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THE SITUATION ROOM

Where Does Obama Stand With Black Voters?; Interview With GOP Presidential Candidate Herman Cain; Polls Indicate Americans' Trust in Government Low; Wives of Republican Presidential Frontrunners Profiled; Trail of Michael Jackson's Doctor Continues; Conrad Murray Defense: Michael Jackson Injected Himself; Secret Bin Laden Death Photos; 'Strategy Session'

Aired September 28, 2011 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Brooke, thanks very much.

Happening now, the choice for disappointed African-American voters. Will they stand by President Obama on election day. Will they stay home. Could they consider voting for Republican Herman Cain? I'll talk to Herman Cain about racial politics and the 2012 campaign.

That's coming up. Plus, a new account of how and why Michael Jackson died from his doctor's lawyers. Our Sanjay Gupta is covering the manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray and he's been getting inside information from the defense team.

And the U.S. government fights a lawsuit to release photos of Osama bin Laden after his death. This hour, a look at who and what the administration is trying to protect. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room.

But, up first this hour, two huge issues for President Obama's fight to win a second term. A lack of jobs in the United States and a lack of enthusiasm among many voters, including African-American voters, the president alluding to the employment crunch during his third annual Back To School Speech right here in Washington, D.C.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: More than 60 percent of the jobs in the next decade will require more than a high school diploma, more than 60 percent. That's the world that you're walking into.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Some black voters say the president has let them down when it comes to education and job creation. The Obama campaign is trying to address those concerns as the election gets closer.

Let's turn to our White House Correspondent, Dan Lothian. He's got more on this part of the story -- Dan. DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, the president has always, when talking about race and his policies, taken a big picture view. In other words, saying that what he does helps not just African-Americans but all Americans. Well, this has not gone unnoticed and, now, as the President is courting black voters who were key to his success in 2008, some of them are frustrated.

(VIDEO CLIP)

DARIAN "BIG TIGGER" MORGAN: 9 a.m. on WPGC FM --

LOTHIAN: On 95.5 FM, one of Washington D.C.'s top urban radio stations, Darian "Big Tigger" Morgan serves up a blend of music, edgy morning talk, and commercials.

MORGAN: -- (INAUDIBLE) WPGC, D.C.'s home for at least 18 jams in a row.

LOTHIAN: But, off mike, there's a more serious tone when he's asked about President Obama.

MORGAN: His level of expectations in the community, however unrealistic, is higher for him to quote/unquote, "help us." That being said, I still think that lots of people are very, very supportive of President Obama.

LOTHIAN: But in a searing opinion piece in the Washington Post, columnist Courtland Milloy wrote it's hard to see how the plight of black people could get any worse, even under a President Cain, referring to the conservative Republican hopeful. The managing editor of The Root, a daily online African-American magazine has heard the exasperation.

JOEL DREYFUSS, MANAGING EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: There is a segment in the community that feels that he could have targeted more efforts toward the African-American community. I don't think, politically, it's feasible in this country.

LOTHIAN: One big criticism, that the president has not addressed the high unemployment rate among blacks, which the Bureau Of Labor Statistics puts at 16.7 percent, much higher than the national average.

DREYFUSS: For African-Americans it has been absolutely devastating in the last four or five years. You know, as badly as the majority community, the white community has been affected, it's been even worse for blacks.

LOTHIAN: Courting his base, the president sat down for a one on one interview with BET and also gave a speech to the Congressional Black Caucus where he acknowledged the economic crisis had taken a toll on an already hard-hit black community.

OBAMA: You've got to be a little crazy to have faith during such hard times. LOTHIAN: Representative Maxine Waters was pleased that the president gave recognition to a problem some feel he's ignored.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: And that's extremely important that people understand that the president gets it.

LOTHIAN: But a little air leaked out of that warm feeling when the president seemed to chastise African-American leaders in the same speech.

OBAMA: I expect all of you to march with me and press on. Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining.

LOTHIAN: Representative Waters found the comment "curious" and speculated Mr. Obama had gone off script. A White House official confirmed it was an ad lib but insisted it was meant as a rallying cry. While some African-Americans may be frowning at the president, they aren't smiling at the options.

MORGAN: We're going to talk about that whole situation coming up.

LOTHIAN: Which is why Morgan, who voted for Mr. Obama, remains optimistic.

MORGAN: I think they'll come back out again. It's about engaging them. It's about speaking to them directly or indirectly about what -- what issues affect them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: Of course, the question is, will President Obama be able to generate the same kind of enthusiasm that sent a lot of young black voters to the polls in 2008 if it is, in fact, a tight race. Some believe that could be the difference -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Could be a key difference in a state, for example, like North Carolina, which the president barely won in 2008, what, by about 14,000 votes. He's really got to energize that base, including the African-American community. So, what's the strategy over there at the White House? What are you hearing.

LOTHIAN: Well, they never like to break down their strategy in terms of what they're doing to target any particular race but you've seen initiatives here at this White House, certainly through the campaign, that's getting the president out in front of the black media, talking to black reporters. Also, as I pointed out, there's sitting down on those one-on-one interviews. He realizes this is a critical group, very important to winning in 2008 and the president, himself, has pointed out that he needs their support in 2012.

BLITZER: Dan Lothian over at the White House. Thank you.

Let's get some more now on race and the presidential campaign with Republican candidate, Herman Cain. He's enjoying a new shot of momentum right now after his upset win in a Florida straw poll over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And Herman Cain is joining us now from Atlanta.

Mr. Cain, thanks very much for coming in.

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: You're doing well in the polls right now but let me specifically ask you about the African-American community. Why is the Republican party basically poisoned for so many African-Americans?

CAIN: Because many African-Americans have been brainwashed into not being open-minded, not even considering a conservative point of view. I have received some of that same vitriol simply because I am running for the Republican nomination as a conservative. So, it's just brainwashing and people not being open-minded, pure and simple.

BLITZER: That's -- that's a strong word to talk about your fellow African-Americans, brainwashed?

CAIN: For two-thirds of them, Wolf, that is the case. Now, the good news is, I happen to believe that a third to 50 percent of the black Americans in this country, they are open-minded. I'm meeting them every day. They stop me in the airport. And, so, this whole notion that all black Americans are necessarily going to stay and vote Democrat and vote for Obama, that's simply not true. More and more black Americans are thinking for themselves and that's the good thing.

BLITZER: And you've suggested, correct me if I'm wrong, that if you were the Republican nominee you think a third of African-Americans would vote for you?

CAIN: I do believe a third would vote for me based upon my own anecdotal feedback. Now, they won't be voting for me because I'm black, they'll be voting for me because of my policies and because of what I'm offering to fix this economy, starting with, as you know, my 9-9-9 plan. That's what they're responding to.

BLITZER: Let's talk about some of the issues like health care for example. Could -- could you support Mitt Romney who, when he was Governor of Massachusetts, supported a mandate for health care?

CAIN: No, I could not. I do not support a government mandate for health care. I don't support the mandate that's in Obamacare and I wouldn't have supported a mandate that was in Romneycare. No, I happen to believe that there are better market-driven patient center solutions out there that were not even considered. That's the approach that I would take in order to, first, repeal Obamacare and then let the market determine and let patients and doctors determine what's best for the patient and their doctor.

BLITZER: So, what -- what I hear you saying is, and correct me if I'm wrong once again, if you were the Republican nominee, you wouldn't be able to support him? CAIN: Well, I wouldn't say that I wouldn't be able to report him because he has said that his first order of business would be to repeal Obamacare. If he stuck to that commitment, I could support him but, if any way, he wanted to compromise and go for a mandate, a health care mandate, I couldn't support him but I believe that he has backed off of that and he is saying that he would repeal Obamacare.

BLITZER: If you were to repeal Obamacare there are, right now, 15 million uninsured people in the United States that will get insurance under what you call Obamacare. What would you do with those 15 million if you repealed the health care reform law?

CAIN: First of all, Wolf, they are not going to be without health care. Everybody in this country will get health care. Hospitals cannot turn you away. If you look at the earlier rollout of Obamacare, more and more people are becoming uninsured, more and more companies are being forced to drop their health care coverage because Obamacare is just that bad.

Look at the fact that over 1300 companies have asked for a waiver because when they look at the details of Obamacare, they are better off to either stay with what they have, if they can get a waiver, or they're going to put everybody on the government program. The plan, simply, does not work.

BLITZER: Are you with Rick Perry when he says that he supports in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants in Texas?

CAIN: No, absolutely not. Because I happen to believe that that puts children of illegals in front of citizens, in front of soldiers. I don't agree with that. We must first secure the border for real. That's the real problem we need to make sure that we solve. Then, decide later. Now, I do agree that it's a state's issue, it's a state's decision but, I don't believe in putting children of illegals, because of compassion, in front of citizens.

BLITZER: So, could you support Rick Perry if he were the nominee?

CAIN: Today, I could not support Rick Perry as the nominee for a host of reasons. Him being soft on securing the border is one of the reasons. I feel very strongly about the need to secure the border for real, the need to enforce the laws that are already there, the need to promote the path to citizenship that's already there. But, more importantly, empower the states to enforce the national federal immigration laws because the federal government didn't do it, can't do it, and they never will do it. So, that's where I think he and I have a basic fundamental difference of opinion.

BLITZER: You surprised a lot of people the other day when you won that Florida straw poll. Yet, there's this clamoring, apparently, by a lot of Republicans for Chris Christie to jump into the race right now. Is that insulting to you and the other Republicans who are in the race?

CAIN: It's not insulting as much as it is a disservice to the American people. Chris Christie has said for a long time that he wasn't interested in running for president. Unfortunately, Wolf, the media is trying to create a story by sucking Chris Christie into this race just like they tried to create a story of sucking Rick Perry into the race.

Now, he had to make his own decision and I respect that. But the fact that they continue to ignore those people that have already declared -- focus on the people that have already declared, and I believe that that would do a better service to the American people if they get an opportunity to find out more about what we are about.

That result in Florida last weekend, where I won that straw poll. It sent two very distinct messages, Wolf. Number one, the voice of the people is more powerful than the voice of the media, with all due respect. Secondly, it says that the American people are going to make that decision and it also says that this movement that we call the citizen's movement is more powerful than we thought.

The message is more important than money and I believe that that's what's happening when you look at the results like those that happened in Florida.

BLITZER: Herman Cain, good to have you in The Situation Room. Good luck.

CAIN: Thanks a lot, Wolf. My pleasure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Rick Perry has been getting a lot of flak for his stand on in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants but now a very prominent politician is coming to the presidential candidate's defense.

And Michael Jackson's doctor on trial. Standby for gripping new testimony today on the panic and the chaos when the pop singer died.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty's here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The public's trust in the federal government is at an all-time low. That's no big surprise now, is it? They're lucky in Washington the citizens haven't marched on the place yet, you know, an American spring. There's a new poll out today that shows just 15 percent of Americans say they trust the government in Washington to do what's right always or most of the time, 15 percent. And 77 percent say they trust the federal government only some of the time and 8 percent say they never trust the government.

Last year, 25 percent of Americans felt they could trust the federal government always or most of the time, and before the Watergate scandal in the '70s, majorities of Americans felt this way. The only time Americans have had such trust in the government since the 1970s was right after 9/11. Meanwhile, as both parties appeal to their bases and continue to emphasize their differences with the opposition, another new poll suggests what Americans really want is compromise. A Gallup poll shows for the first time a majority of Americans say it's more important for politicians to compromise than to stick to their beliefs. Tea Party members are the exception. They say it's more important for the politicians to stick to their beliefs, again, no surprise there.

All this comes as the federal government just barely averted another shutdown, this time over a few bucks for disaster relief funding. Last month, our lawmakers took us to the brink of default on our national debt obligations as they argued over an increase in the debt ceiling.

And you can bet when this super committee comes out, they're doing it all behind closed doors, there will be lots more ugly partisanship from our leaders. It seems to be all they know how to do.

Here's the question then: Our government is more badly broken and divided than maybe it's ever been. What the answer?

Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and post a comment on my blog or go to our post on "THE SITUATION ROOM" Facebook page. It may be time for an American spring, Wolf.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Maybe you're right. Thanks very, very much. Jack's been talking about the broken government for a while.

Jack, I also want to drill down on some of those numbers you've been showing us in our latest polls. Only 15 percent, as you say, of Americans. Say they trust the government in Washington just about always or most of the time. In contrast, back in 1958, '58, 73 percent, 73 percent of the time thought they could trust government in Washington about always or most of the time.

Let's get to the embattled frontrunner in the race for the White House, if he still is the frontrunner. We're talking at the Texas governor, Rick Perry. He's now apologizing in an interview with News Max TV for suggesting in last week's debate that anyone who opposed tuition breaks for the children of illegal immigrants, quote, "did not have a heart."

The New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is always weighing in, sitting down with an interview today with CNN chief national correspondent John King. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You watch what's happening now. You have a Republican debate playing out for president and Rick Perry's losing steam because he doesn't support a border fence and because he supports in-state college tuition breaks for the children of illegal immigrant.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, (I) NEW YORK CITY: He happens on right on both, but I think you've got to differ between what may be good politics within the beginning of a primary race as opposed to what happens when the biggest states get involved in the primary race or what happens in a general election.

And then there's another minor problem here. Whether it's good politics or it's bad politics, you're an American, and what's the question is what's right for the country even if it doesn't help or hurt your career.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, for much more of John's wide ranging interview with Mayor Bloomberg, tune into "JOHN KING USA" later tonight, 7:00 p.m. eastern only here on CNN.

Meanwhile, there's another battle being fought on the campaign trail. This one not being waged by the Republican presidential frontrunners, but rather their wives. Here's CNN's Joe Johns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: In Iowa, Anita Perry quickly made it clear she wasn't kidding around about her husband Rick's run for president or about his main rival for the nomination, suggesting Mitt Romney was perhaps a little too slick because he's run for president before.

ANITA PERRY: Some candidates may be a little bit more polished in their presentation, but no candidate is more principled than Rick Perry. He has a right record to lead this country.

JOHNS: As if to put a finer point on it, Anita Perry's guy is, in her view, the real deal, suggesting of course the other guy is not.

PERRY: It's great to be back to people who are authentic and genuine like you are because he is.

JOHNS: We asked a political consultant Mary Matalin, a CNN contributor, what she thinks of Anita Perry's bold approach.

MATALIN: I didn't think it was out of line. It was squarely right in the middle. I thought equally effective was her discussion about his debate performance. Not only did I think it was appropriate, I thought it was well executed.

JOHNS: By contrast, Mitt Romney's wife Ann has said she doesn't go after candidates, though she is known for remarks that sometimes come across as funny but unfiltered.

ANN ROMNEY: Mitt mentioned we met when I was just 16, and it was that summer he said to me, this is a great pick-up line for any of you young enough out there. He said, my father's governor of Michigan, I knew that. How about, would you like to go up to Mackinaw and stay in the governor's mansion with my family?

JOHNS: And while the two wives of the candidates seemed to have very different styles, Mary Matalin says there is no right answer to which approach to a campaign is the right one.

MATALIN: Every wife, every spouse, to be clear this is not a gender issue, has to behave in a way that feels authentic and realistic and sustainable to them.

JOHNS: And while it's fun to compare two wives on the campaign trail, Madeleine makes the point that first lady Michelle Obama's style of campaigning for her husband makes any of the Republican spouses look tame.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: We're also keeping a close watch on the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor. Stand by for the latest testimony. And our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta will tell us what he has learned from talking to Conrad Murray's defense team.

And America's military top brass, they're refusing to back down after making a controversial link between Pakistan's spy agency and a terrorist group.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: New testimony in the manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson's doctor. Prosecutors are making the case that Dr. Conrad Murray's negligence led to Michael Jackson's death. Defense lawyers are pushing back. They're arguing Jackson caused his own death by injecting himself with a powerful form of anesthesia.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is in Los Angeles. He's been covering the trail for us. All right, Red, what happened today? What's the latest?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, today, we heard from the first of a series of witnesses from the prosecution that are bringing jurors to Jackson's home in the hours before his death. We heard from Michael Williams. This is Michael Jackson's personal assistant. He was on the stand most of the day today, and prosecutors questioned him and what happened when he first got the call. He wasn't at the house when he found out there was trouble, but they detailed everything that happened.

And two things that prosecutors harped on, which they wanted to get out of this witness. The first was when Dr. Murray called from the house to him, it was during this state of panic. And prosecutors asked did they ever tell you the call 911. The answer was no. He left a message on Williams' voicemail. Same question -- did he ever say call 911? The answer was no.

There was one other thing that they got out of Williams, and that was Murray's behavior at the hospital. After Jackson had died, Williams said that Jackson (ph) walked up to him in a hallway and asked for a strange request to get back to the house. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL WILLIAMS, MICHAEL JACKSON'S PERSONAL ASSISTANT: We were making small talk about how horrible this is and both of us was tearing. He asked, he said that there's some cream in Michael's room, or house, room, that he wouldn't want the world to know about, and he requested that I or someone give him a ride back to the house to get it so the world wouldn't know about the cream.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To get the cream so the world wouldn't know about it?

WILLIAMS: Yes, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: Clearly, what they were trying to insinuate to the jury that Murray wanted to get back to the house to clean up the Propofol. In the cross-examination, Murray's lawyers tried to point out it took him a month to come up with this story and tell police. They're going through a series of other witnesses.

But this is just day two of a very long trial. The family was here today, still people outside the courthouse as well. Joe Jackson in fact just left for the day a few minutes ago, saying, quote, "Justice for Michael" and that's all he said. Clearly, we're still in the very early stages.

BLITZER: You say a long trial. Three, four weeks, is that what they're predicting, ted?

ROWLANDS: Yes, the judge told jurors to clear their scheduled through October 28th at minimum, so another month to go here at minimum.

BLITZER: Ted Rowlands on the scene for us. All right, Ted, thanks very much.

Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He's also in Los Angeles covering the trial. Sanjay, you get a chance to speak with some of the defense attorneys. What's their basic message?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The sources from the defense team I talked to, they sort of paint this elaborate picture of what they're going -- you're going to hear more about this in the days and weeks to come, but they say the day of Michael Jackson's death, they say Conrad Murray was there. They say he didn't give Propofol and then waited about 10 minutes, at least 10 minutes, before he walked out of the room.

What they say happened next is you know, I think pretty remarkable. They say Michael Jackson was essentially feigning sleep, "playing possum" was their exact language they used with me, but then after the doctor left the room, Michael Jackson was awake. He got up. He actually took Lorazepam, this is a medication, anti-anxiety medication.

It's obviously very difficult to prove. Nobody else was in the room. But I think that that's what you're going to hear about in the next several days from the defense as to how they reconcile all the events -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Are they saying he drank the Propofol or that he injected himself with the Propofol? What are they saying?

GUPTA: Yes, it's interesting, because I think in some of the opening statements, I was listening closely for that, and they did talk about this idea of ingesting the Propofol. But this has gone back and forth a lot.

One of the things that was brought up by the coroner's report was some Propofol can sometimes -- what they say, back-lead into the stomach. And someone who has Propofol in their system, the question was, was that what accounted for Propofol being in the stomach, or was it someone ingesting it?

But I think, Wolf, from my sources, again, with the defense team, they're talking about the fact that they think he actually injected it into what's called a port. It's sort of like an indwelling IV. They think he injected it into that. At least that's what they're going to say -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Are they also suggesting when it comes to Demerol, for example, that he was having several procedures a day for these meds?

GUPTA: What they said was even up until two days before Michael Jackson's death, he was having three to four procedures a week on his face, specifically. And the relevance of that is that for these procedures, they say he was getting Demerol, which is a narcotic, a narcotic that he had used in the past. And there's two important factors.

One is, that, typically, for these types of procedures, which are described as minor ones such as Botox, for example, people don't typically get Demerol. And the second thing that you're going to hear again from the defense, what they're telling me, they're going to make the case that Demerol, as it breaks down in the body, the metabolites actually act as stimulants in the body, and that's part of the reason he couldn't sleep. And it brings us all back to these medications that we've been talking about, including the Propofol -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So these defense sources, bottom line, Sanjay, as of right now, what are they suggesting the cause of death? How did it happen?

GUPTA: Well, I think the cause in terms of actually having too much of these medications in his system, they don't seem to be disputing that. In fact, they said to me," We know that Conrad Murray, there were mistakes made here." And I think what they're specifically alluding to is the idea of giving Propofol at all outside a hospital-type structure.

The difference, and I think where they're sort of trying to distinguish what the prosecution is saying from what they're saying, is that they're saying Michael Jackson did this to himself. He essentially was able to wake up, he was able to get up, he was able to go grab this bottle of these pills, take eight of them, also give himself more Propofol, and that's what they say -- again, defense sources telling me this -- they say that's what led to his death.

BLITZER: Sanjay Gupta covering the trial for us.

We'll stay in close touch with you, Dr. Gupta. Thank you.

A federal judge blocking key parts of a tough and controversial new immigration law in Alabama. And this isn't the first time. We have new details coming in.

And Amazon unveils its new Kindle Fire tablet. Why it just might give the popular Apple iPad a run for its money.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A federal judge once again blocking key provisions in a controversial new Alabama immigration law.

Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that, some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM.

What's going on here, Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf.

Well, the ruling is a partial win for the Justice Department, which argues parts of the bill intrude on its power over all immigration matters. The court upheld a section of the law allowing state police to investigate the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally, but larger pieces of the legislation can't be considered until a later hearing. The case could ultimately go to the Supreme Court.

And you are looking at right now dramatic new pictures of engineers inspecting the Washington Monument for cracks. You see a couple of them right there on ropes as they are repelling down the Washington Monument.

You'll remember the landmark sustained damage after last month's rare 5.8 magnitude earthquake. The monument has been closed indefinitely ever since.

Looks a little scary up high, 555 feet up there.

Well, the Apple iPad has new competition on its hands. Amazon has just unveiled the Kindle Fire priced at less than half of the $499 starting price of an iPad. Amazon hopes the Kindle Fire will undercut the soaring popularity of the Apple's tablet. Amazon is taking orders for the Kindle Fire, and it will begin shipping the device in November.

And Kenya's president is designating tomorrow and Friday as national days of mourning and will hold a state funeral for Africa's first female Nobel laureate. Wangari Maathai, a famed environmentalist, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts to promote sustainable development and democracy in the region. She died on Monday at the age of 71 after a battle of cancer.

She did a lot of good there, too -- Wolf.

BLITZER: She certainly did.

All right. Thanks very much, Lisa, for that.

A legal fight is under way over whether to release graphic photos of Osama bin Laden after his death. Does the Obama administration have good reason to keep those pictures under wraps?

And coming up in our "Strategy Session" this hour, why some Republicans keep asking and hoping that Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, will run for president. The impact on the Republican candidates who actually are already in the race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: There are dozens of top-secret pictures of Osama bin Laden taken during and after that raid that killed him, but the Obama administration is determined to keep those pictures under wraps, saying their release could pose significant dangers.

That's the subject of a huge legal battle that is under way right now. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring this story for us.

What's going on here, Lisa?

SYLVESTER: Well, Wolf, President Obama has said that the photos should not be released, that they shouldn't be trotted out as trophies, and that they will create national security risks. But a conservative watchdog group is arguing in court that, given how monumental Osama bin Laden and the war on terror have been, that the public has a right to see these pictures.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER (voice-over): There are a total of 52 photographs and video recordings, pictures from immediately after Osama bin Laden's death, to his burial at sea. The conservative group Judicial Watch has sued the federal government, seeking the release of the pictures, which are now classified top secret. But the Justice Department has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that making the images public could result in exceptionally grave damage to the national security.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says the White House believes in openness and transparency, but there are limits. JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think a very sensible decision has been made that the release of those photos would unnecessarily increase the danger that our troops face overseas.

SYLVESTER: Chris Farrell is with Judicial Watch. He is also a former Army counterintelligence officer. He feels strongly the Bin Laden photos should be released.

CHRIS FARRELL, JUDICIAL WATCH: It also sends a message to those that would try to harm us in some way that we will pursue you across the ends of the earth and over years to bring justice, so there's a very strong deterrent message, we believe. And then it's history.

SYLVESTER: The photos have been described as graphic, including several of Bin Laden's fatal head wound. Tom Fuentes, a former assistant FBI director and currently a CNN contributor, says the administration's concerns are valid, that al Qaeda could use the photos as a recruiting and propaganda tool.

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It could serve as further inspiration. You would see those images forever on television, and that could lead to more recruitment of future al Qaeda members, making him a martyr, basically.

SYLVESTER: Fuentes says the American public already knows many details from the night in May when Bin Laden was killed, and releasing the images and videos could compromise intelligence sources and methods.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: Several news organizations have filed Freedom of Information Act requests seeking access to the pictures, and Judicial Watch has until October 24th to file its response to the government's motion to dismiss the case. And Wolf, we expect a ruling sometime within the next two months.

BLITZER: All right. We'll be anxious to see what that ruling is. Thanks very much for that, Lisa.

We're also getting new information about an American man arrested in an alleged plot to attack the Pentagon and Capitol. Stand by for that.

And can the current Republican presidential candidates make all the talk about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie simply go away? Stand by. Our "Strategy Session" is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A lot of Republicans apparently aren't very happy with the current Republican presidential field. Some are insisting the party's rising star, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, must jump into the race.

Listen to this little exchange last night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do it for my daughter. Do it for our grandchildren. Do it for our sons. Please, sir, don't -- we need you. Your country needs you to run for president.

(APPLAUSE)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: That's extraordinarily flattering, but, by the same token, that heartfelt message you gave me is also not a reason for me to do it. That reason has to reside inside me. And so, that's what I've said all along, is I know without ever having met President Reagan, that he must have felt deeply in his heart that he was called to that moment to lead our country.

And so, my answer to you is just this: I thank you for what you're saying, and I take it in, and I'm listening to every word of it and feeling it, too. And please don't ever think for a second that I feel like I'm important enough in this world that somehow what you're saying is a problem for me. It's a great, great honor. I'm extraordinarily flattered. And I really appreciate your being willing to stand up and say it with the passion you did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's discuss it in our "Strategy Session."

Joining us, our CNN political contributor, Roland Martin, and CNN.com contributor and former speechwriter, David Frum. He's the editor of FrumForum.com.

You just wrote a piece, I just read it, David, basically suggesting that there already is a Chris Christie in this race and his name is Mitt Romney.

DAVID FRUM, CNN.COM CONTRIBUTOR: Chris Christie is a good governor. He would, if he wanted to run, make a good president. Jon Huntsman was a good governor and would make a good president. But the fact is, the guy who is the real alternative to Rick Perry, who's battling it out for that top space, he also was a good governor and would be a good president, and Republicans should be a little bit more satisfied with the field they've got.

BLITZER: With Mitt Romney?

FRUM: With Mitt Romney.

BLITZER: That's what you're saying, you would be satisfied with Mitt Romney as a the Republican candidate?

FRUM: I think he brings a lot of brains, he brings the minimum vulnerability to what President Obama is going to do, because President Obama does not have a strong reelect proposition. Things are not better.

He is going to be coming after the Republican nominee on Medicare, on Social Security, on unemployment insurance. If you are someone who is opposed to those things, you're going to be vulnerable.

BLITZER: Why can't the Republicans, Roland -- when Chris Christie says, I'm not ready to be president of the United States, why can't they just say, OK, we'll do it another time?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: They are sort of like a stalker. You've told them, look, go away, and they keep coming after you. It makes no sense to me.

I mean, I've never seen this much begging since Lenny Williams there was a song back in the day. I mean, again, it is unbelievable where they are constantly saying, who's next?

Remember the whole deal -- let's get Perry. He gets in. OK. Who is the next person?

At some point, you have to recognize the field is the field. And my whole deal is, shut up. Until somebody says I'm getting in, let's stop talking about them, because this whole back-and-forth makes no sense to me, will he do it. It's crazy.

BLITZER: And they're pining --

(CROSSTALK)

FRUM: Well, look, the core at what is driving this is Mitt Romney, who was the front-runner through most of the past two years, the Republicans have persuaded themselves that his record on health care is a huge problem. And it's not. It's a feature. It's not a bug.

He's going to be able to talk about this, and he's going to be able to repair the things that are wrong with the Affordable Care Act without frightening Americans that here is a guy who does not believe in universal coverage. He does believe in it, but he's going to fix it, get the taxes down, make Medicaid less burdensome to the states.

BLITZER: Roland, another Republican candidate, Herman Cain, he was just here in THE SITUATION ROOM, and he had some strong words. I want to play this little clip from my interview that we ran at the top of the hour and I want you to react.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: Many African-Americans have been brainwashed into not being open-minded, not even considering a conservative point of view. I have received some of that same vitriol simply because I am running for the Republican nomination as a conservative. So it's just brainwashing and people not being open-minded. Pure and simple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And when I pressed him on that word, "brainwashed," he said a lot of African-Americans have been brainwashed into thinking that they have to vote for the Democratic Party, can't vote for Republicans or conservatives. MARTIN: I'm sure he's been watching too much of "The Manchurian Candidate."

Look, that is one of the most ignorant statements you ever heard in your life. Part of the problem that Herman Cain somehow can't acknowledge is that for literally 40 years, there was a southern strategy that totally turned off African-American voters to the GOP.

You go to Barry Goldwater opposing the Civil Rights Act, you look at the Republican Party, when you had moderates who helped get those bills passed. When the Democratic Party nationally began to embrace the civil rights, they converted those southern Dixiecrats to the GOP. And so that's part of the deal.

But here's the other deal, Wolf. I host the only one-hour Sunday morning show targeting African-Americans on TV One cable network. We begin our third season on Sunday.

In two years, we have had an open invitation for any Republican in the House or the Senate to come on our show and talk about any issue they want to. Open invitation, from the Speaker, down to the lowest member.

Two members have come on in two years, Tom Price from Georgia, Allen West from Florida. Michael Steele, when he was the chairman, told the leadership, guys, you can go talk to black folks on a show like this here.

Allen West had his press secretary send an e-mail to every press secretary in the House saying, great show, open conversation. David has been on my show, we've had some great conversations. And they refuse to do so.

They can't even talk to black folks even in a television studio? That's why African-Americans don't vote for them, because they don't even want to talk to them.

BLITZER: What's the answer then? Why is that?

FRUM: Why don't -- sometimes they get frightened. They're worried they will meet a negative response. But that's news to me.

You should go everywhere. That's the point of politics. You go everywhere.

And if people don't all like you, well, people aren't all going to like you. You never need 100 percent of the vote. You need 51.

MARTIN: They're scared to talk to black folks and have a conversation. Economics, education -- and so don't just think it's always going to be a conversation about a social program. Have a dialogue. Here's the deal --

BLITZER: Did you invite Herman Cain?

FRUM: By the way, great snacks in the green room. (CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: I'm shooting my show next week in Atlanta.

Herman Cain, you want to come talk, come on my show and we'll have a conversation.

BLITZER: All right. We'll see if he does. We'll see if anybody does.

MARTIN: See if they have the guts to do so.

BLITZER: Thanks, Roland.

Thank you.

Jack Cafferty says our government may be more divided than it ever has been, and he wants to know, what's the answer? Stand by.

An American man has been arrested for allegedly plotting to attack the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol. Was it a serious threat? What's going on? We're investigating.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jack's back with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour, Wolf: Is our government is more badly divided than maybe it has ever been. Save the civil warriors, I suppose. What's the answer? How do we fix it?

Kim in Kansas writes, "Read your history books and you'll find the answer. Democracies, dictatorships, kingdoms, empires and dynasties have all fallen due to the shortcomings of mankind as a species. If you can eliminate greed, corruption, jealousy, power, sex and money from government, there would still only be the slightest chance that people in power would do the right thing. In short, our government is the reflection we see in the mirror."

Carolina writes on Facebook, "Take away all their perks. Put them in a locked building with bread and water until they can come to an understanding of what is best for the American people."

Marja writes from Stockholm, Sweden, "You should have many parties like we do in Europe. That way, those kinds of situations can be avoided and the possibility of making compromise is much greater than what you have. It really is difficult to understand why the presidential candidates must have millions of dollars for their campaigns, for when one gets to the White House, he doesn't seem to have almost any power at all because the Congress can sabotage all his propositions of law, if I've understood it right."

Marja, I think you've got it.

Rick writes, "Intelligent voters. The problem is, most voters are too heavily influenced by the superficial commentary of the liberal media. They don't make any effort to examine what the liberal media publish for accuracy or authenticity. Basically, they are too lazy to be voters."

Jayne in New Hampshire writes, "I'm beginning to think we need to officially split into two countries. Let the Republicans and other right-wingers enjoy their small government, no health care, no education, no paved roads paradise, and allow the rest of us to live our lives in peace with the knowledge our kids will be educated, our sick will be tended to, and our elderly will be taken care of. I imagine it wouldn't take long before we'd have to build a fence to keep the Republicans out."