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Women Named to White House Jobs; North Korean Nuclear Threat; Interview With Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus

Aired January 25, 2013 - 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: Happening now: Some women believe there is something wrong with this picture -- this hour, the president's new hires.

New satellite photos reveal North Korea's leader may be able to carry out a nuclear test. The Republican Party chair responds to a GOP governor's plea for the party to stop being stupid. And a very courageous (sic) stomach bug known for making cruise passengers sick is spreading quickly across the United States right now.

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

When President Obama named his new chief of staff today, he left the glass ceiling intact. No woman has ever served in that powerful job as president's gatekeeper. Why does it matter right now? As the second term begins, a lot of people are paying close attention to the number of women in the Obama administration, and some believe the president needs to do a better job.

Let's bring in our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin.

Jessica, the president trying to show he's sensitive to those concerns.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And in naming Denis McDonough, the president actually chose friendship, loyalty and comfort over political pressure and the chance to make history, which would have come from naming the first female chief of staff.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN: The same day he named Denis McDonough as his chief of staff...

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... when he helped set up my Senate office. Along with Pete Rouse, he was able to show me where the restrooms were and how you passed a bill.

YELLIN: ... President Obama also named four women to senior White House posts, including prosecutor Lisa Monaco to be White House homeland security adviser, no doubt a down payment on this assurance.

OBAMA: But I would just suggest that everybody kind of wait until they have seen all of my appointments, who is in the White House staff and who is in my Cabinet before they rush to judgment.

YELLIN: Even if women fill all of the administration's remaining posts, there is the question of priorities. In his inaugural address, the president promised to expand opportunities for gays and lesbians, immigrants, and women.

OBAMA: For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.

YELLIN: On gay rights, the president backs marriage equality and partner benefits. And on day five of his second term, he already spoke to a gay rights groups.

OBAMA: And all must enjoy the same rights and same protections.

YELLIN: He also met with immigration advocates urging quick action. When it comes to women, nothing specific.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't have a preview for you for future actions, but, again, his record is strong on this.

YELLIN (on camera): Women were 58 percent of the electorate that brought him into office, and you don't have a single policy agenda item that you can point out to that he promises to act on.

CARNEY: The president's commitment to women, to women's equality is incredibly strong.

YELLIN (voice-over): There are bills the president could press Congress to pass now. The Paycheck Fairness Act would make it easier to fight salary discrimination without losing one's job. A second bill would require paid sick days and family medical leave which would benefit working women.

If Congress doesn't act, the president could use executive action and require government contractors to implement these changes. The president's supporters in the women's movement are optimistic.

ELEANOR SMEAL, PRESIDENT, FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION: I think the words the president said in the inaugural were not empty words. We intend to fight for it. There's no reason for this to be held up.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN: Now, Wolf, the president has previously supported the Paycheck Fairness Act and the administration points out consistently Obamacare has made health care coverage more affordable to women in general. He will no doubt support women's issues and women's expanded equality. The question is, where will it come in his list of priorities?

I should also point out, we're reporting that Sylvia Mathews Burwell, a woman who held several senior posts in the Clinton administration, is the Obama administration's now leading contender to run the OMB -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Office of Management and Budget. Thanks very much, Jessica Yellin, for that.

Kate Bolduan is here as we turn to the Obama administration's new push for gun control.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. And the vice president, he really hit the road today. He is promoting the new legislation to ban more than 150 types of assault style weapons.

Our crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns, has been looking into this.

Joe, I think it goes without saying, the vice president is facing a very uphill battle.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely true, talking gun control or as the White House likes to call it gun safety. He went to Richmond today, really the heart of gun country, to talk about it. The backers of the newly proposed assault ban are trying to figure out some messaging that could help gin up badly needed support in the Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): In the uphill battle to sell the assault weapons ban, both Vice President Biden and Democrats in Congress are making one thing loud and clear.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: The bill protects hunters and sports men by protecting 2,200 specifically named weapons used for hunting or sporting purposes. They are by make and model exempted from the legislation.

JOHNS: The goal is to get hunters on board early by assuring them their guns are safe.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: None of us want to take away the hunting rifle that uncle Tommy gave you when you were 14 years old. We don't want to do that.

JOHNS: It's seen by some pro-gun rights advocates as divide, a strategy to splinter a key part of NRA's constituency and possibly persuade members of Congress from pro-gun parts of the country to sign on.

ADAM EISGRAU, FORMER LEGAL COUNSEL TO SEN. FEINSTEIN: The ability of a member struggling with what they think as difficult politics back home, the ability of that number to go home and have that factually based conversation with people in the audience who they start out angering, but to get them to feel better when they know they are protected makes a big difference.

(GUNFIRE)

JOHNS: Here's the problem: for the growing number of sports shooters who use so-called assault weapons and extended magazines at firing ranges or for hunting, they wouldn't be able to buy AR-15s and many other rifles anymore.

GASPAR PERRICONE, CO-DIRECTOR, BULL MOOSE SPORTSMEN'S ALLIANCE: While most are using another type of weapon, they are also recreational shooters. And many of them engage -- and myself included -- in the occasional shooting of an AR-style rifle.

JOHNS: It's clear the National Rifle Association isn't getting on board with any of this. As executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said in a speech this week.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: That means we believe in our right to defend ourselves and our families with semiautomatic firearms technology.

JOHNS: Which raises doubts whether the proposal can even pass in Congress. Biden and others have a fall back position, focusing on magazines and ammunition instead of the weapons themselves which could also affect hunters and sports shooters.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm less concerned, quite frankly, about what you call an assault weapon than I am about magazines and the number of rounds that can be held in a magazine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: So the question is whether the divide and conquer strategy is working in order to support the ban. The NRA says the answer is no, and says their own phone survey of 1,000 members which was done a month after the Newtown shooting showed the vast majority of respondents opposed banning semiautomatic weapons. Long way to go.

BLITZER: Very long way to go. We will stay on top of it. Good report. Thanks, Joe.

A new glimpse from space of the place where North Korea's defiant leader may carry out his latest nuclear threat. Kim Jong-un is raising tensions on the Korean Peninsula once again and he's directly confronting the United States.

Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): North Korea's latest saber-rattling threatening the South just one day after Pyongyang said it will lob missiles at the U.S. and conduct a new nuclear test, leaving no doubt leader Kim Jong-un is not giving up his father's nuclear program.

The U.S. might not have advance warning of a new underground test.

LEON PANETTA, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: They have the capability, frankly to conduct these tests in a way that make it very difficult to determine whether or not they are doing them. STARR: But there signs they are ready to test if ordered.

JOEL WIT, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: The North Koreans are maintaining a fairly high state of readiness at the test site. And that means that if the order is given from Pyongyang to go ahead, they can probably conduct the test in a few weeks.

STARR: Satellite shows a tunnel entrance where the device may undergo final assembly, a bunker for personnel and equipment and a communications network to make sure the order to detonate can be carried out. North Korea's weapons-grade inventory is believed to include plutonium for up to 12 devices and enough enriched uranium for six more.

How dangerous is all of that?

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, PRESIDENT, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: I still think we are years away from North Korea having a capability to deliver a nuclear warhead on a missile even to a country as close as Japan or South Korea and they're even further away from having a long-range missile that could hit the United States.

STARR: But North Korea's nuclear threat is closer, a lot closer than Iran's. North Korea has nuclear devices. Iran does not. North Korea has weapons-grade material. Iran does not. And North Korea has tested long-range missiles that could carry a nuclear warhead. Iran has not.

In a new test, the North Korean regime has to show its bomb design actually works. A 2006 test basically fizzled. A 2009 test worked better. It was half as powerful as the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. If it went off at the U.S. Capitol, it would obliterate two square miles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: And many experts believe if they see this continued pace of activity at this site that is now seen on satellite imagery, that a test could basically happen at any time -- Wolf, Kate.

BLITZER: Obviously the Pentagon keeping a close eye on that, Barbara, but also we're getting late word today of some pretty huge layoffs at the Pentagon. What can you tell us about that?

STARR: With this looming budget crisis on Capitol Hill, the plan is now in place, we're told. And what it looks like is this. About 46,000 contract temporary workers essentially, civilians, looking at being laid off in the coming days, and the full-time civilian work force, which is about 800,000 people, they are looking at furloughs, furloughed one day a week off the job for the last 22 weeks of the fiscal year.

That basically takes them through September. This looks like if Congress doesn't get a budget deal, it will hit hard, very hard, at the Pentagon -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Hitting every sector of the government. That's for sure. Barbara Starr, thank you so much.

Still ahead, Republicans are complaining that the president is launching a new era of liberalism. We will discuss if there is truth to that. Also, find out what happened after lightning struck a plane in flight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The president is preparing to give his State of the Union address, what, two-and-a-half weeks from now. Republicans already are claiming his second-term agenda is claiming that the era of liberalism is back.

I spoke about that with our senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, editorial director over at "The National Journal."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Listen to highlights from the president's inaugural address that underscore more progressive or liberal agenda potentially.

OBAMA: We will respond to the threat of climate change. A path toward sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition. We must lead it. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity.

BLITZER: All right. He laid out a pretty...

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

BLITZER: ... impressive liberal agenda there.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. And you know what? It's a clear path that goes back over a year now.

If you think about it, from the fight on contraception and health care, to administratively moving to legalizing the DREAM Act students, to comprehensive -- embracing gay marriage, comprehensive immigration reform, gun control, climate change, even women in combat, he has clearly crossed a Rubicon.

Really for most of the past four decades, Democrats have been concerned on many of these issues about going too far and alienating culturally conservative blue-collar older and rural white voters, Well, in 2012, President Obama won reelection despite huge deficits among those voters and I think there's a clear sense of him being unshackled from the coalition and much more reflecting the priorities of what it is the modern Democratic coalition, minorities, millennials, and college-educated socially liberal whites.

I think there is a clear pattern here, a clear challenge for his party and for the Republican Party. BLITZER: Did he surprise you in the inaugural address?

BROWNSTEIN: No. As I said, I think it continues the direction he's going. As John King pointed out, on many of the issues, the congressional politics are difficult. It's difficult to get to 218 in the House and 60 votes in the Senate.

But on the other hand, Wolf, what the president is doing is identifying a kind of solidifying the identification of the Democrats with the priorities of the coalition that has proved a majority in five of the past six presidential elections and there is risk for Republicans here too. If they systematically block the president's initiatives in this area, they kind of deepen the distance between themselves and the growing groups at the core of what have been a Democratic majority.

BLITZER: He faces a tough challenge on guns, but what about on climate change, comprehensive immigration reform, gay marriage? How difficult are those issues going to be?

BROWNSTEIN: Look, the coalitions on these are very similar. The groups that support him and oppose him, the regions that support and oppose him are remarkably similar through the list.

The one where he probably has best prospect is immigration reform, because after this last election, there are enough Republicans, Jeb Bush, for example, writing this week, that see value for the party in trying to settle this. On things like climate and guns, I think it will be much harder to bring along Republicans. But again there is a price here. Even if Republicans do systematically block him on those issues, which they might, that might be good congressional politicians.

Might be a very different story at the presidential level, because these are issues that are supported by the groups at the core of the Democratic coalition, all of which are growing at the share of the electorate and ultimately Republicans have to cut into that if they want to win back the White House.

But what plays at the congressional level may make it tougher for them at the presidential level, even if the president can't pass all of these ideas.

BLITZER: You have a terrific article in "The National Journal" on all of this as well. Ron, thanks very much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, Wolf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Still ahead, actor Burt Reynolds is in intensive care, his condition ahead.

Also, passenger video after a lightning strike forces an emergency landing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

BLITZER: The Republican National Committee chairman agrees that his party has to make major changes. But is he buying the charge that the Republicans have been acting stupidly? I will ask him. We're just learning about a new career move for Sarah Palin. Stand by for that. And a highly contagious virus that is spreading across the country, is it easy to stop? Doctors right now are very worried.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now: Hand sanitizer probably won't protect you from a super-contagious stomach bug. We will tell you five ways that will help you stay healthy.

A new first in Hillary Clinton's relationship with President Obama, as she gets ready to step down as secretary of state.

And New York City apartments get even tinier. Could you live in a space smaller than some hotel rooms? I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Some top Republicans aren't mincing any words about the party's problems during their winter meeting in North Carolina right now. One GOP star is going so far as to suggest that the party has been stupid.

I asked the newly reelected RNC chairman, Reince Priebus, about that and more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And joining us now, Reince Priebus. He's the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Reince Priebus, thanks very much for coming in. And congratulations on getting reelected. How do you feel about that?

REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Yes. Well, I feel great about it. But with a great opportunity, I think that comes incredible responsibility.

BLITZER: Listen to Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana governor, a Republican, maybe someday a presidential candidate. He is mincing no words in criticizing the Republican Party. Listen to this.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: We have got to stop being the stupid party. 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 have had enough of that. We have got to stop insulting the intelligence of voters. We need to trust the smarts of the American people. BLITZER: Brutally tough words from Bobby Jindal, a man you know, a man I know. What is your response to that kind of criticism?

PRIEBUS: I mean, he was my dinner mate at the speech, Wolf. He endorsed me, and we're close friends. And I was one of the guys clapping at his comments.

It's true. I was on your television show when some of those idiotic comments were made. We got to let everybody in the door, Wolf. We have to be a happy party. We have to be a growing party. We are going to have to be positive. We're right on the economics, but I think it's time to inspire with a smile, talk to every American, no matter what state you are in, and start building a party through the concept of addition and multiplication, not division and subtraction.

And I think Bobby and I see totally eye to eye. And that's why I invited him to give that speech.

BLITZER: And you're referring and he was referring to some of those ridiculous comments that Todd Akin gave when he was the Republican senatorial candidate in Missouri. Richard Mourdock made similar comments in Indiana about rape and abortion and women's rights. That really hurt the Republican brand. How do you avoid that down the road?

PRIEBUS: Obviously, some of these things happen, and you can't carpet the world, as much as you try to, and you want everything to be perfectly done and you want candidates to have comments coming out of their mouths that don't embarrass the party,.

But in those particular cases, I think those are one-offs and I think people understand that's not our party. But you know what? This is about moving forward, Wolf, and growing the party. And I think that you will see kind of a renewed resurgence in that sort of, you know, a party that celebrates the American dream, the Constitution, liberty, but we do it by being right on the specifics, but we do it with a smile too.

And I think that is something that you are going to see a lot more of in our party.

BLITZER: Here is another clip from Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana governor. And he specifically mentioned that 47 percent -- you will remember, Mitt Romney referred to that 47 percent in that closed-door dinner that he had last year down in Florida.

Let me play this clip. And then we will discuss.

JINDAL: We have got to compete for every single vote, 47 percent and the 53 percent and, by the way, any other combination that adds up to 100 percent.

(APPLAUSE)

JINDAL: President Obama and the Democrats, they can continue trying to divide America into groups of warring communities with competing interests, but we as Republicans will have none of it. We are going to go after every vote and we're going to work to unite all Americans.

BLITZER: Here's the point I think he was trying to make. The Republicans in the last election lost the vote among women, lost the vote among young people, lost the vote among minorities, especially not only African-Americans, but Hispanics. You won the white male vote basically.

How do you turn that around and bring in new faces into the Republican Party?

PRIEBUS: Well, I think most of that is a real demographic problem.

And I agree with Bobby Jindal. If you look at how we're doing with Hispanics and African-Americans, it wasn't good in November. But you know what? You got to ask for the order in order to make the sale. And that's why I agree with what Bobby said. I said very similar things in my talk today to the RNC, which is that we're going to end the idea of a red state and blue state analysis. Anyone can do this. If you go look at the electoral map of 1988, you'll see California red, Illinois red, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Delaware, Maryland. All red. And so I think what it tells us is that we can compete in every state across America.

We've got 30 governors that represent 315 electoral votes. If Scott Walker and Chris Christie can win in Wisconsin and New Jersey, we can win during the presidential election, too. But we've got to ask for the order, and you can't just do it nine months before a presidential campaign. We've got to start now, and you build by having a consistent, ongoing presence and relationship in communities across America. And I think that captures where this party is going.

BLITZER: It's the first time we've spoken since Colin Powell, himself a Republican, made those brutally candid comments on "Meet the Press," including this. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: There's also a dark -- a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. What do I mean by that? I mean by that is they still sort of look down on minorities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Pretty -- pretty strong words. Go ahead and respond to the former secretary of state.

PRIEBUS: Well, I mean, I respect him a whole lot and his service to our country, but he doesn't speak for our party. I speak for the party, and it's just not the case.

But what I would say is that there's intolerance, and you know, I think in many different aspects of society that always have to be dealt with. I mean -- and so, look, I think that we have work to do. But to me, it's a matter of reaching out. It's a matter of communicating. It's a matter of a consistent, ongoing presence. And that's what we're going to do.

BLITZER: Reince Priebus has just been reelected chairman of the Republican Party. Reince Priebus, stay in close touch with you. Thanks so much for joining us.

PRIEBUS: You bet, Wolf. Thanks.

BOLDUAN: News in the media and political world. Sarah Palin's days as a FOX News Channel analyst seem to be over. A source close to Palin tells CNN's Peter Hamby she was offered a new contract in recent days after her deal expired at the end of the year, but Palin turned it down. A statement from FOX News says the following: "We have thoroughly enjoyed our association with Governor Palin. We wish her the best in her future endeavors."

Start the rumors. What does that mean, Wolf?

BLITZER: We'll have to see where she ends up. Sarah Palin no longer at FOX.

A new strain of a stomach bug spreading right now. One of the most renowned virus experts in the world, Dr. Anthony Fauci, he's standing by live to explain why this illness is hard to avoid.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's getting tough to stay healthy this winter. First the flu epidemic, and now a super-contagious virus.

BOLDUAN: There's no shot you can take to protect yourself from this bug, and other traditional forms of prevention don't seem to work either. Lisa Sylvester is here with some, I guess the unsettling details. Lisa, what are we talking about?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate and Wolf. You know, this is a nasty new strain of the norovirus. It was first detected first in Sydney, Australia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is spreading rapidly in the U.S.

Now, contrast, while the flu is a respiratory illness, the norovirus hits the intestinal tract.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER (voice-over): The norovirus. You may have heard of it before. There have been several major outbreaks on cruise ships in recent years. The norovirus, in layman's term, is a stomach bug. We are at the height of a new season with a new strain.

The norovirus is spread through food or drink that has been contaminated. You can also get it if you touch a contaminated surface or object and then put your hand to your mouth. Symptoms include abdominal cramps, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue. It hits you all of a sudden.

DR. GARY SIMON, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Very contagious. Multiple epidemics of it, and other than cleaning the areas, there's really not a whole lot people can do about it.

SYLVESTER (on camera): The norovirus is so contagious, because it is so hearty. Your typical hand sanitizer, that alone is not going to do it. A typical disinfecting wipe to wipe down surfaces, normally that would be fine, for instance with the flu virus, but not the case with the norovirus. What you really need to do is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. And when you wipe down surfaces, make sure you use a bleach-based solution.

(voice-over): Most people infected recover after a few days. In rare cases it can be fatal, particularly for the very old and very young and those with weaker immune systems. According to the CDC, there are more than 20 million cases of the norovirus each year, resulting in about 800 deaths in the U.S.

SIMON: So infectious and requires such a low concentration of virus, it's rapidly spread through the population. That's why you see outbreaks on cruise ships, dormitories, in places where people are in close contact with one another.

SYLVESTER: Top five ways of protecting yourself, according to the CDC. Wash your hands often. Wash fruits and vegetables. Cook shellfish thoroughly. Clean surfaces and wash soiled laundry. And when you're sick, don't prepare food or care for others.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: So with the flu, you know, you can get a flu shot. But there isn't a vaccination right now for the norovirus, and there is actually no way to treat it, so really, the best bet is prevention.

BLITZER: We'll get into a little bit more details on this right now. It is a serious subject. Lisa, thanks very much.

Let's bring in one of the world's most renowned virus experts, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH. He's joining us right now.

Dr. Fauci, so if you get this norovirus, it hits you, what do you do?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, you try to stay as well-hydrated as you possibly can. As you just mentioned correctly, it's really characterized by explosive vomiting and diarrhea.

One of the problems that you can get into, and this is particularly true with young children and with elderly and some people who have debilitating conditions, just try and stay calm, stay in bed if you have to, and try and keep yourself well hydrated. Because you're likely to lose a considerable amount of fluid. It lasts anywhere from one to three days, and it's really quite distressing. If you've ever had that, you will see this is quite a disturbing illness and can be very serious in certain people.

BLITZER: When you say well-hydrated, you mean water or any fluids? Just have to drink a lot, is that what you're saying?

FAUCI: Well, you have to -- not only water, but you have to have electrolytes. So there are many types of drinks that contain the proper electrolytes. A Gatorade type of a drink, for example. You want to make sure you don't fall into that dehydration situation.

BLITZER: How fatal can it be, and who's most at risk?

FAUCI: Well, it can be fatal. As you just mentioned, we have about 20 million cases a year in the United States, and we have about 70,000 hospitalizations and about 800 deaths.

The people who are most at risk are very young children and the elderly, as well as people with certain debilitated conditions. Those are the ones you've got to be careful to make sure you definitely get them rehydrated. Sometimes having to take them to the hospital and rehydrate them with intravenous as opposed to oral hydration.

BOLDUAN: Dr. Fauci, as we know now, this strain was identified first in Australia back in March. How concerning is it now that it's showing up in the U.S.?

FAUCI: Well, January in the winter is the time when it really peaks. The peak you get, these types of breakouts, is in the winter, and January is a typical month. About every two or three years, the strains change.

One of the very interesting things about this particular virus is that, just like influenza, which is a totally different type of virus, it changes, it mutates. It very easily mutates. So you could be infected one year with one type of norovirus and then a couple of years later, get exposed and being infected again. So it's not like you get infected once, and you're protected for the rest of your life. You can get infected with this multiple times over a lifetime.

BOLDUAN: And is that why so far there is no vaccine for this? Is one being developed? Or is it just a tricky virus?

FAUCI: Well, first of all, it is clearly a tricky virus. But there is a considerable amount of work and a reasonably promising candidate vaccine right now that is being worked on. The NIH was collaborating with a company in the early trials on this, and so far it looks promising, but we don't have a vaccine ready for distribution widely.

BLITZER: It's often called the stomach flu, but it's not really a flu. Is it connected to a flu? Why do we call it a stomach flu?

FAUCI: Well, I don't know why we call it a stomach flu, Wolf, but it is certainly not flu, influenza. People use the word "flu" in a very careless way. Sometimes, as we discussed on this show, people have colds, rhinovirus, adenovirus and say, "I have the flu." Influenza is a very specific disease that, as you know, we are right now in the middle of a relatively severe influenza outbreak.

Calling it the stomach flu is really a misnomer. It has nothing to do with influenza as we classically know it. It's not related at all to influenza.

BLITZER: One final question before we let you go. It's a lot more contagious, though, than the flu, is that right?

FAUCI: Oh, absolutely. It is truly one of the most contagious viruses that inflicts humankind. As few as 17 to 20 particles can infect someone. And when you, for example, have it in the stool or in the vomitus, a gram of it can have billions of particles. So it really is very, very easy to transmit this particular virus.

BLITZER: Dr. Fauci, thanks very much for very important and useful information.

BOLDUAN: Dr. Fauci, thank you so much.

Still ahead, from foes to allies. Coming up, an insider tells me about the moment the ice thawed between President Obama and Hillary Clinton. And the secretary of state has been sporting some new eye wear lately, you may have noticed. But it's not just for fashion. What the glasses have to do with her health ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Just days before Hillary Clinton steps down as secretary of state, she and President Obama are doing something they've never done before, a joint TV interview. Here's a brand-new clip from their sit-down with CBS' Steve Kroft for "60 Minutes" this Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE CROFT, CBS'S "60 MINUTES": Why did you want to do this together, a joint interview?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, the main thing is I just wanted to have a chance to publicly say thank you. Because I think Hillary will go down as one of the finest secretary of states we've had. It has been a great collaboration over the last four years. I'm going to miss her. Wish she was sticking around. But she has logged in so many miles, I can't begrudge her wanting to take it easy for a little bit. I want the country to appreciate just what an extraordinary role she's played during the course of my administration, and a lot of the successes we've had internationally have been because of her hard work.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: A few years ago, it would have been seen as improbable, because we had that very long, hard primary campaign. But, you know, I've gone around the world on behalf of the president and our country. And one of the things that I say to people, because I think it helps them understand, I say, look, in politics and in democracy, sometimes you win elections, sometimes you lose elections. And I worked very hard, but I lost, and then President Obama asked me to be secretary of state, and I said yes. And why did he ask me? Why did I say yes? Because we both love our country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: That interview is giving us another window into the Obama/Clinton relationship that's really been evolving since they were presidential rivals.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have faced questions together before. Here in a 2008 presidential debate with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

OBAMA: I don't want to just end the war, but I want to end the mind-set that got us into war in the first place. That's the kind of leadership I can provide.

CLINTON: And, of course...

BLITZER: Senator Clinton, that's a clear swipe at you.

CLINTON: Really?

BOLDUAN: Back then, it was a very different relationship. In the midst of an already bitter rivalry.

OBAMA: While I was working on those streets, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart.

CLINTON: You were practicing law and representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.

BOLDUAN: But that relationship quickly changed.

CLINTON: I endorse him and throw my full support behind him.

BOLDUAN: Just as Hillary Clinton showed her support for President Obama, Obama showed his faith in Clinton.

OBAMA: I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton is the right person to lead our State Department and to work with me in tackling this ambitious foreign policy agenda.

BOLDUAN: What was Hillary Clinton's initial reaction when you told her, "Look, we're actually considering you as the possibility for secretary of state?"

PHILIPPE REINES, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: She didn't believe it.

BOLDUAN: Philippe Reines is one of Clinton's closest aides.

REINES: I e-mailed her, I think it was, the Friday after election day after hearing it from two reporters, and I'm pretty sure her reply was something along the lines of not for a million reasons.

BOLDUAN: If she was hesitant, why not just say no?

REINES: I think she did or came awfully close. I think the president was very persuasive.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We're delighted to welcome Senator Clinton, secretary of state designate.

BOLDUAN: Clinton was quickly confirmed. But how would she get along with the man who defeated her campaign? Could she work for him?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Everyone expected, including myself, that there would be a lot of division, a lot of Secretary Clinton going behind the president's back.

BOLDUAN (on camera): So was there any tension coming in between the two people at the top?

LABOTT: I think everyone's been surprised.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Surprised that, while Secretary Clinton and President Obama have been separated often as she travels the world, they have maintained a unified front.

REINES: They very early on set a tone of, "This is how it's going to be. She is my secretary of state." And from her point of view, he is our president. And she brooked no anything contrary to that.

BOLDUAN (on camera): So what was that moment that you think crystalized their relationship?

REINES: They were in Denmark for a climate change conference.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Obama and Clinton believed China and other countries resisting a pollution standards agreement were meeting in secret.

REINES: President Obama and Secretary Clinton were talking kind of alone, you know, in some hallway. And he said, "Let's go."

And she said, "Let's go."

BOLDUAN (on camera): So they just kind of barged in?

REINES: They kind barged in. They said, "Hey. Hey, guys, what are you doing?"

BOLDUAN: We're here. REINES: "What's going on here? Yes, we're here." And they got the deal done.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): They got that deal done and went on to three more years sharing success, controversy, even tragedy, as close partners.

REINES: And I think, you know, there are not a lot of people in the world who go through what they do. And, you know, it's the President H.W. Bush/Bill Clinton relationship. It's Carter/Ford. McEnroe/Conners. You know, whatever it is when you're on the court, after the fact you're like, "Hey, you're more like me than not. We're bonding. For good or bad, we've been put together." And it's always going to be like that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: It's really amazing, from rivals to partners and really friends to really watch the evolution under the spotlight of this friendship between these two people over the years.

BLITZER: And the fact that they were willing to go end her -- have her exit interview together with the president on "60 Minutes."

BOLDUAN: I know. Big endorsement which I don't think is going to, again, tamp down any more -- tamp down further any of the rumors about 2016.

BLITZER: I think he's grateful to her legitimately. She's grateful to him legitimately. They built a good relationship.

BOLDUAN: I think they're legitimately surprised about that probably, too.

Also surprising, maybe, to some people, some people have been wondering why Secretary Clinton has started wearing these glasses. These black glasses all the time.

A top aide tells CNN her doctors have actually ordered her to stop wearing her contacts, at least for a while, because of lingering issues after her concussion and blood clot in the head. We're told with her glasses, Clinton sees just fine.

BLITZER: Glasses are very nice. I like her glasses.

Erin Burnett's going "OUTFRONT" with details on a lawsuit involving a Catholic hospital that says fetuses are not people. What's going on here?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. And this is a Catholic hospital, Wolf, that is under a diocese. It is a truly Catholic hospital, not just in name but in practice.

A man and his wife were having twins. She was seven months pregnant and was in the hospital, and they decided not to do a C- section. She ended up dying, as did the two twins. It's a tragic story. There was a wrongful death lawsuit filed. And the defense of that hospital, Wolf, as you said it, fetuses -- fetuses are -- fetuses -- sorry if I'm not saying that right -- are not people. Obviously, it's something that could be perceived as incredibly hypocritical. We have a special investigation on that tonight. We talked to the father.

Plus, Marissa Mayer. Super mom, two-week maternity leave, pretty incredible, setting the standard for all of us women, and she is the rock star of Davos. We have her story coming up.

Back to you.

BLITZER: Looking forward to it right at the top of the hour. Erin, see you then.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, some hotel rooms can be pretty nice. But could you live in a home the size of one?

Up next, how New Yorkers are making the most out of a very small space.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Imagine if you had only this much space to live in. Not much space at all. your bedroom, your bathroom, your kitchen, all in about only 300 square feet.

BOLDUAN: Wow. It may seem small, and believe me, we're standing in it. It does seem small. But maybe not in New York City anymore. Let's bring in Mary Snow who has details.

Mary, this is a very small space.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And you know, Kate and Wolf, when you ask New Yorkers, they already joke that they live in apartments the size of closets. But even so, the city seems room to downsize. It's planning to add micro apartments to make space for the growing number of people living alone.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): In a city tight on living space things are about to get even tighter.

(on camera): This one room is living room, bedroom...

DONALD ALBRECHT, CURATOR, MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK: Dining room.

SNOW: Everything.

ALBRECHT: Everything.

SNOW (voice-over): These full-time living quarters are what's called a micro-apartment. Squeezed into an area the size of a modest hotel room.

ALBRECHT: And there's the bed unit, and then, if you don't want to look at the television, you have a bar. At the same time you have a work space. And you have a desk. There are traditional ideas that have been updated in a very modern, sexy, Italian way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can do this. Sort of.

SNOW: Pay a visit to some New Yorkers who already live in tiny spaces. That modern sleekness may be tough to maintain.

ALBRECHT: Clothes come down.

SNOW: This micro-apartment, which is a museum exhibit, is 325 square feet. Regulations currently require a minimum of 400 square feet for new units.

But the city's going to bend that rule for a pilot project to build 55 micro-apartments, making space for more people and reserving nearly half just for low- and middle-income residents.

Museum of the City of New York curator Donald Albrecht says New York is following the lead of other places like Tokyo and Hong Kong.

(on camera): Why the need for these kind of apartments?

ALBRECHT: Because the city's going to have 600,000 more people, and a lot of those people are going to be single. And so they want smaller units that they can afford.

SNOW: What may buy a house in other parts of the country won't get you far in New York City. One major realtor in New York says the average price for a studio apartment is roughly $300,000.

PAMELA LIEBMAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, THE GROUP: The average price here is $1.4 million. And for that you're getting just a small apartment. So even though this seems really expensive, for New York, it's a bargain.

SNOW: A bargain for someone who thinks outside the box but is willing to live in one.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Those prices are if you're owning. But rent, market rate for studio runs about $2,000 plus, as some of those realtors.

Now, this week the city announced the winner of a contest among architects to build the micro-units. They're expected to be ready in 2015 -- Wolf and Kate.

BLITZER: Small, small apartment. But you know what? It's in Manhattan. You don't have to commute. It's pretty cool.

BOLDUAN: You do what you've got to do. You know, you just maybe spend a lot less time at home. BLITZER: That's it for us. Thanks very much for watching. Remember, you can follow us on Twitter. You can tweet me @WolfBlitzer.

BOLDUAN: You can tweet me, @KateBolduan.

BLITZER: "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.