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Interview With Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister; What Next in Flight 370 Search?; Malaysian Prime Minister Speaks Out

Aired April 24, 2014 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: breaking news in the mystery of Flight 370. The Bluefin-21's deep-sea search may now be over. We're standing by for new information on what could be its final dive and what happens next. Did the drone waste valuable time and money?

Plus, the Malaysian prime minister promising CNN he will release the secret results of an investigation into Flight 370. Richard Quest joins us to share more of his exclusive interview with the prime minister.

And fire and bloodshed. The Ukraine crisis takes a deadly turn. Russia now making new threats and putting troops on the move. A critical player, Ukraine's deputy foreign minister, is here in Washington, and he's standing by to join us live.

We want to welcome our viewers in United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Let's get to breaking news this hour, the Malaysian prime minister telling CNN he may go public with additional information about Flight 370 next week, in addition to the preliminary report, he's promising to release.

We're also following the critical final phase of the Bluefin-21's scan of the most promising underwater search area. Could be ending any moment.

Our correspondents and analysts are covering all the breaking developments in the Flight 370 mystery. They're around the globe right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's begin our coverage this hour with our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown -- Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we could see a shift in search efforts very soon. Crews are wrapping up searching the most promising area of where the plane is thought to have gone done. And with no trace of Flight 370 so far, the question looms, what direction will investigators go next?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BROWN (voice-over): Today, potentially the final day of searching a part of the ocean investigators thought was their best hope.

DAVID GALLO, CNN ANALYST: It's a place they had to look, because they had the pings, they had the Inmarsat data, they had the fuel consumption of the aircraft. Everything pointed to this area.

BROWN: Crews have so far covered 90 percent of a six-mile radius area with the Bluefin, looking for the missing Malaysian plane with no luck. Nearly three weeks ago, the towed pinger locator detected four signals in close proximity, thought to be from the plane's black boxes. Crews said the second ping was the highest quality and that's why they launched the Bluefin in this small area first.

During its day-long missions, the Bluefin is being pushed to its limits, diving deeper than designed, using side scan sonar and then resurfaces so data can be downloaded and studied. Investigators say they're regrouping and reevaluating current search efforts. It's something familiar to David Gallo, who was part of the search for Air France Flight 447.

GALLO: It's just a matter of sitting in a room with a nice, clean white board and going through what we know, what we don't know, and what do we do next. So, it took a lot of thought. So, there was a long period, months, before we came up with the next plan of what to do.

BROWN: It took 75 days of subsea search missions, over two years to find that wreckage. In this investigation, the subsea search area could be shifted or expanded and perhaps to include the other three pings and using other vehicles to scan the ocean floor.

This Remus 6000 was used in the search for Air France 447 and can go deeper than the Bluefin. Another option, a towed sonar system, like the Orion, which can continually scan large areas underwater.

But Gallo says whatever the system, he expects this general part of the ocean to still be the target.

GALLO: I just don't know how you leave this place before you really take that area of the seafloor apart completely.


BROWN: The surface ship that is currently being used in the subsea search efforts cannot be refueled at sea so it will eventually have to return to port and of course that could mean the Bluefin left- wing be out of commission for several days. There's a lot of questions, Wolf, about when or if other tools will be brought in to help with the underwater search.

BLITZER: Hopefully, we will be getting answers very soon on that front. Pamela, stand by.

I want to go to Kuala Lumpur right now. The Malaysian prime minister's first and only TV interview about the Flight 370 mystery has now happened and the prime minister spoke exclusively with our own Richard Quest. He's joining us live from Kuala Lumpur right now.

Richard, you got some very important new information from the prime minister.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we got information, Wolf, about the turn and who saw the plane going back across Malaysia.

We got information that he doesn't regard it and he won't say it is lost. He told us that Malaysia would continue to fund the search and would continue searching as long as the country could afford it. And more importantly, Wolf, on the whole question of whether or not Malaysia has had an unfair kicking, if you like, has the criticism been too brutal about the way they have handled it, and, on that, the prime minister was fairly definite.


QUEST: The country has had a real kicking over the perspective and perception of the way it handled those early days. I think the phrase used in many cases is, Malaysia bungled it.

NAJIB RAZAK, MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER: I -- I have to be quite frank with you.

I think, first of all, we have to start from the premise that it was unprecedented. We all agree it was unprecedented. It was the most technically challenging, the most complex issue that Malaysia or any country, for that matter -- and I believe even an advanced country, you know, would have great difficulty handling such an issue.

Some of the things we did well, we were very focused on searching for the plane. We didn't get our communications right, absolutely right to begin with. But I think, towards later part, we got -- we got our act together.

So I'm prepared to say that there are things we did well. There are things that we didn't do too well. But we prepared -- we prepared to look into it, and we prepared for this investigation team to do its objective assessment.

QUEST: In the last 24 hours, we have had a very good example of what the critics say, the preliminary report.

Now, not only did Malaysia not announce that it had submitted the preliminary report. It's still deciding whether or not to tell us we had it and to release it, even though it's got a safety recommendation within it.

Now, I have covered enough air crashes to know that almost never -- almost always is the preliminary report published. So what we have here, Prime Minister, is an investigation or a minister who speaks the language of transparency, but the practicalities of seeming to do the opposite.

NAJIB: I hear the voices out there, Richard.

So, I have directed an investigation, internal investigation team of experts to look at the report. And there's a likelihood that, next week, we could release the report.

QUEST: Why not release it now, Prime Minister? Is there something in it that is embarrassing to Malaysia?

NAJIB: No, I don't think so.

But I just want it to be -- this team to go through it. But in the name of transparency, we will release the report next week.

QUEST: You will?

NAJIB: We will release it.


QUEST: We will release the report, Wolf. Quite clear about that.

And what's interesting is when the P.M. says, I hear the voices. My guess is that some of the criticism is now really starting to sting here in K.L., and that's why they're taking and the P.M. is taking a more proactive approach.

Wolf, particularly, and it should is not be underestimated, the arrival of President Obama here in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday -- they want this to be a red carpet visit for the president.

BLITZER: You had an extensive interview with the prime minister, Richard. It was well-done.

Reading between the lines, did you get any special insight from him on whether he believes this was the result of some sort of mechanical failure on the part of this Boeing 777, or criminal activity on the part of an individual or individuals who may have taken over that plane?

QUEST: I decided, Wolf, there was no easy way other than to bluntly ask him, so I did several times. And several times, he said he has his own personal theories, but he has not got the evidence with which to back it up.

And after the interview of which I sat through and talked to him afterwards, I'm really none the wiser as to what the P.M. thinks was the real cause of this.

BLITZER: Does he really believe they're searching in the right area right now? Or does he, like so many others, still have doubts?

QUEST: He believes it's the right area because he has confidence in the Inmarsat data. He asked Inmarsat, as you heard in last hour, are you sure, are you sure, are you sure? And they said to him, as best as we can be. So when I asked him, what happens next, P.M., where -- if nothing is found? Well, that's when they regroup. That's when he will be talking to Prime Minister Abbott in Australia, who, separately, I understand, has got some announcements early next week.

And putting it all together, if he has doubts, he's not expressing them and he's remaining confident in the search area.

BLITZER: Hold on for a moment, Richard, because I want to bring in our other panel of experts, including our aviation analyst Peter Goelz, along with Geoffrey Thomas. He's the editor of He's joining us from Perth, Australia. Pamela Brown is still with us as well.

Peter, what's your reaction when you hear the prime minister make these statements saying they will release this preliminary report next week? They didn't scramble jets because they didn't think that commercial airliner really represented any sort of threat. What's your reaction to what we heard from him?

PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, I think he's really taken some steps in the right direction. He came across as being very forthright, very sensitive.

And I think -- I think we're going to see the report next week. I'm not expecting much from it, but I think going forward, the prime minister is going to play a more prominent role in getting the second phase of this search under way.

BLITZER: Geoffrey, how is this interview playing over there? You're in Australia right now, which is obviously one of the two or three key players in this entire investigation. What's been the reaction so far to what the prime minister told Richard Quest?

GEOFFREY THOMAS, EDITOR IN CHIEF, AIRLINERATINGS.COM: Wolf, this interview is like a breath of fresh air in this investigation. It's bringing some clarity. It's bringing some definition. It's giving rise to confidence that the Malaysians are absolutely on track with this now, with the help, of course, of the Australians and the Americans and the British.

And I agree, absolutely, that I think the Malaysian prime minister is going to play a much greater role in this. And I think we can look forward to more clarity on what they're thinking and where we're going with this search.

BLITZER: Pamela, what are you hearing about the status of the air search right now? Because they have been going on and on and on. They haven't spotted even a small piece of wreckage.

BROWN: That's right, and because of that, Wolf, there's a lot of questions about why that air search is resuming. We heard Angus Houston last week, I believe it was, say, we're going to scale back efforts by now.

And the air search is still ongoing. It resumed on Thursday. And there's questions about it, and as Peter can attest to, and as Angus Houston said, the likelihood of finding floating material from Flight 370 has greatly diminished this far in, so there's questions about why it's resumed, but it's still ongoing, Wolf.

BLITZER: Richard Quest, back to you in Kuala Lumpur. How did the prime minister acknowledge the mistakes that were made? Because, clearly, there were several major mistakes.

QUEST: He says the mistakes relate to communications, how they got the message out. But when I asked him, quite clearly, what about the allegations that time was wasted, looking in the South China Sea, when they knew the plane had gone out toward the -- or believed, unverified, had gone out toward the Andaman Sea? What about the different search zones?

I do beg your pardon, Wolf. I think you may have found that the microphone has fallen over.

BLITZER: Hold on. Hold on a second, Richard. I want you to get that microphone back working.

I will bring in Geoffrey Thomas in Perth, Australia, for a moment.

I ask you this question every day because you're so well-plugged- in over there, Geoffrey. What are you hearing, the latest you're hearing about the underwater search that seems to be wrapping up now? And 90 percent of that area has been reviewed. They have found absolutely nothing so far. And the air search. What's the latest you're getting?

THOMAS: Well, on the underwater search, the 12th mission, we understand, is now complete. Not confirmed.

There may be another dive of the Bluefin-21 in this particular area where the pinger number two was. My understanding is that the pinger one, which is about six miles to the north of the second ping, is an area that they're very interested in as well, so we may see the Ocean Shield relocate there.

But then I think it is going to be widened with greater assets like the towed Orion side-scan sonar. As far as the air search is concerned, the commercial element wound up about a week ago. That was where they're chartering corporate jets with -- to go out there. The military part is still continuing. And, of course, one would argue that these aircraft, these assets, these crews would otherwise be doing training missions of one kind or another, so why not continue this search while there's just a faint chance you might find something on the surface that would link this area to MH370?

BLITZER: Richard Quest, wrap this up, at least this part of the story for us. You were telling us about the prime minister's acknowledging that mistakes, at least in communications, were made.

QUEST: It can be bluntly said as this. They have done nothing really wrong in terms of the search. They have put together a coalition of 26 countries and got an international rescue operation under way.

And they did a pretty awful job of getting that message across. I don't think you would find too many people in government in K.L. disagreeing with that analysis.

Richard Quest, stand by. Everyone, stand by. We're going to have more on this story coming up later this hour.

But there's another important story we're following, a breaking story, a dangerous escalation of the conflict in Ukraine. The Ukraine government now saying it killed five pro-Russian militants during an anti-terror operation today.

Now the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is warning Ukraine of consequences, saying the use of military force against citizens would be, in his words, a very serious crime.

CNN's Phil Black is in Ukraine with more on this exploding crisis.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Ukraine's military has been accused of being timid, even cowardly in dealing with pro-Russian forces here in Eastern Ukraine. But, today, for the first time, they moved to engage them directly.

(voice-over): The smoldering ruins of a pro-Russian checkpoint, angry masked men who don't like cameras.

(on camera): The men at the checkpoint are feeling particularly tense. This was the scene of a confrontation between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russian forces which control the town of Slavyansk. We're on the northern outskirts now. This represents perhaps the most assertive action taken yet by the Ukrainian military against the forces which control this town.

(voice-over): This amateur video shows what happened. Ukrainian armored personnel carriers appear on the horizon. The men at the checkpoint respond by setting their barricades on fire. Within minutes, the burning tires create a tower of thick noxious smoke. Ukrainian military continues its approach.

This car is stopped. The driver is ordered on to the ground and searched. A sniper in the grass covers the cautious advance as those in the lead reach the checkpoint. They move into the smoke, searching the barricades and nearby pro-Russian camp. They find nothing.

Whoever was here is gone, their retreat covered by smoke. Hours after Ukrainian forces withdraw, heavily armed pro-Russian militants retake command of the crossroad. The self-declared mayor of Slavyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, inspects the site. He shows the photo of a young man he says was killed by Ukrainian forces further down the road. He insists this is the only pro-Russian death caused by Ukrainian operations, denying government claims that four others were killed the same day. Ukrainian forces like these are now a more visible presence around Slavyansk. With operations like this, they began policing and testing defenses at the town's perimeter. It's the boldest action we have seen, but it will take much more to retake this territory in the name of Ukraine.

(on camera): And, Wolf, an American journalist held for three days by pro-Russian forces in Slavyansk has now been released. Simon Ostrovsky works for the online service VICE News. He is now safe and said to be in good health -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right, very good news. Thanks very much for that, Phil Black, reporting from Ukraine.

We're going to have much more on this dangerous crisis coming up.

The deputy foreign minister of Ukraine, there he is. He's here. He's live in THE SITUATION ROOM. He's been meeting with top U.S. officials. I will ask him about the threats from Russia, and whether the United States is doing enough to help Ukraine.



JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Let's get real. The Geneva agreement is not open to interpretation. It is not vague. It is not subjective. It is not optional.


BLITZER: Secretary of State John Kerry speaking only moments ago. We going to have much more on this coming up.

By the way, "CROSSFIRE" won't be seen tonight so we can bring you more of the breaking news on Ukraine and other important matters.

Not only is Secretary Kerry speaking, but the Ukrainian government is giving Russia 48 hours to explain new troop movements. Russia's defense chief ordering military drills after Ukraine killed five pro-Russian militants earlier in the day.

This new video, by the way, shows Russian armored vehicles on the move near -- near the Ukraine border. The Russians have about 40,000 troops there. President Obama, meanwhile, says the United States is teed up to impose more sanctions against Russia if, if it doesn't follow through on an international agreement to ease the conflict.

We're joined now by the deputy foreign minister of Ukraine, Danylo Lubkivsky, along with our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, and the "New York Times" columnist Nicholas Kristof.

Gentlemen, thanks very much.

How far, Mr. Deputy Foreign Minister, are you ready to go to make sure that Ukrainians' sovereignty is upheld in the eastern part of your country? Because, as you know, for all practical purposes, Crimea, at least for now, is lost.

DANYLO LUBKIVSKY, UKRAINIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: Our message is very clear, that we are going to defend ourselves.

We are going to defend ourselves against the threat that Russia -- Russia is continuing their efforts and their aggressive politics against Ukraine. That's why, you know, under these dramatic conditions, we are going to fight, we are going to defend ourselves, unless the situation is calmed down.

If Russia crosses this line, we will defend our motherland. We will defend our statehood and independence.

BLITZER: Do you believe Russian paramilitary special forces troops are still occupying, still inside parts of Eastern Ukraine?

LUBKIVSKY: Yes, we do. We do. We have all necessary proofs for that, that these people are inspired by Russians. These people are financed by Russia and organized by them.

So -- but our clear intention is to hold peaceful talks and to fulfill all necessary obligations that we're taking in Geneva. That was our fundamental principle. And that was our clear...


BLITZER: Doesn't look like those peaceful talks are doing anything.

LUBKIVSKY: That's another proof of the aggressive politics of Russians. They have to stick to their obligations. And that's what we are saying.

BLITZER: But they're saying, the Russians, including the president of Russia, in blunt terms, if you deal militarily with these elements in Eastern Ukraine, they will respond. They might send in troops into Eastern Ukraine, formal troops, and they have 40,000 right on the border.

LUBKIVSKY: Yes, that's a great danger.

But the problem is that we have also to protect our people against terrorists that occupied our buildings, that seized our premises and so on. And those people endanger our Ukrainian citizens. How normally the state should behave in this situation? To protect people.

The only thing is that we would like to avoid casualties, because this is part of our vision and our philosophy. We don't need any bloodshed. We just simply want to stop this aggression.

BLITZER: But -- I want to bring Nicholas Kristof and Jim into this conversation.

But you realize, of course, that, military to military, Ukraine is really no match to Russia?

LUBKIVSKY: I will say in that way, unfortunately.

We -- our positions have been weakened by previous regime, but no matter that that -- Ukrainians will defend our -- their country.

BLITZER: All right.

LUBKIVSKY: And that's because of passion. That's because of our dignity, because our revolution that happened on Maidan was about dignity.

We fought for our values. And we want Russians to share the same values, because we don't want to be enemies with them. We want them to follow our case. And maybe that's the point why Putin is afraid of Ukraine of Ukraine, because this example may give Russians an alternative of this so-called democracy as they have in Russia, which is not the democracy, but the criminal economy that rules their politics.

BLITZER: Mr. Lubkivsky, hold on for a moment.

Nicholas Kristof, you just came back from Ukraine. It looks like this situation could really dramatically escalate. Is there a way for everyone to back down and see a more peaceful resolution?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I don't know. I must say that you get the sense that in the next couple of days, we have a crucial turning point for Ukraine, that the government seems to be now more committed to using force to try to address what it regards as terrorism in Eastern Ukraine.

And certainly the Ukrainian population I think would like to see the government be more aggressive. There's been real frustration that the government hasn't done more of that. On the other hand, that may indeed lead Russia to send these 30,000 or 40,000 troops across the border.

And I have been very worried by what seems to be some signs that Russia may be laying the groundwork for trying to legitimatize that kind of invasion, at least to those who are going to be -- obviously, around the world, people aren't going to accept there's any legitimacy to that. But, domestically and among people more sympathetic, there seems to be some attempt to do that.

BLITZER: Because, Jim Sciutto, we know that U.S. officials believe what the Russians did in Crimea could be an example of what they might try to do in Eastern Ukraine.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, you see them laying the same groundwork, right, this pretext that ethnic Russians were under threat in Crimea used to bring military action there.

You have the same argument being made in Eastern Ukraine. And that's a real concern of the administration. The administration has struggled to find the cost that is too much for Russia to bear, right? You started with these sanctions against individuals, one state institution. Secretary Kerry, President Obama talking about another round of sanctions in a similar vein.

The trouble is -- and they want that next round to escalate the cost for Russia. The trouble is, the situation on the ground is escalating more quickly than those costs are for Russia.

BLITZER: What do you need, Deputy Foreign Minister, from the United States? You're here. Obviously, you're requesting additional assistance. What do you want President Obama, Secretary Kerry to authorize for Ukraine?

LUBKIVSKY: We are grateful for the support of the international community, including the United States. There's a clear, strong support. And we're happy that we have strong partners in this case.

We are thinking and we consider more economic pressure on Russia, sanctions, sanctions that will influence the situation, and not only some occasional people. We need more strong military cooperation.

BLITZER: Weapons?

LUBKIVSKY: We definitely need more means to defend Ukraine.

BLITZER: Do you want U.S. weapons?

LUBKIVSKY: We need knowledge, we need weaponry, we need all other issues and means that could be used for defense, for defensive purposes.

BLITZER: You have a list of weapons you want? Tanks, armored personnel carriers? Helicopters? What do you want?

LUBKIVSKY: That's -- yes, that's an interesting question, but let me not specify that, because the problem not of my answer, but the problem is of the situation on the ground. We are trying to do everything possible to calm down the situation, to deescalate that, but we're also working hard to protect Ukrainians and protect our country.

BLITZER: Nicholas Kristof, does it make sense right now? Because the Obama administration is resisting providing lethal weapons to Ukraine.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF: Well, you know, I tend to think we should be careful about providing lethal weapons, but there are three things that we can do to a greater degree than we have, and one is nonlethal support. Partly that's financial support for Ukraine at a time when it is in economically desperate shape. And that would be tremendously important for Ukraine economically and also a great morale booster.

We can provide nonlethal military support, as well. Bulletproof vests. Fuel so that it can raise the cost of Russian aggression. Things like that. I think we can also do much more in being very clear about economic sanctions we applied to Russia and in particular banking sanctions are the things that would be most devastating. I think we need to be pretty clear that Russia's banks would be frozen out of the global banking system if there is a real invasion.

And finally, we can use the bully pulpit, I think, a little more than we have and make clear that, you know, Vladimir Putin is out there trying to defend the interests of Russian speakers everywhere in the world except in Russia. And he's jeopardizing their future by talking about invading Ukraine.

BLITZER: You're hearing, Jim Sciutto, the administration getting ready to tighten up those sanctions, impose stricter ones?

SCIUTTO: Certainly not -- they are going to impose stricter ones but in the economic sphere and similar to that first round. Individuals, maybe some institutions. They want to be a step up. It's not going to be dramatically a step up.

And there is no consideration, to my knowledge, and from officials I've spoken to about direct military aid. You do hear from some Republican lawmakers, for instance, Mike Rogers you were speaking to just a couple days ago about things like better intelligence sharing. There's been some progress, but he wants more. And even the possibility of training troops. But weapons not on the table at this point.

BLITZER: All right. Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.

Nicholas Kristof, thanks to you.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danylo Lubkivsky, thank you very much for coming in. We're very worried about what's going on in Ukraine right now. Good luck to you.

LUBKIVSKY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Good luck to all the people of Ukraine.

LUBKIVSKY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

Just ahead, new raids and more arrests. The investigation into that ferry disaster now widening. We're going live to South Korea.

Plus, Jeb Bush, he's speaking out about a possible run for the White House. Will 2016 see the battle of the Bush and the Clinton dynasties?


BLITZER: New raids and more arrests as the investigation into the South Korean ferry disaster widens. The death toll just hit 181 people with 121 missing. So many of them teenagers. CNN's Kyung Lah is on a boat near the site where divers are trying to pull bodies from the capsized and sunken ship in Korea.

Kyung, what's the latest over there?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you that the conditions today are a bit rougher than we've seen the last few days we've been here. A bit harder to maintain our balance here on this boat. And what it means for divers who are at the sea, even more challenging conditions as the currents are quite a bit stronger and those conditions under the water, again, they can't see. This is dangerous, treacherous work.

But it is still ongoing here. What we're seeing on shore is a definite pickup on the pace of the investigation. Overnight, 15 now, a total of 15 crew members have been arrested.

Only 20 of the 29 crew members survived. There are only five who have not yet been netted as far as a criminal probe.

Also, what we are learning from the prosecutor's office is that they are continuing to drill down exactly what this cause is. They have not yet made a determination to CNN. They say there are no conclusions yet, but what they are looking at is whether the retrofit of this actual ferry was done correctly and whether or not it was overloaded with cargo. Those are big questions, and it does match what we heard from the crew members that they felt the ship suddenly list after a large sound.

So, Wolf, all of this, the pace of the investigation certainly picking up.

BLITZER: And they, I assume most people over there just believe the 121 still officially listed as missing, that there's virtually no hope of finding them alive?

LAH: Yes, there's definitely been a change in the way the parents in the country are perceiving this. There is almost no hope. There are parents who certainly are still waiting at the port, but they now believe that what they want is just for their children to be found and brought back.

BLITZER: Heartbreaking story. Kyung Lah reporting for us from South Korea. Thank you.

Just ahead, a very different story: what Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, is now saying that got him a standing ovation and has further sparked huge buzz about 2016.


BLITZER: Standing ovation for Jeb Bush when he said at a charity fund-raiser he's considering running for president of the United States, possibly pitting him against Hillary Clinton, even though Barbara Bush, his mother, famously said she's opposed to Jeb's running. Will these two political dynasties face off once again in 2016? Our chief political analyst Gloria Borger is here. She's got more on this story. What are you hearing?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, look, there's a lot of uncertainty out there about both of these candidates, but I spoke with Neil Bush, Jeb's brother, and he says that Bush 41, that would be their dad, wants Jeb to run. Take a look.


BORGER: While they're both publicly coy about it --

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Obviously thinking about all kinds of decisions.

JEB BUSH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: I'm deferring the decision to the right time, which is later this year.

BORGER: As brother Neil Bush tells it, behind the scenes it's another story.

NEIL BUSH, JEB'S BROTHER: There's mom and dad dancing. We get together as an entire family every Christmas. And, of course, everyone's kind of curious what Jeb's thinking, but no one really wants to ask him. I really don't know if he's got the burning desire to run. If he runs, he'll have that burning desire for sure.

BORGER: Over at the Clintons, it's the same subject. Paul Begala has been their close friend for more than 20 years.

(on camera): So do you think Bill Clinton wants Hillary Clinton --


BORGER: -- to run?

BEGALA: Yes. I do. I think many, most all --

BORGER: Do you think he's actively talking her into trying to run?

BEGALA: I don't know, I don't -- believe me, I don't get in the middle of that dynamic.

BORGER (voice-over): That's between husband and wife. It's more of a mother/son dynamic for the Bushes.

JEB BUSH: Campaign in the communities.

BARBARA BUSH, MOTHER: He's by far the best qualified man, but no, there are other people out there that are very qualified, and we've had enough Bushes.

NEIL BUSH: We're sitting in the waiting room of the hotel waiting to go to the Bush library event, and mom said that, we were all watching Jeb standing over in the corner nervously, just, like, what's your response to that? But it's not going to affect Jeb's decision. If you ask dad, if you ask dad the same question, should Jeb run? He'd say yes.

BORGER: He would?

NEIL BUSH: Yes. He'd say yes.

BORGER: Have you asked him?

NEIL BUSH: I've heard him answer that question.

BORGER (voice-over): So after three decades of Bushes and Clintons --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

BORGER: With all that political baggage, the families could be at it again. But call them dynasties and you get pushback from the patriarchs.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's not a dynasty. The question is whether she should be eliminated because she happened to have married me a long time ago.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We never felt we were entitled to something.

BORGER (on camera): You think about Jeb Bush running for the presidency, question is, oh, this is just another member of the Bush dynasty. Right? And that what do you --

NEIL BUSH: Mom would kill you for using the dynasty word, but go ahead.

BORGER: Go ahead. What's wrong with the dynasty word?

NEIL BUSH: I don't have any problem with it.


NEIL BUSH: The fact there happens to be name recognition, or brand recognition for the Bush name and brand to me shouldn't be a handicap. So it's not like it's automatically a benefit to have a famous name, but it clearly gets Jeb off the starting blocks much quicker.

BORGER (voice-over): Brand recognition works for Hillary Clinton, too. And former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum complains it gives the families an unfair edge.

DAVID FRUM, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH SPEECHWRITER: The thing that they bring to the table that nobody else has is this massive pre- existing ability to raise money.

BORGER: So the system's rigged?

FRUM: If we end up having a presidential race in which one dynasty plays off against another dynasty, you'll say, is this America? Or is this the last days of the Roman Republic?

BORGER: The families are very different. The Bushes have longevity. Starting with Senator Prescott Bush in 1952. And sheer size. The Clintons came from nowhere, starting with a young unknown Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton in 1978. It's a boutique operation. Together, the two families have produced three governors, three members of Congress, a multitude of rising stars. Not to mention three presidents and two could-be presidents.

DAVID MARANISS, HISTORIAN: It's just like Hollywood or anywhere elsewhere, there are certain names that stick and people remember.

MARY MATALIN: It's not an ego thing. It's just a limited number of people who have all the requisite attributes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where were you all in '92?

BORGER: That's when Bill Clinton beat Bush 41. And if the families face off again, there's a new wrinkle. They're actually good friends and the presidents co-humanitarians.

BILL CLINTON: I love George Bush. I do.

BARBARA BUSH: I love Bill Clinton. Maybe not his politics, but I love Bill Clinton.

HILLARY CLINTON: Barbara Bush has even started referring to Bill as her adopted son. Sometimes as the adopted black sheep son. I don't know how Jeb and his siblings feel, but I know Bill loves it.

BORGER: How would that affect the relationship between the Bushes and the Clintons if Hillary were to run against Jeb?

NEIL BUSH: I don't think there's ever going to be animus. Clearly. I mean, you know, the friendship won't stop, but, you know, there's going to be a wall, and then on the other side of the wall there's politics, and there's -- it will be a pretty bitter -- it will be a tough campaign, I think.

BORGER: With two candidates each family always considered stars.

MARANISS: From his family, he was the chosen one, and similarly with Hillary, there was a feeling, before she married even Bill Clinton, you know, people in the early '70s were starting to think, someday there will be a woman president, who might it be?

BILL CLINTON: I actually tried to talk Hillary into leaving me when we were in law school, this is God's truth, and I said you have more talent for public service than anybody in my generation that I have met. And you shouldn't waste it, and I shouldn't stand in your way. You should do this. And she looked at me and laughed. She said, oh, Bill, I'll never run for office.

BORGER: But she did.

HILLARY CLINTON: I believe that I will bring a lifetime of experience to this job.

BORGER: She lost. The long resume and the Clinton name could not beat change.

HILLARY CLINTON: It is a great privilege for me to be here with you.

BORGER: And if a Clinton and a Bush run this time, that fatigue factor is center stage.

JEB BUSH: If I was to run, I'd have to overcome that. And so will Hillary, by the way.

NEIL BUSH: Back when I was a younger man, we were saying the same thing about Kennedys, serving in different ways. And so there is an ebb and a flow, and who knows if we've, you know, tide has set in for the Bush family. I don't think so. I think the tide is still rising.


BLITZER: Gloria, that was an excellent, excellent piece.

BORGER: Thank you.

BLITZER: You know, they both have clearly impressive resumes, impressive backgrounds, a lot of political history there. How did they sell themselves, though, as agents of change?

BORGER: You know, as you know, Hillary Clinton had a bit of a difficulty doing that when she ran against President Obama. Now, I spoke with Paul Begala about this. And his answer was she looks more like change than Jeb Bush just by the virtue of the fact that she is a woman. And he said so, you know, she has an easier time of making that case for change.

Jeb Bush would have that kind of difficulty as he admits. His problem would be more than he might be out of step with his own party. He disagrees with a lot of people in the base on immigration reform, on the question of core curriculum and education. So, he might have a more difficult time selling himself to his own party.

But then again, Hillary Clinton is also not a favorite of the liberal base -- of the Democratic.

BLITZER: Given how close these two families have become over the years.


BLITZER: Let's say Jeb Bush is the Republican nominee. Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee. How does that family connection play out?

BORGER: I think that the fondness is real. I think Bill Clinton is really close to George H.W. Bush. But as Neil Bush points out, these families understand better than anybody that there is friendship and there is politics.

And that this would be a serious race run on the issues. I don't think either of these candidates would be talking about the issue of questions like birth certificates like we heard in the last campaigns. I think this would be a serious race with serious people who disagree on the issues.

BLITZER: Excellent work, Gloria. Thanks very much for doing that work.

Gloria Borger reporting for us.

Just ahead, a very different story. Horror outside an Afghanistan hospital. Americans are gunned down. We're learning new details.


BLITZER: Here are some of the other top stories we're following in THE SITUATION ROOM.

An Afghan guard opened fire on a group of Americans at a hospital in Kabul, killing three and injuring another medical worker. One of the dead is a Chicago pediatrician who has been treating Afghan children since 2005, a father and son also among the dead. It's the latest in a series of attacks on foreigners in Afghanistan.

Israel says peace talks are off if Palestinian factions of Fatah and Hamas form a unity government. The rival groups are trying to reconcile, but the militant Hamas which governs Gaza does not recognize Israel. Israeli and Palestinian Authority negotiators have until Tuesday to agree on a framework for a comprehensive peace treaty.

A crackdown on electronic cigarettes is looming. The Food and Drug Administration is poised to issue new regulations that would treat them like related products like traditional cigarettes. The FDA is expected to ban sales to people under 18 and require health warning labels.

The First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the children of White House employees today for the annual Take Your Daughters and Sons To Work Day. There was a very touching moment when one little girl made an appeal on behalf of her dad.

Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: My dad's been out of a job for three years, and I wanted to give you his resume.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Oh my goodness. All right. I'll take it.

Well, it's a little private, but she is doing something for her dad, right? Got it.


BLITZER: Hope he gets a job.

But here at CNN's Washington bureau, we also had a nice turnout for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. I got a chance to visit with some young members of our CNN family. The kids had a busy day. They even got to sit right here at the anchor desk in THE SITUATION ROOM. I bet a few of them, they want my job one of these days.

Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Go ahead and tweet me @WolfBlitzer. Tweet the show @CNNSitRoom.

Please be sure to join us tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM. Watch us live, of course, as you do everyday. Or you can DVR the show so you won't miss a moment.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.