tv The Situation Room CNN November 29, 2012 1:00pm-4:00pm PST
mississippi. >> ed lavandera, let's hope they catch them. who would want to hurt innocent dolphins? i'm don lemon at cnn headquarters. i should say at the time warner center in new york. that is it for me in the meantime. i'm going to send it over to "the situation room" in washington, d.c. and my friend, wolf blitzer. wolf, take it away. don, thanks very much. happening now, hard words as president obama and congressional republicans accuse each other of pushing the country closer and closer to the so-called fiscal cliff. we're also getting new details right now about what happened today when mitt romney had lunch with president obama over at the white house. and in the middle east, joy and flag waving because of an impending decision at the united nations. i'll ask israel's ambassador to the united states why he thinks -- why his country thinks the u.n.'s possibly interaction is a bad idea. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
we begin with today's hard words in the negotiations to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. that steep across the board spending cut and tax increase scheduled to hit in just 33 days. in a scathing assessment today, the speaker of the house john boehner says there's been no substantive progress on a deal. need to realize there can be no deal without tax rates going up for top earners. let's go live to our chief white house correspondent jessica yellin. she's got more on the latest developments. tough talk from both sides, jessica. >> reporter: tough talk and some bright lines, wolf. on the same day that treasury secretary tim geithner went to capitol hill to meet with both democrats and republicans to talk about these negotiations, there is tense body language and
tough words on both sides of pennsylvania avenue. they're starting to sound dug-in on capitol hill. >> all eyes are on the white house. the country doesn't need a victory lap. it needs leadership. >> reporter: at the white house. >> this is available not just here but to everyone in the world who has an internet connection. and i know things are done the old fashioned way sometimes on capitol hill, but i believe they have electricity and internet connections and they can get this. >> reporter: speaker john boehner and president obama spoke for almost half an hour wednesday evening. >> well, we had a very nice conversation last night. it was direct. and straightforward. >> reporter: cnn has learned the president told the speaker there's no deal unless republicans agree to let the tax rates go back up for families who earn more than $250,000 a year. what the president campaigned on. but in recent days there's been talk of getting revenue by capping deductions or bringing in more money through tax
reform. it's clear for the white house those proposals wouldn't be enough. it has to be tax rates for the wealthiest. speaking to wolf blitzer, goldman sachs ceo's the latest business leader to say that should not stand in the way of a deal. >> i think if that's what it took to make the math work, when you look at the entitlement side and when you look at the revenue side, i wouldn't preclude that. >> reporter: but speaker boehner is pushing back saying the real debate shouldn't be about taxes. it should be about cutting spending. >> despite the claims that the president supports a balanced approach, the democrats have yet to get serious about real spending cuts. >> reporter: but wait says the white house. and they point to cuts proposed in their last budget. >> where are your spending cut proposals? you know, it must be a rhetorical questions because those who ask it know we have put forward very specific spending cut proposals. >> reporter: wolf, if you need anymore evidence that both sides
sound more dug-in, another source familiar with the phone call between the president and speaker boehner tells me that conversations between staff were much more productive before the two leaders spoke last night. this person says the white house was showing more flexibility on ways to raise revenue before the president had that phone call. now, democrats insist that's just not true. democrats have been clear all along that rates must go up. they say republicans just haven't wanted to hear it. wolf. >> we are hearing though there could be potentially some flexibility as to how high the upper rates should go up. right now the top rate as you know is 35%. it was 39.6%, jessica, during the clinton administration. now there's some suggestion what if they compromise, have it go up to 36% or 37%, is that something you're hearing the white house would potentially be open to? not 39.6% but maybe 37%? >> reporter: this seems like an area, yes, for wiggle room,
wolf. not because they say so, but because of what they won't say. when we asked that question, the white house does not say that it must only go back up to that high clinton rate. and so it seems that there could be some flexibility in how high -- what level it has to go back to. >> yeah. and that would be for those earning more than $250,000 a year. jessica, thanks very much. we're also learning more about what president obama and mitt romney talks about over lunch at the white house this afternoon. our national political correspondent jim acosta's getting some details. they also released the menu of what they were eating. but give us the substance. >> that's right. turkey chili was on the menu. perhaps thanksgiving leftovers. i talked to a republican source who said this was a friendly meeting between the president and mitt romney. but mitt romney slipped in and out of washington so quickly and quietly that it was a sign that he was ready to accept the president's offer to show bipartisanship but not quite ready to jump back on the national stage. it seems the most unexpected
moment of the day came as mitt romney's vehicle arrived at the white house as a window was rolled down, an unknown man approached the vehicle and started shouting. until he was whisked away by the secret service. still, the ever punctual romney was right on time for his private lunch with the president. and be private, the white house means just that. no reporters. >> any chance your briefing might be interrupted by a joint appearance? >> no. >> we've seen other presidents and those that they've defeated in presidential election contests together. why not something for historical visually or -- >> i think there's at least some chance we'll release a photograph which will go into the historical record. it's a private lunch. and we're going to leave it at that. >> reporter: the white house released this photo and put out a brief statement on the lunch saying the focus of their
discussion was on america's leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position in the future. this kind of postelection bipartisanship is nothing new. four years ago it was then-president-elect obama and john mccain. >> i think that's a -- sends a great message to the american people. these two men were involved in a very bitter election for to be president of the united states. i think it speaks well of both of them to sit down and have lunch. >> reporter: earlier in the day the former gop nominee met with his former running mate paul ryan where an aide to the congressman said he had a constructive and positive conversation with mitt romney this morning. in addition to sharing updates from their families and reflections from the campaign, their forward looking conversation focused on resolving the critical fiscal and economic challenges ahead. translation, fiscal cliff. it's a challenge romney might have faced had he won. but as one of his strategists said on cbs, mistakes were made.
>> i think we should have done a better job reaching out to women voters, the governor has a great record on women's issues. we should have done a better job articulating that record. and we should have done a better job reaching out to hispanic voters. >> reporter: as workers were busy building the seating used in president obama's next inaugur inaugural, romney slipped out a side entrance of the white house leaving the capital's focus squarely on the man who won. as for that incident that occurred as romney arrived at the white house, the secret service did arrest a man for assault of a police officer. a spokesman says he was combative with uniform secret service agents and interfered with mitt romney's vehicle entering the white house. and i did talk to, well, just very briefly with one romney aide saying can you give us some color, a read out, you know what he forwarded me? the white house statement which can be translated as call me maybe. >> one line did jump out at me from that white house statement. they pledged to stay in touch particularly if opportunities to
work together on shared interests arise in the future. that's a pretty hopeful sign. >> that does leave the door open in the event that mitt romney wants to work with the president or the president wants mitt romney to work with him on some of these fiscal issues. and as the president has noted before, mitt romney has some expertise in that area. but if you look at all of the body language today, how mitt romney came in and out of washington so quickly, so quietly without leaving much of a footprint, it seems like there's a long way to go before some kind of arrangement like that might be made. >> i suspect at some point, not now, not next month or whatever, some point they will work together on some projects. >> time heals all wounds. >> yes, it certainly does. thank you. despite u.s. objections, the united nations is ready to give the palestinians another step toward full international recognition. palestinians in the middle east are certainly overjoyed. israel's ambassador to the united states standing by to explain why his country thinks the u.n. action is a mistake. fis while balancing the company's bottom line, their very first word was... [ to the tune of "lullaby and good night" ] ♪ af-lac
any moment now we're expecting a united nations vote that could have some significant implications in the middle east. we're watching it very closely especially after years of failing to win u.n. recognition as a full independent state, the palestinian authority has now lined up plenty of support to have its status upgraded, be declared what's called a nonmember observer state of the united nations. let's go live to our u.n. correspondent richard roth. what's the status of that resolution right now, richard? >> reporter: thanks, wolf. this resolution's going to be voted on shortly. the israeli ambassador to the u.n. is now speaking. we did hear from the palestinian leader president abbas who's getting more diplomatic clout with himself for this move unlike hamas' war with israel in the last few weeks. here's a portion of what president abbas told the general assembly. >> translator: i affirm that our people will not relinquish their national rights as defined by
united nations resolutions and the people the right to defend themselves against aggression and occupation. and they will continue their popular peaceful resistance. this is what we can do to continue popular peaceful resistance and will continue to build on their land and they will end the division -- >> reporter: the palestinian leader said now is the time. enough aggression. enough settlements. that's the palestinian view.
also speaking israel's offered various terms of negotiations not been accepted. wolf, the backdrop is the u.s. tried hard to lobby to stop this from happening. it still went down. some diplomats see it as an embarrassment to president obama. last year a threat of a u.s. veto stopped the palestinians from getting what they really wanted, which was full membership. this is u.n. different terminology. they're getting closer to a state, some say symbolic and others say opens to the u.n. international criminal court where the palestinians could go after israeli soldiers or vice ver versa. >> once they have a final vote, richard, let us know. gaining status at the u.n. as a nonmember observer state gives the palestinians access to other important global organizations including as richard mentioned the international criminal court here in washington at the same time a bipartisan group of u.s. senators warned they might cut off u.s. aid to the palestinians if they were ever to use that
access to make trouble for israel. listen to this. >> it won't be very long until the palestinians begin to use the u.n. as a club against israel rather than seeking peace. and our big fear is that the international criminal court would be available to the palestinians potentially to file complaints against the idf and every other institution in israel and would marginalize the jewish state. >> all right. let's discuss what's going on with the israeli ambassador to the united states michael oren. thanks for coming in. is this a big deal or little deal? i've heard from various israelis some say it's not such a big deal, let it happen. >> diplomatically, wolf, it's a no deal. the fact that abbas gets up in front of the assembly and gets approval to the palestinian state does not bring the palestinians any closer to statehood. they've declared the state twice before. there's no palestinian state
today. there's only one route to palestinian statehood and that's the route that leads back through a negotiating table sitting with us just like i'm sitting with you and discussing the issues that divide us whether it be security, borders, jerusalem. >> this isn't full membership as an independent state. it's what they call a nonmember observer state status. so it's just a step towards full independence. but isn't that what you want? a two-state solution israel living along side a new state of palestine? >> it's exactly what we want is a two-state solution but one that's negotiated. not where one side is declaring the territory without the peace. >> it doesn't necessarily stop negotiations from taking place, does it? >> if the -- they'll find israel being an eager and serious partner. >> practically speaking it really doesn't do anything other than undermining your desire for these kinds of negotiations. >> it doesn't help any. put it that way. it's a delay. it's a diversion. we've been waiting four years for the palestinians to join us
at the negotiating table. they have so far refused. we're saddened and disappointed and frustrated by this. we're still the partner. and if the palestinians want to come back and negotiate with us seriously, we will reciprocate. >> i heard ehud barak, the outgoing defense minister with leon panetta the secretary of defense a little while ago. eh ehud barak didn't seem overly concerned. >> he too said it was a mistake on the part of the palestinians. >> are you going to punish the palestinian authority by withholding tax revenue or anything along those lines? there have been reports you would consider that. >> we have to first see how the palestinians move forward. if they move forward against us in an aggressive way trying to declare israeli soldiers as war criminals, we're going to have to defend ourselves just like we did against hamas rockets a few days ago. if they're willing to sit down
with us, we'll talk to them. >> and you have assurances from the u.s. government, the obama administration, that they will vote against this resolution. >> the president has given us unequivocal support and has said categorically the only means to a two-state solution between israel and the palestinians is by direct negotiations without preconditions. >> you've heard lindsey graham and other senators warning if the palestinians use this as an opportunity for example to go to the international criminal court, they would consider cutting u.s. aid. and there are hundreds of millions of dollars a year in various forms of assistance to the palestinian authority on the west bank. would that be smart? i say that in a sense that the palestinian authority is the moderate element of the palestinian movement. they want a two-state solution unlike hamas which doesn't recognize israel's right to exist. don't you want to elevate the palestinian authority at the expense of hamas? >> well, we have great friends on capitol hill, both in the senate and in the congress and on both sides of the aisle. we deeply appreciate their support. right now, wolf, we're engaged with a very intense talk with
the administration about ways both of getting these negotiations restarted, getting the palestinians back to the negotiating table perhaps defending israel if we have to be defended against any palestinian moves to somehow condemn our soldiers as war criminals. that's our major focus. >> despite the rhetoric, angry rhetoric from mahmoud abbas at the assembly today and the rhetoric from leaders, basically there's a good relationship between the israeli government and the palestinian authority. >> well, we have a working relationship with the palestinian authority. we cooperate on security matters. we're interacting in many, many ways every day whether it be in commerce or providing electricity and water to the palestinian areas. we are neighbors. >> you'd rather see them strengthened as opposed to hamas. >> we agree. but the way to strengthen is to come to the negotiating table. what we've learned between this hamas and gaza, hamas had this big victory parade and declared they were strong, at the end of
the day they have no power unless they're engaged in negotiations with us. who was the strongest player in that whole period? it was egypt. egypt was strong because egypt has peace with israel. the way to be strong is not by making war and unilateral declarations in the u.n. that have no meaning. the way to gain strength is to be a partner. >> is the cease-fire holding? >> cease-fire's holding so far. >> and you thank egypt's president mohamed morsi for that? >> he is so far now proving to be a constructive partner certainly as proven in this last operation. >> is he honoring the peace treaty with israel? >> i think there's peace between egypt and israel on a daily basis, yes. >> what about syria? what would you like to see the government of israel as far as syria is concerned? because it's intense what's going on right now. about 40,000 people have been killed over the past year and a half. >> it's horrible. it's a terrible tragedy. we, the people of israel, look at the people of syria with great respect, even awe standing up and risking and even giving
their lives for freedom from the terrible bashar al assad regime. we want them to go. we've long wanted him to depart. he is an ally of iran. he has not only killed 40,000 of his own people, he's tried to make a secret nuclear military program, he's helped in providing tens and tens of thousands of missiles to terrorists in lebanon and gaza. he is a loose cannon. we want him gone. we want to see a democratic and peaceful in syria. >> what about the u.s. army corps of engineers is about to build a top secret underground facility at an israeli air base outside of tel aviv. >> know nothing about it whatsoever. >> you don't know nothing or don't want to say anything. >> i saw the story, don't know anything about it. >> must have a ring of truth. >> because it's in a newspaper? >> because there's so many details. >> no. >> about which u.s. facilities would be involved in all of that. >> we have superb security
relationship with the united states both with the army, air force, all branches of the u.s. military. we're in constant contact with them. i've just now come from the pentagon as you are aware our minister of defense ehud barak received the highest civil honor given by the secretary of defense to any civilian, the distinguished civil service medal. and i think that stands as a symbol of the deep and multifaceted relations between our two militaries. >> we're out of time. you're a historian. he just said ehud barack, that u.s.-israeli military relations have never been better. you agree? >> i agree. >> thanks for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. in the wake of the scandal surrounding general david petraeus's affair and the investigations into several other high profile generals, does the u.s. military need an ethics boot camp? and more than a decade after a deadly crash, a u.s. airline gets its day in court. many of my patients clean their dentures with toothpaste. i tell them dentures are very different to real teeth.
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a major u.s. airline scored a partial victory in france today. lisa sylvester's monitoring that and some other top stories in "the situation room" right now. what's the latest? >> cleared for the crash of a concord jet 12 years ago. while the criminal charges were unjustified, the airline still must pay civil penalties of more than $1 million. the court agreed that the concord ran over a strip of metal that had fallen off of a continental plane causing it to blow a tire as it took off from the airport. 113 people died in that crash. and black friday sales may have been a little too good for toys r us. after offering incentive after
incentive to shop early, well, it seems the company hasn't been able to keep up with demand. its facebook page has plenty of people now complaining. many of them placed orders online only to find out that the company later canceled those purchases because it didn't have enough in stock. and the original bat mobile, yes, it could be yours for at least a few hundred thousand dollars. the bat mobile used in the 1960s batman tv series, it is expected to go on the auction block in january. it was customized from a 1955 lincoln concept car. on tv the car could shoot flames, squirt oil, fire off tire slashers. but the car is not actually designed to do any of those things. but it is still a very good looking car. i'm sure it's going to fetch a pretty penny, wolf. but it's not available actually until january. i was going to say a nice gift for the holidays but it doesn't auction off until january. >> a nice collector. >> absolutely. when it comes to avoiding
the so-called fiscal cliff, where do we stand in washington's version of let's make a deal? we'll break down the negotiations with two top political strategists, ari fleischer and paul begala are both standing by live right here in "the situation room." [ gordon ] for some this line is a convenience. how you doing today? i'm good thanks. how are you? i'm good. [ gordon ] but for others, it's all they can afford. every day nearly nine million older americans don't have enough to eat. anything else? no, not today. join me, aarp, and aarp foundation in the drive to end hunger by visiting drivetoendhunger.org. [ male announcer ] can a car be built around a state of mind? ♪ announcing the all-new 2013 malibu from chevrolet. ♪ with a remarkable new interior featuring the available chevrolet mylink infotainment system.
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your options, call today. when you call, request your free decision guide. and find the aarp medicare supplement plan that may be right for you. let's get right to our strategy session. joining us two cnn contributor, democratic strategist paul begala and ari fleischer, the former bush white house press secretary. start with you, ari, this is a clip from john boehner. he was talking earlier today about these negotiations to avoid going over the fiscal cliff. >> so right now all eyes are on the white house. the country doesn't need a
victory lap. it needs leadership. it's time for the president, congressional democrats to tell the american people what spending cuts they're really willing to make. >> so here's the question, ari. why go public with those kinds of concessions? don't you make those kinds of concessions in private negotiations as opposed to speaking publicly about them right now and giving away your own leverage, if you will? >> yes, you do. you have to make those in the private talks. not in the public maneuvering that's going on. but i also worry that it's not being said in the private talks. and that's why you're hearing speaker boehner say what he's saying. wolf, i'm getting a growing sense from the people that i talk to that there's a real exasperation where we are where we were in 2011 with nothing happening in these talks. that can happen for a little while, but we are running out of time. there's not a lot of time to get this done and get it fixed before december 31st. there's a lot of things that have to happen after it's announced to get it done, passed and signed into law.
so there's little time left. not a lot. >> you're absolutely right. there's not a whole lot of time left. paul, some people say it always looks bleaker just before there's a deal. other people say it always looks bleaker just before it collapses. what do you say? >> right. john mccain is famous for quoting saying it's always darkest before it's completely perfectly black. and i think that's what it is now. the first step in this deal is the easiest. and that is extend the bush tax cuts for 98% of americans, but require the 2% of the most privileged of us, upper income americans, to return to the clinton-era rates. which would raise marginal tax rates on the rich from 36% to 39.6%. a real deficit reduction. 70% of the american people support that. they can't even come to terms with that. they seem to have not noticed the republicans that we did have an election. the president campaigned on this question of continuing tax cuts for the middle class but raising
them back to the clinton rates -- returning to the clinton rates for the top 2%. he pledged that he would veto anything but that. and he will. so until the republicans agree to those clinton-era rates, we are going to go off the fiscal cliff. >> you know, it's interesting, ari, you'll remember this because you were the white house press secretary in 2001 and 2003 when those bush-era tax rates were approved basically by republicans, very few democrats voted to approve those bush-era tax cuts. so why not do what the republican congressman from oklahoma says, what paul just said, go ahead, declare victory. say, look, all these democrats are now on board, they support for 98% of the american people the bush-era tax rates for a long time to come, declare victory and move on. >> well, number one, wolf, actually those tax cuts were bipartisan. 12 senators -- democratic senators voted for them, a good number. more than 60 senators voted for the bush tax cuts across the
board. number two, let me surprise you with this, i don't agree by going over the fiscal cliff, but i do agree that the smart move for the americans to make they don't have leverage on the taxes. the payroll tax cut about to expire and it did expire, republicans tucked their tails, reversed themselves under pressure. president obama won the issue. how can republicans oppose cutting taxes for 98% of the american people? that's what this is going to come down to if it goes beyond january 1st. and i think republicans are going to cave again if that happens. so the smart move is take taxes off the table. and then the only thing left is what will the president do on spending and entitlements. don't forget, wolf and paul, none of this tax talk has any impact on the sequester. unless they cut spending, we are still facing massive cuts to the pentagon, doctors and hospitals. taxes are a separate debate. solve it, settle it and then we can focus on spending before december 31st. >> hold your fire, paul.
we're going to continue this conversation. we have more to talk about. should president obama back off plans to nominate susan rice, for example, as the next secretary of state? who are his other options? are republicans secretly plotting for one of their own? more with ari and paul when we come back. can i help you? i heard you guys can ship ground for less than the ups store. that's right. i've learned the only way to get a holiday deal is to camp out. you know we've been open all night. is this a trick to get my spot? [ male announcer ] break from the holiday stress. save on ground shipping at fedex office.
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let's get right back to our strategy session. once again paul begala and ari fleischer joining us. paul, do you think it's smart for the republicans to pick a fight in the senate and go ahead and nominate susan rice to be the next secretary of state? >> it's his obligation as president to pick the person he thinks is best. if he decides ambassador rice is the best and i think the tea leaves are pointding there, then
he has a duty to nominate her. you can't cave in to the kind of -- i think political posturing you're seeing. the election's over. these are honorable people. senator mccain, senator graham, they're smart people. they love their country. but i do hope everybody just takes a breath and asks the question, if he nominates ambassador rice, is she qualified to be secretary of state? of course the answer is yes. you know, today one of america's closest allies, israel, is under assault at the united nations. you had ambassador oren on a moment ago, they should be united and this is a time we ought to be united. i just don't see any gain frankly for the country and certainly for attacking her. >> what do you think, ari? >> working six years in the senate where nominations get confirmed and two and a half at the white house, i've got to say after all that time, i believe in the power of the executive. i think the president largely should get his way with
nominees. he has the right to put people in place who see things his way. even if the minority party disagrees with those policies. i think people should be resistant if there's something seriously wrong with who they are, their character, their ethics or their record. these things have to get thought through and argued about, but i lean in the direction presidents get their people and they want to make their choice. it would be a fight. it would be a slap. i can see on the one hand it goes back to your previous question, wolf. if the president actually meets with republicans in the middle and reforms entitlements, acts as a moderate and governs as a moderate, then he can pick a fight on susan rice. it does sort of come together. i would not begrudge him for doing that. but if he governs as an obstructionist over everything, we're going to get nothing done over the next several years. >> it would leave an opening if he doesn't pick susan rice, paul, a crass political question if he were to name john kerry, for example, the senator from massachusetts as his secretary of state, he would be confirmed
presumably, would that open the door for a republican to be the next senator though from massachusetts? i'm speaking about the current senator, the outgoing senator scott brown who's still pretty popular there. >> he is popular. that's a great point. i know he was just defeated, but he is a formidable political talent. i honestly have no idea if that's playing a role in these deliberations. clearly john kerry is qualified to be the secretary of state as well. my best guess is it's exactly what ari was saying which is the president is asking who is most in sync with my foreign policy? ambassador rice is someone who helped form late the obama foreign policy. i think senator kerry would too. democrats are now in a position where we have an embarrassment of riches. i really hope they don't start worrying about this or that political matter. in democrats can't win elections in massachusetts, there's something fundamentally wrong with what we're doing. >> he did win the last time, scott brown. not this time but the time before he won in massachusetts. we got to leave it there.
paul, ari, guys thank you. the search is now on the for the country's latest multimillionaire. in the next hour we'll have the latest on where the winning tickets in the power ballot ri were sold. and coming up next, accusations a u.s. ally is now helping iran cheat on international economic sanctions by helping sell its oil for gold. [ male announcer ] when this hotel added aflac to provide a better benefits package... oahhh! [ male announcer ] it made a big splash with the employees. [ duck yelling ] [ male announcer ] find out more at... [ duck ] aflac!
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as cnn's ivan watson reports, iranians are changing how they do business thanks to their neighbor turkey. >> reporter: istanbul's grand bazaar, for centuries it's been a center for international trade. a place to buy carpets and jewels, silks and spices. in modern times turkey's exports have been dominated by cars shipped primarily to europe. but that changed last april when suddenly gold became turkey's number one export. that's strange because turkey is not a gold producing country. even stranger, the destination for billions of dollars worth of gold became turkey's neighbor to the east, iran. iran has basically been cut off from international electronic banking forcing it to adopt older forms of international trade. a senior turkish government official says iran has
effectively been bartering oil and gas for billions of dollars worth of gold from turkey. this month deputy prime minister alba baa became the first official to confirm that the spike in turkey's gold exports was linked to a gas for gold trade aimed at avoiding u.s. sanctions against iran. >> turkey is the big hole, the big gap in the wall of sanctions. >> reporter: the announcement put to rest questions some economists have been asking for months. >> our gold has always been there. iranians never paid any interest to it upon until the last year when they were kicked out of the banking system. until he spoke, the government denied the fact that this was an effort to circumvent the sanctions. >> reporter: over the last year, the u.s. and its european allies have imposed an economic blockade on iran, punishment they say for iran's nuclear
program. iran denies u.s. accusations it is secretly developing nuclear weapons. the sanctions have put america's close ally, turkey, in a tough spot. the turks are heavily dependent on iranian energy. asked about gold sales to iran, the u.s. treasury department told cnn anyone who helps the iranian government acquire dollars or gold could be punished with american economic sanctions. but don't expect that to stop iran from finding ways around the u.s.-led blockade. >> even the most powerful states have limited power in controlling international transactions and international trade. and in the case of iran and turkey is an indication of that. >> reporter: it's not clear if iran and turkey are still swapping oil for gold. but taking a page from history, iran is likely to continue using techniques honed in the grand bazaar like bartering to keep its economy alive.
ivan watson, cnn, istanbul. just about everything in the u.s. military is regimened and tightly controlled. after the david petraeus scandal and other u.s. generals, does the u.s. military need more than just a review of the rules? let's go to our pentagon correspondent barbara starr. what's going on? >> you know, wolf, with so many officers misbehaving these days, in fact it could come to just that. pentagon investigators have zeroed in now on specific potentially inappropriate e-mails general john allen, the commander of the afghanistan war wrote to jill kelley. she's the socialite who gave her e-mails to the fbi, some that turned out to be from cia director david petraeus' mistress. allen, whose nomination to be military chief of nato is on
hold, faces uncertainty. no one knows what the investigation will recommend. high profile problems with some of america's most senior military officers now a matter for the white house. this week president obama is to receive an initial report from the pentagon on fixing ethics training for senior officers. the majority of them do obey the rules, but it may not be enough. >> but if there's a perception of a problem with the american public for the military, then there's a big problem. >> reporter: mark says there are no excuses. >> clearly everybody knows that when you pick up a cell phone, put something down on the internet, you are subject to monitoring. >> reporter: the navy just fired two top officials at its prestigious postgraduate school in monterey, california. officials say they deliberately mismanaged money. rear admiral charles goet this
month relieved of duty as a strike group sailing in the middle east. a military official told cnn there were multiple complaints about him from sub ord nents. 23 officers removed so for this year, marines six, the army 11. the most serious case, army brigadier general sinclaire charged with sexual assault. the navy told us no matter how embarrassing it gets with the relatively high numbers, it's going to continue to announce when it relieves commanders of duty because they say with those ships at sea far from home, if a commander isn't doing his job appropriately, the lives of thousands of sailors could be at risk. so they're willing to put the information out there. the president gets a report from the pentagon this weekend, wolf, about what to do about all of this. >> let us know what he decides
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so will the united states supreme court weigh-in on whether same sex couples have the right to get married? the justices meet tomorrow to decide on a number of appeals. but many of the biggest names in show business, they are weighing in as cnn's entertainment correspondent kareen wynter reports. >> reporter: if the fight for marriage equality is a war, many in hollywood are on the front line. >> what makes this nation great is our freedoms.
and the idea of equality. >> we must demand full equality for all. >> it's about time the supreme court weighed in on it. and hopefully it will come down in favor of it. >> reporter: for movies to music to television, the list of world famous entertainers who publicly support same sex marriage is long. >> we've been talking about this for a long time. >> reporter: the cast of tv's "modern family" lined up to support a fundraiser for the cause. >> it's an uphill battle. justin actually works in the field. he lives that every day. >> reporter: he works for the american foundation for equal rights which was created in 2008 to sponsor the lawsuit filed by two california couples challenging prop 8, the state's ban on same sex marriage. his board is full of entertainment heavyweights. >> hollywood is incredibly supportive. >> reporter: jason stewart is the national cochair for the
lgbt community. >> both said they wouldn't get married until gay marriage was legal. they paid brad pitt seven ten million for chanel. >> reporter: turns out there's a marketing tool that gives them an idea. it's called the davey brown index. the poll tracks thousands of famous people across eight attributes including awareness, trust and influence. >> it's a must. >> reporter: brad pitt has a 98% awareness ranking. and out of nearly 3,000 celebrities, he's the 25th biggest influencer. morgan freeman is number eight. >> we are standing together for the right of gay and lesbian americans. >> reporter: in fact, of the ten celebrities currently ranked as the most influential, six are outspoken supporters of same sex marriage. >> i think that respect should be all across the board. >> reporter: with one in particular grabbing the most headlines.
>> i think same sex couples should be able to get married. >> as a gay man, i got to tell you it just hit me right in my heart. >> reporter: so while it might be difficult to say exactly how much a star's opinion matters, there's no question they do have influence. and many of the world's most famous influencers support marriage equality. kareen wynter, cnn, hollywood. and you're in "the situation room." happening now, syria's rebels make major gains, but the assad regime may be striking back with an internet and cell phone blackout. we're on the ground inside syria. arwa damon is there. the most important man in the middle east may be egypt's new president mohamed morsi. with protests raging and a constitutional crisis brewing, he's now speaking out. and we're learning more about the two winning tickets in the half billion-dollar power ball lottery. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
there are signs the united states may be getting ready to recognize the newly united syrian opposition as the official representative of the syrian people. cnn's jill dougherty is standing by. first, let's go to syria. fighting around the capital has forced the closure of the road to the damascus international airport and flights have been halted. cnn's senior international correspondent arwa damon is inside syria right now. says the rebels are making major gains, but the regime may be striking back with a communications shutdown. and arwa damon is joining us from northern syria once again. what are you seeing today, arwa? what's happening on the ground? >> reporter: well, i can tell you right now the area that i'm in is in a complete electricity
blackout including no cell phone reception, no internet and no land lines even. people are reporting that these types of internet and blackouts have been occurring pretty intensely over the last 24 hours. going without cell phone reception and internet. that's the regime's way of trying to prevent people from communicating with one another. what's been quite interesting is that driving through -- very towns that two months ago were under the control of the syrian government are now under the control of the rebel fighters. and in some of these areas we're even seeing signs of life coming back. beginning to open up shops. and even in some areas children going to school. it's a clear indication of how much territory this rebel fighting has been able to gain despite the fact that by and
large they are doing this on their own. >> and you've seen obviously some dramatic changes on the ground in syria this time as opposed to the last time you were there, which is what a few months ago. describe some of those changes. >> reporter: well, the big change we're seeing really is in how much territory the rebels are controlling and also the tactics that they're using against assad forces. there are now able to launch offensive attacks on significant locations to capture a week ago the military where they were able to get their hands on those vital surface-to-air missiles they have and bring down fighter jets, helicopters over the last few days. we're also seeing them trying to organize themselves. they are greatly struggling with that because there are some elements of the rebel fighting that do not want to adhere to a chain of command. but everything pain stakingly they are gaining more territory. they are beginning to slightly
organize themselves and get their hands on better weaponry. not because it's coming in from the outside, but because they're able to capture from government forces, wolf. >> arwa damon now watching what's going on. be careful over there. we'll stay in close touch. thanks very much. the resolution introduced by the palestinian authority has now passed the general assembly. those in favor of declaring palestine a nonmember observer state 138 yes, 9 no including the u.s. and israel, 41 abstentions. the u.s. ambassador to the united nations susan rice is speaking on behalf of the u.s. right now. >> the backers of today's resolution say they seek a functioning independent palestinian state at peace with israel.
so do we. but we have long been clear that the only way to establish such a palestinian state and resolve all permanent status issues is through the crucial if painful work of direct negotiations between the parties. this is not just a bedrock commitment of the united states. israel and the palestinians have repeatedly affirmed their own obligations under existing agreements to resolve all issues through direct negotiations which have been endorsed frequently by the international community. the united states agrees strongly. today's grand pronouncement will soon fade and the palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed. save that the prospects of a
durable peace have only receded. the united states therefore calls upon both the parties to resume direct talks without preconditions on all the issues that divide them. and we pledge that the united states will be there to support the parties vigorously in such efforts. the united states will continue to urge all parties to avoid any further provocative actions in the region, in new york or elsewhere. we will continue to oppose firmly any and all unilateral actions in international bodies or treaties that circumvent or prejudge the very outcomes that can only be negotiated including palestinian statehood. and we will continue to stand up
to every effort that seeks to delegitimize israel or undermine its security. progress towards a just and lasting two-state solution cannot be made by pressing a green voting button here in this hall. nor does passing any resolution create a state where none indeed exists or change the reality on the ground. for this reason, today's vote should not be misconstrued by any as constituting eligibility for u.n. membership. it does not. this resolution does not establish that palestine is a state. the united states believes the current resolution should not and cannot be read as establishing terms of reference. in many respects, the resolution prejudges the very issues it
says are to be resolved through negotiation particularly with respect to territory. at the same time, it virtually ignores other core questions such as security, which must be solved for any viable agreement to be achieved. president obama has been clear in stating what the united states believes is a realistic basis for successful negotiations. and we will continue to base our efforts on that approach. the recent conflict in gaza is just the latest reminder that the absence of peace risks the presence of war. we urge those who share our hopes for peace between a sovereign palestine and a secure israel to join us in supporting negotiations, not encouraging further distractions.
there simply are no shortcuts. long after the votes have been cast, long after the speeches have been forgotten, it is the palestinians and the israelis who must still talk to each other and listen to each other and find a way to live side by side in the land they share. thank you, mr. president. >> susan rice, the united states ambassador to the united nations delivering a very strong statement condemning this u.n. general assembly resolution declaring palestine a nonmember observer state. the vote in favor 138 delegatio delegations, 9 opposed including the united states and israel. 41 abstentions. richard roth is our u.n. correspondent watching what's going on. richard, practically speaking as far as the u.n. is concerned, what is this resolution that's
now passed and we're looking at live pictures coming in also from the celebrations in ramallah on the west bank, what does it mean for the palestinians? >> reporter: it means they get to call themselves a state in certain aspects of the united nations organizational system. but it doesn't give them all the rights of being an officially recognized state with their own territories, borders, flag, voting rights. the susan rice appearance was interesting, wolf. i know everyone cringes when it's political, but she's in this fight and having observed her here for four years, this was a very passionate, strong speech to come out to be clear that this was a bad resolution. she hasn't always been present for various reasons on big u.n. moments. the u.s. had the right, listed the first country to explain their vote. the u.s. one of just nine -- of
nine countries to vote against this resolution. susan rice calling it unfortunate, counterproductive resolution, you're not going to get anything by pushing a green button here. for susan rice, and washington, the efforts -- the diplomatic efforts to stop this nonstate observer state title from being granted really failed. rice's veto threat kept the palestinians last year from obtaining what they really want, full statehood. wolf. >> that veto threat is in the security council, the u.s. clearly does not have a veto in the general assembly. general assembly resolutions don't have the obvious political impact that a security council resolution has. explain the difference here, richard. >> reporter: well, under the u.n. charter, the security council passes laws, resolutions, which are legally binding. when they set up this u.n. shop nearly 60 years ago, people thought the general assembly which we are watching the action today was really going to be the
place to be and that no one would really want to be on the security council. but over the years it became the place. and the security council controls the sending of u.n. troops, military once voted on. general assembly sometimes symbolic or it gives the weight of the world message. however i think the people already knew the weight of the message is strongly behind the palestinians and heard oh countries backing abbas who received several standing ovations. he said enough is enough. now is the time for this measure. palestinians said they're going to abide by all measures of the u.n., but everyone will be watching to see if they challenge israel in the international criminal court and request prosecutions of israeli soldiers or politicians. israel says it could also do the same. the israeli ambassador says why doesn't president abbas sit down and make peace? we heard similar themes here. if you've been following the middle east over 60 years, you
didn't miss much in the middle east speeches but the vote was symbolic. >> very symbolic. 138 in favor, 9 opposed including israel, canada, united states and panama voted against this resolution. 41 abstentions. richard, before i let you go, some of it equated this new status that palestine has at the united nations to what the vatican -- the status of the vatican at the united
nations. is that a fair comparison? >> reporter: it is definite legal comparison. i stood yesterday in the back of the general assembly, which is where the palestinians will sit, continue to sit, one of the last rows, they sit right next to the vatican. they are now of equal status this nonmember u.n. observer state. however, the vatican -- well, i don't think the vatican is saying it's occupied. and the vatican hasn't been receiving any rockets or missiles or anything. vatican plays a little more low key here. everyone will be watching to see what the palestinians do with
their newfound status. but there are limits inside the general assembly, they can't even vote. they're always going to be on the minds of the u.n., middle east and some african issues predominate united nations history in terms of involvement despite everyone's effort to come to some sort of peace agreement. >> richard, don't go too far away. i want to stay with the breaking
news right now. palestine recognized as a nonmember observer state by the united nations general assembly. a lopsided 138 to 9 vote, 41 abstentions. jill dougherty is standing by over at the state department. jill, that was a pretty tough speech as we're looking at live pictures from ramallah. palestinians celebrating and waving flags. that was a pretty tough speech against this resolution. we just heard the u.s. ambassador to the u.n. susan rice deliver. i was a bit surprised. were you? >> reporter: the body phrasing was very strong. essentially said the same points for a long time.
felt this would accomplish nothing for the palestinians. the situation the next day in fact that phrase the next morning when they wake up, they've used that phrase before. so i think it was more of the tone. it was very, very tough. and, you know, this is more complicated after what happened with hamas and gaza and the recent conflict with israel. because don't forget secretary of state hillary clinton was just in the region recently. and she met with mahmoud abbas, the leader of the palestinians, the legitimate representative let's call it. and he was really almost a nonperson, a nonplayer in bringing that cease-fire about. he doesn't have a lot of influence in that area. he's losing influence at home. and hamas is gaining. so in a way he needed to score some points. this could do something for him of course. but realistically i think that's the question does it really
change anything for the palestinians? and that's what people will be looking for. but nuances this is a very big symbolic step i would have to say. >> yeah. we'll see what happens, the reaction from the israelis, the reaction from the united states congress, the obama administration. we just got that reaction thanks to susan rice, the u.s. ambassador to the united nations. all right. we'll continue to watch the breaking news out of the u.n. we'll standby, get more reaction from ramallah on the west bank. palestinians obviously very, very excited by this historic moment. palestine now declared by the united nations general assembly a nonmember observer state of the united nations. we'll take a quick break. when we come back, rick stengel of "time" magazine is standing by just back from cairo where they had an exclusive sit-down with mohamed morsi, the new president of egypt. e mirror,
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in egypt right now the ruling muslim brotherhood is being accused of hijacking the constitution. islamists dominate the drafting -- the council drafting this new constitution. they're calling for a snap vote that's added to the fury of protesters who accused the president mohamed morsi of a power grab. the new president is on the new issue of "time" magazine which calls him the most important man in the middle east. rick stengel was among the reporters to interview the new ptd. rick stengel is joining us now. he's back in new york. glad you're back. what was your impression, rick? what did you think about president morsi? >> reporter: well, wolf, as you know president morsi was a accidental president. a lot of people thought he would have been better as a chief of staff rather than the president himself. he's an engineer by training. a degree from usc.
he seems very much like an engineer. he's very specific about what he talks about. he isn't filled with enthusiasm although he seemed to enjoy talking quite a lot to us. he talked in english almost the whole time. >> yeah, well, he went to college at the university of southern california. so his english -- >> yes. >> his english i take it must be pretty good. >> it is pretty good. he had a few lapses here and there. he had a long reference to the movie "planet of the apes" which he saw as a parable for peace on earth. he's very down to earth, wolf. >> what was that parable from planet of the apes? i know he liked that movie. i read the interview. tell our viewers what he saw the connection with the film and what's going on. >> i guess he saw the persecution of the apes as being akin to the persecution of some people in the middle east. and he as we saw in the gaza situation, he sees himself as a peace broker and a power broker between the enfranchised and
disenfranchi disenfranchised. >> his critics now and there are a lot of them on the streets of tahrir square, elsewhere in cairo and around the country, they're accusing him of trying to become another dictator like mubar mubarak. you asked him about that. what did he say? >> yes. he's being accused of being a second pharaoh which he laughed at. some of those people in tahrir square were the same people protesting a year and a half ago against mubarak when he was in power. it's a complex situation. i think one of the things people in the west don't realize is that many of these judges, the judges basically trying to declare the constituent assembly invalid are judges appointed by mubarak. these are not progressive judges, these are judges trying to restore the old order. so he says that he is protecting the constitutional process by in effect preventing the judges from having any decisions about what happens in the constituent assembly. as you mentioned in your earlier report, they're trying to speed
that up to try to get the constitution made. >> you know, the obama administration has had nice words to say about him. the israelis have said nice things about him, his role in achieving that israeli/hamas cease-fire last week. did you get the sense that he is, a, pro-u.s., will maintain that strong egyptian/u.s. connection that developed over the past several decades and at the same time will honor his peace treaty with israel? >> you know, it's a very good question, wolf. we asked him that, but i thought he kind of skirted that. he's very knowledgeable about the u.s. two of his children were born in the u.s. i wouldn't say he was an american. obviously being a member of the muslim brotherhood there were things about american life that he didn't like. but i do think that he sees egypt and he wants egypt to have a very prominent role on the world stage. and he sees egypt as a broker between east and west, as a broker between the palestinians and israel. and he wants to maintain that. and he wants to maintain his good offices as a broker.
so i think he will in some ways maintain the status quo in the relationship between israel and egypt. >> rick stengel is the managing editor of our sister publication "time" magazine. they have an exclusive interview with the new president of egypt mohamed morsi. there you see him on the cover. the most important man in the middle east. thanks very much for doing this, rick. appreciate it. >> thank you, wolf. when we come back, we're taking a look. there have been some important new developments in this battle here in washington over the so-called fiscal cliff, the negotiations right now. what's going on? stand by, we have new information for you. anne's tablet called my phone. anne's tablet was chatting with a tablet in sydney... a desktop in zurich... and a telepresence room in brazil. the secure cloud helped us get some numbers from my assistant's pc in new york. and before i reached the top, the board meeting became a congrats we sold the company party. wait til my wife's phone hears about this. [ cellphone vibrating ] [ female announcer ] with cisco at the center,
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little loud for that girl. they're celebrating out there in ramallah on the west bank. that's because palestine, its status has now been upgraded at the united nations. it is now officially a nonmember observer. the overwhelming vote in favor in the general assembly 138 delegations voted in favor, nine, including the united states, israel, canada, voting against, 41 abstaining. we're going to ramallah at the top of the hour. we'll have a live report and get reaction of what's going on from the palestinians, from the israelis and also from the u.s., a tough speech from susan rice, the u.s. ambassador to the united nations. you heard it live here in "the situation room" just moments ago. she's not happy with what the united nations general assembly just did. she explained why. standby, much more coming up on the breaking news involving palestine. other news we're following right now here in washington.
there are 33 days left before the nation can go over what's called the fiscal cliff, an economic crisis triggered by automatic spending cuts and tax hikes. democrats and republicans are blaming each other for the stalled negotiations on what to do about it. here's the white house press secretary jay carney. >> you know, in terms of where we are missing specifics is anything specific politically feasible or substantial from the republican side on revenues. and while there has been progress of sorts on that subject, more needs to be done. >> our congressional correspondent kate bolduan is here. she's got more on what's going on. you've been on the hill all day. it's a fast moving story. what's the latest? >> yeah. another day, another twist, wolf. simply put. forget any talk of progress it seems. it appears both sides are now playing tough. the nice talk has taken a distinctly nasty turn in this
battle. treasury secretary tim geithner, the president's point man in the fiscal cliff negotiations, arriving on capitol hill for high level talks most notably with house speaker john boehner. >> morning everyone. >> reporter: how'd it go? just listen. >> despite the claims that the president supports a balanced approach, the democrats have yet to get serious about real spending cuts. >> reporter: a much gloomier assessment from the initial pre-thanksgiving huddle at the white house. boehner described his meeting with geithner as frank and direct. the same way he described his phone call with the president the night before. and he said for the past two weeks there has been no substantive progress. most public statements have been optimistic, confident, hopeful. we're all sensing a very different tone from you right now. are you walking away from talks? have things completely broken down, mr. speaker? >> no.
no. stop. i am -- i got to tell you, i'm disappointed in where we are. but going over the fiscal cliff is serious business. and i'm here seriously trying to resolve it. and i would hope the white house would get serious as well. >> reporter: house democratic leader nancy pelosi quickly dismissed boehner's remarks as a negotiating maneuver. >> i think they'll come around. it's a tactic. it's a tactic. >> reporter: but you hear a strikingly similar message from other top democratic leaders saying the ball is in the republicans' court. >> we are waiting for some specifics somewhere from our republican colleagues to show that they're serious on negotiations. >> reporter: as the country fast approaches the fiscal cliff, the two sides are talking past each other. democrats say they've laid down their marker hiking tax rates on wealthier americans. and it's up to republicans to propose specific spending cuts they want to entitlement programs.
however, republicans say they've offered a concession putting revenue on the table. and they say it's now up to the president and his fellow democrats to feel some pain and propose cuts in medicare and medicaid. confu confusing? we asked senate majority leader harry reid. where's the disconnect? >> i don't understand his brain. so you should ask him, okay. >> from capitol hill to the white house, democrats say the major hurdle remains, the tax issue, whether republicans will agree not just to revenue but to raising tax rates. republicans as you will not be surprised have made clear so far that is a no-go. so what's next? well, a top republican aide told me they look forward to hearing from the white house. a top democratic aide saying, our door is open. read that, wolf, as a standstill. >> they've waited a few weeks before all these bad things are about to happen. >> that is absolutely correct. and they need to get moving absolutely if they want to beat their deadline. you know washington, you know
capitol hill. they love a deadline. the real deadline is january 1st or december 31st, the end of the day. and miracles can happen on capitol hill when they get very close to a deadline. still, they need to get moving. >> a lotd of folks may be canceling their christmas vacation plans. and members of congress like those vacations so much. >> let's see what happens. >> thanks very much. as syria's bloody war grinds on, rebels are gaining ground. a top level democrat now wants the united states to get more aggressive in supporting them. standby. can i help you?
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rebel fighters clearly gaining some ground in northern syria. they are virtually at the gate of damascus. now a key u.s. lawmaker wants the united states to take a little bit more support, a greater sense of support for the rebel opposition forces in syria. we're talking about senator bob casey of the foreign relations committee, he's chairman of the subcommittee on the middle east. he says we're now at a point in the syria crisis where we've got
to have a more robust response to what's happening. the democrat from pennsylvania just re-elected is joining us now from capitol hill. senator, what do you mean? the obama administration should take a more robust stance right now. >> wolf, i think we need a more focused strategy. and it has to be multi-pronged, obviously. the humanitarian assistance we're providing now is substantial. we should continue that and look for even more ways to be helpful. we've got to figure out ways to support the opposition especially when they've made a lot of progress on the ground. the military challenge right now for the opposition is they're being punished terribly by air power. and that's one of the biggest difficulties that they're going to face. so we've got to i think consider a lot of options. i think the pentagon we're seeing in the paper today, the administration considering a whole range of options, whether that's supporting what nato may do with a patriot missile batteries or other strategies, but the pounding that the
opposition groups are taking from the air is not sustainable. in fact -- i should say it's inconsistent with having any kind of military progress. >> so let's go through some specific points. tell me if you like these ideas or don't like these ideas. should the u.s. join other countries and formally recognize the opposition now as the legitimate government, the legitimate authority of syria? >> i think that's premature at this stage. but i think the united states should set forth a series of conditions or hurdles over which the opposition would have to surmount in order to get recognition. >> like what? what do you have in mind? >> well, there's a clearly defined effort to make sure that in the aftermath of the assad regime that you have a country and leadership that's dedicated to democratic principles that will recognize human rights and be able to build institutions so you can have a secure and stable government. so i think that may happen -- or those conditions may be met.
but we have to make it very clear what we expect before we provide that recognition. >> do you want the u.s. and its nato allies to do in syria what it did in libya, establish a no-fly zone and make sure that the syrian regime of bashar al assad doesn't pound the rebel forces? >> we may be beyond the point where a no-fly zone would make sense. but i'd leave that to the military experts to make an assessment. i do know this. that right now unless some step is taken to degrade the syrian air force's ability to hit these opposition groups directly -- they're bombing hospitals, they're bombing civilians from the air, unless something is done to stop that, i don't think you're going to see any kind of military progress even though the opposition on the ground have been very effective at dealing with just the ground campaign. but the air campaign is terribly disproportionate in favor of the assad regime.
>> let me pick your brain on breaking news development within the past half hour or so the united nations general assembly voted overwhelmingly the final vote 138 to 9 in favor of granting palestine a new status, a nonmember observer state status, they're celebrating in ramallah. the u.s. voted against it together with israel, canada, six other delegations. should the u.s. senate take any steps now as a result of this? >> well, i think number one the united states did the right thing. this development is inconsistent with moving forward on middle east peace. it will create a terribly difficult impediment to middle east peace. and we were hoping of course that the palestinians would do the right thing, sit down and have direct talks not with conditions and work with the israelis to get an agreement. this will create difficulties. i think the senate will speak to this. we're not sure in what form that will be. but i think there's a bipartisan consensus that if the
palestinians take the next step especially which would be to try to amplify this by becoming a member of the international criminal court and then direct actions against israel, that would be -- that would create a reaction in this country which i think would be bipartisan and very specific. we're going to have a big debate about what to do next, but the most important thing right now is to condemn this action and to indicate very clearly how bad this is and how inconsistent this is with achieving middle east peace. the palestinians know that. a lot of people put them on notice ahead of time. but we've got to stand very strongly in great solidarity with our ally, israel. and i think a lot of folks in the region do. but this is a setback. >> senator casey, thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. from trying to become the leader of the free world to life after losing, up next, what life is like for former presidential
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you have to wonder how hard it was for mitt romney to visit the white house today. lisa sylvester's taking a closer look at former presidential candidates after the campaign spotlight fades. >> reporter: they are a hair away from the highest office of the land. >> please join me in welcoming the next president of the united states. >> the next president of the united states. >> the next president of the united states. >> the next president of the united states of america, mitt romney! >> reporter: then suddenly it's over. mitt romney joins the list of the almost but not quite along with senator john mccain, senator john kerry, former vice
president al gore, former governor michael duh caucus. >> in great britain, they would be able to go into a house of lords, kind of a wiseman council. we don't have that in the united states. when you lose, you lose. i've read about many presidents who once they've been, you know, said leave the white house -- sitting presidents who get ej t ejectejec ejected in particular the amount of depression that hits is just unbelievable. >> reporter: re-invention can take different forms. senators mccain and kerry have their day jobs to return to on capitol hill. in fact, kerry's name is now being floated for secretary of state replacing hillary clinton. vice president al gore made global warming his calling winning the 2007 nobel peace prize. gore also promoted sustainable investing and co-founded current tv. bob dole has been a special council at a top law firm but also took a leap into tv commercials touting the drug
viagra. >> like erectile dysfunction, e.d. -- >> reporter: moving from the political life back to civilian life can be tricky. take mitt romney. he had around the clock secret service protection, a legion of followers, crowds of thousands chanting his name. and then nothing. former congressman mark kennedy, who now heads up george washington university's graduate school of political management offers this sage advice. >> i think what makes the difference is having a focus. you mentioned al gore, he focused on environmental issues. you look at john kerry who's focused on foreign policy issues. if you pick some piece of your message that did resonate with the american people and after a pause come back and start emphasizing that in important ways, that i think is the path to really helping to make a difference after your run. >> reporter: another good step? mending fences with your
opponent. romney seemed to do that with this white house lunch with president obama. don't cry too much for romney though because he still has three things, family, faith and financial security. yes, and remember, romney is a multimillionaire several times over. so it's not like he needed the job. right now romney is subletting a space his ton's investment firm in boston. he'll be in the same building, i think it's a safe bet, wolf, we will be hearing from him again in some capacity or another, wolf. >> i'm sure we will. he'll do just fine. >> right. >> thanks very much. the accused mastermind behind 9/11 potentially closer to coming to this very country he allegedly conspired to attack. max says he's found a way to diagnose parkinsons with a simple phone call. >> they leave a voice recording, the alga rhythms will get an indication whether or not they have parkinsons. >> how confident can you be that
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guantanamo bay in cuba to prisons right here in the united states? new push by an influential senator to shut down the fac facili facility. brian todd has been looking into this for us. what are you seeing? >> a new report is bullstering her argument and senator dianne feinstein is pushing again for detainees to be transferred from guantanamo. republicans say no way. and they point to the case of the highest value detainee of them all. he sits in a cell some 500 miles from american shores. khalid shaikh mohammed accused mastermind of 9/11 could be a step closer to residing on the soil he planned to attack. military and federal civilian prisons inside the u.s. would need several changes if detainees like mohammed would be transferred from guantanamo bay, cuba, to the u.s. but to din an feinstein shows if
the political will exists, we can finally close guantanamo without imperilling our national security. the report says there are 2,000 state, federal and local prisons that could be suitable for those detainees and six military facilities. >> certainly the most likely place that the prisoners would be sent would be the maximum security prison in ft. lebbenworth, kansas. there has never been any escapes. that is the most likely. >> reporter: some super max facilities house his nephew, 1993 world trade center bomber usef. but running into staunch opposition on capitol hill where republicans passed a law banning the transfer of detainees from guantanamo to u.s. soil. dealing with funding for the justice department. what about like someone with
khalid shaikh mohammed at a supermax, isolated, very secure? >> but then you would give him all the constitutional advantages of being an american citizen. you have security provisions to bring him here and then you give him years and years of a show trial where he could do things and the 9/11 families think this is a very, very bad idea. >> reporter: among the changes at u.s. facilities that need to take place to bring detainees to america according to the gao, the risk to the american public would have to be minimized. some military jails are close to the public. military prisoners, by law, would have to be kept separate from foreign nationals. >> it seems to me that the likely result is status quo. these people are in guantanamo now and they'll be here in guantanamo four years later. our analyst jeffy toobin says the obama team has been burned over gitmo repeatedly after
promising to close it down and he doesn't think the president is going to spend any more political capital on this issue. wolf? >> the white house spoke out about this, even today, right? >> they did do that. they released a statement saying they object to the renewal of the ban on removing prisoners from guantanamo. if last year is any indication, it will not lead to a veto to block those moves. so, the obama administration not willing to go to the map right now to try to get those prisoners moved. >> different rules when you're a detainee at gitmo compared if you were brought to ft. leavenworth in the united states. >> they have to be kept separate from u.s. prisoners. they have to make accommodations for these report and the report states they are not ready to do it right now, but maybe they could be later on. >> the presidential promise four years ago during the campaignca. he would shut down gitmo during his first year in office. tough one to keep. we'll go back to the west bank where the celebrations are
continuing right now after the historic united nations vote. you're looking at live pictures from ramallah on the west bank. politicians celebrating a new status at the u.n. everything has to be just right. perfection is in the details. ♪ get to holiday fun faster with pillsbury cookie dough. you can stay in and share something... ♪ ♪ ...or you can get out there with your friends and actually share something. ♪
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and being ready, no matter what happens, which isn't rocket science. it's just common sense, from td ameritrade. you're in "the situation room." a historic vote prompts massive celebrations on one side and harsh condeminations on the other. cnn has it covered like no one else can. mitt romney has lunch at the white house with president obama. new details of what they talked about. plus, this -- vice president joe biden goes shopping at costco. and he needed to phone for help. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the
situation room." a historic vote at the united nations voting to upgrade the palestinian authority. goes from nonmember observer entity to nonmember observer state. an implicit recognition of p palestinian statehood. 41 countries abstaining. the u.s. and israel among those voting no. >> today's unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path to peace. that is why the united states voted against it. the backers of today's resolution say they seek a
functioning, independent, palestinian state at peace with israel. so do we. but we have long been clear that the only way to establish such a palestinian state and resolve all permanent status issues is through the crucial, yet painful work of direct negotiations between the parties. >> secretary of state, by the way, hillary clinton also issued a statement calling the vote unfortunate and counterproductive. cnn's fred is getting reaction in the west bank. we saw the live pictures, fred. what is going on now? >> well, the celebrations are still going on, wolf. however, they've moved here from central ramallah from arafat square basically to the streets. i'm not sure how much you can hear. a lot of cars going past here and a lot of haupging going on here in the streets and the celebrations are very much ongoing but they're sort of
decentralizing on to the streets. but when the vote came down in the united nations general assembly and they had the big numbers in favor of the palestinian u.n. state bid the place here just absolutely erupted. people were screaming and shouting and, obviously, a lot of celebratory gunfire that went on for several minutes. the people there that we've been talking to and i was just down in the crowd a couple minutes ago saying that they believe this is absolutely significant and they believe that this could be a first step for them to a palestinian state in the future. so, certainly, they believe that this is very, very important and by no means counterproductive, wolf? >> the fireworks going on. i assume in part what will happen is the palestinian authority of president mu mud abbas their status will go up as a result of this in the palestinian community, maybe at the expense of hamas, which recently negotiated a cease-fire thanks to egypt with israel, but
political ramifications of this, of this step within the palestinian movement. >> oh, absolutely huge. absolutely gigantic ramifications. if you recall in the past couple of weeks also with the armed conflict between gaza and israel, between hamas and israel going on. it seemed mahmoud abbas becoming an influential figure here in the palestinian territories. a lot of people here also in the west bank that said hamas was essentially the one that stands up to israel. mahmoud abbas was seen as very weak. if you look at the several few days before this u.n. bid in the run up to all this, his poll numbers have really increased. he has gotten a lot more popular here in the palestinian territory. so, certainly, in many ways, this speech that he gave before that vote was a make or break moment for mahmoud abbas. it seems as though he carried some momentum from that. it's unclear, however, wolf, how
long that is going to last. because tomorrow people are going to wake up and they're going to notice not much is going to change. the actual status of the palestinian territories really hasn't changed very much on the ground. that is something that israel has been saying, as well. they say in the end, this is a piece of paper. however, this is by no means that something can place direct negotiations between the two sides if there is supposed to be a two-state solution. we'll wait and see how that carries over, but, certainly, this is very, very important in determining the balance of power within the palestinian community. wolf. >> after 1:00 a.m. out there in ramallah. still celebrating. these are live pictures we're showing our viewers. mahmoud abbas, the palestinian authority, fred, he also stood up to president obama who strongly encouraged him not to go forward with this dramatic move at the united nations general assembly. i assume standing up to the u.s. would strengthen president abbas, at least in the short run, but give me your thought.
>> yeah, so, absolutely. that's something the palestinian authority has been saying over the past couple of days, again and again. they have been playing on the fact that the u.s. was against this bid, actually going to a vote in the u.n. or the palestinians putting that to a vote. they kept saying that, yes, the united states is on the wrong side of history. they hope that the united states will quote/unquote correct its position in all of this. so, certainly, that is something that will have given him another little push in his popularity ratings. but, again, the big question is, how long is that going to last? the big problem for a lot of people here is not only the political situation, but also the economic situation, especially here in the west bank where you effectively have a credit crunch and you have a lot of problem and very high unemployment and gasoline prices are very high and jobs are very hard to come by so certainly that is something where this might be a short-term fix. but in the long run, the palestinian authority, mahmoud abbas deeply unpopular and that is something they're very worried about, especially if you
look for the popularity competition that they are no doubt still with hamas, as well. so, yes, absolutely true. he has been playing towards the united states, he has been calling out the united states, if you will. how much that is going to help him in the long run is really up for debate. wolf? >> all right, fred in ramallah where they're celebrating right now. thank you. the upgraded status for palestinians in the united nations was certainly widely expected. just ahead of the vote, i talked about it with the israeli ambassador to the united states, michael. >> there is only one route to palestinian statehood and that is the plan that leads back through a negotiating table, sitting with us, just like i'm sitting with you and discussing the issues that divide us whether it be security borders, jerusalem. >> this isn't full membership as an independent state. a nonmember observer state status. so, just a step towards full independence, but isn't that what you want? a two-state solution. israel living alongside a new
state of palestinian. >> exactly what we want a two-state solution, a two-state solution that is negotiated. not where one side declares that it's getting the territory. >> but doesn't necessarily stop negotiations from taking place, does it? >> if the palestinians decide tomorrow that they want to sit down at the same negotiating table with us they find israel being a serious and eager partner. >> it doesn't do anything in terms of undermining your desire for these kind of negotiations. >> it doesn't help any. put it that way. it's a delay and diversion. we're waiting four years for the palestinians to join us at the table and they have so far refused and we're saddened by this and we're disappointed and frustrated, but, no, we're still the partner and if the palestinians want to come back and negotiate with us seriously, we will reciprocate. >> let's get more on what's going on and more of the u.s. response. kate bolduan is here to pick up.
>> let's bring in jill dougherty over at the state department. jill, what are you hearing there? >> of course, they are condemning it and they've condemned what everybody knew was going to be the vote for quite some time. they're saying it's counterproductive and you heard what susan rice said and that's what this administration has felt. you know, this is a very, very complicated balancing act, too, because on the one hand, they had to stand with israel. there's no question. but, also, they don't want to weaken mu mahmoud abbas. in congress you can have people who are quite angry about this move by mahmoud abbas and don't forget money is involved for the united states. i just checked, $200 million up on capitol hill in these support funds that are used for the administration of the palestinian authority. now, the state department wants those to be used. that is for administering what
is considered a relatively moderate, at least in that context, government. and, so, if some in congress want to pull that money, it could weaken mahmoud abbas. why is that bad? because mahmoud abbas is much more moderate than hamas. and hamas' star has been rising after they rose up, hit israel and then there was a cease-fire. but there's still, you know, they are ascendant and mahmoud abbas is descendant. the other part of this is the peace process. you know, does it help the peace process and does it hinder the peace process and you have to say what does mahmoud abbas really want to do. he says he wants to negotiate, but does that mean negotiating without preconditions or will he take a harder line on this? there are a lot of really, wolf, i think, well, you both understand the subtleties of all of this. in the long run, it might not be bad for the united states to
have mahmoud abbas win this, even though politically, you know, pr wise, it looks terrible to have your friends and a lot of countries in the world totally against you. >> jill dougherty at the state department for us. a lot of moving parts and a lot going on with this. still ahead, another big story we're following, the fiscal cliff talks. president obama today drew a line in the sand. so what does it mean for the future of negotiations? also, we talked to the new york city police officer whose private act of kindness has gone viral.ld o moderate alzheimer's, you'll also care about our new offer. you get access to nurses who can help with your questions. and your loved one can get exelon patch free for 30 days. if the doctor feels it's right for them. it cannot change how the disease progresses. hospitalization and rarely death have been reported in patients who wore more than one patch at a time. the most common side effects of exelon patch are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. the likelihood and severity of these side effects
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the positions are getting firmer and the rhetoric is getting sharper and the fiscal cliff is getting closer each day. drastic mandatory tax hikes and spending cuts will kick in with the new year unless, unless the white house and house republicans can reach a debt reduction deal. but with developments in just the past 24 hours that deal appears to be as far out of reach as ever.
let's go to our chief white house correspondent jessica yellin. she's watching what's going on. jessica, what is the latest you're picking up? >> hi, wolf. well, it's gone beyond just rhetoric and there are some actual details. the very latest is that secretary geithner, the treasury secretary was on the hill today and he made a proposal to house republicans, laid out an offer from the white house and from democrats that would include $1.6 trillion in tax hikes that was a surprise to republicans. they say this number was greater than they ever expected to get from the secretary. the plan also included about $400 billion in medicare savings that would be spelled out next year without any detail this year. also, frustrating to some republicans and about $50 billion in stimulus spending. all of this has republicans crying foul. they're starting to sound dug
in. on capitol hill -- >> all eyes are on the white house. the country dozen need a victory lap, it needs leadership. >> reporter: at the white house, they say they've offered it, just read their budget. >> this is available not just here, but to everyone in the world who has an internet connection. and i know things are done the old-fashioned way, sometimes on capitol hill, but i believe they have electricity and internet connections and they can get this. >> reporter: speaker john boehner and president obama spoke for almost half an hour wednesday evening. >> well, we had a very nice conversation last night. it was direct. and straight forward. >> reporter: cnn has learned the president told the speaker there is no deal unless republicans agree to let the tax rates go back up for families who earn more than $2 to,000 a year. what the president campaigned on. but in recent days, talk of getting revenue by capping deductions or bringing in more money through tax reform. it's clear for the white house,
those proposals wouldn't be enough. it has to be tax rates for the wealthiest. speaking to wolf blitzer, goldman sachs ceo's the latest business leader to say that should not stand in the way of a deal. >> i think if that's what it took to make the math work, when you look at what, when you look in the entitlement side and revenue side, i wouldn't preclude that. >> reporter: but speaker boehner is pushing back saying the real debate shouldn't be about taxes, it should be about cutting spending. >> despite the claims that the president supports a balanced approach, the democrats have yet to get serious about real spending cuts. >> reporter: but the white house says they did propose cuts in their latest budget. >> where are your spending cut proposals, you know, must be a rhetorical question because those who ask it know that we have put forward very specific spending cut proposals. >> reporter: wolf, if this all sounds a bit familiar from the debt ceiling summer, well, this
also is just an opening gamut. expect many round of offers and counteroffers and this evening the white house now has a statement in response to the republicans basic rejection or displeasure with the offer from secretary gitner. the only thing preventing the u.s. from reaching a deal that avoids a tax hike on 98% of americans is the refusal of congressional republicans to ask the very wealthiest individuals to pay higher tax rates. this is a conversation we're going to be having for a few weeks, wolf. >> a few weeks to go. not much time at all. jessica yellin, thanks very much. in just a few minutes, we'll talk to senator bernie sanders of vermont about the fiscal cliff talks and what democrats should give up in order to make a deal. chblths . but, first in "the situation
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claim of abuse by a classified leak. kate is here and has more on that and the other day's top stories. >> bradley manning was in court today. he is accused of stealing thousands of classified u.s. documents that ended up being published by wikileaks. today's hearing over allegations manning was abused while in custody at the quantico marine corps base. intend to enter guilty pleas and hopes the harsh treatment he endured will reduce manning's sentence. nch also former president george h. w. bush is hospitalized
treated for bronchitis. he has been at methodist hospital for six days and now in stable condition and expected to be released in the next three days. the 88-year-old bush is the oldest living former u.s. president in recent years he has suffered from parkinson's disease. saturday marks world aids day and today secretary of state hillary clinton unveiled an ambitious u.s. plan to tackle the disease. she said the goal is to usher in an aids-free generation in part by expanding drug treatments that keep the disease at bay. >> make no mistake about it, hiv may well be with us into the future, but the disease that it causes need not be. we can reach a point where virtually no children are born with the virus and, as these children become teenagers and adults, they are at a far lower risk of becoming infected than they are today.
if they do acquire hiv, they have access to treatment that helps prevent them, not only from developing aids, but from passing the virus on to others. >> the world health organization says more than 30 million adults around the world are living with hiv, as well as 3.5 million children under the age of 15. some very good news for us. all of us here will be welcoming a new cnn president in the new year. jeff zucker tapped to be the next president of cnn worldwide zucker a long-time television executive steering nbc "today" show to the top of the raeths and went on to run the entire network. he has news in his veins and excited to return to journalism and we are excited to welcome here. >> he is welcomed to "the situation room" any time he wants to come. where should democrats compromise to keep the country from falling off the fiscal
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adt. always there. we're only 33 days away from the so-called fiscal cliff. a drastic combination of mandatory spending cuts, tax hikes that could plunge the u.s. back into a recession. >> and there's only one way to avoid it. house republicans and president obama and his fellow democrats need to strike a deal before the end of the year on reducing the national debt to avoid that fiscal cliff. republican aid describe the tentative white house proposal this way. $1.6 trillion in revenue presented by secretary treasury secretary timothy geithner and stimulus and $400 billion in medicare and other entitlement savings. a permanent increase in the debt limit. >> so, let's get more on the
standoff right now. joining us senator bernie sanders of vermont. he caucuses with the democrats. senator, first of all, congratulations on your re-election. thanks for coming in. republicans say, you know what, they'll be flexible, but the democrats have to be flexible, too, especially when it comes to entitlement spending. medicare, medicaid and even reform. are you open to any of that? >> when republicans talk about being flexible, we have not heard one definitive word to what they mean. second of all, our republican friends look up and understand that this issue of the fiscal cliff was debated during the election and, you know what, mitt romney lost. obama won. the american people are very clear. that at a time when the middle class is disappearing and the people on top are doing phenomenally well and as warren buffett mind us, their effective tax rate is quite low. the wealthy are going to have to start paying their fair share of taxes. and i am happy to report to you
what you already know. is that more and more republicans are catching on to that fact. >> but the republicans did maintain a significant majority in the house of representatives and it takes two to tango. >> absolutely. but i think the republicans are also good politicians. they have seen the polls, they have seen the election results and more and more republicans have been saying, you know what, we're going to have to ask our wealthy friends to start paying their fair share of taxes and do what we did in the senate, which is protect the bottom idea. >> but you're not open to any cuts in entitlement spending? >> well, first of all, social security, as most americans know -- >> what about medicare and medicaid? >> what you can do withmedicaid a lot of the waste. for example, right now under the medicare part d prescription drug program, we can't negotiate prescription drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry. we can save significant sums of money doing that. other ways you can save money in medicare and medicaid. but will i vote in the middle of
this terrible recession to cut benefits for the elder laly or low-income people? i personally will not. >> republicans are telling me that they're offering a concession. they're talking revenue. john boehner came out after the election and said he's putting revenue on the table and what republicans say what they're waiting for is for democrats to talk about what entitlements they're ready to move on. >> what does the word revenue mean? >> deductions for rich people, how about that? how much money are they going to get? >> you have to start some place. >> just because you say revenue doesn't mean much. how much are we talking about? >> on the issue of entitlements -- >> by entitlements you mean -- >> let's say medicare and medica medicaid. talking medicare and medicaid, at some point it will come down to either fiscal cliff or we're going to have to make a deal, are you willing to go over the fiscal cliff or not have changes to medicare and medicaid? >> every single poll i have seen
says do not cut social security or medicare and do away with corporate loopholes and ask the wealthy to start paying their fair share of taxes and look at excessive military spending. and, by the way, let's not forget, we have already in the last three years cut approximately $1.5 trillion in programs. this is not a hard, this is not a fiscal debate. this is a political debate, ceos from wall street, big money interest are there to protect their interests. they could care less about working class people and some of us want to defend the middle class. >> if nothing is done by congress, by now and the end of december, everyone's taxes are going to go up. >> that's why we've got to do something and that's why the republicans have to do exactly what we did in the senate which is to say we have to protect the bottom 98% of the american people. no tax increases at all. continue the tax break but the wealthiest 2% will have to help us deal with the deficit. >> as always, senator, you make
your case very passionately. i want to play you a bit of sound from the white house senior adviser david plouffe in talking about how to resolve the fiscal cliff crisis. listen to this. >> we also need to engage in entitlement reform. medicare, medicaid carefully. these are cheap drivers of our deficit. we made progress with obama care. there's more we need to do. >> we need to engage and the white house is acknowledging this. do you not go along with the president? >> yes, sometimes i disagree with the president. >> yes, that is true. >> but if we are talking about making medicare more efficient, lowering the cost of prescription drugs to medicare, that's a reform along with their other reforms. >> how about this reform, raising the eligibility for medicare from 65 to 67 over several years? >> no. >> why not? >> why not? because there are working people out there who have have worked 40, 50 years they are in
construction, waiters, waitresses and they have worked their entire lives and they are exhausted and they should not be asking to work to 67 to get health care. >> people are living much longer than they were in the '60 when the 65-year limit came into effect. >> if you are looking at people who reached the age of 65, unfortunately, in this country, life expectancy hasn't increased all that much. >> we interviewed the ceo of goldman sachs yesterday. you know him very well. let's play a bit of what he told us and i want to get your reaction. >> i think if people get, as soon as people leave their ideological perch and realize that we have to have a reasonable compromise, i think the better it is for everybody. >> by roseinable compromise, what he means is cutting social security, medicare and medicaid. >> he also said -- >> he also talked about raising taxes. >> all right. here you have a guy from wall street who is making $10 million, $20 million a year, worth a whole lot of money who
along with his other ceo friends helped plunge this country into the worst recession since the 1930s, got a huge bailout. they got hundreds of billions of dollars from the fed. zero interest loans. billions of dollars from the taxpayers in this country as their bailout. >> goldman sachs got -- >> believe, me, they did. >> president obama invited him to the white house. >> but i do have a problem with wealthy ceos from wall street who close the recession now coming to washington and saying, if you are old, if you are sick, or if you're poor, we're going to cut your benefits. i frankly think that's obscene. we don't need advice from the people who caused this recession. >> next time you come on the show, senator, you have to tell us exactly how you feel. >> i won't. >> i was a little hesitant tonight. >> you need to come out of your shell. thank you so much, senator. >> thanks for coming in. israeli leader made a final visit to the pentagon today. we're taking you there. plus, new details of what president obama and mitt romney talked about over their white
house lunch. we're taking you inside the meeting between former rivals and, kate, we know what they actually had for lunch. people really love snapshot from progressive, but don't just listen to me. listen to these happy progressive customers. i plugged in snapshot, and 30 days later, i was saving big on car insurance. with snapshot, i knew what i could save before i switched to progressive. the better i drive, the more i save. i wish our company had something this cool. you're not filming this, are you? aw! camera shy. snapshot from progressive. test-drive snapshot before you switch. visit progressive.com today. make a wish! i wish we could lie here forever. i wish this test drive was over, so we could head back to the dealership. [ male announcer ] it's practically yours. test drive! but we still need your signature. volkswagen sign then drive is back. and it's never been easier to get a jetta. that's the power of german engineering.
it's hardly the white house arrival that mitt romney once envisioned. ? stead of visiting as president-elect, he came to have lunch today with the incumbent president who defeated him just three short weeks ago. >> jim acosta is here and he has details of the meeting, the lunch over at the white house. what are you learning? what happened? >> well, it's not the way mitt romney saw himself going to the white house, but it was a friendly encounter, according to aides to the former gop nominee. but mitt romney slipped in and
out of washington so quickly and so quietly that it was a sign, yes, he was to accept the president's bipartisanship, but perhaps not quite that ready to jump back on the national stage. it seems the most unexpected moment of the day came as mitt romney's vehicle arrived at the white house as a window was rolled down and an unknown man approached the vehicle and started shouting. hey! >> reporter: until he was whisked away by the secret service. still the ever punctual romney was right on time for his private lunch with the president and by private the white house means just that, no reporters. >> any chance your briefing might be interrupted by a joint appearance? >> no. >> we've seen other presidents and those that they've defeated in presidential election contests together. why not something for the historical record visually or -- >> i think there is some chance
we will release a photograph that will go into the historical record. i think it's a private lunch and we're going to leave it at that. >> reporter: the white house released this photo and put out a brief statement on the lunch saying "the focus of their discussion was on america's leadership and the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position in the future." this kind of post-election beenship is nothing new. four years ago it was then president-elect obama and john mccain. >> i think that send a great message to the american people. these two men were involved in a very bitter election to be president of the united states. i think it speaks well of both of them that they will sit down and have lunch together. >> reporter: earlier in the day the former gop nominee met with his one-time running mate paul ryan at a d.c. hotel where an aide to the congressman said he had a constructive and positive conversation with mitt romney this morning. in addition to sharing updates from their families and reflections from the campaign,
their forward-looking conversation conversation focused on resolving the critical fiscal and economic challenges ahead." a challenge romney might have faced if he won. >> i think we should have done a better job reaching out to women voters. the governor has a great record on women's issues. we should have done a better job articulating that record. we should have done a better job reaching out to hispanic voters. >> reporter: as workers were busy building the seating that will be used in president obama's next inaugural romney slipped out a side entrance of the white house leaving the capital's focus squarely on the man who won. as for that incident that occurred as romney arrived at the white house, the secret service did arrest a man for assault on a police officer. a spokesman said he was combative with uniforchl secret service agents and interfered with romney's mote cade that was just a couple of vehicles. that white house statement also mentioned that should the
occasion arise, they pledge to reach out to one another in the future. but if you look at that statement and the body language today and the way mitt romney sort of stayed out of the public view for much of what happened today, you know, that statement might be translated into call me maybe. >> what did they have? chicken salad? >> white turkey chili. perhaps some white house leftovers. we're not sure. i know we made that my house. >> several times. jim acosta, thank you so much. israel retiring defense minister ehud barack was honored at the pentagon and also plenty of time for some serious talk about iran. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr has details on this meeting, as well as more from there. barbara, is his real happy with the current state of sanctions against iran? >> well, there is a bit of a difference of opinion. ehud barack as he prepares to leave american life came here to the pentagon for one of his last meeting and that very question of iran, as always with him, was
pretty much front and center. he made predictions before, but, again, today he said he thought within the next year iran could make enough progress in its nuclear programs, its engineering and design work bearing facilities underground that israel could not get to those and that that might be the real crossing point at which something had to be done. he's talked about it before, but, again, he says he thinks it could happen in the next year and he specifically said, kate, he doesn't think sanctions add the end of the day will be the answer. have a listen. >> i don't believe that these kind of sanctions will bring the tourism to a moment of truth where they sit around the table and look in each other's eyes and decide that the game is over. they cannot stand it any more. they're going to give up their nuclear -- >> you know, a little bit of humor from the defense minister there. but, actually, he is completely serious. it is a point of contention
between the u.s. and the israelis. the israelis are pretty skeptical with sanctions, kate. >> not too surprised on that one. barbara star at the pentagon for us, thanks so much, barbara. captured on camera. police officer's act of kindness goes viral. we'll talk to him about the overwhelming reaction. [ male announcer ] when this hotel added aflac
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private act of kindness has gone public in a big way thanks to a viral photo of a new york city police officer giving a pair of boots to a man who had no shoes and now we know who that officer is. cnn's mary snow is in new york and she has details. mary, tell our viewers what you're finding out. >> well, wolf, officer lawrence depremo on the force for two years said he only shared his
act of kindness with his mother earlier this month and thought nothing of it. so, he was stunned when a friend texted him this week to not only tell him about the photograph, but that it went viral. he calls it humbling. had it not been for a tourist from arizona who snapped this photo with her cell phone, officer lawrence demremo's act of kindness, giving boots to a homeless man may have gone unnoticed. she e-mailed the photo to the nypd and they posted it to their facebook page and tens of thousands of comments followed. like this one, in a time when our hearts are in despair and we're bombarded with bad news, it is the human spirit and acts of kindness who really define who we are. god bless." >> are you surprised by all the attention? >> absolutely. i didn't know this was going to be such a big deal. >> reporter: the 25-year-old officer was on patrol in times square on a cold night two weeks ago when he saw the homeless man with bare feet. >> you could see the blisters about the size of my hand and my
heart went out to this man. i didn't think anything of it and went towards him and asked him if he wanted a pair of socks and he said, no, but thank you and god bless you for asking. here he doesn't have a pair of socks to his name and he has the heart to say god bless me. it was just inspiring. >> reporter: officer diprimo we sketchers to get the man boots and had to run back out to ask him his size. >> the manager offered his employee discount to the officer. >> we realize hop on the beat, you know, he's just passing by. and it just came natural for us to want to help, maybe the best out of the situation. >> the officer never found out the name of the man he help ed, but he remembers his reaction. >> he looked me in the face and the smile just went from ear to ear. again, he said god bless me and be safe. i just couldn't believe it was coming out of his mouth. for such a small -- he was so
appreciative. >> he says he keeps the receipt in his bulletproof vest to remind him. what do you hope comes out of it? >> if it pushes someone else to do another kind act towards another person, i'm going sleep well tonight. it's amazing to me. >> very humbled police officer. and he says before he left the man, he offered him a cup of coffee, he says the man thanked him, but told him he had already done enough. >> i think he's a great, great guy and he's inspired me. i'm sure he's inspired a lot of our viewers, especially especially this time of year. mary, thank you so much for sharing that with us. >> what a sweet man. >> great police officer. 25 years old and he's done some amazing work. he is a real hero. >> we don't talk about those random acts of kindness enough. that's a great story. back to other news we're covering, the fiscal cliff and the situation in the middle east. two major stories that erin burnett is "outfront" on.
give us a preview. >> we're going to be talking with the vice prime minister of israel to talk about the vote. when you lose something 138-9, that's usually called a shellacking. a u.s. and israel along with seven other countries, the only ones to say not support the palestinian bid for state hood. this is a big move and a big night tonight. we're going to be talking about that with the vice prime minister of israel, plus, we're going to get the democratic and republican side on the fiscal cliff. some breaking news on what the white house asked for and whether republicans are going to give it to them. we're going to talk about that. back to you. >> we'll be watching you top of the hour. thanks so much. >> up next, the vice president of the united states, joe biden, goes shopping and eating. >> get fat just walking through this store. >> the vp visited costco, but needed some help with his
shopping list. jeanne moos shows us why. to help those affected and to cover cleanup costs. today, the beaches and gulf are open, and many areas are reporting their best tourism seasons in years. and bp's also committed to america. we support nearly 250,000 jobs and invest more here than anywhere else. we're working to fuel america for generations to come. our commitment has never been stronger. of washington about the future of medicare and social security. anncr: but you deserve straight talk about the options on the... table and what they mean for you and your family. ancr: aarp is cutting through all the political spin. because for our 37 million members, only one word counts. get the facts at earnedasay.org. let's keep medicare... and social security strong for generations to come.
that is bo obama, the nation's first dog inspecting the white house christmas decorations. he will have a lot of company in the next coming weeks. 90,000 people with expected to visit this holiday season. that song always makes me laugh. wait for it. wait for it. i don't know what we're waiting for. any way, a lot of parties at the white house. >> he's a heart beat away from the presidency, but today, he got out of the office. joe biden took a field trip to the grand opening of a costco's first store here in the nation's capitol and by the looks of
things, he came ready to shop. here's jeanne moos. >> say it ain't so, joe. the vice president invades costco. >> are we going to cut through the liquor section? ♪ >> forget driving a sleigh, joe biden didn't even drive his own cart. a costco employee seemed thrilled to do the honors. his consumer confidence was high as the vp flashed his card. he had the press pack in tow. >> if you'll keep walk backwards, please. go to the bakery section, please. >> imagine shopping for a watch with the press watching from behind every counter as vice president biden called his daughter. >> getting some guidance. >> he looked at a $1200 watch, but we don't know if he bought any watches. we do know what he ate. every free sample in sight in the bakery section.
he bought an apple pie. it's a dilemma. do you want to shake hands or eat? he shook and ate and put a package of crackers in his cart. costco cost the vice president calories. >> get fat just walking through this. >> vice president biden came to promote extending middle class tax cuts. probably didn't hurt that the cofounder of costco was a big obama contributor. before he left, he used the phone of his cart driver, ivy student, to call her grandmother and leave a message. ivy was so moved but the whole experience, she wiped away tears. >> thanks for shopping with me and i know you won't tell anybody what i bought for christmas. >> here's a hint from nat king cole's classic. the "huffington post" held a caption contest for joe biden's checkout photo.
our favorite, stopped by for some fire logs. went home with a flag screen tv. 32 inches. jeanne moos, cnn. ♪ new york. >> we should take cameras around when you do your holiday shopping. you do like costco. way too many products for me. i can't do it. that's right. big news for you. this just in. the missouri lottery will announce the winners of last night's record $578.5 million jackpot tomorrow. those winners will be splitting the jackpot with a ticketholder in arizona. that person has not yet come forward. last night's prize is a largest in power ball history and yes, wolf blitzer flew to missouri overnight. >> i was there at 10:59 last night. >> and then you wiped away a tear. you read them to me several times.
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