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THE SITUATION ROOM

Mitt Romney Speaking Out About His Election Loss; Growing Death Toll and Growing Concern Over Deadly Fighting Between Israel and Hamas; Former CIA Director David Petraeus Testifies About Benghazi

Aired November 17, 2012 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You're in the SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, a growing death toll and growing concern over deadly fighting between Israel and Hamas.

A scandal plagued general on Capitol Hill. The former CIA director David Petraeus testifies about Benghazi.

And Mitt Romney speaking out about his election loss, blaming what he called gifts the president gave to people who voted for him.

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

We're following the fighting between Israel and Hamas. The two sides trading rocket and missile fire with deadly results. Let's take you now to the CNN center for the very latest.

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right, Wolf, thank you very much.

Israeli troops are amassing on the border, waiting for the world to shoulder their weapons and cross into Gaza. But, for people in both Gaza and Israel, this war is well under way.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)

LEMON: That is what this war sounds like in Israel. Wailing sirens warning that Hamas rocket is only seconds away. Israel gives as good as it gets though. This is video from the Israeli defense force, a missile hitting a home of a Hamas, of a Hamas leader. The military says a secondary explosions, are proofs the explosives stored in buildings. These are just trying to prevent this war from getting out of hand. Spearheading talks aimed at ending the violence.

It's impossible to know how this will play out. Just remember that, four years ago, the last time Israel invaded Gaza, 13 Israelis were killed while 1400 Palestinians died.

CNN international correspondent Ben Wedeman joins me now from the border between Israel and Gaza.

Ben, does it look like we're about to witness a ground war here?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly looks like preparations are being made for it. We have seen a lot of heavy armor going by on the road right next to us, tanks, armors personnel carriers all evening long. There's a lot of soldiers in the area, so obviously the Israeli military is gearing up for a ground incursion.

Just heard a very loud explosion. I guess you heard that, too. More over there. So yes, definitely, that's the case. But obviously, Don, they have to wait for the political leadership to make a final decision. And while all the preparations for a possible ground invasion are going ahead, there are also diplomatic wheels spinning.

Tomorrow, the secretary-general of the Arab league and four Arab foreign ministers are going to go into Gaza to check the situation out. We know there are intense contacts going on between Egypt, Israel, the United States, and others powers to try to head off a possible ground invasion because as everyone here knows, when troops' boots are on the ground in Gaza, the civilian casualties will be very high -- Don.

LEMON: Ben Wedeman, thank you very much. Appreciate that.

Ben, if anything happens, we will get back to him.

Every U.S. president hopes to be the one that ends the Israeli- Palestinian crisis, but peace has rarely seemed less likely. Earlier, I spoke with Fouad Ajami. He is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He singled out the Obama administration for what he calls its indifference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOUAD AJAMI, SENIOR FELLOW, STANFORD UNIVERSITY'S HOOVER INSTITUTION: We have to go back and re-examine the diplomatic setting, if you will. People will be pushed to say look, we can't afford to ignore this region. We can't afford to ignore this conflict because we look back on the last four years and the indifference, if you will, of the Obama administration to what is happening on the West Bank and Gaza.

And I think there will be pressure. There will be pressure from Egypt. There will be pressure from Turkey. There will be pressure from Qatar. There are the three countries that are most sympathetic to Hamas. There will be pressure to produce some kind of settlement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That was Fouad Ajami discussing the U.S. response to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. If Israel launches a ground attack in Gaza, experts say the battle could be as bloody as the 2008 invasion that killed 1400 Palestinians or worse. Since then, Hamas has gotten better weapons and better trained its foot soldiers as well.

Brian Todd explains what a ground war in Gaza might look like.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A precision strike from the air killing the chief of Hamas' military wing, but it appears Israel is getting ready to go beyond pinpoint hits like this to contain the Hamas threat.

An Israeli official says the army has already moved nearly a division's worth of troops, as many as 2,000, to the border of Gaza. Israel has sealed off the main roads around Gaza. Will Israel invade on the ground?

JEFFREY WHITE, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: I think the chances are going up.

TODD: Jeffrey White, a former analyst with the defense intelligence agency said an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza would be a brutal, bloody grind.

WHITE: There's a high density of population throughout the strip. Highest in the major areas, Rafa, Gaza city, but there are a lot of civilians in other places as well. But, the other part of this is Hamas fights from inside the cities.

TODD: Cities of narrow streets, bazaars, apartment building. Translation, a punishing building to building slog in a place that is slightly more than twice the size of Washington, D.C. We used a Google map with CNN contributor, General James "spider" Marks.

What kind of close combat are we talking about?

JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, RETIRED GENERAL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This is called combat in restricted terrain. And clearly, what we have in Gaza city, there are about 500,000 people that live in this city. And you can only imagine the type of combat that has to take place in this very restricted terrain.

TODD: Terrain where Marks says Israeli troops will be exposed to ambush, sniper fire, suicide bombings. If a ground invasion is launched, analysts say it could be eerily similar to a conflict four years after a series of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.

In late 2008, early 2009, Israel launched operation cast led, a short period of air strikes follow by a long ground invasion of Gaza. These are some scenes from it. Entire apartment blocks destroyed, estimates are up to 1,400 Palestinians were killed. Many of them were civilians.

About a dozen Israelis were killed in that operation. Then, the Israelis were able to split up Gaza, cut supply lines. This time analysts say Hamas could make it tougher.

WHITE: They have some better weapons. No question about it. They have much better anti-tank capability with the concourse, Russian ATGM. They have a better sand capability.

TODD: White says in 2008-2009, Hamas units were not good at close combat with the Israelis. He says they broke and ran, didn't coordinate well. He says since then, they have made an effort to improve that with Iran's help. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: All right, Brain. Thank you very much.

President Barack Obama should be landing in Thailand in about nine hours. He's on a three-day journey to Asia where he'll attend the East Asia Summit. The president will also stop in Cambodia and Myanmar, also known as Burma. His visit to Myanmar where welcome signs are already up, will be the very first visit from an American president.

I'm Don Lemon at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. I will see you back here in one hour. We are going to have much more on the conflict in the Middle East at the top of the hour in the "CNN NEWSROOM."

In the meantime, Wolf Blitzer is back in the SITUATION ROOM after a very quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Fresh off re-election, President Obama faces a battle with congressional Republicans as the country faces drastic tax hikes and spending cuts at the end of the year, the so-called fiscal cliff. It was at the top of his agenda when he meet with the bipartisan congressional leadership on Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What folks are looking for and I think all of us agree on this is action. They want to see we're focused on them, not focused on our politics here in Washington. So my hope is that this is going to be the beginning of a fruitful process where we're able to come to an agreement that will reduce our deficit in a balanced way, that we will deal with some of these long- term impediments to growth and we're also going to be focusing on making sure that middle class families are able to get ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, let's talk about it with our chief political analyst Gloria Borger and our senior political analyst Ron Brownstein, the editorial director of "the National Journal."

Gloria, this is the second time they have really tried to achieve this goal. The president is in a different position now.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: He is. You know, if you just looked at the picture, you would say OK, it is status quo in Washington. You know, the president got re-elected. The Republicans maintain the majority in the house, Democrats in the Senate.

However, it's not really as much status quo as the picture would portray because this is a president who believes, and I think rightly so, that he's come back with some more leverage here, that he doesn't have to start negotiating with himself, that he can put something out on the table that he actually believes in and that it's the Republicans who are going to have to give because they were the ones by and large who lost and they lost the presidency. So he, you know, I see a president that feels much stronger about going into this.

BLITZER: Well, we're getting some intriguing sound bites from Republicans indicating they understand the president has some more leverage now.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And they are willing to go one step and there's another step he wants to go. I couldn't agree more. Both, the election and the facts on the ground are very different than it was with the debt ceiling in 2011. Two big things, he won re-election, Democrats gained seats in the Senate and probably won the popular vote in the house.

And the second, stalemate doesn't work in the Republicans' advantage. If there's stalemate, all of the tax cuts expire at the end of the year. What the president has been very clear about, I think in the last week since we talked about this last, is just closing loopholes which is what Republicans want to do, is not enough. He's going to insist that the top rate on the top earners goes up. And he is in the strong position to make that happen.

BLITZER: He seems a lot more confident in the news conference in the Israel this past week especially when he was asked about Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who is rumored as a candidate to become secretary of state. John McCain and Lindsey Graham say they will do everything in their power to block her confirmation. Listen to the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We haven't seen the president like that in a while.

BORGER: Testy. Defiant. Kind of his make my day moment. Go after her, make my day. I mean, in a way, and you could look at these two ways politically. You could say, OK, did he do that because now he's going to nominate her to be secretary of state when Hillary Clinton leaves or did he do it to get it On the Record so when he nominates something else like John Kerry, for example, he is On the Record saying you didn't cow me to not nominating her, right?

BROWNSTEIN: You know, one thing, after this election with the persistent gender gap and an unprecedented share of the vote being nonwhite, do Republicans really want, if he does nominate her, the first thing they do in 2013 is filibuster the appointment of a black woman as secretary of state.

BORGER: You know, in that same press conference, he called her an easy target. And I'm not quite sure what he meant by that. But it might have been what Ron was talking about which is are you sure you want to this.

BLITZER: And all of the sudden, a little postmortem Mitt Romney suggesting for whatever reason he lost the election because of so- called gifts. You wrote this, and I'm going to put it up because there was a parallel you suggested to the Democrats in the political wilderness for awhile.

Democrats only overthrew that dominant coalition after they finally acknowledges in national campaigns, their opponents were appealing to a broader range of Americans they were. Such a painful recognition is the indispensable first step toward revival of the Republicans now.

You were referring to Bill Clinton.

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

BLITZER: And how re-oriented the Democrats.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, we kind of miss it because of the as recollection 2000. But Democrats have now won the popular vote in five of six presidential elections just as Republicans did in five of six from '68 to '88. There was only when Democrats lost in 1988, not to Ronald Reagan, but to George H. W. Bush, that they found much less formidable that they began a process of introspection and reflection and change that ultimately produced Bill Clinton and the new democratic movement and a victory four years later.

They acknowledged they weren't speaking to as many people on the other side. I think Republicans are clearly in that position now. If this coalition of the ascendant and the Democrats was a majority this year with all of the headwinds, it's a majority. And Romney's first response is basically to say this new coalition is being bribed, doesn't care about the country in a selfish, don't deal with other country and my voters, that's not ways to make friends and influence people.

BORGER: First of all, the way to win elections is not to insult people.

BROWNSTEIN: There you go.

BORGER: And it's kind of insulting. And also, I think you know, for the Republican Party, they have to go through the stages of grief. And I think some of them are now in denial. And as soon as they get past denial, they will be able to look at exactly what went wrong. But for Mitt Romney to talk about gifts and insult American voters is something that is not good. And what surprises me is how quickly Republicans have run away from Mitt Romney.

BROWNSTEIN: He said almost exactly the same thing the night he won the Nevada caucus. Almost the same quote. BLITZER: Obviously these ideas have been in his mind for a while.

BROWNSTEIN: For quite awhile, yes.

BLITZER: Guys, thanks very much.

So, what does the fiscal cliff mean for you? We're taking a closer look at what almost every American stands to lose in a matter of weeks. Stay with us.

You're in the SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: When it comes to the so-called fiscal cliff, you have seen the charts, you have seen the graphs, the illustrations. You have seen the serious faces of President Obama and members of Congress as they stand in front of the congress. You have watched the stressed out traders trying to figure out what their next moves are on Wall Street. But what does all of this impending fiscal cliff really mean for you?

Our Lisa Sylvester has that -- Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, when you talk about the fiscal cliff, there are really two parts. One, a sharp reduction in government spending that will hit hard particularly the defense industry, their contractors and subcontractors all around the country.

The second part is the expiration of tax cuts, and that would likely mean less money in your pocket.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER (voice-over): At the whitlows on Wilson restaurant in Arlington, Virginia, plenty of food and drink, but there is something else is cooking up, worry. The co-owner, Jonathan Williams, concerned about the impending government fiscal cliff.

JONATHAN WILLIAMS, PARTNER, WHITLOWS, WISCONSIN: There's a real simple correlation. People have jobs, they spend money. If people are worried about losing their jobs or don't have a job, they're not going to go out much. They're going to cook at home or stay at home.

SYLVESTER: Just a couple miles from the Pentagon, many of the patriots here work directly or indirectly for the defense department and its contractors. The defense industry is facing $55 billion in discretionary spending cuts next year unless Congress acts to avert this so-called fiscal cliff.

In addition, several key tax cuts benefits are scheduled to expire at the end of the year that will have a direct impact on the pocket books of many Americans. Take a couple with one child living in New York earning $100,000. Their tax rate jumps from 25 percent to 28 percent. They could be hit by the alternative minimum tax, the child tax credit drops from $1,000 to $500, and payroll tax could be $2,000 more the next year.

For a single 25-year-old in Michigan who works full time earning $30,000 and going to school part time, his tax rate would stay the same at 15 percent, but he would lose the American education tax credit and have to pay more than $600 in payroll taxes.

And even though it is weeks before the changes take effect, the impact is already being felt because of uncertainty. 401(k) plans are taking a hit. Several companies have put freeze on hiring.

And the next thing to watch for, the retail sector which makes most of its money in the final weeks of the year. Black Friday is already next week. And retailers are just hoping it doesn't turn into bleak Friday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm shortening down the list a lot, you know, just doing the essentials, taking care of the priorities first and trying to be, you know, penny wise and not dollar stupid.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: The national retail federation did a survey that 64 percent of Americans are watching closely the negotiations in Washington over the fiscal cliff and that a lot of consumers are taking a wait and see approach, reluctant to go on a spending spree -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lisa, thank you.

David Petraeus steps out of the shadow of scandal to try to set the record straight about the Benghazi Libya attack. We are going to talk about his testimony, the controversies surrounding him.

And some fellow Republicans are pouncing on Mitt Romney and his eye- popping take on why he lost the election. The Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal vets his disapproval right here in the SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: In the midst of scandal, the former CIA director general David Petraeus knocked in to the U.S. capitol, Friday morning, to answer questions on the attack on American diplomats in Libya. Petraeus managed to avoid reporters and cameras, but he couldn't avoid the awkwardness of the moment when he faced lawmakers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: A certain amount of awkwardness, sure. All of us in the room, we have a great regard for him. I have known him for nine years now, so I actually urged him to run for president a few years ago. So I have been to dinner with him, I consider him, I know him fairly well.

REP. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: His comments basically, where he was very sorry that this incident occurred and anything that occurred with respect to his personal situation had nothing to do with the way he handled Benghazi at all and he also clarified this because this was out there, too, that his resignation was because he didn't want to testify. Clearly, that was thought the case. End of story.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We're joined by two CNN contributors, the former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes and retired agent general James "Spider" Marks.

Guys, thanks very much for coming in.

You think he's finally put this whole Benghazi thing to rest, general Petraeus, by his testimony, or are there still lingering questions out there?

MARKS: This is a story that won't go away for some time. There truly is a disconnect between what was earlier in the process reported and what Dave Petraeus is now saying inside the room, and even that is being discussed and debated. So, this story has legs.

BLITZER: What about the confirmation potentially of Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., you think because of what happened in Benghazi, what she said five days after September 11th on those Sunday morning talk shows, is that legitimate to go after her on this as opposed -- the president says, you have a problem, come after me, don't go after her.

MARKS: You know, Wolf, we need to stop attacking Ambassador Rice. She was on message. She didn't make that up when she went on the talk shows. She was not rolling her own intelligence. She had talking points. She stayed on message. IT was a consistent message.

The challenge we have to come to is was it the right message five days after the event and what are the disconnects that still exist.

BLITZER: You know, general Petraeus facing a lot of questions on Benghazi, but he is also facing a lot of personal questions about the affair he has acknowledged having with this woman. Where does the FBI investigation, Tom, stand right now as far as you know?

THOMAS FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: In terms of general Petraeus, it's been winding down. It was winding down at the time that it went public first week in November. So, that part of it, there was no evidence found he had committed a crime, no indication of any criminal activity on his part and no indication that he had improperly sent classified material out or in any way breached national security.

BORGER: Was it winding down -I mean, if it was winding down, why did this explode publicly? Do you have a good handle on why it became such a sordid sex scandal, if you will?

FUENTES: Well, I think, any time an investigation concludes, if it's not being prosecuted or it's just being finished, these type of things start to get out as soon as notification start. BLITZER: When is it the FBI hopes that since it was winding down, there weren't serious criminal allegations, if you will, or violations of national security, that they would have liked to have kept this quiet.

FUENTES: Well, they would have kept it quiet until such time as the case is over and they go ahead make whatever notifications. But the not notifications of the White House would be determined by the attorney general. And the attorney general could then say, all right, at this point make the notifications and have a meeting with the intelligence committees of the Senate and House and inform them there was no breach.

But, at the time it's being conducted until such time there is a criminal violation established or a breach of national security established, there's no notifications going to be made and the FBI has to protect the privacy of individuals who are under investigation. They do not want these cases being public until they're concluded.

BLITZER: General Marks, take us inside the U.S. military. How does this play among the men and women who serve, listed senior officers, when you have somebody of the stature of general Petraeus and general John Allen, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, they're both being questioned about relationships, if you will. How does that impact the fighting men and women? Remember, we still have almost have 70,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. They're in a war right now.

MARKS: Wolf, that's the point, is that we have soldiers, marines, we have our service members in combat. That's what's most important, and General John Allen has a job to do over in Afghanistan. The morale of the fighting force is fine. They're going to go through any mission they have to do. They'll stay absolutely focused on those tasks.

Inside of Dave Petraeus' world, this is a matter of great shame, and he has let down the service he's been a part of for the last 40 years. He obviously lost his bearings, lost the grip on his values, made this terrible mistake and now he's got to live with that. That certainly has a message. As a result of those challenges and some other challenges with general officers, the secretary of defense has announced we're going to have a values review for the senior leaders in our military.

BLITZER: Same question to you about the FBI. You served a long career in the FBI. You have a shirtless FBI agent, his picture circulating out there. He was involved, apparently, in some way in getting this information publicly. How does this impact the morale of the FBI men and women?

FUENTES: Well, I think the FBI agents in particular were not happy about the characterization of the shirtless agent and the pictures that went out. You know, it's been established that picture was sent a long time ago, had nothing to do with this, and it was a joke on the part of that agent who had this picture taken in between two dummies and make it look like he was a target at the range, and he sent it to a number of people including the media. BLITZER: The FBI has really been amazing over these past few decades. Since the sordid days of J. Edgar Hoover in rebuilding its reputation. An incident like this could have a negative impact.

FUENTES: Well, it could but it won't. This situation, this case should not gone public. The agents should not have got outside of the FBI. That's why these protocols exist. That's why the White House wasn't notified, because of what happened decades ago, particularly the Nixon administration. They don't to be accused. The White House doesn't want to be accused of meddling, as President Obama said, meddling in an ongoing investigation. So, if there's no immediate evidence or immediate national security concern, it's going to be kept as quiet as possible.

BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, thanks very much. Spider Marks, thanks to you as well. Appreciate what you're both doing.

Mitt Romney angers a key supporter with comments about President Obama's re-election victory. Up next, I will ask the Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal why he's now firing back at Mitt Romney.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Mitt Romney is speaking out about his election loss for the first time and blaming it on what he calls the gifts that President Obama gave his supporters. That remark is drawing serious criticism from some of Romney's fellow Republicans including Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

Thanks very much for joining us.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: Thank you, Wolf. Great to be back on the air with you.

BLITZER: All right. Let me play a little clip of what he said to some of his big donors that's causing quite an uproar. Here's Mitt Romney. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What the president, the president's campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Now, that's caused a lot of uproar. Gifts that the president gave. I guess the implication is was he bribing some of the coalition, minorities, Hispanics. Was he bribing young women with all sorts of, quote, "gifts." What do you make of that?

JINDAL: Wolf, this is completely unhelpful. This is not where the Republican Party needs to go. Look. We want -- if you want voters to like you, the first thing you have got to do is like them first. It is certainly not helpful to tell voters that you think their votes were bought. That's certainly not a way to show them you respect them, you like them.

We need to stop talking down to voters. As the Republican Party, we need to fight for 100 percent of the electorate, not 53 percent, not 52 percent, but 100 percent. We have to stop trying to divide people in the different group by race, by gender, by class. Instead, we have to show them our conservative principles will help them pursue the American dream into Middle class to do better.

This is completely not helpful. This was not where the Republican Party needs to go. We need to stop being the dumb party. We need to offer smart, conservative, intelligent ideas and policies. That's how we win elections. We don't win elections by insulting voters.

Again, if you want voters to like you, they have to like you first. Tell them their votes were bought is not helpful. It is not true. This is not where the Republican Party needs to go next.

BLITZER: It sort reminded me, governor. I don't know about you, but it reminded me of that really controversial comment he was overheard at that fund-raiser in Boca Raton last May down in Florida speaking about the 47 percent who were effectively, I'm paraphrasing, what moochers, including recipients of Social Security, Veterans, anyone who gets government assistance, if you will. That caused him an enormous amount of problems in the campaign as well. Do you see a similarity here and there?

JINDAL: Absolutely. Look, as a party, as a country, we're an aspirational party. We are an aspirational country. We are a country that believes our best days are ahead of us. We're a country that believes everybody wants their children to do better than their parents have done. We all want to leave them more opportunities.

What that means is we want our kids to get a great education, great paying jobs. I truly believe people that are on food stamps, who are on government assistance don't want to be there. They're there because they don't have the ability to get better paying jobs. And it's our responsibility to adopt all seeds, to grow the economy, to give them the education, to give them the opportunities to have a better quality of life. I don't think we advance this discussion or debate by insulting folks.

Look. The Republicans -- we need to stick to our principles, but we also need to treat others people with respect, even those who we don't agree with. We need to show them we respect them, we respect their beliefs, their principles. We can disagree without being disagreeable.

Republicans can, as this year, have done a lot of damage to the brand. They have a lot of dumb things. We need to condemn those remarks. You saw it in Indiana, you saw it in Missouri. As a party, we need to stop talking down to voters. We have great ideas on school choice, on putting teachers in the classroom, on energy independence, on a lower flatter tax coat without all of the loopholes and the breaks for the wealthy and special treatment.

Let's go out there and put those policies out. Let's actually have an honest intellectual debate with the other side about with the best force in this country. Let's stop insulting people. The reality is, we do have too many people on unemployment, but there's not there because they want to be there. They're there because there aren't enough good paying jobs. And this economy, let's grow this economy. Let's stop insulting the voters.

BLITZER: Did you convey these same thoughts to the governor when he was the Republican presidential nominee?

JINDAL: Look, I don't know how much benefit there is to continue to look back. Mitt Romney is a good man, an honorable man. The reality is I don't think his campaign laid out a vision how his policies would benefit every single American. I think they ran a campaign based largely on his biography. It resonates a very impressive biography, very impressive resume. But, at the end of the day, presidential election is about visions, about policies.

I think now as a party, as a country, we need to look forward. We need to congratulate the president on his win. It was an impressive win. As a party, we need to look forward and fight for every single vote in America. And the way to do that is treat people with respect.

We don't need to be like the Democratic Party. We don't need to divide people into special interest groups. We don't look at people as members of racial groups first or gender groups or geographic or class groups. We treat every American as a individual. We don't think demographics is destiny. We say, the circumstances of your birth don't determine the outcome as an adult. We want every American to have the opportunity to pursue the American dream. We are going to treat them respect. We're going to offer policies that help them and their children be better. That's what we have to do to be a majority party to win national elections.

And by the way, governors are doing this, the reason we have 30 Republican governors is they are working to improve schools in their states. They are working and balance their budgets, grow their private sector economies. We got ideas that work. We don't need two Democratic, two liberal parties in this country. We need two partied. The Republican Party doesn't need to moderate our principles. We do need to modernize our party, however.

BLITZER: One final question, governor, before I let you go. Comprehensive immigration reform, all of a sudden, Republicans and Democrats are talking about it. Lindsay Graham is trying to get together with Chuck Schumer to see if there's an opportunity.

Are you in favor right now of major legislation that would deal with comprehensive immigration reform, securing the border, and also having a pathway to citizenship for some of those illegal immigrants who were in the country?

JINDAL: Wolf, several things. Absolutely I am for comprehensive approaches. Let's stop making it a political issue. Let's solve this issue. It does have to include securing the borders.

Look. The president four years ago said he was going to present the proposal. Let him present the proposal to ease Republicans are not negotiating with ourselves, but we in the Republican Party, need to be very clear with the American people that we welcome folks who want to come to the country, that want to follow the rules, who want to work hard, make this a better, stronger country.

Our legal immigration system is broken. We need to dramatically increase the number of people. We allow into this country legally. It's good for them. It is good for our country. Right now, our immigration policies aren't good for our country. They are not live for families. We have folks who come here, we educate them, we kick them out of our country.

As a Republican party, we need to be very clear. We welcome those folks who want to come here and make this a better, stronger country. It takes a lot of entrepreneurial spirit and risk to move your family here, to take those chances, to want to get good paying jobs to work very hard. Those are the kind of people who made this a great country. Whether your family has been here five minutes or hundreds of years, that's not what makes you an American. That's what's kept us apart from the rest of the world. It's unique, something that's exceptional about our country.

So yes, I think there's an opportunity for a comprehensive approach. I don't think we shouldn't be negotiating with ourselves. Let the president put his ideas on the table. It's got to includes securing the borders first. It has got to include a substantial increase for legal immigration. Let's stop kicking people out that want to make this a better country.

BLITZER: Governor Jindal, thanks for coming in. Good luck with the new assignment as the leader of the national governor, Republican governors association. We appreciate it very much.

JINDAL: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: The dream of becoming a professional soccer player shattered by the violence in Syria. Just ahead, how one boy is learning to live with the scars of war.

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BLITZER: As the battle between Israel and Hamas heats up, it draws the world's attention, the Syrian civil war rages on with dozens of people dying every day. And a steady stream of refugees fleeing into neighboring countries. Syrians of all ages are now living with the scars of war.

We have a report from Arwa Damon. It contains pictures some viewers may find disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like many other boys his age, 11-year-old Abdulrahmar wanted to be a professional soccer player when he grew up, but like so many others in his homeland of Syria, the violence shattered his dream. ABDULRAHMAR (through text): There were fighter planes and there was a rocket that hit next to our house. And I went to what was going on. And another rocket hit.

DAMON: He doesn't say much beyond that. At times, simply nodding or smiling sweetly in response, or seemingly lost in his memories.

Tears Omar can't control fall silently. The thoughts of what his baby brother endured are so much for the 21-year-old.

OMAR, ABDULRAHMAR'S BROTHER: Mom woke me up, stand up immediately. What's happening? She said, Abdulrahmar went out and the airplane is roaming, circulating above, and you need to get him back to the house.

DAMON: Omar was too late. He found his brother in the hospital.

OMAR: Once he saw me, he shouted, "Omar!" shouted with all his strength. When I got closer, I saw his leg and I just started crying for around five hours.

DAMON: Abdulrahmar's leg was amputated, in a makeshift field hospital, the basement of a mosque.

OMAR: After he woke up, I was crying, I couldn't control myself. He said, please don't cry. If you love me, don't cry.

DAMON: And that is when Omar made Abdulrahmar a promise. That he would walk again.

OMAR: He starts to handle that idea. So I'm going out and he kept saying to me, when are we leaving? Because once -- every time the fighting jets come, he said, when are we leaving? We should leave.

DAMON: Omar is now an expert at changing his brother's bandages. He started to save money for a prosthetic, but realized that it was going to take too much time. He began asking around, and a group of visiting Egyptian doctors told him about the global Medical relief fund, a small U.S. NGO, dedicated to helping children badly injured in disaster and war zones. Its founder, Alyssa Monotanta was quick to respond.

But FIRST, the brother had to get to Turkey. A car drove them as close to the border as they could. Driver's last words, "you're on your own now." Omar's arms were aching as he carried his brother and their three bags across the muddy field. The brothers eventually made their way to Ankhra in Turkey, but the boys don't have passports. Their visas to the U.S. were denied and now they are waiting to see if the state department will grant them humanitarian parole. For Omar, watching his brother suffering is agonizing.

OMAR: He had nightmares, and sometimes day dreams, bad day dreams. The most important thing, at this time, I think it's to be aware of everything. And to grow up. He's not a child anymore.

DAMON: Arwa Damon, CNN, Ankhra.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: If you would like to help him, go to CNN.com/impact to find out how you can impact your world.

Arwa, thank you.

As President Obama prepares for his next four years in office, our John Berman has a tip for him. Read up on recent history, Mr. President. A closer look at second-term scandals. That's next.

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BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's hot shots.

In Italy, the sun rises behind the Vatican.

In India, people watch fireworks at a park during the festival of lights.

In Florida, people wait in line for Turkey as they prepare for thanksgiving.

And in Nepal, look at this, police dogs are decorated with paint and garlands for a Hindu festival.

Hot shots, pictures coming in from around the world.

President Obama's inauguration is still a couple months away, but with all the talk of scandal dominating Washington right now, it's starting to feel like his second term has already begun.

Here's CNN's John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Wolf, it took like 76 hours for the president's re-election to get subsumed in the whole Petraeus/Broadwell/Alan/Kelley mess. You might think it is a tough way to start a second term. But the truth is, it may be the perfect introduction to the realities of re-election. It really is enough to give you second thoughts about that second term.

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BERMAN: President Obama, you were just elected to a second term. What are you going to do next? Go to Disney world? Doubtful. Embark on immigration reform? Possible. Avoid the fiscal cliff? Maybe.

But if history has taught us anything, perhaps the first thing he should do is lawyer up. We're not suggesting the president is in any kind of legal jeopardy, it's just that second terms have become synonymous with scandal. Richard Nixon's second term --

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I'm not a crook.

BERMAN: He resigned in the wake of Watergate. Ronald Reagan's second term -- RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A few months ago, I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and evidence tell me it is not.

BERMAN: The Iran contra affair. Bill Clinton --

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

BERMAN: Impeached after the Lewinsky mess.

And George W. Bush, well, there was the Valerie Plame spy gate scandal, not to mentioning the handling of hurricane Katrina.

That's trouble for roughly 100 percent of re-elected presidents since 1972. Yes, it's enough to give you second thoughts about that second term. So is there anything the Obama team can do to prevent this? Now, as bill Clinton might say.

CLINTON: It depends upon what the meaning of the word "is" is.

BERMAN: The fact is, if there is going to be a second-term scandal, its seeds were probably sewn in the first term. The Watergate break- in, Nixon's first term. The actual Iran contra deal, Reagan's first term. Bill Clinton's liaison with Lewinsky, first term. The actual Plame leaks, first term.

So, if the Obama team was going to mess up, history suggests, they already did. Maybe it's something that has made headlines already, but maybe not. Remember, the Lewinsky scandal didn't surface until 1998. Maybe the Obama administration will make its own history and avoid a second-term scandal. But if not, Disney world may seem very appealing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: You know, it was interesting, in the president's news conference, he said he was well aware of the history of presidential overreach in second terms. That's a little bit of a different subject, but you get the sense that anyone that much aware of presidential history knows that second-term scandals can be a problem and most likely will be really, really careful - Wolf.

BLITZER: John Berman, thank you. Good history lesson for all of us.

Remember, you can follow what's going on in the SITUATION ROOM on twitter. You can always tweet me @Wolf Blitzer. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the SITUATION ROOM.

The news continues next on CNN.