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Mexican Drug Cartels Using Terrorist Tactics?; Nissan Announces Recall; Alaska Ballot Controversy; School Official's Anti-Gay Rant in Arkansas; Obama on 'The Daily Show'; One on One With the Dalai Lama

Aired October 28, 2010 - 16:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And we now are at the top of the hour. Want to, as always, welcome the men and the women watching us right now on American Forces Network all around the world. We are going to hit you fast this hour. Let's go.

First, a heartbreaking tragedy out of California. Let me tell you about it. One police officer is dead after this eight-hour standoff in San Diego. Here is how it went down. Police and a U.S. Marshal, they went to this apartment complex to serve this arrest warrant, but someone slammed the door in their faces. Gunfire erupted. Five suspects then barricaded themselves inside.

Take a look at this man. This officer, Chris Wilson, was shot, later died at the hospital.

I want you to listen to the city's mayor describing today as a day he always dreads.


MAYOR JERRY SANDERS, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA: Officer Wilson, a father of two, was a 17-year veteran of Southeastern Division. He was popular, funny, extremely bright, and a consummate professional.

It was routine for other officers to pay him the highest compliment by calling him good cover. In other words, you always knew Officer Wilson had your back.

This horrible event is a reminder that our police officers put their lives on the line every time they put on their uniform.


BALDWIN: Officer -- also two teenagers lost their dad today. Following the standoff, two of the suspects were found dead, the other three taken into custody.

Next, thousands and thousands of people in Haiti right now in desperate need of treatment, as this cholera outbreak is spreading. But as time is running out, it seems some of the red tape is slowing down the process. Hundreds have already died, medical crews working around the clock. But, as sick people wait, you see a lot of them children here, supplies just sit in warehouses. Sanjay Gupta now in Haiti getting to the bottom of this.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, people have been waiting for hours outside and days in hospitals as this, pallets of I.V. fluids, literally life-saving stuff to treat these patients with cholera, thousands of them, but it's not just that pallet. Take a look at this whole warehouse full, despite what's happening here in Haiti.

Hundreds of people have died. And they would say, look, I don't understand how all these organizations could have supplies and hundreds of people still died. And you would say what?

CHRISTIAN MORALES, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Well, again, we have given away to everyone who has come here to us for supplies.


BALDWIN: Several medical workers in Haiti are now having to wait for paperwork to clear before they can take those supplies, Sanjay showed us, to the sick. Health officials say the cases could rise for the next couple of years. We will stay on it.

Next, bomb on board, that was apparently the threat forcing authorities to evacuate a SkyWest passenger flight there in Utah. There is the plane. It landed in Salt Lake City from Montana. We are told someone called in the threat, but nothing was found on board. No one was hurt. The feds, they are investigating.

Next, take a look at how this plane landed. This is Wesley Chapel in Florida. I'm thinking this is not what was meant to go down. We are told a student pilot took off at a local airport, had some problems, hit two parked cars -- you see them smushed -- in the airport parking lot.

Police say, fortunately, no one was with hurt here, including the pilot. And if you are asking how the student managed to hit these two cars in what appears to be a pretty empty parking lot, good question. We will let you know as soon as we know.

Next, another major car recall, this time from Nissan, the Japanese automaker calling back more than 740,000 trucks and SUVs for electrical problems. Nissan says the problems could cause the engines to stall. So heads up if you own an Armada, a Titan, Frontier, Pathfinder, or Xterra, better check to see if your model is included here.

Next, many people in France are really, really upset that the country's retirement age may be going up two years from 60 to 62, so angry, they are taking to the streets still. Look at this. The government estimates more than half a million people turning out in protest. Unions say the number is closer to two million, that retirement bill just a couple of steps away from becoming law. French aviation officials expect a good majority of flights to be canceled in and out of Paris tonight as workers strike this proposal.

Next, what is George W. Bush's favorite gadget, might you be asking? Aha. It is the iPad. Former first lady Laura Bush says her husband uses it to read "The Wall Street Journal" first thing each and every morning. Oh, and she says he constantly plays Scrabble on it. Sound like someone you know? Apparently, that is his favorite app. Mrs. Bush has been revealing details about their life after the White House weeks before the former president's book is released.

Next, grab the Cracker Jacks and play ball. That was Tony Bennett before game one of the World Series, which is officially in the books, the San Francisco Giants roughing up the Texas Rangers, whew, 11-7. Bad news for tonight's game two, there is some rain in San Francisco's forecast.

Next, you just missed out on the chance to be as cool as James Bond. Why? Because his famous gadget-filled car now off the market. A mysterious buyer spent a whopping $4 million on this car. You recognize it? This is the Aston Martin DB5. It was auctioned off in London, the 1964 sports car driven by Sean Connery in the "Bond" classics "Goldfinger" and "Thunderball."

So what accessories come with it, you ask? Here's what, machine guns, an ejector seat, a nail spreader, tire shredders, and a bulletproof shield, you know, the kind of stuff you need every day on the road. Kidding. The previous owner bought the car for 12 grand more than four decades ago. He says he has only driven the car one time.


JERRY LEE, FORMER OWNER OF BOND CAR: It's just pure beauty, I mean, just gorgeous. It's a work of art, believe it or not. So, I don't look at it as a car. I look at it as a work of art.


BALDWIN: Yes, sir, for $4 million. One expert calls the car a gentlemen's club on wheels.

And, finally, forget first class. How about cuddle class? It's coming. I'm serious. Take a look. Air New Zealand announcing it will soon offer passengers the chance to buy seats that turn into couches or beds. The airline is marketing them as -- quote -- "sky couches," perfect for couples, families maybe with young kids. Look kind of cuddly. We are told they will be available next year on flights from New Zealand to Los Angeles and London.

Hey, those are long flights, right?

All right, listen to this. Are Mexican drug cartels taking a page from al Qaeda terrorists? I'm going to show you a picture that may indeed prove it. That is ahead. Also, could your handwriting decide whether your vote is actually counted next week? You miss a letter, might that affect it? Wait until you hear how the answer affects the Tea Party movement's chances. That is next.


BALDWIN: Five whole days here until Election Day, and Alaska's Democrats and Republicans are united. What?

Yes, they are united in their concern over Senator Lisa Murkowski's write-in campaign. In fact, they are so concerned, they went to court Monday to force the state to stop providing voters with a list, now, a list of those candidates, including obviously, Murkowski. You see, the list provides the name of certified write-in candidates at the polls.

Now, why, you may be asking, is a list of candidates a concern here? Well, first, I want to show you the latest CNN/"TIME"/Opinion Research polling. This is from Alaska. And you can see, two of those candidates, you see those top two candidate, there is in this really neck-and-neck race now.

You have Murkowski. You see the asterisk? That's because she is the write-in. She is sitting with 37 percentage points of the vote here. You have Joe Miller, the Tea Party candidate here running on the Republican ticket, at 37 percent as well, and Scott McAdams polling at 23 percent, the Democrat candidate there in Alaska.

But why all this concern over these lists, right, the list of the write-in candidate? Well, here is the thing. If a voter goes in to vote and misspells the name of the candidate that they are trying to vote for, that vote may not count.

And, as you can see behind me, it is a pretty long name here. This is the name of the write-in candidate. This is Murkowski, nine letters. And, look, realize the name may be really familiar to a lot of people in Alaska, but perhaps not.

It is spelled just as it sounds, nine letters, like I said.

Well, let's talk a little bit more about this whole revelation here coming out of the state Supreme Court.

Joining me now on the phone from Anchorage, Alaska is Matthew Felling. He is an anchor for KTVA.

And, Matthew, if you can just first just outline for me what happened today with regard to the Alaska Supreme Court. They essentially intervened, allowing these voters to -- to have these lists of possible write-in candidates, correct?

MATTHEW FELLING, KTVA ANCHOR (via telephone): Absolutely, Brooke.

And the unfortunate and uncomfortable thing up here is, to a lot of Alaskans, it sort of feels like the Alaska Division of Elections, which is the group that oversees this, the state department that sees it, it seems like they're -- they might be making it up as they go along, because this is such an unprecedented sort of contest.

Normally, a write-in candidate is, you know, the independent person or the person who doesn't have millions of dollars and years of experience. And they are sort of trying to be more accommodating, despite the fact that both Democrats and Republicans are, you know, walking hand in hand for once, saying, listen, you have got to abide by the rule of law on how to move forward and keep everybody happy.

And it is just not going to work.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you, guys, if we can throw -- let's throw the name if we can back behind me, because I want to underscore the point. Here it is.

This is Murkowski. So, if a voter -- had the state Supreme Court not intervened and said it is OK to have this list already written out with Murkowski's name, if somebody goes in -- and see the I at the end of the name? If somebody wrote a Y, for example, Matt, that vote not counted?

FELLING: Actually, Brooke, the lieutenant governor of the state has said he is going to be lenient with regards to spelling, they are going to -- and they are going to measure intent.

But then, if you get, you know, a gang of lawyers up here in a very close race, we are going to have to start figuring out exactly what lenient and intent means. I mean, just how flexible are they going to be?

So it is not going to have to be exactly all nine letters that you are seeing now in place, but at the same time, we have to wonder are they going to allow two flubs in spelling, three flubs in spellings --

BALDWIN: At what point do you draw the line?

FELLING: Exactly. And if I am a Joe Miller supporter or a Scott McAdams supporter, I'm probably not going to have the same threshold that a Senator Lisa Murkowski supporter is going to have.

Obviously, we are shaping up to have a pretty brutal fight. We have had a lot of legal battles with elections across the country in recent years and it is going to replay itself up here in our -- the great, white north.

BALDWIN: And it's so interesting because you have the three M options in this particular race, you have McAdams, Miller and Murkowski, not to make it any more confusing here.

Before I let you go, Matt, let me ask you, here we are, five days out. Is the supreme court -- the state supreme court ruling is this finished or could this change? FELLING: Well, right now, they are sort of trying to straddle. They are saying, listen, we will allow the write-in candidate guides forms to be given to people who ask for them, but not going to put what party they are in. And I don't know what sort of wiggle room they are trying to give themselves.

The one side wants it to be done away with entirely. One side want it is to be like extremely chapter and verse, all the Libertarian, all the Republicans, all the Democrats grouped accordingly. And I think they're just trying to please everybody and in the meantime, pleasing no one.

I think it is going to change in the next few days. But then, we will see what happens because there is a massive write-in, there's a massive absentee number, are we going to have a different standard apply after election day? It starts to get really, really -- you know, the math starts to get extremely difficult to guide your way through.

BALDWIN: Matt Felling, I know we will have a voter irregularities beef and a desk here at CNN, but I have a feeling we will be talking to you in the days and of course the day after election day.

Matt Felling, thank you so much.

FELLING: Have a good one.

BALDWIN: Gunned down at parties, cars shot up in broad daylight and now this kidnapping victim held at gunpoint on YouTube. What is going on in Mexico? Our Raphael Romo joins me next to explain how all these bits and pieces of violent acts are piecing together for one very large problem for Americans.

And so you thought the whole Charlie Sheen episode was over? Oh, no. We are now hearing exactly who he was with inside that New York hotel room. And here is a hint, she is an actress.


BALDWIN: Mexico's violent border drug war taking a new turn. One drug cartel taking a tactic long used by terrorists halfway around the world. They have grabbed this hostage, here is a picture, interrogated him on camera at gunpoint and released the video to the world.

Now, what we are showing here this is the still image from the latest video which was posted just yesterday on YouTube. So we don't know the veracity of what the hostage is saying, we are going to get into that just a moment here, but his accusations, they are damning and they are about his sister who is a former state attorney general in Mexico.

So I want to bring in Raphael Romo, who is our senior Latin American affairs editor. And, Raphael, from listening to the video, and knowing we are not going to play it, but from listening it, it what is he saying?

RAPHAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: I listened to the whole nine minutes and what he's saying is that his sister, Patricia Gonzalez, a former state attorney general for the state of Chihuahua, just south of Texas, was actually in charge of ordering killings in connection with drug cartels.

So -- but the reality is that when you look at this video, you have to realize that he is surrounded by heavily armed men wearing military fatigues; he is wearing handcuffs. So, you have to remember that, to put it in context to really question the veracity of the video.

However, there is a new term in our part of Mexico, it's narco- politicians, which means politicians who are tied one way or another with the drug cartels.

BALDWIN: So, from what you're saying, the fact that he is surrounded by these strong-armed men, you're saying he could be not telling the truth, could be coerced, could be reading a script.

ROMO: That was my question when I saw the video, is he reading or is he really talking about all of this. Because in nine minutes, he talks about a number of different names of officials throughout the state who he accuses of being involved with drug trafficking organizations and is he really remembering all of that? If he was, he was really involved in all of this. Otherwise, he might have been reading a script.

But his demeanor, he is very calm, he is very -- just -- you don't see any nervousness. Very intriguing to see the video.

BALDWIN: What about the Mexican government? What are they doing?

ROMO: The Mexican government says this is their strategy right now. This is the only way to fight the drug cartels.

As a matter of fact, President Calderon, earlier this week, said that his way is the only way. Let's take a listen to what he said.


FELIPE CALDERON, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO (through translator): It's a long road, for sure. It's a road without many results in the short term or at least not spectacular ones, but it's an efficient path and furthermore, it is the only one we have with.


ROMO: Now, President Calderon is in office until December of 2012 and he says, and his government says, that they are not going to change the strategy, that it is working. That the reason why there is so much violence is because the drug cartels are reacting like a wounded bear would react, just lashing out.

BALDWIN: What do you mean?

ROMO: Lashing out. If you wound a bear, it is going to lash out at you and that's what is happening with the drug cartels.

BALDWIN: And they are lashing out because, case in point, Saturday to today, four massacres.

ROMO: Exactly, four massacres. We used to count victims in Mexico one by one, now we are counting massacres.

In two border cities, Mexico City and one northwestern city, four massacres. It's just amazing when you look at what happened. And most of them, very young people. In one case, there was a 7-year-old boy who was wounded in one of these shootings.

BALDWIN: And recently at a car wash. It could be anywhere, any time.

ROMO: Anywhere. One of them was at a house party. Families, children, women, they were all gathering together last Saturday in Ciudad Juarez, which is across the border from El Paso, Texas. Heavily armed men, stormed the party, started shooting at close range and they killed 14 people and left just as many wounded.

BALDWIN: And it was just 35 miles southeast of Juarez is where we have a young woman, 20-year-old criminology student taking the helm as a police chief in that municipality.

So let us know if any other videos materialize, Raphael Romo, I know you are all over this. Thank you.

ROMO: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Frightening. Frightening stuff.

A school board member in Arkansas says he wants all gay people to kill themselves. He allegedly wrote this, this is his personal Facebook page. You will see the rant and hear the outrage, that's next.


BALDWIN: Got a story for you, this one out of Arkansas that is, to be honest, pretty hard to believe. You have a school official in this small Arkansas town, this is Pleasant Plains, Arkansas, coming under fire for allegedly posting this anti-gay rant on his Facebook page.

So take a look with me, here is the page. This is Clint McCance's page, this is before this was taken down. We've highlighted it for you. McCance, by the way, the vice president of the Midland School District. And now, many in the area are calling for this guy's resignation.

But before I actually tell you what he posted, I want to warn you he uses some words you may find offensive. Also, the misspellings, they are his, not ours. Remember, he works at a school.

OK, here is part of his posting, quote, "Seriously. They want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide," end quote.

McCance goes on, "We are honoring the fact they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE."

Put it on Facebook and what is said in Arkansas, probably not going to stay in Arkansas if it was on the Internet. This thing has nearly gone viral. Last night, here on CNN, Anderson Cooper talked with a whistleblower who outed McCance's Facebook rant.

Watch this.


ANTHONY TURNER, DISCOVERED ANTI-GAY FACEBOOK RANT: I'm a real -- really thankful for the It Gets Better campaign, where everybody from rock stars to the president of the United States has posted online videos telling kid it is gets better, that's it's not -- just high school, but things are better after.

But I really think we have a responsibility to make sure that it gets better now. Why should students have to wait until they graduate for things to be better? You know, we need to do something.

And if it is the case the laws are the way they are, the policies are the way they are and nothing can be done in this particular instance, than that that should serve as a wakeup call to all of us that we need to really think about our public policy and really think about, you know, a situation where hate like this, where this horrible kind of conduct from a board official could be tolerated and nothing can be done about it.


BALDWIN: So you're listening to the story, you're wondering where McCance is now, right? He is out of reach to almost anyone trying to get a hold of him, trying to talk to him. He did tell "The Arkansas Times" that he is worried about his and his family's safety. "The Arkansas Times" is also reporting a protest rally to demand McCance's resignation was met earlier today with anti-gay counter protests and protestors. Stay tuned to that one.

Also, the Dalai Lama, one of the most famous spiritual figures in the whole world, he is now giving this rare TV interview to CNN. Find out what he says about money and happiness and retirement. That is ahead.

Also, there they are. Look who is standing by on his BlackBerry, banging out the latest story, right Paul Steinhauser? There's Paul Steinhauser and Mark Preston with brand new information just in from the world of politics. CNN Political Ticker is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: Not a lot of days here. Five days to go until election day. CNN has all your latest political news with The Best Political Team on Television. Of course, CNN Equals Politics. We have our favorite duo in Washington, Mark Preston and Paul Steinhauser joining me now from D.C.

Guys, five days, down to the wire. What's going on with the ticker?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL EDITOR: Brooke, let's talk about Alaska. You were just discussing it earlier this hour. And just with five days to go I want Oliver Jani, our cameraman, to zoom in here. Brand-new on the CNN Political Ticker. Joe Miller, the Republican nominee who's had some controversies the last two weeks. He is getting some assistance now from the Tea Party Express. That is that national Tea Party organization that spent over half a -- $500,000 for him in the primaries to help him win in the primaries over Lisa Murkowski, the incumbent senator.

Now, they are going to help him again. They say they're going to go up with two new ads starting today. One attacking Murkowski, one bragging about Miller's bio. So, they're putting their money back on the line right here in the closing days.

Brand new on the Ticker, that is what I got. Mark, over to you.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Hey, you know, Brooke, yesterday, I wrote how Michael Steele, the Republican National Committee Chairman, very controversial figure is making plans to run for another term. This frustrates some Republicans who wish he would just quietly go away. Of course, he does have some of his supporters.

Well, I'll tell you, just a few weeks ago, I actually interviewed Michael Steele. I didn't really publish too much of the interview. Talked a little bit about how he wanted to work closely with Mr. Obama, but looking for a hook to really put the whole interview out. And now I have the hook. The hook is the fact he is going to run for re-election as the chairman.

Let me give you a couple of quotes, a little bit of a tease that our viewers can read tomorrow. I asked him, how do you think you were treated in this job, and what were your expectations of the job? He said to me, "All I ever wanted from the first day I took this job is a fair shot to do it." As far as the critics go, Brooke, I said, look, what do you think about your critics? He said, "Don't criticize me for not raising money when you have told people not to give to us."

So, some very strong words from Michael Steele from an interview a few weeks ago. And of course, as I said, we reported yesterday, he is taking steps to run for another term as chairman. Brooke?

BALDWIN: And just quickly to follow up on the chairmanship, what is that, two years?

PRESTON: Yes. Two years. Okay.

PRESTON: Two years.

BALDWIN: And here we go, you know, the final push, guys, with five days until election day, what are the candidates -- what are they doing these last couple of days?

PRESTON: Well, Brooke, I mean, look. A couple things. One is Republicans are going to continue to nationalize the election while Democrats are trying to localize it. They feel that is the way they can try to hold onto the House of Representatives. They hold onto the Senate.

In addition to that, you are going to see Democrats out there really trying to talk about how their solutions are the ones that are going to save the economy. Republicans say they have the answer. Paul.

STEINHAUSER: Two other things in these last couple of days. One obviously, spend your remaining money on those ads because the ads are going to be everywhere on the air waves the last couple of days. But also, even more important, now is the GOTV, as we call it. Get Out the Vote efforts. Both campaigns - the parties. That is crucial. Get your voters. Get your base voters to vote. And that is crucial in these last couple of days, Brooke.

BALDWIN: As if we haven't seen enough ads, get ready for some more. Paul and Mark, thanks to you both. We're going to get another Political Ticker update next hour. And you can always get your Political Ticker fix. Hop online, or they're on Twitter. Go to @politicalticker.

What happened inside of Charlie Sheen's hotel room? He is not saying a whole lot. He is just texting a couple of people. This whole story has been overplayed, but there is one woman who doing a lot of the talking. We are going to hear her side. That is coming up.


BALDWIN: Randy Quaid and his wife. They are out of the Canadian jail, but they are still the targets of this bizarre murder plot allegedly targeting actors. Are they still? We will have the latest on the couple's claims.

Also, some news from Mariah Carey. Her fans had some suspicious and today, the singer confirmed them. The secret she revealed is next in "Trending."


BALDWIN: Time for what you are tweeting about, what you are blogging about and what's "Trending." And for that, we go to Sandra Endo who's been plugged into the Web all day long. There is a lot this hour, Sandra, showbiz chatter that's "Trending." Let's begin with what are you -- what are we starting with, Charlie Sheen?

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes, there's a lot to talk about that's "Trending today actually, Brooke. And yes, Charlie Sheen, the actor we can't get enough about. Well, he is dishing out his side of the story, kind of.

Let's take a look at our virtual picture board here that we can touch. Here is a picture of the actor who says he wants to respond to what happened Tuesday night, and that is when he was found make it in a New York hotel room. And police responded to an emotionally disturbed person.

Well, he says he was taken to the hospital and that everything is fine, that it was just all overblown. He was also supposedly hanging out with a prostitute that night. Well, he wants to clarify that it wasn't a prostitute. In fact, it was a 22-year-old porn actress, Capri Anderson. And a rep for Charlie Sheen says that he just had a bad reaction to some medication, Brooke.

BALDWIN: A-ha. Clarification, dually noted.

Let's move on from that. Let's talk about the Quaids. They were seeking asylum in Canada. What is the latest on this couple?

ENDO: Right. Take a look at this couple right here. I don't know if those are happy faces. Actor Randy Quaid and his wife, Evi, actually got released from custody in Canada. That is where they were seeking refuge. That's because Quaid's wife does qualify for Canadian citizenship, but they say they were fleeing from what they call Hollywood star whackers.

And yes, it is a term for people they think are trying to go after celebrities. They claim this so-called group, real or imagined, were responsible for the deaths of their friends Heath Ledger and David Carradine.

And actually, this couple, Randy Quaid and his wife, are wanted on a warrant for charges of burglary and vandalism. They were caught squatting in a guesthouse of a property they owned in Santa Barbara, California. So, certainly a lot to contend with and they will be back in court later this week with. Brooke?

BALDWIN: So, that story continues.

Finally, the news that everybody has reported erroneously for quite a while. But finally, Mariah Carey legitimizes. Go ahead. What's the news?

ENDO: In the news, look at -- these are happy faces, a happy couple indeed because this is happy news, not celebrities going bad. The couple finally admitted that they are expecting a baby. They admitted it on "The Today Show" earlier this morning. And Mariah has been talked about, rumored about tweeted about. People guessing that she was pregnant.

She did make news because she declined and pulled out of a Tyler Perry film back in May and, of course, now they finally confirmed the big news. And Nick Cannon says that they don't know the sex of the baby yet, but they are expecting their bundle of joy to come in spring, Brooke. So, a lot of celebrity news out there today.

BALDWIN: I think they don't want to know if it is a boy or girl. I think they are waiting, I think that's what I heard her say this morning. But congratulations to the couple.

Sandra Endo, great to see you by the way. See you next week. How about it?

ENDO: Sure, you got it.

BALDWIN: All right.

President Obama or the first "dude," according to Jon Stewart. Did you watch this last night?

Making history on "The Today Show," (sic) the first sitting president to sit down with -- excuse me. What I did say? "Daily Show."

Sarah Palin comes to a Tea Party movement's rescue.

And Wolf Blitzer is back with that and a whole lot more. We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: Five days to go until Election Day, and President Obama was on "The Daily Show" just last night, talking with Jon Stewart. So, here is the president's answer -- I want to play this for you -- when he was asked about the U.S. economy.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And in fairness, Larry Summers did a heck of a job trying to figure out how to --


JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": You don't want to do that phrase, dude.

OBAMA: I was -- pun intended.

STEWART: All right.


BALDWIN: Heck of a job.

"Daily Show" veteran, as we've learned yesterday, Mr. Blitzer, joining me from New York.

And I don't know if he took your advice in trying not to bring on the jokes, Wolf. I think Jon Stewart certainly had people laughing.

But what was your takeaway? Do you think he -- do you think he pulled it off in terms of -- in terms of, I guess, appealing to that younger audience, the younger vote?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You know, I feel sort of sorry for Larry Summers, who is the former economic adviser to the president, because all of a sudden, by the president saying he was doing a heck of a job, it reminded everybody of Michael Brown. You know, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," during Katrina, the homeland security adviser over at the White House.

So you've got to feel bad for Larry Summers, who is a former treasury secretary, former president of Harvard University, and all of a sudden, he's sort of lumped into that. So it's unfortunate for Larry Summers.

Look, if you watched the whole interview, as I did, the president obviously was thoughtful and gave good answers, and he showed off his knowledge on a lot of the issues. He had good answers.

And a lot of people, no doubt, watched the whole interview on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart last night. But a lot of people who didn't watch it, what they did see were the clips that ran on the morning shows today, were running on cable all day today, will be running in "THE SITUATION ROOM" at the top of the hour, probably throughout the night on prime time on cable.

A lot more people will just see those little clips, some of the embarrassing moments for the president, which will not necessarily be all that good. But that's the nature of the beast. You go on these shows, you know you're going to get, you know, 15, 20, 30, 40-second sound bites that are sort of unusual, and that's what you do when you go on "The Late Show" or Leno or "The View" or some of these shows. That is certainly what happens when you do these kinds of interviews.

You're always looking for those clips that will be memorable. And the one you just played certainly was memorable.

BALDWIN: One of several lives on in television. And as you we know now, and the Internet.

But, Wolf, speaking of Jon Stewart, the Democrats obviously also hoping, looking ahead to this weekend, at that huge rally, the Restore Sanity Rally.

Do you think that the Dems -- do you think it will help them?

BLITZER: Well, I know that a lot of young people will be coming into Washington, tens of thousands of young people. The Democrats are certainly going to try to mobilize some of them to go to their phone banks, to try to get them out, and to make sure that they vote on Tuesday.

And presumably, it will help, but at this stage, given the poll numbers, given all the indicators we are getting, it looks like it's going to be a very bad day for Democrats. They will win certain battleground states, they'll win certain races. But overall, especially in the House of Representatives, they are going to lose a lot of seats. And in the Senate, they are going to lose some seats as well.

So it probably won't be a very good day for the Democrats. They've got a few more days to energize that base, and that's certainly what they are trying to do.

BALDWIN: To Alaska, this is a race we have been talking about a couple of times over the last two hours. You have Sarah Palin heading home, to her home state tonight, to try to help Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for Senate Joe Miller. And if you watched the debate last night, finally -- and there was some confusion, I guess, over past weeks -- Joe Miller finally saying, yes, I would support Palin if she were to run for president in 2012.

BLITZER: You know, the Alaska race is going to be fascinating. If Lisa Murkowski, who is the incumbent Republican senator -- she didn't went the Republican nomination, Joe Miller did -- if she wins as a write-in candidate, it will be the first time since Strom Thurmond won as a write-in candidate. It will be pretty amazing.

But, you know what? The polls are showing she is right at the top right now, and she has got a really good chance of staying in the United States Senate.

Joe Miller has got his own problems up there right now. We'll see what Sarah Palin can do for him. Tonight, they have got, as you say, this joint rally.

We'll see what else can happen. Five days is still a lot of time in Alaska. But Lisa Murkowski might be able to pull this one off.

BALDWIN: Yes, 37 and 37. I remember the percentage points in that latest CNN/Opinion Research poll. Neck and neck. It's a race we'll all be watching.

Wolf Blitzer, we'll see you in a couple of minutes on "THE SITUATION ROOM."

Here's a question for you. What do billionaires and paupers have in common? The Dalai Lama knows, and he has a solution for the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. His Holiness sat down with our own CNN International's Hala Gorani, and Hala sits down with me next.


BALDWIN: Buddhists consider the Dalai Lama to be the reincarnation of his predecessor, so internationally, he is like a spiritual rock star. And he sat down with CNN's Hala Gorani in this rare television interview. And she is joining me now to talk about it.

And we know that he has a lot of fans globally, a lot of regular folks, but also some big celebrity names. Like, I think of Richard Gere. You've seen a lot of pictures with him and the Dalai Lama.

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL: Right. He's a Buddhist himself, absolutely.

And he is a spiritual rock star in a sense, because his cause has become this cause celebre among celebrities in Hollywood, this cause for an autonomous Tibet. He is also a very charismatic man.

And people who need and want spiritual guidance, when he speaks up, people listen to him. And, in fact, one of the questions I asked him, because I knew so many of our viewers would be interested in this is, look, what is important to do in life,? Not to be somebody or something, but what is important to do in life in order to be happy?

BALDWIN: Hmm. Here's what he said.

GORANI: Here is how he answered.


DALAI LAMA, EXILED TIBETAN SPIRITUAL LEADER: In order to get happiness, satisfaction, we usually put so much attention toward education and material value. Now there are cases, very highly educated, very intelligent persons, but very unhappy. And very rich, even billionaire, as a person, very unhappy. So, therefore, besides material values and education, another factor that affects (ph) happiness, a more compassionate attitude.


BALDWIN: Be compassionate.

GORANI: And be -- be compassionate. In other words, having envy towards someone, being angry at someone or something for things you feel you don't have in your life, cannot be compatible with being content and happy. That's the message.

BALDWIN: Did you feel in sitting across from him -- were you just sort of leaning in, listening? I mean, even if you are a Buddhist or not, just --

GORANI: Well, he's a very charismatic man. And, of course, is someone we have been used to seeing in the public eye for so many years. It's always in our line of work fascinating to meet someone you have only known on TV, or we have only read about in papers and magazines.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you about China, because in China's eyes, he is a criminal. And China has put a lot of pressure on world leaders not to meet with him.

Has he seen some leaders backing away because of their connection or their alliance with China?

GORANI: Absolutely. He acknowledges it.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 989. That was the year, of course, of the Tianmen Square massacre we all remember. And during that year was a year when China was perceived with easily sort of pointed at in terms of human rights as flouting human rights. So, now that China has become this very strong economic and political player on the world stage, world leaders have sort of backed away from meeting with him publicly.

And he has said, "I am not concerned about that. I want to meet the ordinary people." So, that's interesting as well.

BALDWIN: How old is he?

GORANI: Seventy-five.

BALDWIN: Seventy-five.

GORANI: He turned 75 in July.

BALDWIN: And you asked him, sir, His Holiness, any thoughts on retirement, right?

GORANI: Right, yes. And he was very candid, actually.

He's 75 years old. The Dalai Lama is a title. They usually don't retire.

When they die, then a reincarnated successor is chosen by the leaders in Tibet. But he said, you know what? It's my right. I'm essentially tired. Here is how he answered that question. Very interesting.


GORANI: Do you think you would retire?

LAMA: Oh, yes.

GORANI: When might that happen?

LAMA: That, I don't know. Usually, in south India, we have one big sort of meeting. At that time, I ask the people, the meeting, whether I have human right or not.

I am also a human being. Literally, I want to have a human right. So, including retirement, also my right.


BALDWIN: It's his right. He is tired.

GORANI: Yes. No, and it's interesting, because he said inside of Tibet, which is this region in China where Tibetans would like more autonomy -- of course, he is exiled to India after there was a crackdown in Tibet in the '50s, but he said it's the responsibility and perhaps the role and the desire of the younger people inside Tibet to decide what happens with this Dalai Lama role. BALDWIN: And I have to ask, 20 seconds left -- guys, let's show the Twitter board, because, look, I follow him, you follow him. The Dalai Lama is on Twitter.

GORANI: He's got almost a million followers. Does not tweet himself. His staff tweets his thoughts. These are his thoughts.

BALDWIN: Their his thoughts tweeted by someone else.

GORANI: But he says he's technologically inept.

BALDWIN: Hala Gorani, thank you so much.

Let's send it on up to Wolf Blitzer in New York.