs you. Two hundred and fifty- thousand people are there, their bones mixed together in the cement. We spent some time there today and also the hotel from "Hotel Rwanda." We actually spent some time there, as well.

And went to a village where a young man is going to be going to the Olympics. He lost six of his brothers, all six of his brothers to the genocide. He remembers it. He was seven years old at the time. And he's going to the Olympics in London.

And of course, we talked to the president about all things election, as well. We have a special show coming up, top of the hour. And we'll see you in a few minutes, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks so much, Erin, for doing this. I'm looking forward to your show right at the top of the hour. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" in Rwanda for all of us. It will be an important hour. I recommend stick around and watch it.

BOLDUAN: Trayvon Martin -- the Trayvon Martin shooting defendant, George Zimmerman, he keeps the ladies of "The View" waiting and waiting and waiting.

And it's a varied cast of characters that you might call the VP Bunch. We're looking at Mitt Romney's choices and whether his future running mate should have second thoughts.


BLITZER: And now, the story of a man named Romney, who's choosing a running mate from a field of very eager vice-presidential wannabes. It's a familiar tale with a familiar moral: be careful what you wish for. Here's CNN's John Berman.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, we are right in the middle of the VP frenzy. And the big question everyone is asking is who? Who will it be?

But an equally important question might be why? In that why would anyone want the job? Because if recent history and "The Brady Bunch" have taught us anything, it's be careful what you wish for.

(voice-over) Is it him? Is it him? Him, her, or him? Who will win the veepstakes? The chance to ascend to the second highest office in the land. It sounds good, right? Like, as the current V.P. once said, on a different subject...


BERMAN: It might be a big -- uh -- deal, but is it a good deal? Or is it like this, like the tiki Bobby found during the "Brady Bunch" trip to Hawaii?

MIKE LOOKINLAND, ACTOR: Look what I found!

BERMAN: A coveted prize that turns out to be a curse.

CHRISTOPHER KNIGHT, ACTOR: Please, get it off me.

BERMAN: Forget the VP job itself, which according to political lore, FDR's first running mate, John Nance Garner, said wasn't worth a bucket of warm spit. Take a look at what happened to the lives of this handful of recent picks.


BERMAN: Dick Cheney, he shot a guy. Sure, it was a hunting accident, but still.

John Edwards, affair, baby, indictments. Sure, he was not found guilty, but that might leave a mark.

Joe Lieberman, he lost a Senate primary, probably some Democratic friends, and ended up speaking at the Republican convention.

And Al Gore.

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I stand here tonight as my own man.

BERMAN: Recount, marriage breakup, and the earth is still getting warmer.

And of course, there's Sarah Palin. While her nomination bolted her to galactic fame, it also subjected her to galactic ridicule.


BERMAN: It sure seems that, while receiving the nomination, as Joe Biden might say, albeit on a different subject...

BIDEN: This is a big (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal.

BERMAN: It is, at best, a complicated deal. So when the next candidate utters these words...

BIDEN: Yes. Yes, I accept your nomination.

BERMAN: ... he or she might very well be thinking...

KNIGHT: Bad luck, come and get me.

BERMAN (on camera): It is important to note that 14 of our vice presidents have ultimately gone onto become president, one way or another. But the last to do so was George Herbert Walker Bush, which is getting to be a pretty long time ago. So maybe times have changed -- Wolf.


BLITZER: John Berman. Thanks very much.

He's a great new addition to CNN, don't you think?

BOLDUAN: He's a great new addition. I love his take on things.

BLITZER: He's got a nice little wry sense of humor. And who knew "The Brady Bunch" was making a comeback?

BOLDUAN: I like his take on things.

I also am going to put you on the spot a little bit. Do you have a front-runner that you think for V.P.?

BLITZER: I've been thinking for a while Rob Portman, the senator from Ohio. I know a lot of folks think he's boring, but he's very smart. Former special trade representative.

BOLDUAN: Very smart.

BLITZER: Budget director, senator, former congressman.


BLITZER: Ohio, Ohio, Ohio.

I also think Tim Pawlenty is right up there. He was first runner-up last time.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Right.

BLITZER: He was almost the vice president, but Sarah Palin got that. Two-term governor of Minnesota. Very smart guy.

BOLDUAN: He's been a strong surrogate on the trail so far. So...

BLITZER: I wouldn't be surprised if it's Tim Pawlenty. Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana. He's also...

BOLDUAN: Now he's backtracking.

BLITZER: No. But I'm giving you my little short list. But what do I know? I don't know.

BOLDUAN: All right. You can hold him to it when we all find out, finally.

BLITZER: Special, tomorrow, 6 p.m. Eastern, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I want all of our viewers to pay attention, because tomorrow the former Republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, will be here at this table together with the Reverend Jesse Jackson. They will be our guests. They'll talk to us. They'll talk to our entire team, 6 p.m. Eastern tomorrow, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Jesse Jackson, Newt Gingrich.

BOLDUAN: Welcome, let's chat.

BLITZER: We'll have a little coffee and talk.

BOLDUAN: It will be fun, hopefully heated, as well.

BLITZER: I think it will be nice.

BLITZER: I think it will be.

BLITZER: It won't be too heated. They're very smart. These are both very smart.

BOLDUAN: Moderately warm.

BLITZER: They don't -- they don't agree on too much, but it will be fine.

BOLDUAN: OK. Also coming up...

BLITZER: Did I mention Jesse Jackson...

BOLDUAN: You did.

BLITZER: ... Newt Gingrich?

BOLDUAN: You did. And Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: Newt Gingrich was on with Snooki last night on "Jay Leno."

BOLDUAN: That was something you don't want to miss.

What you also don't want to miss, Barbara Walters has a history of nailing down interviews with major newsmakers. Well, look at the big "get" who got away and how it all played out, in a very weird way.


BOLDUAN: George Zimmerman speaks directly to his supporters in a brand-new message posted moments ago on YouTube. And less than two minutes from now, why he's saying thank you.


BOLDUAN: The man charged with shooting and killing Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, is re-launching a Web site called The site originally went up in April to raise money for his defense. It disappeared a few weeks later. Now that it's -- now that it's back online, Zimmerman has posted a clip thanking his supporters.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, CHARGED WITH SHOOTING TRAYVON MARTIN: I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you, the masses. This is our Web site. It's not my Web site. It is our Web site, where you can personally communicate with me. And I hope to be your Web site to provide facts. I'll be frequently updating this Web site. So check back often and spread the word to your family and friends.


BLITZER: Zimmerman may be comfortable talking to supporters, but an interview with Barbara Walters never happened. Walters said no not once but twice, and the audience of "The View" watched it all unfold.

Here's Jeanne Moos on an interview that wasn't.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the story of what happened when Barbara Walters, the queen of the "get," does not get her man and Sean Hannity does.

BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": It is an interview that never took place. When we come back, I will tell you why. We will be right back.

MOOS: That was six minutes into "The View." By 12 minutes in, Barbara was explaining how she'd flown down to Florida Wednesday to interview George Zimmerman, an interview she thought she'd been guaranteed.

WALTERS: And Zimmerman came in. He had already taken off the suit that he was -- had been wearing for his interview with Hannity, was wearing a T-shirt. That should have been my first clue.

MOOS: Barbara said Zimmerman refused to do the interview unless ABC met one condition which Barbara wouldn't agree to and wouldn't reveal. After another commercial break, Barbara got grilled.

JEANINE PIRRO, GUEST CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": You know what that tells me, it tells me he wanted money, yes or no?

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": She can't say, leave her alone.

PIRRO: I think the viewers want to know.

MOOS: If you must know, nosy viewers, Zimmerman's lawyer confirmed that his nearly broke client asked ABC for 30 days' stay in a hotel with security.

MARK O'MARA, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: George was thinking, "I don't want money in my pocket, but I want my wife to be secure for at least a month."

MOOS: Meanwhile, back at "The View," 32 minutes into the show...

WALTERS: I was just told that Mr. Zimmerman wanted to talk to me on the phone. We will be back, and who knows what we're going to get.

MOOS: By 37 minutes in...

ELISABETH HASSELBECK, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": Still waiting to see if we're going to receive a call from George Zimmerman.

MOOS: But while they're waiting, why not squeeze in a marriage proposal? She's the virgin from "The Virgin Diaries" who's been saving herself until marriage.

JON, "THE VIRGIN DIARIES": Will you marry me?


MOOS: But will Barbara consummate her interview? Fifty minutes into the hour-long show, we finally find out.

WALTERS: My little earpiece, I'm telling you that Zimmerman called, yes, that he just called and Mr. Zimmerman, if you could not do the interview yesterday, I don't think we should do a quick one today.

MOOS: No quickies for Barbara Walters.

WALTERS: We will now continue with our program and with the people who agree to interviews and then come here.

MOOS: Maybe she didn't get her man, but she did get back at him.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: That all unfolded live on "The View."

BOLDUAN: She really -- I mean, that does happen a lot behind the scenes sometimes, with the back and forth.

BLITZER: She's unique.

BOLDUAN: She is unique. She tried to get that "get."

BLITZER: You're going to want to see us tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM, as well, especially our 6 p.m. Eastern hour when the former Republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson, they will both be here at this table with Kate and me in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Remember also you can follow us on Twitter. Just tweet me, @WolfBlitzer. Tweet her, @KateBolduan.

That's it for us. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.