tv Erin Burnett Out Front CNN November 22, 2011 4:00pm-5:00pm PST
campaign and, well, it gets worse and worse every cycle sadly. so i'm not so the eve naive to or as we urge them to treat you with more respect. the truth is you deserve better, and the lame excuse from the campaigns that, well, everyone does it it just that. lame. you deserve better. a big debate just an hour away. let's pick up our coverage right now with "erin burnett outfront." >> thanks so much to you, john. we're going to talk more about that ad. we're on the front line in washington, d.c., for tonight's gop debate. the theme, national security. the candidates going to lay out how they plan to keep america safe. the clear front-runner going into the debate is newt gingrich. we look at what he needs to do to stay ahead and what mitt romney needs to do to finally get ahead. and the bottom line on the super committee. yesterday's failure means big cuts to defense. has a weak committee weakened
america? let's go "outfront." >> i'm erin burnett. we're just an hour away. eight republican candidates vying for the party nomination. they are all taking to the stage tonight. the topic, national security. it has been 109 days since america lost its aaa credit rating. that's going to turn the rate on our mortgages and a whole lot more. we're not doing anything about it. we're still mad has hell about the super committee failing yesterday. fitch said the committee's failure would most likely result in negative action. so we're upset about the super committee and they are mad, too. panel member john kerry was watching "outfront" last night. he got mad and he called in. >> i think people are upset. i think nerve the country is upset. they are looking at congress and saying, why can't these guys get something done? but it's not enough for people
just to say, oh, it's broken. you got to ask, okay, why. what is the matter that it is broken? >> so what now? we're hoping for a shock and wow moment but it's not looking like we're going to see one soon. the supercommittee telling us they have no plans to meet after the holiday. and some question whether any action will be taken until after the election. in the meantime as we get ready for this big debate on america's national security, the hail mary for some, including senator john mccain is to take away those automatic defense cuts. president obama says he will veto any attempt to do that which makes sense because if they were rolled back, it could mean some big-time downgrades which would make the august market plunge and economic stumble look like the happy days. since this will be a big part of tonight's debate, we did the math. here's the bottom line. the defense department agreed to cuts already of $450 billion. now if you add in the automatic cuts, total cuts rise to just about $1 trillion over the next ten years. now depending how you count,
there are a couple of ways to do it. that's a cut of between 11% and 14% of projected defense spending. that's a whole lot less than nixon, eisenhower or george h.w. bush cut while they were in office. eisenhower cut 29%. what would get hit? defense expert todd harrison of cbsa tells us we could see more cuts to the joint strike fighter program. and we could see cuts of 80,000 men and women from the army. the numbers indicate the pentagon has choices. and a lot of room to move. after all, america already spends ten times more than russia on its military, six times more than the next superpower, china. but there's one thing that gives us pause. before you say, hey, it's no problem. go ahead and cut. according to a few sources we've been talking to, the defense industry employs millions of americans. 2 million or more just in the armed services alone. and, if you take away some of those jobs you could see a hit 16% to gdp. if you look at our numbers next year, that's half of projected
growth with an economy struggling to grow. you can see that could be a problem. david gergen joins us, senior political analyst here. glo gloria borger is our chief political analyst. they'll be talking about this in cuts, for defense, it's going to be a big issue. it's not an easy issue. >> no oorkts not an easy issue, particularly for republicans. because i think what we're going to see happen is the hawks, like john mccain, are going to come into a big fight with the anti-tax republicans. anti-tax because the money has to come from somewhere. if you are going to roll back these defense cuts, where are you going to -- you know, where are you going to find the money to offset it? well. republicans just might say, you ought to look at the extension of the bush tax cuts for the wealthy. we can't afford to do that anymore. so i think this is going to be a debate within the republican party. >> it's not just the republicans. the president and the democrats
have some issues here, too. and the president just went to the pacific. he just talked about projecting more military power into the pacific. we're not going to back down as china flexes its muscles. we're going to go into australia and places like that. how are we going to pay for that without more in the defense budget? you've also got his own secretary of defense, leon panetta, has said these cuts would be unacceptable. they would threaten our national security if these automatic cuts go into place. so what they're going to do? the commander in chief can't simply let that happen. >> and he said he would veto, interesting position. i'll veto your effort to get rid of those sequester cuts. >> i was talking to a senior white house official today who said, look. this puts barack obama in an interesting position. if he gets re-elected, next december, you are going to be kind of up against the wall there. and then if barack obama is re-elected, he's in a position to say to the american congress, okay, guess what, guys. now you are going to have to
figure it out. >> it's also -- but this is exactly how you should not construct the defense budget. normally you figure out, what are the threats? what's our strategy to meet the threats. and how much do we have to spend to do that? instead of coming up with sort of an arbitrary number and saying you have to learn to live with this, you don't know how to plan. and i would argue that the pentagon is going to have a very hard time next year because they can't wait until january and how much money they are going to spend in -- >> they are going to plan in advance. >> and the first $400 billion -- >> which is tough. >> which they are in the middle of doing. i would also say leon panetta used to be the budget chief in a different administration in the clinton administration. he was the big budget cutter. now it's interesting to me to he him on the other side of the ax saying, no, no, no. don't cut my budget. >> how are they going to answer -- i finishing the super committee comes up tonight, if wolf will bring it up, this issue of now that we've put this problem off a little bit, you
now have unemployment benefits and the payroll tax which is very popular. the two together. estimates $160 billion to $180 billion. it's going to be hard to not pass that. but you got to find spending cuts on the other side. when he puts people on the spot in there, who is going to have a good answer for that question? who would have the nerve to say i would not extend either one of those extremely unpopular benefits. >> it's an argument republicans have an easier time making because we've already gone past the -- you know, 99 weeks. and they say at a certain point they make the argument it keeps people out of work, but the extension of the payroll tax cut affects middle class taxpayers, and i don't know who out there is going to say, we really ought not to extend this. >> as you know if you end the payroll tax cut, it's actually like a tax increase. it's contractionary for the economy. >> i know the white house is saying, citing some numbers sbag
$1,000 per family, per year in increased taxes. >> i think what you'll hear tonight is they'll say, look. we ought to extend, but we should not do that by raising taxes on the wealthy. we're not going to go there. we would file tght that. you have to find -- their argument is that the democrats, obama, have loaded the budget with a lot of discretionary spending. >> and herman cain will say 9-9-9. >> one thing i know he will say 1 is 9-9-9. gloria and david will be with us throughout the show. we are less than an hour away from when the candidates will approach their podiums and take wolf blitzer's questions and say why they'll be a better commander in chief. jon huntsman is going to be out there. he is trailing in the polls but thinks he's got a secret weapon, his daughters. the jon 2012 girls come "outfront" with us tonight. remember the bridge to nowhere? who could forget.
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between two people on earth. that's right. it's not six anymore. it's 4.74. it means that i, for example, could be linked to someone in belgium through four acquaintances or quote/unquote degrees. why did the number go down? apparently it's social networks like facebook which published this data. they are linking more and more people together and doing it in a way that's easier to study. although i don't know. does it count if you know someone if you've never met them. i'm a little old-fashioned on that. i would say not so much. cnn's national security debate begins within the hour. at this minute, republican candidates are preparing to tout their credentials as commander in chief. they are getting ready. there you see newt gingrich arriving. coming in, they are getting their hair and makeup. that's how it happens. and it's going to be tough for them to make the case against president obama. the reason is, well, he's got really, really high approval ratings when it comes to current policy. the killing oassume ing osama be
handling of the libya conflict and the death of moammar gadhafi. 61% of americans support the president's decision to withdraw u.s. troops from iraq. so how will the republicans criticize the president and make it stick? that's going to be a challenging job. bill burton is with us. he was with us last night. we switched seats with these two gentlemen to always make it even. you know, last night he was -- so it's always fair. >> bill complained. >> one less degree of separation. >> all right. well said. so what do you -- what do they need to say tonight? because his guy is really popular and seen as very successful on foreign policy. >> i think oftentimes these debates are a contest whof can be the most presidential. and they are oftentimes when you are doing an introduction to the american electorate about your foreign policy ideas, your vision, your credentials. this is a time to show a command and control of the issues.
and to make sure that people know that if they could envision seeing you, in the presidency, but they can envision seeing you getting that 3:00 a.m. call in the oval office as president. so i think that's an important part of how -- what a lot of these candidates want to do tonight when they are trying to reach voters. >> i guess that's true because when president obama took office, right, that was the whole thing. who would want to get the call. and people said, he's not experienced. and now he's stepped in. and look at his track record. >> a lot of successes around the world. lots of success in resetting the american relationships around the globe. and so i think voters are going to be looking at which one of those candidates could actually sit in the oval office. who could be in that iconic photo from "the situation room" when the president put in the order to kill osama bin laden. and i think that the question that people are going to have is, who has got the guts to make the tough calls. and the other thing people are going to look for is who has the guts to take on the other candidates. will newt gingrich stop running
for president like he's been doing this entire time. >> the no attacks on mitt romney is a little pathetic. >> he has to stir up controversy within the republican primary. but he does make a good point which is that this is one of the difficulties sometimes in a republican primary. in any primary. many times you agree on a lot of these issues. so the charge is that who can show they are the strongest? who is the one that -- the candidate that can show they are the most articulate or have the greatest, strongest vision for the country. so that is -- that's what these debates offer these candidates the opportunity to do that. >> i want to ask about iran because i think it's important for both sides you represent. i want to really cover this ad which you both are well aware of since you worked with mitt romney and, obviously, you work with the president. let's play the ad that mitt romney's camp put out today. here it is. >> i am confident that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. we need a rescue plan for the
middle class. we need to provide relief for homeowners. it's going to take a new direction. if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose. >> okay. but here's what the president actually said. so let's show you that. >> senator mccain's campaign actually said, and i quote, if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose. >> all right. clearly taken out of context. >> look. the most important thing. there's two points to this. the first is the message. the second is the process part. the message part is important. in 2008, then candidate obama openly mocked his opposition because they couldn't talk about the economy. and now, given the state of the economy, given his failure of leadership on that particular issue, he's having a very hard time talking about the economy, too. and doesn't want to. the obama campaign in the early part of this year said they want to kill mitt romney and that they weren't going to talk about the issues but instead, they want to go right at him personally. so i think that's the contrast that we see now in this
particular debate. and that's the frame. the process part of it is also important. right now the romney campaign got exactly what it wanted. it's a one on one debate with the white house. with the president. and that's what puts him heads and shoulders above the rest of this field. and that's also a message, it's confrontational with the white house. it resonates strongly with republican voters. >> it's not honest. that's my issue with it. why do you so blatantly cut it apart. let me give you a chance to respond and then -- >> a couple of things about what kevin had to say. the romney campaign probably does appreciate how much air time this ad has been getting. however -- >> true, to be fair. we all are playing it and discussing it. so they are getting a lot of airing. >> but it doesn't tell us anything about mitt romney that we didn't already know which is that he can't be concerned. if core conservatives concern is whether he's going to tell the truth, to come out of the box and not tell the truth and then preview the ad with reporters by saying that you are lying so you can get more attention is not helping you get voters to trust you even more. >> will this ad end up serving him well or -- >> when you have a debate
between obama and romney on the economy, which is what the debate that this ad looks to force, that is a good place for governor romney. and voters are going to be rendering their decision own who they want to be president based on that question. who is the candidate that best prepared to lead this economy forward and to fix it. president obama has shown he can't. president romney has put forth a vision to show he can. >> the problem here is the debate hasn't been between romney and obama. it's been between romney and reporters who are all saying he's lying. >> i've never met a reporter who doesn't think they can run a better campaign, just like i've never met a press secretary or somebody on a campaign who doesn't think they can write better stories. that's always going to be the case. >> all right. we're going to hit pause there. thanks very much to both of you. good to see you. we do a lot of serious stories on this show. this one is a little more seriously. in detroit, michigan, the city decided to repave grandy street. and while they were at it the city also added wheelchair friendly ramps at every intersection.
that's a good idea, right? well, except for there's one big problem. most of the sidewalks don't go anywhere. seriously. we're not kidding about this. despite the fact many of the sidewalks lead to grassy fields or debris and garbage, the city spent over $150,000, $12,000 per intersection to add ramps to curbs along grandy street. now why you ask? because in 1991, the u.s. department of transporation mandated cities make their streets more wheelchair accessible. so now whenever detroit repaves a road it also adds ramps to the curbs. even those that lead to nowhere. no one thinks this is a good idea. not even michael harris, the executive director of a veterans group which challenged the city for better access in 2006. he told the detroit news, we agree it does not make sense to put in curbs where they aren't needed. but still, the city keeps doing it. and even though on the surface it's just a bunch of intersections in detroit and you say it doesn't add up to a lot of money it is part of a bigger problem. politicians plindly enforcing laws while ignoring true spirit
of them. as long as elected officials keep behaving like this, we'll still be stuck with the same problems. seriously, super committee. 40 minutes from the start of tonight's debate. our panel makes their last-minute picks and predictions of who might rise and who might fall. tonight, jon huntsman hoping his daughters will be the spark his campaign needs. the jon 2012 girls come out front tonight. and we go to egypt where elections are a totally different story in tahrir square. tear gas and molotov cocktails ahead of the country's ruling military council says it will hand over power. all of that "outfront" next. or ? ones i've made. ones we've all made. about marriage. children. money. about tomorrow. here's to good decisions. who matters most to you says the most about you. massmutual is owned by our policyholders so they matter most to us. massmutual. we'll help you get there.
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going into tonight's gop debate, jon huntsman has what he hopes is a secret weapon. well, three. the jon 2012 girls. they're his daughters. they join us coming "outfront" tonight. >> good see you in person. i saw you in the ad where you were mocking the cain ad, the mark block ad. >> we didn't bring our mustaches. sorry about that. >> why didn't you put those on tonight? you guys obviously want your dad to win. you are passionate about your dad. your dad is having trouble in the polls. tell everybody something that we just don't know about him. abby, start with you. what do people just not know about him, the person. >> i think a lot of people don't understand the substance that he has. he's up there on the stage. and i think what really people don't understand is he understands these issues
probably better than anybody up there. he's really deep. people are getting past this, who is the most entertaining sound bite. how are we going to get out of the scary situation we're in, especially in a lot of the parts of the world that people are concerned about. i think our dad really understands that. and i hope he gets the time tonight to really explain where he stands on all these issues. >> what kind of a dad is he? i think a lot of people don't know you guys -- you are among seven kids. >> right. >> but one of your little sisters is on a postage stamp in china. your family is very unusual. >> he is a wonderful dad. and i will say there has not been a day that has gone by where he hasn't contacted my mom in their 28 years of marriage or the rest of us, and he has, you know, had us fight for our dreams all growing up. and he's such an incredible dad and along with that, talking about what the country needs, it's someone that you can trust and that can bring people together. and that's what he's great at as a dad. >> so what made you all decide
you're going to do this -- these jon 2012 girls? >> i think we originally started. we wanted to keep all of our friends up to date on what we were doing. and people around us started catching on and wanted to see the background and the back scenes of what's going on in an actual campaign. we started going with it and letting -- it was also a great way to let people know who my dad is. so it's been -- it's been fun, i think. >> we're very honest in everything we say. i think people like that honesty. we're able to show a side behind the scenes a lot of people don't get to see and at the same time really introduce the country to our dad. it's been a great experience. >> you've had fun making fun of some of the other candidates. you are much more open about that. how does romney know anything about china? he's only been there once and that was for the olympics. panda express doesn't count. >> at the end of the day, that tweet came from we believe that my dad has the best experience and the best resume for china and for foreign policy. so when some other candidates get up there and speak when they
don't have the actual experience that my dad has, it -- i think that's kind of where the tweet came from out of frustration. you know, my dad actually has the real experience and resume for it. >> so you'll keep doing it, abby? >> absolutely. we'll always have something up our sleeves. stay tuned. >> all right. nice to meet all three of you. nice to see kids supporting their dads. newt gingrich, the clear front-runner in the gop race. as you know, it keeps flipping and flopping and it's a total roller coaster ride. will this be newt's night? what the, candidates need to do to catch him. and the super committee's super failure means big cuts to defense. did the committee's failure to act weaken our country? "outfront" back in a moment. [ male announcer ] it's simple physics...
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we're live in washington, d.c., tonight with just under 30 minutes to go before the start of cnn's republican presidential debate. the topic tonight, national security. we're going to show you a live picture inside the dar. that's daughters of the american revolution. that's the historic building where we are tonight. constitution hall. a full crowd has been filing in as you can see. and wolf blitzer is behind the scenes getting ready to moderate tonight's debate featuring all eight republican candidates. if you have a question that you want wolf to ask the candidates, let us know. please tweet now using the #cnndebate. we have more debate coverage ahead. we want to start our second half, five stories we care
about. make the calls and find the "outfront five." two new cases of child abuse against jerry sandusky have been opened by children and youth services. this is according to sources close to the investigation. we are told that the investigation is still in the early stages. but if found true, these would be the first known cases which involve current children, not people who are now in their 20s. cnn also learned today sandusky's preliminary hearing on 40 counts of child sex abuse charges has been moved to december 13th. number two, wildfires in arizona are caused by illegal immigrants, according to a government study that was issued today. now the study from the independent government accountability office confirms what republican senator john mccain said this summer. the u.s. forest service told "outfront" there have been nearly 2,500 wildfires between 2006 and 2010. according to the gao report, 30 of those were ignited by illegal border crossers. some saying they start them to
stay warm. the international monetary fund making it easier for countries to borrow money. the new, quote, precautionary and liquidity line can be tapped by countries which have good economic fundamentials but are in need of money quickly. who isn't right now? it will also let countries borrow money as insurance against potential economic shocks. economists at jpmorgan say this is a step in the right direction but the revamped credit line will not alleviate the growing economic stresses in europe which is in full-fledge debt crisis. number four, third quarter gdp at 2%. that sounds bad and a big reason for the downward revision was that businesses had less inventory than originally thought. but we talked to a lot of economists that say, okay. sure that's disappointing but what it could be doing is s setting us up for a little baste pop in the fourth quarter. it's been 109 days since america lost its top credit rating. what we are going to get it back? not enough. with less than 30 minutes until the debate begins, the question
is who among the gop field has the most to gain md the most to lose. newt gingrich, as of tonight, the latest poll, the clear front-runner. he leads mitt romney by 4 points, which is just outside the margin of error. y in quinnipiac poll shows gingrich with a larger lead beating romney. on monday, gingrich was in new hampshire boasting about his debating skills. >> -- to draw clarity between the various lies and the truth. many will think i'm probably a better debater than my friends are. >> with just 41 days left until the iowa caucus, the nomination still very much in play. 67% of republican voters say they still could change their mind. let's bring in our cnn contributors, ari fleischer, former white house press secretary. david frum, former speechwriter
to george bush. great to have all of you with us. newt is a confident guy. >> he is a confident guy. maybe he could do with a little tobasco sauce. it's a strategic point, not just a boast. because republicans view barack obama as very vulnerable. they feel very confident. a lot of them are hungering to see newt gingrich tear him apart. the problem is they lose sight of the fact to how they react to newt gingrich and how the broader electorate reacts to newt gingrich may not be the same thing. >> very diplomatically put. sort of like a candidate my put it. what do you think, ari? >> anyone who has known newt a long time, you know there's always two sides to newt. there's newt the sharpest guy in the room, and he often is, and the very able newt and inspiring
newt. the dinner speaker newt. and then the newt who wilts under pressure and often brings it on himself. who when the lights are shining brightest fails the most. and that's what this primary campaign is going to test for newt gingrich. as anybody knows, campaigns are brutal. they're long. they're hard. newt's yet to be tested. i'm not sure he's going to hold up. >> when you look at the polls among republican voters you see right now newt gingrich is ahead on the substantive things, whether it be the economy or foreign policy. when it gets to morality, no. not even remotely close. it's interesting because when i interviewed newt gingrich a few weeks ago, we were talking about herman cain. i said does morality matter in a candidate and the answer was no. i'm wondering how you think that will play out over time. >> in the immediate term, i think what david and ari are saying is right. newt gingrich has emerged almost entirely through his debate performances. that has been the entire surge behind him. he doesn't have any of the usual qualities that a candidate at
the top of a field would have. doesn't have a lot of money. not a really dynamic campaign presence. but the challenge for gingrich as they are suggesting would to be hold it. he's going to have two separate issues. one are his issue positions. they're going to be difficult for the tea party side of the party that is embracing him to rally around. he supported individual mandate, supported amnesty for illegal immigrants. sat on a couch with nancy pelosi and talked about climate change. and you have his personal life which may or may not be a factor causing hesitation among the evangelical side of the christian party which has been moving towards him because he's the current guy standing who isn't mitt romney. >> what does he need to do tonight to keep his lead? >> what he think he's needs to do and maybe what he needs to do. what he thinks he's going to need to do is display more of the aggression. more of the willingness to take the degit the president and more of the disdain for the press that the republican faithful like. but you also need to bear in mind, and this is the thing mitt romney has been so good at is not just republicans who are watching. the whole country is watching to
say is this pooerson -- does th person have the bigness of spirit, the generosity you want to see in a president. and the more you look like, boy, i'm ready to just take down that antelope and cut it into pieces and serve the meat raw to my narrow factional base, the more the rest of the country says, i don't know about that raw antelope. >> but that's what newt has avoided for the most nart these debates. newt has been the one guy who won't take the bait and go after fellow republicans. >> he's been the father in the room with the kids in the sandbox. >> even when he's baited to. that's where newt has recognized there's something bigger here about republican unity. beat barack obama and it's helped propel him. >> after newt, then what, ron? you spent a lot of time looking at the polls. maybe he stays on top. if he doesn't, really, rick santorum is the guy out there who hasn't been on top. and mitt romney. >> the republican race has been extremely volatile. it's been volatile in a structured way. you've had half a party that identifies with the tea party. that's the part that's been
volatile. they know they don't want romney. he's never gotten above 19% among that half of the party in your cnn polls all year. but they've been bouncing around trying to find an alternative. bachmann had her moment in the summer. rick perry was strong. now gingrich is up to about one-third of the tea party set. the other side had been more stable. the half of the party that doesn't identify with the tea party had been moving pretty steadily toward mitt romney. 16% in your polling in august to 35% in mid-october. that is now fallen in two straight polls. he's down to 19%. and the part of the party he should be consolidating. and so what you see is volatility on both sides of the republican kind of electorate. in gingrich, a candidate who potentially, i think david you would agree, can be stronger in the less ideological part of the party than herm an cain or rick perry might have been able to sustain. >> gingrich has a history of positions that should appear to the -- appeal to the less ideological republicans. but the temperament and style are going to be very important.
i think a lot of the people who are in the non-tea party side of the party want someone who just can calm this country down. who can take down the steam. take down the anger. and who can be president of all the country. and that's the job that romney has been running for. newt gingrich thinks there's the good half that don't use food stamps and the bad half that does. a lot of people in the good half think i could be on food stamps tomorrow. that doesn't make me a bad person. >> it's the woody allen family values to take one of newt's greatest hits from the '90s. >> we're going to hit pause there. the whole morality thing and his personal history with women voters will become increasingly interesting to talk about. we're 20 minutes from the debate. the super xt could not get the job done which means big cuts to defense. did a weak committee weaken our nation. national security is the topic tonight. we get in there. in tonight's outer circle to egypt where protests wa s raged the fourth consecutive day. [ male announcer ] what if we told you that cadillac
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we do this at the same time every night. it's our outer circle where we reach out to our sources around the world. we begin in cairo. big events in tahrir square. there's been a lot of demonstrations. tear gas all over the transitioning government. ben wedeman is there for us. what have the protesters accomplished so far? >> reporter: aaron in the space
of just four days they've managed to achieve huge changes in egypt the political landscape. they've managed to force the resignation of the government. they've forced the military rulers to set a deadline for the elections. and what we're seeing now is a million man demonstration. and they say they'll stay in tahrir until they force the military council to resign. that's quite a lot. erin? >> thank you very much, ben. now we go to italy. we're talking about silvio berlusconi yet again. in a new album of love songs with lyrics penned by the now former prime minister dropped today. a low samba which translates into "if i lose you." barbie nato is in rome. will true love be a best seller as some of his other songs have been? >> i don't think there are any illusions about this being a best seller. but i think a lot more people will buy this particular cd because of berlusconi's sensational resignation on
november 12th. this was a man who, for better or worse, was a very colorful prime minister for the better part of 17 years. i think a lot of people will buy this cd as a keepsake. plus neapolitan love songs are always very popular in italy. especially around the holidays. erin? >> all right. thank you very much. and silvio still making a lot of money no matter what role he has. as we told you earlier, the failure of the super committee to reach a deal to cut $1.2 trillion from america's debt is going to have a tremendous effect on our nation's military. the defense department is going to bear about half of the cuts. they already agreed to cuts of $450 billion. when you add in the automatic cuts as a result of the super committee's failure, the total will be $1 trillion in cuts for defense over the next ten years. that means men and women in armed services, that means the joint strike fighter. does it move the needle or not? some think it would and a lot. it's something leon panetta
described as a doomsday scenario. our next president will be the one tasked to deal with the economic shortfalls, cutting the deficit and dealing with our military. joining us to talk about all of these challenges, starting with the super committee, general wesley clark. the formernato supreme allied commander. duncan hunter also joins us, former chairman of the armed services committee. and david gergen is back with us, our senior political analyst. general clark, the super committee's failure. first of all, you think this is significant in terms of the amount of cuts they'll now have to make in defense? >> i think it's really bad for the defense department. it's also a very bad signal about american government to send to the rest of the world. people around the world look up to and admire america. they admire our values, but they look at the government and they say, why doesn't your government work? they don't understand that this is a political tactic by one party to try to push this into a success for the election in 2012. they see it as america has a problem. why can't america fix its problem? >> so what do you think, david gergen, when any of these people
are asked on the stage tonight. well someone, i think i know the answer to this. some would say, yes iwould have accepted a tax increase to deal with all the cuts that we want to push through and to prevent this automatic spending. >> these candidates were asked in an earlier debate if there were a deal that had $10 of spending cuts to $1 of tax increases, would they accept it. and a show of hands, no one would have accepted that deal. i think we know where they are on that question. let me go back to cover another point with regard to wes' point. the strength of our country is dependent not only about the force of our arms. as every major president going back to eisenhower and before have recognized the strength of our economy also makes a difference. we were the model economic power. we seem to know how to run a democracy. and when that breaks down you lose a lot of that reputational power. >> it's the ability to afford the armed forces you need. it's the ability to bring other people your direction because
you've got such a strong, vibrant economy. they want to be part of it. they want to trade with you. they want your investments. and it's the signal about how good is america's system of governance? so -- >> which is -- >> so all of that has been thrown up by the failure of this super committee because one party is in transition. >> i must say, there is a disagreement about that particular point. whether it's just one party. the republicans clearly were intrance gent. they have some points themselves about how much is being demanded on the other side. they didn't want just small tax increases. they wanted a trillion dollars of new taxes. and that was -- everybody knew the republicans weren't going to go anywhere close to that number. >> mr. hunter, how do you think the candidates should address the question tonight about what the biggest threat to the united states is especially coming from a position of economic security and economic strength is the most important thing? >> they've got to -- there are several balls they could hit out of the park here. they have to take on the
president. that's what the republican constituency is looking for. they need, first, to not let this president over the next eight weeks as the last troops leave iraq, claim credit for the victory in iraq. they need to remind in this debate, remind the american people that president obama, as a u.s. senator, as a u.s. senator, along with hillary clinton and joe biden, voted against the surge, which was one of the touchdown passes of the victory in iraq. secondly, they have to point out the failure in iran of this american policy of trying through sanctions to blunt this nuclear program. that's been an absolute failure. the republicans, one of the republicans should point that out. and i think when you point that out, you have to make it very clear that in the end you would accept the military option, but the big picture, what's on the horizon is clearly china. china is a military national security challenge for the next 20 years.
and the republican who wins this thing tonight or wins it over the next several weeks is going to have to say show how they can bring back this massive piece of the industrial base that we've sent to china, the factories and industry that we've shoved off to china. >> okay. >> they're using those trade dollars to buy weapons, ships, planes and missiles and show how they're going to stand up to china over the next 20, 30 years. china is a big issue for national security. >> quick final word. would you agree, china is our biggest military threat -- >> not just the military threat of china but the economic potential of china and what it does to the nations around it and around the world. so we clearly are facing in china, a competitor like we've never faced before on every basis, economic, military and so forth, not that it's to be a confrontation, but we have to get our economic house in order and get this economy growing again. >> all right. well, thanks to all three of
you. we appreciate it. china will be a big issue i'm sure in the debate tonight. we're less than ten minutes away from the start of the gop contest. wolf blitzer getting ready to take it away. our panel makes its last minute picks and predictions. copd makes it hard to breathe, so i wasn't playing much of a role in my own life,
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because watching them is like watching sunday night football. the focus on national security tonight. and there is a lot to talk about when it comes to that and the future of our country. gloria borger, david gergen and ari fleischer are back to weigh in on three key questions we have going into the debate. let's start with number one, this will be front and center with the supercommittee, should america go ahead with what we have now, $1 trillion in defense cuts? that question is going to get asked. how to answer? >> i think the republicans say we ought to roll it back and we have to figure out a way to pay for it, and that's where the fight is going to come in the republican party. how do you pay for rolling back those cuts? although president obama has said he will veto it. so welcome to the campaign. >> yeah, that's going to be interesting. >> yeah. >> it's a terrible idea. a trillion dollar cut would mean that americans would retreat all around the world at a time when we're being challenged and the world is still not a stable place. i think that the question becomes not waiting for the election but can they find some
answers and can president obama -- ari's been making the point he's been too passive on this in the past. i agree with that. the question is whether he asserts his leadership and gets resolve or leaving it for the elections. >> defense cuts. do you think that would send a -- >> if they're going to cut that kind of money and the pentagon needs to be part of the overall budget that they do cut, it has to be part of the overall mix so the approach is balanced, to use barack obama's word and not just isolated in one part of the government. >> but i think he's going to let republicans come up with a balanced approach. i don't see him weighing in heavily on that. he's already said he would veto that. >> congress has to do that, that's still their job. >> gingrich comes in tonight as the front-runner. cain has taken the biggest hit. but mitt romney that the president is currently running against and thinks he's running against the president who is the guy people still thinks is the one to beat. but what does he need to do to break out? what can he do tonight? >> we've seen it. he's trying to break out on the
china issue. one way he's distinguished himself. i'm for high tariffs. they're cheaters. they've got to pay. barack obama is on the wrong side of that. we don't let people cheat. it's very popular within the republican party, very popular out there in the country. there are lots of democrats that agree with mitt romney on this. and that's the issue you'll hear a lot. >> it would be disturbing to see him go for tariffs. >> totally. >> i don't think he breaks out by issues. i think he breaks out by finding a way to connect emotionally with the american people. >> brings him to tears. >> he's very smart. he's a good manager. he has to convince people he's going to be an empathic leader, someone who understands them and will be on their side. >> what do you think they should do or try to do. >> no one is going to break out. the breakout event will be the iowa caucuses. whoever starts to win in iowa
and what you have now is math, eight people in the race, it's really hard for any one person to get above 30%. 20 to 25% -- >> no, it's hard for mitt romney to get above 25%. >> it's hard for any of them. so it will take the winnowing process which is what campaigning are all about. >> which leads me to the third question, how long -- how much longer are there going to be eight people. >> iowa. >> then it goes down to what? >> well, if bachmann doesn't do well, i think she could leave the race, if cain doesn't do well, it's all about money. and winning is what gets you money. and if you don't win or come in a close second or third or in the top tier, you start losing your money. >> but don't you think in effect some have already dropped out? isn't there a first tier with romney and with gingrich and with ron paul? >> well, what about herman cain is still up there? >> well, he's been slipping precipitously. >> i can see ron paul now t