tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN October 26, 2011 4:00pm-6:00pm EDT
snooki's tv show. >> that's right. we'll look for the formula one in jersey coming to a street near you. thank you very much and thank you for watching. now, let's go to wolf blitzer. got quite "the situation room" coming up for you. now in washington, d.c. wolf, to you. thank you. happening now, the most revealing polls yet showing how the republican race for the white house is shaping up in the first states to cast their ballots. new numbers. we're about to release them to you. also, president obama's new strategy against the gop. james carville and ari fleischer are here to talk about it and the chairman of the house homeland security calls on the u.s. to expel all iranian officials in the united states, saying many of them are spies. we'll talk to peter king this hour. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com but just in right now, new
poll numbers painting a very telling picture of the race for the republican presidential nomination. we can now report that mitt romney is the candidate to beat in at least two of the crucial first four voting contests of the 2012 election with herman cain a sometimes close, sometimes distant second. our new cnn "time" orc poll of republican voters just released shows romney on top in iowa's january 3rd caucuses, leading herman cain by three points, but that's well within the sampling error of plus or mines. in new hampshire, romney has a lead over cain. in south carolina, a two-point edge for romney, again, within the margin of error. in florida, it's romney 30% to cain's 18%. before the polls came out, romney made it clear he's setting his sights very high. >> i think the greatest threat
to my success would be president obama and i'm planning on beating him soon. >> let's talk about these new poll numbers with our chief political correspondent, the anchor of "state of the union," can candy crowly. looks like romney is doing really well now. >> right and he needs to do well in new hampshire because if he doesn't, new hampshire is where he can reset the republican primary. but look, we should put a cautionary note out there. because polls about the caucus are very tricky business. but what it shows you is mitt romney remains what he was when he started. the weak front-runner. we've called him that from the beginning and we've seen the number twos come up, go back down again. in the end, it reminds me of the election season when democratic
voters dated howard dean and married john kerry. that in the end, here's going to be the primary question, who has the best chance of beating president obama? and in the end, that may well be mitt romney. he's certainly on his way. >> say what you will, at least the snapshot right now. we knew he would do well, be u the fact he's doing as well as he is just ahead of cain, that's pretty significant. especially iowa, there was talk he wasn't even going to try to compete there. >> but iowa is a different banana when it comes to those caucus caucuses. south carolina, there was so much talk, where his mormonism be a problem, but independents can also come in and vote in south carolina. so, that certainly can sway the outcome, so he is sitting pretty well at this point right now.
>> these numbers are not doing well in any of these states. stand by for a moment, candy. while republicans are battling to find their challenger, the president is reframes i should say his fight against the republicans. and their event yul nominee. jessica yellin is joining us now. so, what is this emerging new white house strategy about? >> in the president's west coast swing this week, you've seen him roll out plans to help homeowners and grad yats with their loans. that gives voters a glimpse of the obama campaign's re-election strategy. have you picked up on the president's new message? >> we can't wait for an increasingly dysfunctional congress to do its job. we can't wait for congress to do its job. we can't afford to keep waiting for them if they're not going to do anything. >> yes, he's running against
congress, but there's something else. notice a new message discipline? he was famous for it in 2008. >> yes, we can. yes, we can. yes, we can. >> now, it's back. >> pass this bill! we need to pass this bill. pass this jobs bill. >> began with his push for the jobs plan. >> one thing that sometimes hasn't occurred, the president says the same thing over and over again. repetition matters. he's out there selling it and giving people a real understanding that he has a direction for the county are in terms of not just jobs in the short-term, but in rebuilding countries economic strength for the long-term. so that's very important. >> important because right now, the president has a chance to define his message on the economy before there's a republican nominee. anita dunn was the white house
communications director. >> president needs to play out their vision. >> for democrats, it's all about drawing a contrast with republican plans for the future. >> he seems to have made the turn streenlgically, wait, i need to talk about the future. >> but this republican thinks it's already too late. >> the fundamental problem for the president's message is that three quarters of the country believes we're off on the wrong track and so, they pretty well closed their ears to the president's message. president obama's message is not resognating with most americans. >> p president's trying to reverse that now. talking about polls, the current gallup poll shows 71 person of americans say the economic outlook is getting worse and 50% disapprove of the job the president is doing. those are are difficult numbers
for a president to overcome. >> pollsters love to look at that key question. is the country moving in the right direction or the wrong direction and if it's moouing in the wrong direction, you know who they're going to blame. >> right, but if you can move that into the right direction, that's the key factor. >> he's got a year to go and hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign money he'll have to make that case. money talks. thanks, jessica, for that. we were talking in this brand new poll, rick perry, you know, he was doi a month ago so well. but if you look in these states, in florida, he's at 9%. iowa, 10%. new hampshire, 4%. in south carolina, he's 11%. in every one of these states, he either comes in third, fourth or fifth. not where he wants to be. >> it isn't and i think rick perry has been his own best looking back strategist when he
said i shouldn't have done those debates because in general, the way most republicans have seen rick perry has been in these debat debates. he seemed tired, as though he didn't know what he was talking about. he would garble things. he came in and boy, swept right to the top and every debate, his numbers just got lower. he's got time, they all have time, but not much. it's november. as far as we know, the first contest will be in the first week of january in iowa. >> no one forced him to pick the fight in the last debate with mitt romney over service, his lawn service that romney may have had an illegal worker there. that was rick perry who decided to get into a fight with mitt romney on that. >> absolutely, so he has been his own worst opponent at this point and i think he was -- he's perfectly right in saying i shouldn't have done those debates. now, the problem is, you can't
not do these debates. wouldn't have worked the other way, but the debates have done him damage. he needs to do better. there are plenty of opportunities between now and january in debates for him to do better. >> because if any of these republican candidates avoid the debates, you can make the case they're afraid to debate their fellow republicans. how could they ever debate the president of the united states? >> there have been debates in the past that have been fatal. there's been a fatal mistake made in them by a candidate or two, so again, there's time to make it up, but they're running out. >> thanks very much. we're going to have much more on the president's new strategy, much more on the republican race for the white house. james carville and ari fleischer are standing by to join us in our strategy session. also, millions of tons of debris from japan's tsunami found floating in the pacific. will it reach the west coast of the united states? hey, everyone's eating tacos outside bill's office.
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jack cafferty has the "cafferty file." >> more americans are against gun control than ever before. gallup's annual crime poll shows support for various gun control measures at historic lows, including a ban on handguns. only 26% of americans now favor a handgun ban. that's down from 60% when gallup first asked this question in 1959. also, the poll shows that for the first time, there is more opposition than support for a ban on semiautomatic guns or rifles. 53% to 43. in 1996, these numbers were nearly reversed. congress passed a ban on assault rifles in 1994, but that expired in 2004. overall, support for making gun laws more strict is at its
lowest level ever. 43%. as recently as 2007, a majority of americans favored stricter gun laws. it's worth noting the growing opposition to gun control shows up among all groups. only democrats, eastern residents and those without guns in their homes still favor stricter gun laws and there's not a single group with a majority in favor of banning handguns. what's interesting here is that americans are shifting to a more pro gun stance despite high pro file incidents of gun violence, like the shooting of gabrielle giffords and 18 others. gallup suggests the reasons don't appear to be related to crime. instead, the pollsters suggest the trends may reflect a growing acceptance of guns and of support for the second amendment. what was it then candidate obama said in 2008? that when people in small towns lose their jobs, they get bitter and quote cling to guns or
religion, unquote. here's the question -- go to cnn.com/kafr fifile, post a comment on my blog or go to our post on "the situation room's" facebook page. >> thank you. when a giant wall of water slammed into japan in march, it killed thousands of people, flattened homes across the country's northeast coast. the water receded carrying countless pieces out to sea. all of a sudden, in the middle of the pacific. chad myers is tracking millions of tons of all this debris that's out there somewhere. chad, what do we know about the debris and is it headed towards the united states? >> it sure is. floating building, refrinl raters, parts of cars, propane
tanks. thought to arrive in about three to five years. appears to be quicker now. why? the models the researchers got into were looking at debris not floating above the water. they were thinking about stuff that sits in the water and only goes with the current. well, this stuff is getting blown along faster and eventually will become a hazard. we're talking five to 20 million tons of stuff. this is all the lives that were taken from these people. the lives, their livelihood, their buildings, homes, boats. this is what they found near midway island. they didn't expect this to arrive for another three months because it was above the water line, so people are out there trying to get this debris out. but there is so much stuff in the water, wolf. we will have this on our shores many, many years.
it will be 15 or 20 years before this goes away and boating in the pacific may slightly become a hazard and to the hazards of trying to surf in hawaii when you have a refrigerator floating in front of you. >> do we know if this junk out there is from japan or just junk collected in the ocean, if you will? >> if you walk along the beaches of oregon, washington and california, you see stuff washing up from japan, china, thailand, all the time. know this is from japan because the floats that are floating literally have fukushima on the side of them. so the boats being identified as from those areas around where the tsunami hit. yes, we know this stuff is from japan. >> they thought three to four years, but now it's speeding up. what's the cause of that? >> a boat was flat in the water, it would be a very slow boat.
this is not a boat. this is not flat in the water. this is like a sail. so now when the wind hits this sail and not only this building probably sunk already by now. but other things are floating above the water and all that wind is pushing it much faster than the current, so the speed is, the researchers in hawaii think it could twice as fast now. by 2013 and into hawaii sometime early next year. >> chad, thanks very much. thousands of women in yemen are gattinging to pr test the government. why it included a fiery demonstration and the rangers could clinch the world series tonight, but the game has been postponed. and later, rick perry blames one thing for any mistake his campaign has made. james carville and ari fleischer are here to talk about that and a lot more. that's coming up bottom of the hour. ♪ for spacious skies
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a striking new study reflects a growing inquality in the united states. lisa sylvester is monitoring that. >> there's a new study and it shows that the nation's top 1% is getting richer at an astonishing rate the rest of the country is not seeing. the congressal budget office shows income for the top 1% of earners grew by 275% in the last 30 years. the middle class saw a 30% growth while the poorest increased by only 18% and a rare and defiant new twist to yemen's protest. muslim women are burning their veils in anger against the regi regime's new crackdown. it is highly symbolic to wear veils in women. they claim that their president is killing women and proud of it. at least ten women died yesterday in clashes with government forces.
and singer amy winehouse died of alcohol poisoning. with alcohol levels more than five times the legal limit. the coroner called it a death by misadventure. the 27-year-old artist has battled with alcohol and drug abuse for several years, was found dead in her home in july. and if you were expecting to watch baseball tonight, it is time to make other plans. game six between st. louis and the rangers has been postponed until tomorrow night. the forecast in st. louis is calling for rainfall throughout the evening. major league baseball says it wants to play a game of this magnitude without any weather delays, so sorry, wolf, you will not be able to sit in front of the tv tonight and watch the world series. >> i'll watch piers morgan. that will be a good show. watch a little piers, walker, no baseball. thank you. a week of apparent blunders
by republican presidential candidates. are they really mistakes or political tactics? plus, our brand new poll numbers just released this hour. james and ari are coming up in our strategy session. ♪ [ multiple snds ng melodic tune ] ♪ [ malennounc ] at northrop grumman, makthworld a feplace. th's value performance. northr gruan.
mitt romney is the latest republican candidate to make a mistake in the glare of the national spotlight or was it something more calculated? joe johns is joining us with some details. what exactly did he do? >> month to go and it's been a long race. even for some candidates who have been running just a short time. mitt romney's recent slip-up, if fs the a slip v up, goes to show that rain must fall. if republicans didn't like romney's position on the union busting proposal in ohio, all they had to do was wait one day before he changed it. on tuesday when asked if he supports the ballot issue to restrict collective bargaining, romney gave the generic almost
noncommittal answer. even though he just visited a phone bank where conservative callers were selling the measure to the public. >> i'm not speaking about the particular ballot issues. those are under the people of ohio, but i support the effort of the governor to reign in the squ squal of government. >> but by today, romney had a different answer. >> i'm sorry if i created any confusion. i fully support governor casic's question two in ohio. i know there are other ballot questions there in ohio and i wasn't taking a position on there. >> one would ban government from forcing people to buy health insurance, which might give pause to a reformer like romney. raising the question what happened was a mistake or political tactic. >> he walked into a call center for these two ballot initiatives and appeared to either not know
what they were about or intentionally tried to dodge them to kind of protect his brand for a general election. so, it's one or the other. >> if it was a mistake, romney is not alone. perry's latest goof was stepping all over his big rollout with off the cuff remarks drudging up long buried questions about president obama's birthplace. >> it's fun to poke at him a little bit, hey, let's see your grades and your birth certificate. >> then the sheer strangeness of herman cain's latest ad, showing his chief of staff singing the candidate's praises and puffing a cigarette. author john avalon sees the ad as harmless, but not some of the other mistakes. >> it's worse a reflection on not only whether that makes a candidates look bad, not only makes a process look bad, but makes our country look bad. >> and adding to john's point that the cain ad maybe different, that ad has logged
more than 100,000 views on its website. he's certainly cultivate d the image of an unorthodox candidate. >> we played it in full yesterday here in "the situation room" and it would have been a normal ad, but no one knows the chief of staff and smoking like that was a little strange. >> a throwback to the '60s. plus, the big smile at the end that cain gives. >> thanks very much. let's discuss what's going on in the world of politics. joining us now, two cnn political contributors. the democratic strategist, james carville, and ari fleischer, guys, thanks very much for coming in. ari, let me play a little clip from the interview that governor perry did with bill o'reilly last night on fox. because in that interview, governor perry is blaming the
debates for his problems. >> these debates are set up for nothing more than to tear down the candidates. it's pretty hard to sit and lay out your ideas and concepts with a one minute response. if there was a mistake made, it was probably ever doing one of the campaigns when all they're interested in is stirring it up between the candidates. >> you think he's got a point in blaming the debate as opposed to himself? >> well, there's no question the debates are designed to stir it up among the candidates, but that's what being a candidate is all about. debates aren't everything, but they are important. if i were governor perry, i'd recognize the debates, plus, they become even more important a year from now. so, he does need to take the debate seriously. he needs to spend more time getting ready for them and
shouldn't dismiss them. i think there's a wrong approach. >> we take a look at the little l picture. the president just landed at andrews air force base. we'll watch that as it unfolds as well. talk a little bit about the president in addition, but what do you think about what rick perry is saying, james, that you know what? the biggest mistake he's made so far in the month or six weeks he's been in this campaign cycle is that he agreed to be in these debates. >> the biggest mistake rick perry made was running for president and in my opinion, he needs to go back to texas. this was a massive mistake. some of his friends need to come have a chat with him and bring him back down. this thing is not going well. he's not ready for this. he's, you know, a guy played decent in aa. just can't handle major league ball. whether it's a debate, a speech,
anything else. he's drowning and drowning everybody else with him. it's clear as a bell with everybody that looks at this. i was for him. i wanted him to rough romney up. i wanted people to watch cnn. i wanted this to go on and on. it's done. he needs to quit. >> the fact is, ari, you look at these latest poll numbers that just came out at the top of the hour, perry is not doing well at all. he's coming in fourth in florida with only 9%. he comes in tied for fourth in iowa with only 10% tied with newt gingrich. in new hampshire, he's only at 4%. fifth or sixth there in new hampshire. south carolina, fourth with only 11%. one thing nationally, but when looking at these four states, these are the key states that will determine who the republican nominee almost certainly will be.
>> you also see it's only in the 20s and 30%, the people going to vote for that candidate. so, the one arching truth throughout all republican race for months and i think is going to go on for a couple of months is tremendous undecided. people have said it's a volatile race. nobody has a strong foundation underneath them. just as people are saying perry is down, and he is down. people shouldn't say he can't come back because he can. this thing remains very fluid and candidates learn. they grow. i remember in the debates in new hampshire between barack obama and hillary clinton. when barack obama said hillary, you're likable enough. it was a foolish thing to say. he mernled from there. people make mistakes. >> four years ago, people were writing off john mccain in new hampshire. here's what rick perry has going for him. he's the governor of the second largest state. he's got millions of dollars he
can use and he still has a few months to go. >> nothing would make me happier than for rick perry to come back. understand that. i'm pulling for him. i'm really kind of mad at him that he can't play this game. i wanted him to do well. but i mean, he's so, such an offensively bad candidate that it's just torturous to watch. i just can't debate. then you can't give a speech to the values submit. can't do an interview on fox. you've got to be able to do something if you're going to do any good and he can't. then he says, well, i'm for the flat tax. i said trying to help him, hey, this might help politically. well, you just step all over it. not even to mention how stupid, karl rove, everybody. pat robertson's telling him to calm down. >> we're getting new tape of
rick perry trying to clarify the whole birther thing, whether r or not the president of the united states was born in hawaii. stand by. we'll play that tape for your viewers once it gets in. we've got to leave it there. good discussion. a key republican lawmaker says iran's diplomats here united states are spying. peter king wants them kicked out. and an american teenager killed by a u.s. drone. how did that happen?
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high ranking republican is calling a plot to attack targets here tht united states quote, a declaration of war. he's making a dramatic accusation and calling for iranian officials to be expelled from the united states. and joining us now from capitol hill, peter king of new york. he's the chairman of the house homeland security committee. you dropped the bombshell today. you said you want all iranian diplomats serving in the united states to be kicked out because they're spying really. what's going on here? what are you talking about? >> basically, wolf, iranian have diplomats in new york, at least people assigned to the mission
in the new york. they also have diplomats in washington, d.c. i am very convinced from people i've been speaking to, really over the last several years, that within those groups are people who are one involved with terrorist forces back in iran. others are obviously involved in attempting espionage in this country. in new york several years ago, had to expel several people from the iranian office there found to be taking photos and pictures of new york city subway and transit system, which we by the n.y.p.d., they were scoping it out and planning a possible terror attack. so, they are serving no real purpose here other than advancing iran's interest and the main reason i wanted to do it is that what iran did as far as planning its attack in
washington, d.c. against an ambassador, which they realize could have caused the deaths of hundreds of americans, that was a declaration of war r really, against the united states and for us to increase sanctions or attempt to take diplomatic action, i don't think it would really strike is severe tone. we have it make it clear. this was a game changer. they jumped across a red line here. i think by expelling diplomats, that would send a clear message. >> let me get to some other things in a moment, but how many diplomats are you talking about? how many iranian diplomats are a acrede itted another the united nations? how many are working in the iranian interest section? >> i know the exact amount. i would say talking like 40, 50 that i would have concern about. i'm trying to get the exact numbers. but to me, should get rid of either all of them or most and send a clear signal. in new york, we know that those
attacked at the u.n. supposedly to assist in u.n. activities were actually being used to plan activities against new york were out taking photos. certainly those here in washington, we have very good reason to believe are involved in spying and surveillance. that type of thing. >> doesn't the u.s. have responsibleties as the host country to the united nations in new york? that it can't simply kick out diplomats accredited to the u.n.? >> i would say because these conditions, because of iran plotting against the united states, agents of war against the united states, that the united states clearly within its legal rights to expel those officials from washington, d.c. and from the united nations. >> this alleged plot was part
two of the plot you had a couple of weeks to get more information. also, to blow up the saudi as israeli embassies. was there something serious there? >> i can't go into all the details. i will say i've seen that totality of evidence and i can say that there clearly, contrast to all sides. individually and together says that attacks such as this will be planned. i know from talk to foreign diplomats, i'm trying to see what i can say here, didn't hear in the briefing. talking to diplomats, i've been told clearly there are attacks planned upon ambassadors. we know there are attacks planned against the saudis and taking of american lives in washington. >> just to be precise, these iranian diplomats are in new york and washington. do you have hard evidence they were actually plotting to
undertake terrorist operations inside the united states? >> i'm saying they clearly have tied to those in iran who do those things. we know this from common sense and observation, from talking to people in the community, that these people, whether it's terrorist activities or dealing with other countries, with them or hezbollah, they are over here for a purpose, not diplomacy. as i said, there have been instances in the past where we've caught them doing it, but from people i've spoken to, there's no doubt at all that there's the purpose. also in view of their links and membership in iran. >> peter king, thanks very much. >> thank you. and now to kicking out those iranian diplomats, the state department spokeswoman told reporters, i'm quoting now, as the host nation, we have certain
only gagss to allow all diplomats to serve. an american teenager killed by a u.s. drone strike in yemen. his death is sparking new debate over america's use of drones to go after suspected terrorists. brian todd has been investigating the story. what were the circumstances? >> he had set out in yemen looking for his father. his father was anwar al awe locky. the father himself had been killed by a drone two weeks early. the family says the son learned of that, was on his way back to the yemeni capital when he himself was killed. but it's not clear if the son was a target of that strike. according to a facebook tribute page, he liked watching the simpsons, reading harry potter, listening to snoop dogg. he was like so many other kids
his age, but he happened to be the son of the al-qaeda leader seen by u.s. intelligence as a key operative in yemen. two weeks after his father was killed in a u.s. drone strike in yemen, the younger awlaki was killed, along with the cousin and others. it's not clear why his son was with that man. was the teenager a militant? >> there's no evidence from anything he wrote or said that he was a militant. by the same token, he could have decided to embark on a path of jihad after his father's death. such honor and duty goes deep in yemeni society. >> his family denied the younger al awlaki was a militant. u.s. officials have said they didn't know he was with that al-qaeda operative, but have otherwise not commented on the drone strike. the american civil liberties union is troubled by the death. >> seems to be more of an
embarrassment to the united states that a 16-year-old teenager was killed in a drone ait can. >> the aclu is also questioning the legality of the drone strike on the father, also an american citizen. and has asked for classified documents justifying that killing. u.s. officials have contended it was legal because he was planning attacks against americans and that targeting people like him doesn't have to take place on the battlefields of afghanistan or iraq. >> we have the authority to take action against al-qaeda and its forces without doing a separate self-defense analysis each and every time. >> but with the deaths of awe locky, his son and -- we american citizens have been killed by drones in yemen over the past month and analysts say even if the obama administration can back this up legally, it should do more to explain who's
being targeted and that the right procedures are being used to ensure those are right people. >> thanks very much. more information on what is going on. jack cafferty is coming up next. then the occupy wall street movement. can it translate protest into political power right here in washington? [ horn honks ] hey, it's sandra -- from accounting. peter. i can see that you're busy... but you were gonna help us crunch the numbers for accounts receivable today. i mean i know that this is important. well, both are important. let's be clear. they are but this is important too. [ man ] the receivables. [ male announcer ] michelin knows it's better for xerox to help manage their finance processing. so they can focus on keeping the world moving. with xerox, you're ready for real business. at liberty mutual, we know how much you count on your car and how much the people in your life count on you. that's why we offer accident forgiveness, man: good job.
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read more, we get terrific e-mail on this subject. go to my blog or to our post on "the situation room's" facebook page. wolf? >> good work, thank you. is there anything you've ever wanted to ask me? your chance to turn the tables. go to cnn.com/situationroom to send me your short video questions. i'll try to pick some to answer. maybe that will work. at the top of the hour, mass graves and allegations of atrocities by the fighters who overthrew moammar gadhafi, but first, occupy wall street. can the movement evolve to occupy congress as well? meineke's personal pricing on brakes.
i tell you what i can spend. i do my best to make it work. i'm back on the road safely. and i saved you money on brakes. that's personal pricing. the tea party movement rocked washington by propelling its candidates into congress in the last election and many are now wondering if the occupy wall street movement can do the same thing in the next election. lisa sylvester is working the story for us. >> hi, wolf, well occupy wall street protesters, the group is growing, but a key question is can they somehow translate all of this anger into real political change in washington? well, there are progress candidates now on the scene and
they are running on a flat form that sounds a lot like the folks occupying wall street. chances are you haven't heard of them before, but these seven house democratic candidates represent the progressive wing of the party. they delivered more than 30,000 petitions to john boehner's office saying we stand with the 99%. referring to an often repeated slogan of the occupy wall street group. among them is a state senator who also runs a non-profit for low income families in new mexico. >> sometimes, the parties forget what they stand for so i think a lot of us, whether it's the occupy folks or progressives, we're just saying get back to what we say we believe. do we believe in the american dream and restoring it or do we believe it's a government for the powerful and wealthy? >> the progressive candidates point to new figures from the congressional budget office highlighting the wealth despairty. in the last 30 years, the net
worth of the top 1% has increased 275%. the middle fit, 40% and the lowest fifth, only 1%. their base are people like casey webber of occupy washington. he's been unable to find work since graduating in june. >> most people i know end up with the same minimum wage job they have before they finished clenl and they're stuck there now. they just wasted a bunch of money and got a bunch of debt to go nowhere. >> the tea party movement was successful turning a loose group of conservatives angry at washington into votes at the ballot box. the challenge on the left is can they do the same with the occupy wall street group? >> there is momentum there and i think there is a place for them to go. the question is, will it become professionalized and if it does, i think they will have an impact on the 2012 election.
>> our public opinion is still split on the occupy wall street group. the poll has 32% saying they have a favorable view of the movement, 29% say unfavorable and a full 39% are unsure. not quite ready to say what they think about this expanding group. >> thanks very much for that, lisa. and you're in "the situation room." happening now, disturbing allegations of atrocities in libya. not by gadhafi's regime, but by fighters loyal to the new libyan government. this hour, new information about dozens of bodies found in the area where gadhafi was killed. also, the u.s. military's secret under water weapon. spies and thieves are trying harder than ever to get their hands on this new technology. and romney scores big with republicans, but he also may see some caution flags in our new poll. stand by for details. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. breaking news, political
headlines and jeanne moos all headlines and jeanne moos all straight ahead. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com up first this hour, libya stained with blood and uncertainty even now that gadhafi is dead and buried. we're getting new information about the hunt for gadhafi's once powerful son and about possible war crimes committed in the fight to topple the gadhafi regime. cnn is using its unique global resources to cover the aftermath of the libyan revolution in depth. our senior international correspondent, dan rivers, is joining us from tripoli. what are you hearing first of all about saif al islam gadhafi? >> reporter: well, since this reuters wire dropped on the system, they were quoting an ntc official. we've been able to get not a single other ntc official to
confirm this. no one has heard about it. we've heard no suggestion of any confirmation from the it krrk either, so at the moment, this is looking like it is yet another rumor. a rumor that is just completely unable for us to pin down. there's been a different rumor about him almost every day this week. some suggesting his convoy was surrounded. some suggesting that he had been injured. some suggesting he was in gariam. none of them have panned out to be true and so far, we have no evidence this is either. >> what's the latest on all these human rights concerns that are now suddenly emerging? >> reporter: dan, i don't know if you can still hear me, but if you can, what's the latest on all the human rights concerns now emerging?
all right. obviously we've lost our contact with dan rivers, but he did file this report. >> reporter: as the dust settles on the libyan conflict, there are increasing questions about the atrocities that appear to have been perpetrated by militia loyal to the transitional government. these are just some of the bodies found around gadhafi's convoy. some were killed in a battle, but some appear to have been executed as prisoners contrary to the geneva conventions. plenty of evidence around here of other bodies here, some of which human rights watch claim were also executed. they say there are 95 bodies in this area and at least ten of them have been shot at point-blank range. we witnessed this during the battle for sirte. piles of bodies with their hands bound behind their backs. shot through the head, with no clear sense of who they were or
who shot them. the bodies lay here for days without any revolutionary forces attempting to bury them, but now, peter fukar says he's found evidence some of the victims were gadhafi officials and is concerned they may have been executed by revolutionary forces. this is the aftermath of a massacre at the hotel in sirte. 53 bodies with evidence on the walls that this hotel was occupied by revolutionary brigades before they were killed. >> we're dappointed they haven' sent anybody to investigate -- this is a war crime. >> reporter: transitional government has promised to bripg those responsible to justice. >> translator: i assure you that we will not turn a blind eye or forgive any crime.
>> reporter: but the true scale of the killing in sirte is only now become clear. some 300 bodies have been found so far with no one with the transitional government attem attempting to gather evidence before the bodies are removed. >> dan rivers reporting. we'll stay in touch with him. here in washington, the 12 members of the so-called suh super committee have four months to slash the budget by more than a trillion dollars. today, they held a public hearing, but the real news happened behind the scenes. kate bolduan has more. the democrats on the panel offered a new proposal. >> according to both democratic and republican sources, we're told that democratic members of the super committee on tuesday offered a proposal to slash the federal deficit, which is really their charge. the charge of this so-called super committee. according to sources, this plan was presented by democratic senator max baucus and would
include slashing if deficit by up to $3 trillion over the next ten years. the deal would also include significant entitlement cuts including to medicare and medicaid. democrats say that is a major concession on the part of their party. the deal would also include very significant new revenue, 1.2 to $1.3 trillion in new revenue. probably not surprisingly on that point, republicans on the committee including according to sources, jon kyl, quickly rejected this deal. one republican source calling his plan a nonstarter as republicans on the committee and in congress remain very much against tax increases as they say in the time of an economic downturn. not surprisinginglsurprisingly,e pointing fingers at each other, in order to wip political gain in these sensitive negotiations, but on the part of democrats, they say essentially what this
is and what they're trying to do is pick up where president obama and john boehner left off. over the summer when they were trying to negotiate that grand bargain. those negotiations obviously fell apart during the debt ceiling negotiations, but this development while of course i'm saying that republicans rejected it is significant for the mere fact that this is the first time since this committee began meeting months ago in these closed door negotiations almost exclusively that we're learning of a plan being offered by any member of this committee. of course, we'll be tracking closely what impact this has going forward. >> when you say the democrats proposing $1.3 billion in new revenue, that's new taxes, tax increases on richler americans, but the republicans have made it clear they're going to oppose any new taxes. so why should anyone be surprised that the committee appears deadlocked right now if
part of the democratic strategy is to increws taxes. >> it's 1.2 to $1.3 trillion in new revenue. just wanted to make sure i didn't misspeak. >> you didn't, i did. >> i'm hear frg both sides. republican sources saying that's why this is a nonstarter. they say if democrats were serious on really reaching a deal in order to not have this committee fail, they wouldn't come to the table saying they want such a big increase in taxes. such a big increase in new revenue coming in. on the flip side, democrats say they are offering a major concession on their part in talking about cutting entitlements, which is much they say a concession on the part of democrats which they say they don't want to agree to. they say if we're offering entitlement, republicans have to offer up some revenue to get
this big deal to stabilize our debt situation. of course, try to calm weary markets. >> if they don't achieve their agreement, there's going to be across the board cuts already in the works. thanks for that. jack cafferty standing by with the "cafferty file." >> it's called a middle class squeeds and if it keeps up, united states might not have a middle class one day soon. a "usa today" analysis of census data finds there are 150 areas nationwide where the share of income going to the middle class shrank between 2006 and 2010. middle class households generally means making between 21 and $100,000 a year. it includes the three fifths of households sandwiched between the rich and the poor. experts say this trend dates back to the 1970s. back then, 53% of the nation's income went to the middle class. in 2010, it was 46%.
the recession has only made things worse. employers cutting jobs and hours, furloughed workers and frozen salaries. all the while, the value of a family's assets, things like homes, down. there doesn't seem to be any relief in sight. take for example, my hometown. reno, nevada. unemployment is up from 14% in 2006. median income has dropped 10% in the same time foreclosures among the highest in the country. in order to make ends meet, many are cutting back, selling their possessions. cars, furniture. moving in with roommates or living with family members. cutting cell phones and cable service. shopping an consignment stores, bringing their own lunch to work, and cutting back on contributions to their retirement plans. it's a sad statement on the middle class who helped build this once great nation. here's the question -- go to
cnn.com/caffer cnn.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog or to "the situation room's" facebook page. president obama's offering young voters something new. we're going to take a closer look at his just announced plan to ease the burden of student loans and i'll talk to his domestic policy adviser. plus, we'll take you to one of the villages hardest hit by earthquake in turkey and the pentagon's worst fears about international spies getting ahold of its top secret under water weapon.
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president obama just landed in washington after a swing designed to promote his economic policies and re-election campaign. his latest proposal unveiled aimed at college grad yats in the midst of a snowstorm in denver. dan lothian has been traveling with the president. >> reporter:. >> more and more college students are get iting institutions just 8.3% this year. that's more than double the rate of inflation. for many, that translates into bigger loans at a time when it's hard to find a job after graduation, so president obama is pushing a plan he says could help 1.6 million people.
>> and now, i have student loans, so this is extremely costly for me. >> the costly burden of a college education is weighing on students across the country where earning a diploma is followed by this reality. an average debt of nearly $23,000. >> truthfully, it's oo silent killer because you never actually see the money. it's usually financial aid and things like that, or loans that you take. never having it in your hands makes it difficult to know how much the debt is. >> attempting to lighten the load, president obama went to denver to tout his plan that sidesteps congress. >> we can't wait for congress to do its job. so where they won't act, i will. >> the president aim to speed up a plan that was already in the
works. for example, beginning next year, the repayment amount of a federal loan will be limited to 10% of discretionary income and after 20 years, five years sooner than current rules, all debts will be forgiven. in addition, the program will make it easier to consolidate student loans, but in a statement, lamar alexander offered another solution. quote, the real way to reduce the burden of student loan debt is to slow down the growth of tuition, by health care costs and manuel daytons soaking up state dollars that could be used for education. back in denver -- is opt misic that plan will help students like her shoulder a burden. >> i think in the long run, it is good for us to put ourself in a better place for the future. >> the president admitted these small steps are no substitute for congressional action, but they will make a difference. meantime, the republicans are
criticizing the president for trying to save his own job instead of getting the ailing economy back on track. >> thanks very much, dan lothian on the scene for us in colorado. let's dig a little deeper. joining us, the white house domestic policy director, melody barnes. react quickly to what lamar alexander just said, that the real problem is tuition prices are going up and up and up and for a lot of people out there, it's not even worth it going to college because they're not even going to make back the money. >> two things. he's right. tuition costs are going up. in fact t college board just put out a report talking about that today and if you look at things we've done since day one in the white house, expanding pell grants, even though costs have gone up, have an imagined to stabilize costs for families.
as people are struggling, they're having to borrow more. >> to help replay those loans. but the point he's making is that tuition is going up because of the federally required mandates on universities and colleges. how do you ease some of those burdens to keep the tuition down? >> well, tuition is going up because state budgets are also feeling the crunch, but i also heard what senator alexander was saying. he was talking about costs like health care. i hope that means he is now becoming a fan of the health care reform bill that we passed because we know that that's starting to bring costs down. >> he thinks it's going to make it go up. a lot of republicans believe that. >> just look at the data. in the course of this past year, we've got a million young people who have access to health care that didn't before because of the affordable care act. we're bringing health care costs down. we're going to see that happen over the next several years. >> let's talk about some of the criticism we're getting from the republican leadership in
congress. speaker boehner said this today. i'll play it for you. >> we passed many bipartisan bills that are out of the house sitting over in the united states senate. at least 15 bills thus far that would help america's job creators if the united states senate would act. >> all right, so why not do what's do abl? in other words, work with the republicans and get some of these bills to pass out through the senate if it will create jobs? >> that's a great plan. that's why we've taken the american jobs act apart and are trying to move it piece by piece. we put this bill together using bipartisan ideas. idea the question is, why can't we get republicans to support ideas and initiatives they've supported in the past? it's unconscionable we can't move forward. >> paul ryan, the chairman of the house budget committee, made it once again today is that you guys being the white house, the president, are not really serious about this.
you just want to have a little, give them hell, harry. all that stuff. listen to what paul ryan said today. had some pretty strong words about the president. >> budget has offered for devicive rhetoric in the broken politics of the past. he's going from town to town, setting up straw men and scapegoats and engaging in lazy argument as he tries to build support for tax hikes on job creators. >> is that the president of the united states that you know? >> absolutely not. and it's mott the president of the united states that the people voted for and that the american people are looking towards for leadership. we have spent a lot of time working day after day to come up with solutions to address the needs of the american people. we started with the recovery act that created or saved 3.5 million jobs. we are addressing the needs of the people with health care
reform. we're doing it with education reform and initiatives like the ones that we proposed today. the reason why we have to move forward with these executive actions, the reason the president has asked secretary duncan is because we've got a congress that's recalcitrant as opposed to addressing the needs of the american people. >> about the white house, it's all politics. >> but i think the facts bear something different. when we work together, when the president has put forward ideas and we've had the opportunity to work together, we've passed international treaties. we got a deal last december in the lame duck that put more money in the pockets of the american people. something that people said couldn't be done. but that's because the president pressed forward. he said to people, let's work together. >> are they talking at least, the president and boehner? they played golf a few months ago. is the president speaking the mcconnell, the republican leader in the senate? >> the president is speaking to leaders in the house senate, but
most importantly, the president is out across the country. it's perplexing to me that the idea that the president of the united states is talking to the american people. going to north carolina, going to virginia, going to colorado, talking to people and engaging them to hear what their concerns are and taking steps to address them and that wouldn't be considered anything but what the president of the united states should do. >> that's really good politics, but to get legislation passed, they've got to work together in washington and come up with a deal. here's what came out of this super committee. the democrats are proposed new tax increases. 1.2 to $1.3 trillion. they're called revenue, but that's really tax increases. you know republicans are not going to go along with that. >> the point is that and the president has said it time and time again. we have big problems, challenges. the only way we're going to address them is if we have shared responsibility and shared
sacrifice. we aren't going to do this on the backs of the middle class who have taken punch after punch. we're not going to do it on the backs of the most vulnerable. he said at the same time, i'm willing to do difficult things, i'm willing to do things that everyone in my party doesn't support, but we can't continue in the same way that's caused us with problems we have today. we've got to do something different and that's the shared sacrifice. that's the plan he has sent to the supercommittee and said please go forth and bring these ysd back to me. >> i was surprised the other day when you decided it's over. >> well, first of all, it isn't over. i will continue to work on the issues that i care about. i will continue to support this president. he has to be re-elected. but at the same time, there are responsibility to family. i've been in the white house for three years. it's been an honor to serve the american people, but the husband that i married after i got into the white house would like to
see a little bit more of me. >> that wedding, i remember reading about that wedding. good luck in the future. >> thanks so much. highly classified military technology. you're going to find out why spies are desperate to uncover the secrets of under water drones. and an unpres dated show in yemen. stay with us. you're in "the situation room."
two earthquake victims have been found alive in turkey three day days after the deadly earthquake hit the country. a teenage boy was pulled from a collapsed building and six hours later, a 27-year-old woman was found alive under the debris. the quake has left the area in ruins and as diana magnay reported, survivors are now overwhelmed. >> reporter: children play in the rubble of what was once their homes. this was one of the villages hardest hit. most of the houses were
destroyed. the rest aren't fit to live in. suley is the village elder man. he built this house for r his wife an ten children. now, they sip tea in front of its ruins. there's enough food and water to go around and a makeshift space to cook, but the nights are tough. the family sleeps cramped inside a red crescent tent. he says he's just grateful they all survived. the village is very bad because we have both loss of life and material loss, but we had ministers and officials come and promise us shelters and we'll have them by spring, but winter will be long and cold. aid is arriving. a daily chore for the village kids to bring the bread back home, but growing bones need
shelter as well as nood 0i6r food. much of the shelter for the animals the gone. this family lost their home and three cows. this is all we have, the son tells me. they'll get compensation for each animal they lost. a team is touring to tally up the dead livestock. but nothing can compensate for the loss of human life. and as the women mourn, there is also an uncertainty which hangs over their children's future. life now, a question of day-to-day survival as the winter draws in. >> certainly a heartbreaking story. to find out how you can help, visit our impact your world page at cnn.com/impact. you certainly can have an
impact. did some of the u.s. military's critical classified technology underwater drones, but accord tog a report, is under constant attack by spies. barbara starr is at the pentagon. she's got the details. a lot of people didn't know there were underwater drones. what's going on? >> this is some of the military's closely held technology. this new report is warning foreign countries are trying to come after it. they glide deep under water. no crew on board. sensors gather intelligence about everything from the movement of warships to port security. the u.s. military leads the world in developing these classified, unmanned under water vehicles. other nations, especially in asia, are urgently trying to get their hands on them according to a new pentagon report.
targeting the u.s. is a global program. in 2010, the pentagon witnessed a stunning increase of over 140% in attempts to get military information of all types. industry reports everything from phone calls asking for pricing and technical information to cyber attacks aimed at outright stealing. >> if it's a choice between stealing our technology and developing your own, it's a lot cheaper to try to steal our good stuff than develop it with your own money. >> john pike says china is most likely behind much of the effort to steal the u.s.'s secrets. >> the chinese are interested in under water drones the same reason everybody else is. over the last decade, we've seen this explosion of activity in ariel drones and everybody believes that under water drones are going to be the next great thing. >> the pentagon found more than 70% of all attempts to get access to this technology came from east asian and pacific
nations, but the report does not name countries. it's a region getting increased military attention. leon panetta now in asia, promises stronger ties in the face of growing chinese military power and an unstable north korea. >> wee going to maintain our presence. not only maintain our presence, but strengthen our presence in the pacific region. >> of course, there are commercial use for this type of technology. monitoring fisheries, even searching for old ship wrecks. >> thanks very much for that. a new show of burning anger in the middle east. women taking part in an unprecedented protest. also, a new piece of black beard's legacy and it's real. our new polls show mitt romney is the republican to beat in four critical states. stand by. ford buy every year? over 3 million. you say you can beat any advertised price on tires?
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an historical treasure is bought up from the ocean floor. lisa sylvester is monitoring that. what's going on? >> this is pretty cool, wolf. crews have recovered a cannon from the pirate, blackbeard's ship. 300 years after the ship wrecked off north carolina. and the u.s. supreme court will announce next month whether it will consider a constitutional challenge to president obama's health care reform law. there are several appeals pending and it's almost certain the court will accept one of the cases. unprecedented act of defiance in yemen. the first time in the nine-month uprising, thousands of women burned their veils today. they say government forces are
killing women and children and calling on tribal leaders to speak out against the attack and check out these new images of space of hurricane rina approaching the coast of mexico. it is expected to make landfall tomorrow. there is some good news. rina has weakened to a category 1 storm. >> we'll continue to track it. thanks very much. we're getting an early read on the republican presidential race in four critical states, but the fight for the gop nomination is very much up for grabs. stand by. and candidate rick perry is revisiting the controversy over president obama's birth certificate again. :00 a.m. scho. the two trains and a bus rider. the "i'll sleep when it's done" academic. for 80 years, we've been inspired by you. and we've been honored to walk with you to help you get where you want to be.
looking pretty good for romney in four early voting states. our brand new cnn "time" poll shows romney narrowly leading the gop pack in iowa with herman cain a close second. the former massachusetts governor is a whopping 27 points ahead in new hampshire. romney narrowly edges out cain from the top spot in south carolina and holds a significant lead in florida. >> look, it's very clear to the people of america that president obama while he's a nice guy is just over his head.
that he doesn't have a plan to get america back to work and he's talking about a new stimulus. the first one didn't work. why in the heck would we adopt his second stimulus when we saw the results of his first stimulus? >> gloria borger is with us. why is he doing this? >> he is clearly the beneficiary of rick perry's decline. when you look deeper into our numbers, you see that he is even making enroads. get this, with evangelical voters in states like iowa and south carolina, that would seem to be rick perry territory. but it is really moving over to romney. when you consider iowa, wolf, four years ago when romney ran, he was defeated there. it was a big problem for his campaign. he's been a little bit nervous about whether to make a play in iowa this time, but if you look at our poll, he's doing so well, i would bet now that he actually goes into iowa because even if
he comes in second, he can still spin it as a victory, so these numbers are quite good for him. >> herman cain does well in iowa. what about these other three states? >> he's holding up, but he's going in the wrong direction and for instance, let's take the state of florida. very important early state. two weeks ago in the nbc "wall street journal" poll, romney and cain were tied, but if you look at our poll now, you see romney ahead by 12 points up on herman cain. romney and cain are actually tied with tea party voters. which is really incredible. as for perry at 9%, it looks like florida senior citizens are abandoning him. you find that mitt romney has three times as many seniors supporting him. as perry. so, you see that that whole notion of social security being a ponzi scheme, not so popular
with seniors in the state of florida and a huge opportunity for mitt romney. >> yesterday, i read about it on my blog, if viewers want to check. >> may not help him. >> there's still a couple of months until january 3rd, which is the republican caucus in iowa and a week later, the primaries. not a whole lot of time, but it seems enough time for these interleague r number to change. >> it's clear they are auditioning people. they don't know you have tea partiers saying we're not so sure about mitt romney, so we want to take a look at these other candidates, but look at these numbers on voters who might change their minds. we asked, could you change your mind. florida, 50%, iowa, 62%. new hampshire, 58% and south carolina, 56. absolutely nothing is settled
and as you say, ten weeks before the iowa caucuses. not a lot of time. >> these numbers a lot more important than the national numbers. >> so good news for romney, but it doesn't mean that he's going to win these four states. >> he's still got a lot of work to do. watch this next r report. rick perry appears to be trying to move beyond what he calls a distraction for his presidential campaign. texas governor now says he has no doubt, repeat no doubt, president obama is in fact a united states citizen. governor perry created a stir by echoing donald trump's concerns that the birth certificate the president released may not be valid. >> i don't think i was expressing doubts. i was having some fun with donald trump. look, it's fun to you know, lighten up a little bit. >> so, you have no doubt he's an american citizen? >> i have no doubt about it.
>> donald trump says he's still skeptical. the real estate celebrity spoke with piers morgan and the controversy and about the possible fallout for governor perry. >> do you accept what he produced is is valid? >> no, i say he might have been. >> you are a smart guy. >> my gut tells me a couple of things. number one, it took a long time to produce this certificate and when it came out, as you know, check out the internet, many people say it is not real. okay? that it's a forgery. that's what they say. you know what? okay, fine. but they go over and it lots of different things and republicas. and the other thing is nobody's been able to see the day of his birth, they had twins born, another one born. nobody has able to find any records he has been born in that hospital. >> do you think politically r
for rick perry, it's a positive for him. >> i think it's good for him in the republican primary, i don't know if it's good in the general election. >> you can see the full interview tomorrow night right here on cnn, 9:00 p.m. eastern. getting all fired up over a herman cain campaign ad. plenty of comedians are. usual spot. that's coming up. and what will the united states be like if there's no middle class? jack cafferty and your e-mail and a lot more news coming up.
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right back to jack for the cafferty file. jack? >> question this hour is what will the united states be like if there is no middle class? david in florida writes, no place i want to live in. a cross between a banana republic and europe in the dark and middle ages an entrenched, inherited social and economic elite and the rest of us with no where to go. take out a supporting pillow like that and things change. generally for the worse. richard in kansas writes, imagine futile america. the rich living in castles surrounded by high walls and protected by well-armed security
while the rest of us toil away and struggle to survive in our crime ridden ghettos. sounds silly but we're not that far from that right now. i only hope we take up our pitch forks and storm the castle gates before it's too late. sam writes the u.s. will be a lot like a lot of places overseas. mansions and penthouses in one area, slum houses in garbage dumps in another. the own airing springs. just a spark away from turning into a civil war. paul in texas writes, all we need to do is look at mexico. today it has very little, if any, middle class and we can also expect the same problems they're having to deal with. huge gangs and control of entire states and control of almost everything. if we lose the middle class, the backbone of the united states will be gone. roy in florida writes, simple, jack, catch a flight to havana, you'll see an experience what it is like first hand. larry in denver, you must have
missed the latest news report. there is no middle class. while we talk about the what ifs, it already happened. you're either very, very rich or you can't get by, it's poor. it means the middle class just became poor. what will happen if the middle class can't return to the next generation. it's just around the corner. john writes, a republican paradise. if you want to read more on this, go to my blog cnn.com/caffertyfile. wolf? >> thank you, jack, see you tomorrow. thank you. a political ad so unusual, some thought it was actually a hoax. now herman cain's campaign ad showing his chief of staff smoking is all the rage on late night tv. the best parities and more coming up next. ♪ girl started blowing up their credit score ♪ ♪ she bought a pizza party for her whole dorm floor ♪ ♪ hundred pounds of makeup at the makeup store ♪ ♪ and a ticket down to spring break in mexico ♪ ♪ but her folks didn't know 'cause her folks didn't go ♪
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and we'll provide the coverage you need at the right price. liberty mutual auto insurance -- responsibility. what's your policy? i tell you what i can spend. i do my best to make it work. i'm back on the road safely. and i saved you money on brakes. that's personal pricing. herman cain's smoking campaign, the commercial, i should point out, is a comedian's dream. cnn's jeanne moos hand out the award for best parity. >> reporter: suddenly, everybody is pretending to smoke. and it's all because this man, herman cain's chief of staff. >> we can take this country back. ♪ >> reporter: one little drag in
a campaign ad. >> you know, i'm not the only one that smokes in america. >> reporter: now everyone is inhaling his smoke. >> i'm on a drug and it's call. >> reporter: that's from a group in south carolina asking herman cain, what are you smoking? not since the famous witch ad. >> i'm not a witch. >> reporter: have we seen a political spot so parity. we thought we would hand out the smoke ad award to some of our favorites. we award one measly smoke ring. >> rich lowery here, chief economic adviser for herman cain. ♪ i am america >> reporter: and for all those who replace the cigarette with booze, we award two smoke rings.
♪ i am america >> reporter: our three smoke ring award goes to conan's show for most imaginative prop. we award jimmy kimmel and his crew four smoke rings for inventive voiceover. >> i'm herman cain and i approve cigarettes. and if that doesn't make me sound crazy, check out this smile. >> reporter: herman cain's smile that takes eight seconds to develop prompted stephen colbert to challenge cain to a small smile contest. >> go. >> reporter: colbert managed to stretch his smile 25 seconds. the coveted five smoke rings award goes to the colbert report for replacing smoking with sniffing. >> i'm herman cain's personal assistant. we hope you share our vision.
♪ i am america >> reporter: by the way, we'd like to destow a shortened lifetime achievement award to the human smoke machine who provided us with our smoke screen. jeanne moos, cnn, new york. >> leave it to jeanne moos, thank you very much. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." the news continues next on cnn. thanks, wolf. good evening, everyone. exclusive new polls from the early nomination battleground states shows mitt romney as the clear frontrunner in the republican presidential race. in iowa, new hampshire and south carolina, romney leads with herman cain as his closest challeng challenger. the numbers don't lie and they tell you that romney has a chance to lock up the nomination in the next 100 days. all four of those states will have voted by then. hold the inevitability talk. just in the last 24 hours another glaring example of