If you're working with Jack Cafferty don't show up late for the broadcast- especially with an excuse like "I had lunch with the President." Evidently, that's the equivalent of saying that the "dog ate my homework".
Monday's Situation Room started off with John King anchoring. Viewers were reassured that Wolf Blitzer would be there soon. Blitzer did show up and it was explained that he had had lunch at the White House (as is tradition on the day of the State of the Union address). Blitzer hasn't master the art of being in two cities at once, so he joined The Situation Room's broadcast as soon as he was able to get from Washington, D.C. to the CNN Election Center in New York. Cafferty wasn't invited to the luncheon and wasn't all that impressed. I've put together a string of the comments that were made during about Blitzer's absence over the course of the three hour broadcast:
Blitzer blogged about the lunch. Did you ever think that you would see Wolf Blitzer blog about what he had for lunch? I'll save you the effort of heading over to CNNPolitics.com- here's his post from yesterday afternoon:
Posted: 04:05 PM ET
This is the final pre-State of the Union reporters' lunch in the Bush White House.
WASHINGTON (CNN) — It's an annual State of the Union Day tradition: the president invites the TV network anchors and Sunday talk show hosts for lunch at the White House. The ground rules are that we can say we went to the luncheon, but the session is for our background only — meaning largely off the record. Still, it's a good way for us to pierce — at least a little — President Bush's thinking.
He comes across as determined to squeeze in as much as he can during this final year in office. It reminded me of what I used to hear from President Clinton when he had a year left. (He used to have similar background sessions with reporters.) They love being president and want to savor every minute.
President Bush does not come across as overly nostalgic — though he no doubt has to feel that way. It would be only natural. There is way too much unfinished business, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; Iran; the Israeli-Palestinian peace deal which he believes is within reach; and the enormous domestic issues on his plate, including the economy. He is laying it all out in his State of the Union address. He professes not to be overly concerned about his legacy. That will be left to historians.
For those of you who are interested, we had lunch upstairs in the White House residence — in the Yellow Oval Office, as it is called. Vice President Cheney also attended. On the menu: mushroom and ricotta ravioli, seared salmon, white asparagus and mini tomato salad, and warm gingerbread cake with praline ice cream. It was delicious. The wine (which I didn't drink because I had to get right back to work) was a 2004 Peter Michael Chardonnay "Ma Belle-Fille."
I spent seven years covering Bill Clinton when he was President, as CNN's Senior White House correspondent. And I have attended several of these luncheons with President Bush. For a reporter, I must say, it is always fascinating getting a chance to see these leaders up close.
–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer
Cafferty wasn't the only one that didn't get an invitation to the luncheon. Turns out Lou Dobbs not only didn't get an invitation to the luncheon, he also didn't get an invitation to the White House Christmas party. But, Dobbs was there in spirit, sort of. Turns out there was a discussion at the luncheon about the failed immigration legislation that the White House supported and the White House blames Dobbs for contributing to its failure. Dobbs was thrilled.
Are you planning on watching the ‘Super Bowl’ of Presidential Debates this week? From the CNN Pressroom, here is some additional information about this week's programming:
CNN, the Los Angeles Times and POLITICO are conducting back-to-back presidential primary debates less than one week before Super Tuesday. The Republican debate on Wednesday, Jan. 30, and the Democratic debate on Thursday, Jan. 31, will be the final face-off for the candidates before primary voters in more than 20 states flock to the polls on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Each debate will run approximately 90 minutes beginning at 8 p.m. (ET)/5 p.m. (PT).
Anchor Anderson Cooper will moderate the Republican candidates’ debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Jim VandeHei, executive editor of the POLITICO, and Janet Hook, senior political correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, will serve as panelists questioning the candidates. CNN’s lead political anchor Wolf Blitzer will moderate the Democratic candidates’ debate at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland the following night. Panelists will be Doyle McManus, Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, and Jeanne Cummings, a senior correspondent for the POLITICO.
All three partners will provide robust, online elements in conjunction with the debates. The Los Angeles Times will offer readers live analysis at http://latimes.com/campaign08 as well as a “Top of the Ticket” blog, discussion boards and live streaming video direct from the Kodak Theatre. These elements complement the Times’ ongoing news coverage, editorials and analysis intended to aid voters in making informed decisions on Super Tuesday.
For the debates, POLITICO has gathered thousands of questions for the candidates from its readers across the country. Viewers can log on to POLITICO.com during the debates to vote for the questions panelists will ask the candidates. POLITICO.com will also feature a live blog all night from the debate halls, post-debate analysis, behind-the-scenes video, photos and more.
CNN International and CNN en Español will simulcast both debates. Anchor and correspondent Richard Quest will report live from Los Angeles as part of his “American Quest” tour.
Headline News will re-air the Republican debate on Thursday, Jan. 31, from 10 a.m. to noon (ET) and the Democratic debate on Friday, Feb. 1, from 10 a.m. to noon. (ET).
Still want more? CNN is bringing back their Broken Government Series.
CNN Productions plans to produce a series of one-hour documentaries in 2008 under its successful Broken Government brand. As it did in the 2006 midterm election, the series seeks to offer clarity to the political topics receiving close attention during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign.
The first documentary in the series, Broken Government: Health Care Critical Condition, is reported by CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Critical Condition will premiere on Thursday, Jan. 31, at 11 p.m., immediately following the CNN/Los Angeles Times/POLITICO Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate and will replay on Saturday, Feb. 2, and Sunday, Feb. 3, at 11 p.m. All times Eastern.
In Critical Condition, Gupta focuses on the gaps in health care coverage experienced by the more than 45 million Americans who lack adequate health insurance. These include consumers with health insurance still vulnerable to bankruptcy by medical bills and the uninsured who cannot afford healthcare. Gupta also examines various health care plan proposals and the pros and cons of universal health care coverage in other countries.
Other Broken Government documentaries in the 2008 series will feature CNN’s Rick Sanchez taking an in-depth look at inconsistent and ineffective U.S. immigration policies; chief technology and environment correspondent Miles O’Brien investigating the impact of government policies on the environment; and a documentary on the government failures at the federal, state and local levels that continue to plague those impacted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Additional programs in the series will be announced later in the campaign season.