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THE SITUATION ROOM
GOP Attempts to Plot Path to Victory; The State of the GOP; Egypt Marks Two Years Since Revolution; Inside the Abortion Fight; Brothers Brace for Super Bowl
Aired January 25, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, happening now, Republicans' attempt to make a come back from a bruising November election and get a warning from one of their own to quote "stop being stupid."
A major staffing setback for President Obama, ahead: the move a federal court has just ruled is an unconstitutional use of power.
And raising for the battle of the brothers. Why this year's Super Bowl may be more about the coaches than the Ravens or the 49ers.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
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BLITZER: A Republican Party in identity crisis right now, attempting to revise a new winning strategy in the wake of the devastating November election. Right now, Republican members are hunkered down at their annual winter meeting in North Carolina where they've just reelected Reince Priebus as the Republican National Committee chairman.
The talk has been extremely harsh at times with one prominent Republican leader using the word "stupid" to describe the way he says the party has been behaving. Let's bring in our CNN political director, Mark Preston. He's on the scene for us. He's joining us with the latest information. Some pretty harsh words over there, Mark.
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, there is. Look, Wolf, I think the Republicans have come to grips with the results of the election. They did not win back the White House. They lost ground in the House of Representatives, and of course, Democrats remained in control of the United States Senate.
So, a lot of soul searching over the past couple of days here in Charlotte for members of the Republican National Committee. These are the grassroots activists, Wolf, who come all across the country who make up the Republican Party. But as you said, some very harsh words, especially from the Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, who had to say this last night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, (R) LOUISIANA: We've got to stop being stupid party. It's time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults. It's time for us to articulate our plans and our visions for America in real terms. There's no secret we had a number of Republicans that damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. I'm here to say we've had enough of that.
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PRESTON: And I have to tell you, Wolf, we heard Bobby Jindal there with some very harsh criticism of his own party. There is a somber acknowledgement right now, Wolf, amongst Republicans that they need to change their brand.
BLITZER: You seeing any signs of change, practical changes already unfolding?
PRESTON: Well, Wolf, as you said, the chairman, Reince Priebus, was just reelected a few hours ago. He is talking about big change over the next couple of years. Change that he says is needed in order for the Republican Party to be viable in years to come. This is what he had to say just a couple of hours ago.
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REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We have to go places we haven't been. And we have to invite new people to join us. We have to ask for the order. This is about more than the next two years. This is about 2016. This is about 2020 and beyond.
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PRESTON: And there you have it. Reince Priebus, when he's talking about there, Wolf, is that the Republican Party needs to create an infrastructure that not only reaches out to the traditional Republican base, they need to go into the minority communities. They need to go after young voters. He acknowledges it will cost a lot of money.
But for the Republican Party to be viable, especially with the shifting demographics and what we saw in the November election, it needs to happen. And Reince Priebus says that is going to be his priority in the next couple of years -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Mark, thanks very much. Mark Preston on the scene for us. Our chief national correspondent, John King, is joining us now with a closer look at the way forward for the Republican Party. They've got some major, major challenges right now, John.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They do. Number one has been if you noticed a lot of Tea Party backed candidates, beat incumbents, beat the establishment candidates in primaries in 2012, even in 2010, those candidates will (ph) have to hurt the Republican Party. So, one of the big tests, one of the big things to watch is how does the party try to enforce internal battles, if you will? Pick and choose better candidates, better candidates at things, anyway. Another thing is and I would say to Reine Priebus and to Governor Jindal, it's going to be approved it. You hear them talking about going into every community, competing for African-American votes, competing for Latino votes, competing for Asian-Americans.
Well, Jack Kemp from your hometown of buffalo, you know, the Former Buffalo bill, New York congressman, he said that back in the Reagan days and he meant it. (INAUDIBLE) was the Republican National Committee chairman when I first came to Washington under George H.W. Bush. He said that and he meant it.
But the Republicans have never followed up on a consistent basis to the point that they can start to chip away at the Democratic advantage among African-Americans and the Republicans have squandered what George W. Bush had for them which was around 40 percent of the Latino votes. They're going to have to prove it there.
One more thing Reince Priebus said, Wolf, I want to you listen to this and remember who this candidate was. Reince Priebus is talking about the glory days for Republicans in presidential politics. Listen.
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PRIEBUS: We have four years until the next presidential election. And being a blue state is not a permanent diagnosis. Look at the screen here next to me. Just three presidents ago in 1988, Republicans won in places like California, Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey. If we make the commitment, we can win again.
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KING: He didn't use the name. That was George H.W. Bush. He won 40 states in 1980, in part because Dukakis ran a bad campaign, but a lot of Democrats -- I mean, a lot of Republicans would say, well, Obama is to the left of Dukakis. Why did this happen to us now? But to bring George H.W. Bush back, Wolf, you know, he broke his no new taxes pledge.
He's been considered a pariah among conservatives for some time. That's a proof that Reince Priebus is trying to tell Republicans stop. Stop thinking the old way, stop thinking just because somebody is more pragmatic or a bit more moderate, that makes them a bad Republican. Reince Priebus is trying to say we need to shake our way of thinking.
BLITZER: So, Reince Priebus says change the message a little bit. Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, he uses pretty strong words, but they're also trying some new techniques to see if they can change the playing field.
KING: There are a number of Republicans at the state level with the blessing of Reince Priebus exploring changing the way we count Electoral College votes. We talked a little bit about the said election, and I'm going to walk back over to the magic wall. If you change the way only two states now, Maine and Nebraska, allocate their electoral votes by how -- whether or not you win by Congressional district.
Otherwise, if you win statewide, you win. A number of states, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, Ohio are looking at changing that to say you should allocate this on a Congressional district race. Now, look at the country here. President Obama won a very convincing Electoral College victory, but I'm going to show you the vote by county.
And we look at this on election night. The same if you go back to 2008. Look at all that red. Obama wins the presidency huge in 2008, but look at all that red in the county level. Obama wins the presidency huge in 2012, but look at all that red. If every state, if all 50 states allocated Electoral College votes based on Congressional district, guess what, Mitt Romney would be the president right now.
He would have won 273 to 262. Now, in 2008, Obama still would have beat John McCain, but by a smaller margin. So, I want to show you a little bit about what they're talking about. If you look at the state of Ohio, again, the president carries it with 51 percent, but Mitt Romney carried 12 of the 16 Congressional districts in the state of Ohio.
So, this state is considering passing a bill that says not winner take all statewide, do it by Congressional district. The air seemed to come out of the balloon today, Wolf, and another state considering this, the state of Virginia. The governor now says he doesn't support this law. Not enough state Senate Republican support this law.
But in the state of Virginia again, President Obama narrowly carries it, but if you look at it here, it's 7 of 11. Mitt Romney carried seven of the 11 Congressional districts here so he would have won the majority of the Electoral College votes. So, if you pull out to the country, if you did it by Congressional district, in all 50 states, Mitt Romney would be the president today.
What about this -- this appears now to be dying a little bit. What makes it fascinating to me is if you did have a change like this, just look at it. If you did it that way, what would change? Well, Democrats would be down campaigning in places like Alabama, places like Georgia. Any of these voting rights states that have African- American Congressional districts.
And guess what, we'd have a presidential campaign in which Republicans would be out campaigning in California. We haven't seen that since that Bush campaign, really, in 1988 and even in the states of Pennsylvania and especially New York. So, if you did this in all 50 states, it would make for a very, very different presidential election.
That's not the, Wolf, what Republicans are talking about. They're trying to do it in a handful of states that they think would have benefit them. But again, that's been a thought after the campaign, the air seems to be coming out of --
BLITZER: And right now, it's only Nebraska and Maine that do this. They allocate electoral votes by Congressional districts. Every state would have the ability to do it if they wanted to do --
KING: Constitution says states control how you run and handle election. So, states do have the right. Nebraska and Maine do it. Since they're relatively small states, it hasn't come to make a huge distinction. Remember, we did talk late in the campaign about the possibility of 269-269 or the possibility of Maine or Nebraska tipping the raise because it didn't turn out that way.
It didn't turn out that way. It's possible in a close election. The thought process now among Republicans is what can we do to get a few more out of Pennsylvania, get a few more out of Ohio, get a few more out of Virginia? Again, the governor of Virginia today sort of put the kabosh on that.
It's an interesting theory, but if you did this on a national level, we'd have a very different campaign. Candidates would be forced to campaign in states where the last 10 or 15, 16 years, we simply haven't seen them in both parties.
BLITZER: It would be a fascinating development, as we say. John, thanks very much.
In our 6:00 p.m. eastern hour, by the way, the chairman, the newly reelected chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, he will be my guest right here in the SITUATION ROOM.
So, is Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal, right to call his Republican Party stupid? Just ahead, I'll ask the former Republican presidential candidate, the former House speaker, Newt Gingrich. He's standing by live here in the SITUATION ROOM.
Plus, a major set back for President Obama after a federal court ruling.
BLITZER: The big day of staff announcements over at the White House. President Obama naming his deputy national security adviser, Dennis McDonough, to become his new chief of staff to replace Jack Lew who's now the treasury secretary nominee.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's been one of my closest and most trusted advisers on my presidential campaign, on my transition team. He has been an indispensable member of my national security team as well. Dennis has played a key roll in every major national security decision of my presidency.
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BLITZER: The president who has recently been scrutinized for a perceived lack of diversity in his second term cabinet also announced four women to new senior level positions over at the White House. A federal appeals court, meantime, has struck down a number of key recess appointments made by the president. The appeals court saying they are unconstitutional and unconstitutional use of executive power. The unanimous decision could set the stage for a high stake Supreme Court battle between the White House and Congress.
And Jeffrey Toobin, our senior legal analyst is joining us now. Jeffrey, how significant is this?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It's this decision stance. This is a huge defeat for President Obama and a great victory for Senate Republicans.
BLITZER: What does it mean for the future of the course? Why is it such a big deal?
TOOBIN: Well, why it's important is that whenever the president is trying to appoint someone and the Senate for whatever reason doesn't approve them right away or at all, the president can do what's called a recess appointment which means he can appoint this person for about a year without the Senate.
This decision takes that option away. So, basically, 40 senators now and there are more than 40 Republicans, if they stop a nominee, President Obama, if this decision stands has basically no way around to put these people on the agencies wherever they are.
BLITZER: Because the Republicans, they really didn't -- they said they really didn't go into recess. They would, everyday, convene for a few seconds, basically.
TOOBIN: Correct. This decision says the recess appointments as they have been done, not just by President Obama, but all presidents in recent decades. They are all unconstitutional.
BLITZER: Is this a political decision? How political is this?
TOOBIN: Well, you know, this is the question that's always hard to answer about courts. These are three very conservative republican judges. It is -- the political implications of the decision are clear for a Republican anti-Democrat, but can I say that that was the motivation of the judges? I can't. It's certainly the result.
BLITZER: Can we just assume the United States Supreme Court will consider this or just leave this decision hanging?
TOOBIN: I think they have to consider it. It's too important of a decision and I think the Supreme Court almost certainly will take it.
BLITZER: This is an automatic --
TOOBIN: Almost automatic and very difficult to predict because, you know, this is an aggressive conservative majority on the Supreme Court, citizens united and campaign finance, the Second Amendment and gun control. This court has been aggressively conservative, not on health care, but on most everything else. So, it could well be affirmed by the Supreme Court. BLITZER: What does it all say about President Obama?
TOOBIN: Well, you know, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the court that decided this case often called the second most important court in the country. There are four vacancies and President Obama is the first president in recent history to have no appointees on the court. He only nominated one person and that person was filibustered.
So, there are lots of vacancies. He hasn't put a lot of emphasis on judicial appointments, but decisions like this show how important judicial appointments really are.
BLITZER: Why hasn't he done that?
TOOBIN: You know, this is one of the great mysteries of the Obama presidency. In part, it has to do with the very aggressive opposition of the Republicans who have stopped an unusually high number of nominees. But President Obama, a former constitutional law professor has just not put a lot of emphasis on it, hasn't talked about it publicly. And I think he's whipping the whirlwind (ph) for his failure to pay attention to --
BLITZER: We're going to be hearing a lot more about this decision.
TOOBIN: I think so.
BLITZER: Jeffrey, thanks very much.
Mitt Romney is here in Washington D.C. for the first time in a month. We're going to tell you why he's visiting the nation's capital.
And the best story of the Super Bowl may not necessarily involve the players on the field as much as the coaches on the sidelines.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How sickly competitive are these guys. If both of them were in the Donner party, I don't know who would survive.
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BLITZER: All right. Take a look at this. This is Washington, D.C. You can see the United States Capitol over there right behind the American flag, but you know what else you see? You see a lot of snow coming down here in Washington. A lovely sight for those of us who like snow. Do you like snow? Probably don't, but I do.
President Obama begins the push for immigration reform in Las Vegas next week. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. What's the latest, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, aids to the president say his remarks in Las Vegas will sketch out his plan for immigration reform. That includes improving border security and cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers. The most controversial part of the plan is creating a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. He is expected to get more specifics during February's state of the union address.
And the former CIA officer will serve 30 months in prison for revealing the identity of a secret agent. The sentence was part of a plea deal between John Kiriakou (ph) and prosecutors. His own attorney admitted he was thoughtless and naive in leaking the administration. The judge criticized Kiriakou for, in her words, betraying a very solemn trust.
And Mitt Romney is in Washington for the first time since last month's lunch with President Barack Obama. He and his wife are expected to attend the black tie dinner (ph) that's usually attended by power brokers and business elite. President Barack Obama, he was at that dinner back in 2009 and last year, but it is not clear if the president will be there tomorrow.
A little music there. You know who that is. That's Prince. Billboard is honoring Prince with the icon award. The musician will receive the honor at the Billboard Music Awards on May 19th. This ceremony will be broadcast live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. (inaudible) somehow or another, Prince always looks the same through the years.
BLITZER: You saw Prince there, Lisa. I saw that smile on your face.
BLITZER: Looks like you were a bit old Prince fan in your day, huh?
SYLVESTER: Everybody knows the songs. Purple rain. But one thing I do want to talk about also is the snow. You've mentioned you were at the top. It is absolutely gorgeous, but you're right. We're all going to have to drive around in all of that in Washington. We don't really do snow not as well as they do in buffalo.
BLITZER: It's real snow. All right. Thanks very much.
Republicans attempt to stem the political bleeding. Up next, I'll ask the former presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, how much damage has been done? What it will take to recover? Newt Gingrich is standing by live right here in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Let's get back to our top story this hour right now. The Republican Party effort to rebrand. Joining us now, the former Republican presidential candidate, the former speaker of the house, Newt Gingrich. Speaker, thanks very much for coming in.
NEWT GINGRICH, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's good to be with you.
BLITZER: Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, minced no words last time. You were there. You just came back from that Republican meeting in North Carolina. Listen to this.
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JINDAL: We've got to stop being the stupid party. And I'm serious. It's time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults. It's time for us to articulate our plans and our visions for America in real terms. It's no secret we had a number of Republicans that damaged the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments.
I'm here to say we've had enough of that. We've got to stop insulting the intelligence of voters. We need to trust the smarts of the American people.
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BLITZER: Bobby Jindaly, a very smart guy, you agree with him?
GINGRICH: I agree with him entirely, and actually, there is a column by Irvin Crystal (ph) in 1976 in the "wall Street Journal" entitled "The Stupid Party," and prior to Ronald Reagan, we were going through the same kind of cycle. And so, I thought Bobby's speech was terrific. I recommended a newsletter today at Gims (ph) Production.
I actually recommend people read it and I linked to the speech. I think Reince Priebus who just got elected chairman again gave an equally powerful speech today and equally change --
BLITZER: So, what's the most important thing you need to do to go beyond White men if you went this -- you lost women voters. You lost young people. You lost minorities, Hispanics. You got to reach out beyond that for Republican constituencies.
GINGRICH: But let me start for a second -- somebody who's been at this a long time. By distinguishing the Republican Party from a presidential campaign --
BLITZER: You're talking about the presidential campaign.
GINGRICH: But we have 30 governors with 315 electoral votes. We have 24 states that have a Republican governor, Republican state legislature with 51 percent of the country. We just had an Indian- American woman, Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina appoint an African-American U.S. senator in Tim Scott. Last night, you had an Indian-American, Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana.
You have Suzanna Martinez, the governor of New Mexico. I think the leader for the Republican party and immigration is rapidly going to become Senator Marco Rubio who's, I think, doing some very intelligent things on the immigration --
BLITZER: Are you with him on comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for 10 or 12 million illegal immigrations?
GINGRICH: Well, I think, clearly overtime, if you talk to somebody who's been here 25 years and who's obeyed the law and who learns to speak English, who learns American history. There has to be ultimately a pathway to be integrated into our society.
BLITZER: Because a lot of your fellow Republicans escape (ph) that because they think it's amnesty.
GINGRICH: The point that Marco Rubio makes is I think absolutely honestly correct. We have de facto amnesty now. Nobody is suggesting you're going to lock up 12 million people. And so, the question is, how do you get to legality? How do you get the system so it can work? And I think that he's providing serious leadership.
He does not provide for immediate amnesty. He provides for a very long process, but I think he is the most thoughtful leader on our side on the issue of immigration.
BLITZER: Marco Rubio.
GINGRICH: Marco Rubio.
BLITZER: So, on this issue, if the president pushes -- he's going to Las Vegas next week, to lay out his vision, you think there can be a deal?
GINGRICH: Well, I think we have to wait and see what his vision is.
GINGRICH: I don't. My experience of President Obama is whatever our position is, he would like to push us beyond what's acceptable. And so, I'll be curious to see what -- you know, for example, if he wants immediate amnesty, the answer is no. If he wants amnesty without English as a language, the answer is no.
I mean, there a number of steps in between here and I want to wait and see -- I would like to see the president's plan, which he promised, by the way, in 2008. I'd like to see the president's plan --
BLITZER: Do you think Republicans need to moderate their position on some other social issues, for example, gay marriage?
GINGRICH: Well, I think we have to confront the reality with nine states that have now legalized something which I don't personally believe is marriage. I think it's a legal contract. But I think as a matter of religious belief, it is not marriage --
GINGRICH: But in case of most Americans --
BLITZER: Various christian denominations --
GINGRICH: There are some denominations that now accept that -- this is an issue which is going to continue to evolve and be talked about. I think from a Republican standpoint, one of the key questions is going to be, how do you defend religious liberty and the right to have your own beliefs without the state imposing on you? And this is a very serious problem.
BLITZER: Because on some of the social issues or other substantive issues talking about immigration reform like gay marriage or if you talk about guns, for example, in terms of the popularity, the country does want some strong action to deal with guns.
GINGRICH: OK. Let me --
BLITZER: Background checks, in particular.
GINGRICH: Well, I think background are simple, but you'll notice the killing in New Mexico. Background checks had no impact. The young man had been given the guns by his father.
BLITZER: You want great background checks --
GINGRICH: I'm happy to have background checks, but I'm just pointing out to you that it would not have affected the killing in New Mexico. It would not have affected the killing in Connecticut. There a group of people who have a set of issues they'd like to pass, and whenever they get a chance, they bring up the same issues.
So Senator Feinstein had an idea 28 -- 19 years ago. She now has the same idea. It has nothing to do with what's going on right now but it's the idea she wants. Most Americans I would suggest to you look at gun control in Chicago with over 500 people killed last year, and wonder why people on the left aren't prepared to hold hearings in Chicago to find out if gun control is such a great idea. Why was Chicago the murder capital of the U.S.?
BLITZER: Listen to the speaker, the current speaker, that would be John Boehner, you were once the speaker of the House, talking about President Obama's second-term agenda. Listen to this.
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REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: So we are expecting here over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party. And let me just tell you, I do believe that is their goal. To just chop us into a dust bit of history.
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BLITZER: Do you agree with the speaker?
GINGRICH: I think he was actually citing a CBS News political rhetoric. That was a CBS News political director who said that.
BLITZER: Would you -- but he said it. Those are his words.
GINGRICH: I think clearly President Obama would like to outmaneuver the Republicans and would like to find a way to make us a permanent minority --
BLITZER: But to annihilate the Republican Party?
GINGRICH: That's --
BLITZER: To shove us into the dust bin of history?
GINGRICH: Well, again, that's the language used by the CBS News --
BLITZER: That's the language used by the speaker. John Boehner used that language. Whether or not John Dickerson of CBS News used that language is irrelevant. The -- you know, the speaker of the House is pretty relevant.
GINGRICH: But I think he -- I think he was triggered by what Dickerson said. Look, I think -- I think if Obama could figure out a way to reduce us to the level of the Republican Party in the city of Chicago, he would do it in a heartbeat.
BLITZER: What is actually Chambliss' decision today not to seek reelection -- you're from Georgia -- in 2014? He's a conservative. He's a Republican incumbent. I think he was afraid he was going to be challenged in a primary by Tea Party supporters or some others. What does that say to you?
GINGRICH: Well, first of all, Saxby is an old friend and he served the state very, very well. And I think all of us wish him well in whatever he does next. But I think there are congressmen like Tom Price who (INAUDIBLE) are looking and running.
BLITZER: In Georgia?
GINGRICH: In Georgia. And I think -- I think there's a -- there's likely --
BLITZER: Could he have beaten him in a Republican primary?
GINGRICH: I don't know. We'll never know that. But I -- look, there are a lot of people who have one poll in January and a very different poll a year and a half later. I do think that the -- the seat would be very -- there'd be a number of strong candidates running. I think we'll keep the seat and I think that it is just a part of the ongoing process.
BLITZER: Well, Tom Price, I think he said he's not going to run but maybe he's --
GINGRICH: No, I spoke to him this afternoon.
BLITZER: He is? GINGRICH: I think Price is going to run.
BLITZER: He is going to run?
BLITZER: All right. You're not going to run, though?
GINGRICH: No, I'm not.
BLITZER: You don't want to go back to that situation?
GINGRICH: I'm not going to run. Well, I'd love to go back to Georgia. I don't want to go to the Senate.
GINGRICH: The Senate is really hard.
BLITZER: You're speaker of the House --
GINGRICH: I like being speaker of the House.
BLITZER: House is not hard?
GINGRICH: Being speaker of the house, you can do things. Talk to -- talk to your good friends who are senators. It's a very frustrating institution.
BLITZER: All right. We got the news here. Newt Gingrich will not run for the Senate in Georgia.
GINGRICH: There you go.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Mr. Speaker, for coming in.
GINGRICH: Good to be with you.
BLITZER: Many Egyptians hoped the Tahrir Square protest would open up a new chapter for their country, but on a special day for Egypt the story was similar to what they endured two years ago.
BLITZER: It was exactly two years ago that thousands of Egyptians flooded Cairo's Tahrir Square. Their protest toppled a dictator but for many it failed to bring the prosperity that led them to Tahrir in the first place. And today the second anniversary of that revolution was marked by violence in many places, including in Tahrir.
CNN's Reza Sayah is joining me now from Cairo.
So what's it like on this special day? What happened?
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a half past midnight local time here in Cairo, Wolf. And most of the protesters have left Tahrir Square at this hour. The location behind this is relatively calm but we're still seeing pockets of clashes throughout Cairo especially in front of Egyptian state TV a few blocks away from here. That's where protesters continue to throw debris, rocks and Molotov cocktails. Police responding by firing a tear gas, sometime throwing rocks themselves.
Other locations throughout Egypt, also saw protests and violence. The clashes turned deadly in the city of Suez east of Cairo, and that's where according to the Interior Ministry, six people were killed. Five protesters and one police officer.
It's hard to believe that it was two years ago when an uprising here in Egypt on this day led to the ouster of Mubarak. That's when many people gathered right behind us at Tahrir Square. Really the heart of the Arab spring and say we've had enough of oppressive dictatorship. They said they wanted political freedom, human rights, more jobs. Incredibly they managed to oust Hosni Mubarak, Wolf, but two years later, many here in Egypt are not happy. And we certainly saw that throughout Egypt today.
BLITZER: So who were these protesters today and what do they want, Reza?
SAYAH: These are the opposition factions, Wolf. These are the secularists, the moderates, the liberals who claim that current President Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood, have hijacked the revolution and the principles of the revolution. For his part Mohamed Morsi is saying these protests are unfair. He's saying he's defending the revolution, he's part -- part of the revolution and he's moving the Democratic process over and he has the support of the majority.
He is asking for patience, for trust. The problem, Wolf, a lot of people we saw today simply don't trust them. Many simply dislike him.
BLITZER: Where do things, Reza, go from here?
SAYAH: That's a good question. A lot of people eager to see what the future holds. We simply don't know. What's fascinating is that many of the problems Egypt faces today, they face two, three, four years ago. A weak economy, joblessness, corruption. And the question is, how was this president, how is this government going to address these very real problems when this country is so divided. But many agree that whatever happens here in this very important country is going to have a ripple effect throughout the Arab world -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Reza Sayah on the scene for us in Cairo. Thank you, Reza.
And Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is joining us right now. He's just back from a visit to Egypt last week. He was there with a congressional delegation including John McCain, Lindsey Graham, among others.
Senator Blumenthal, thanks very much for coming in.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you.
BLITZER: Let's talk about the second anniversary of President Mubarak's overthrow, as you saw thousands and thousands of people president President Morsi's government in Tahrir Square, elsewhere in Egypt as well. You met with him last week with this congressional delegation. Is he someone the U.S. can deal with?
BLUMENTHAL: We can deal with President Morsi. We have to deal with him because he's the elected leader of Egypt. But the people of Egypt have good reason to be in the streets. There is continuing corruption in the Egyptian society and government. There very dire economic straights. Forty percent of the Egyptian people make less than $2 a day. There are very high rates of unemployment and the rights of religious minorities and women are far from secure.
In fact we urged President Morsi to undertake amendments to the constitution, to deal with corruption, and other measures that will make it easier to deal with him as the elected leader of Egypt, but we have no choice at this point. He is the elected leader.
BLITZER: I know you raised with him some awful comments he made back in 2010 about Israelis and Jews among other things. He said Arabs and Muslims must cut off all relations with the plundering criminal entity of besiege, the Zionists, whom he calls, blood suckers, warmongers, and descendents of apes and pigs.
At that time he was the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, he wasn't the president of Egypt.
I know you condemned these comments. The White House condemned them. But what did he say to you about that?
BLUMENTHAL: What we did and we did it as a bipartisan delegation, as you said earlier, Wolf. Senator McCain led this trip. Senator Graham, Senator Ayotte, Senator Gillibrand, the White House and others, all of us strongly deplored and condemned these remarks with a vehemence and vigor that certainly was undiminished by anything he said to us.
Later the Egyptian government issued a statement in his name saying that he favored religious tolerance and that the remarks perhaps were taken out of context as you said quite rightly. He made them before he became president. But there ought to be zero tolerance for this kind of anti-Semitic, by the way, anti-American-type of remark.
And you've covered this region for many, many years, you know that the discourse is often flavored by this kind of rhetoric. Unfortunately. But the peace process may be impeded by it and ultimately Egypt has upheld the peace treaty with Israel and our hope is that it will continue to uphold it and certainly we made that point as well to President Morsi.
BLITZER: Because you hear these kinds of comments from the president of Egypt, and you wonder why is the U.S. going ahead now with the delivery of more F-16 jet fighters to Egypt. Do you support the delivery of these sophisticated war planes for Egypt right now?
BLUMENTHAL: I do, but the question obviously is a very, very pertinent and a good one and the reason for these sales is that they are tied directly to the Camp David Peace Accords. The $1.3 billion committed under that agreement is executed through these sales. Remember that these F-16s are not the most advanced of our fighters. They would be decimated by the Israeli Air Force if there were ever a conflict.
And the Egyptian military is completely dependent on the United States for training of their pilots and for support of those planes. In other words, the spare parts that are necessary to run them. So they are far from completely independent in the use of this military equipment. But equally important is the military and military relationship that was demonstrated in the role Egypt played in helping to gain a ceasefire when the Hamas and Israel were in conflict recently.
And so there is a relationship and Egypt has committed itself -- continues to commit itself officially to the peace accord, which is vital to stability in the Middle East. In the long run, very importantly, Egypt itself may wish to this aid in economic terms rather than military terms, simply because its economy is in such dire straits. It's dependent on the IMF coming through with a $4 plus billion loan commitment. And it will need all the economic aid that it can muster.
BLITZER: Because I raised the question, you say sales, these are sales, these F-16 war planes that are going to Egypt. But U.S. taxpayers pay for it by the billion plus dollars a year in military aid the U.S. gives Egypt. And so the question is, is this money well spent for American taxpayers to -- to basically provide free of charge these kinds of war planes to Egypt?
BLUMENTHAL: Ultimately the best interest of both nations probably are better served by economic aid that will put Egyptians to work, give them gainful employment, provide skill training, foster the growth of small businesses there so the Egyptians themselves can hire their fellow citizens and economic aid I think has to be the subject of discussion between the two governments to perhaps replace these sales of military equipment.
BLITZER: Senator Blumenthal, thanks very much for joining us.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you. Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: A huge rally against abortion here in Washington, D.C. timed with the 40th anniversary of "Roe versus Wade." Up next, a rare look inside the abortion fight from the state where the landmark decision began.
BLITZER: Looking at live pictures here in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Capitol, it's snowing in Washington, D.C. You can see those snow flakes. A lovely sight. Meanwhile, thousands of antiabortion activists gathered here in Washington today for the annual March for Life rally. It's timed to coincide with this week's 40th anniversary of the "Roe versus Wade" decision legalizing abortion rights for women in the United States. Meantime a new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows that for the first time a majority of Americans, 54 percent, believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while a combined 44 percent say it should be illegal.
And 70 percent of Americans are opposed to the controversial "Roe versus Wade" decision being overturned. Seventy percent do not want it overturned.
Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen travelled to Texas where this landmark case began to get a rare firsthand look at the fight over abortion today.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this week marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark "Roe v Wade" case. I went back to Texas where that case began to look at the state of abortion there.
COHEN (voice-over): "Roe v Wade" originated in Texas. And 40 years later the situation here and in much of the U.S. is complex. On the one hand the governor has made this vow.
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: My goal, and the goal of many of those joining me here today, is to make abortion at any stage a thing of the past.
COHEN: On the other hand, this is the reality.
(On camera): Hi, it's Elizabeth at CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great. Come on in.
(Voice-over): I'm at the Whole Woman's Health Clinic in Austin where seven women will have abortions today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do we have any more ultrasounds?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think we have any more. I think they did the last one.
COHEN: Amy Hagstrom Miller started Whole Woman's Health 10 years ago. And her business has grown. Now she has five clinics in Texas, offering gynecology care that includes providing abortions to about 9,000 women a year.
AMY HAGSTROM MILLER, CEO, WHOLE WOMAN'S HEALTH: My main goal is to provide an oasis for her where she feels safe, where she feels comfortable, and where she can feel at peace.
COHEN: In the entire state, 72,470 women received abortions in 2011. In the U.S., nearly 1 in 3 women will have an abortion before the age of 45, according to the nonpartisan Goodmacher Institute.
Elizabeth Graham is the director of the anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life.
(On camera): You have a lot more work to do.
ELIZABETH GRAHAM, DIRECTOR, TEXAS RIGHT TO LIFE: We do have a lot more work to do. Because we continue to miss this many women in Texas and other places we redouble our efforts.
COHEN (voice-over): Anti-abortion groups like hers have already been hard at work. Texas has cut off funding to Planned Parenthood and women in Texas have to see a doctor and then wait 24 hours before having an abortion.
(On camera): Before a woman is allowed to have an abortion, she has to come here to the ultrasound room. The doctor has to ask her, do you want to see the image? Do you want to hear the heartbeat? Now she can say no, but she does have to listen to the doctor describe the image. Are there internal organs? Are there arms and legs? Is there a heartbeat.
(Voice-over): These restrictions haven't stopped people like Amy Hagstrom Miller who provide abortions.
(On camera): The anti-abortion movement here is so huge, they're so strong, have they won?
MILLER: I don't think so. We've had all these attacks from the outside and we're still able to manage to provide not only access, but really good care for women.
COHEN (voice-over): Like in many other states, anti-abortion groups in Texas are working to pass legislation to make it even harder to have an abortion, which means a new fight in a state where both sides have vowed to never rest.
COHEN: Wolf, I asked that clinic owner, do the ultrasounds make a difference? Do they change women's minds? And she says, in her experience, no, that women still proceed with the abortion. She said these women know what they're doing and most of them have been pregnant before.
However, anti-abortion activists say that the ultrasounds do sometimes make a difference. They have seen women decide not to abort after seeing the image -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen with that report, thank you.
We can guarantee that a Harbaugh will coach the winning team in the Super Bowl. And that's one of the best stories in the game, even if the two coaches don't want to talk about it. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: At the Super Bowl, there's no more intriguing subplot than the sibling rivalry between the two coaches. Jim and John Harbaugh say there's nothing to see here, that we should all be focusing instead on the players and the players alone. But it's not easy to ignore the dynamic between these two very different men.
CNN's Brian Todd, a huge football fan, is joining us now with more.
Brian, what are you seeing?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, they're different in some ways, very similar in others. Specifically the competiveness that they share. Now apparently, John and Jim Harbaugh have not spoken to each other this week since their teams both won trips to the Super Bowl. They have exchanged a couple of text messages, and that's about it.
That speaks to their competitiveness but also to the fact that the brothers are more eager to focus on football and strategy than on the story everyone is talking about.
TODD (voice-over): They've tried to downplay the family angle, but it's virtually impossible.
JOHN HARBAUGH, BALTIMORE RAVENS HEAD COACH: Well, I don't think you ever put your family aside, Joe, you know.
But -- well, yes, the priorities. Yes, we have a job to do. You know, all of us have a job to do. Jim has a job to do. All of his coaches, all of our coaches, all of our players, everybody is going to be focused on doing their job.
TODD: John Harbaugh is talking about the fact that he and Jim are about to become the first brothers ever to be head coaches against each other in a Super Bowl. John's Baltimore Ravens against Jim's San Francisco 49ers. Inundated with the story, sick of it already, the family still managed to have some fun when John snuck on to a conference call his parents were having with reporters in recent days posing just as a caller from Baltimore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it true that both of you like Jim better than John?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do not. John --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's John Harbaugh?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, John?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was me, John.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, mom -- mom was ready to come right through this phone. I'm so happy that Joanie recognized your voice.
TODD: Sister Joanie recognizing the voice just in time. The parents vowed to remains fiercely neutral on Super Sunday out of fairness but also knowing what their boys are made of.
(On camera): How sickly competitive are these guys?
MIKE WISE, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: If both of them were in the Donner party, I don't know who would survive.
TODD (voice-over): A fire stoked while their father Jack spent 43 years as a high school and college football coach. The stories have become instant sports legends. But there's also a provocative side. In Little League baseball, Jim once hit a girl batter with a pitch because she was crowding the plate.
(On camera): Once when their dad was coaching Western Kentucky University, the program ran out of money. Jim, then a star NFL quarterback, and John, an assistant at the University of Cincinnati, volunteered to help the program for free. They turned it around and nine years later, the school won a Division 1 AA national title.
(Voice-over): Jim's angered opposing coaches for one thought was him running up a score and for once bouncing past a coach while celebrating a win. In the Super Bowl --
(On camera): Two teams with ruthless coaches, vicious defense is what things get out of hand, and there are fights in the game?
WISE: Two Harbaughs enter the steel cage. One leaves. If it's a contentious game and it gets ugly, I want to look at that postgame handshake, but how much of it is genuine and how much of it is, well, I've got to appear like I like my brother.
TODD (voice-over): Their teams went at it once before, on Thanksgiving Day 2011.
JIM HARBAUGH, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS HEAD COACH: I'm proud of him. I love him. I'm his biggest supporter. Right next to his wife. But, you know, this week, he's just someone we're trying to beat.
TODD: Now that time Jim's 49ers lost to John's Ravens. This time their mom says, probably half jokingly, that she's hoping for a tie. Wolf, she's not going to get it, but you know where she's coming from.
BLITZER: Of course I do. And there's actually a third person in the family who's really successful in the sports world as well.
TODD: That's right. The Harbaugh sister Joanie is married to Tom Crane, he's the head coach of the Indiana University Men's Basketball Team. They're ranked in the top 10 right now. You can say this is a family that's pretty much on a roll.
BLITZER: They certainly are. Good luck to both of these head coaches. Appreciate it, Brian.