TSR: "I'd like to hear some inventive out-of-the-box thinking."
Michael talks to Wolf about tonight's presidential debate and the topics he hopes will be covered substantively, including (of course) Iraq, Iran, and Russia.
WOLF BLITZER: Tonight's formal topic: foreign policy. And that's certainly going to include the war in Iraq.
Let's bring in CNN's Michael Ware, who's covered this war now for almost, what, six years in Baghdad.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
BLITZER: You're here in New York, Michael, right now.
What do these candidates, from your perspective, need to say tonight?
WARE: Well, I'd like to see if they take this opportunity in Mississippi and make it worthwhile.
Will they go beyond the glib responses about Iraq and beyond and actually say something substantive?
First and foremost, what will they as president do to protect America's interests in the future of Iraq?
And that is essentially the Sunni allies that are now on the U.S. government payroll. America is handing them back to the Shia-dominated government, who hates these American allies.
BLITZER: So do you fear there could be yet a bloodbath if the U.S. were to pull out?
WARE: Well, I don't think it will be an overt bloodbath. But we already see these American-paid allies under assault from the Iraqi government.
Now, this is an Iraqi government more closely aligned with Iran than it is America. Already, the government's chipping away at these American allies.
And let's talk about Iran. Because of the war in Iraq, Iran is bigger, stronger and more emboldened than ever. Let's hear the candidates acknowledge that and let's hear how they intend to deal with Iran as a regional superpower.
BLITZER: What about the so-called war on terror, the hunt for bin Laden, for example?
WARE: Well, hey, you want to defeat al Qaeda, you want to beat these Islamic militants?
Let's hear the candidates answer how on earth do they intend to counter the rogue elements of Pakistan's intelligence agency, which are continuing to support al Qaeda. Until they address that, you're not going to be able touch al Qaeda.
Let's hear something real.
BLITZER: And there's so many other world crises underway.
BLITZER: You were just in Georgia -- the Republic of Georgia...
BLITZER: ...where there was a Russian invasion.
WARE: Right. And we now have a resurgent Russia. Now, they have America over a barrel in some ways. America needs Russia's support in the U.N. Security Council and elsewhere on key issues, such as Syria and Iran's nuclear development, just to name a few.
What -- what leverage does America have, if any, to get Russia to play ball? I'd like to hear some inventive out-of-the-box thinking. And let's get something real rather than some pastiche sort of thrown-together answers that say nothing -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And you know what, you're going to be with us after the debate and we're going to pick your brain. You're going to be taking notes and we'll get your sense of what you thought was good, what worked, what didn't work and all that.
Michael, thanks very much.
WARE: My pleasure, mate.
BLITZER: Michael Ware is going to be with us throughout the night.