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THE SITUATION ROOM

Interview with Hillary Clinton; "He Was My Best Friend"

Aired January 29, 2013 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, Hillary Clinton's exit interview -- the outgoing secretary of State talks to CNN about the latest turmoil in the Middle East and her legacy at home and abroad.

An Iraq War veteran who lost all four limbs to a roadside bomb shows off his new arms from a pioneering transplant that's giving him new hope.

And the upcoming Super Bowl features a sibling rivalry that's certain to become part of the history of famous brothers.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Hillary Clinton is winding down her time as the secretary of State amid new chaos in the Middle East and new questions about her future. She just sat down for an exit interview with CNN's foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, and our foreign affairs reporter, Elise Labott.

Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: And thanks to both of you. I've enjoyed having you be part of the flying circus which has...

(LAUGHTER)

... Traversed the globe, and appreciate the attention that CNN pays to international news stories. It makes a big difference.

JILL DOUGHERTY, HOST: It's great to hear that.

ELISE LABOTT, HOST: Thank you for coming.

DOUGHERTY: Well, in typical CNN style, let's begin with the news. Egypt... CLINTON: Yes.

DOUGHERTY: Turmoil.

CLINTON: Yes.

DOUGHERTY: Sixty people, approximately, dead. The head of the army says that the state could actually fall apart, disintegrate.

Is he right?

CLINTON: Well, I hope not, because I think that would lead to incredible chaos and violence on a scale that would be devastating for Egypt and the region. But there has to be some understanding by the new government that the aspirations that the people were expressing during the revolution in Egypt have to be taken seriously. And it -- it cannot in any way be overlooked that there is a large number of Egyptians who are not satisfied with the direction of the economy and the political reform.

This is not an easy task. I have to jump in and say that, you know, we can sit here and talk about it from a distance. It's very difficult going from a closed regime and a one -- essentially one-man rule to a democracy that is trying to be born and learn to walk.

But there are some clear lessons. You have to represent all of the people and the people have to believe that. You have to have the rule of law that applies to everyone, not just to some of the people. You have to have a constitution that respects and recognizes the rights of all people and doesn't in any way marginalize any group.

So I think the messages and the actions coming from the leadership, you know, have to be changed in order to give people confidence that they're on the right path to the kind of future they seek.

DOUGHERTY: Let's move to Benghazi. There have been a lot of questions. You've answered a lot of questions. But there's one in particular, you know, the signs were there. The British ambassador had been attacked. The walls of the embassy had been breached.

Why didn't you connect the dots, ask the question, wasn't it too dangerous for Chris Stevens, the ambassador, who was one of the most valuable people you had in that region?

Why didn't you ask those questions?

CLINTON: Well, we were certainly aware of the increasing threat environment. I -- I not only was briefed on that, I testified to that effect. And there were constant evaluations going on.

But no one -- not the ambassador, security professionals, the intelligence community -- ever recommended closing that mission.

And the reason they didn't was because the ongoing threat environment had, up until the spring before our terrible attack in Benghazi, been a result of post-conflict conditions. That -- that is something that we're familiar with all over the world.

Yes, there were some attacks, as you have said. But our evaluation of them and the recommendation by the security professionals was that those were all manageable, because we have a lot of that around the world. I mean, there is a long list of attacks that have been foiled, assassination plots that have been prevented.

So this is not some, you know, one-off event. This is considered in a -- in an atmosphere of a lot of threats and dangers.

And at the end of the day, you know, there was a decision made that this would be evaluated, but it would not be closed. And, unfortunately, we know what happened.

LABOTT: Madam Secretary, I want to read you the headline of a -- of an article in the "L.A. Times" today. It said, 'Hillary Clinton's Legacy at State: Splendid, But not Spectacular.'

(LAUGHTER)

LABOTT: That you were hugely popular in this administration and around the world, but some of these big ticket items that we've been mentioning, particularly the Middle East, Iran, North Korea, not solved, still intractable, and maybe even worse, in some instances.

Is that how you see your legacy, hugely popular but didn't solve these horrible issues?

CLINTON: Well, I think that could be said about nearly every administration and certainly every secretary of State, because when you come into office, you inherit the world that it is in reality, not the way you wish it would be.

And I think we have to go back to my beginning, in January of 2009, to remember how poorly perceived the United States was, how badly damaged our reputation was, how our leadership was in question, how the economic crisis had really shaken people's confidence in our government, our economic system, our country.

Part of my job in the very beginning was to get around the world and restore confidence in American leadership, sometimes against some pretty tough odds, because there were a lot of people pointing fingers at us, particularly over the financial crisis.

But it was important to stabilize the situation, which I think we did. I know the president was talking about that in an interview we did the other day, that, you know, let's be realistic here about what the conditions were. We had the war in Iraq that had to be wound down. We had a troop request for 30,000 troops sitting on the president's desk the first day he walked into office. We had so many...

LABOTT: You had a full plate.

CLINTON: ... Serious problems. And I don't think anybody can argue with what we did to try to set the table. And then what did we do with that?

You know, you can go down the list, and whether it's how we handled the Arab Spring and the work that had to be done in order to try to prevent even more serious challenges, how we put together international coalitions to inflict the toughest sanctions on Iran and North Korea, not that those are solved. But, you know, diplomacy is sometimes, you know, building on steps one after the other -- opening to Burma, pivoting to Asia, working to really strengthen our ties in Europe and Latin America and Africa.

I'm very proud of what we've done.

But equally so, we began to practice diplomacy in a different way. You know, not that we jettisoned everything that had been done before, but we added new tools in the tool box.

We also expanded the aperture.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

BLITZER: Much more of the interview with the secretary of State, the outgoing secretary of State, coming up.

We're going to also take a closer look at this exit interview, her legacy as secretary of State.

Much more on Hillary Clinton here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Also, an example of the country's deep divisions over gun control, as the father of a 6-six-year-old massacre victim is interrupted at a public hearing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's take a closer look at the secretary of State, Hillary Clinton's, exit interview with CNN, her legacy, her political future.

Joining us now, two CNN contributors, the Democratic pollster, Cornell Belcher, and the former Bush White House speechwriter, David Frum.

Her legacy, she's very popular, Hillary Clinton. But her legacy over these four years, what she accomplished as secretary of State, David Frum, what -- what do you think about that?

DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: The Obama administration and Secretary Clinton were dealt a harsh hand. They inherited a lot of problems.

But they are leaving behind a lot of problems.

The interview dealt with the situation in the Middle East.

I think we really have to stop calling the events in the Middle East the Arab Spring, because spring is the season of hope and renewal and things clearly are getting worse and worse and worse there.

On the situation in Egypt, the situation in Syria, all of those completely unresolved, except for Egypt, which seems to be fast deteriorating.

The interview dealt with what's going on in the EU. The Europeans, led at the behest of Germany, have made a series of decisions about how to handle their currency crisis that have pushed us deeper into a global recession. And they have not listened to the United States.

I think the Obama administration has given them some good advice on what to do, but they have not heeded it. They've taken a different course and our economy is worse as a result.

BLITZER: Early on in the Obama administration, Cornell, as you remember, the president basically delegated two very sensitive issues to special envoys, Richard Holbrooke on Afghanistan and Pakistan, George Mitchell on the Middle East peace process, effectively taking that away from the secretary of State.

Was that a mistake?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, I don't think that was a mistake. I think if you look at sort of the overarching sort of arc of our foreign policy over the last couple of years, look, we just had an election where, for the first time I can think of, Democrats had a -- actually had a sizable advantage on Republicans on the issues of foreign policy and keeping us safe.

Hillary Clinton played a large role in that.

If you look at -- I agree with you on the Arab Spring. God only knows what that's going to -- that's going to turn into. But I think if you look at her steady leadership, getting rid of Gadhafi, more -- you know, Iran's more isolated now, North Korea is more isolated now, I think she does have a fairly good record to run on.

However, I know the big question is going to be what's going to happen in 2016?

And I'm going to tell you right now, what she did as secretary of State, while she had a lot of good accomplishments, is not going to play very much of a large role in whether or not she runs for president, because Americans actually don't pay that much attention to foreign policy when it comes to our presidential elections.

BLITZER: If she's healthy -- and that's obviously still a question out there, given the concussion, the blood clot in her head. If she's healthy, do you have any doubt that she's still thinking about being the first woman president of the United States?

FRUM: Well, I have -- I have no idea what is in her head. She certainly has a strong institutional position in the Democratic Party, and probably much stronger than Joe Biden does.

But the foreign policy -- the foreign policy will loom large. And I think if she's -- especially if she is the candidate.

I mean we'll ask the question, so what did the Obama administration's Afghanistan surge accomplish, exactly?

They sent tens of thousands of additional troops. They spent a lot of money. We are going to be out of Afghanistan by 2017 with no better --

BLITZER: Supposedly by 2014. Yes. End of 2014.

FRUM: But with no better outcome than if we had not done the surge in the first place. It's like the children's nursery rhyme, marching the troops 10,000 men up the hill and march them down again, what did that accomplish? And there's going to be a lot of questions about Libya. One of the reasons this Benghazi inquiry is so painful is it raises the question, what really happened in Libya?

If Libya is a playground for radical gangs after the overthrow of Gadhafi, was it such a good idea to have gone to that war in the first place?

BLITZER: And you're saying, Cornell, she runs these issues are not going to be major factors --

CORNELL BELCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: One, I think, if you look at sort of what's happening the way the president and Hillary Clinton sort of winding down our very unpopular wars in Afghanistan and sort of pulling back in Iraq, I think most of the general public agrees with that. And quite frankly, if you look at her favorables and look at her approvals, it's in the 60s.

I mean, when was the last time we had such a favorable secretary of state? And by the way, before she was secretary of state, her favorables were in the 50s. So, it's quite a turnaround from where she was. The Americans -- she exits as a larger figure than she entered with. And for 2016, no, I actually don't think it's going to play that large.

I know Republicans are sort of harping on Benghazi right now, but most Americans see as a tragedy and they're not going to decide whether or not she's a good candidate based on Benghazi.

BLITZER: Have you noticed the Super PAC is already being created entitled "Ready for Hillary," urging her to run for president? Raising money already, obviously, to spend some money. Are you surprised by that?

BELCHER: No, I'm not surprised at all. I think, you know, the way that -- look, I'm a consultant. I get money from -- I earn a living from this process. There's too much money in this process right now that the fact that we're having conversations about Super PACs raising millions and millions of dollars, and we could very well have a billion dollar presidential race somewhere in that the voice of the people and democracy, I think, more broadly has lost.

BLITZER: Let's talk about Massachusetts for a second while I have you. Scott Brown. You think he's the former senator for Massachusetts who lost to Elizabeth Warren. Is he going to run when there's election? I think it's going to be some time at the end of June?

FRUM: He certainly is looking like he's getting ready. He's a very active presence in social media. He has played very cautiously on some of these issues. He has not followed the temptation that some out of office Republicans do making his message more extreme with a view to career in media. He has kept his message quite moderate. I think that's just with a beautiful career in politics.

BLITZER: If he faces Ed Markey, the long-time Democratic congressman from Massachusetts who wants to be the next senator from -- elected senator, there'll be an interim senator that the governor, Deval Patrick, will name for the next few months. That could be pretty exciting race between Ed Markey and Scott Brown.

BELCHER: I think it will be an exciting race. The key to that, however, is, I think, in looking at Democrats and, you know, senatorial race is coming with not Obama on the ticket is that the Obama coalition that sort of turns out only for Obama, I think Democrats have to understand that that's a coalition that they have to work at.

If the electorate looks like it looked in 2012, I think Democrats do well. If they look like they did in 2010, they don't do so well. The key to any Democrat, including Hillary Clinton, is to be able to cobble together that Obama coalition.

BLITZER: What do you think of that? Who would win that race, do you think? Massachusetts is a pretty Democratic state.

FRUM: Yes. What I would worry about for Scott Brown is Massachusetts has a tradition of sending Republicans to be governors in Beacon Hill, to keep an eye on a very dysfunctional and free- spending statehouse. But it's been a long time since they have sent a Republican to national office. It's a very liberal state, but one that is appropriate mistrustful of his Democratic legislature.

BLITZER: A source close to Scott Brown tells CNN, and I'll quote the source, "Scott is undecided. I think he's going to wait for an actual vacancy to be declared and for an election date to be set."

BELCHER: I bet he runs.

BLITZER: Just being confirmed, 94-3 in the Senate, three Republicans voting against confirmation. There will be a vacancy.

(LAUGHTER)

FRUM: There may be governor's races in the year ahead that he may be interested in and that may be more promising for --

BLITZER: For Scott Brown?

FRUM: For a Republican in Massachusetts. That is a good race for Republicans in Massachusetts.

BELCHER: He does enter with high name identification recognition in a way that the other candidate will have to spend to catch up with. So, that's always an advantage.

BLITZER: Guys, thanks very much for coming in.

FRUM: Thank you.

We're going to have much more on CNNs exit interview with secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, including what she says about running for president in 2016. That's coming up in our next hour right here in the SITUATION ROOM.

Son was killed in Newtown, Connecticut, school massacre. Now, the grieving father is heckled when he speaks out for enforcement of gun laws.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heslin, please continue

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We turn now to a plea for enforcement of gun laws from a father who lost his six-year-old son in the Newtown, Connecticut, school massacre. It came at a hearing in Connecticut and what happen next shows just how deeply split the country is on this issue. CNN national correspondent, Jason Carroll, is joining us now. Jason, what is this all about?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, Wolf, let me just tell you, there's a lot of emotion on dealing with this particular issue. The community is still healing. Parents are still grieving. And so, that's why I think what you saw when you had some 1,000 people who pack the Connecticut legislative office for a hearing on gun violence.

Several hours of testimony was filled with emotion as parents whose children were killed in the Sandy Hook shooting spoke about the issue. They brought in pictures of their children and held them as they spoke. Neil Heslin whose six-year-old son, Jesse, was killed says he supports more gun control. And Wolf, he talked for several minutes and then he paused after posing a question why anyone would need an assault weapon. Gun advocates in the audience then shouted their response, the Second Amendment. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEIL HESLIN, FATHER OF NEWTOWN VICTIM: My name is Neil Heslin. Jesse Lewis was my son. He was a victim in Sandy Hook. He was my son, he was my buddy, he was my best friend. And I never thought I'd be here speaking like this asking for changes on my son's behalf and I never thought I'd be (INAUDIBLE)

The happiest day of my life was the day he was born. He's my only son, my only family. And the worst day of my life was the day I had -- when this happened and I buried him.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heslin, please continue.

HESLIN: We're not living in the Wild West. We're not a third- world nation. We have the strongest military in the world. We don't need to defend our home with weapons like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: It's tough to tell from that audio there, but when you saw Heslin pause there for a moment when he turned around, Wolf, that's when you had those folks there in the audience who were shouting out about the Second Amendment.

Also in the audience, Mark Mattioli son James who was also six years old. He was also killed in the Sandy Hook shooting. Mattioli attended the hearing and he says more laws may not be the answer here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK MATTIOLI, FATHER OF SANDY HOOK VICTIM: How do we expect to have any impact on a society and say, we're going to pass a law? Hey, this is an inexcusable. We can't allow anymore of this. Let's pass a law that will change the course of the future when we don't enforce the laws that we have on the books, the most important laws.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: Again, this hearing taking place by a bipartisan task force as it tries to come up with recommendations for lawmakers. Connecticut lawmakers are considering legislation that would limit large magazines to 10 rounds from 30 and banning certain types of ammunition. A lot of folks there in the audience there from Newtown. So, you can imagine, Wolf, why there's so much emotion on both sides of this issue.

BLITZER: I know Jason you had a chance to speak with some representatives from the gun industry. What did they say?

CARROLL: One man in particular, Joe Bartozi (ph), got him on the phone today. He's a gun manufacturer, Wolf. He was in the audience for part of the hearing, and I asked him what he thought about all of it.

Did he feel as though his point got across and he actually supports improving background checks but, once again, he feels as though increasing the legislation may not exactly be what is in order here. But he did say that he understands why so many people feel so passionate on both sides of the issue.

BLITZER: Jason Carroll, thanks very much for that report.

The death toll is climbing in that devastating Brazil nightclub fire. Lisa Sylvester is here. She's monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, what's the latest?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, a forensic official is now confirming that 234 people have died in the wake of that fire. That is up from the previous number of 231. 118 people remain hospitalized, many of whom suffered severe burns and smoke inhalation. Police have arrested four people and questioned 20 others. The club was filled the twice its legal capacity at the time of that fire.

A federal judge has approved a $4 billion guilty plea from BP for crimes related to that devastating 2010 oil rig explosion, including manslaughter. The fine which both BP and the justice department agreed on months ago is the largest criminal penalty in U.S. history. Eleven workers were killed in the blast which triggered one of the worst oil spills this country has ever seen.

And this may look like a giant soap and bath, but, look again. It is actually amazing video from Australian television showing a sea of foam washing up along the coast in unprecedented amount. This foam is actually a bizarre byproduct of massive flooding slamming the region right now.

But you can see there on those pictures. The kids certainly seem to be having fun with it. But further out, the turning water is reportedly making for dangerous conditions, but looks like those kids -- yes, looks like they're in a gigantic bathtub in there.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Lisa. We're going to make a serious turn when we come back as the U.S. steps up humanitarian aid for Syria. Dozens, dozens of bodies are pulled from a river slain execution-style. We're going to have the latest on the crisis that seemingly is defying hope for a resolution.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Another day of mass killings in Syria. Activists reporting dozens of execution-style deaths at the hands of the government. The United States has stepped up its humanitarian aid for the country but the pleas for more money are only getting louder with no end to the fighting in sight. Not.

Our correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is in Beirut. He has his report but first a warning. His report contains images that may be disturbing to some viewers.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Aleppo was seven months ago the peaceful commercial hub of Syria and today woke to find itself a site of yet another horrifying massacre.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH (voice-over): Walking along Aleppo's River Queiq this morning, the bodies rarely stopped. Pulled from the muddy water. Young, shot at point blank in the head, too gruesome to show here. Whether they floated into or were killed in this rebel territory, nobody knew. But they kept coming. Sixty-five, then 91. As the river held forth another massacre.

Aleppo again dealt with the industrial scale of death. The regime reportedly blaming rebels, rebels blaming the regime, and its feared Air Force Intelligence Service who activists said have detained many of the dead.

How and when does it stop was the question in Paris hours earlier as opposition leaders told donors they need half a billion dollars just to get a government together even though alone they still can't agree on a prime minister.

Time running out not just inside Syria but outside where refugees Tuesday numbered 700,000.

Barack Obama moving to answer those who say America must do more.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've approved an additional $155 million in humanitarian aid for people in Syria and refugees fleeing the violence. Here I want to speak directly to the people of Syria.

This new aid will mean more warm clothing for children and medicine for the elderly. Flour and wheat for your families and blankets, boots, and stoves for those huddled in damaged buildings. It will mean health care for victims of sexual violence and field hospitals for the wounded.

WALSH: Other donors will be asked for more Tuesday in Kuwait as the bombs will surely continue to fall around Damascus and the shells fly, as the unimaginable numbers of dead found in fall graves grow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH: Wolf, of course, in the last four nights, Aleppo's university was also bombed. Eighty-seven dead there. Over 100 injured. The U.N. recently adjusting its death toll to 60,000 for this 22-month long conflict. This seems to get deadlier and deadlier as each month passes -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you.

The longtime Massachusetts Senator John Kerry has just been confirmed overwhelmingly by the United States Senate as the country's 68th secretary of state. The vote was 94 in favor, three Republicans opposing.

Kerry is the first new member of President Obama's second-term Cabinet to be confirmed. He'll replace the outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. So -- so far, what's going on as far as the Cabinet is concerned? How far is President Obama gotten on his Cabinet appointments?

Look at this. This was the Cabinet as President Obama began his second term last week but less than half the Cabinet members are definitely staying on. We still don't know what a couple of them are planning on doing while half a dozen Cabinet members are on their way out or already gone like the Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The president has nominated three replacements so far -- John Kerry, Jack Lew, and Chuck Hagel. And as we just mentioned, Kerry is the first to be confirmed as the next secretary of state.

As President Obama gives his full support to an overhaul of U.S. immigration laws, we're going to hear from a sharp critic of comprehensive immigration reform who says that effort amounts to amnesty for illegal immigrants.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: President Obama is giving his full support to a bipartisan effort by U.S. senators to reform U.S. immigration law as the president says now is the time to replace the system he describes as out of date and badly broken.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We have to deal with the 11 million individuals who are here illegally. We all agree that these men and women should have to earn their way to citizenship. But for comprehensive immigration reform to work, it must be clear from the outset that there is a pathway to citizenship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Joining us now is Congressman Lou Barletta, a Republican from Pennsylvania. He poses these comprehensive immigration proposals as long favored cracking down on illegal immigrants.

Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.

REP. LOU BARLETTA (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Thanks, Wolf. Good to talk with you.

BLITZER: What's wrong with the bipartisan proposals put forward in the Senate? Marco Rubio has been working with Democrats, John McCain, Lindsey Graham. They're all Republicans. Why do you disagree with them that there should be a pathway to citizenship eventually down the road after overcoming many hurdles for these 11 million or so illegal immigrants?

BARLETTA: Well, to put it in simple terms, Wolf, at home, in your home, you wouldn't replace the carpet while you still had a hole in the roof. And that's exactly what we're doing. Making a proposal like this will only make the problem worse. This is an invitation for millions of people to come to the United States illegally to take advantage of the benefits that being an American citizen has.

We need to put the first things first and that's make sure our borders are secure, make sure we can track people when their visas expire, make sure we have a mandatory e-Verify program in place so that illegal immigrants cannot take jobs away from American people and that's what we should be talking about, not a pathway to citizens that will only make this matter much worse.

BLITZER: But Marco Rubio, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, other Republicans, who are working with the Democrats, they support getting much tougher on border security, as you do. Why are they wrong in trying to work some sort of comprehensive immigration reform legislation right now?

BARLETTA: Well, this is 1986 all over again, Wolf. At that time, if you remember, the American people were told that this will be a one-time deal where 1.5 million Americans, illegal aliens, will get amnesty and it ended up being three million. Now we're talking about 10 to 12 million will have a pathway to citizenship at a time when we do not have our borders secure which means that that number will grow by millions.

This is at a time when 22 million Americans are at work -- out of work and the people who are hurt by this the most are the legal immigrants, those that came here for a better opportunity here in the United States and we're now going to bring in millions of people that compete for their jobs or, worse yet, put them out of a job.

BLITZER: But these people are already here. What do you want to do with these 11 million people?

BARLETTA: Well, I want to -- I want to --

(LAUGHTER)

I want to do first things first. And that's what I was taught when I was a little boy, is make sure we secure the borders. That's what we should be talking about, making sure we can track people when their visas expire and make sure we enforce the laws we already have.

Immigration laws were put in place for two reasons. One, to protect the American worker and, two, to protect the American people. This is a national security issue. I want to know how DHS could possibly administer this program and do background checks on 12 million illegal aliens.

The devil is in the details and we really need to be honest with the American people because we'll only be talking about this again five or 10 years down the road and it will be more than we're talking about now.

BLITZER: Well, Congressman, I don't think you answered the question. What would you do with those 11 million people?

BARLETTA: Well, the answer, Wolf, is we need to do first is make sure that the 11 million doesn't turn into 20 million, and we need to enforce the laws we have.

BLITZER: Sir, what would you do with the --

(CROSSTALK)

BARLETTA: And that's -- and that's what I would do.

BLITZER: What would you do with those 11 million people?

BARLETTA: Well, when -- first thing we should do is enforce the laws and that's -- that would start to take care of the 11 million because when someone commits a crime here in the United States, they are to be deported. That's the laws we already have on the books. So if we enforce those laws, we'll begin to see this problem diminish because we will be, as we should be doing, enforcing the laws and make sure that the people that are here are here legally and not taking jobs illegally.

And we will see the problem begin to diminish but we can't do that or we shouldn't even be talking about that until we make sure that this number won't increase like it did in 1986 and the problem will be worse.

BLITZER: Here's what you were quoted as saying in the "Morning Call" newspaper in Pennsylvania. I'll read it to you.

"Anyone who believes that they are going to win over the Latino vote is grossly mistaken. The majority that are here illegally are low-skilled or may not even have a high school diplomas."

So what does that mean? What did you mean by that?

BARLETTA: Well, what I'm saying, Wolf, is that many that came here illegally are working in lower paying jobs. In fact, there's an estimate that 60 percent -- up to 60 percent may not have a high school diploma either in their own country or here in the United States, which means they will be dependent and need many of the government programs.

So a recent study by the Heritage Foundation stated that by creating a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal aliens will cost the American taxpayers, and this is net, after tax revenue is realized, $2.6 trillion. And that's in costs in Medicare, Social Security, unemployment compensation, food stamps and other welfare programs.

That's a Heritage Foundation study. So the bottom line is, we're trying to balance the budget in Washington that we'll balance in 10 years but we're not taking into account the $2.6 trillion that it will cost by creating a pathway to citizenship and that number may increase, Wolf, if we don't have our borders secured.

BLITZER: So one final question, because a lot of Republicans say they are looking at the fastest growing vote out there, the Hispanic vote across the country, and Republicans, at least in the last presidential election, the one before 2008, didn't do very well. They are obviously anxious to reach out to Latino voters out there. Are you saying that you want to just forget about that vote?

BARLETTA: No. What I'm saying, Wolf, is that anyone that believes that immigration or illegal immigration is the most important issue to the Latino population in America is grossly mistaken. It is an issue but it's not the most important issue to Latinos.

Listen, the people who are hurt the most are the immigrants that are here, those that came here for an opportunity, for a better education, for their children, for a better life. We're making them compete for jobs. We're taking away that opportunity that America is supposed to be offering them.

That's the message we should be giving to the Latino voters. Simply granting amnesty is not the most important things in their lives. They want a good job and they want good education for their children, just like you and I.

BLITZER: But very quickly, they're not just simply being granted amnesty, they've got to pay taxes, they've got to make sure they've not committed any crimes. They've got to learn English. There are a whole bunch of steps that have been put forward before they would be eligible for that pathway to citizenship and they basically also --

BARLETTA: Well --

BLITZER: -- according to the Senate legislation, be put at the end of the line.

BARLETTA: Well, I don't know what that means back in the end of the line because if I read it correctly, everyone can stay, they can keep a job here in the United States, they don't have to leave. So I don't know how -- I don't know what the back of the line means --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: For citizenship. It means for citizenship.

BARLETTA: Well, if you look at the proposal, there's a lot that has to happen and I don't know if it could ever happen, a background check, I know as a former mayor, how long, how difficult it is to do a criminal background check, a proper background check, to make sure that no one slips through the cracks here for national security reasons.

I don't know how the DHS can possibly administer all of the proposals -- everything that's in this proposal, if I understand it correctly, they must learn English, they must learn civics, they must have background checks. How will they administer this? How will this ever be done? And will they be on a probationary amnesty or legal status indefinitely?

BLITZER: They'll be on that legal status, obviously, until they get citizenship if indeed qualify for citizenship.

We're going to continue this conversation, Congressman, but it was good of you to join us. I'm glad we got your perspective. BARLETTA: Thank you.

BLITZER: Here in the SITUATION ROOM.

Representative Lou Barletta is a Republican from Pennsylvania.

BARLETTA: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: He's a member of the House Homeland Security Committee as well.

He was the first U.S. service member to lose all four limbs in combat and survive. Now he's making history again.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The U.S. war veteran lost all four of his limbs in battle. Now thanks to a groundbreaking double transplant surgery, he has arms and a new chance at life, all dramatic developments.

Lisa Sylvester has this extraordinary report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brandon Marrocco has had two recent miracles in his life. First, he survived. In 2009, his armored vehicle was hit by a bomb in Iraq. He lost both legs and both arms, becoming the first U.S. service member to live through a quadruple amputation.

But now another miracle. Marrocco has two new arms, transplanted six weeks ago by doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

BRENDAN MARROCCO, DOUBLE ARM TRANSPLANT RECIPIENT: It's given me a lot of hope for the future. I feel like I'm getting a second chance to start over after I got hurt. I remember the -- when they had first taken the breathing tube out, I think the first thing I said was, "I love you." I was just happy. You know, I was happy that surgery was over and I had arms.

SYLVESTER: A complicated surgery that involved connecting bones, blood vessels, nerves and muscles from a deceased donor to Marrocco's own. He's only the seventh person in the U.S. to have successful double hand transplants. For Johns Hopkins Hospital, this is a first surgery of its kind. Doctors say he was the perfect candidate, upbeat and optimistic.

MARROCCO: Since I got hurt, I still thought of myself as being normal. I hated the word "handicapped." I never really looked at it like that, so I'm just looking forward to doing everything I would have wanted to do over the last four years.

SYLVESTER: Even something ordinary like scratching his face is a victory. Marrocco says he can't fully feel his new arms, but he is gaining function. He's able to text and comb his hair. Doctors say in a few years there's very little he won't be able to do. DR. JAMIE SHORES, JOHN HOPKINS HOSPITAL: I think he'll be able to try and throw a football. I don't know how -- if he'll be hitting, you know, 60-yard runs like Joe Flacco was able to do against the Broncos but -- you know, but I suspect he'll get there.

SYLVESTER: First up on his list that he wants to do? Driving his Dodge Charger SR-T8.

MARROCCO: Yes, it's the car. You know?

(LAUGHTER)

I can't give up because I haven't driven it yet. No, I think it's just -- it's just kind of who I am. You know, I never really gave up on too much that really mattered to me.

SYLVESTER: Marrocco says the first person he wants to shake hands, that is, after his doctors, country music star Blake Shelton. Right now, he has enough use of his new arms to give his mom a hug this way.

MICHELLE MARROCCO, MOTHER: You know, for now. You know, when he's able to -- you know, he can't lift. We'll get there. He's a tough cookie, without a doubt. He's not changed that and he's just taken it and made it an art form. You know, he's never going to stop. He's going to be that boy I always knew was going to be a pain in my butt forever and he's going to show people how to live their life.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: Now there actually was a third miracle. I said two miracles at the beginning of that story, but the nonprofit group, Building Homes for Heroes, they built a house for him back in 2011 on Staten Island.

Now you can take a look at these pictures. I shows the destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy, but his house is still standing with only minimal damage.

Wolf, pretty amazing story.

BLITZER: Absolutely. The third nice miracle that his house survived Sandy.

SYLVESTER: You know, you clearly get the sense, this guy must have been born under a lucky star. Because the fact that he is still alive today, I mean, he lost both arms, he lost both legs. He is still alive today, and then of course to have that surgery, the successful surgery, having new arms, and then on top of that, his house was spared by Superstorm Sandy -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We wish him only the best and we thank him for his service as well.

Lisa, thanks for sharing that report with our viewers. We're going to have much more on CNN's exit interview with the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, including what she says about possibly running for president in 2016. That's coming up right at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, Hillary Clinton opens up to CNN about her next adventure and how her husband and daughter may be involved.

The president reveals he has a plan B if the new push for immigration reform stalls in Congress.

Yankees' star Alex Rodriguez responds to bombshell allegations about a Miami clinic and performance enhancing drugs.

And American woman, the mother of two mysteriously vanishes during a vacation overseas.

And we'll talk to a survivor of a plane crash in the icy Hudson River as he listens to that 911 call that helped save his life.

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

Hillary Clinton is certainly used to getting lots of attention, good and bad, after decades in the national political spotlight. But in her last few days as secretary of state, there's enormous interest in her, both personally and politically. And of course, everyone wants to know if she'll run for president again.