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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  October 9, 2012 1:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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videos. i talked to magic in addition to the test about politics and who'd win in a one-on-one pickup game with his buddy larry bird. that would be at in about two hours time the big live interview wolf has with mitt romney. definitely stick around for that. "the situation room," must-see tv. i'm brooke baldwin. thanks for being with me today. i will be back tomorrow. in the meantime, here's wolf. brooke, thanks very much. happening now, we're standing by for my live one-on-one interview with the republican presidential nominee mitt romney. he's heading for ohio where we have brand new poll numbers just coming in. we're going to see what a difference one debate has made. also, rare access into the syrian president bashar al assad's inner circle. a one-time insider sits down with cnn, admits covering up crimes and so much more. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
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this just coming into "the situation room" as we await our interview with mitt romney, we have brands new poll numbers from one of the most crucial battleground states in the country certainly on the cnn electoral college map, ohio. both presidential candidates will be there today. and look at this. romney's catching up dramatically. president obama's still ahead 51% to 47%. but his four-point lead falls now within the poll's sampling error. the president had a nine-point lead in our most recent poll of polls in ohio, which was completed just before last week's presidential debate in denver. our chief national correspondent john king is joining us from the state capital of columbus right
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now. john, you're taking a closer look at the new numbers in this ohio poll. what are you seeing? >> reporter: wolf, if you had any doubt the first debate gave governor romney a significant meaningful bounce, this erases them. we've seen it in the national polls. now we see it in our brand new poll here in ohio. you just mentioned the numbers. that's a statistical tie and a big comeback for governor romney for where he was pre-debate. look at with four weeks to go certain to be a hard-fought battleground. independents, the president up four points. that's within a margin of error. the suburbs, the cincinnati and cleveland suburbs, when it's close, statistical tie. governor romney up two points there. again, a dead heat in the poll numbers in the battleground of the suburbs. and among key older voters, 50 and older, those most reliable to vote, the president up one point. a statistical tie. you look at this, it's dramatic turnaround from governor romney two weeks ago a lot of
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republicans saying is there any way we can win without ohio? you know the history as well as anyone. no republican has ever won without this state. that soul searching is now over. the governor will be here today. you're going to talk to him in a bit. they now say ohio is back in play. they need it back in play. no way to win without it. >> a critical state. there are some areas in this new poll where significant gaps do remain, john. how does that bode for the final month of campaigning? we're now in the final month. >> reporter: it's fascinating. we are in the final month. four weeks from today america votes. here's something encouraging for governor romney. because this is a state with a significant african-american population, president obama has a strong base here. governor romney has to do well among white voters. look at this among white men, a huge lead 30 points among white men 64 to 34, he has to keep president obama probably around 37%. overall among the white vote. so encouraging for the governor among man. but white women in the state of ohio, wolf, 52% to 46%. a narrow lead for the president.
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some people might say that's not such a big deal. when the president beat john mccain in 2008, president obama received 47% of the white female vote. so he is now winning that vote. that is the key area that governor romney must improve in his advertising, campaigning, in the final two debates plus the vice presidential debate. wolf, that's one of the reasons we're here. when you talk to white women especially in the suburbs, one thing that resonates with them they don't like, that 47% remark. a lot of them have struggled the last few years, they found what governor romney said offensive. clearly into the next debate that is one of his challenges. he apologized the other night on fox news to get people to see that that was something he should not have said, didn't mean to say and not the totality of his character. that 47% remark hurting him among women, white women especially. a key constituency here. >> he said he was completely wrong in uttering those words at the closed door fundraiser. i take it you can't watch television in ohio right now, john, for all practical purposes
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without being saturated by these tv commercials. >> reporter: wolf, remember yesterday we talked about colorado. we were stunned at the $33 million in tv ad spendsing in colorado. colorado seems puny when you match this up. no offense to the state of colorado. $91 million spent in ohio the last six months on presidential campaign tv ads. $91 million over the past six months roughly evenly split, little more for the president than governor romney. in just the last two weeks, wolf, $20.5 million. a slight advantage for president obama but roughly an even split. $20.5 million spent in the last two weeks. expect nothing but more of the same the next four weeks. >> yep. i'm sure of that. thanks very much, john. we'll be back with us. he's joining us from ohio. as we mention both mitt romney and president obama are campaigning in ohio today. and believe it or not today's big issue in the presidential race is big bird. cnn's national political correspondent jim acosta reports
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from iowa right now where romney held a rally earlier in the day. jim. >> reporter: wolf, the romney campaign is clearly feeling good, but at the same time top advisors are trying to downplay the importance of a slew of new polls showing the gop nominee now in a real horse race with president obama in a sign that all of this has gotten the president's attention. this campaign has suddenly turned into a race over small things or rather one big bird. plowing into his proposals to help american farmers, mitt romney had poultry on his mind in iowa. of the eight-foot and yellow variety as he accused the president of fouling up the nation's weak recovery. >> you have to scratch your head when the president spends the last week talking about saving big bird. i actually think we need to have a president who talks about saving the american people and saving good jobs and saving our future. >> one man has the guts to speak his name. >> big bird. big bird.
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>> reporter: it was a direct response to the latest ad from the obama campaign. >> mitt romney knows it's not wall street you have to worry about. it's sesame street. >> reporter: the spot's goal, to turn romney's widely perceived win at the last debate into something of a national punch line by taking aim at one of the night's more memorable moments. >> i'm sorry, jim, i'm going to stop the subsidy to pbs. i'm going to stop other things. i like pbs. i like big bird. i like you too. >> reporter: ever since the gop nominee put big bird in his sights, the actor dressed up has appeared at campaign events. the obama campaign is trying to make the point slashing funding for pbs which makes up one-hundredth of the federal budget will do little to cut the deficit. >> somebody is finally getting tough on big bird. rounding him up. elmo's got to watch out too. >> reporter: but elmo is not tickled. sesame street's producers released a statement saying it's not taking sides adding we have approved no campaign ads and as
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is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down. republicans are now calling it the big bird backfire. >> i just find it troubling that the president's message -- the president's focus 28 days from election day is big bird. >> reporter: romney's advisors say it's a surprising tactic given what then-senator obama said in his convention speech in 2008. >> if you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from. you make a big election about small things. >> reporter: the romney campaign also believes the candidate is connecting better with voters. here getting choked up talking about navy seal glenn dougherty who died in a consulate attack in libya, a man romney said he once met. >> you can imagine how i felt when i found out that he was one of the two former navy seals killed in benghazi on september
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11th. and it -- it touched me obviously as i recognized this young man that i thought was so impressive had lost his life in the service of his fellow men and women. >> reporter: now that the race is essentially tied, romney's advisors expect the obama campaign to shift away from sesame street tactics to what they call character attacks. but those officials are confident that those attacks will not work saying voters are now tuned into the debates and eager to hear solutions. wolf. >> jim acosta, thank you. and this remiepder, mitt romney will join me live right here in "the situation room" at 6:00 p.m. eastern. that's only here on cnn. much more on this story coming up. meanwhile, in ohio and elsewhere both campaigns are ramping up their get out the vote efforts. and that's uncovering a problem that didn't exist before the housing crisis hit. cnn's national correspondent deborah feyerick explains. >> reporter: wolf, this is a
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group of voters both candidates are trying to win over. >> hi, you guys registered to vote? have you moved in the last four years? >> reporter: few shoppers at this save-a-lot supermarket in columbus, ohio, get past her without first answering her questions. >> okay. i need your last four of your social. have a wonderful day. thank you. >> reporter: rob innson lost her job and on the verge of losing her home. losing the ability to vote is not an option. not for her and not for others in the same situation. do you think it can make a difference in this election? >> i think everybody needs to vote. and, yes, i do. >> reporter: since the last presidential election in 2008, ohio has seen more than 330,000 homes foreclosed. finding those displaced voters who may have moved and need to re-register is now critical for both democrats and republicans. this home's foreclosed. this home's foreclosed. this one's foreclosed. >> yep.
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yep. whole block. >> reporter: community organizer works in a part of columbus known as the main street neighborhood as in other parts of the country, the foreclosure crisis hit this once up and coming african-american community disproportionately hard. >> not that i can directly trace outside this neighborhood. we have a sense of large number of registered folks -- >> reporter: ohio, florida, nevada, key battleground states and highest foreclosure rates in the nation. in ohio voters who moved to a new county must re-register. a challenge for those working to get out the vote. >> so in some cases people are fully protected and they can vote as if they're temporarily away from their home in their old place until they re-establish a permanent residence. but for many others that's not the case. >> reporter: president obama won ohio in 2008. but as robinson points out, that landscape has changed.
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>> this one is in foreclosure, the one right there. >> reporter: on the corner? >> right. and the yellow one. and this was foreclosed on for sure. and mine. >> reporter: with nationwide foreclosures now at two million a year, those who have already lost so much may now find themselves at another loss, where to vote. and looking at the numbers, wolf, ohio has about 7.92 million voters. that's about 370,000 less than they had four years ago. coincidentally that number's not too far off the number of foreclosed voters. however, i did just speak with the secretary of state's office in ohio. they've been updating their voter rolls keeping a more accurate statewide data base so that 370,000 so-called lost voters, they're ohianss who died or did move. that is a big challenge for each campaign. and that is to find those folks who may simply not know where to go, wolf. >> turnout is going tor very,
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very significant in this election given how close it is. deb, thanks for that report. in our next hour, by the way, we're going to see president obama live in columbus, ohio. we got a picture right now. there's a still photo of the first lady michelle obama. this is a live picture from columbus, ohio. tarmac air force one getting ready to land in columbus. the president will be giving a speech there. they're zooming in on air force one. i can't see it yet but presumably we will be seeing it very soon. the president getting ready to arrive in columbus. we'll have live coverage of that event by the president. standby for that. also coming up, jerry sandusky finds out his fate. and his victims get a chance to speak directly to him. [ male announcer ] how do you measure happiness? by the armful? by the barrelful? the carful? how the bowlful? campbell's soups give you nutrition, energy,
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and can help you keep a healthy weight. campbell's. it's amazing what soup can do. and the candidate's speech is in pieces all over the district. the writer's desktop and the coordinator's phone are working on a joke with local col. the secure cloud just received a revised intro from the strategist's tablet. and while i make my way into the venue, the candidate will be rehearsing off of his phone. [ candidate ] and thanks to every young face i see out there. [ woman ] his phone is one of his biggest supporters.
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to some jerry sandusky was once a beloved coach, now he's a convicted felon who today learned his fate. a pennsylvania judge sentenced him to 30 to 60 years in prison. that's essentially life behind bars. cnn's national correspondent jason carol is joining us from outside the courthouse. we heard from sandusky himself, some of the victims. what happened? >> reporter: lots of emotion inside the courtroom today, wolf, as some of sandusky's victims stood and got very emotional, teared up and talked about the abuse that they suffered at the hands of the former football coach. all the while while sandusky continues to say he is the only victim here. jerry sandusky arrived to his sentencing in a prison uniform, a uniform he'll likely wear for the rest of his life. inside he listened intently as three of his victims read emotional statements, victim five who was assaulted once in a locker room shower in 2001 cried
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as he told the court "the sentence will never erase what he did to me. it will never make me whole. he must pay for his crimes. take into account the tears, pain and private anguish." victim four who endured years of sexual abuse looked directly at sandusky and told the former football coach "i want you to know i do not forgive you. and i don't think i will ever forgive you." for about 13 minutes sandusky read from a statement he finished writing late last night saying "i'm filled with emotion and determination. i did not do these disgusting acts. others can make me out to be a monster, but they cannot take away my heart." ndusky made comments to a pennsylvania radio station on the eve of his sentencing calling his case. >> a well orchestrated effort of the media, investigators, the system, penn state, psychologists, civil attorneys and ore accusers. they won."
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the judge sentenced him to 30 to 60 years in prison telling sandusky this crime is not only what you did to their bodies but to their psyche and souls. outside court prosecutor joe said sandusky's statement was a joke. >> it was self-centered. it was devoid of any connection to the reality of the harm he caused. >> reporter: joe amendola set the grounds for appeal saying acquittal was possible had he had more time to prepare his case. >> what was the harm in giving him another six months to prove that? to do more research? to do more investigative work? which is what we were in the process of doing. >> reporter: the victim attorney doesn't believe there are any grounds for an appeal. though she was satisfied with today's sentence, she feels it still may not be enough. >> i honestly don't believe that there is enough time in the universe to create justice in this case. >> reporter: so again, wolf, sandusky sentenced to a minimum
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of 30 years in prison. sandusky telling the court, "please don't close the door on this with this sentencing." so make rounds for sandusky definitely plans from this point on, wolf, to set the grounds for some sort of an appeal. wolf. >> let's see how far he gets on that front. thanks very much jason carroll outside the courthouse. a one-time bashar al assad confidant gives us access to the inside. and a huge weekend wedding brawl. standby. ♪ reach one customer at a time? ♪ or help doctors turn billions of bytes of shared information... ♪ into a fifth anniversary of remission? ♪ whatever your business challenge, dell has the technology and services to help you solve it.
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a coordinated attack near a syrian government compound could be a major blow to the regime in damascus.
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lisa sylvester's monitoring that, some of the other top stories in "the situation room" right now. lisa, what's the latest? >> hi, wolf. it was a three-stage attack and it started overnight with a suicide car bomb, then a suicide bomb in an ambulance. then this. [ gunfire ] that barrage of gunfire was the last part of the assault near an air force intelligence compound outside the capital. the afi is the primary agency of syria's intelligence operation. experts say a lot of spying equipment would have been in that kind of compound. a shadowy jihadist group has now claimed responsibility. and police arrested this man and could arrest more after a brawl broke out between two wedding parties at a hotel in philadelphia. 26-year-old matthew faces a few different assault charges, he's a relative of one of the grooms. the fighting erupted early sunday morning. the uncle of one of the brides later died after suffering a heart attack outside that hotel. and a florida man, pretty
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bizarre, has died after eating dozens of bugs all to win a python. the 32-year-old ate roaches and worms as part of a midnight madness contest at a reptile store minute. minutes after he won he collapsed and died. none of the other contestants got sick. a store representative said thein sects were "raised in a controlled environment for reptile food." and a woman received quite a surprise when the junk company she hired to clean out her house brought back these savings bond. her mother died and wanted to get rid of some things including an old hope chest. she didn't know inside was more than $100,000 worth of bonds. the company's owner says it is their craziest find ever. and what a nice thing they did. they came back and returned that to her. $114,000 in bonds. >> do you know how long? >> i don't know. but it was her mother and a hope chest. it probably had been there for some time. we'll look into that and get an answer. >> good work all around. new polls show the
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presidential race is getting tighter and tighter by the day. our special panel getting ready to break it all down. what it could mean. also, we're standing by for the republican presidential nominee mitt romney. he's going to join me live for a one-on-one interview right here in "the situation room" right during our 6:00 p.m. eastern hour. i don't spend money on gasoline. i am probably going to the gas station about once a month. last time i was at a gas station was about...i would say... two months ago i very rarely put gas in my chevy volt. i go to the gas station such a small amount that i forget how to put gas in my car. [ male announcer ] and it's not just these owners giving the volt high praise. volt received the j.d. power and associates appeal award two years in a row. ♪
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okay. go ahead and turn on a television, pick a poll, any poll. everyone's talking about how much tighter the presidential race has become. here's a quick snapshot. >> two new national polls show the race basically tied at this point. a poll by the pew research center taken after the debate gives mitt romney a four-point lead over mitt romney. >> the -- there's still no word for it. it's never existed before.
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>> they're going to ride this thing out. they're of course happy and they're energized by what they're seeing out here. but they know that they also have to be cautious. >> gallup is published its daily tracking poll. boom, here you go. this is a nationwide poll, this is registered voters. obama 49%, romney at 46%. >> both campaigns believe the race is tightened since the debate. their internal polls show that. and we're anxiously looking ahead to swing state polls. >> all right. let's go straight to our cnn contributor margaret hoover who's joining us with an excellent panel. margaret. >> thanks a lot, wolf. here we are, polls, polls, polls. we're going to cornell first because you are the pollster, the democratic pollster on the panel. can you put it in context, is this just a snapshot, or is this trouble for democrats? >> it is a snapshot. romney had a good debate as you often see challengers have to have in order to change momentum. he brought home a lot of undecided leaning republicans at the time.
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clearly he's going to get a bounce just like kerry got a bounce, et cetera got a bounce. however some of these polls, sort of this game change we're seeing right now -- >> i didn't see it. >> pull back the reigns a little bit. there's still polling out there, the gap's rolling poll is interesting had him at 50 yesterday. focusing on one poll but there's a lot of different polls -- >> there's a new ohio battleground poll -- >> i was going to say, look at the battleground l atthe hour w tightening for the president. there's a four-point, basically a statistical tie. >> what's the number? 51? >> it's 51 and 47. >> last time i checked 51 was majority. >> cornell, there's actually been a spate of polls showing romney closing actually pretty remarkably in pennsylvania and michigan, states that were supposed to be out of reach for him. i'm not a believer in individual polls, i'm a believer in polling averages. and the thing that happened
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today that struck me for the first time in this entire campaign season if you go onto real clear where they average all the recent polls, romney just pulled into the lead. so to my mind i agree you can discount the pew poll and so on, but if you feed it into the average, romney's ahead. >> campaigns are about momentum and romney has the momentum now. steve colbert had it right. obama's lost momentum, romney's gained momentum. i think sadly for the nation and also mistakenly for the obama campaign, having lost momentum they're talking about big bird. i just don't get it. >> i think obama has to go into the next debate, certainly joe biden on thursday, they have to regain momentum. obviously the debate led t a change in the polls. think romney can change himself and argue toe-to-toe with the president, i want to see the president come back strong next
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time. >> do you think this puts more pressure on joe biden to ante up in a way that could compromise him in the debate? >> i do. but obama in presenting himself for the next couple weeks, but he's always stepped up to the pressure. >> i think the pressure on biden is mostly to prevent these sort of media narratives as we all know too well they take on a life of their own. and often in negative ways. three weeks ago it wasor romney. now it' obama. i think biden's job is to sort of stop the bleeding. he doesn't need -- he needs to be a narrative. >> he can't attack. he has to defend. if it had gone well, he could have attacked ryan and romney. now he has to defend the president. >> well, i disagree completely because here's the problem with that. this mitt romney's the same mitt romney that we've known for the last six or seven months, the same mitt romney that voters very cautious with the last six
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or seven months. it's not about defending the president, it's about taking the fight to mitt romney making them defend, that fantasy show he put on during the other debate where he made stuff up and didn't know his own tax plan, making them stick to what they've been the last six or seven months. >> this is where i think paul ryan will have pressure on him and where i expect paul ryan to perform very well. i mean, i found obama's debate performance totally lacking in specifics. we still don't know what his tax plan is or his deficit plan or his budget plan. but paul ryan has become the personification for the democrats of all that is callous and cold and evil about the romney campaign. so ryan now has i think an opportunity to not only explain his plan more importantly romney's plan, but to explain it in a way that is compassionate and human. and i expect he'll do a very good job of that. >> there's a tricky thing that ryan has to do. and i think you suggested it there, carly. there's clearly a distinction
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between the ryan plan. actually, there have been multiple ryan plans on multiple fronts. >> that's right. >> and the romney plan. so ryan can't get lured into a debate over the specifics. >> i agree with you. >> here's the problem, mitt romney embraced that budget plan. >> well, the genius of romney is vague -- >> he flip-flops. this is what happened at the debate. is he going to run away from vouchers? i mean, look, 60% of americans don't approve of that voucher plan. now -- >> he doesn't have to run away from it because the romney -- >> bring in somebody uniquely qualified to speak to vouchers on my right. >> that's true. i hope obama and certainly joe biden doesn't get caught up into this my plan versus his plan. they are the incumbents. they can explain not only what they're going to do in the future but the past four years, the stimulus, the auto industry, the banking industry, bringing us out of the worst reception we've ever been, not completely
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but a long way in four years. they can't get caught up in looking like they're a challenger versus another challenger. which i think is what happened in the last debate. >> shouldn't vouchers be such a third railroad in politics mayor fenty. >> i think in terms of education vouchers should be considered 100% by both parties. >> that's not a medicare voucher. >> but to be clear, cornell, the actually romney plan and, again thrks is the distinction between the ryan plan and romney plan is crucial, the romney plan is the biden plan which moves away from a straightforward voucher and keeps some form of traditional medicare. i think your attack is an example of what ryan has to do. >> clarify for me now, republicans aren't for medicare vouchers? they're not for that? we're making news now. is that true now? >> the romney plan is not accurately described i think as a voucher plan whereas the original ryan plan was. >> so we're completely disavowing -- >> i'm not doing anything.
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i'm not here speaking for the republican party. i'm describing the difference between vouchers. >> which is exactly what they did the last debate. >> i think we all know that nobody's -- look. paul ryan says he never uses the word voucher, but he says you're going to get a reimbursement, something to the government you can take to the marketplace and buy your own health care. >> he doesn't use the term. isn't that a voucher? >> there's a house republican budget which does one thing. >> did mitt romney embrace that -- >> guys, before we get down into the minutia, let me just say why isn't president obama making your case if you think that's the right case? president obama ever since that debate is still talking about big bird and elmo. it's disgraceful, honestly. i'm not a democrat obviously. but there are big issues to talk about in this. >> i think that's a bit of a leap. >> i think not. >> we're going to hold it right there and we'll be back in just
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a minute with unsolicited advice from each of our panel members. stay tuned. this new phone is amazing. i'm watching natalie's ballet recital and i'm pulling photos right from the video. great idea, we can pick one and frame it!
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welcome back to unsolicited advice. here we have unsolicited advice from each panel member. cornell, you take it first. >> i'm challenging sarah palin
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now. my advice is to mainstream media. you know, stop it. you're trying to drive a narrative. you're getting in front of a narrative and driving it in a way you shouldn't be. there has been one poll out with a seven-point party idea that's sort of weare sm, what poll has been front and center on all of these channels? the one poll that shows that he's out in front. the media is driving a narrative. they want a game change narrative. they're driving a game change narrative. stop it. >> there is a game change. look, there have been four polls showing romney in the lead. there's been an investors business daily, a ppp poll. i don't know why you don't know about those polls. >> the gallup poll, the -- >> the gallup poll has romney -- >> you know what i find amusing is republicans didn't like the polls. remember when there was all that discussion and now a democrat says that the media is driving a narrative.
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i'm shocked. >> my point is don't take this one poll and run with it all day. >> what the media does, cornell. >> all right. after arguing with cornell, strive for some consensus. my advice is to the obama campaign, right. there were rumors this morning -- no, we're going to agree on this. there were rumors this morning that there might be a campaign shakeup, some staff numbers, here i think this is a terrible idea. the only thing the obama campaign needs right now is a good debate performance followed by biden and then a good debate performance by obama. and the more you talk about shaking up your staff, the more you play into the narrative that you're describing which then takes on a life of its own. again, just as it did for romney a few weeks ago. but i'm sure you were much happier about that. >> let me say that as someone a consultant to the campaign, the only person they'd probably fire is me. >> you've been stellar. >> besides that, i don't know where some of these rumors come from. that's an absolutely ridiculous
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rumor that we would shake up the. >> well, it was reported on msnbc and not cnn. >> well, didn't give anybody else any credit. mayor fenty, what's your advice? >> i think cornell is right. i think the more the polls are talked about as the election is changing, i think that people's minds will change. but there's nothing you can do about it. that's just politics. it happens in all kinds of races. >> anything personal there? >> exactly. i would say to the president he's got to run as an incumbent. as a said a couple minutes ago, he's got all these ads attacking romney, i think they have a place. but i would like to see some ads, this is where we were in 2008. this is where we are now. on finances, auto industry, banking industry, on health care. how many lives have been changed by the health care bill? and my last piece of advice, i do wish you would stop calling it obama care. to me it's derogatory. i think he shouldn't accept it as a name. i think he should say a health care bill for the american
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citizens. >> isn't it already done though? in the debate he said i like obama care. >> he did own that term. >> this is my unsolicited advice. >> carly, who do you have? >> mine is actually for tim geithner, secretary of the treasury. he was quoted as saying that he thought the economy was performing at near full potential. now, first of all, when we decide that 1.5% growth is near full potential, we are in terrible trouble. and i would say geithner suffers from an amazing lack of ambition for this economy. i actually think that's what's wrong with the entire obama administration, they have a lack of ambition for this country and what it can and should do. but i would also say if he believes that, that tim geithner believes that a public sector job is equivalent to a private sector job. it's not that public sector jobs aren't important. teachers are important, firemen are important, nurses are important. but a public sector job doesn't pay for itself. taxpayers pay for it. a public sector job doesn't create other jobs. a private sector job pays for
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itself and creates other jobs. i frankly found his statement shocking. both because of its lack of ambition and because of its misunderstanding of what actually drives growth. it's not public sector jobs. >> let me ask you this, under reagan's recovery, were we laying off teachers and firefighters? were state governments laying off teachers and firefighters at this rate? >> no. absolutely not. >> well, that's part of the recovery. our unemployment is where we are right now if republican governors weren't slashing teach eshs and slashing first responders. >> that's a circular process, cornell. if it grows faster, government would have more money to spend. >> i'll even agree with you. >> those are middle class jobs. don't slash those now. we didn't do it under reagan's recovery. why are we doing it now? >> excuse me, we, the republicans are not in charge of the white house last time i looked. so it's not we. >> but you're talking about the governors houses where the jobs are being lost. >> the policies that president obama is defending as bringing
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the economy back that tim geithner is now saying have the economy performing at near full potential, those are the president's policies and the democrats policies. not the republican policies. in fact, if you look at the states that have republican governors, you'd find their level of growth and their level of job creation outperforms the rest of the nation. but you're making my point. we should be driving for more than 1.5% growth. >> look, was 800,000 jobs a month when the president took office. we are not losing jobs anymore. the president's policies did turn this country around. republicans simply accept that and say we did turn it around and we should be better. i'lle fine with that. >> all right. we're going to have to leave it there, guys. that's unsolicited advice for today. and we're back to you, wolf. margaret, thanks very much. excellent panel. in our next hour, by the way, president and mrs. obama are holding separate campaign events. we're going to have live coverage of both. stand by for that.
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also, we almost never hear from inside syria's brutal regime until now. a one-time confidante revealing secrets to cnn about life inside bashar's circle. sy for a dead m. after you jumped ship in bangkok, i thought i'd lost you. surfing is my life now. but who's going to .... tell the world that priceline has even faster, easier ways to save you money. . . on hotels, flights & cars? you still have it. i'll always have it. so this is it? we'll see where the waves take me. sayonara, brah!
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we told you earlier about a potentially serious blow to syria's regime. two car bombs exploding overnight at a syrian air force intelligence compound near damascus. now we're getting a rare insider's view of the syrian leadership's life under siege, that's a life of anxiety and lies. here's cnn's ivan watson. >> reporter: abdullah al omar
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used to rub shoulders with some of the most powerful people in syria. even the syrian president. for five years omar claims he worked in the presidential palace. his main job was propaganda. >> translator: i was a member of the press office in the presidential palace. we met to manufacture news and to see how we could distribute and publish these lies. we invented stories to help justify crimes committed by the syrian regime. >> reporter: omar says he was a member of a 15-person team working under long time government spokeswoman. when high ranking officials like the former prime minister defected, omar's job was to trash the defector's reputati s reputations. >> translator: we contacted regime loyalists from lebanon and syria to say these defectors were bad and corrupt. >> reporter: but now omar is one of those defected. and he's offering details impossible for cnn to
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independently verify about how the syrian president has coped with the uprising. how did bashar al assad's behavior change over the past year and a half? >> translator: he seemed worried all day long. we rarely saw him smiling. he paced up and down and was always anxious and tense. one day i saw him kick a table. he was cursing and swearing against the syrian people. >> reporter: omar shows himself with top iranian officials like the iranian ambassadors to damascus and beirut. were the iranians meeting with bashar al assad frequently? >> translator: almost daily, he tells me. four and five times a week. omar says the biggest crisis came in july after a bombing killed this man, presidential security advisor as well as three other top security officials. he says the bombing also seriously wounded his brother, a
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military commander who hasn't been seen in public in months. >> translator: two days after he returned from medical treatment in russia he came to the palace. he lost his left leg in the bombing and also the use of his left arm. >> reporter: last month omar defected and fled to his hometown in northern syria, now a ghost town devastated by the civil war. how did you feel when you saw the destruction? >> translator: i swear i cried when i entered and all the shops abandoned and everything destroyed and burned. when i saw it with my own eyes i cried and asked how could bashar al assad do this. i want to apologize to the syrian people because i worked for this butcher. >> reporter: a tearful but his sincerity is questionable especially coming fm a man who admits to spending years lying for the syrian regime. ivan watson, cnn, istanbul.
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>> omar by the way also told ivan that president assad has 16 tv screens in his office and is obsessed with media coverage of the revolution in syria. he says assad gets angry when reporters sneak into syria. and he demands they get caught and brought to him so he can kill them. up next, an historic free fall from the edge of space. it has now been aborted. so what happens next? stand by. two years ago, the people of bp made a commitment to the gulf. bp has paid over twenty-three billion dollars to help those affected and to cover cleanup costs. today, the beaches and gulf are open, and many areas are reporting their best tourism seasons in years. and bp's also committed to america.
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again? >> reporter: wolf, they are hoping to do this again on thursday morning. they say tomorrow is out because of uncertain weather conditions. they are really focusing now on looking forward and not back as disappointed as they are with what happened today. felix tweeted a short time ago we have come too far now to turn back. and that's pretty much the mindset now. they're going through checks and weather calculations and other preparations for a targeted launch thursday. they need to skip tomorrow because the weather conditions may not be optimum after what they went through today where a freakish gust of wind really buffetted this high altitude balloon severely. and now they have to scrap that balloon and bring in a backup. so that's what they're working on right now. the technical project director art thompson said a short time ago just why they have to be so cautious. >> the reality is is we've got a person's life at stake. and so our primary concern is making sure that we're launching in the best conditions possible to be able to get him into the
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air. >> reporter: and, again, uncertain weather conditions on wednesday make that impossible. they say they are targeting thursday morning. one other technical problem that they might have to work through, they said a radio went down, wolf. so that wasn't enough to prevent the launch probably, but they are going to work through that as well. >> brian todd, thanks very much. and you're in "the situation room." happening now, as mitt romney surges, the obama campaign explains the shift in momentum. and we'll hear live from the first lady michelle obama. that's coming up this hour. the same pastor who gave a passionate invocation at a paul ryan rally has said that mitt romney is not a christian. and did you ever walk into the wrong holiday party? mitt romney did, but his social blunder turns into a very warm and engaging moment out there on the campaign trail. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
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we're standing by for my live interview with the republican presidential nominee mitt romney. that's coming up in our next hour. right now romney is riding high in new national polls. they suggest a solid bounce from last week's presidential debate leaving him in a virtual tie right now with president obama. that makes the key battleground state of ohio even more important. both candidates are spending time there today. for the obama campaign there may be a real sudden sense of urgency. cnn's white house correspondent dan lothian is joining us now from columbus, ohio, the state capital. he's there with the president. dan. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. and here in ohio voter registration deadline today. president obama i'm told by a senior campaign aide will be pushing the audience here and
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those who perhaps are also watching on television here in io to not only sign up to vote but also to vote early. meantime, his campaign continues to hit hard at mitt romney. and for now big bird is not going away. trying to regain his footing and momentum after a race impacted by one debate and new poll numbers, president obama returns to ohio with a sharper more forceful message. but his campaign's continued focus on big bird is what's getting much of the attention. in almost every stump speech since his debate the president has used governor mitt romney's own words to level this criticism. >> this was almost as believable as when he said he'd bring down our deficit by going after what has been the biggest driver of our debt and deficits over the last decade, public television. pbs. you didn't know this but for all you moms and kids out there, you
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should have confidence that finally somebody is cracking down on big bird. >> reporter: it's a line guaranteed to get a laugh. and it's now gone from the president's stump speech to a new political ad dripping with sarcasm. big bird in the same neighborhood with disgraced financial titans bernie madoff and kenneth. republicans are not amused at the president's campaign tactic. in a statement the rnc said "he's focused on small things instead of offering solutions." and this from gop nominee mitt romney. >> these are tough times with real serious issues. you have to scratch your head when the president spends the last week talking about saving big bird. >> reporter: as the feathers fly, enter the producers of the pbs program now asking the obama campaign to pull the ad because they are a nonpartisan nonprofit organization. team obama has received the request and says those concerns will be reviewed.
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as for criticism that the president is spending so much time talking about big bird, the campaign pushing back one aide saying that's only a small part of the president's stump speech, that 99% of what he's talking about out there is foreign policy, health care and making life better for the middle class. wolf. >> so we're getting ready to hear from the president. and the first lady, she'll be speaking as well. give us a little breakdown what we can expect. >> reporter: well, again, wolf, we will see more of what we saw shortly after the debate when the president hit the campaign trail, a very forceful speech. what many democrats have said what the president should have been doing at the debate which is countering some of the attacks from mitt romney. so we'll continue to hear that. and i suspect based on everything we're hearing that the president again will also mention invoke big bird, that's something that's not going away. and i mentioned earlier he will urge everyone here and everyone watching to get out and vote and vote early. >> we're standing by for my live
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interview with mitt romney coming up in "the situation room" in our next hour. thanks very much for that. jack cafferty has more on the presidential race. he's joining us right now with what might be the next key moment in this election. jack's got the cafferty file. jack. >> so four weeks before we elect the president the candidates are mired in a discussion about big bird. >> can you imagine? >> it's depressing. the stakes couldn't be higher for thursday's vice presidential debate after the debacle that was president obama's performance at the first debate last week, expect interest to be particularly high when joe biden and paul ryan face off in kentucky for their one and only meeting. at this point in the face of plummeting poll numbers for the president, the obama campaign has to rely on joe biden to turn this thing around. good luck with that. look for biden to come out swinging. he'll hit hard on issues like romney's 47% comment, ryan's controversial budget plan and his proposal to change social security. as one republican advisor told
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politico, biden will bring his proverbial nunchucks and brass knuckles to debate. that has a lot of nervous democrats because with joe biden you never know what you're going to get. he's a seasoned debater who connects well with ordinary folks, he also tends to say dumb things from time to time. remember a couple months ago the white house had to go out and sweep up after the vice president after he told a largely black audience in virginia that republicans "would put y'all back in chains." not cool. ryan will no doubt ask biden about foreign policy including the murder of an american ambassador in benghazi. more than 40 months ovf 8% unemployment, a $16 trillion deficit, no federal budget for the last three years and so on. there's also the risk that in trying to make up for obama's weak debate performance, biden comes across as too aggressive. as for ryan, he says the pressure's on him after romney's strong showing last week, ryan says he expects biden to launch
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at him like a cannon ball describing biden as a gifted extremely experienced and proven debater. really? this is going to be must-see tv thursday night. here's the question, in light of the results of the first presidential debate, how important is the vice presidential debate? go to, post a comment on my blog. or go to our post on "the situation room" facebook page. it's going to be big, wolf. >> i think we've all learned, jack, that all these debates matter. they are really, really important. >> yep. all right. this just coming into "the situation room." another new poll this time in the battleground state of new hampshire, we chose another tight race mitt romney clearly gaining some momentum. our chief political analyst gloria borger is here. she's looking at these numbers. what are you seeing? >> a race tightening up. wmur university of new hampshire poll now shows, wolf, a
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six-point race with president obama leading 47% to 41%. you see it there. if you compare this with the same poll that was taken sort of at the end of september, the president had a 15-point advantage at the end of september, wolf. so you see the polls really tightening. also in the state of ohio you see it's 51%, 47%. the president up by four points there. and take a look in colorado. you see it's president obama 46%, romney 50%. so romney is now up by four. and obama has been up in that state. so you really see that the states are now reflecting what we're seeing in the national polls. they're continuing to tighten. and if this continues, we'll have to see what happens in those debates. it's going to really depend on the ground games of these organizations, the money they spend on their political advertising. it's going to be really, really
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important particularly as they target states like ohio. >> these are the critical battleground states. >> right. >> it's not only nationally but obviously neck and neck in a lot of these key battleground states. if there's one group though that's key to mitt romney's potentially winning the white house, that group is. >> suburban women, if you ask me. if you look at likely voters among suburban women you'll see president obama does very, very well. 60% to 31%. if you look there at suburban men, wolf, it's almost a mirror image. so mitt romney needs to get his numbers up with those women in the suburbs. that is why in the state of ohio i bet you're going to be seeing a lot more of ann romney, maybe in political advertising, but she's kind of their secret weapon when it comes to bringing out those suburban women voters particularly married suburban
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women. >> there's another group that is key to president obama's potential re-election. >> yeah. and president obama has a strong advantage that's not going anywhere, wolf. that is the question of how he connects with ordinary americans. when you ask does president obama really understand my problems, what i'm going through? he wins generally by a two or three to one margin on that. but if you look at our ohio poll, i mean, yesterday's pew polls, sorry, the overall electorate, that same question was asked. does the president connect with ordinary americans, or does mitt romney connect with ordinary americans? when you ask that question of swing voters, wolf, by a nine to one margin they said the president connected with their problems. nine to one with swing voters. do not underestimate that. it is a real red flag to the
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romney campaign that at this date he has still not really punched through on that key question of the middle class. >> four weeks to go from today. we'll be watching. don't go too far away, gloria. the president of the united states is just beginning a speech now in columbus, ohio. he's hanking a lot of folks out there. we're going to monitor what he's saying. we'll take a quick break. we'll have some live coverage of the president of the united states. standby for that. also this reminder, mitt romney will join me live right here in "the situation room." that's in our 6:00 p.m. eastern hour. this is an interview you will see only here on cnn. i don't spend money on gasoline. i am probably going to the gas station about once a month. last time i was at a gas station was about...i would say... two months ago. i very rarely put gas in my chevy volt. i go to the gas station such a small amount that i forget how to put gas in my car. [ male announcer ] and it's not just these owners giving the volt high praise.
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president obama speaking at a rally at ohio state university in columbus, ohio. want to listen in. >> four years after the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes businesses have created more
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than five million new jobs. we found out the unemployment rate fallen from a high of 10% down to 7.8%, the lowest level since i took office. manufacturing is coming back to america. home values are back on the rise. now we're not there yet. we still got too many americans looking for work and too many families who can't pay the bills. there are too many homes still under water and too many young people who are burdened by too much debt after they graduate. but if there's one thing i know, ohio, it's this. we have come too far to turn back now. the american people have worked too hard. and the last thing we can afford to do right now is to go back to the very same policies that got us in this mess in the first place. i cannot allow that to happen. i will not allow it to happen. that's why i'm running for a second term as president of the united states. [ cheers and applause ]
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you know, over the last four years i've seen a lot of folks hurting. i've seen a lot of struggle. and i am not going to make -- i'm not going to have us go back to another round of top down economics. but that's what my opponent is offering. the centerpiece of governor romney's economic plan is a new $5 trillion tax cut that favors the wealthiest of americans. he has been pitching that plan for an entire year. stood up on stage in one of his primary debates, proudly promised his tax cuts would include the top 1%. but most of the economists who have actually crunched the numbers say paying for governor romney's tax plan means blowing up the deficit or raising taxes
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on middle class families. pick your poison. last week mitt romney actually said there's no economist who can say mitt romney's tax plan adds $5 trillion if i say it will not add to the deficit with my tax plan. so he said if he says it's not true, then it's not true. okay. so if it's true that it's not going to add to the deficit, that leaves only one option and that's asking middle class families to foot the bill by getting the deductions they rely on for owning a home or raising their kids or sending them to college. and as it turns out, most folks don't like that idea either. so just last week when we were on stage together, governor romney decided instead of changing his plan he just pretend it didn't exist. what $5 trillion tax cut? i don't know anything about a $5 trillion tax cut. pay no attention to that tax cut under the carpet behind the
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curtain. when he's asked how he'll cut the deficit, he says he can make the math work by eliminating local public funding for pbs. now, by the way, this is not new. this is what he's been saying every time he's asked the question. well, we can cut out pbs. so for all you moms and kids out there, don't worry. somebody's finally getting tough on big bird. you know, who knew he was driving our deficit? so we're going after -- he's decided we're going after big bird and elmo's making a run for the border and oscar's hiding out in the trash can and governor romney wants wall street to run wild again but bring down the hammer on sesame street. look, that is not leadership. that's salesmanship.
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we can't afford it. we can't afford to double down on top down economics. we can't afford another round of tax cuts for the wealthy. we can't afford to roll back regulations on wall street banks or on insurance companies. we can't afford to gut our investments in education or clean energy or research or technology. that is not a jobs plan. that is not a plan to grow the economy. that is not change. that is a relapse. we have been there. we have tried that. we are not going back. we are moving forward. and that's why i'm running for a second term as president of the united states. >> all right. so there's the president of the united states. you get the point. he's really going after the republican presidential nominee mitt romney. by the way, mitt romney's going to have his chance. i'm going to be speaking with him live here in "the situation room" in our next hour. we're going to go through some of these issues you just heard the president discuss. mitt romney live in "the situation room" during our 6:00 p.m. eastern hour. also by the way the first lady
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of the united states, michelle obama, she's about to speak at a campaign rally in virginia. you're looking at live pictures from there. we'll dip in and see what she has to say. lots of political news happening right now, right here in "the situation room." s us in control. our abundant natural gas is already saving us money, producing cleaner electricity, putting us to work here in america and supporting wind and solar. though all energy development comes with some risk, we're committed to safely and responsibly producing natural gas. it's not a dream. america's natural gas... putting us in control of our energy future, now. wouldn't it be nice if there was an easier, less-expensive option than using a traditional lawyer? well, legalzoom came up with a better way. we took the best of the old and combined it with modern technology. together you get quality services on your terms, with total customer support. legalzoom documents have been accepted in all 50 states,
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eleven people are dead and another 119 sick in a growing meningitis outbreak affecting much of the country. at the center of it all contaminated steroid injections that 13,000 people may have received. and the fda doesn't have the authority to regulate pharmacies like the one linked to them. cnn's chief medical correspondent dr. sanjay gupta went to massachusetts for answers. and what he found is peculiar.
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>> reporter: well, it all boils down to this, how could it have all happened in the first place? i'm finding it remarkably difficult to get any information whatsoever. in fact, we drove about 40 miles outside of boston to renton, massachusetts, to the home of the owner and operator of the compounding facility. both he and his wife work there in the department pharmacy. we wanted to ask them some simple questions, but neither one of them would come to the door. so we drove 25 miles to framingham, massachusetts. this is the necc, the compounding facility at the heart of this outbreak. we just wanted some answers. we're with cnn, we're trying to get hold of somebody to talk to about what's going on here. >> unfortunately, i have to ask you guys to leave the property. >> reporter: they literally are telling us to leave the parking lot. not even be here. we know people from the fda are inside. obviously a lot of cars in the parking lot, people are working here in some capacity. but this is another example of
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just how ridiculous it's been to get any information whatsoever. they wouldn't let us in the building, but behind the building this is what it looks like. over there is necc, the compounding facility. back here is a recycling facility essentially looks like a dump. walking around here people have told us there's been this relationship between the recycling facility and necc for some time. doing a little bit of digging, we realize they're in fact owned by the same people. >> sanjay's joining us now. wow, sanjay, so this facility that produces mass quantities of human drugs is also a garbage dump? who regulates these pharmacies like the necc? what are they saying about this garbage that's right there? >> it's quite extraordinary, wolf. we didn't quite know what to expect either. but the regulation or the oversight is quite lax. in fact, from an accreditation standpoint, the state of massachusetts does not require that a facility like the one you
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just saw be accredited. it can distribute thousands of doses of drugs as we now know and doesn't have to be accredited. if it had been accredited, one of the things it would have undergone is an examination of the facility and equipment and looking at things like this close approximation of a garbage dump next to a human pharmacy -- drugs for human use. so it's woefully lacks, wolf, as far as we can tell. >> and these centers aren't what they used to be. supposedly i think reportedly 3,000 in the united states that produce large quantities of these custom drugs. but you're telling us that the fda doesn't have any authority over them? >> the fda has no authority over this. we've talked to folks at fda. they said if it was a federal issue there would be more fda involvement.
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but this is handled at the state level. they ship these medications outside the state. not just the state of massachusetts, but several other states that ship these drugs. that becomes national in that way. but also compounding facilities historically were supposed to be for small amounts of medication, so for instance making a medication taste better for a child to take, for example. or turning it into a liquid form instead of a pill. now we're talking about tens of thousands of doses of a single medication going out all over the country. so it is even more surprising in terms of lack of regulation considering how big these compounding facilities have become. again, wolf, i've got to point out from a legal standpoint they were not required to be accre t accredit accredited. the state of massachusetts does not require that accreditation. and therefore the images i just showed you with the dump next to the building, you know, that wasn't actually examined or in some way, you know, prohibited. >> to me it's pretty shocking what's going on.
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i'm sure we're going to be all over this story. 13,000 people potentially may have received some of these injections. appreciate it, sanjay, very much. other news we're following, the same pastor who blessed a paul ryan rally had earlier told cnn mitt romney is not a christian. we're going to check back with james carville and ari fleischer. they're both standing by. to here? at university of phoenix we're moving career planning forward so you can start figuring that out sooner. in fact, by thinking about where you want your education to lead, while you're still in school, you might find the best route leads somewhere you weren't even looking. let's get to work.
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granite state poll now has obama 47% to 41%, back in september it was obama 54%, 39% for romney. the michigan likely voters choice is now 48%, 45% obama over romney. it was ten points in september 47%, 37%. what's going on here, james? >> i think the race has tightened since the debate. i'm a democrat, so i don't attack pollsters, fact checkers, evolutionary scientists, climate scientists or anything like that. the truth of the matter is it's tightened. the poll of polls and the national numbers seems to be around one. and we'll move on with the rest of the campaign. no sense in attacking pollsters here. no doubt that governor romney has done himself some good since that debate. and we'll see where we go from here. we can say i'm not going to attack scientists or fact checkers or pollsters. >> ari, you're not attacking fact checkers or pollsters
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either, are you? >> last i looked. no, wolf, that's exactly right. the debate had a big impact. sometimes debates have a small to no impact. this has given mitt romney a second look by a lot of voters and changed the nature of the race. when a clock gets cleaned, its numbers can get moved. that's basically what happened as a result of that debate. >> james, if you were giving the vice president, your fellow democrat joe biden some advice looking ahead 48 hours or so from now in his debate with paul ryan, what would you tell the vice president? >> well, i think he's going to do fine. he's a bright guy. when your facts are different than your opponents, you should point it out. you know, what makes these things come to life is is that when somebody challenges someone on a factual assertion or a policy assertion, there's ann instings we can digest this kind of thing. i suspect the president we have
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to remember here governor romney wanted a debate. i said it on cnn, one of the first people to acknowledge that. there's another 180 minutes to go here. we'll see. i think the polls have tightened some. it's obvious. it's true. it's also true that republicans attack pollsters left and right when obama was doing well. it's also true that they said they weren't going to pay attention to fact checkers. it's also true a large number of republicans don't believe in the evolution of global warming. it's a fact. not like you can argue it. >> ari, do you want to respond to that? >> no. look, wolf, last night about the pew poll, it was plus five republican turnout over democrat turnout. i think that's a little too much. but if these polls continue to oversample democrats, which they are probably still doing and romney is starting to close the gap if not break even, these polls are understating mitt romney's strength. that is a valid criticism and i'll continue to make it. >> is it true as i've heard from some pollsters, james, that
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people say they're undecided. when all the dust settles they usually lean more heavily towards the challenger rather than the incumbent? >> that's kind of been disputed in presidential elections. that is kind of a thing that came to statewide elections where people don't know. and good pollsters don't oversample anything. they sample people and let party id, a self-described party id, as an opinion. i don't know what pollsters, if anybody's out there sampling people because they're democrats or republican not running a very good poll, i don't think. i don't know of a good pollster that adjusts for party id. i really don't. i've never understood that argument. >> let me move onto this other issue that's come up and i want you to weigh in, ari. yesterday at a paul ryan rally the pastor that gave thein vocation, pastor kent clark, he gave the invocation at the paul ryan rally. but it wasn't that long ago back
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in february of this year he told our own peter hamby, one of our political reporters "those of us who are christians believe very strongly that god came to earth in the person of jesus christ and we base all our values around that." suggesting that mormons really aren't christians. what do you make of this if anything? >> look, wolf, i'm jewish, james is catholic, and you're asking me about what a protestant said about a mormon. all i know is that people should be 100% free in this country to practice their faith however they see fit or to not practice any faith if that's what they see fit. and people should be 100% free to practice their politics as they see fit. i never like to mix the two. i think once you mix the two you're crossing things that fundamentally do not belong together. people can be informed by their religious views. that always affects people's individual voting, but i don't think we should make character judgments about anybody running for any office on the basis of religion or lack of religion.
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>> i agree. well said. james, do you want to weigh in? >> no. i think if you fool around with these kind of kooky people, sometimes they come up and bite you. a mormon i understand is the church of jesus christ of latter day saint. so the mormon certainly view themselves a christian. that's good enough for me. they've got an expanding great organization. that's their view. and i accept that. i'm not voting for romney because -- not voting for romney because of his religion. i would vote for any number of great democrats that are mormon. that's not a factor to me. he ought to keep his opinions to himself if you ask me. >> i think we all agree on that point. james, thanks very much. ari, thanks to you. as well the first lady of the united states is speaking to a rally in virginia. there she is. when we come back we're going to hear what she has to say. the pace of change is accelerating. the way we...
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live interview with mitt romney coming up at the top of the hour. right now i want to go to leesburg, virginia, michelle obama, first lady, is speaking at a campaign rally. >> every child should have good schools. we know those kind of schools, the kind of schools that push them and inspire them and prepare them for college and jobs for the future. we believe in an america where no one goes broke because someone gets sick. where no one loses their home because someone loses their job. we believe in an america where we all understand that none of
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us gets where we are on our own. that there is always a community of people lifting usup where we treat everyone with dignity and respect from the teachers who inspire us to the janitors who keep our schools clean. [ cheers and applause ] and when one of us stumbles, when one us of falls on hard times, we don't tell them tough luck, you're on your own. no, instead we extend that helping hand while they get back on their feet again. we believe that the truth matters. that you don't take shortcuts. you don't game the system. you don't play by your own set of rules. instead we reward hard working success that's earned fair and square. and finally, we believe in keeping our priorities straight. we all know good and well that
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cutting sesame street is no way to balance a budget. [ cheers and applause ] that shortchanging our kids is not how we tackle our deficit. because if we truly want to build opportunities for all americans, we know that we have to have a balanced fiscal strategy, one that cuts wasteful spending but makes sure that we're investing in our future. like in education and infrastructure for an economy that's built to last. see that's what my husband stands for. that's the country he wants to build. [ cheers and applause ] those are his values. and let me tell you something. for the last three and a half years as first lady i have seen up close and personal what being president really looks like. and i have seen how critical those values are for leading this country. i've seen how the issues that
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come across a president's desk are always the hard ones. the decisions that aren't just about the bottom line but they are about laying a foundation for the next generation. and i've seen how important it is to have a president who doesn't just tell us what we want to hear but who tells us the truth even when it's hard. especially when it's hard. >> a little flavor of what the first lady of the united states is saying at this campaign rally in virginia. we're monitoring what's going on. remember, at the top of the hour my live interview with the republican presidential nominee mitt romney. by the way, romney earlier in the day told a story of a social blunder that turned into a very warm engaging moment out there on the campaign trail. >> -- they were kind of looking over at our house and i thought, oh, my goodness, i wasn't planning ongoing to this but we'll look anti-social -- now, that's what i call a test drive.
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what could have been an embarrassing social blunder for mitt romney turned into a rewarding encould wareward ing encounter and a chance for the candidate to show his human side out there on the campaign trail. listen to mitt romney earlier today in iowa. >> i got one of these mailers that was put in my mailbox at a christmas time a couple years ago saying there was going to be a christmas party for the neighborhood. and everyone was invited. and i didn't look very carefully at the address, but later that night when the christmas party was supposed to happen i noticed that the house just kitty corner from us had all the lights on and people were on the porch kind of looking over at our house. i thought, oh, my goodness, i
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wasn't planning ongoing to this but we'll look like we're not social if we don't show up. i said to ann, we've got to go to this party. i got a flier about the neighborhood party. we've got to go over there. she said, okay, we went over and knocked on the door. they let us in. good to see you. we had dinner together and got our pictures with everybody. turns out this wasn't the neighborhood party. this was a family having a party with their friends. and so we were a little embarrassed. but they treated us well nonetheless. and i got to meet some really interesting people. one of them was a guy actually from my home state of massachusetts. and relatively young guy compared to me. and he was former navy s.e.a.l.s., he was living in san diego and learned about him. he talked about his life. he skied a lot. he skied in some of the places i had and we had a lot of things in common. he told me that he keeps going back to the middle east. he cares very deeply about the
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people there. he served in the military there and went back from time to time to offer security services and so forth to people there. you can imagine how i felt when i found out that he was one of the two former navy s.e.a.l.s. killed in benghazi on september 11 sales ki.e.a.l.s killed in benghazi on september 11th. and it touched me, obviously, as i recognized this young man that i thought was so impressive, had lost his life in the service of his fellow men and women. >> emotional story. a campaign spokesman, by the way, says romney only recently learned for certain that glen doerty killed in benghazi was the same man he met at that party. let's go to jack with the cafferty file. the question this hour, in light of the results of the first presidential debate, how important is the vice presidential debate, which comes up on thursday? pete writes, "biden's between a rock and a hard place. no matter how well he does, it
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won't make up for obama's stunningly poor performance, and if he also ds poorly, then that's it, folks, the fat lady has sung and this ball game is over." incumbent woman writes, "honestly, i don't thinkhe debates actually change that many people's minds. it's the media's job to create this hysteria. good job, by the way." george in pennsylvania says, "ask yourself, how important has joe biden been for the last four years? next question." and james says, "jack, not too important. no one expects much from joe biden. he's like that crazy uncle you see at the family reunion. he's a nice guy, but everyone takes what he says with a grain of salt." and pat in michigan says, "critical for obama. biden might make a few stupid statements now and again, but he is a savvy politician and let up ryan like a cheese sandwich." rich in texas writes, "unfortunately, it means very little.
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i have never seen the choice of vice president decide an election. the vp is like a spare tire, it rides around in the trunk of your car for years as extra weight, wasting gasoline on the offchance that one day you might need it." and ed in maryland writes, "in a race to determine if the country is going to be led by coke or pepsi, the vice presidential debate will help determine bottles or cans." if you want to read more on the subject, go to the blog, or through our post on "the situation room's" facebook page. wolf? >> you know, the pressure is really on, i think, especially the vice president right now, jack. given what happened at the first presidential debate, biden really has to come out swinging. he has to do well. and i know paul ryan. he's a very smart guy. >> you know, it's going to be interesting. and one of the challenges biden's got is not to come on so strong that it immediately becomes obvious to the audience that he's trying to compensate for a weak performance by president obama.
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he's got to walk a thin line there, he's got to be aggressive, he's got to be smart, but he can't be over the top, because people will pick that up right away. >> and when you've studied biden over the years, i remember four years ago when i was moderating democratic presidential debates, he was in one of those first debates i moderated, i think there were eight or nine democrats up on the stage, of course, hillary clinton and john edwards, and they were all up there. but biden did really well. chris dodd, by the way, did well also. he knows his stuff. the big problem he has occasionally is he says something he probably shouldn't say. and i'm sure he's being told, be careful at this debate. >> and he's particularly strong on foreign policy, and the obama administration, based on recent events in the middle east, is vulnerable, particularly in light of what happened at the consulate in benghazi. so it's a chance for obama to use his strengths in foreign policy to perhaps reinforce american's fears that the obama administration does have a grip on our policies in that part of
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the world and that they do know what they're doing and we don't need to worry about the course of events over there. it's going to be interesting. i think it will be more fun to watch than the obama/romney one. >> that was a pretty good one to watch as well. i love all these debates, but that's me. i'm a political news junkie, as you know. >> yes, you are. jack, stand by. i want all of our viewers to stand by. right at the top of the hour, we'll have my interview live here in "the situation room" with mitt romney. he's standing by. i have good questions for him. let's see how his answers are. that interview coming up at the top of the hour.
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are americans losing faith in organized religion? and what would a move away from traditional religious observance
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mean for future campaigns? lisa sylvester has been looking at the latest research. what are you seeing? >> there is a new pew study that shows that more americans are moving away from organized religion. and that unaffiliated group includes atheists, agnostics, as well as people who just don't identify with any particular faith. this group is growing and it tends to be more liberal, which favors democrats, and over time, this could have a greater impact on elections. the faithful come to midday mass athe basilica of the national shrine in washington, even as a new trend shows fewer americans are embracing organized religion. the pew forum on religion in public life finds about 20% of american adults say they have no particular ties to a given faith. that's up from about 15% just five years ago. and the data shows a generational change. younger people moving away from established religion. that can have an impact beyond the pews and into politics, as
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this activist who questions religious dogma suggests. >> they don't see it, religion, especially just dogma, as something that's important for determining their values. with respect to this group of individuals, republicans are seen as having some of their policies shaped by religious doctrine, especially in the area of same-sex marriage and reproductive rights. >> when you look at voting trend lines, you can see what lindsay in talking about. in 1990, 5% of voters didn't identify with any particular religion. in the 2010 election, that number had increased to 12%. but don't think that means religion is unimportant. just about everyone we spoke to say some form of faith is part of their lives. >> you have to find something that grounds you. >> good morals, which comes from religion, is the basis of good people. >> back at the basilica, monsignor says what he believes is going is that people are questioning and searching.
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>> many people do look and they may shop around, as they say. it could be that. and maybe that. but it's a great opportunity, because we know that they're questioning. and that's what faith is. faith is to question. >> the united states as a whole is still a religious country, so 79% of the pew study found that even those who don't identify with an organized religion, well, two-thirds of them say they still believe in god. wolf? >> lisa, thanks very much. and by the way, for the first time, cnn has dominated the religion news writers association awards. the first place awards recognize the work of our staffers. congratulations to all involved. happening now, a network exclusive. my interview with mitt romney live, this hour. a dramatic shift in ohio. the new big poll numbers from a crucial swing state. and the supreme court tackles its biggest case since health care.
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we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." the mitt romney wins the white house in november, he may record these last six days as the turning point of his campaign. romney is now tied in the polls with president obama nationally and seeing a dramatic surge in the crucial battleground state of ohio, all following a very strong showing in the first presidential debate last week. the republican presidential nominee is joining us now from the campaign trail in cuyahoga falls in ohio, the critical battleground state. governor, thanks for takie ing e time out and thanks for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. good to be with you. >> let's begin with foreign policy.
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you gave a major foreign policy speech yesterday. here's what jumped out at me. in syria, you said you'd identify members of the opposition and ensure they obtained arms to defeat bashar al assad's tanks. how do you make sure those weapons don't get into the hands of terrorists or al qaeda? >> well, wolf, this is a part of making sure that we're shaping events, as opposed to just being at the mercy of events. it means that we would have intelligence resources, we would also be working with our friends in the region, particularly the saudis as well as the turks that are very closely involved in syria. we'd work together with them to identify voices within syria that are reasonable voices, that are moderate voices, that are not al qaeda or any jihadist type group. we try to coalesce those groups together, provide them perhaps with funding, some other kinds of support, would include, as you indicate, weapons, so they'd be able to defend themselves. those weapons could come from the turks or from the saudis. but the key thing here is not
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just to sit back and hope things work out well, but to recognize that iran is playing a major role in syria, and we through our friends in the region must also be playing a role to ensure what's happening there and make sure we rid ourselves of mr. assad and don't have in his place chaos or some kind of organization which is as bad as he is or even worse, take his place. >> speaking of iran, the israeli prime minister, benjamin netanyahu, as you know, he was at the united nations recently, and he literally drew a red line as far as iran and its nuclear program is concerned. here's the question. is there any daylight between you and the prime minister? >> there's no daylight between the united states and israel. we have coincidental interests. we share values, and we're both absolutely committed to preventing iran from having a nuclear weapon. my own test is that iran should not have the capability of producing a nuclear weapon. i think that's the same test
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that benjamin netanyahu would also apply. i can't speak for the president in this regard, but i think that there has to be a recognition that there are boundaries that the iranians may not cross. let's also recognize that we have a long way to go before military action may be necessary. and hopefully it's never necessary. hopefully, through extremely tight sanctions, as well as diplomatic action, we can prevent iran from taking a course, which would lead to them crossing that line. >> prime minister netanyahu spoke of the spring or summer as some sort of deadline. if israel were to launch a military strike against iran's nuclear facities and you were president of the united states, would you back up israel? >> we have israel's back, both at the u.n., but also militarily. i would anticipate that if i'm president, the actions of israel would not come as a surprise to me. but i would meet with prime minister netanyahu, i would
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speak with him, i've indicated that my first trip as president would be to israel. so what would happen there would not be something that would be a shock to me. but i can tell you this, that the crippling sanctions do have an impact. they're having an impact on iran's economy right now. they will have an impact on the public there in iran. and there's great hope and real prospects for dissuading iran from taking a path that leads into a nuclear setting. but this is going to require real strength on the part of america and it's also going to require us showing no daylight between ourselves and israel. we're going to have iran realize that they can't play one-off against each other. that we're absolutely committed to a world that does not include a nuclear capable iran. >> let's move to issue number one here on the united states, the economy. the obama campaign flatly says you're lying, lying about the cost of your tax plan, your proposed tax reforms.
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so far you haven't released a lot of the specifics about eliminating various deductions or loopholes or whatever. you've said that your tax cuts would be revenue neutral. you wouldn't add to the deficit, so let's go through how you would do that. specifically, home mortgage deductions, charitable contributions. are you ready to remove those? what's going on? >> well, i've made it pretty clear that my principles are, number one, simplify the code, number two, create incentives for small businesses and large businesses to grow, number three, don't reduce the burden on high-income taxpayers, and number four, remove the burden somewhat for middle-income people. so i don't want to raise taxes on any dwrgroup of americans. those are the principles. at the same time, how we carry them out would be lowering the rate, the tax rate across the board, and then making up for that, both with additional growth and with putting a limit on deductions and exemptions, particularly for people at the high end. those are principles which form
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the basis of what i would do with our tax proposal. what i want to do is make it simpler, fairer. i want to encourage the economy to grow again. it's pretty clear that the economy is not growing at the rate it should, under the president. and i can tell you with regards to the deductions you describe, home mortgage interest deductions and charitable contributions, they will, of course, continue to be preferences for those types of expenses. >> so even wealthy people, would you put a cap on how much they can deduct as far as charitable contributions are concerned? because i've heard you mention the $1,700 cap for some folks out there, and i would like you to elaborate, if you don't mind. >> well, i'm not going to lay out a piece of legislation here, because i intend to work together with republicans and democrats in congress, but there are a number of ways one could approach this. one would be to have a total cap number. it could be $25,000, $50,000. and people could put whatever deduction in that total cap they'd like. or, instead, you could take the
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posture that bowles simpson did, which is going after specific deductions and limiting them in various ways. there are a number of ways we can accomplish the principles the which i have. lowering rates for middle-income people. making sure high-income people don't pay a smaller share, and simplifying the code and then encouraging growth. so to how we approach the various deduction limits, what i do know, we're going to have to reduce the deductions pretty substantially for people at the high end. i want high-income people to continue to pay the same share they do today. >> so they will pay exactly the same, even though you're going to lower the income tax rates for people making less than $250,000 a year, but you're going to eliminate some loopholes and deductions and exemptions, tax credits. is that what i'm hearing? >> that's right. i'll bring the rate down, across the board, but eliminate -- or limit, rather, deductions or credits and exemptions and so forth, particularly for people at the high end, because you
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have to do that to make sure that distributionly, we continue to have the high-income people still pay the same share, the high share that they pay today. >> would that add up to the $4.8 or $5 trillion that's been estimated that your comprehensive tax reductions would cost? >> well, actually, the president's charge of a $5 trillion tax cut is obviously inaccurate and wrong, because what he says is, all right, let's look at all the rates you're lowering, then he ignores the fact when i say, i'm also going to eliminate credits and exemptions. he ignores that part. that was corrected by his campaign director, who stipulated that the $5 trillion number was wrong. it's completely wrong. the combination of limiting deductions and credits and exemptions as well as growth in our economy will make up for the reduction in rate. the reason for lowering to the rate, by the way, let's make it very clear. the reason for lowering the
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rate, both for individuals, as well as for corporations, and the president's plan also lowers the rate for corporations. the reason for doing so is to make sure that america is a more attractive place for small business and for large business to invest and to add jobs. this is about economic growth. this is about getting more jobs. we're not seeing the kind of job creation america ought to see following a recession. and we're not going to see that growth unless we have a tax policy, which encourages businesses, small and large, to make investments and to hire people. that's why i want to put in place the plan i've described. and by the way, it's been scored by people at rice university as creating about 7 million new jobs. the president's plan, with on the other hand, cuts 7 million jobs. >> everyone, at least almost everyone now agrees, that your debate performance in denver last week was very strong. the president's performance was weak. here's a question that i'm curious about. because you prepared, obviously, a lot. senator rob portman, was he a
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tougher debater in those practice sessions than president obama turned out to be? >> senator portman is very effective. i think president obama and i both have a good chance to describe our respective views as to how we'd do a better job. and i, frankly, think i benefited from the fact that rather than having people learn about me from ads prepared by my opposition, they got to actually hear what i would do for myself. and i think that helped me. i think the president also got to lay out his plans and people were able to make a comparison. but as for rob portman, he's a pretty effective guy. >> were you surprised by the president's performance? >> well, i actually thought he described pretty appropriately and pretty effectively his policies. i just happened to disagree with those policies. i mean, when we talked about the economy, he really is not proposing anything he hasn't talked about for the last four
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years, which is another stimulus, hiring more government workers, picking winners and losers in industries that he favors, raising taxes. these are ideas he's had for some time, and frankly, we've tested those ideas over the last four years and they have not led to the kind of job growth americans want. but, you know, i think the challenge that he has is that his ideas are just not demonstrating the kind of results that he would hope for, and people recognize that. >> are you confident, governor, that paul ryan will take on joe biden thursday night the way you took on the president? >> you know, i don't know how paul will deal with this debate. obviously, the vice president has done, i don't know, 15 or 20 debates during his lifetime, experienced debater. this is, i think, paul's first debate. he may be wrong. he may have done something in high school, i don't know. but it will be a new experience for paul. but i'm sure he'll do fine. and frankly, paul has the facts
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on his side. he has policy on his side. and we also have results on our side. so i think you'll find in the final analysis that people make their assessment on these debates not so much by the theatrics and the smoothness of the presenter, but instead on whether they believe the policies being described, the pathway being described will make their life better or not. and i just think the american people recognize that the president's policies are not something we can afford for four more years. we just can't afford more of what we've gone through. and they want something new. >> that 47% comment that you made, that's caused you a lot of grief, you know. there's been a change in your position over these past few weeks. it went from you initially saying once that tape came out, that you weren't exactly elegantly stating your position. later and more recently, you said you were complete wrong. i'm curious, governor, how did that evolution in your thinking go on from the initial reaction, once that tape came out, to what you said the other day, that you
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were completely wrong. >> well, what i'm saying is that the words that imka out were not what i meant. and what i mean, i think people understand, is that if i'm president, i'll be president of 100% of the people. my whole campaign is about helping the middle class have rising incomes and mo jobs, and helping the get people out of poverty into the middle class. that's what this whole campaign is about. the wealthy are doing fine right now. and they'll do fine, most likely, regardless of who's elected president. it's the middle class that's having a hard time under president obama, and my campaign is about 100% of the american people. so that's -- that describes why, you know, what was stated in the tape was not referring to what kind of president i'd be or who i'd be fighting for. instead, it was talking about politics and it just didn't come out the way i meant it. >> if you had a do-over governor, and you mentioned 47%, what would you -- what should you have said about that 47%? >> well, wolf, as you know, i
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was talking about how do you get to 50.1% of the vote. i'd like to get 100% of the vote, but i figure that's not going to happen, so i was trying to tell contributors how i get to 50.1%. i think it's always a perilous course for a candidate to start talking about the mathematics of an election. my campaign is about talking about how to get 100% of the americans to have a more bright and prosperous future. >> a quick question on big bird. was that a mistake to bring it up in the debate? >> uh, you know, uh, i think, uh, i've been watching these last several days, and you know, a lot of americans are really hurting. we've got 23 million americans out of work, or struggling to get a full-time job, and wave got one out of six americans now in poverty. 47 million on food stamps, and the president's spending his time talking about saving big bird. i'll save my time talking about
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saving jobs, creating jobs, helping people get back on their feet, getting rising incomes again. so i think people understand that we can't keep on spending like there's no tomorrow. we can't keep on borrowing and spending massively more than we take in every year. and big bird is going to be just fine, "sesame street" is a very successful enterprise. i don't believe cnn getsfunding y'all stay on the air. and i just think that pbs will be able to make it on its own, just like any one of the other stations and does not require us to go to china to borrow money to keep pbs on the air. >> i've got one final question and i know you've got to go, governor. your wife, ann romney, she had a moving story she told our own gloria borger in a recent interview about your ritual as you go into a debate. let me play this little clip for you, because i want to see your reaction and i want to get your reaction on the other side. >> you know, it's a cute thing
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that he does. almost after every answer, he finds me in the audience. as soon as he gets on stage, the first thing he does is he takes off his watch and puts it on the podium, but then he writes "dad" on a piece of paper. mm! and that's amazing, because he loves his dad, respects his dad, doesn't want to do anything that would not make his father proud. >> all of us who lost a father can relate, but give us a little addition. what do you think about that? >> well, you know, every debate, she's write, i write my dad's name at the top of the piece of paper to remind myself of all that he sacrificed to give me the opportunities i now have. i think about his passion, his passion for the country. dad was devoted to ideals that motivated him. i mean, the guy was born in mexico with nothing when he came
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to this cuountry, rose to be hed of a car company, a governor. i mean, my dad was the real deal, skand his life and his memory inspires me. so, yeah, i write his name there, and of course i look at ann every chance i get. she's usually looking down. she's usually pretty nervous during the debates, but i look to her to see if she feels like i've done a good job. >> governor, i know you're very busy. i really appreciate your taking some time and joining us here in "the situation room". >> thanks, wolf. good to be with you. >> thank you very much. and up next, we're going to have full analysis of my interview with governor romney. plus, we're going to be breaking down some of the new polls that show a clear shift not only in ohio, but some other battleground states as well. this new phone is amazing.
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kate balduan's joining me here in "the situation room," of course. >> of course. thank you for having me here. and we want to go inside that interview that wolf just did with governor mitt romney. wolf covered a lot of ground with that interview and we have our own political experts standing by. >> and they're excellent analysts as well. our national political correspondent, jim acosta is out on the campaign trail, as is our chief national correspondent, john king. they're both in ohio, by the way. and our chief political analyst, gloria borger is here as well. let me play a little clip about
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what governor romney said about the debate and then we'll discuss. listen to this. >> i think president obama and i both had a good chance to describe our respective views as to how we'd do a better job. and i frankly think i benefited from the fact that rather than having people learn about me from ads prepared by my opposition, they got to actually hear what i would do from myself. and i think that helped me. i think the president also got to lay out his plans and people were able to make a comparison. >> gloria, let me start with you. you did that excellent documentary, "romney revealed," that all of our viewers remember. what do you think of basically his answer to that and some of his other answers? >> well, he wasn't going to come out and say, look, i was really terrific at the debate. there wasn't any gloating hee. and politically, that's the right thing to do. what he was saying is what he said about paul ryan, well, paul has the facts on his side. clearly, he thinks he had the facts on his side. but the kind of candidate i just saw here, it's clearly somebody
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who to me seems a little bit more secure, a little bit more on the uptick here. i mean, he knows he's got the wind at his back, whatever cliche you want, and he seemed like a very confident candidate, when you were asking him about foreign policy, because he gave a speech this week, when he talked about a relationship with israel and arming the syrian rebels. so i think that this is somebody who feels like he's probably finding his stride a little bit. >> both of those questions on syria, he had a specific answer. he gave a pretty good answer on that. and he said, he made it clear, as far as israel's prime minister and then, there's no daylight between the two of them. >> and i want to get your take on that, wolf. but i want to go to john king. and john, what's your take on kind of your -- how mitt romney answered all of these questions. as gloria said, i also got the sense that this is a guy who feels some momentum. >> well, you can both see, kate, and hear his confidence. and if i had one word to describe that entire interview, it would be measured. governor romney studies the
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data. he understands the state of the race. he says we've got israel's back, but, whoa, whoa, whoa, we can resolve this through sanctions, we probably don't need military actions. so he's trying to stand up to a strong ally, play to his conservatives' base, but play to those moderates saying is he being too muscular here? wolf asked about his tax plan, and he said, i'm going take the money from the rich. the rich will keep paying taxes. on every issue, he tries to sound more measured without walking away from those who -- especially i'm in columbus, even some of the suburban women, they mostly care about the economy. they've brought up these foreign policy questions. clearly, he has studied what's happening in the polling data. this is a guy who thinks he's got a little breeze at his back and he wants to keep it there. >> he certainly seemed more confident to me. i'm anxious to see what jim acosta, who covers him every day, had to say. we'll take a quick break and go
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to jim acosta out in ohio right after this. ♪
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this is, i think, paul's first debate. i may be wrong. he may have done something in high school. i don't know. but it will be a new experience for paul. but i'm sure he'll do fine. and frankly, paul has the facts on his side. he has policy on his side. >> let's bring in jim acosta. he covers romney and ryan on a day-to-day basis. i guess maybe he was a little bit lowering expectations, although the pressure is certainly going to be on paul ryan in that thursday night debate against joe biden, jim. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. and i think you heard mitt romney say just before that clip that joe biden has been in a whole number of debates. in excess of, i think, a dozen. i think he's had 15 to 18 debates over the years, and then went ton to say paul ryan, that may be his first debate. i'm not sure. we would have to go back and check, but i would be amazed if paul ryan had not done any debates during his congressional
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years over there in congress. and just to pick up on what you're talking about just before the break a few minutes ago, about those loopholes and deductions, wolf. i can tell you that i think that your interview there made some news on that front, because what we've heard mitt romney say that he would help, that he would pay for those tax cuts in part through what he called a, quote, additional growth. wolf, that is very similar to what he told the editorial board for the "des moines register" earlier today when he made a campaign stop in iowa. and that might be an opening for the obama campaign, for the president, at their upcoming debate to assist that mitt romney offersome specifics as to how he would pay for those tax cuts. but, of course, as we've heard from the romney campaign, that several advisers have said this to be on this very issue, aware of president's specifics for lowering the deficit. they say he hasn't presented any either. >> gloria, this is exactly the element that also caught your attention. did it sound like a more moderate mitt romney trying to thread the needle on this tax plan? because, i mean, he did say, as
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you pointed out, high-income people will pay the same rate as they do today and he made a point to say that. >> and he also made a point of saying that the middle class would get the benefit from his tax plan. it depends on the way you look at it. if you want to reform the tax code, if you want to lower rates, well, then you're going to change the amount of deductions the wealthy can take, for example. so as he said, it depends on how you work it out in congress. but it's very clear as a candidate right now that mitt romney doesn't believe he's talking to wealthy voters, because he's got them, he believes. the people he's talking to are the people in the state of ohio who are the middle-income voters, who really want to hear that he's not the big, bad guy who's going to raise their taxes. and jim acosta's right. that's where the fight is really going to be. >> this battle, let's go back to ohio. john king is standing by. john, it's getting closer and closer in ohio and to my surprise, it's even getting closer north in michigan. you would think that after the
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president saved chrysler and gm, that he would have a bigger advantage right now, but it's shrinking. what's going on? >> well, governor romney's getting a bounce out of that first debate. we've seen it in the national polls. he's now a point or two ahead in some of them. essentially a tie in the national polls after being down three or four. now we're looking at these battleground states. the brand-new poll has him 51-47, so you call that a statistical tile. that michigan poll had them within the margin of error as well. i'm a bit dubious about michigan. he did get a post-debate bounce. we'll see if it sticks. the auto bailout, one of the reasons the president has been pretty strong there. that's why you heard a more confident governor romney an week or so ago, republicans were saying, how can we possibly pull this off? we haven't been able to put michigan into play. how can we win if the president's not on defense in some of these states. are we going to take a beating down ballot? that one debate performance turned the mood of republicans around? it's just one debate.
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there are two more debates to go. you heard governor romney, his tone and his tenor. senator obama stumbled many times back in 2008. he has stumbled here in that first debate in 2012. the test is, how do you recover? and governor romney is more confident and he's trying to address his weaknesses. gloria just noted, reaching for the middle. saying, i want to governor. i'm not going to lay out my entire tax plan, because i would have to negotiate with democrats a and republicans. trying to make it not just about big bird, but we can't keep borrowing from money to pay for things we can't have. trying to make that 47% go away. wolf, in my travels, in michigan a couple of weeks ago, and in ohio, middle class people who have struggled the past few years were deeply offended by that. so governor romney's smart to try to make it go away. >> i want everybody to stand by. we have much more to assess what's going on. mitt romney makes news on a number of points. up next, republican congressman jason chaffetz of utah, democratic strategist, bill burton, former deputy white house press secretary for president obama, they're getting ready to debate what we just
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let's dig a little bit deeper and get some more reaction to my interview with mitt romney. >> wolf went one on one with the republican presidential nominee with mitt romney joining us in "the situation room" from the campaign trail in cuyahoga falls, ohio. >> let's talk about with jason chaffetz of utah. welcome back from libya. and also, democratic strategist bill burton is joining us. he's with the super pac, priorities usa action. also, a fellow buffalonian. good to have a fellow buffalonian on this set. listen to this little comment we just heard from the republican nominee. >> well, i'm not going to lay out a piece of legislation here, because i intend to work together with republicans and democrats in congress. but there are a number of ways one could approach this. one would be to have a total cap number. it could be $25,000, $50,000. and people could put twhawhatev
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deduction in that total cap they'd like. >> so he's trying to explain how he would pay for the across-the-board tax cut that he wants to see implemented for all americans, rich, middle class, everyone gets a tax cut, but he would pay for that by eliminating some loopholes, deductions, exemptions, credits. and he said maybe there would be a cap, $25,000, $50,000. that would be it. what do you think about that? >> well, i think if you listen to that interview, he undercuts his whole economic argument. he says that what you need are tax cuts across the board in order to help the economy. but then he says, actually, the wealthy won't get a tax cut. it's all going to be revenue neutral. that will go to the middle class then. well, first of all, does grover norquist know that wealthy folks aren't going to get a tax cut? second of all, the numbers don't add up. if you're saying that the middle class gets a tax cut, the wealthy get a tax cut, but then there's deductions that make it all even out. but then the middle class is still getting a tax cut, where's the money to pay for the middle class? >> what's the answer? >> that's a lot of the criticism. that governor romney's getting is the devil's in the details
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and he's not providing enough details. >> oh, i think governor romney has provided more details than most do. and i think what he's very smartly doing is saying that he's going to work with the congress. i can tell you firsthand, that president obama has not worked with the congress. when the president presented his budget and his plan, it was defeated overwhelmingly in favor of nothing. that is nobody, not a single republican, not a single democrat in the house or senate, ever voted in favor of the president's plan. mitt romney comes from the experience of being governor, where 87% of his state legislature was democrats. he's used to working across the aisle, working with congress to figure this out. and he wants to put a pro-growth plan in place. that's his overriding principle. i think he articulated that in the debate, in front of 70-some-odd million people. and he said it here on your show. >> but is that enough to pay for all those across-the-board tax cuts, eliminating a lot of these deductions, for example. is that going to be enough? >> despite what you heard from the 30-seconds ads of the democrats, what the governor said, as a proportion of the revenue to the treasury, he's
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not excited or proposing to cut the responsibility that the so-called upper middle class has. what he wants to do is focus on the middle class and create economic opportunity for everybody. that's going to create jobs and economic opportunity in this country. that's what we need more than anything, is growth. >> what do you think? >> well, it's just not credible for mitt romney to have spent the last entire year and a half out on the campaign trail, talking about how every single person is going to get a tax cut and then suddenly at the debate say, well, actually, the wealthy are not going to get a tax cut. >> he said he'd do the math -- >> in order to make sure the middle class gets a tax cut. and it undercuts his economic argument. >> it's exactly what he's been saying for the last 18 month i've been to more than 100 meetings with governor romney. this is exactly what he's always been talking about. he's always been talking about broadening the base, lowering the rate, creating more economic opportunity for this country, so our economy can thrive and we can get people back to work. >> do you buy this notion that if the economy grows more quickly, that will help pay for
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those across-the-board tax cuts? >> if the economy grows more quickly, everyone does better and obviously there'll be more tax revenue. but the problem is, the reason that mitt romney won't lay out exactly where he's going to find the money to pay for this tax plan that doesn't actually cut taxes for the wealthy, but it does, is because it's not good for the middle class. he won't lay it out, because it's not something that the middle class will benefit from. >> we're going to pick up that thought. everybody stand by. we'll take a quick break. much more of our conversation. we're getting reaction from my interview with mitt romney right here in "the situation room." ju, brochures, posters copies of my acceptance speech. great! it's always good to have a backup plan, in case i get hit by a meteor. wow, your hair looks great. didn't realize they did photoshop here. hey, good call on those mugs. can't let 'em see what you're drinking. you know, i'm glad we're both running a nice, clean race. no need to get nasty. here's your "honk if you had an affair with taylor" yard sign. looks good. [ male announcer ] fedex office. now save 50% on banners.
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big bird is going to be just fine. "sesame street" is a very successful enterprise. i don't believe cnn gets government funding, but somehow,
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y'all stay on the air. and i just think that pbs will be able to make it on its own, just like every one of the other stations and does not require us to go to china to borrow money to keep pbs on the air. >> all right. we're back with republican congressman, jason chaffetz of utah, democratic strategist bill burton. they're both here to talk about big bird. >> big bird! >> who would have thought. >> congressman, the big bird comment has gotten a lot of attention. was it a mistake for mitt romney to target big bird? because he's taking a lot of heat for it now from the obama campaign? >> look, what mitt romney is trying to highlight is the fact that we've got to make some financial decisions on what the priorities of this nation are. under president obama, we have put up $1 trillion deficits year after year. we spend more than $600 million a day in interest on our national debt -- >> but what people here say is that he's attacking big bird. you know we work in sound bite society these days. >> that would be an oversimplificati oversimplification. what people do hear, what mitt romney trailed off with is,
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every financial decision we make in this country should be one, is it worth going to china to borrow money to pay for it? we'll have to make some decisions and prioritize things in order to get our financial footing back in order. >> you've seen these polls that have been coming in over the past 24/48 hours. national polls showing tight -- look at some of these numbers. we'll put them up right now. our cnn poll that's coming in. >> 51% to 47% in ohio right now. >> it's really tightening. ohio, ohio, ohio. what's going on here? >> well, this is a close race. it was always going to be a close race. when the president was at his highest, i was still saying this was going to be a close race. keep in mind, the president won ohio by four points. and i think by any point during this last year to know that we would get to october 9th and it would be a four-point race with the president up in ohio, it would be a good thing. but the things romney's said about the middle class, the 47%, the thing he's said about
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cutting taxes for the wealthy just don't wash with the voters there. >> he's very much talking about the middle class. you heard that in wolf's interview today. how do you think -- what should the romney campaign be thinking about these numbers that just came out today? >> i want the country to get past all the ads and just watch the debate. watch 90 minutes of just one on one, man oo y mano, and people will see why that mitt romney should be the next president of the united states. i think he was very presidential, but of course that was the most objective viewpoint. >> i was going to say, you've got your talking point in there. i was going to ask you, politically speaking, in terms of the big bird fight, isn't there a risk that the obama campaign could overplay their hand on this, and look as if they're playing small ball, while mitt romney says, look, they can talk about big bird, i'm going to talk about the big issues that matter to america. >> there's a credibility issue that came from that debate. i think that's actually the thrust of what the conversation has been from the democratic side, about what mitt romney had to say in that debate. and while mitt romney may have
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gotten some momentary energy and a little bit of a boost, the thing that people will probably remember in the long term from this debate was that he didn't tell the truth about his positions, and he attacked big bird. >> when you say he didn't tell the truth, you're basically calling the republican presidential nominee a liar. >> what i'm saying is he went out on stage and suddenly all the different things that he had been fighting for for the past year, for the tax cut for the wealthiest americans, his -- what the president's done on trade, on and on and on, it was just not true. and it didn't represent who he was -- >> i totally disagree. i have watched mitt romney up close and personal for 18 months. it's exactly the same mitt romney that i saw in town after town after town. there's a reason why -- he went through 19 debates, plus, on the campaign trail, getting the primary, getting the republican nomination. he's thoughtful, he's compassionate, he's commanded the issues. i mean, he's a president. >> i think you're going to vote for him. i have that feeling. >> i think utah will deliver.
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>> we're glad you're back safe and sound from libya. we'll have another conversation about that on another day. >> congressman, thank you. we're not going to talk football right now. gentleman, thank you both very much. still ahead, dr. sanjay gupta travels to the place where the tainted medicine came from as the meningitis outbreak gets work. everyone in the nicu, all the nurses wanted to watch him when he was there 118 days. everything that you thought was important to you changes in light of having a child that needs you every moment.
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penn state child sex abuse scandal. >> a lot of people have been tracking this story, of course. 30 to 60 years in prison. that's the equivalent to a life sentence for 68-year-old jerry
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sandusky. the former penn state assistant football coach was convicted of sexually abusing ten boys over a period of i think 15 years. sandusky called the situation, quote, the worst loss of my life. and in a jailhouse statement, he said he's innocent and the victim of a conspiracy. the death toll in the fungal meningitis outbreak is now up to 11, and 119 people are sick. all of the cases have been traced back to a contaminated steroid injection used to relieve back pain. dr. sanjay gupta went to the facility where that's made. >> they literally are telling us to leave the parking lot, not even be here. we know people from the fda are inside. obviously a lot of cars in the parking lot. people are working here in some capacity. but this is another example of just how ridiculous it has been to try and get any information whatsoever. they wouldn't let us in the building, but behind the building, this is what it looks like. over there, that's the nec --
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see the compounding facility? back here, it's a recycling facility, essentially looks like a dump. >> dr. sanjay gupta discovered that recycling facility is owned by the same people who own the center where the steroid was made, wolf. a scary story definitely not over yet. >> not over by any means, but very scary indeed. thank you. it's the name the candidates can't stop saying. big bird. online outfit piccolo headphones buy now broadway show megapixels place to sleep little roadster war and peace deep sea diving ninja app
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more on big bird here is jeanne moos. >> when we last left big bird -- >> i love big bird. >> really? >> reporter: he had just been mentioned in the presidential debate. since then, big bird has only gotten bigger, appearing on snl. >> how did you find out that your name had been mentioned in
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the debate? >> oh, i got a million tweets. >> okay. >> reporter: he's the second animal to rock the presidential campaign. the first being mitt romney's dog on the car roof. but big bird has big-footed the pooch in photo shopped photos and editorial cartoons. and now he's made it into an obama campaign commercial, full of sarcasm. >> one man has the guts to speak his name. >> big bird. >> big bird. big bird. >> it's me, big bird. >> big, yellow, a menace to our economy. >> reporter: but the republican of the national committee is striking back with the count from "sesame street." >> the number of the day is four. >> reporter: the republicans are keeping count how many times president obama mentions big bird versus, they say, zero mentions of libya, and zero plans to fix the economy. the obama campaign says its big bird spot was meant to run during comedy shows, though it
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might be hard to tell the commercial from comedy show content. >> mitt romney, taking on our enemi enemies, no matter where they nest. >> reporter: big bird did not approve this message. his creators, sesame workshop, say they're nonpartisan and want the obama big bird ad taken down. obama supporters have taken to showing up at romney/ryan events dressed as big bird. we're even seeing big bird in cereal. portrait artist jason messier is known for using pills to make whitney houston's portrait, pot to make snoop dogg's, and beef jerky to make president obama's and governor romneys. now the debate inspired the artist to spend 25 hours gluing cheerios and froot loops and lucky charms on to a canvas to create big bird. some of us are starting to o.d. from big bird as he flits from jon stewart to conan. get the kiddies o