Skip to main content

tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  August 30, 2011 2:00pm-4:00pm PDT

2:00 pm
you don't have a body. you don't have proof that there was a crime. this is not of a case of a crime in aruba. this is a case of a terrible accident and that's th case that will be plead tomorrow. he could be set free and on his way home for the u.s. >> we'll have to check back in with you this time tomorrow to see if that happens. martin savidge, thank you. "the situation room" with wolf blitzer starts right now. brooke, thanks very much. happening right now, the 2012 candidates at war. two of the leading republican rivals smash the policies as america prepares to have a costly and military battles. plus, trapped by rising water. hundreds of people in the
2:01 pm
northeast are desperate to escape the flooding and the damage unleashed by hurricane irene. we're tracking the rescues and the danger right now. and we'll put the arrest of the uncle in a dui charge. this hour, and whether they matter to most american. i'm wolf blitzer and you're in the situation room. up first this hour, a very tough political debate over national security that will unfold between president obama and his republican challenger, whoever that might be. the commander in chief dep and it's no coincidence that war and foreign policy are getting more attention on the campaign trail with the ten-year milestone of the 9/11 attacks only a few days
2:02 pm
away. let's bring in cnn's jim acosta. he's watching all of this unfold. we know the economy will be issue number one. but national security will be a key debating point for the democratic and republican candidates. >> that's right. it's flareed up recently with libya and with the killing of osama bin laden. it's still important, wolf. like you said, with so much attention on the economy, foreign policy has taken a backseat on the campaign trail. but not today. >> it was something of a debate. president obama, mitt romney, and rick perry all sounding off on foreign policy, all revealing some of their battle plans for 2012. >> we can't lead the world by hoping that our enemies will hate us less. >> in a speech to the veterans of foreign wars, romney stook to his attack of the president
2:03 pm
playbook. >> have we ever had a president that was so eager to address with the down in the heart? >> romney delivered a jab on the weak economy that seemed aimed at rick perry. >> career politicians got us into this mess and they simply don't know how to get us out. >> taking his own campaign style speech to the american legion, president obama prepared to take off his greatest hits, winding down the wars in iraq or afghanistan, while helping to bring down moammar gadhafi and the president. the president was careful to see who would get the credit. >> those who attacked us on 9/11, delivering justice to osama bin laden. >> he says, come on, you're saying that i'm not a tough guy, i'm too weak in the knees to be de vri dissize sif. >> it's not our interest to go it alone.
2:04 pm
>> rick perry sounded as if his foreign policy may stand clear. >> i do not believe that foreign military adventurism. >> but when perry suggested that he would bypass the united nations to defend america's interest, he borrowed from bush. >> we cannot concede the moral authority of our nation to multilateral debating societies. >> the united nations must make the resolve, must be resolved to deal with this person. must resole itself and be something more than the league of nations. must resolve itself to be just more than a debating society. >> my guess s. that perry is aware of where the american electorate is and it's tired of war. >> but foreign policies successes don't always translate into election victories. just ask the president george w.
2:05 pm
bush who pushed hussein out of kuwait in a large part because of the economy, wolf. >> then when our contributor working for bill clinton's campaign coined the phrase, it's the economy, stupid. that guided the clinton campaign back in 1992. thanks very much. stay with cnn to see the republican presidential candidates face off in less than two weeks when we host the debate along with the tea party express and tea party groups in tampa, florida. that's monday, september 12th. the cnn tea party republican debate only here on cnn. president obama and mitt romney zeroed in on a war in afghanistan during their dulg national security speeches earlier today.
2:06 pm
>> as our mission is combat to support, afghans will take responsibility for their own security. and the longest war in america history. >> in afghanistan, the president has chosen to disregard the generals on the ground. i don't know of a single military advisor to president obama who recommended the withdrawl plan that he's chosen and that puts the success at our shoulders and mission at greater risk. >> let's bring in cnn's nick peyton walsh who is live in kabul. the politicians are debating here, and a lot more american troops are dying in afghanistan. what's the latest? >> this month of august, 66 dead, the majority of those caused by that one terrible
2:07 pm
helicopter crash earlier on this month. and really i think numbers like this don't show that there's been a sudden change or explosion and violence on the ground but they really do undermine the obama's administration that things here are improving. really, if it's possible to have security handed over to the afghanistans, why are more american troops dying here than ever before, worse than the height of violence last summer. certainly numbers like this are going to push the ugly truth of what is happening here under the spotlight in that heated election campaign, wolf. >> you've been there for a few years, nick. is violence really trending upward right now? they recently said that in 12 of the last 16 weeks there was less violence in exactly the same period last year. follow that, if you can. but on the other side, you have
2:08 pm
the united nations and in the first six months of this year were the worst on record, over 1400 afghans dying. there is a slight concern amongst some people. the insurgency has not been as bad as in the past. symbolic clee, a hotel, british consulate to show that the insurge general see is capable of being affected. and there are some people worried that there could be worse violence ahead and that the taliban try and show that they have more fight in them as the americans begin to withdraw and that vital re-election campaign begins, wolf. >> the united states still spending more than $2 billion a week, more than $100 billion a year in afghanistan. nick peyton walsh in kabul. thank you very much. back here in the united states, search and rescue teams working frantically right now in new jersey. as floodwaters unleashed after hurricane irene keep rising.
2:09 pm
the river will crest at a dangerously high level. hundreds of people remain trapped by record flooding in vermont. big sections of the northeast are under water because of irene. the death toll from the storm is climbing with at least 41 people killed in 11 states. obama administration officials got an aerial tour today of the damage in vermont, virginia, and north carolina. nearly three million customers across the region still do not have electricity. analysts expect the total cost of irene to be much, much higher. a lot higher than a billion. more than 200 roads and bridges were damaged in vermont. many of them were completely wiped off the map. cnn's amber lyon is joining us from grafton, verm monmon.
2:10 pm
what is happening where you are? >> look at this. this is a disaster. a car cannot get over it. i spoke with the man operating that excavator. richard says he's on an emergency mission to rebuild this road. why this is so important is that there's a town of 800 people right on the other side and they are currently isolated. it's essentially become an island because this road and the only other road leading in or out of town are both destroyed. we spoke with fire crews in the area. they also say that there was a little bit of a worry if they were able to -- if there is some type of an emergency with residents h residents on how to get that person because because it's hard to access this area. richard tells me that he's actively trying to rebuild this road because they have supplies ready for the residents. we're talking medical supplies, food, water, babe formula. those national guard trucks will be able to get in and deliver
2:11 pm
those supplies. 20 towns across vermont are having similar situations where they become isolated. 13 of them in such bad shape that the national guard says that they are going to have to helicopter in supplies to the residents to make sure that search adequately supplied and doing okay. the death toll is now at three people and the governor of vermont says that he expects more roads to ep up and access these mountain communities. there are still people in vermont unaccounted for. wolf. >> did the people you're talking to think the government is doing everything it possibly can to help them? >>. >> it's kind of mixed feelings down here. we find a kind sentiment among the people. they are really helping people if one person has water left over, sharing food and just really more of a state of shock
2:12 pm
and awe. that being said, we just spoke with a man living in this isolated community. he said that we're alone. he has not seen any type of aide in his community and there are supplies available. the national guard has supplies ready to go. now it's a matter of how with situations like these do you get it to these stranded residents. wolf? >> let's hope for the best, amber. thank you very much. >> and to our viewers, you can help make a difference. you can help those devastated by hurricane irene find out how. just visit our impact your world page. that's at the next hurricane is forming in the atlantic ocean right now. tropical storm expected to become a hurricane in the coming hours. it's moving west-northwest and
2:13 pm
replaces catherine in the list of hurricane names. the hurricane center is using the same list as in 2005 when catherine devastated the gulf coast. chad myers will be joining us from the cnn hurricane center. for the latest on the power path and whether the united states could get slammed a again. also, libyan rebels have come out from the huge number. can the opposition, though, be believed? we'll go live to libya for another check. nothing helped me beat arthritis pain.
2:14 pm
until i tried this. it's salonpas. pain relief that works at the site of pain... up to 12 hours. salonpas. build an app for the sales team. and see my family while they're still awake.
2:15 pm
[ male announcer ] with dell global services, jim's i.t. needs are supported in over 100 countries. so his company sees results. and jim sees his family. dell. the power to do more. matter which position i am in i wake up feeling good. it fits you so perfectly... it fits you. you wake up and you're revived and rejuvenated. it's just like wow! tempur-pedic the most highly recommended bed in america. tempur-pedic is rated #1 in comfort. sleep satisfaction. and back support. it fits the curvature of your body but you don't sink in and it is firm. proprietary tempur material suppresses motion transfer. this means that when you get in or out of bed, you won't disturb your partner. that's amazing. that's amazing. tempur-pedic, the most highly recommended bed in america. call the number on
2:16 pm
there are dramatic events happening in libya right now. the hunt for moammar gadhafi intensifies. any remaining loyalists are told to surrender or face serious consequences.
2:17 pm
frederick pleitgen is in misrata. there is some speculation that gadhafi could be hiding out there? >> reporter: hi, wolf. that's certainly what some of the rebels on the front line seem to remember. we were at the last -- basically at the front line of the rebels, of the area. 100 kilometers away from the town itself. but the rebels are essentially -- they set up a checkpoint, offensive positions, and will launch missions forward towards a certain area. however, what they are doing right now is pulling back their forces and waiting for a four-day deadline to pass and then say they are awaiting their orders from the national transitional council, the rebel government, and then they will move forward. wolf. >> nick, what are you hearing about gadhafi's wherebts?
2:18 pm
>>. >> the national transition council, he told me that he knew were gadhafi was. some people believe that he's hiding out in the south. i said, is he hiding out with tribes? he just flat out wouldn't tell me. the national transition council has said a number of things that has proven to be not quite correct in the past. so it's not clear quite why he wants to tell me where they know where he is and confident that they would capture him, bring him to trial. there is a reason to believe that gadhafi is not surrounded in sert and south of the country, if they want to, they can flee as his wife and other family members did. the day before just yesterday. in fact, flee across the border to algeria, wolf.
2:19 pm
>> let me go back to fred. are you getting the sense from your rebels, and you are speaking with them and with them right now, how long they believe this intensive fighting will last? >>. >> well, they will tell you that this could last at least a siege of surge and the other gadhafi loyalists and up to a little longer and a four-day window and on the muslim calendar, and then the fighting will certainly continue again. maybe a week, ten days, they say they have a pretty high battle fatigue.
2:20 pm
they say quite frankly at this point, so many people have remained on the front line that there is a political process to keep going, they don't want to keep fighting. >> we heard from rebel leaders. they say, they are claiming at least 50,000 libyans have been killed over the past few months in all of this fighting. that number seems very high but what do you sense over there? >>. >> wolf, i think that the way that we're interpreting the figures right now, between 50 and 60,000 people disappeared during this revolution and they say that they believe they were all arrested by gadhafi. they say that they've released 11,000 people, which leaves 40 to 50,000 unaccounted for. i think that at this stage the perception is that perhaps not all dead. many of them may still be alived. the basis for those figures,
2:21 pm
just on the negotiations, i've been receiving messages, e-mail conversations with one of moammar gadhafi's sons. he said over the past few days that he's ready to negotiate for gadhafi with the rebels to bring about a siege fire but told me that the rebels would not negotiate with him and said that he was willing to come to priply to negotiate with the national council to arrange safe passage and i spoke with the deputy prime minister about that issue. he said that gadhafi himself, his sons, are welcome to come to tripoli, they can have safe passage here and when they get here, they will be put on trial and international conditions. so they are saying absolutely no conditions with gadhafi, only with tribal elders. so a very clear message for gadhafi right now. it is either hand yourself in or your going to be fighting right to the bitter end. wolf. >> and the same goes for
2:22 pm
gadhafi's son. he remains at large, right? >>. >> yeah, that's right. all still at large, wolf. >> nic robertson, fred pleitgen, thank you very much. charges of driving under the influence. could this bring new unwanted attention to the white house? stand by. plus, the battle for syria escalates and new concerns here in the united states about the safety of the chemical weapons stockpiles. why that stockpile could be at risk. stay with us. you're in "the situation room." or creates another laptop bag or hires another employee, it's not just good for business -- it's good for the entire community. at bank of america, we know the impact that local businesses have on communities, so we're helping them with advice from local business experts and extending $18 billion in credit last year. that's how we're helping set opportunity in motion.
2:23 pm
my son and i never missed opening day. but with copd making it hard to breathe, i thought those days might be over. so my doctor prescribed symbicort. it helps significantly improve my lung function, starting within 5 minutes. symbicort doesn't replace a rescue inhaler for sudden symptoms. with symbicort, today i'm breathing better, and that means... game on! symbicort is for copd, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. it should not be taken more than twice a day. symbicort may increase your risk of lung infections, osteoporosis, and some eye problems. tell your doctor if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure before taking it. [ whistle ] with copd, i thought i might miss out on my favorite tradition. now symbicort significantly improves my lung function, starting within 5 minutes. and that makes a difference in my breathing. today i'm back with my favorite team. ask your doctor about symbicort. i got my first prescription free. call or click to learn more. [ male announcer ] if you can't afford your medication,
2:24 pm
astrazeneca may be able to help.
2:25 pm
2:26 pm
i'm wolf blitzer. some of the stories that we're working on, the first african-american president of the united states, ramping up efforts to hold on to a key part of his base. african-americans. also, it could be his make or break moment. it could be next week. will president obama actually deliver when it comes to issue number one? the economy. jobs, jobs, jobs. and she says she was raped and forced to execute. a member of gadhafi's female militia country r unit is now speaking out. you're in "the situation room." president obama's half uncle arrested on drunk driving charges and some wonder if he got unfair treatment. what are you finding out, brian?
2:27 pm
>> the president's hatch uncle is now entangled in two legal cases. and the president and his junk driving arrest. he almost collided with this unmarked police car, according to the police report, had red and glass see eyes when he was pulled over to this restaurant, could barely keep himself from falling and kept interrupting the officer and repeatedly failed sobriety tests. when asked if he wants to make a call, he said i think i'll call the white house. he's pleaded not guilty to the charges but the story doesn't end there. according to a federal law enforcement force, he was not legally in the united states and had been previously ordered to be removed from the country. a source tells cnn, they are
2:28 pm
going through the immigration process. his boss at a local liquor store has nothing but good things to stay about him. >> when we fired him, legal paperwork and everything. >> he's had a valid driver's license for 19 years and a valid social security card when he applied for it. he tells cnn he doesn't know how he got a social security number if he wasn't legally in the country. he's the brother of another relative of president obama's. the president's half aunt that was allowed to stay in the u.s. after being denied an asylum in
2:29 pm
2004. >> he think it's going to once again bring up this issue of some people thinking that obama is not like us. he's not one of us. he's not quite america enough. >> reporter: cnn has done many stories investigating that birth issue and we've never found any evidence that the president is not a natural born american but the president has a complicated and very fascinating family tree. i'll try to run it by you here. his grandfather was married three times. his third wife, a woman who gave birth to the half uncle in this case. that is the president's half-brother. as we mentioned in the piece, involved in that legal case she was denied asylum in 2004 and then granted the right to stay in the country legally last year. that's half aunt, half uncle on
2:30 pm
the father's side from the grandfather's third wife. now, remember, this family tree is only on mr. obama's father's side of the family. that's what makes this so fascinating. so his grandfather's second wife is the one who gave birth to mr. obama's father, and then he had -- was the father who was married to ann who gave birth to president obama. you have half-brothers over here. that is, again, on mr. obama's other side of the family. so we want to show you people on the other side of the family and mr. obama's father had three.
2:31 pm
>> on that side of the president's family, let's get legal analysis from the senior analyst jeffrey toobin. what do you make of the legal part of this story? this individual, the half uncle arrested for drunk driving under intoxication? >> well, the key question here it's a warrant that says, don't do anything before checking with us because we feel he's in the country illegally. apparently he's been in the country for 19 years, has a driver's license and social security number. there may be conflicting evidence about whether he's in the country legally. if he's here illegally and been arrested, under the law he should be deported now.
2:32 pm
but a drunk driving case is not enough to get someone legally deported. >> what do they do legally? i assume he's out on bail. maybe he's not even out on bail, right? >> well, no, he's not released on bail, as i understand it, because once there's an immigration detainer on you, the local officials don't release you on bail without first coordinating with the authorities. they will throw him out. >> even though he's been here for 18 years? >> well, illegal is illegal. that will be something, if he can get a lawyer, and i assume he can, the lawyer will contest his immigration status. but if it's established that he's here illegally, le probably be given the choice to leave voluntarily. if he doesn't take up that choice, he will be thrown out. but the key question here is his status, his immigration status.
2:33 pm
it would be enough to get you out of the country. >> well, would you have to know what his status was when he got the social security number illegally. if that was part of being in the country illegally, then they would throw him out. but if he was appropriately in the united states and somehow got a social security number under improper circumstances that's going to complicate matters. this is going to be high profile and you can be sure that the authorities are going to want to play this very strictly by the rules. >> jeffrey toobin, thank you very much. our senior analyst. we heard mitt romney deliver a jab at fellow republican rick perry. but does romney actually need perry in this presidential race?
2:34 pm
james carville is standing by for a strategy session. a pipeline explosion now revealed. at usaa, we believe honor is not
2:35 pm
exclusive to the military. and commitment is not limited to one's military oath. the same set of values that drive our nation's military are the ones we used to build usaa bank. from free checking to credit cards to loans, our commitment to the military, veterans, and their families is without equal. ♪ visit us online to learn what makes our bank so different. usaa. we know what it means to serve. (announcer) everything you need to stretch out on long trips. residence inn.
2:36 pm
2:37 pm
now to the deadly fire in the casino in mexico. >> mexican officials have arrested five suspects in connection to last week's fire that killed 52 people. they say the alleged arsonists were targeting the casino, not civilians. the suspects are all members of a drug cartel. they set the fire because the casino owners had not given in to an extortion demand. officials will blaming pacific gas and electric for a pipeline explosion. they say the owner missed a lot
2:38 pm
of units to detect a faulty well. it killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes outside of the san francisco. pg&e said it took multiple steps to assure that the pipeline was safe. and the transportation department is dropping a deadline to make street signs easier to read. the federal mandate would have required better letters and nighttime reflection on all street signs by 2018. the obama administration says replacing signs only when they are warn out is when state and local governments would save millions of dollars. and finally a little fun for you. hln's nancy grace better lace up her dancing shoes. she will be one of the 12 celebrities in the upcoming season of "dancing with the stars." grace says she's up for the challenge. >> i feel i can try. look, i know i'm not the youngest, the thinnest, the prettiest, or the best dancer, but i've got a lot of heart. and that's got to account for
2:39 pm
something, right? >> got to account for something. david arquette as well as carson creditsly and ron artest and chsz bone know. >> indicate baldwin. >> kate baldwin should be on dancing with the stars. >> no, i think blitz is missing from this list. >> you are an excellent dancer. >> i think we need to remind you of your dancing skills. >> i was actually on the ellen show and doing a little dancing. >> i loved you then and i loved you after. >> let's talk about the vidro of kate dancing with the stars. >> it could be a make or break moment. just ahead, will the highly anticipated jobs plan deliver when it comes to issue number one? and his gop republican
2:40 pm
presidential candidate mitt romney making a dramatic shift on a strategy when it comes to the campaign trail. we'll talk about that in our strategy session. at exxon and mobil, we engineer smart gasoline that works at the molecular level to help your engine run more smoothly by helping remove deposits and cleaning up intake valves. so when you fill up at an exxon or mobil station, you can rest assured we help your engine run more smoothly while leaving behind cleaner emissions. it's how we make gasoline work harder for you. exxon and mobil. discover aveeno positively radiant tinted moisturizers with scientifically proven soy complex and natural minerals. give you sheer coverage instantly, then go on to even skin tone in four weeks. aveeno tinted moisturizers.
2:41 pm
2:42 pm
excuse me? my grandfather was born in this village. [ automated voice speaks foreign language ] [ male announcer ] in here, everyone speaks the same language. ♪ in here, forklifts drive themselves. no, he doesn't have it. yeah, we'll look on that. [ male announcer ] in here, friends leave you messages written in the air. that's it right there. [ male announcer ] it's the at&t network. and what's possible in here is almost impossible to say.
2:43 pm
the signs that the republican nominees may be willing to take off the boxing dplufs. we're talking about governor mitt romney. >> i spent most of my life outside politics, dealing with real problems and the real economy. career politicians got us into this thes mess and they don't know how to get us out. >> let's talk about this with our strategy session. james carville and republican consultant alex. guys, thanks very much. james, it sounds like a swipe at a career politician named rick perry, the governor of texas.
2:44 pm
>> yeah. it was not much of an attack and i'm sure he will point out that he won in 1994 when he won for the senate against ted kennedy, to be a career politician, too. they are going to have to come after perry at some point. i think this is as you watch a boxing match. it's not going to do much damage. i'm curious to see what alex has to say about it. >> is it fair to call him a career politician? >> i think since he was 34 he's been in politics. he's been in there a pretty long time. if it's not his career, he must have a night job. >> but you believe, and correct me if i'm wrong, that mitt romney actually needs rick perry in this republican contest? >> i actually do, wolf. right now confidence in -- consumer confidence is falling off a cliff since the debt ceiling debate. confidence in washington is a big part of that. we've lost a lot of confidence in our leaders and things are
2:45 pm
spinning out of control. our economy, government, and nobody in washington can do anything about it. we don't want hope and change. we want strong leadership. voters don't really know who mitt romney is, what he believes in. and he needs a victory. needs to beat someone to become someone. so he's gotten debates with rick perry over the next three months, i think. and we're going to have to see them post up there. he needs to win against rick perry, not just to get votes but to become a strong leader. >> are these guys really going to go after each other? what do you think? >> of course, they have to. there's no question about it. there is an accident point, he's not going to look strong beating michele bachmann. i don't think the field was going to stay that way. if he duts beat perry a. strong guy, nice looking big texan kind of thing and he's got to beat
2:46 pm
him and these debates are going to be critical. i'm surprised that he just got clocked with one bad debate. i've never seen anything like that. on the republican side it's that you have to come to play. you can get hurt early. >> well, a lot will be forgiven and the one thing that you cannot display is weakness. and when pawlenty didn't go after romney, that's what voters sensed. strong leadership, that's what they are looking for this year. >> one blunder like that caused tim pawlenty any chance for a nomination. much more to discuss with the strategy session. we'll continue after a short break, including a discussion on hurricane irene reigniting the debate over whether big government is really needed.
2:47 pm
i'm not crazy about these light fixtures. kitchen's too small. what's next? 607 franklin st. ♪ sea bass... ♪ ooohhh! ♪ i like it. yeah, i love the kitchen. [ male announcer ] the epa-estimated 42 mpg highway chevy cruze eco. perfect for finding your way home. aren't getting enough whole grain. but actually, it's never been easier to get the whole grain you want from your favorite big g cereals. from cheerios to lucky charms, there's whole grain in every box. make sure to look for the white check.
2:48 pm
2:49 pm
2:50 pm
we're back with james and alex. let me read the column today on the aftermath of fema. tea partyiers seem to have an abstract notion that government spending means welfare programs and bloated bureaucracies and if they suk seed in carrying the government, some of the tea partyers may be surprised to discover that they have plains d to discover they turned it back into a katrina government. do you think he has a point? >> honestly, i think it matters if you have an arabian horse show and you will not do that well. he is a professional disaster reman as was james lee witt.
2:51 pm
it matters how government performs and who is running the show and how it responds. i think the guys at the national return center are good. i have a lot of conphi dmens them. they are pretty good do you think it matters? >> he is right about one thing. a lot of republicans say reduce the size of government and don't mess with medicare or social security. i think dana is confused about the point that james just made. i thought it was excellent. there is a difference between bigger and better government. as far as i know, the u.s. government when katrina hit was the second largest employer in the world. only the chinese army was bigger. we were spending trillions and we had trillions in debt. the government was plenty big, it just wasn't dog a good job. i think in this day and age when
2:52 pm
things are moving so fast and have to be so efficient, you wonder about the industrial age government doesn't need to be reinvented for a new day. >> i have been hearing about reinventing government for as long as i have been a reporter. >> al gore. >> but you have a feeling that you can replace a lot of what's going on with three good websites. >> alex makes a good and fair point. a lot of people criticized big government and said we hate it, but don't touch social security and medicare and the military. if you don't touch those three areas, that's a big part of the government. >> it is. basically the government is an insurance company that has a military. if you look at what everybody spends, it was interesting. senator johnson in south dakota, they said the leading thing he heard is don't touch my social security and medicare. it's a little bit of what russell long said. don't tax me, tax the guy behind
2:53 pm
the tree. say the same thing about cuts. i think that's a valid point. again, in this disaster relief, it doesn't make sense for the hometown behind you to be prepared for a category five hurricane. for los angeles to be prepared for an 8.5 richter scale event. they had the resources to help people and it's imminent. >> that's probably why we shouldn't send that money and save for a rainy day. >> it's 3.3 million jobs. >> created or saved? is that right? >> saved. i don't know. whatever works. >> guys, thanks very much. a city under water. hurricane irene causes the worst flooding in more than 100 years in one new jersey town. we are going there live. chaos in syria as the country
2:54 pm
sits on thousands of tons of chemical weapons. how worried is the united states? stand by. to those always searching for what's pure and what's real from we who believe we know just how you feel. haagen-dazs. when i got my medicare card, i realized i needed an aarp... medicare supplement insurance card, too. medicare is one of the great things about turning 65, but it doesn't cover everything. in fact, it only pays up to 80% of your part b expenses. if you're already on or eligible for medicare, call now to find out how an aarp... medicare supplement insurance plan, insured by unitedhealthcare insurance company,
2:55 pm
helps cover some of the medical expenses... not paid by medicare part b. that can save you from paying up to thousands of dollars... out of your own pocket. these are the only medicare supplement insurance plans... exclusively endorsed by aarp. when you call now, you'll get this free information kit... with all you need to enroll. put their trust in aarp medicare supplement insurance. plus you'll get this free guide to understanding medicare. the prices are competitive. i can keep my own doctor. and i don't need a referral to see a specialist. call now to get a free information kit. plus you'll get this free guide to understanding medicare. and the advantages don't end there. choose from a range of medicare supplement plans... that are all competitively priced. we have a plan for almost everyone, so you can find one that fits your needs and budget. with all medicare supplement plans, there are virtually no claim forms to fill out. plus you can keep your own doctor and hospital that accepts medicare. and best of all, these plans are...
2:56 pm
the only medicare supplement plans endorsed by aarp. when they told me these plans were endorsed by aarp... i had only one thing to say... sign me up. call the number on your screen now... and find out about an aarp medicare supplement insurance plan. you'll get this free information kit... and guide to understanding medicare, to help you choose the plan that's right for you. as with all medicare supplement plans, you can keep your own doctor and hospital that accepts medicare, get help paying for what medicare doesn't... and save up to thousands of dollars. call this toll-free number now. here's a look at the hour's
2:57 pm
hot shots. in libya, the eastern part of the country. in pakistan, travelers pack on to a train marking the end of ramadan. in spain, men celebrate as they compete in gymnastics contest and workers use a bulldozer to rescue an el fact trapped in a reservoir. republican presidential candidate mitt romney is taking swipes at president obama over a response to the bitter warfare. here's what hes about syria. >> instead of calling him a reformer, this administration should have called him what he is. a killer. >> the intensifying battle for syria is raising new u.s. concerns about the country's potentially dangerous stockpile of chemical weapon. chris lawrence has been working this part of the story for us. what are you learning?
2:58 pm
>> just an aside, governor romney asked who is going to own libya if we get rid of the government there. some of these comments are a prl part of being on the campaign trail. officials have a real fear about what will happen in the middle of all that chaos and protest there >> dictators have fallen like dominos in tunisia and libya. the up rising in syria is different. its president controls one of the large splice of chemical weapons in the world. >> we haven't faced a collapse of a government that had this kind of deadly weapons of mass destruction. syria is going to be a real problem. >> joe is a member of hillary clinton's international security advisory board and written extensively on weapons of mass destruction. >> this stuff can kill tens of
2:59 pm
the thousands and there is a demand for that on the black market. >> the protester his violent conflicts. all sites of suspected chemical wep weapons plants. last year there was a concern and all it has is 10 tons of mustard gas and no weapons to deliver it. experts believe syria has thousands of tons of chemical weapons. >> a couple of drops of this agent can kill a person and they have lots of rockets and weapons delivery systems ready to go. >> it was used on the tokyo subway in 1985. 13 were kill and about 1,000 others got sick. a u.s. official said syria sees
3:00 pm
the chemical weapons as a deterrent. syria never used these weapons and has not given them to allies. even though president obama issued a statement saying the time has for president assad to step aside, the reality is the chemical weapons have been with him in power. >> it's the ka with the current situation that presents the threat and not the fear that assad himself would use or threaden to use the weapons under the most dire circumstances. >> a u.s. official told us that there is no incentive for the current government to sell these chemical weapons to terrorists. the fear among officials is that if the government collapses, the stockpiles won't be guarded well. in that confusion, criminals or even desperate rogue elements of the regime could step in and get their hands on it.
3:01 pm
>> thank you. >> floodwaters and the death toll from hurricane irene still rising days after the storm leading to dramatic rescues. we are tracking another storm. president obama set the highly anticipated jobs plan he is unveiling next week. details on what it could include. two men who want to replace the president slam his policies to an audience of veterans. we will hear what rick perry and mitt romney are saying we want to welcome viewers in the us and around the world you are in "the situation room" >> people who think the threat was exaggerated should consider themselves luck to have escaped the storm's deadly impact. as of this hour, the death toll has climbed to 42 with flood
3:02 pm
waters still ramging in some areas and that number could continue to rise. you are looking at patterson, new jersey. water as high as 18 feet on some city streets. rescuers are working desperately to save lives. the danger is still very real. >> you don't need to look behind me. you will see the urban search and rescue teams have been out throughout the day rising waters forced evacuation they were dozens of rescues and evacuations today by both. >> for a city that is used to flooding, this is became too much. as people could no longer get
3:03 pm
out of homes on their own in patterson, new jersey, rescue crews and boats had to bring them to safety from adults to babies. they hit levels not seen in more than a century. this woman had gone to her mother's house with her children. this 30-year-old ignored orders because he is experienced many floods before. when waters topped the doors to his building, he waited for help. >> i have food and water. i had things to survive with. i was pretty much all right. i got scared. at the time when the water kept elevating and elevating, i knew i had to leave. author. >> this father and son were swept away. crews rescued them and they were said to be checking on their when the water took hold. they were later found holding on to a lock. >> they were more scared than anything. they were holing on and they
3:04 pm
yelled out there were a lot of people around that they couldn't see. they were really screaming. >> patterson has a history of flooding, what's different this time is some areas not prone to flooding were under water. it's one of several communities in northern new jersey seen here on monday that have been inundated by water following hurricane irene. the river here in patterson did crest this afternoon. it's not expected that the waters here will continue to rise. you may see that line on the sidewalk here. ha is where the water reached earlier today. you can see it's receding just a bit, but there were a couple of high-rise apartments here in patterson that had to be evacuated because the basement was flooded. that's where the power systems were. they had to cut power and all these people had to leave homes. wolf? >> where are these people going?
3:05 pm
>> the mayor has been working to open a couple of schools and three schools because many more people than they anticipated had to leave their houses. >> all right, mary, thanks and good luck to the people over there. we are keeping a close watch on a new potential threat. tropical storm katia expected to be a hurricane within the next day live at the hurricane center, what's the latest? >> it is growing. 60 to 70 mile per hour gusts now. you think where did that name come from? it came as the replacement for katrina which was of course retired as that storm. there it is. much closer to africa than the caribbean. a long way to go, but forecast to be a major hurricane saturday into sunday and computer models north of the islands have it as
3:06 pm
a category five, believe it or not. there is a potential for something to pop up in the gulf of mexico over the next couple of days. that actually may help. some of the areas of texas. we get a tropical storm at 40 and can move on land. the people of vermont and new hampshire and new jersey are dealing with it and this is outside oklahoma city. the eastern side is completely on fire. winds are at 35 and no containment with the wildfire at all. >> let's get back to katia. how wo worried should i be and how many days would it take to make its way towards the united states? >> there is a slight trough, a u in the jet stream that should pick up and take that big right hand turn and make what we call a gutter ball out of the storm.
3:07 pm
not hitting the u.s. or bermuda, heading into the cold water and being a dead storm. it's too far away. it's still about seven days away before we would even know for a potential landfall for a u.s. hurricane. >> let's hope it does that gutter ball. thanks very much. we are looking at libya where they are pushing towards gadhafi's hometown of sert. there is speculation he could be hiding in the area at least 50,000 people have been killed in this six-month civil war. we have no way of confirming that. there alarming reports of how many an rights violations by forces loyal to gadhafi. these reports are escalating
3:08 pm
right now it has been looking into the reports for us they are joining us with more on one disturbing story of a member of the female militia. this is an awful story. tell our viewers what you learned. >> it is disturbing and the doctors who are wearing for this young woman say she was deprived of her family and dignity and self worth. they say gadhafi forces turned her into a monster. she is 19 with soft features, warm brown eyes and full lips. she became an executioner for gadhafi's forces. one of them had facial hair like this she gestures. recalling the face of one of the men she shot dead he lies in a hospital bed with an armed rebel guard out front.
3:09 pm
she doesn't want us to show her face. she admits she murdered 11 rebels and all prisoners of the gadhafi regime. they brought one person in at a time and said shoot him, she told us. there was someone on either side of me and behind. they all said if you don't shoot, we will shoot you. she speaks haltingly, often falling into a tortured silence. i would turn my head away and shoot and i saw the blood dripping. it just kept flowing. she was a member of gadhafi's popular militia and she was forcibly taken from her mother who is battling cancer by the head of the unit, a family friend. she was trained here at the female military academy to handle weapons. baned from seeing her family, some of the other women at the academy were reseem supporters.
3:10 pm
she wasn't, but she couldn't leave. my brother came and tried to get me out, she said. he was threaten and told to leave. her commander kept her here at the headquarters of a brigade based next to the compound. she said that as the up rising began in february, she was brought to see the commander of the brigade. he raped her. i screamed, she told us. it happened twice again at the hands of two other commanders. she says all the women were raped, but forbidden to speak about it. as the rebels closed in on tripoli, they were assigned to the neighborhood where some of the heaviest fighting was taking place she was forced to be an executi executioner. she finally escaped, jumping for a second story window as a firefight erupted.
3:11 pm
they planned to put her on trial, many of them pity her and so do the hospital staff. one of her doctors said she was speechless when she heard about her case. >> i felt she was also isn't, but maybe she has no real intention to kill. >> all i want is to go home, she said. i want my mother. >> the doctor said that she needs severe psychological help. she needs to have a strong social and family network around her if she is to ever hope to recover from her ordeal. >> you speak arabic and you are fluent. you spent years with all of our viewers in the united states and around the world covering what was going on in iraq pre and post saddam hussein. you have ever seen stories emerge like you are seeing in
3:12 pm
libya right now in iraq, for example. these are brutal tales over the past several days. the stories that you and nick and dan rivers and other reporters have been telling us. >> reporter: they most certainly are and we have been discussing that issue comparing iraq to libya and when it came to iraq, there were significant atrocities uncovered by saddam hussein carried out by saddam hussein's regime uncovered after he fell. by and large, they were atrocities that had been committed in the past. what is so chilling about what we are see suggest how fresh and recent all of this is. the bodies that are being uncover and newly burned and torched by gadhafi loyalists. the cases of this young woman and what she had to go through and the notion that there is so much more out there yet to be discovered. it is quite chilling. >> the mustard gas and the killing of a lot of kurds by
3:13 pm
saddam hussein's forces. obviously that is well-documented right now. doing amazing reporting for us. thanks very, very much. an ambitious plan to slash unemployment and put millions of americans back to work. new details about the jobs initiative that president obama will unveil next week. a memoire dick cheney said will have heads exploding in washington, d.c. but will it also embarrass his old boss? stay with us. you are in "the situation room." but not in my neighborhood. ♪ [ female announcer ] we're throwing away misperceptions about natural gas vehicles. more of the vehicles that fuel our lives use clean american natural gas today. it costs about 40 percent less than gasoline, so why aren't we using it even more? start a conversation about using more natural gas vehicles in your community.
3:14 pm
ask me. if you think even the best bed can only lie there... ask me what it's like... when my tempur-pedic moves... to someone who owns an adjustable version of the most highly recommended bed in america... ask me about my tempur advanced ergo. ask me about having all the right moves. these are real tempur-advanced ergo owners! find one for yourself. check out twitter. try your friends on facebook... see what they have to say...unedited. it goes up... ask me what it's like to get a massage ---any time you want. goes down... ergo...nomics... ergo...nomics... tempur-pedic brand owners are more satisfied than owners of any traditional mattress brand. (in chinese) ask me why i never want to leave my ergo. ask me why i'm glad i didn't wait 'till i was too old to enjoy this. start asking real owners. ask me how to make your first move... find out more about the tempur advanced ergo system! call the number on your screen for your free dvd and information kit. to find an authorized dealer near you, visit tempur-pedic. the most highly recommended bed in america.
3:15 pm
3:16 pm
it's a perfect storm that history has shown can topple a presidency. high unemployment and low ratings. that's the situation president obama is facing as he unveils a major new jobs initiative next week. we are learning new details about what his plan is likely to include.
3:17 pm
it includes longer term investment. the president's critics are taking aim just a sign of how much expectation has been built up for the jobs proposal before the announcement. >> even during a speech to the american legion in minnesota, and cooperate resist a preview of the jobs plan. >> next week i will be speaking about a plan to create the jobs and reduce the deficit. a plan i want to see passed by congress. we have to get this done. >> it's an effort to jump-start the economy and shore up the dwindling poll numbers. a recent orc poll shows only 37% of americans approve of how the president is handling unemployment. next week he is rolling out a package likely to include an extension of the payroll tax cuts for workers set to expire at the end of the year. also possible, businesses could
3:18 pm
get a tax break for each new worker they hire or even an additional credit for hiring the long-term unemployed. outside policy makers consulted say other possible inside include a program that gives the long-term unemployed job training experiences with local businesses and new spending on infrastructure that could bring back bonds to make it cheaper for cities and states to build roads and bridges or fund renovations and programs to make low income housing more energy-efficient. the white house is it-lipped on the details because the president hasn't signed off on a finished product. >> she still having conversations and meetings as he works to finalize his plan. >> in addition proposing this jobs plan, the white house sources told me the president will propose a separate package
3:19 pm
to the super committee of spending cuts that would offset additional spending in the jobs plan so that there would be no overall new spending in the package. two proposals from the white house. >> will the cuts be enough to satisfy the republicans? >> that is the hundred million dollar question. the white house said it will be revenue-neutral and republicans are beginning to criticize the outlines of the plan saying even when they are hearing is not enough. they have other concerns with it, not just with the spending. >> a make or break speech for the president. thanks very much. the former vice president cheney has a new book entitled in my time, a personal and political memoire. he promised it will have heads exploding all over washington. he is dismissing questions about
3:20 pm
the impact on his former boss, president bush. >> i didn't set out to embarrass the president or not embarrass the president. >> let's talk about the book with our chief analyst. gloria, is this book going to embarrass the former president? >> it might anger him in ways because the vice president talks about private meetings in which, for example, he acknowledges he wanted to bomb syria and nobody else around the table raised their hand. he is complimentary of george w. bush, but wolf, i have to say it's unprecedented to have a former vice president so quickly after leaving office, this unvarnished memoire it's in keeping with dick cheney and he's a candid guy, he is critical of the obama administration while the former
3:21 pm
president bush hung back. i think really in a way, this is about setting the record straight. this is about dick cheney's legacy. he wants to tell the story as he really saw it. it's quite a candid memoire. >> there was a time when historians can write these books about presidential administrations, but that changed. >> we're live in the age of twitter and we live in the age of the internet and live in the age of lucrative book contracts. you had lots of former white house aides and i remember going back to the clinton administration people are rushing to write their versions of history. something interesting that happened is you had colin powell wrote his book in which he
3:22 pm
blamed the directionor of the cia for giving him the wrong information dick cheney colin powell is taken on very directly. listen to what he said about powell. >> difeel that the state department did not serve the president well. i would hear discussing, for example, that powell had objected to or opposed the operations in iraq. that never happened sitting around the table for the national security council. it was the kind of thing that seemed to be said outside to others. >> ouch. that's pretty direct. so the question is being asked, what's the difference between writing a memoire and settling scores. there is a little bit of score settling with colin powell. >> we have come to expect brutal candor, shall we say, from dick cheney. >> that's why this really is in
3:23 pm
keeping with his character. he provided the president with condit advice. it stayed inside the room. that ves, lots of that advice remains inside the room. i think there is a larger question here for presidents. that is, is anything they do or say with anybody else in the room whether it be in the other situation room or the oval office, is any of that off of the record? the answer to that is no. >> i will be intrusion the former vice president dick cheney. if you viewers want to send suggested questions, tweet them to me. i would love to hear. >> maybe colin powell will. >> we will see you on john king usa for our north american viewers. tough talk on foreign policy for the man leading the pack of republican presidential hopefuls for the first time since entering the race.
3:24 pm
rick perry is talking about how he would deal with the rest of the world. his closest rival in polling, slapping the president's rooch to the uprisings in the mideast. >> the white house was so tentative and eager to continue the policy of engagement, protesters questioned whether president obama was with them or not. what a disgrace. naturals from purina cat chow. delicious, real ingredients with no artificial flavors or preservatives. naturals from purina cat chow. share a better life.
3:25 pm
you could save a bundle with geico's multi-policy discount. geico, saving people money on more than just car iance. ♪ geic whether it can be done safely and responsibly. at exxonmobil we know the answer is yes. when we design any well, the groundwater's protected by multiple layers of steel and cement. most wells are over a mile and a half deep so there's a tremendous amount of protective rock between the fracking operation and the groundwater. natural gas is critical to our future. at exxonmobil we recognize the challenges and how important it is
3:26 pm
to do this right.
3:27 pm
he is leading the pack of presidential hopefuls and so far rick perry has been campaigning at his decade of experience as
3:28 pm
texas governor and disdain for washington. he hasn't said much about foreign policy at least until now. he gave a revealing speech about the wars convention in san antonio. listen to this. >> do i not believe that america should fall subject to a foreign policy of military adventurism. we should only risk shedding american blood and spending american treasure when our vital interests of threatened. we should always look to build coalitions among the nations to protect the mutual interest of freedom-loving people. it's not our interest to go it alone. >> where does governor perry stand? another hot button foreign policy issue. >> rick perry sweeted this picture after a meeting with former pakistan president
3:29 pm
mushareef. interesting because his floor fee is a work in progress. ray sullivan, one of the longest serving advisers argues perry is already on the international stage. >> we are the largest exporting state in the country. a 1200 mile border with mexico and our energy industry say world leader. we had a lot of interaction with international trade and business and international relations. >> there clues into the foreign tell us thinking. we learned donald rumsfeld put the governor in touch with other officials from the george w. bush administration. >> rick perry is drawing upon a wealth of conservative, hawkish militaristic foreign policy ideas and foreign policy personnel here in washington that includes a lot of people on the sidelines in the obama administration that are more than eager to get back into the
3:30 pm
game. >> he opposes time tables and on afghanistan said the united states needs to be sure they are at stake before it commits troops. the foreign policy strategy will be just like the last texas governor turned president. >> he has no interest in going backwards. >>s it tough talk will probably go over well with conservatives, but one particular issue could cause political problems. that's immigration. perry said strict arizona-style immigration laws are not right for texas. he pushed for a law giving illegal immigrants the right to pay in-state college tuition, a texas version of the dream act. >> people would be surprised on the far right the positions he has taken. >> this is a friend of the governor. a south texas democrat. he thinks perry will soften on immigration. >> you still see what i call the
3:31 pm
perry that i know. i think for now what you are going to see is see him running to the right so he can win the primary. >> that means a focus on security. >> people are going to want to know does he support a guest worker program and support the dream act? where does he stand on those? >> i think governor perry's focus will be on border security. it is broken. >> the delicate dance around hot button issues is in full swing. austin texas. >> the closest rival in the polls addressed that same veteran's convention today. mitt romney slammed president obama's foreign policy saying what a disgrace. >> in the middle east, we are pressuring israel to make consessions while putting almost no pressure on the palestinians. the administration was quick to criticize israel, but slow to
3:32 pm
criticize the strong man even though he armed hezbollah and allowed terrorists to go into iraq where they killed american troops and turned weapons on his own people. instead of calling a reformer, this administration should have called him what he is. a killer president obama criticized and echoes his unwillingness to talk about the harsh words they protested the 9/11 election there. the white house was so tentative and eager to continue the pols of engagement, the protesters questioned whether president obama was with them or not what a disgrace. >> while romney was slamming the president, president obama was speaking to the veterans some 1200 miles away in minneapolis. at the national convention, much of the speech was focused on jobs ahead of a major initiative
3:33 pm
to be unveiled. dan? >> reporter: the large crowd of mostly military veterans gave president obama a respectful reception as he talked about creating jobs and catching osama bin laden and the upcoming 9/11 anniversary. the loudest applause came when he touched on the issue of service members dealing with emotional scars. for the first time in public remarks, president obama explained why he reversed his policy of not sending condolence letters to the families of service member who is commit suicide. >> the days when depression and ptsd were stigmatized must end. these americans did not die because they were weak. they were warriors. >> the president said his administration is committed to improving outreach and suicide prevention programs for those in the military. hoping to also ease the pain of
3:34 pm
unemployment for troops returning for the battlefield, mr. obama is pushing companies to hire vets and proposing tax breaks for incentive. >> for the sake of our veterans and economy, we need them working. >> charles who served in the army and marines said sacrifice deserves to be rewarded at home. >> they have come from the chaos of the battlefield. they bring their baggage back with them and when they don't have a job, that compounds through the problem. >> about the same time president obama was addressing legion ears on the need to create jobs faster, mitt romney was criticizing his record if a speech at the vfw national convention in san antonio, texas. >> we're stand near the threshold of profound misery. four more years on the same political path could prove disastrous. >> romney chided the period for proposing cuts to military
3:35 pm
spending. in a heated climate where whereins and democrats struggle to find compromise on fixing the econo economy, charles has faith that washington will find a way to get unemployed veterans back to work. >> whether you agree with the politics or not, earing side of the aisle, they have been willing to work to get some of these things passed to take care of our veterans. >> president obama said the u.s. has a responsibility to all those who serve the country and it is not about politics, but rather a moral obligation. wolf? >> traveling with the president, thank you. tremendous jobs pressure on the president from an african-american leader. the president is taking action to quell the criticism also. an inferno wiped out an entire neighborhood and killed eight people. a scathing report is laying blame. why a tea party favorite,
3:36 pm
christine o'donnell won't be appearing with sarah palin. we'll show you other people's winning hotel bids. >>so i'll know how much to bid... ...and save up to 60% >>i'm in i know see winning hotel bids now at priceline. and i was a pack-a-day smoker for 25 years. i do remember sitting down with my boys, and i'm like, "oh, promise mommy you'll never ever pick up a cigarette." i had to quit. ♪ my doctor gave me a prescription for chantix, a medication i could take and still smoke, while it built up in my system. [ male announcer ] chantix is a non-nicotine pill proven to help people quit smoking. it reduces the urge to smoke. some people had changes in behavior, thinking or mood, hostility, agitation, depressed mood and suicidal thoughts or actions while taking or after stopping chantix. if you notice any of these, stop taking chantix and call your doctor right away. tell your doctor about any history of depression or other mental health problems, which could get worse while taking chantix. don't take chantix if you've had a serious allergic
3:37 pm
or skin reaction to it. if you develop these, stop taking chantix and see your doctor right away as some of these can be life-threatening. if you have a history of heart or blood vessel problems, tell your doctor if you have new or worse symptoms. get medical help right away if you have symptoms of a heart attack. dosing may be different if you have kidney problems. until you know how chantix affects you, use caution when driving or operating machinery. common side effects include nausea, trouble sleeping and unusual dreams. ♪ my benjamin, he helped me with the countdown. "5 days, mom. 10 days, mom." i think after 30 days he got tired of counting! [ male announcer ] ask your doctor about chantix. over 7 million people have gotten a prescription. learn how you can save money and get terms and conditions at
3:38 pm
3:39 pm
a grim milestone for u.s. troops. kate baldwin is monitoring that and other top stories in "the situation room." >> sad statistics to tell you about. august is now the deadliest month for u.s. troops in afghanistan since the war started almost 10 years ago. 66 troops have died so far this month. almost half of them were killed when insurgents shot down a helicopter on august sixth. the head of the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms is reassigned. this is in the wake of operation fast and furious. the controversial program allowed thousands of heavy duty assault weapons to be bought illegally. critics blame it for the death of the border patrol agent in december. todd jones will become the acting director of atf.
3:40 pm
consumer confidence plunged to the lowest level in more than two years. according it a research group, half of consumers say jobs are hard to get business conditions will worsen in the next six months. consumer spending takes up 70% of the economy the group said it was a scheduling screw up on its part. sarah palin is giving the key note address on saturday and organizers say she will make a major statement. we will have to be watching for what that statement can be. >> hinting she will run or won't run? >> a lot of hinting. >> at some point show has to say yes or no. maybe saturday. stay with us to see the candidates face off in less than two weeks. i will be the moderator when cnn hosts the debate and several
3:41 pm
groups in tampa, florida. that's monday, september 12th, 8:00 p.m. eastern. the cnn tea party express debate here only on cnn president obama is ramping up to hold on to a key part of the base. is it too late? new words on who is responsible for a gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people outside san francisco last year stay with us. you are in "the situation room." it's salonpas. pain relief that works at the site of pain... up to 12 hours. salonpas.
3:42 pm
a network of possibilities. in here, the planned combination of at&t and t-mobile would deliver our next generation mobile broadband experience to 55 million more americans, many in small towns and rural communities, giving them a new choice. we'll deliver better service, with thousands of new cell sites... for greater access to all the things you want, whenever you want them. it's the at&t network... and what's possible in here is almost impossible to say.
3:43 pm
3:44 pm
>> there is increasing criticism from black leader who is say president obama is not doing enough to address unemployment in their communities. the white house is now moving to counter those concerns. how concerned should the president be? breaking down the numbers for us. tom, what are you finding? >> we all remember the celebration in 2008 in the african-american community after the president won this historic election and incredible change. look at what changed since then. you break down the red and the blue everywhere he won and john mccain won, look at the numbers on unemployment among black voters. you talk about the overall rate.
3:45 pm
it changed. this was the turn out in voting back then. it rose more than 5%. that was much more than any other group. much more in that election. that was the measure of the excitement. look what happened with unemployment. the black community suffered much more. around 9% unemployment for the general population and below that. they look up here. think about 15 percent per or 17% unemployment depending on where you are. this is a very profound certain for all out there, particularly for that group. what is the president doing about it look at how the election played out. i want to look at a few battle ground states. north carolina for one example. unemployment in 2008 when he won
3:46 pm
the election, 8.6%, currently 17.4% in that state. massive and look at the margin of error here. the black vote went almost entirely to him. he won the state by only 14,177. he f he could keep all of the white votes, every one of them and all the la teeno and asian votes f he kept all of them, he comes down to a tiny fraction here that can make a huge difference if that group doesn't turn out because they are not feeling good about the unemployment rate. in florida, you have a rate that.from 8.8% to almost 17%. now and also if you look at the margin by which he won, it's a potential vulnerability and the last past that has the caucus
3:47 pm
concerned. look at the president's economic tour. i have to turn off a couple of things here. when he went on tour the last time, he went to these states talking about the economy. minnesota and places where you have large white populations and congressional black caucus when they went on tour. atlanta and los angeles. listen to what maxine waters from california said about that. >> we are supportive of the president, but we are getting tired of it. unemployment is unconscionable. we don't know what the strategy is. we don't know while on this trip in the united states he is not in the black communities. we don't know that. >> a genuine and heart felt concern. predom in factually african-american saying there is a real problem and they need to hear the president speaking to that to have the support in the
3:48 pm
election. >> thanks very much. let's bring in our contributor. the president gave an interview and let me play an excerpt. he is reaching out and starting to reach out. how much of a problem does the president have right now in the african-american community. >> they laid out the fundamental issue and the critical states in 2012. you are looking at virginia and ohio and pennsylvania and florida. north carolina. he won north carolina by 14,000 votes and indiana by 1% as well. any kind of shift among african-americans is vital. it goes beyond unemployment. 53% has been wiped out as a result of the home foreclosure problem. the crisis in the country. $46 billion home foreclosure program has not been effective. they have not changed enough of those loans.
3:49 pm
turn out will be the issue. will he get 92 to 95% of the vote? yes, al gore got 92%. what is going to be the intensity. black women voted at a higher rate than any other group in america in 2008. will you see the same in 12? they are trying to ramp it up. they will be crate cal as a base voter. >> let me play that clip on the radio today. >> we have got on loan that famous norman rockwell painting right outside the oval office of ruby bridges walking to school and we pass that every single day. you know she was a little 6-year-old girl surrounded by marshalls going bo into that school house all by herself and you know inside my office, a friend of mine framed me. the march on washington.
3:50 pm
there reminders as we go through the day and we are working hard to make sure we put people back to work and get the economy going again. we stand on the shoulders of a lot of people who made a lot of sacrifices. it's important for us to make sure we are following through on those condominiums, even if it's slow and frustrating. >> he references the march in washington for the jobs in freedom. a huge supporter of the president in 2008 said we made a similar margin. a lot of folks are saying he is the the first african-american, but at the same time he's the 44th president of the united states, and so, therefore, he must be held accountable as the previous president. >> in recent days the democratic national committee has reached out to you, donna brazile, debra lee, b.e.t., others. what do they want from you? >> well, first of all, look, i hosted the only sunday morning political show on a black cablec
3:51 pm
they are reaching out to me. >> you're here in> i have multiple jobs, tough economy for a black man. but they are reaching out to various people getting the word out, ramping up. they've been meeting with hispanics and women and gays and lc8¿i formed frankly the coalition that put the president in office. they are trying to say this is what we've done and doing and what we're prepared to do but they know this is going to be a lot tougher re-election campaign. it will not be like 2008 so if anybody is trying to use 2008 as a barometer for 2012, they're crazy. you got to look at the turnout for '09 and '10, the african-americans and hispanic numbers were way down. they got to get them back up. >> thank you. >> you're welcome. details of a scathing new report on a pipeline explosion that wiped out an entire neighborhood. [ male announcer ] members of the american postal workers union
3:52 pm
handle more than 165 billion letters and packages a year. that's about 34 million pounds of mail every day. ever wonder what this costs you as a taxpayer? millions? tens of millions? hundreds of millions? not a single cent. the united states postal service doesn't run on your tax dollars. it's funded solely by stamps and postage. brought to you by the men and women of the american postal workers union. ♪
3:53 pm
3:54 pm
a scathing government report is laying blame for a natural gas pipeline explosion that wiped out an entire northern california neighborhood and killed eight people. cnn's dan simon is joining us now live from san francisco with more. what's going on here, dan?
3:55 pm
>> reporter: well, wolf, those of us who were there that day will never forget the enormous fireball we saw in the san bruno neighborhood. today the ntsb determined what had caused that fireball, what caused that explosion, and it's a pretty devastating portrayal of pg&e, the utility. the ntsb found three things that led up to this explosion, a faulty pipe. there was poor emergency response, and lax government oversight, all three things led to this failure. the ntsb calling this a litany of failures. one member actually saying it wasn't a matter of if this would happen, it was when. there are actually saying an electrical malfunction caused pressure to build in that line. and the other thing they talked about there was this very poor response time. 95 minutes before pg&e could actually shut the gas off. that was a complete failure according to the ntsb. we reached out to pg&e for a response. they have not gotten back to us. but they have said that they have done a lot to increase
3:56 pm
safety, but bottom line here, this is a pretty devastating portrayal of pg&e, wolf? >> that's an understatement. all right, dan, thanks very much. with crude oil prices down sharply from highs this spring, can drivers expect the price of gasoline to fall, and just how much? well, maybe not necessarily. stand by. we'll explain. you're in "the situation room." or creates another laptop bag or hires another employee, it's not just good for business -- it's good for the entire community. at bank of america, we know the impact that local businesses have on communities, so we're helping them with advice from local business experts and extending $18 billion in credit last year. that's how we're helping set opportunity in motion. [ male announcer ] it's been a good year for the chevy silverado. and not because of the awards or the accolades. no, it was good because you told us so. the chevy model year wrap up.
3:57 pm
get in on our greatest model year yet. just announced -- celebrate labor day with an additional $500 bonus cash. with all other offers, including the all-star edition discount, that's a total value of $6,500. ♪ our greatest model year yet is wrapping up.
3:58 pm
an accident doesn't have to slow you down. with better car replacement, available only from liberty mutual insurance, if your car's totaled, we give you the money to buy a car that's one model-year newer... with 15,000 fewer miles on it. there's no other auto insurance product like it. better car replacement, available only from liberty mutual. it's a better policy that gets you a better car. call... or visit one of our local offices today, and we'll provide the coverage you need at the right price. liberty mutual auto insurance -- responsibility. what's your policy?
3:59 pm
a little relief at the pump. kate bolduan is monitoring that and other top stories into "the situation room." what do you have, kate? >> drivers can expect a drop in gas prices soon, but unfortunately not by that much. gas usually costs less as the traditional summer driving season ends. also hurricane irene wasn't as bad as expected. experts say gasoline should only drop, though, by 30 or 40 contribucents a gallon. the u.s. is warning of a possible extension of the h1n1 virus has appeared in vietnam and china, and might be spreading throughout asia. it appears this strain of the bird flu can bypass the effects of the vaccine. and finally on wall street, stocks eked out gains after falling early in the day on a weak