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THE SITUATION ROOM
"I've Hit A Bottom...I Need Help"; Lawmaker Stabbed More Than Ten Times in Murder Attempt; Will The U.S. Say "Sorry" To Afghanistan?; It's Complicated; Cruz Says "Fix This Broken Law"; New Images of Terror Attack; George Zimmerman in Hiding?; Bob Dylan Music Goes High-Tech
Aired November 20, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, Jake, thank you.
Happening now, a congressman who dubbed himself a hip hop conservative pleads guilty after a cocaine bust and is quickly sentenced. Did he get off easy?
You heard it here. The national security adviser to the president, Susan Rice, told me yesterday there's no need for the United States to apologize to Afghanistan, but will the Obama administration find some other way to say "sorry?"
And it's their first meeting since Bill Clinton's recent swipe at Obamacare. So how much does the president need the former president?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We'll get to that congressman sentenced here in Washington after a cocaine bust in just a second or two.
But first, we've got some breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.
These are live pictures from the Orlando International Airport, where a JetBlue flight bound for Boston has just made an emergency landing after an evacuation slide deployed in-flight. The plane landed safely. No injuries are reported. We're getting more information. As soon as we do, we'll share it with you. But that story just coming in, a JetBlue flight from Orlando to Boston.
Back here in Washington, a first term Congressman may have been lucky to avoid a jail term. Republican Trey Radel of Florida today pleaded guilty to cocaine possession and was given probation. The lawmaker, who's called himself -- and I'm quoting himself now -- "a hip-hop conservative" -- that's what he calls himself -- now says he's hit bottom.
CNN's crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns, is here in THE SITUATION ROOM with the latest on a pretty shocking story.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Wolf. It's a misdemeanor in this case. People in this country get hit with it all the time. But for an elected official of the federal government, pleading guilty in a street level buy-bust operation, it's just a huge public relations problem.
JOHNS (voice-over): Saying nothing, the Florida Congressman headed in to face his charges. His guilty plea weeks after Trey Radel was caught in a sting operation in late October.
The Drug Enforcement Administration setting him up after learning about his illegal activities from an arrested drug dealer.
(on camera): A law enforcement source said they met here at Circa Restaurant on Dupont Circle in the heart of Washington, DC. Radel told the men he had drugs back at his apartment and invited them over. They declined.
But the undercover officer did say he had drugs to sell. They agreed on a price, came out here on the street and when the cocaine changed hands, that's when the federal agents approached the Congressmen.
(voice-over): The price Radel paid for the drugs, $260. After the charges were revealed, Radel Tweeted, "I'm profoundly sorry to let down my family, particularly my wife and son, and the people of Southwest Florida. I struggle with the disease of alcoholism and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice."
REP. TREY RADEL (R), FLORIDA: Look, in my short time here, I love what I do.
JOHNS: He's developed a reputation as a Congressional Tea Party animal. Taking Points Memo circulated pictures of Radel drinking and living large. He's been called a hip-hop conservative who, according to the Christian Post Web site, once cited the lyrics of the rap group Public Enemy's song "Fight the Power" to explain how he feels about dealing with Congress.
JOHNS: The Republican House leadership was careful, saying Radel needs to focus on his family and get better.
But he is sure to get hit hard from the other side.
Melanie Sloan of the left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said he needs to go.
MELANIE SLOAN, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS: Trey Radel needs to resign right away. He committed a crime. Members of Congress swear to uphold the laws, not break them.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
JOHNS: Multiple sources said Attorney General Eric Holder and other senior Justice officials were kept in the loop on the case, as is standard procedure, though the decision to set up the sting was made by investigators. A senior law enforcement source said the decision to target Radel was a judgment call and not just based on his office. Investigators wanted to know more about his relationships and his connections.
BLITZER: You know, a lot of us remember, a few years ago, there was a Republican Congressman from Western New York who Tweeted a picture -- a selfie, if you will -- of himself without a shirt. There it is right there, Congressman -- former Congressman Chris Lee.
The speaker at that time, John Boehner, he had zero tolerance. He basically told this guy, you're out of here. And he resigned in a nanosecond.
And this time, they're showing a lot more patience with this other Republican freshman Congressman.
JOHNS: Well, I suppose it all has to do about the specific case. In his example, there were questions about whether there might be other things coming down the road that could embarrass him or the Congress. But many people take your point, that I spoke to today, and said members of Congress have actually been thrown under the bus for less than what has happened with Trey Radel.
BLITZER: Yes. We'll see what happens to him.
All right, thanks very much.
Joe Johns reporting.
It's not every day a congressman gets busted for cocaine.
Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with HLN law enforcement analyst, Mike Brooks, who's joining us right now.
You served, what, 26 years, on the DC police force, Mike.
What's going on here?
Did this guy get off light?
Did he get off -- is this usual business as usual?
What do you make of this?
MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Wolf, he bought 3.5 grams. Now, on the street, they call that an eight ball, because it's an eighth of an ounce of cocaine. So it's for personal use. If he had bought more, he could have been charged with possession with intent to distribute, which would have been a felony. And he probably would have gotten a harsher sentence.
But with the court docket the way it is in DC Superior Court, Wolf, a year's probation is, I would say, the norm in Washington, DC, especially like for a first offense like this Congressman has, of simple possession of cocaine.
BLITZER: If he weren't a congressman -- they didn't know he was a congressman -- would he have been busted to begin with in that sting operation? BROOKS: Absolutely, because if you look at the court papers, it says that this was part of an ongoing investigation on drug trafficking in the Washington metropolitan area. And it was involving the DEA, the FBI and most likely the Metropolitan Police -- a drug task force, if you will.
But, you know, they had gotten word from his acquaintance, who wound up probably being the federal source, that there was a congressman who had, on several occasions, Wolf, bought cocaine in Washington, DC.
BLITZER: Well, and so how far -- is this guy totally, you know, an extraordinary case right now?
You know, a lot of us have seen that series house of cards.
What's going on in Washington, as far as members of Congress are concerned?
He blames -- this guy blames his alcoholism for the cocaine problem.
What's going on here?
BROOKS: Well, Wolf, if you look at time he has been here, he's a freshman Congressman, as you pointed out. So he's only been in Washington for 10 months. And that says to me, as a former investigator, he had the right connections, if you will, for someone who wanted to buy drugs, because he was only there 10 months. He had the connections already, had bought cocaine on several occasions in DC.
But, again, he had an acquaintance who most likely was an informant for the DEA or the FBI and that's how he got busted.
You know, Wolf, how does a congressman in Washington, DC think that he or she is not going to get busted for buying drugs on the street?
People talk. There's a lot of state -- there's a lot of informants in Washington, DC for a number of different cases.
This was not too smart on his part.
BLITZER: Obviously, And he's got a serious problem with the alcoholism...
BLITZER: -- as we all know, as well.
All right, thanks very much for that, Mike Brooks.
We're just learning that Congresswoman Grace Meng of New York was robbed and hit in the head in a Washington, DC neighborhood right near Capitol Hill last night. There you see a picture of her. Her office says the new York Democratic Congresswoman was robbed as she walked toward her apartment after having dinner. The suspect took her handbag and fled. She suffered a bruise on her chin, underwent a CT scan at a Washington, DC hospital. She resumed her normal activities today, her office said, and she participated in votes on the floor.
We hope she's going to be OK.
Up next, we have new details on the stabbing of a lawmaker by his mentally ill son.
Did officials do enough to get the son the care he so desperately needed?
And you heard the national security adviser to President Obama, Susan Rice, tell me here in THE SITUATION ROOM, 24 hours ago, that the U.S. does not need to apologize to Afghanistan.
Is that the whole story?
There are new developments happening right now.
BLITZER: A well-known Virginia lawmaker has been upgraded to good condition a day after what police are investigating as an attempted to murder/suicide. They say Creigh Deeds' son apparently stabbed him more than 10 times in the head and torso, then killed himself just hours after undergoing emergency psychiatric evaluation.
CNN's Chris Lawrence is in Charlottesville, Virginia for us -- Chris, we're learning more details about what happened between father and son.
What's the latest?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. You mentioned some of it, about the 10 times. And sources close to the investigation are also saying that that stabbing took place just outside of the family's home.
And as Creigh Deeds sort of stumbled down that long driveway out to the main road bleeding, that's when his son went back into the home and that's where he shot himself.
We're also told that Creigh Deeds had been trying to help his son sort of get his life back on track by several family and friends. That's one of the reasons that Creigh Deeds had his son move back into the home. And it was only the two of them there when this incident happened -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Chris, why wasn't he checked into a hospital?
There's a lot of confusion. Supposedly, there weren't any beds available. But now we're learning there were beds available.
What's the latest?
LAWRENCE: OK. He went to the hospital. We've now confirmed that there was an emergency custody order issued on Monday. That's sort of an emergency mental health evaluation. So he was taken to a local hospital. Mental health professionals came there, did an evaluation on him. But that only lasts for four hours. Within that time frame, they have to find sort of a -- a semi- permanent bed in a hospital that's got in-patient facilities.
A director, a state mental health professional, told "The Richmond Times Dispatch" that they called multiple hospitals all in a wide area of Virginia and could not find a bed during that time frame.
Now, we have talked to at least three hospitals who say they had a bed available that night and were never called. All of those hospitals are within an hour or two.
It does raise questions whether the family simply did not go through with that or pursue it, or whether, actually, there were actual beds available. So some confusion on that point.
But he was evaluated. But all in all, the bottom line is there was no semi-permanent bed where he could have stayed for up to two or three days. He was never taken to a facility like that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. What a tragic story all around.
Chris Lawrence in Charlottesville.
Other news we're following, the president's national security adviser, Susan Rice, sent some shockwaves less than 24 hours ago right here in the SITUATION ROOM when I asked her about reports that the president was ready to apologize to Afghanistan to keep U.S. troops on the ground there for years to come.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: No, Wolf. I've seen those reports. I have no idea where they come from. That is a complete misunderstanding of what the situation is.
BLITZER: Well, what is this letter -- this letter that Karzai wants the president to give, in which he acknowledges that the U.S. erred in various ways in dealing with what's going on in Afghanistan. A lot of people are interpreting that as an apology.
RICE: No such letter has been drafted or delivered. There is not a need for the United States to apologize to Afghanistan. Quite the contrary. We have sacrificed and supported them in their democratic progress and in tackling the insurgency and al Qaeda. So, that is not on the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring in our foreign affairs reporter, Elise Labott. She's been doing some work on this. So, what are you hearing behind the scenes, because there are now reports out there that for all practical purposes, a deal has been struck and the U.S. is going to keep troops there for many years to come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: That's right. We're talking, Wolf, about a letter of assurances that Afghan President Karzai wants to take to this lawyer --
BLITZER: Let's talk about that. A letter of assurances, that's of what? That the U.S. promises the Afghan people what?
LABOTT: Well, a couple of things. One of the main sticking points of this agreement has been U.S. raids of Afghan homes. You know, there have been civilian deaths in this. And what President Karzai wants is some tough limits on whether the U.S. can go into a house, particularly if U.S. soldiers' lives are on the line. He also wants an acknowledgement of U.S. mistakes in the past.
As you know, there've been a lot of civilian deaths. And when President Karzai take this agreement to the Afghan people, he wants the U.S. to acknowledge these deaths and express some kind of regret.
BLITZER: That sounds like an apology to me.
LABOTT: Well, it's a bit of semantics. It's a distinction without a difference here because the U.S. has used this language in the past, expressing regret for civilian deaths, Secretary Clinton, Defense Secretary Gates, General Allen most recently for civilian deaths.
So, here if you have a little semantics, the U.S. repeats this language, President Karzai can say he was tough with the United States, everyone gets what they want. The U.S. needs to continue those race and they want to be able --
BLITZER: But the president will be severely criticized if anything comes out looking like the United States is apologizing to Afghanistan after all the blood and treasure the U.S. committed to trying to help the Afghan people since 9/11. That will be pretty politically outrageous here.
LABOTT: Well, it's not an apology for the U.S. actions in the war or for the war itself, but it is a very narrow expression of regret. You can call it an apology, for deaths, civilian deaths, that there have been many in the Afghan war --
BLITZER: The other headline is that the U.S. was supposedly going to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the end of next year. The president repeatedly made that commitment. I'll play a couple of clips of what he said recently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I say I'm going to bring them home, you know they're going to come home.
This drawdown will continue and by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Well, maybe not so fast, because thousands of -- if this deal goes through and the Afghans accept whatever letters of assurances the United States provides, thousands of American troops will remain in Afghanistan for many years to come at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of billions of dollars a year. So, the war, from the U.S. perspective, is not ending. It's going to continue for a long time.
LABOTT: Well, we're talking about 8,000 to 10,000 U.S. troops, maybe a couple more thousand NATO troops. They'll be primarily in a train and assist and in an advisory role, but there will be these special operations that will continue, these raids on homes and going after the Taliban and possibly al Qaeda. But, Wolf, even after President Obama said those remarks, U.S. officials behind the scenes were like, wait a minute, you know, we still might need to have some troops there.
The Afghan troops, although they've made a lot of gains over the last 12 years, not ready to handle it on their own. They'll still be in the lead, but I think the U.S. also, President Obama also knows that he doesn't want to lose all the gains that the U.S. made by withdrawing all the troops if the Afghan troops in place just aren't ready.
BLITZER: You know what, if 8,000 or 10,000 American troops are there, including special operations, commandos, and they're getting involved in going after the Taliban or al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, the war continues for those 8,000 or 10,000 men and women who are in harm's way. So, the war will not be over for them by any means.
Let me get back to that letter that the U.S. supposedly is preparing. John Kerry is suggesting there will be a letter. We've heard Susan Rice say there's not going to be a letter. There's nothing like that on the table. So, there's still confusion in my mind, as we say, whether or not there will be a letter, won't be a letter, what will it include, and will there be anything that seems to be an apology.
LABOTT: Well, Susan Rice was very narrow in parsing her statement. She said no such letter had been drafted and no apology would be given. The U.S. is really parsing here. They are going to give some expressions of regret. Commonly used language, I think, that the U.S. has used in the past that they understand President Karzai needs as a political cover when he's taking this agreement to the people.
I don't think it will apologize wholesale for the last 12 years, but it will be a very narrow expression that the U.S. is sorry that all of these civilian deaths have occurred and a pledge to make sure that it doesn't happen again.
BLITZER: And for years to come, at least 10 years, maybe a lot longer, billions of dollars, maybe $4 billion a year to pay for the upkeep of the Afghan military. American taxpayers will be on the line for that. This is going to cause a lot of uproar in Congress.
LABOTT: Certainly among Republicans on the Hill. BLITZER: Let's see what comes out and see if the Afghans accept whatever letter the United States might be preparing. Elise, thanks very much. Elise Labott, always good to have you here in the SITUATION ROOM.
Coming up, President Obama and former President Bill Clinton, they come face-to-face for the first time since the former president chided Obamacare. We're going inside their complex relationship.
BLITZER: It's one of the most complicated relationships in Washington, so all political eyes were on President Obama and former president, Bill Clinton, as they met today for the first time since Clinton's controversial remarks about Obamacare. Our senior White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is joining us now. So, what happened, Brianna?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we were studying them very carefully. This was also the first time the two men have been seen together since a campaign tell-all revealed President Obama saying he can only handle Clinton a little bit at a time. So, a lot of people were watching their interactions to see if there was any sign of awkwardness.
KEILAR (voice-over): A man hug, a handshake, all smiles as President Obama presented President Clinton with the nation's highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom.
OBAMA: I'm grateful, Bill, as well, for the advice and counsel that you've offered me, on and off the golf course.
KEILAR: That comment raised eyebrows, coming on the heels of an Obama snub revealed in the dishy campaign memoir, "Double Down." After a round of golf with Clinton in 2011, Obama told an aide, I like him in doses. It's also the first time the men have seen each other since Clinton pushed the president, mired in the failed rollout of his healthcare program, to confront his broken promise that people who liked their health insurance can keep it.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I personally believe, even if it takes a change in the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got.
KEILAR: A source close to Clinton tells CNN he was just pushing Obama in the direction he was already headed. Former aides to both men say that while Obama is not best friends with the former president, he and his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, have a great and genuine affinity for one another. And Bill Clinton, with his eye to 2016, wants very much for president Obama to succeed.
His wife is the current frontrunner in the Democratic field. Vice President Joe Biden, who greeted Hillary Clinton at the White House today, is a distant second to her in the polls. Neither will be able to win the White House unless President Obama's approval ratings rise from the doldrums.
KEILAR (on-camera): And so the fates of President Obama and the Clintons are very much intertwined. And sources in both camps tell me, Wolf, that that far surpasses any of these slights that both sides really consider to be rather minor. In fact, one former aide going as far as to say, and I'm quoting here, but I will say also abbreviating that it's BS. Quite a dismissal.
BLITZER: All right. You're abbreviating well, indeed. All right. Thanks very much, Brianna, for that.
Let's bring in our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, our chief national correspondent, John King, along with Eleanor Clift of the "Daily Beast." Guys, thanks to all of you. These two people, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: In one corner. Barack Obama and the other --
BLITZER: How much do they need each other?
BORGER: These are men of substantial ego. They would never say to you, oh, I need him. I really need him. But in truth, they need each other to a degree. I think, look, Bill Clinton's wife is going to run for president, would he like Barack Obama to be in his corner? Yes. Will Barack Obama be in his corner if she's the nominee? Yes. Do they have a history? Yes. Are they politicians who can do what they need to do to get things done? Sure. So, I think the BS is kind of --
BLITZER: You wrote a column on "Daily Beast" suggesting that Hillary Clinton's maybe presidential fate depends on how Barack Obama does.
ELEANOR CLIFT, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE DAILY BEAST: Right. A successful two-term Barack Obama would give her a substantial lift into the next presidential race.
BLITZER: But what if he's less than successful --
CLIFT: If it's less than successful, she'll have to be accountable for it just as she'll be accountable for the Clinton years, and she'll also have to define her own path forward. She's got a complicated set of circumstances, but I think Obama needs Clinton. He may need another one of those life rafts, just like the president provided at the Democratic convention in 2012.
There's upcoming midterm elections. Clinton knows how to campaign. So, Barack Obama needs both Clintons, plenty.
BLITZER: You and I, John, we've covered both of these. Bill Clinton we covered, he's unique as far as a campaigner is concerned. JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He's unique as a campaigner, but that experience is vital. And the current president can draw on it. Remember 1994, the Democrats got crushed in that midterm election. Also remember, it was about health care. Bill Clinton had to recover. He had impeachment, he had to recover.
So, the president -- current President Obama has had historical low in his standing right now. President Clinton knows a little bit about that and how to come back from. So, they could might have --
BLITZER: Hold on a second. (INAUDIBLE) because our own Chris Cuomo on "New Day" today, he had an extraordinary news making interview with Senator Ted Cruz, a rising star in the GOP, a favorite of the Tea Party. They spoke about Obamacare and Chris had this exchange. Let me play a little of that interview because it's generating a lot of buzz.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, "NEW DAY": How can we say that it's not working when it isn't implemented yet?
How can you say premiums are skyrocketing when they haven't put the plans into effect yet?
Are you being a little dangerous with how much political spin you put on something that's so central to the well-being of so many families?
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Well, I appreciate the adjective you tossed my way. You know, John Adams famously said facts are stubborn things.
Here are some facts. About 100,000 people have signed up and gotten new insurance under Obamacare. About five million people have lost their insurance because of Obamacare. Those are facts. And those are real people that can't be spun away.
You know, when I go back to Texas, I travel the state and I see people all the time who come up to me, men and women across Texas. And they grab me by the shoulder and they're afraid. They said -- they say, Ted, you know, I just lost my health insurance. I've got a child with diabetes. I need my health insurance. I'm scared. Please stop this from happening.
Those are real facts.
CUOMO: And what do you say to them, Senator?
When they say, please help me, what is the fix that you offer them?
I looked at the list of bills that you've sponsored. There's not one that offers a solution to the current problems with health care, except to get rid of the existing law.
Is that enough? CRUZ: Well, that's the only solution that will work. All of these Band-Aid fixes that the president is pushing and the Congressional Democrats are pushing won't fix the problem. Every one of those bills, they have great titles. Like, if you like your plan you can really, really, really keep them. But if they were passed into law, it wouldn't fix the problem. For the five million people who lost their health insurance, they wouldn't get it back.
CUOMO: You don't think that you have...
CRUZ: The way to get...
CUOMO: -- a responsibility, as a U.S. senator, to do better than that, in terms of offering a solution in terms for what to do next?
CRUZ: Well, I -- I -- I appreciate your trying to lecture me in the morning. Thank you for that.
CUOMO: No, no, no, not at all, Senator. I'm worried, the same as you. Anybody who looks at the situation has worries.
CUOMO: Families need health insurance.
CRUZ: -- sir, if you're worried, did you speak out for the five million people who have lost their health insurance?
CRUZ: Did you speak out...
CUOMO: -- we've been covering it doggedly. We've been covering it doggedly...
CRUZ: Did you...
CUOMO: -- and you know that. I'm sure you watch the show.
The problem is, I don't have the power to fix it. You do. That's what a U.S. senator does, is you sponsor law. You know this. It's not a lecture, it's a concern.
And I'm asking, what are you doing to do about it?
CRUZ: Well, and I share that concern and -- and have every day been working to highlight the millions of people who have lost their job because of Obamacare, the millions of people, who have been forced into part-time work. There are single moms. There are young people, Hispanics, African-Americans, people who are struggling who are now on part-time work. You can't feed your kids with 29 hours a week. There's over five million people who have lost their health insurance. And the way to fix that is to stop this broken law.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Excellent interview. Chris Cuomo interviewing Ted Cruz on "NEW DAY" earlier today -- Gloria, you know, he had him over there, because Ted Cruz was repeatedly asked, what are you going to do about it?
BLITZER: I didn't hear him come up with a specific proposal...
BLITZER: -- other than get rid of Obamacare.
BORGER: I think that's absolutely true. And we had Ed Gillespie, a Republican strategist, on yesterday. He made the same point about the Republican Party.
The Republican Party needs to have a solution. I mean he said yesterday -- and I agree -- they've had some piecemeal solutions. But it's OK to run against Obamacare in the midterm elections, but if you want to run for president -- and I think what we're seeing is Ted Cruz who wants to run for president -- you have to have a vision for what you would do. It's not good enough just to be against something, particularly when it's down. That's easy. OK. Fix it or come up with something better or do both.
BLITZER: You know, you do need an alternative. At least -- there are 40 million Americans who have no health insurance and then they get sick. They have to go to the emergency room. That's an awful way for the United States of America to be dealing with health insurance.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: And Senator Cruz, I'm sure, is familiar with the numbers in Texas. It's one of the states that has the biggest slices of uninsured.
But, again, Gloria makes the key point. At this moment, because the president's health care plan is so unpopular, if you want to just be the opposition party, the safest place politically is to just beat it up and to not get into the complicated and controversial policy ideas about how you would replace it. But to be a governing party...
KING: -- then you're going to have to do that. Governors have to do that and people who want to be president have to do that. If you're just trying to score points at the moment -- and I'm not just beating up on Senator Cruz and he -- if he's going to run for president, he's going to have to explain what he would do. At the moment, he doesn't think he has to.
BLITZER: A quick thought.
ELEANOR CLIFT, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE DAILY BEAST": It's the biggest weakness the Republicans have, is they have no alternative. If they actually succeeded in repealing Obamacare, there would be mass chaos in the insurance place. What about all the people who get insurance now with pre-existing conditions?
BLITZER: And let's not forget...
CLIFT: The single mother he talked about...
BORGER: And the...
BLITZER: Hundreds of thousands...
CLIFT: -- the child that has diabetes.
BLITZER: -- of people have signed up...
CLIFT: That's right.
BLITZER: -- and they're getting Medicaid now under the expanded...
BORGER: And we don't know...
BLITZER: -- Affordable Care Act.
BORGER: He uses the five million number...
BORGER: -- which may or may not be accurate. We don't know what those numbers are.
What we do know is that the state exchanges are working pretty well.
BLITZER: All right. We'll leave it on that note, guys.
Thanks very much, Eleanor.
CLIFT: Thank you.
BLITZER: Good to have you here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Up next, claims of up to 200,000 people now dead in Syria's civil war -- a new fear it may be spreading.
BLITZER: Funerals were held today for victims of the twin suicide bombings outside Iran's embassy in Beirut. We have new images of that horrific attack, which killed nearly two dozen people yesterday, including an Iranian diplomat.
Let's go to CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom.
He's joining us from Beirut with the latest -- Mohammed.
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I can tell you that security in Beirut today is far tighter than it had been -- more checkpoints, more barbed wire, a lot more police cars out in the streets.
Now, residents here very fearful that not just that the spillover of violence from Syria's civil war will continue, but that sectarian tensions here will only get worse.
JAMJOOM (voice-over): As a speeding motorcycle cuts through an empty street, what started out as a quiet day in Lebanon becomes a brutal reminder of the war raging next door in Syria.
The rider is thought to be a suicide bomber. This security camera footage shows clearly how and when residents in Southern Beirut were rattled by the sound of the first blast. Curiosity gets the better of more spectators. And a second, far more powerful, bomb explodes down the street.
Outside the Iranian embassy, those who can, run. Building facades sheared off, vehicles engulfed in flames, killing 23 people, Tuesday's attack marked a very serious escalation.
Claiming responsibility is an al Qaeda-linked Sunni militant group. Little is known about the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, but these suicide bombings are a sign they decided to take the fight to Lebanese Shiite military group, Hezbollah, and their patron, Iran.
They say this wasn't their first attack and it won't be their last.
But as tiny, fragile Lebanon gets drawn deeper into Syria's seemingly unending conflict, this first attack against an Iranian target here proves how this country has become an even bigger proxy battlefield. That Lebanon's sectarian lines mirror those of Syria complicated things from the start. But now, a startling realization sets in. Rising Sunni extremism in a country housing Hezbollah Shiite Army can only spell trouble.
JAMJOOM: Now, sectarian tensions were already at a fever pitch even before Hezbollah decided to start supporting Syria's military and fighting alongside them in Syria. In fact, Hezbollah's strongholds in Southern Beirut were hit by bombs in July and August of this year. Dozens were killed as a result of those attacks.
But what happened yesterday, residents are telling me, has them much more worried than they have been before -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Mohammed Jamjoom reporting from Beirut.
Let's dig a little bit deeper right now.
Joining us, the former British foreign secretary, David Miliband.
He's now the president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee.
He's joining us from Turkey, not far from Syria.
David Miliband, you were in Beirut yesterday when those twin bombings occurred.
Is this further evidence now that the civil war in Syria is spilling over into Lebanon?
DAVID MILIBAND, PRESIDENT & CEO, INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE: I think that this is proof that anyone who believed that this was a civil war contained within Syria is wrong. This is now a regional crisis, not just of political and military dimensions, but also of humanitarian dimensions, because countries like Lebanon are creaking under the weight of now nearly a million refugees in Lebanon, 600,000 in Jordan, 800,000 in Turkey, where I am.
So I think that the stakes have been raised and, obviously, the danger is of a spiral of violence that gets out of control.
BLITZER: And I know you're trying to deal with those refugees. You're also trying to deal with those killed. The numbers keep going up. In recent weeks, we haven't paid a whole lot of attention to what's going on in Syria. But there are some reports now that the death toll is, what, approaching 200,000.
Is that right?
MILIBAND: I think that the official death toll is currently 125,000. But everyone believes that's a conservative estimate. Look, I think the point is this, that in September, there was a deal on chemical weapons and the world's attention turned away from Syria.
But the truth is, that the political and humanitarian crisis has got worse, not better, since September, since the deal on chemical weapons. And now, we face the prospect of winter coming on, a further rising of the humanitarian tide of refugees.
And even in the weekend that I was in Lebanon, 10,000 more refugees arrived. So there's huge pressure on organizations like the IRC, that's getting vital aid into Syria and trying to shore up the neighbors, but also there's a big responsibility, a diplomatic responsibility, on countries in the West to raise their game when it comes to humanitarian aid and to finding some way out of this impasse in the Syrian crisis.
BLITZER: And there's now a report that there's been a polio outbreak inside Syria, is that right?
MILIBAND: There have been 12 cases of polio diagnosed. And the IRC, the International Rescue Committee, the organization I head, has a cold chain, which is the key way of getting vaccines into Syria.
But without a cease-fire, even of a tempering nature, it's impossible to get our vaccines in, or at least get -- use our chain to get the WHO, the World Health Organization's, vaccines in.
And so polio, I think, is one of those issues that people thought was -- had been gotten rid of across the Middle East. Now it's -- the return of polio here, I think, is a dramatic illustration of what happens when you see dissolution of a country like Syria. The warring factions aren't going to have a Syria to fight for at the end of this. And the consequences are being felt right throughout the region.
BLITZER: What's your message, David Miliband, to the international community right now, especially to the United States and President Obama?
MILIBAND: I think there are two very important messages. The relatively straightforward message is that more needs to be done to shore up countries like America's key ally, Jordan. I mean the refugee flow into Jordan, which is about 600,000, that's the equivalent of the whole of Poland arriving in America within a year or 18 months. That's the scale of the hit that countries like Jordan are taking. They need big financial help.
The tougher call, the tougher ask, is to get a temporary cease-fire so that polio vaccination and medical aid and also food can be got into Syria.
The U.N. estimates that 300,000 Syrians are cut off from aid and two hundred -- and two million are in what they call hard to reach areas. It's vital that we don't turn our atten -- our diplomatic attention away from that vital need to reach those poor people in the middle of Syria, at the moment cut off from all help.
BLITZER: David Miliband is the president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, the former foreign secretary of the United Kingdom.
David, thanks very much.
MILIBAND: Thanks very much, Wolf.
Good to be with you.
BLITZER: Up next, the girlfriend that George Zimmerman is accused of assaulting is now speaking out.
BLITZER: George Zimmerman now free on bail and hiding.
CNN's Alina Machado reports.
ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Depressed and suicidal is how George Zimmerman's girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, allegedly described the 30-year-old to CNN affiliate WKMG in a series of text messages and phone calls over the course of several weeks during a negotiation for an interview. WKMG is reporting Scheibe told them Zimmerman, quote, "spiraled into what she calls a very deep depression in the months after his acquittal, spending, quote, "days in bed refusing to get up and refusing to take his medication."
But when CNN made contact with Scheibe's mother, Hope Mason, she told us in a text message those reports were, quote, "lies," adding, quote, "It's the media, it's all hearsay until she speaks publicly. That's what it is."
On Monday, Scheibe called police and accused Zimmerman of threatening her with a gun and pushing her out of her Apopka, Florida, home during an argument. Police arrested Zimmerman and Monday night while he sat in a jail cell, his wife Shellie used the opportunity to serve him with divorce papers.
A judge set Zimmerman's bond at $9,000 and told him to stay away from Scheibe and firearms. The judge also ordered Zimmerman to wear a monitoring device and to stay in Florida.
FRANK TAAFFE, ZIMMERMAN'S FRIEND: I just saw that look of -- he seemed very despondent. I just took it upon my own initiative to say, hey, why not doing something nice?
MACHADO: Frank Taaffee, a former neighbor and longtime supporter, says he paid just under $1,000 to help Zimmerman post bond. Hours later, Zimmerman walked out of the John E. Polk Correctional Facilities with a bail bondsman.
(On camera): Did you have any contact after you he posted the bond with Zimmerman?
TAAFFE: No. No.
MACHADO: Do you know -- he didn't call you to thank you for it?
TAAFFE: No, he -- I know he's very grateful.
MACHADO (voice-over): Scheibe and her mother have declined CNN's repeated requests for an interview. George Zimmerman's location is still unknown. As far as we know, he has not commented on the allegations published by WKMG.
MACHADO: The Department of Justice has not made a decision yet on whether it will be pursuing federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in connection to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, but officials have said a decision could come soon -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Alina, we'll wait for that decision together with you. Thanks very much.
Coming up, the stabbing of a Virginia lawmaker and the death of his son, could the entire ordeal have been avoided? We have new -- new details coming up.
It's Bob Dylan like you've never seen him before.
BLITZER: Bob Dylan as you've never seen him before.
Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If only we could ask Dylan himself to hear his classic. Turned into an interactive channel surf.
From selling dust busters on a fictitious shop-TV to a fake talk show.
The song "Rolling Stone" named the greatest song of all time finally has a music video.
Bob Dylan's management contacted a digital technology company called Interlude seeking its expertise mixing music with interactive technology.
YONI BLOCH, CEO, INTERLUDE: We were both so excited about working on like such a legendary song and we're so frightened.
MOOS: It's scary messing with the work of an idol.
Interlude's technology lets you watch the song on 16 different channels. Some of the programming is real. "The Price is Right," for instance, with Drew Carey.
But most of the programming is made up, like the Cuisine Channel, featuring an actress.
You just surf by clicking on the channel buttons changing from a reality show.
To news about a stabbing with the victim singing.
Stabbing victim also happens to be the director.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm wearing the same sweater.
MOOS (on camera): Music fans seem torn, some say it's genius, some say it's selling out.
BLOCH: Tell them nobody made money.
MOOS (voice-over): Interlude did the music video for free to demonstrate its technology, though the video was timed to coincide with the release of Dylan's 47-CD box set.
(On camera): And if you get sick of all that surfing, you can always do this.
(Voice-over): Just tune to the Music Classics Channel, where you can listen to Dylan belt it out the old-fashioned way.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.