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Dr. Ben Carson: I Apologize; Think Before You Tweet

Aired March 29, 2013 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jake, thanks very much. Happening now, is it something in the water? There's been a series of some insensitive comments, downright slurs, and now, hasty apologies from a pair of United States congressmen. Also, some words coming from a rising political star. I'll speak to that star, Dr. Ben Carson. He's the well-known neurosurgeon.

He's now become a darling of the right about the words he chose to use this week when discussing the very sensitive issue of gay marriage.

And President Obama flew down to Florida today to talk jobs, but he also talked sports in what has suddenly become the center of the basketball universe.

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

We heard some extraordinary language this week which many found deeply offensive, coming from a very highly respected physician, Dr. Benjamin Carson. He, himself, is well-known having had an extraordinary background, rising from poverty to head pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins University Hospital. He's recently become a hero to the Republican right after criticizing the president's agenda at the national prayer breakfast with the president sitting right next to him.

But now, he's taking some heat for what some regard as incendiary comments about gay marriage. We invited Dr. Ben Carson to join us now from Baltimore and here he is. Dr. Carson, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Let me play the clip. You were on "The Sean Hannity Show" last night. This has generated a lot of controversy, and then, we'll discuss. Listen to what you said.


CARSON: Marriage is between a man and a woman. It's a well- established, fundamental pillar of society. And, no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality. It doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition. So, it's not something that's against gays. It's against anybody who wants to come along and change the fundamental definitions of pillars of society.


BLITZER: All right. You said that actually on Tuesday to Sean Hannity, and it's causing a lot of controversy. And I want to give you a chance, Dr. Carson, to explain what you meant because it sounded like you were lumping in gay marriage with basically criminal activity whether its bestiality or the man/boy love association. Go ahead and explain.

CARSON: Sure. OK. Well, first of all, let me say that my comments are my opinion. They have nothing to do with Johns Hopkins. Secondly, you know, I have always advocated equality for everyone. As a Christian, we have a duty to love everyone and to love them as ourselves. So, you know, I love gay people. I love straight people.

So, this was really, I think, on my behalf, somewhat insensitive and I certainly apologize if I offended anyone because I was not, in any, way comparing gays with people who engage in bestiality or sexual child abuse.

The point that I was trying to make is that there is no group that really gets to have a special dispensation so that they can change the definition of something that was established by God, you know, thousands of years ago and has been a traditional pillar of society. You know, I feel very bad that people were offended. That was certainly not my intention.

BLITZER: Because it sounded --

CARSON: And I apologize for that.

BLITZER: It sounded, Dr. Carson, like you were lumping in bestiality, pedophilia, together with same-sex marriage, and you understand how offensive that could be.

CARSON: I see in retrospect. That was certainly not the intention at all. The intention was simply to say that there is no group and, you know, you could pick any group of different things and I should have picked a different group of things to make a point. But, you know, one of the things I'm learning, as I spend more time on television, is how to be more artful.

And you know, this is a good lesson in doing that. And, you know, the basic thing that we were really talking about, of course, is whether a group has the ability to change a definition of marriage. And, you know, whatever the courts decide, whatever the states decide, whatever the society decides, obviously, that's what we're going to live with.

BLITZER: Because you're not the first person that lumped in this notion that if there's gay marriage, there'll be a slippery slope. It'll lead to what you describe yourself as bestiality or pedophilia and all sorts of other outrageous examples. There've been those examples that have been made before and I assume that's why off the cuff in response to that question why you lumped them all together, is that right?

CARSON: It may be subconsciously having heard that, but, you know, the fact of the matter is, I believe that gay people and straight people and any people, any two adults, have the right to freely associate themselves and to form a legal bond which gives them the right to property, visitation rights, and the other things that they're seeking. It really doesn't matter whether they're gay or straight. I think any two adults should have that ability.

BLITZER: Well, why not let them have the ability to get married?

CARSON: Because then we're changing the definition. If we begin to change definitions of pillars of society, where does it stop? What if in 25 years there's another group who says, I think we should change it again? You know, you have to have some standards. And God has set a standard. Man is the one who likes to change things.

And, you know, I'm sure that there are a lot of people who will just, you know, don't give much credence to God. But the fact of the matter is, you know, it is my opinion. It's something that I've developed over the course of years. And again, I'm not sure that it's necessary for it to be called marriage, for them to be able to have equal rights as anybody else.

But nobody should have more rights than everybody else. Nobody has the right to actually change the definition of marriage.

BLITZER: But you remember -- you're old enough to remember, I'm certainly old enough to remember when it was illegal in many states in the United States for a Black person to marry a White person. Those marriages were considered illegal until the United States Supreme Court stepped in and said, that is unconstitutional.

CARSON: Well, the United States is a relatively young nation, and, you know, they've had some mistakes that they've learned from. But when we're talking about pillars of society, I'm going far beyond the United States. I'm going back thousands of years in terms of what marriage has represented to mankind.

BLITZER: So, under no circumstances could you see marriage -- I think you're talking about some other unions but something short of -- something that defined as marriage, two individuals, two men or two women who love each other and if their church or their synagogue say it's OK for them to get married, you would say the United States government should prevent that?

CARSON: I'm saying -- as I said before, if it becomes the law of the land, we'll all have to live with it. It doesn't mean that we have to accept that man has the ability to change an institution established by God. It just means we have to be loving and kind and accepting of people.

BLITZER: It's legal now in many states as you know including the District of Columbia, so it's been accepted by a lot of folks out there already.

CARSON: And that's perfectly fine. Again, you know, God gave man choice. And we can accept that and I think we should accept that, but there are consequences for choices. And, we just have to wait and see what those will be.

BLITZER: You're scheduled to give the commencement address at Johns Hopkins University Medical School at the graduation this year. And I'm a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, myself, but now there are some students -- there are some students now who are protesting the selection of you to give the commencement address based on these words, these most recent words you said this week about gay marriage. I wonder if you want to respond to those students.

CARSON: Well, I would simply say, you know, listen to this interview. Listen to some of the other interviews that I've given and you'll see that there was absolutely no intent to offend anyone or to equate those things. I certainly don't believe that. And anybody who knows me knows that the last thing I would do is say something that would hurt someone.

BLITZER: Are you still going to give the commencement address?

CARSON: If the students want me to give it, I will give it. And if they don't want me to, if it's going to cause problems for them, I will be happy to withdraw.

BLITZER: I want to get your reaction to a report that came out from the American Academy of Pediatrics only the other day, basically, affirming same-sex marriage, saying children can grow up and have a loving two-parent household, two men or two women, that from a pediatric standpoint that is just fine.

You're a pediatric neurosurgeon. Do you agree with that conclusion from the American Academy of Pediatrics which, what, represents about a hundred thousand pediatricians in the United States?

CARSON: Well, obviously I -- what I agree with is that gay people have the right of free association like everybody else. And I don't see any reason at all that they can't establish a domicile together and have legal documents drawn up to give them the kind of rights that they're seeking. I fail to understand why they have to call it marriage.

BLITZER: Well, would it be OK from your perspective if they would be allowed to adopt children, for example, and raise kids in a same-sex household?

CARSON: Well, you know, that's something I'd have to give more thought to. I think it really kind of depends on what the statistics show. If the statistics show that children raised in that kind of a household have no disadvantage whatsoever, have no greater or lesser propensity in terms of their sexuality, then it will very hard to argue against it. If it shows something different, then I think we have to take a serious look at it.

BLITZER: Well, the report from the American Academy of Pediatrics basically came to that conclusion that children are better off in this kind of a household than if they were just, you know, out someplace else, if you will, on the street orphans in some sort of home. CARSON: Well, I mean, that seems like common sense. Of course you don't want them out on the street or in a place where they're not loved. And, you know, I have several patients who come from homes with two mothers or two fathers who seem to be very loving individuals. But as I've said, the proof will be in the pudding.

What we really have to do is wait until, you know, substantial amount of time has gone by. We look at evidence. We make decisions based on evidence, not on ideology.

BLITZER: Could you support a Republican or Democratic presidential candidate who supports same-sex marriage?

CARSON: Absolutely, because I'm not a one issue person. You know, there are so many important issues right now. And as a nation, what we're going to have to do is recognize that our ship is about to sail off Niagara Falls, and we need to get together and find a way to turn it around rather than worrying about the barnacles that are on the side of it.

BLITZER: Are you going to -- I know you're retiring from Johns Hopkins University from the medical school at the end of this year. There's been a lot of speculation that you're thinking of jumping into politics. Are you?

CARSON: Well, you know, any time a person speaks out, for some strange reason, everybody thinks they're going into politics. But actually, the reason that I'm speaking out is -- and I've been doing it for 20 years. It's just that more people are listening now. I'm very concerned about the future of our country. I'm very concerned about what's going to happen to our children and to our grandchildren whether we will be able to give them the same kinds of opportunities.

I see the same kinds of things happening in our society that happened to ancient Rome and some of the other societies before their fall. I'm just hoping that maybe we can reach a point as a society where we can sit down and discuss our differences in a logical and reasonable way, not calling each other names, not getting, you know, hysterical, and I think, you know, we're smart enough people that we can actually make some real progress. Let's just not, you know, get so emotional about everything.

BLITZER: It sounds to me, Dr. Carson, like, if you really want to change the world, if you will, make America better, it sounds like that's a good reason to become a politician and get elected to office and try to make things better. Wouldn't you agree?

CARSON: OK. Well, Wolf, you're going to have to be my campaign manager then.


BLITZER: I don't know if I'm any good at that, but I'm just saying if your goal is to improve the world, that would be one way of doing it, especially if you're retiring as a pediatric neurosurgeon. And I know you've had an outstanding career at Johns Hopkins University. All of us who are graduates of Johns Hopkins, and I am as you know, we've always been very proud of your accomplishments over these years.

CARSON: And we're so proud of you, too. Believe me.

BLITZER: Well, thank you very much. But all of us who know your background and you spoke to the president directly at that prayer breakfast, he was sitting right next to you and you told that story and it is an amazing story.

And I guess, and I'll leave you with this thought. Those of us who have known of your spectacular work as a pediatric neurosurgeon and what you've done at Johns Hopkins University and elsewhere saving lives over the years, I guess, I've been a little surprised to see how assertive you've become over these past few weeks in going out there and speaking publicly. And I wonder if there's something I'm missing here, what's going on?

CARSON: Just that it doesn't do any good to heal the organism and then put him back into a sick environment. And, you know, now that I'm reaching a point in my life where I'm no longer going to be healing the organism, I'll start working on the environment.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, thanks again for all the work that you've done over these years. Good luck down the road. You're causing a lot of controversy as you can well imagine, but I assume you understand and appreciate that and you know exactly what you're doing.

CARSON: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Appreciate it very much, Dr. Carson. Thanks for coming in.

CARSON: Thank you.

BLITZER: We'd like to continue this conversation with you down the road if that's OK.

CARSON: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Dr. Ben Carson is the director of the division of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School. Thank you very much.

Up next, there's more insensitive language emerging and more apologies right now from a pair of United States congressmen. So, what were they thinking and what are they saying about it now?

And some kind words. Why this senator is smiling, smiling at a photo of Jennifer Aniston?


BLITZER: Lawmakers speaking sometimes without thinking. Some pretty insensitive language this week from a pair, a couple of U.S. congressmen. Listen to the Alaska Republican congressman, Don Young, talking about immigrant workers. This was in a radio interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VOICE OF REP. DON YOUNG, (R) ALASKA: My father had a ranch. We used to hire 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes. You know, it takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It's all done by machine.


BLITZER: The House speaker, John Boehner, quickly released a statement saying Congressman Young's remarks were offensive and beneath the dignity of the office he holds. I don't care why he said it. There's no excuse. And it warrants an immediate apology.

Senator John McCain tweeted, "Don Young's comments were offensive and have no place in our party or in our nation's discourse. He should apologize immediately." Finally this statement from Congressman Young just released a little while ago, "I apologize for the insensitive term I used during an interview in Ketchikan, Alaska." Ketchikan, Alaska, I think that's what it's called. "There was no malice in my heart or intent to offend. It was a poor choice of words."

Let's discuss what's going on with our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, our chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, the anchor of CNN's "State of the Union." Does this hurt the Republican brand when a Republican congressman uses a word like that?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is the problem that happens to a lot of entities that when you already have a reputation for something and then someone adds to that reputation and underlines it, it's a problem. And that's what's happened here. The Republicans have been battling against more than 70 percent of Hispanic-Americans voting for President Obama last November.

And, Republicans know that they have to reach out to this community and then this word gets out there from a Republican congressman and it undermines it. Is it fatal? No. Does it help? Absolutely not.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, I'll point out, Wolf, it's not just with Latinos that this hurts. A very respected Republican research group just did a study and showed that conservative Republicans also want to see immigration reform passed and object to the positions that Mitt Romney took in the primary.

For example, conservative Republican voters don't want to deport illegal immigrants, undocumented workers. They think that that's just an impractical solution. So, this could even hurt the Republican base. So, it really doesn't help the Republican brand at all when you have people who are out of the sort of common realm --

BLITZER: And that certainly explains why the rush for the Republican leadership to go out and condemn.


BLITZER: Because they're trying now to reach out. I think there's a general inclination to support some sort of comprehensive immigration reform because it might bring back some Republicans into the GOP. CROWLEY: Well, at least, it takes it off the table and then there can be some outrage, I mean, sort of this huge barrier between Republicans and reaching out to the Latino community. So, yes, they want immigration reform. A Christian conservative actually in the south put out radio ads in favor of immigration reform.

So, it's going to happen. I don't think this sets that back. It's just, you know, this is not the party that needs to be dealing with this kind of comment for an entire day.

BLITZER: Democratic congressman also got into some trouble. Let me just put it up. Representative Bruce Braley of Iowa tweeted this today. "It's official. Ohio State is the luckiest team in the tournament. #trail of tears." He later apologized, tweeting, "The tears I was referring to were the tears of cyclone fans. I have removed the tweet and apologize to anyone who was offended." These politicians, they get into trouble by tweeting too much, don't they?

CROWLEY: You know, I think, yes. That and they need to, at least, look things up or something. I mean, if you don't know what the trail of tears was and you're using it sort of colloquially in some sense, you might want to just kind of Google for a minute and find out what it is and then think oh, that doesn't fit there. I mean, they're just tweeting before they think. It's a bad idea.

YELLIN: And remember Todd Akin and Richard Murdoch during the last election when they said some insensitive comments about women and rape.

When we're moving to a country that's going to be majority/minority, when you're going to have more people of color and more women voting than, frankly, White men, maybe you also need to have more people of color and more women running for office or more people running for office who are sensitive --


YELLIN: Right. Or just who are sensitive to those issues saying, let me check that before you hit send, dude.

BLITZER: Yes. I think that's good advice for all of us who tweets. Just be very careful.

YELLIN: Careful about tweeting. Yes.

BLITZER: Think about it. 140 characters but a few of those characters can get you into real, real trouble if you're not careful. Guys, see you Sunday, "State of the Union" 9:00 a.m. eastern. Got a big show?

CROWLEY: Yes. We're going to talk about, look, gun control, immigration, and the budget. We have Lindsey Graham and Senator Blumenthal from Connecticut to talk about all those issues.

BLITZER: Good guests, as usual. Candy, thanks very much. Jessica, thanks to you as well. Coming up, the comedian, Jim Carey, unleashing on Fox News. You're going to find out why. That's just ahead.

Plus, the chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, is now one of the latest victims, get this, of a serious crime that affects millions of Americans. We'll explain right here in the SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Happening now, the actor and comedian, Jim Carey, at war with Fox News. You're going to find out why. That's just ahead.

Sarah Palin may be railing against big political consultants, but are new documents revealing a different story when it comes to her political action committee?

And President Obama heads to Florida to talk jobs and hoops.

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



BLITZER: So, would you pay anywhere from a penny to ten cents more for gas if it meant we could all breathe cleaner air? You're going to probably have to pay, anyway. The EPA released preliminary rules today to reduce sulfur in gasoline. They'll take effect in the year 2017, but the debate is already seriously under way. Here's CNN's Dan Lothian.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is getting a lot of attention today because with warmer weather on the horizon, people are starting to make summer travel plans. And they're closely watching the price at the pump.


LOTHIAN (voice-over): It's the price of driving a car, filling up, app watching the dollars add up, but what goes in burns out and the Environmental Protection Agency is trying to make sure it's much cleaner, ultimately, costing you more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's important that we do health, but I think -- I frankly think the whole environmental police have gone too far.

LOTHIAN: How much more will you pay? One industry survey says up to nine cents per gallon, but an administration official strongly disputes that, citing an EPA analysis that shows it would be less than one penny a gallon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it would be worth it in the long term. Prices are going up anyhow so why not, you know, put it toward something that you get something out of? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd pay a little bit more for that, definitely. You know, if it's better for the environment.

LOTHIAN: The Environmental Protection Agency wants to cut sulfur in gasoline by 60 percent as a way to reduce smog, claiming the proposed rules would save up to 2,400 lives a year and prevent 23,000 cases of respiratory ailments. Air quality experts say it's a significant advancement.

BILL BECKER, NATIONAL ASSN. OF CLEAN AIR AGENCIES: It's huge. We would rank it as President Obama's chief air pollution control strategy for his entire second term. It is that important for public health and welfare.

LOTHIAN: Administration officials say 16 of the 111 refineries would have to undergo upgrades, investing in new technologies in order to produce cleaner fuel, but the main trade association that represents refiners is skeptical, wants more details, and called the EPA's proposals onerous.

CHARLIE DREVINA, AMERICAN FUEL AND PETROCHEMICAL MANUFACTURERS: When you combine that with the other tsunami of rules that we have, adding more ethanol to gasoline that makes absolutely no sense. The coming into conformance with CAFE standards, it's rule after rule after rule that, you know, the American -- the driving public is going to be hit and hit hard.


LOTHIAN: An administration official told me that the EPA got extensive input from refiners and the auto industry and that they were all supportive of this effort. Now these stricter limits are still a ways off. There's about a year for public comment and then slowly phased in beginning in 2017 and fully in place about a decade later -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Dan Lothian, thanks very much.

Some political news we're watching here in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Senator Mark Kirk has received plenty of get-well wishes since suffering a stroke back in 2012. Now the Illinois Republican is showing off a very special one from the actress Jennifer Aniston. Tweeting this picture with the words "Thanks, Jennifer Aniston, for the well wishes."

The spokesman says he doesn't know her personally. Kirk made an emotional return to the Senate in January surrounded by cheers and applause from colleagues as he mounted the chamber steps.

We'll take a quick break, when we come back our strategy session is standing by.


BLITZER: The comedian and actor Jim Carrey is now officially at war with FOX News. Let's discuss what's going on in our strategy session. Joining us, our CNN contributors, the Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, also joining us the Republican strategist, Ron Bonjean.

Guys, thanks very much.

He did a video poking fun, doing it to a certain degree, pokes satirizing the former NRA president Charleston Heston, the great actor. It's gotten two million hits already on YouTube. Let me remind our viewers. We had it earlier in the week. I'll play a little clip.


All right. So he's having fun at the expense of Charleston Heston. His argument was, he wanted to deal with a sensitive issue, gun control. He supports more gun control. FOX News, at least some of the contributors there, really went after him. He has now issued a statement saying, he watched the channel, in his words, "bare its fangs and viciously slander me because of my stand against large magazines and assault rifles. I sincerely believe that in time good people will lose patience with the petty and poisonous behavior of these bullies."

Is this angry reaction to FOX News and the criticism that he got from them appropriate? What's going on?

RON BONJEAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think it's a little bit of a crazy reaction here. And frankly the video wasn't very funny at all but that aside --

BLITZER: Funny is in the eye of the beholder.


BONJEAN: That's absolutely right.

BLITZER: Two million people have watched it.

BONJEAN: Yes. I think it's probably because of the argument more so than the video content itself. But I -- you know, look. Jim Carrey can believe what he wants to believe on gun safety but I think FOX News took umbrage with the fact that he was making fun of southerners and people who own guns. These are not the people that are causing the crimes.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: First of all, I think Jim Carrey is a fine actor and a great comedian. He makes me laugh. I didn't see the video until the controversy. But the one thing that stood out several months ago right after the massacre in Newtown is that Jim Carrey went public. He went public very strongly about assault weapons and assault rifles and he believes that they have no place on our streets. He wants to protect kids. So he has every right to make a great video. I wish I had two million followers.

BLITZER: Yes, well you -- you have a lot of followers, I know that, on Twitter. You do. Are you disappointed that it looks right now like the president's ambitious plan to deal with assault style weapons, to deal with these magazines, those positions probably are not going anywhere, maybe, maybe he'll be able to achieve some expanded background checks? But politically, the other more ambitious gun control measures are probably going to die?

BRAZILE: Well, you know this is a step by step process and Senator Chuck Schumer is out there, he's still trying to corral the votes with Tom Coburn and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. They're still trying to get the votes together. Might have the votes on universal background checks, gun safety measures for schools. But on the assault weapons ban something that Senator Feinstein is promoting, they are still looking for votes.

BLITZER: You were in the House of Representatives, you worked there as a staff assistant for many years. What do you think is going to pass this time? Because you watch it closely.

BONJEAN: The best thing that -- best thing that could happen out of there is background checks. That's the most likely thing that could ever happen.

BLITZER: You support --

BONJEAN: It depends on the size and scope of the background check and see what comes out of the House of Representatives.

BLITZER: Universal background checks as it's called to make sure people who buy guns at gun shows or through private sales or whatever, they -- these individuals have to go through some sort of check?

BONJEAN: I support that more than the other provisions, you know, that have been proposed by the president and the administration. And if I were Jim Carrey I would put a video on pressuring Senate Democrats to pass something that was stronger. I don't know why he is going after the NRA or going after southerners with guns. He should be focused on the inside --


BLITZER: Because -- he makes a good, Donna. There are a bunch of Senate Democrats who are up for re-election next year from some -- let's call them pro-gun states if you will. They don't want anything to do with this. They're nervous.

BRAZILE: That's why, you know, having Joe Manchin out there, a red state Democrat, you know, work with his colleagues. That is very important. But you know as a southerner and somebody who supports the Second Amendment I believe that we can have, you know, honest, good gun safety measures that will protect our children and our families without taking away the rights of gun owners, responsible gun owners, to keep their weapons.

BLITZER: Donna and Ron, guys, thanks for coming in.

BONJEAN: Thanks very much. BLITZER: Just ahead the chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, is now one of the latest victim of a serious crime that affects millions of Americans.


BLITZER: The White House advance team tries to choreograph every step of President Obama's travel. That includes the backdrops for his speeches. But they can't control the wind. They apparently tried to cover up the logo of the foreign company that made the cranes behind where President Obama spoke at Port Miami today but heavy winds blew loose a U.S. flag revealing -- get this -- Chinese letters in a logo. Awkward.

It's a problem plaguing potentially millions of Americans every year. Credit card fraud. Now the chief justice of the United States John Roberts has become one of the latest victims.

Let's bring in Lisa Sylvester. She's coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. She's got details.

Serious problem but you would think the chief justice of the United States would not necessarily have this problem.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know. I know. It's just -- this isn't something that you hear about every day. A member of the high court a victim of a crime but having your credit card use by someone else is actually more common than you think.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): There are more than one million fraud complaints reported to authorities each year. It doesn't seem to matter who you are. You can still be a victim even if you are the chief justice of the United States. The Supreme Court has confirmed that someone recently racked up charges on John Roberts' credit card.

Roberts went to his local Starbucks earlier this week but instead of using plastic like he normally does he paid cash explaining to the barista why he had to cancel his card. It just goes to show you.

JEFF BLYSKAL, SENIOR EDITOR, CONSUMER REPORTS: Credit card fraud is very common. And it's often -- it's now called identity theft or identity fraud. But it's -- you know, it's the old fashioned someone steals your credit card.

SYLVESTER: We asked random people if it happened to them and came across Christine Pelosi, minority leader Nancy Pelosi's daughter, who has also been a victim of fraud.

CHRISTINE PELOSI, DAUGHTER OF NANCY PELOSI: Well at the same time I was using my card in California someone was using my card in Ohio.

SYLVESTER: And crooks can be very inventive. In Omaha, Nebraska, thieves stole credit card numbers right from a gas station using this, called a skimmer, a duplicate card reader that can be easily and quickly installed on a gas pump.

Here are some ways to protect yourself. Avoid doing your online banking at a cafe. It's easier for hackers to gain private information using an open wireless network. Carry your credit cards somewhere else other than your wallet. It can save you if your wallet or purse are stolen. Don't leave empty tip or total lines on a receipt. Instead, draw a line through them. Go paperless with your billing so you don't get paper statements sitting in your mail box. And finally, don't fall victim to phishing scams by giving out personal information that's being solicited.

BLYSKAL: Don't give up your credit card number to someone who contacts you. I mean, that's one of the biggest -- we've done a lot of reporting on fraud and scams and such and one of the best ways to protect yourself is whenever someone else initiates contact with you whether it's through the phone, by e-mail, by text message, someone knocking on your door, and if they want information from you, be suspicious. Don't give it to them.


SYLVESTER: Now most of us already know this but it does bear repeating. Review your statements regularly. And if you find something, you know, a little fishy, Wolf, that people should report it right away.

BLITZER: Just be careful. Be careful. Be careful.

SYLVESTER: Always good advice, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. All right. Lisa, thank you.

Coming up, is Sarah Palin getting called out for railing against some of those big political consultants? We're going to show you what some new documents are revealing.

Plus, President Obama heads to Florida to talk jobs. Also, to talk about basketball.


BLITZER: Sarah Palin railed against political consultants when she went up before the faithful over at the Conservative Political Action Conference recently.


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: The next election is 20 months away. Now is the time to furlough the consultants and doom out the pollsters, send the focus groups home, and toss the political scripts. Because if we truly know what we believe we don't need professionals to tell us.


BLITZER: Joining us now, CNN contributor John Avlon, he's a CNN contributor and a senior political columnist for "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast."

John, you discovered it's not so simple when it comes to Palin, money, consultants. What did you dig up?

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's not at all. There's a big irony alert that should be posted over her speech now because in addition to it being a very well-written speech by a speechwriter, what the FEC filings, the Federal Election Commission filings for her PAC, the SarahPAC show is that the vast amount of the money raised and spent in the last election cycle was on consultants. It did not go to candidates.

In fact less than $300,000 went to candidates. She spent more on her top consultant than she did in all the candidates she doled out money to. And really when you look at the fold, there are consultants for every issue imaginable under SarahPAC. When people give money to these political action committees, they think they're getting political action. What they're really doing is feeding a whole subcategory of consulting industry out there, a partisan economy.

BLITZER: What were the consultants doing over there? What were they working for?

AVLON: It is stunning to go through line by line. And you know, if you want to find out the truth in politics, follow the money. It's an old rule and it's a good rule. There are consultants for -- called issue consultants, there are management consultants, there are logistical consultants. Then in addition to speech writing consultants and grassroots outreach consultants. Which sounds like an oxymoron.

I thought the whole point of grassroots outreach is that you didn't need a consultant to tell you how to do it, especially from Sarah Palin's perspective. And then of course the private jets and the typical travel and printing costs that come out of a PAC. Almost $1 million in postage. But the big picture, very little (INAUDIBLE) of the money -- millions that Sarah Palin raised through her SarahPAC ended up going to candidates. The vast majority of it went to consultants.

BLITZER: In her last ad from her PAC, she is portrayed as a GOP kingmaker, if you will. I'll play a little clip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah Palin jumped in early and supported Rand Paul. She supported Marco Rubio, Tim Scott, Pat Toomey, Nikki Haley, Deb Fisher, Jeff Blake and myself.

PALIN: The next election is 20 months away. The last thing we need is Washington, D.C., vetting our candidates.


BLITZER: How much influence does she really have these days within the GOP? AVLON: It's diminished. You can see that just from the money SarahPAC raised, Wolf. But when she decided not to run for president at the end of 2011, a lot of that spigot of money really dried up. But there's no question, Sarah Palin is an influencer, especially in the conservative populous movement. She's very popular among the base. And now she's trying to present herself as this kingmaker, as you said.

The key is, she's simultaneously asking for money for SarahPAC. And that's because they just got $1 million left in this political action committee. So it's a reminder of a great quote by Eric Hoffer, which is all great movements begin as a cause, it become a business, and they end up as a racket, well, we're somewhere between business and racket right now.

BLITZER: John Avlon, doing some reporting for us. John, thanks very much.

AVLON: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: More than 200 people are rescued from sheets of ice off the Latvian Coast. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

What do you have, Lisa?

SYLVESTER: Hi, there, Wolf. Well, emergency officials say the ice floes broke off from the coast and were blown into the Gulf, more than 150 people had to be carried to safety by boat. Dozens of others by helicopter. And a CNN forecaster says ice is more likely to break from the shore as temperatures rise in the spring.

And take a look at this. We have terrifying video from our affiliate of a pickup dangling from a highway guardrail after a three-car accident in Alabama. The truck, you see it there, was apparently traveling in the wrong direction when it hit two other vehicles. The driver was pinned inside but rescue crews were able to get that person down safely. Two people were sent to the hospital.

And Pope Francis presided over his first Good Friday service as head of the Catholic Church today. One of the most important days of the Christian calendar. The reading of the traditional Lord's Passion is echoing in Roman Catholic Churches around the world. Holy Week -- celebrations will culminate with Sunday's Easter mass.

And New York City is appealing a judge's decision to scrap Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on large sodas calling it an important part of the mayor's health initiative. The Board of Health Regulation would limit the size of drinking cups for sugary beverages to a maximum of 16 ounces at city food service establishments -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Lisa, thank you.

The White House has unveiled the guest list for Monday's 135th Annual Easter Egg Roll. And there's plenty of star power included. You shouldn't be surprised. Among those people participating in the events promoting health and wellness, the youngest ever Oscar best actress nominee, 9-year-old Quvenzhane -- Quvenzhane Wallis, I should say.

The cast of Sesame Street, NASCAR's Danica Patrick, NFL MVP Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings, and of course, of course, some of my favorite, Washington Wizards. That's the best of all team here -- NBA team in the nation's capital.

Ahead, new threats from North Korea's leader amidst signs that Texas might be on his target list.

Also the dentist's office that may have been a perfect storm for hepatitis and HIV infections. Why thousands of people now are worried.

And up next, President Obama flew down to Florida to talk jobs. But he also talks sports and what has now become the center of the basketball universe, at least tonight.


BLITZER: All right. So President Obama was in Miami today to talk about jobs, but he also spoke about basketball.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've got to get into a sticky subject right off the bat. I know you guys aren't happy with my Chicago Bulls. But I just want you to know the Heat are going to be just fine. They're going to be OK. They are playing basketball the right way.

The Hurricanes, they had a great season. No, no, they deserve a big round of applause. Tonight you've got Florida, and Florida Gulf Coast going at it. One of them will go to the Elite 8. So let's face it, Florida is the center of basketball right now.


BLITZER: Florida Gulf Coast, of course, is this year's March Madness Cinderella team. We'll be watching the game tonight.