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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  January 20, 2012 4:00pm-6:00pm EST

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and vote if they wanted to. that causes a problem for democrats, because if they switch their allegiance, they can't vote on the democratic primary or whatever, you nknow. so complications. >> complications. joe brooke, thanks very much. happy now, with voting less than a day away. a key adviser says he could lose. newt gingrich is gaining strength despite or because of. the latest allegations about his personal life. mitt romney is daring her to defend president obama, so the democratic chairwoman debbie wasserman schultz joins me to take up the challenge. amateur night at the apollo. president obama thrills the audience by copying al green.
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and he's no longer in the race, but the comedian stephen colbert is trying to drum up votes anyway, sort of. you've got to see this. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." it's the final push in the south carolina. the candidates have tried to squeeze in every minute of campaigning into this, the last day before the primary. as mitt romney tries to hold onto a lead, newt gingrich is using what could have been a very damaging spotlight on his personal life. he's trying to turn it around to his advantage. let's go live to joe johns, he's in south carolina. he has the very latest. joe?
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>> reporter: wolf, newt gingrich just wrapping up an appearance in orangeburg, south carolina. a hue high-energy crowd essentially ending what had been a very tumultuous race for south carolina. the picture of the day was gingrich's wife calista well positioned in front of the cameras reading her children's book to kids. it was a jarring contrast with given rich's ex-wife marianne, whose interview with abc news roiled the last days of campaigning with her assertion that he watched an open marriage between himself, marianne and calis calista. >> he always called me at night, always ended with "i love you" while she was there listening. >> john king got the reaction of the night when he asked the former speaker about his
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ex-wife's allegations. >> i think the destructive vision nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country makes it harder to -- and i am appalled you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that. every person in here knows personal pain. every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things. to take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question in a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything i can imagine. the former speaker has gotten a long way blasting the media, though this will surely go down as one of the his most memorable moments. the gingrich method attacked the premise and questioner showed indig nance and finished strong.
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>> newt gingrich won that presidential debate and maybe the south carolina primary by turning john king's question on its head, going after the vicious negative news media, deflecting attention from his own admitted personal past misconduct, and making the press, which is not very popular in republican circles in a state like south carolina, the issue. >> reporter: the allegation only added to an otherwise disjointed final day of campaigning before the south carolina primary. the former speaker had to cancel one appearance at a southern republican leadership conference event in this huge empty space in the college of charleston because of lack of attendance, though he was heard telling a man on a hospital tour that he could feel the momentum of the race. the former speaker again just wrapping up an event in orangeburg, south carolina. he's been unusually tight-lipped here on the last day, as if he said everything he needed to say
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last night in the debate. wolf, back to you. >> joe, thank you. coming out of his win in new mexico, there was some talk that -- becoming unstoppable with a victory in south carolina, but now on the eve of the primary his own advisers say the race is, quote, real tight and a key strategist said he could even lose south carolina. romney himself speaking carefully about his chances. listen to this. >> well, we have a long process ahead of us, 1150 delegates to get. i sure would like to win south carolina, but i know that if those polls were right, regardless of who gets the final number, we're both going to get a lot of delegates. i want as many as i can get. i want the most delegates coming out of south carolina, but i don't know what the numbers will be. i'm pretty confident, cautiously optimistic. romney says the race still looks neck and neck, but he calls that a pretty good spot to be in.
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sometimes the best defense is to attack. we told you houses newt gingrich went on the defensive last night, lashing out when asked about an embarrassing allegation. here's the entire unedited exchange with the moderator cnn's john king. >> as you know, your ex-wife gave an interview to abc news and another enter view with "the washington post," and this story has gone viral on the internet. in it she says you came to her in 1999 at a time, and she says you asked her to enter into an open marriage. would you like to take some time to respond to that? >> no, but i will. [ cheers and applause ] >> i think -- i think the destructive, vicious negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract
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decent people to run for public office, and i am appalled you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that. [ cheers and applause ] >> let me finish. every person in here knows personal pain. every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things. to take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question in a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything i can imagine. my two daughters -- my two daughters wrote the head of abc and made the point that it was
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wrong, that they should pull it, and i am frankly astounded that cnn would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate. >> as you noted, mr. speaker, this story did not come from our network. as you always know it's a subject of conversation on the campaign. i get your point. >> john, it was repeated by your network. you chose to start the debate with it. don't try to blame anyone else. you and your staff chose to start the debate with it. now, let me be quite clear. let me be quite clear. the story is false, every personal friend i have who knew us in that period says the story was false. we offered several of them to abc to prove it was false. they weren't interested, because they would like to attack any republican, they're attacking the governor, they're attacking me, i'm sure thee get around to
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senator santorum and congressman paul. i'm tired of the elite madia protecting barack obama by attacking -- >> they certainly had the crowd there. john is here with me in "the situation room." i can't tell you how many people have said to me last night and today, what was john thinking as he was being berated like that? >> it's a tough spot to be in, and i understand the former speaker's role. he was a politician playing to that audience. he said we brought this into the race. i would make the point his ex-wife brought this into the race. wolf, this was not an easy decision. we wrestled with this. number one, the timing was curious, why did she come fright right before the primary. the speaker has a history. you know he's doing this to you, to chris wallace, to the nbc team. he doesn't like the question, he tunnels it into an attack in the media. and the crowds in the debate this year, that applause, it's a good political moment.
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in the end, we wrestled with all this and came down to the simple thing, our jobs as reporters is to ask the about the news, we decided -- i decided that we were going to do it, and we decided don't be cute or hide it as any other part of the discussion, just ask the speaker, you know, you have to take your lumps. i stand by the decision. i had my job to do. he's a politician. he had his jobs to do. >> you did have exchange after the debate, you spoke to him privately. >> he came up during the first break, and said it's a great debate, and i laugh and i thought it was despicable, and he said, you know how it works, and after the debate they both came, and we revisited the back and forth. he didn't appreciate the question. i completely understand that. he did what he thought he needed to do in the room there. if you listen to what he said, again we bringing it forward, his ex-wife came forward. do any of is like wandering through these stories. we don't. it was the story of the day. we made the decision.
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i completely understand and respect anyone who disagrees, saying it doesn't belong in a debate. we wrestled in it. >> and very embarrassing story in the end, but he managed to turn it into a potential political gain for him only a couple days before the primary, potentially. >> there is no question that it's a time proven, he's done it in the debate season a red meat republican line, attack the media, it's a liberal media elite. he woven applause in that room even from people who are not gingrich supporters. a lot of people thinks this moment -- i wasn't trying to help him or hurt him. we'll watch -- i had some breakfast with voters this morning, one was a gingrich supporter, she said she's processed all this, the character questions, and she believes he's the best candidate. two our undecided voters said they were wrestling with this, and in the he answered in the
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end, he called his ex-wife a liar. earlier in the day he did not answer that question. and two undecided voters i talked to this morning said -- were you surprised the other candidates ran away from the story? >> senator santorum touched on it briefly. no, given the reaction in the room, the candidates -- and we've seen this in these debates. the debates have been remarkable to give candidates time to breathe. with the audience playing off the audience is becoming part of the cycle, part of the politics. >> john king moderating an excellent debate last night. >> thank you. the republican candidates are hammering president obama and newt gingrich is talking about his, quote, level of radicalism. we'll talk about that more with the chairman of the commit aye, the congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz is standing by. plus a cyberattack on the justice department. experts believe it was retaliation for a dot-com crackdown.
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a hugely popular website shut down. it's a major case highlight in the growing debate of copyright pyrery. cnn's brian todd has the details. >> reporter: this is about the u.s. government essentially declaring wart on copyrighted
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material. at a swampg mansion in auckland, new zealand, a vintage cadillac, other high-end vehicles are hauled away. the man living there arrested, police say, after bar kaying himself and being found next to a shotgun. he kim schmitz. police say this about kim.com. >> arrested on warrants related to breach of copyright offenses in the united states, money laundering, and racketeering. >> reporter: it's one of the u.s. government's biggest antipiracy crackdowns ever. officials say he ran the megaupload, a favorite of pop stars who sing its praises if a promotional video.
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official afc it was a popular hub no illegal downloading. a man identified by the tech website cnet as an attorney for megaupload said the government's case is wrong on the merits. experts say part of the operation is legitimate. people can send non-copyrighted material to be shared with others, but officials say that it allowed people to send links to copyrighted movies lie the new requests twilight" films. officials say megaupload duplicated those links. u.s. officials say that meant people at megaupload not only knew they had pirated material but helped to distribute it. federal officials have shut down the website, but when they did that, hack-tivists temporarily
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knocked the justice department's website off-line. >> i think we will see this. it's an example of the did you gettal wars that exist all over the world with a whole variety of topics, not just copyrighted material. >> reporter: this operation comes as the battle in congress intensifies over new legislation that would require internet providers in the u.s. to block sites that offer pirated material. time warner, the parent company of cnn, is among the industry supporters of those bills. internet companies like google oppose them. there's been speculation that this operation to take down megaupload is timed to coincide with this battle. department of justice officials tell us this has nothing to do with the legislation, that this investigation has been going on for nearly two years, wolf. brian, do federal official know how much money these people made from allegedly trafficking
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this pirated material? >> they say it was a heck of a lot. they generated more than $175 million in criminal proceeds. officials in the u.s. and elsewhere seized about $50 million of assets. interestingly enough they are three people they were looking for who are still out there, still at large. >> uncharted territory in certain degrees. thank you, brian. congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz is standing by. are the attacks crossing a line? i know we're going to hit it hard from president obama, but we're going to stuff it down his throat. helped us build it. ♪ now i'm a geologist at chevron, and i get to help science teachers. it has four servo motors and a wireless microcontroller. over the last three years we've put nearly 100 million dollars into american education. that's thousands of kids learning to love science. ♪
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lisa is monitoring the top stories. what's going on? >> wolf, new data shows an overall gain in home sales in 2011, thanks to a strong end of the year spike. the national association of realtors reports that the sales pace in december hit 4.6 million homes.
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that is the smallest since early 2005. this amazing video was shot yesterday. a fast-moving brush fire is causing mass evacuations near reno, nevada. at least 10,000 people are trying to dodge a fire stretching more than 3,000 acres. nevada's governor is declaring a state of emergency to free up resources. no deaths are reported. listen up. if you're a kia driver, the car company is recalling more than 140,000 vehicles due to faulty air bags. the defective models are the 2006 through 2008 opt mas and 2007-2008 rondos -- the ntsb says the driver's side airbag may not properly deploy. the recall is expected to begin in march, wolf. thank you, lisa. mitt romney dares her to defend president obama. she will join me to take up that challenge. and president obama singing likal green.
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you need to see it, you need to hear it. what he did at the legendary apolla theater in harlem. plus a wacky campaign rally. including herman cain and stephen colbert. you won't believe what they're up to right now. without missing a beat. fly without putting your life on pause. be yourself nonstop. american airlines.
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this just coming into "the situation room." let me update our viewer.
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it involves syria. the united states has maintained diplomatic relations with syria over these troubled months. more than 5,000 have been killed protesting. but we're learning the obama administration is considering closing the united states embassy in damascus over security concerns the embassy only has a handful of staff working for the ambassador, who recently returned to damascus. most of the embassy staff evacuated earlier in the year. the diplomatic team was further reduced last week. once again, the u.s. considering closing its embassy in damascus. our own arwa damon is on the ground, we'll speak to her. she's been doing some amazing coverage, but this is a significant development.
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the candidates are lashing out as obama and daring democrats to defend him. joining us a member of congress herself, debby wagger man shultz thanks for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. >> i want you toly on what the front-runner said about you earlier today. listen to this. this morning on fog she was talking about how great things are, what a wonderful job the president has done. i hope she keeps that message up there, keeps on talking about a a great job he's doing. i hope she keeps talking about that, because if we're talking about his record, he's going to lose.
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>> madam chairwoman, go ahead and respond. >> we must be getting under his skin a bit if he feels the need to bring up the chair of the national committee and the things i say, whether it's against him and his terrible record or in support of president obama's remarkable record. bringing us from bleeding 750,000 jobs a month, now going forward three years later, we've had 22 straight months of job growth in the private sector. last month 200,000 jobs were created in the private sector. since 1997, we've had more jobs created in manufacturing than since 1997. he he can absolutely count on me
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touting his record, and beginning to get this economy turned around, compared to the desire and the focus of mitt romney, which is to drag us back to the policies that got us into this economic mess in the first place, someone who wants to stand up for people who are already doing well so they can do even better and to heck with working families. i don't know if you had a chance to watch the debate last night, but it was heated among the candidates, but it they really went after president obama. i want you to responsible. listen to this. >> the president of the united states can't cut one penny out of the social well fair system and wants to cut a trillion out of our military and hit our veterans, and that's disgusting. >> i know we're going to hit it hard for president obama, but we're going to stuff it down the throat and point out it's capitalism and freedom that
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makes america strong. the level of radicalism in his second term will be truly frightening. >> so let me ask you this question -- is this kind of rhetoric against a sitting president just politics, business as usual, or is it over the top? >> the rhetoric that the candidates running for president on the other side of the aisle used last night was stunning. it was stunning in its outrageousness, and stunning in the goal that they have to say or do anything, what was most stunning was mitt romney playing business hi own set of rules. when john king asked him if he would release 12 years of tax
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returns, because his father said when he ran for president, releasing just one year could indicate an anomaly, he had so much conviction in his answer, he said maybe. he has a pattern of a total lack of commitment. there's a contrast between any of the candidates and president obama, and we'll continue to point out he's been fighting to make sure we can balance the cuts we know we need to make to reduce the deficit, at the same time making sure that everyone in america pays their fair share, that we have a tax rate that makes sense and we make sure that people like mitt romney's secretary don't pay a higher tax rate than he does. there are millions of middle-class families as we
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learned tuesday millions of american families pay taxes at a higher rate that romney does. that's unacceptable. >> long-term capital gains, that's what the rate is, the law of the land. >> that's right, there sure isn't, but what's unfortunate and unacceptable is he refuses to come clean, won't release his tax returns, isn't even committing that once he releases any that he'll release multiple years. no one begrudges anyone's accomplishments or sense. what we do begrudge is a candidate like mitt romney, who believes it's only people already doing well that deserve a tax policy that hips them. president obama has been fiblgting for a tax policy to allow everyone to be successful. >> are you ready to receive all
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they candidates in your mom state of florida in the coming days? >> we looking forward to rolling out the red carpet in the sunshine state. me especially. i can't wait until they get there. >> there will be millions of commercials on local television stations. i'm sure you'll be happy to accept those. >> we're looking for them boosting the economy in florida. >> congresswoman, thanks very much for coming in. >> thanks, wolf. the republican hopefuls aren't the only ones pushing hard. we'll talk about it in our strategy session. >> i would wake up every single day fighting as hard as i can for you. i am just as determined now as i was then. not quite knowing what the next phase was going to be, you know, because you been, you know, this is what you had been doing. you know, working, working, working, working, working, working. and now you're talking about, well you know, i won't be, and i get the chance to spend more time
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let's get right to our strategy session. joining us the democratic strategist maria cardona, the conservative columnist will cain of theblaze.com. newt gingrich might potential win south carolina, but listen
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to what he said in the debate. >> i think the destructive visual negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office, and i am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that. >> pretty effective in that room, will, but how effective will it be when people vote tomorrow, trying to defuse the accusatio accusations? >> i think pretty effective. actually starting with jon huntsman dropping out, op to perry dropping out and then john king's question which i think inadvertently will help newt. it's hard to see how it's not been a phenomenal week. wolf, there is a silver lining
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for mitt romney. rick santorum has had a good week as well. i thought he won the debate, which means the field remains fractured, good for mitt romney. >> i just left south carolina. it looks like the momentum is certainly there in south carolina with newt gingrich. >> i think that's exactly right here. i will say this, though, i think last night's question the way he answered it was a home run. it worked very very well for him. i think it's all going to depend on when they go out to vote tomorrow. as you know, he does not do very well with women. he certainly does better with men. i think it depends on how many women saw the interview with his ex-wife and how many will think about whether that really matters in terms of their social conservative values.
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so i think it's a bit of a question mark, though i think the momentum is certainly on his side and there is a distinct possibility he could take south carolina tomorrow. >> and then opens the field going into florida. i heard some of the rhetoric really hammering away at president obama you heard newt gingrich saying a second term woog absolutely frightening. it was pretty heated, the rhetoric. the president was speaking at a fund-raiser himself. his rhetoric is a little different. >> i said in 2008, i'm not a perfect map i'm not a perfect president, but i -- i promise you that i've kept that promise i made to you in 2008, i would always tell you what i thought i
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would always tell you what i stood, and i would wake up every single day fighting as hard as i am for you. i'm just as determined now as i was then. >> he's taking a much higher road right now. you don't see him slamming any of the potential gop candidates. >> i don't know if i agree with that premises. he's been giving speeches where the other side basically has no compassi compassion, that the coven serve tiffs absolutely want to gut education and infrastructure. i'll tell you where he does distinguish himself, does sonde different. i think he sounds different than the guy in 2008. that doesn't sound like the man who stood in the stadium in denver with thousands of men who was upbeat, hope and change.
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he's trying to sell himself yes, imperfect, but still working hard. that doesn't mean it won't be effective, but it's different. >> the difference is he's not he's talking about the other side. some of his aides like david plouffe can say mitt romney doesn't have a core or whatever. that's why you have surrogates, but the difference between the way the republicans are blasting the president by name and he's still avoiding mentioning any by name, that's probably a deliberate strategy. >> absolutely. it's because he doesn't really need to. frankly i think it will be incredibly effective going into the general election. what he is doing right now is focusing on the contrast that this election is going to be about. he talks constantly about fighting for the middle class, about fighting for workers, for
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families, for veterans, seniors and children. yes, he does make the contrast about how the other side olympics policies will do everything to fight for the 1%. for millionaires and billionnary, which i think is why he's been so hesitant to give us his tax returns. i think that is a contrast that is absolutely a winning contrast going into this general election where the economy is still very fragile. >> maria and will, thank you very much. we'll continue this conversation. stand by. >> thank you. we want to get back to the breaking news. the obama administration may be several diplomatic relations with syria shutten down the u.s. embassy in damascus, recalling the u.s. ambassador. jill, what do we know?
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the latest is from a senior officials, who says there's growing kernel about the u.s. personnel in that embassy, and the united states we are told is skiing syria to provide more security around the embassy. but the big issue is they're not quite sure whether the syrians will follow thus. it's a dangerous situation and that's why they're considering shutting down the embassy. >> there's still a syrian embassy in washington, but the ambassador mustafa is gone. he's in china right now, right? >> i believe he is, wolf. remember, the u.s. embassy in damascus has been, up until pretty recently one embassy where the ambassador was really out, out traveling around the country. robert ford, he has been carrying the message, talking with the opposition, a really
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potent symbol of the united states in its concern for what's going on if he were pulled out, it would be very significant. it would leave the place essentially dark. right now you're seeing a lot of death and destruction and without the eyes and ears that the embassy can provide, it could get even worse. >> the united states has more than 5,000 people, mostly peaceful protesters have been killed, thousands have been arrested they disappeared, many more have been injured. all right, jill, thanks very much. our own arwa damon is in syria. she'll join us live in our next hour. also, the president of the united states, president obama soul singer. the president wows a crowd at harlem's famed apollo theater by doing an al green impersonation. you'll hear it. and what is comedian stephen
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colbert doing at this very bizarre south carolina campaign rally?
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lisa joins me to discuss this. president obama was bussing raising campaign funds. the president followed the legendary soul singer al green by crooning a couple lines from "let's stay together." >> i didn't know that reverend al green was here --
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♪ i ♪ i'm so in love with you [ cheers and applause ] those guys didn't think i would do it. i told you i was going to do it. the sand man did not come out. don't worry, rev, i cannot sing like you, but i just wanted to show my appreciation. >> he did a nice job, lisa. let me remind our viewers, here's a bit of the real al green. ♪ i ♪ i'm so in love with you ♪ whatever you want to do ♪ is all right with me
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>> the president has a pretty good voice. lisa, remember this from the 2008 campaign? >> and to the queen the soul, aretha franklin, i started singing for her a little bit. ♪ chain chain chain ♪ chain of fools >> all right. i wasn't going to do that, but -- >> not bad. maybe he should keep his day job. >> i actually thought he was excellent, particularly with his al green. i think there are a lot of people saying who knew the president could actually carry a tune? i heard you on the conference call, wolf. i know you can carry a tune. >> i like to pretend. he's definitely got a good al
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green, aretha franklin, maybe not so much, but al green, he was very, very cool. i would love to hear him sing a few more bars. maybe he'll do it. it worked at the apollo theater. >> the next time you interview him, you'll have to ask him to sing personally. that's a clip we'll definitely plate here in the sit room. >> i love that song from al green, too. i a great song. thanks, will issa. mitt romney losing ground in south carolina and beyond on the eve of a critical primary? we have dao el tails. plus the most unusual campaign event of the day. i am not going to answer the gotcha question -- am i interested in an open marriage? though i am flattered that newt gingrich asked me. imagine living your life with less chronic low back pain. imagine you, with less pain. cymbalta can help.
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soldiers rehears an upcoming stunt. and in hong kong, a girl in festive clothing looks through a balloon toy at the chinese new year flower market t pictures coming in from around the world. on the primary each comedy central stephen colbert, supposedly exploring a possible white house run and former cant herman cain. colbert isn't on the ballot, so he says vote for herman cain, who says vote for someone else, because he doesn't want any votes wasted. even threw in a song. look at this. >> i want to thank cnn for letting us squat on their news zone. a special thanks to my dear friend anderson cooper, the silver surfer of cable news. stay fit, my friend.
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before i introduce the man who we've all gathered see to introduce me, i want to salute the other candidates in the race. i think people are hungering for a positive campaign. i'm not going to go after this man's opponents. i won't be saying thing like the difference between mountain romney and a statue of mitt romney is that a statue never changes position. that's not positive, not even to the statue. it would be wrong to say if you guess ron paul's real name, he has to teach you how to spin straw into gold. i'm not going to do it. and i am not going to answer the gotcha question -- am i interested in an open marriage, though i am flattered newt gingrich asked me. you see, i didn't come here to criticize anyone. i came here to praise one man, one her-man. important note a her-man is not
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the same as a she-male. i don't want to frighten off any santorum voters. anybody who knows me knows that i believed in the message of herman cain for several days now. and for so many reasons, herman cain is a business leader. herman cain is a family man, herman cain is an outsider, in fact such an outsider he's not even running for president anymore. he's a man with ideas, a man with conviction, a man with a bus with his face on it. gandhi didn't have that. i want you to vote for herman cain, because herman cain is me. we both refuse to play by washington rules. we both flaunt convexes, and how many bekis are in uzbekistan.
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i say three, he says four. >> mr. colbert could not get on the ballot. i can't not get off the ballot you that's how this came about. stephen colbert asked you to vote for herman cain i amount going to ask you to not vote for herman contain, and here's why. i don't want you to waste your vote. >> i've got another surprise for you, don't worry. i've got another surprise. i tell you what i'm going to do. i was not going to let stephen colbert show me up singing. ♪ believe there's a reason to e be ♪ ♪ believe that you can make time
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stand still ♪ ♪ and know from the moment you try if you believe ♪ ♪ you know you will that is one extraordinary campaign. thanks very much stephen colbert and herman cain. to our viewers in "the situation room," the last full day of campaigning is almost over. mitt romney appears to be losing steam. now he's making a demand of his most threatening rival newt gingrich. plus arwa damon is inside syria just as news is breaking of the u.s. potential closing its embassy there. we're live in damascus, and your own body heat can reveal if you're hiding a gun. police say it will keep the streets safer, but we'll show
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you why privacy watch dogs say we should all be afraid. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in the cnn election center. you're in "the situation room." this probably isn't where mitt romney hoped he would be just hours before the voting begins in south carolina. he not only appears to be losing ground in the first southern primary state. his lead nationally is shall rimpging as well. he was 16 points ahead a day earlier, and it's all adding up to a much more competitive contest tomorrow than romney, a lot of other folks had expected, so he's taking a new jab at one of the newt gingrich's
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vulnerable spots. jim accost l.a. joins us with the latest. jim? >> wolf, envelopedible no more. mitt romney appears to be downplaying expectations for tomorrow's south carolina primary, but ratcheting up the rhetoric just in case he can eek. eke out a victory. >> here comes the rain. my goodness. >> reporter: when it rains it pours. this morning shower that greeted romney was a chilly reminder that not everything has gone his way. his sizable lead has all but evaporated. that's why team romney tried a new line of attack calling on the former speaker to release nits and all documents from the ethics -- >> i would do it all at once. >> reporter: in is the 97 gingrich became the first speaker to be penalized by congress when he was reprimanded and ordered to pay a-point for violating a house ethics rule.
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a gingrich spokesman said the report was all wet, noting the report is already available. >> i refuse to take seriously any requests from the romney campaign to disclose anything. >> my taxes are carefully managed, and i pay a lot of taxes. >> reporter: but romney is facing disclosure, after he was booed at the debate. >> you were booed and jeered during that -- >> people from other campaigns are in the audience, so different campaigns cheer and boo at different people based on the interesting -- >> reporter: if i could finish my question, sir. >> yes. >> reporter: can you concerned the varying ways you answered that question might feed into the feel that some republicans have that you are a waffler. >> no action at the very beginning i indicated i didn't have any plans to release my tax returns and that became clear that was of great interest. >> reporter: for the first time he said he would release
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multiple -- >> we'll have more than one year. >> and we are going to ride the wave, which is mitt romney for president. >> reporter: but the top surrogate, governor nikki haley chastised the media for repeatedly raise the issue. >> nobody is talking about tax returns. they want drp. >> reporter: it was on this rainy that, noting gingrich's advantage as a southerner. >> speaker gingrich is from a neighboring state, well known, so i knee we would have a long road ahead of us, and frankly to be in a neck and neck race in this last moment is kind of exciting. >> and romney argues he's the best prepared. >> we're going to go on 230 a long race, and i think you have the staying power and a message that i believe connects with people. >> reporter: earlier today
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romney reminded reporters that he finished fourth in this state four years ago. he will not repeat that performance, but wolf, he's not going to drive the other rivals out of the this race either. let's dig deeper. joining us to talk more, our chief political analyst gloria borger. the whole issue of releasing his tax returns, he says he'll do it in april, release more than just one year. how is that playing? you're watching what's going on in south carolina. >> well, what's very interesting to me, wolf, when you talk to people in the romney campaign, even this admit that mitt romney seems to be having a very difficult time when discussing his personal wealth. whether it's a question of disclosure on the tax returns or just talking about how wealthy he is. you know, the issue of the wealth gap, the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer is clearly going to be a central issue in the general election,
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yet romney is having a very difficult time finding his own comfort level in how he talks about wealth with other republicans. i mean, he's already disclosed that he paid a 15% top rate in a republican primary. you would think that wouldn't be a terrible thing to admit, because republicans want to low ser tax rates after ought, but he can't seem to get it out, and as jim was saying, what he's done is try to turn the tables on newt gingrich to talk about the ethics, but i don't think that's going to stick. >> you know, it looks like the whole romney campaign is trying to lower expectations, gloria, right now, they might not necessarily win in south carolina. they're suggesting this is newt gingrich's home turn, that south carolina is to georgia what maybe new hampshire is to massachusetts. what are they saying to you?
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>> well, what they're saying is, they are lowering expectations, first of all. what they say is, look, if there's a blip in south carolina -- that is, if we lose south carolina, we are the only campaign with the resource and with the organization to continue all the way through to get the delegates we need if this is a contested primary. they make the case that you head onto florida, which is a very diverse state, a very expensive state. they have already been investing so they say long haul, even if there's a blip here, as they put it, we are going to go the distance, and in the end we're going to be the dominant once and win it is nomination.
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>> hold on a moment, gloria. gingrich is hitting a few bumps of its own despite the fiery debate. first a speech scheduled to be held was scrapped when hardly anyone showed up. then a town hall meeting at a charleston children's hospital suddenly changed to a media tour only, followed by a visit with some of the kids where the former speaker's wife calista, not her husband, had the spotlight. >> was a smart little guy with a curly gray trunk and a twinkling eye. he liked asking questions. he wall street eager to see how america became the land of the free. ellis went to the library and -- earlier in the dame a strong
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high-energy turnaround. only moments ago he was astounded by the size of the crowd. our gloria borger is back with more analysis right now. what do you think in the strategy on the day after a very important debate? >> well, i think it was kind of on the. i was with him at that charleston event. all you could do was walk around. he wasn't having a large rally in the morning. you would think he would want to capitalize on his newfound popularity and kind of a surge. instead, wolf, what i felt was so strange is that he put his wife calista in the forefront. i would argue -- all right. i think we lost our connection with gloria, unfortunately, but we got the point. we'll get back to her as well.
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she's on the scene in south carolina. tomorrow's primary is going down to the wire. we'll have full coverage starting here in "the situation room" at 6:00 p.m. eastern. a deadly day in afternoon leaves four coalition troops debt. plus big brother in the big apple. could police soon look under your clothes for hidden weapons? >> you can argue that's an invasion of privacy, but in the world we live in, that's something we have to live with. the alternative is intolerable. n my own restaurant. i want to be a volunteer firefighter. when i grow up, i want to write a novel. i want to go on a road trip. when i grow up, i'm going to go there. i want to fix up old houses. [ female announcer ] at aarp we believe you're never done growing. i want to fall in love again.
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sdplooz we're following the breaks news out of syria. first a warning to our viewers this next segment contains graphic images, disturbing video surfacing today, video that allegedly shows an activist detained by governmental forces several weeks ago. he appears to be badly beaten and dazed with a bruised and swollen face. it's estimated more than 5,000 people have been killed in the bloody crackdown since march and syria could be edging closer to a civil war. cnn's arwa damon is on the streets of damascus.
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>> here we have the weekly demonstration, and in the conversations that we have been having here, there does seem to be a genuine level of passion. when it comes to people expressing love for the president, but also when it comes to expressing their fears for the future. there are very grave fears, that the country among these people, at least, could descend into some sort of sectarian warfare should the president be removed from power. they do seem to firmly believe they are the victims of some sort of conspiracy. what we are here hear when it comes to the government it couldn't be more starkly different. the opposition firmly believing that the president is out to mass terr all of them.
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what seems to be an increase gill polarized nation. what both -- people here believe that it is also dead set against them, that it has no intention of uncovering the truth. the opposition feels that the arab league quite simply bought the president and the government more time. there are growing fears among both sides about what the future is going to bring, and there's very little faith that the arab league or international community will come up with a solution to save syria. arwa damon, cnn, damascus. and arwa is joining us on the phone right now from damascus. the breaking news we're following, u.s. officials telling cnn the obama administration may recall its ambassador robert ford actually shut down the u.s. embassy out of enormous security concerns.
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what's it like there on the strides? there really wore about the safety of a number of diplomats who remain in syria. >> reporter: the situation is fairly tense. you can really feel as if this dark cloud has descended on the capital. both sides are trying to grapple with various challenges that they're facing they're not just polarized against one another, but along a more global access with those people believe that the regime is a victim of this international -- when it comes to the ambassador's he's viewed also as being controversial.
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he took that strip over the summer that caused the government to accuse him of dealing with who they said were terrorists at the time. the embassy was attacked in october by government supporters. they managed to even breach the walls at one point, tear the flag down. no one was harmed, but there was also the direct threat that caused the u.s. to pull ambassador ford in damascus for his own safety. he then came back in december, but it would seem as if the situation is slowly escalating to an increasingly more violent one, so it's quite natural that the u.s. would be viewing this through the prism of a -- for its operatives on the ground, especially given how much the staff has dwindled down. >> and priority number one is the safety of the u.s. diplomats, including the ambassador. arwa, we'll stay in close touch.
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in the meantime be careful yourself. we're glad you're on the scene reporting for us. a deadly day in afghanistan, starting with six marines killed in a helicopter crash. if military officials say there was no enemy activity in the area. however, the taliban have claimed responsibility. the cause of the crash is under investigation. and an afghan soldier guns down his fellow french troops, followed by a swift reaction from france, and it's shedding light on a troubling increase in attacks by local security forces on coalition troops, including american troops. our pentagon correspondent chris lawrence is joining us with details. this disturbing development, afghan soldiering are supposedly aligned with the u.s. and nato allies, beginning to kill americans. what's going on? >> even more disturbing, wolf, the frequency of these attacks are going up, not done.
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the taliban have been found on only be behind with 20 to 23% of these attacks. some are caused by combat stress, but even something so simple as u.s. troops reprimanding them has been found to cause resentment. >> the french troops never saw it coming. on friday, their partner as afghan arm soldier turned on them and gunned down four french soldiers. >> translator: all training and operations are suspended. >> reporter: the french president was furious. he dispatched his defense mince tore to afghanistan and threatened a full withdrawal. >> translator: if the security conditions are not keerly reestablished, we will consider the early return the french soldiers to france. >> reporter: when a partner kills an allied soldier, a military calls it a green on blue incident. there have been at least 52 of
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the attacks in the last six years. that was before the number recently spiked. a pentagon spokesman says they're concerned the numbers have increased in the past few months, but the white house downplayed the surge. >> there is no indication that these incidents are linked or part of any larger coordinated effort. >> reporter: but the attacks could complicate the withdrawal plan. >> what it means is coalition forces will have to be more on guard, more cautious about their afghan counterparts. that would inhibit the time of genuine partnership you need to move forward. >> adding to the confusion, there's no motive. >> that makes it more necessary to look into the case, the reason, the background behind the story, so we can take precautionary measures, be it recruitment or in leadership to take steps that these cases do not happen against. >> both the u.s. general in charge of the war in afghanistan and defense secretary panetta have offered their condolences
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to france. secretary of state hillary clinton says they've been in close contact with the french, and have no reason to believe that france is going to pull out of the coalition. wrofl? >> there's still about 90, 95,000 u.s. troops i suspect that other european nato allies will start leaving. there's going to be increased pressure to accelerate the u.s. withdrawal, especially, as you know, chris, it's costing u.s. taxpayers $2 billion a week to maintain that u.s. presence, more than $100 billion a year. i guess the pressure is going to mount. is that pressure being felt at the pentagon? >> reporter: somewhat, wolf. again, they're having a hard time trying to discern exactly what if anything -- what specifically is motivating all these attacks, but again you made a good point. you still have 2012, '13 and '14 until this war is planned to be wound down. so, yeah, there's a long way to
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go and a lot of potential problems down the road. >> when i was in south carolina the past few days, i heard a lot of republicans who don't like negron paul, but they like his recommendations that all u.s. troops come home not only from afghanistan or iraq, but korea, japan, germany, he wants them all to come home. that seems to be resonating with some voters out there as well. chris lawrence, thanks very much. rick santorum taking aim saying grandiosity has never been his problem. >> four years into shy speakership, he was thrown out by the conservatives. there is a coupe against him in 24r50ed. i served with him. i was there. newt gingrich is under renewed fire for his long history in congress and in washington. and with two strong finishes under his belt so far, what should we expecting from ron paul in tomorrow's south carolina primary. stay with us, you're in "the situation room." copd makes it hard to breathe,
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rick santorum reigniting the battle for south carolina today, fresh off a debate that many are
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calling his strongest of the campaign. our senior congressional correspondent dana bash is traveling with the former senator. dana, there was one brief setback today. what happened? >> reporter: a bit of a mishap in the car, let's just put it that way. look, he was 40 minutes late for the first event. it didn't seem to stop his spirits from being pretty high from what you mentioned. he felt like he did well last night in the debate. the question is whether that would translate into enough votes tomorrow to keep his campaign viable. rick santorum's harried day got off to a bumpy start thanks to two flat tires on the way to -- >> metaphor alert here. >> there's no metaphor alert. we're doing great. life is good. >> reporter: the delay did not dull his sharp attacks. comparing the gop field to goldilocks and the three bears. >> one candidate that's just a
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little too radioactive, a little too hot. we want the race to be about barack obama. >> reporter: talking about about newt gingrich and here mitt romney. >> then we have a candidate who doesn't have bold plans, who doesn't have the clear contrast because of the inconsistencies, flip-flops. we need someone who is just right, someone who is a strong conviction conservative. >> reporter: meaning him. his final pitch, heavy on values, family and faith, calling himself the only true social conservative. this voter appeared to great. >> the kind of man who will be a jesus candidate. >> reporter: and teeing him up about newt gingrich's ex-wife's newest allegations. >> what is your response about -- >> personal matters are personal matters, but they are matters that particularly when you are in public life, as he was at the
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time, and the people involved were also in a sense in public life, those issues are issues that people will look at. >> reporter: santorum came from way behind in iowa, making appearances just like this, but third in most south carolina polls, he hasn't had time or organization to make that connection here yet. he's trying hard. >> do not compromise. lead. you want to be first in the south? lead. do your part. help us out, take a burcher sticker. you only have to put it on for 24 hours. >> it worked for barbara cain who came in undecided. >> i'm sold. i wasn't when i walked in, but i'm sold now. i'm going to get on the phone, facebook and tell everybody. >> reporter: how high of the stakes? santorum won't go there. how well do you have to do tomorrow to have a viable past forward? >> i've won one of two primaries. we're in a great position to be the conservative alternative. we're going to continue to make
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that case. >> reporter: santorum also noted how much has changed just in the past day, the fact that he officially won iowa, the fact that rick perry dropped out of the race, those and what he called other issues that came up in the campaign. the question, he said, is whether or not those things will penetrate with voters to make a difference for him in tomorrow's primary. wolf? >> todayena, thanks very much. he certainly didn't hold anything back last night. he's unleashed a blistering attack against newt gingrich. four years into his speakership, he was thrown out. there was a coupe against him. i served with him. i was there. i knew what the problems were when newt gingrich was leading. it was an idea a minute, no discipline, no ability to be able to pull things together.
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we asked our lisa sylvester to take a closer look. lisa, a lot of our viewers probably don't know or don't remember what it was like then, but you've gone back and done some work? >> that's right, wolf. newt gingrich was around washington for a number of years. that past record is now fair game in the presidential race. miss romney is accusing gingrich of being not so reaganesque. santorum is accusing gingrich of being grandiose. >> our new speaker, the gentleman from georgia, newt gingrich. >> reporter: he was in congress two decades, four of those year as house speaker. his former congressional colleagues give him this -- he could get things done. the takeover the congress a balanced budget and welfare reform, bus his leadership style and personal many found abrasive. among them representative peter king. >> he's too erratic, too
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self-centered. the time he was speaker was one crisis after another, and almost all self-inflicted. he puts himself at the center of everything. >> he was lamb pasted for the air force one incident, loudly complaining for having to sit in the back of the plane on the way back from israeli prime minister's rabin's funeral. he overwhelmingly reprimanded by his house colleagues over federal tax law violations, and disappointing returns in the 1998 congressional election where republicans lost seats. >> that led to a lack of faith in his strategic thinking at that point evident also some of them told me they were tired. >> grandiosity has never been a problem with newt gingrich. >> reporter: bus hi supporters say his leadership style has
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evolved. >> there is no doubt about it. he's much better than he was at being able to stroke folks, but he is a man that sees over the horizon, he knows what needs to be done. >> reporter: if santorum is hitting up gingrich for being too brash, mitt romney is criticizing for not being quite so bold, or certainly not the bold reagan conservative that gingrich has branded himself to be. >> you're you're mentioned one in ronald reagan's diary. he said you had an idea in a meeting of young contingentmen and it wasn't a very good idea and he dismissed it. >> reporter: cnn contributor and presidential historian david gergen says it's not quite so black and white. >> does he deserve credit for the reagan revolution? no, was he there, a loyal foot soldier? yes, and he learned a lot from reagan, and i must say he's been kojzant in hi support of reagan ever since. >> reporter: going back to the criticism of being grandiose,
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his reply is yes, i think grad yos thoughts, this is a grandiose country and we need leadership prepared to take on big projects. called it confidence or bravado, but it is classic newt gingrich, wolf. >> certainly is. good record. thanks very much for that. it brought back some memories of when i covered newt gingrich back in the '90s. an adviser to mitt romney says he might not win south carolina tomorrow. is he playing down expectations, or does he really thing had he'll lose? >> you may be okay having your body scanned in an airport. what about on the streets of new york city? >> oh, my god, it's fantasyland, or orwellian coming to new york city, and if it takes hold, it will ripple across america. ♪[music plays]
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they'll start voting in a few hours. let's discuss what's going on jamal simmons, and republican strategist former michele bachmann spokeswoman alice stewart. guys, thanks very much. he's sort of lowering expectations. >> we have a long process ahead of us, 1150 delegates to get. i sure would like to win south
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carolina, but i know if those polls were right, regardless of who gets the final number, we'll both get a lot of delegates. i want as many as i can get, but i don't know what the numbers will be. i'm pretty confident, kazuhisa ishilly optimistic. >> would you be surprised if he loses tomorrow, alice? not only that, what's key, anytime you get to a caucus our primary, who has the momentum. as we saw, santorum had the momentum into the caucuses. right now it appears that gingrich has momentum going into the primaries tomorrow. that will be a big factor. he also did well in the debate last night, so those two factors will help.
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i think whether it's gingrich or santorum will do well, but i think romney is in trouble, and it's smard for him to downplayed the expectations, but when you look at the big picture, with one win in iowa for santorum, even if gingrich wins here, we look to the next state and romney has the upper hand. >> newt gingrich was written off months ago after a lot of mistakes, and then he surged and did really well. now he's coming back and might wind tomorrow. >> you know, wolf, i really learned most of what i know about politics doing politics across the south. bill clinton always said it's to be strong and wrong than weak and right. newt gingrich last night took it straight to ahead.
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he came intoes as strong as he could, attack the questioner, a -- scared everybody else. on the other hand you had mitt romney, who when asked questions, you could kind of family him swirming around, and the audience booing, he's looking for a way out. so romney's got to get more comfortable with they questions about his wealth, his taxes and all these issues if he thinks he's going to be the nominee. >> why does he seem so uncomfortable talking about it, alice? >> i think he truly could have had a better response. he certainly has been out there for a few days. like it or not i think he should get them out there. but what i do think he did do well last night is make the case for capitalism. he doesn't apologize for being successful, working hard and making a lot of money, so he made a great point.
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the taxes issue is something that's been thrown out the past week. he needs to put it behind him and focus on issues that people in south carolina are concerned with, jobs and the economy. the unemployment rate here is near 10%. they want to elect someone that has real solutions for how to create jobs and help the economy here. and that's what they're looking at. who has the betts solutions in order to put these people in south carolina back to work? >> jamal, when i was in south carolina yesterday, several people who said they were going to vote for newt gingrich, you know what they said? i want to vote, because i want to see a debate between newt gingrich and president obama. what do you think of that argument? you hear it on the streets of charleston, where i was. >> i heard that when i was in iowa, who said they didn't know if he could get elected, but they did want to see him in a debate against the president.
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the thing is newt gingrich is a big personality, he knows house to fight, get in and do debates. i think over time he would not be able to take the president, his negatives are so big, but democrat it is do need to be wary. unlike mitt romney, who i think does have the personality to be a presidential candidate, maureen called him a tin man, but newt gingrich does, he knows how to fight and i think he's willing to hit some blows under the belt if that's what it takes to win. >> alice, how will ron paul do tomorrow? >> he's not doing very well in the polls. he did not do well in the debate last night. i think those are the key factors. i think what we need to see is see a unification of the faith community, whether it's santorum
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or gingrich, however -- not necessarily the anti-romney, but we need to unify behind the candidate that represents the views of south carolina. it's exciting and this process we have is great, but what we're going to see, whoever comes out of south carolina going into florida, it will be key. florida is a very big and expensive state. right now certainly romney has the upper hand on that in terms of you need the money to do paid ads, and he certainly has that. unfortunately we're out of time. guys, thank you. so what has the president been doing about singing? ♪ i
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♪ i'm so in love with you wow, what's behind the musical debut over at the apollo theater in harlem? also police make the break in the gruesome case in hollywood hills. we'll update you.
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lisa sylvester is monitoring other top stories in "the situation room," including an update for on a story not for the faint of heart. >> you got that right. the los angeles county coroner's office has identified the man whose severed hands, head and feet were found this week. the man's name is not being released. he's said to be between the ages of 40 and 60. the body parts were found in a plastic grocery bag near a dirt trail. police are charging four members of the florida a & m's marching band with hazing. according to the arrest warrant, the four students punched, slapped and paddled other band members. the arrests are not related to the november death of band member robert champion, according to champion's lawyer, he collapsed after a hazingry july.
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no one has been charged in his death. the college says it is addressing hazing problem. the entertainment world is mourning the loss of a legend. blues singer etta james has died from poor health relating to leukemia. here she is performing her classic song "at last." ♪ at last ♪ my love has come along ♪ my lonely days are over that's beautiful. starts from will.i.am to maria carey are taking to twitter to remember her. she was 73 years old. >> i could listen to it all
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night. she's a remarkable singer. president obama is channeling in his own inner al green. ♪ i ♪ i'm so in love with you built for the purpose of driving innovation. one that's transforming how companies from every industry-- and of every size-- are doing business. a platform built for now. and for what's next. this...is the cisco intelligent network. cisco.
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the president of the united states channelling in his own inner al green. it's a sign of him we rarely get a chance to see. and one he hopes will help him keep his day job. our white house correspondent dan lothian is joining us. >> reporter: the president has to raise a whole lot of money. he was at it again today at a fundraiser in washington. a small group, 20 people. the ticket price, 38,000 -- rather 35,800. even as the president is pushing to not only raise additional cash and line up supporters, there are questions about how the president is dividing his time between governing and campaigning. as the final four republican presidential hopefuls tangled on cnn thursday night, president obama was making his musical debut at the apollo theater in
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harlem. ♪ i'm so in love with you >> reporter: this was just one of four campaign events the president attended in new york, including a fundraiser at the home of movie director spike lee. the script at each stop was tick tock of his accomplishments sprinkled with sharp jabs at republicans. >> we have not seen a choice this stark in years. >> reporter: that theme is being reinforpsed in the first major tv commercial released by president obama's 2012 re-election team. even though the white house insists the president is not in campaign mode yet, he spent more time on the trip raising money than he did at disney wrld touting a plan to increase tourism. senior cnn political analyst and
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former bush presidential adviser david gergen says over the last few campaigns -- >> reporter: president obama has shifted hits attention more and more away from governing day-to-day and campaigning day-to-day. so far the american people are giving him a pass on it. >> reporter: but republicans have not. they've criticized these dual-purpose trips as taxpayer funded campaigning. even the president's post state-of-the-union tour to five states is being viewed with skepticism by house speaker john boehner. >> if the president wasn't campaigning, why next week after he gives his address to a session of congress is he traveling to five battle ground states? >> reporter: when reporters pressed white house spokesman jay carnie on the matter -- >> you guys are totally obsessed with campaign politics. i challenge you to look at what the president does on any given
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week, including this week, and many weeks going backward and not come to the conclusion that he spends a relatively small amount of time at this stage on campaign events. >> reporter: carnie says that the president spends the majority of his time doing what he was elected to do, that's working to engage with congress to fix the am i econoeconomy an more jobs. >> dan lothian at the white house for us. crime fighting or an invasion of privacy. using a brand new tool, new york city police may be able to peek under your clothes to look for weapons. >> the government will not only know where you are, who you're associating with, but also know what's in your pockets, what's in your body. whoa!
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getwill be giving away kinds passafree copies of the alcoholism & addiction cure. to get yours, go to ssagesmalibubook.com. cold be coming to the streets of new york city. a body scanning technology meant to hunt out concealed weapons. but police department's plans are already raising red flags with critics who worry about an invasion of privacy. our own mary snow is joining us now from new york. she's got more. mary, what's going on here? >> reporter: wolf, as you know
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the streets of new york are already under an unblinking eye with cameras throughout the city. but new technology being considered would go much further. in the movie "total recall" there was nothing arnold schwarzenegger could conceal. now the stuff of science fiction is edging closer to reality on new york city streets. if you were carrying a gun, it would look like this, with technology the city's police force is developing with the u.s. defense department. the device would read the energy of a person's body. >> it's a radiation that in essence comes from lots of things. like can come from the human body. what it doesn't penetrate is metal. or objects similar to metal. >> reporter: and the commissioner says since the radiation can't penetrate metal, it makes the outline of a gun visible. the detector looks like this. and the plan is for it to be operated from inside a vehicle.
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right now these devices only work from a couple of feet away. and the nypd is hoping to stretch that to about 80 feet. just the possibility of using this technology is segment off alarms among veteran civil liberties advocate norman seigel. >> you're first reaction. >> it's fantasy valuityland, orwellian, 1984 coming to new york city. if it takes hold in new york city it will ripple all across america. that's not the america that i grew up in. >> reporter: but the new york seigel grew up in has changed dramatically. police surveillance cameras blanket the city following 9/11 and continue to expand. >> if this goes forward, the government will not only know where you are, who you're associating with, but also know what's in your pockets and what's in your body. >> reporter: the city's mayor cease it different licht it's been a strong advocate for cracking down on illegal guns and defense the techgy

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