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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  August 10, 2012 1:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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retain their employees to say the least. one executive tells forbes that it's important to help families through these terrible and inevitable events. it's not just death. the company has great birth benefits. moms can take 18 weeks after the birth of a child. guys get six. >> all right. alison kosik, thank you very much. applause you here not only for the closing bell but for mr. wolf blitzer. take it away. don, thanks very much. happening now, mitt romney gears up for a crucial bus tour in the most important decision of his campaign. we're reading the tea leaves, looking for hints about who he will choose as his running mate. also, if you think presidential campaign commercials are getting over the line, wait until you see this one. it shows a republican congressman supposedly punching women. and donald trump's a seasoned pro when it comes to business/television certainly getting publicity. what will be a so-called major
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role at the republican national convention? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we begin with mitt romney's preparations for what may be the most crucial week of his presidential campaign. with several new polls out including our own showing him losing ground to president obama, romney begins a bus tour on saturday through four swing states he absolutely needs to win. but he's still traveling without a running mate. dana bash is here in "the situation room" taking a closer look. these are going to be huge days the next week. >> look, the day is young traveling without a running mate as we speak. you never know what's going to happen. regardless, mitt romney is going to have several vp-buzz
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generating news with him. but the campaign knows it first has to do some refining about the man on the top of the ticket, romney himself. >> oh beautiful, for spacious skies. >> reporter: if you turned on your television last month, there's a good chance you saw this brutal attack ad against mitt romney. it ran 12,402 times in the last half of july. not including local cable. it's the crown jewel of the obama campaign's summer strategy to define mitt romney as an out of touch wealthy businessman with something to hide since he won't release most of his tax returns. >> let him prove that he ha paid taxes, because he hasn't. >> reporter: all that plus some self-inflicted wounds like questioning great britain's readiness for the olympics add up to a rough month for romney. and it appears to be taking a toll in a crucial area for voters, likability. a new cnn/orc poll shows romney's unfavorable rating
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climbed six points over the last month with registered voters and skyrocketed 12 points among those critical independent voters. and president obama opened up a seven-point lead over romney. one month ago it was just three points. a statistical dead heat. privately, frustrated senior republicans continue to complain to cnn that the romney camp can't find its footing in an economic environment that should be devastating for the president. now, team romney is trying to get back on offense launching a bus tour entirely on the president's turf, virginia, north carolina, florida, ohio. all states the president won in 2008 up for grabs now. >> it is good to be with you guys. >> reporter: the romney camp is trying to course correct not just with where the candidate goes but what he says. it's a two-pronged approach. streamline his economic message and reclaim the idea of romney the businessman as a positive, not a negative. >> i know what it's like to hire people and to wonder whether
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you're going to be able to make ends meet down the road. >> reporter: and try to shred the president's calling card, his credibility and character. like with this brand new ad slamming the president for a pro-obama super pac commercial which blamed romney for a woman's death. it was an ad cnn found to be inaccurate. >> what does it say about a president's character when his campaign tries to use the tragedy of a woman's death for political gain? doesn't america deserve better than a president who will say or do anything to stay in power? >> and of course the romney campaign really hopes to change the narrative by unveiling the vp pick and with the gop convention in tampa at the ejd of the month. a senior romney official said today they expect to get a significant bounce from both. but if romney does get a bounce, wolf, it will defy history big time. interesting statistic, over the past two election cycles, the nominees for neither party got more than a two-point bump from the conventions. it just hasn't happened in
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recent history. >> not in recent history. i had been told earlier, romney, to release his vice presidential pick before the bus tour so the two could go out on the bus tour. it doesn't look like that is necessarily going to happen. but given all these poll numbers, not just our poll but other polls showing obama's building a national lead among registered voters out there, is the pressure growing on mitt romney to pick someone necessarily outside the box a little less safe, maybe paul ryan of wisconsin? >> you know, i think the pressure is growing on him to -- certainly, the answer is yes from conservatives. you saw "the wall street journal" and other conservative grass roots organizations saying they very much want someone like paul ryan. again, looking back at history, you have to go back pretty far to show the have tvice presiden pick will make that much of a difference. >> the top of the ticket is the most important. we'll be fascinated as well. thanks, dana. good report.
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a romney insider today accused president obama of diminishing his office by allowing his re-election team to get away with -- i'm quoting him now "unbelievable distortions." but desperate tactics to get a sympathic reaction. let's go to the white house. brianna keilar is standing by. >> reporter: that's the thing we heard over and over today from jay carney, wolf. he said the white house does not speak for third parties. so the white house and the campaign trying to keep their hands clean while they see this super pac backing president obama putting this ad out. this is just one of a number of ads coming from both sides. we're seeing tons of negative ads. we're seeing negative ads about negative ads. and while it might be enough you'd think for some people to want to turn off their tvs, it's also enough to get some people to head to the polls. and that's why this is going to continue until election day. negative ads like this one just released by the obama campaign
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are all over the air waves. >> did romney pay 10% in taxes? 5%? zero? >> reporter: this one out by the romney campaign falsely claims president obama gutted work requirements for welfare. >> under obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. they just send you your welfare check. >> reporter: and an ad by a pro-obama super pac includes a claim that cnn found to be yb accurate, that mitt romney's responsible for the death of a steel worker's wife. >> when romney and bain closed the plant, i lost my health care. a short time after that my wife became ill. >> reporter: that hasn't even been on tv yet but it's gotten plenty of news coverage. it seems like the ad war is reaching a fever pitch, but campaign ad expert ken goldstein says it's been this way for a while. >> i don't know if things are getting uglier. they've been ugly for quite some time. and actually we're seeing more rotations of positive ads this past couple days than we've seen
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previously. there were weeks in late july and early august when there wasn't a single positive ad airing. >> reporter: most of the negative ads are running in just eight battleground states, colorado, nevada, iowa, ohio, new hampshire, virginia, north carolina and florida. the onslaught of advertising will continue becoming even more intense. but is it working? goldstein says of course or else these campaigns and super pacs wouldn't be running the ads. >> in fact, the evidence is if anything negative advertisements tend to engage the electorate or inform the electorate. sure, we can always point to that one -- >> reporter: and, wolf, an election of course always comes down to undecided voters making a decision about who they're going to pick. but the pool of undecided voters this cycle is quite small. smaller than it was in 2008. and that's whyou actually heard ken goldstein there in
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part of that sound bite that was cut off talking about how this is important for motivating the base. it's crucial for president obama and governor romney to motivate their base. and that's who these ads are targeting. >> good point. thanks very much, brianna keilar, working her sources over at the white house. and it's not just the presidential race. coming up in about 20 minutes here in "the situation room," the outrageous ad depicting a united states congressman of punching two different women. we'll have a full report on that. meanwhile, hundreds of mourners attended a memorial service today for the victims of sunday's deadly shooting rampage in a wisconsin sikh temple. many wept openly as they passed by the caskets containing the bodies of the five men and one woman who were gunned down. cnn's ted rowlands is in oak creek. >> reporter: wolf, it was an emotional day here in oak creek, wisconsin. thousands of people came to this small town to pay their respects for the six victims that were lost in sunday's tragic temple
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shooting. inside the gymnasium behind me here all six of the victims were out in open caskets, people took their time to walk by and pay their respects. attorney general eric holder was here, wisconsin governor scott walker was here. and members of the victims' families. and they all spoke at the ceremony. >> there's not enough words in the dictionary that could explain how thankful and grateful i am for everyone for offering their unconditional love and support to our family and our community. believe it or not even the acknowledgment of our deceased and of our injured just makes our pain a little less. >> today, we mourn with you, we pray with you and we support you. no matter where you worship, no matter what your background, as americans we are one. and when you attack one of us, you attack all of us. we are united today not only by a shared sense of loss, but also by a common belief in the
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healing power of faith. and in the universal principles that are glorified in our nation's churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, guduwars and other houses of worship. >> reporter: there were a number of emotional poignant moments during the ceremony and visitation. one of the most was when a group of law enforcement officers came and met with victim family members. a few of them broke down in tears. it was one of just several very emotional moments today. following the ceremony at the high school, the families had a private ceremony at the temple. wolf. >> ted rowlands reporting for us. a sad day indeed. thank you. after days of fighting, egypt's going after extremists by trying to seal off their not so secret tunnels. we're going there. also, we're on the scene of a big troop buildup in what's become the most dangerous part of egypt. we have a full report. and the mystery of the missing athletes. why six men and a woman may have nished from the olympics. at purina one,
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there's new proof today that egypt's crackdown on extremists in sinai has gone a long way but still has a very long way to go despite an egyptian troop buildup and a week of fighting, cnn has learned masks gunmen on motorbikes fired on egyptian police stations earlier in the day. no one was hurt. the attack came in northern sinai, a region near gaza and israel that's become more and more dangerous. ian lee is on the scene for us in sinai. ian, what are you seeing? >> reporter: wolf, one thing i can tell you, over the past couple days you and i have had conversations about the military buildup. today we saw for the first time m-16 tanks. one of the military commanders says this is the first time egyptian tanks have been on sinai soil in decades. this is definitely an escalation, a stronger presence of the military heavy weaponry. this is the scene that we're seeing in sinai now.
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reinforcements have arrived in northern sinai. armored personnel carriers or apcs and troops roll into the city. this is the second mechanized infantry and they're tasked with two goals. to reinforce the strategic cities and border city with gaza. their second mission is to root out and crush any militant positions. it's this area they'll be going. the border with the gaza strip in israel. it's arguably the most dangerous part of egypt. it's also home to tunnels delivering goods, weapons and people to and from gaza. the egyptian military is trying to block the hundreds of tunnels that dot this landscape just off militants coming from gaza. but they can't do it alone. this man is one of the area's tribal leaders and tunnel owner. we warned them not to neglect
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sinai, it's vulnerable throu the tunnels. it's normal to witn such a attack ae're not surprised. there's no security. and offer to cooperate d set up checkpoints, but the government refused. the attack he's referring to happened last sunday when militants killed 16 egyptian soldiers. the militants then tried to attack israel with a stolen apc, but an air strike stopped them. egypt's president, mohamed morsi and army vowed revenge. and through coordination with israel, egyptian troops started crossing sinai, the first time since the 1973 war with israel to impose security. in the capital of north sinai, residents celebrated as the army rolled in. to many, their arrival couldn't come soon enough. the army should have come earlier, he says. we don't feel secure since the revolution. we want 100% security. they arrived late, says this reside
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resident. i watched the tanks coming in today, and i was very happy. all we care about is security for our children. and, wolf, one other thing, president mohamed morsi actually came to the cities today. he went to the spot where the 16 soldiers were killed. he broke the ramadan fast with the troops. he also went with field marshall head of the egyptian military. this is another strong side, strong show that these two forces, the president and the military, are determined to crush these militants, wolf. >> and who are these militants? because as i've asked you over the past few days, there's some ggestion they may be al qaeda related, if you will, or at least al qaeda-inspired. who are they? >> reporter: what we're hearing this is called the islamic army. and it's a group of a few hundred people. and they cross in gaza.
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and they're on the egyptian side, the border. and they're extreme conservatives. they have an extreme ideology. people here say they could be affiliated with al qaeda, most say that they're just inspired by al qaeda. they want to continue this global jihad. and this is one of their first steps, wolf. >> ian lee is in northern sinai for us. thank you, ian. friday is a day of prayer in the muslim world and a big day for muslims in tennessee as well. a mosque finally opens after two years of court battles, vandalism and even bomb threats. plus, donald trump at the republican national convention. you're going to find out what he might be doing in tampa. i'm feeling a very strong male spirit present. it's the priceline negotiator. >>what? >>sorry. he wants you to know about priceline's new express deals. it's a faster way to get a great hotel deal without bidding. pick one with a pool, a gym, a great guest rating.
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a tennessee mosque opened its doors today after two years of bomb threats, protests and vandalism. lisa sylvester's monitoring that and some of the other top stories in "the situation room" right now. what's the latest, lisa? >> wolf, the newly built islamic center of murfreesboro. the building was vandalized and suffered an arson attempt. the mosque's leaders say they hope to build bridges with the area's community. and the closing bell has rung on wall street. the stock market wrapped up the week in positive territory. the dow rose more than 42 points. the s&p 500 and nasdaq also closed higher. a florida man is in court today for alleged parole and traffic violations. but police are more concerned about what they found at his home. a stash of fake military and law enforcement ids.
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they also found badges, uniforms and hospital access badges and scrubs. the suspect told police he lives in "a fantasy world," but authorities are not entirely convinced and intend to dig deeper. miami's real estate market got a big boost. an anonymous buyer is shelling out $47 million for a palatial mansion overlooking byscane bay. it's $47 million price tag is a record for miami. but that record, it may fall soon. the south beach mansion owned by the late designer up for sale for $125 million. some people they certainly know how to roll. that is definitely living large, wolf. >> $125 million, wow. >> yeah. 3d movie theater, all the bathrooms.
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i bet they're going to have some nice parties there, wolf. >> as they say, location, location, location. >> that's right. >> that's what they're looking for. thanks so much. up next, the nasty campaign ads reaching a whole new level with a congressman shown punching two women. has all of this gone too far? alex and james carville standing by for our strategy session. and while we wait for mitt romney to pick his running mate, you're getting a chance to vote for your favorite possible candidate. we'll explain. sorry, my liege. honestly. our sales have increased by 20%. what is this mystical device i see before me? it's an ultrabook. he signed the purchase order. with an ultrabook, everything else seems old fashioned. introducing the ultra sleek, ultra responsive ultrabook. a whole new class of computers powered by intel. [ dog ] we found it together.upbeat ]
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i'm wolf blitzer in washington. here are some of the stories we're working on for our next hour. a sinkhole widened as deep as a football field is now forcing
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the evacuation of hundreds of people. the cause, a huge mystery. also, a dangerous new outbreak of swine flu cases during our 6:00 p.m. eastern hour we're going to tell you what to watch out for. and a disabled iraq war veteran says a hotel employee mocked him when he asked for help to get down the stairs. now, the hotel chain is responding. standby. you're in "the situation room." you haven't seen this commercial attacking republican congressman allen west of florida. he's certainly used to dishing out the controversy, but take a look at this. >> he's himself a fighter. maybe so. west has socked it to seniors. voting to end medicare as we know it. he's whacked women with his votes for huge cuts in women's health care funding.
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and he's mauled middl ce famiupportin a budget an that woulhave cut taxes onhe ricwhil eliming -- >> west calls that ad reprehensible and classless. cnn's lisa sylvester is looking closer at who's behind this ad. wh's going on here, lisa? >> wolf, i would say it's safe to say the mud has been flying in this congressional race. keep in mind we are talking about florida. there are a lot of seniors there. medicare is a big issue. and that provides some of the context to this ad. call it the season of controversial ads. in the final sprint to november there have been a number of doozies. >> welfare to work goes back to meaning plain old welfare. >> that's when they found the cancer. >> reporter: the latest comes from a florida congressional race, democratic patrick murphy challenging incumbent allen west for his congressional seat. take a look. >> west has socked it to seniors voting to end medicare as we know it. >> reporter: representative murphy's staff says they had
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nothing to do with the ad. that was paid for by the american sunrise super pac funded by murphy's father, who has a very successful construction business. we contacted american sunrise for a comment but didn't get a response. congressman allen west, who is a black republican, brought up race during an interview with fox. >> think about this. think if the republican party or if some conservative pac ran a picture of a black democrat politician or congressman punching white women and white seniors, i'm sure that msnbc, nbc a-- >> reporter: the more shocking an ad, the more media buzz it creates even if a campaign doesn't buy any air time. >> there's always been incentive for campaigns to maybe push the line a little bit. and it's august. and this sort of ad is just a
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bit of an appetizer. >> it's probably expected democrats and republicans are not going to be particularly chummy. but allen west himself has really ruffled the feathers of some democrats. he's called dnc chairman woman, debbie waszerman schultz and said congressman reid and pelosi need to get "the heck out of the united states." i think when it comes to this race for republicans and democrats, the gloves have actually come off, wolf. >> certainly a brutal ad. lisa, thanks very much. let's dig a bit deeper. joining us now in our strategy session, cnn contributor, republican strategist alex castellanos. and on the phone democratic strategist and n political contributor james carville. let me ask you, james, you've
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been involved in a lot of campaigns. you know about these ads. is this one against allen west over the line? >> obviously this has caused a great deal of controversy. i'm going to refer to my friend alex who actually produces television spots. but i thought the point of a television spot was to be effective as opposed to be controversial. and i think there were ways for this spot to be very effective without being controversial. and, you know, as you have a proliferation of super pacs and the money in politics, the super pacs and ads want to get noticed. sometimes they get noticed for not being effective but being controversial. the campaign not necessarily happy with the controversy if you will. >> alex, james says you've produced a lot of these tv commercials. >> done a lot of negative ads over the years, we call them hard hitting ads over our
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opponent's claim. i don't think it's over the line that much. it's meant as a metaphor. he's not socking a real senior, it's cartoonish. but james is i think absolutely right. you don't want people looking at the messenger and talking about it on the news. you want to talk about the message. and it did distract. i don't think it was over the line, but i don't think it was as effective as probably the campaign wanted it to be. >> when he says, allen west, if a black democrat was depicted in a cartoon ad slugging a white elderly woman, there would be a lot of outrage out there. does he have a point? >> you know, i think you can take color out of this thing and race. no, i don't think he does. i think in this kind of a situation they're not saying that a black man attacked a white woman here. they're saying that a congressman cut medicare. and i don't think there's a wrong with saying that and doing it frankly in an interesting and even little bit of a fun way. >> do these nasty ads, james, do they actually work? or are they counterproductive?
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>> well, sure they can work. if you listen to the audio and the spot, makes to be a pretty effective spot ad. i think alex is right and we're talking about the congressman west, we're talking about this ad on cnn, if you will. but what you want is in that instance i think you want to be careful that the message gets through and a fair message that the spot had and i think potentially pretty effective ad. a pretty effective message in that district. i think if heould hav thewoulha white womentoo, i n't thk raad much to do with is no. >> and par attacked and then you fake in dignity that you've been attacked unfairly. that's kind of our political dance these days that we do. but your job as a candidate to set the record straight. one of the things people are looking for is strength in your candidate.
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how do you respond to tough situations like this? for example, if mitt romney's attacked by this ad accusing him of killing a woman with cancer, does he look into the camera and respond forcefully himself? or does he let it slide? i inromneyay he ssed at least allenestot up said don't like it >> hold or a t.we're go continu strategy session in just a moment. we hava lot more to discuss including some big name republicans like donald trump. does he have a role at the republican convention in tampa? should he have a role? stay with us. there are a lot of warning lights and sounds vying for your attention. so we invented a warning you can feel. introducing the all-new cadillac xts.
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our democratic strategist. look at these poll numbers, alex. let me start with you. the cnn/orc poll registered voters choice for president obama had by 7, 52%, 45% for romney. the fox news poll, 49% obama, 42% romney. the reuters poll, obama 49%, romney 42%. what's going on here? >> couple things. one, we're looking at registered voters here. when you look at likely voters underneath that, there's more intensity on the republican side. so the race does get a little closer. but obama remains a couple points ahead as he does i think in most polls. nothing fundamentally has changed here except one thing. mitt romney's negative does seem to be going up. some of the obama attacks seem to be having an effect on it after this long, long summer we've been through. but the race is still about bigger things. the economy hasn't changed. it's still going down the toilet. we're losing jobs. the race is still basically very close.
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>> when you say the difference between registered and likely voters, registered voters are people who have already registered. likely voters are registered voters plus those who might still register. >> no. likely voters are those who are on the rolls, but when you ask them are you really sure they're going to vote in they tell you 100% yes. they're the ones you can count on showing up. a lot of obama's voters last time were young voters, for example, black voters who traditionally turn out in lower rates. they may not come out this time as much. but we see a lot of intensity this time on the republican side because they think the country's going down the tubes. >> james, you buy that? >> i buy some of it. i can say this, alex can't. romney has run a god awful campaign. it's just been terrible. they have not been able to execute on simple things like a trip to britain. they've been terrible in responding. they've been terrible on their tax plan.
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even robert samuels started savaging the tax plan. sent out the guy who wrote the most discredited economic book in our lifetime and they got to have -- you know, they're still within striking range. alex is exactly right about that. but it's that campaign and that candidate doesn't have a quick change of attitude, they're going to lose. >> let me ask alex -- >> and they'll lose by more than a little bit too. >> if the numbers stay like they are right now according to these polls. but does this put pressure, alex, on mitt romney to go bold with his vice presidential pick? >> i don't think so. you can't ask -- there are some things the romney campaign needs to do. they need to say where the country's going. obama's basically saying the president is better than the past. don't go back. romney, it's up to romney to say we're not going back. we're going forward. here's how i'd lead. here's how i'd grow the economy. he has the convention to do that. he has debates to do that. but you can't ask the guy in the
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backseat, the vp, to do that job. that's asking a lot. it's the guy in the front seat, the presidential candidate to do that. one thing about james' point is if you're looking for awful campaigns, i'm not sure the president hasn't run the worst campaign we've seen even though they ran such a brilliant campaign last time. for example, he's alienated the high money people, the big donors and wall street. but now he's alienated small business. >> but he's ahead in the polls. >> but he's alienated small business i think with a turning point in the campaign with his you didn't build that comment. when you need small business and big business, there's n a lot of job makers left. >> with 8.3% unemployment, he's doing pretty well. you got to admit it's the economy as all of us know. if you were romney, james, and i'm serious about this. >> right. >> so who would you pick as your vice presidential running mate? >> you know, first of all i think romney and alex knows a very cautious man. i think he's probably methodical
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about this maybe even to fault. but i think that romney's kind of made a decision because now a lot of the right wants him to pick paul ryan. if i were romney, you know, i might try jindal. he's a louisiana guy. >> bobby jindal's the governor of louisiana. >> add something to the mix. >> james is from louisiana himself. if you were romney, alex, who would you pick? >> i would agree with james. i think jindal would be one of the guys -- >> really. >> -- very top of the list. conservatives love him. he's smart, conservatives appeal to him as well. portman and pawlenty are good safe choices. i wouldn't pick paul ryan because mitt romney doesn't want this campaign about entitlement reform and paul ryan would make this campaign about that instead of jobs and growth. paul ryan should run for president on his own. he doesn't need to be anybody else's vp.
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>> his plan would change medicare for people under 55 right now. i'm not sure that mitt romney necessarily wants to be burdened with that. >> you don't want to start your campaign fall sprint on defense talking about something that isn't the main issue in the country which is jobs and growth. >> james, what shoul the role of donald trump be at the republican convention? >> oh, major. major. i think they should devote a whole night to it. >> being generous here. >> i'm going to go ahead and do something i've never done. i'm going to speak from one of my fellow contributors. i want donald trump at that convention. alex does not want donald trump anywhere near that convention hall. >> let's ask him. >> donald trump making occasional fun of donald trump because he's a colorful figure. but i think the obama campaign misunderstanding his role in this campaign. he's not a rich business guy, even though he is. he's a guy who speaks truth to
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power. he's a populous guy. that's something no one really takes that seriously anymore. but he's a guy who speaks truth about the need to change washington and the economy. he's not a liability at all. and i think you're going to see him around the rest of the campaign. >> go ahead, james. >> i think he ought to talk about his birthism. he's still on it. let him get up and discuss his investigation he had and everything in hawaii. nothing would make me happier. >> james carville, thanks very much for coming in. even on the telephone i think our viewers know what you look like, but that's all right. alex castellanos, thanks to you as well. an inflammatory claim from hugo chavez. he says his country's picked up a "u.s. mercenary" working to destabilize his government. we'll tell you what we know. and syria's ultimate insiders
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helping president bashar al assad stay in power. is backed by an equally powerful and secure cloud. that cloud is in the network, so it can deliver all the power of the network itself. bringing people together evelop the best ideas -- and providing the apps and computing power to make new ideas real. it's the cloud from at&t. with new ways to work together, business works better. ♪ with new ways to work together, business works better. energy is being produced to power our lives. while energy development comes with some risk, north america's natural gas producers are committed to safely and responsibly providing generations of cleaner-burning energy for our country, drilling thousands of feet below fresh water sources within self-contained well systems. and, using state-of-the-art monitoring technologies, rigorous practices help ensure our operations are safe and clean for our communities and the environment. we're america's natural gas.
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the u.s. today imposed new economic sanctions on syria and groups supporting the regime of the president bashar al assad. the british also announced nearly $8 million in new aid to syria's rebels. activists say at least 160 people died across syria today including 75 in the key city of aleppo, that's the largest city in syria. but as the fighting rages, is the bashar al assad regime any closer to actually falling? our foreign affairs correspondent jill dougherty has been looking into this story. jill. >> wolf, diplomats tell cnn the regime is digging in fighting
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for its survival but it's still largely in tact. syrian prime minister defects and secretary of state hillary clinton claims it's another sign the regime of bashar al assad will fall. >> i'm not going to put a timeline on it. i can't possibly predict it, but i know it's going to happen as does the most observers around the world. >> the prime minister is head of the government, but the governme doesn't rule the country. the real power in syria, those officials and regional experts say, lies in the grip of the regime. a core of fewer than 20 true insiders related to the president by blood and ruthless power. men like maher al assad. the country's second most powerful man. and the head of the elite republican guard and the fourth
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armored division. then namir al assad, the cousin, operating in the shadows of one of the top leaders of the shabiha. then, the money behind the regime. syria's richest man, the president's first cousin. he allegedly funds the regime's violent battle with protesters and rebels. another insider, the head of national security, ali mamuok. sanctions against him for violence against civilians and human rights abuses. all are most alawites. three quarters are sunni muslims. the inner circle isn't cracking yet. >> this regime operates as an organized crime syndicate to a very large extent. and so it is impossible to
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reform because what you would have to do to reform is begin dismantling a mafia operation, a set of rackets, a set of interrelated criminal enterprises, frankly. >> syria expert hussein ibish says there's only one message, it's us or this. >> stick with us or you'll be massacred in your beds. and the message aimed to the rest of the country, stick with us or you will be swept away in a tif bloodshed that will go on for years and will make lebanon and possibly iraq look like a picnic. >> here at the state department officials are intensively working on day-after scenarios. what could happen once this conflict reaches the end point? but they caution even if president assad steps down, it's not necessarily the end of the regime. wolf. >> jill dougherty, good report. thank you. meanwhile, there's an important new warning today about terrorism. the obama administration says a major terror group, the iranian-backed hezbollah, is
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plotting attacks in europe. and they may be, in the words of u.s. officials, imminent. full details in our next hour. also, what may have happened to some olympic athletes who simply vanished. i'm feeling a very strong male spirit present. it's the priceline negotiator. >>what? >>sorry. he wants you to know about priceline's new express deals. it's a faster way to get a great hotel deal without bidding. pick one with a pool, a gym, >>and save big. ya, no. he's over he. >>in the refrigerator? >>and save big.
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i tell mike what i can spend. i do my best to make that work. we're driving safely. and sue saved money on brakes. now that's personal pricing. a united states soldier will spend the rest of his life in prison for planning to blow up a restaurant filled with colleagues. >> wolf, a federal judge in texas imposed two life sentences on army private jason ab do. it was convicted in may. the 22-year-old said that u.s. military operations in
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afghanistan violated his muslim ev had refused orders to serve in afghanistan going awol. and seven missing cameroon athlesay to defect. that's at least what one member of the cameroon national olympic committee believes. they left the olympic village last week. nothing has been heard from them since. athletes competing at the games have visas letting them stay in the uk until november 8th. and swimmer ryan lochte, well, he made a big splash at the london games winning gold, silver and bronze medals. now, the 28-year-old may be about to make a big splash on reality tv soon too. his agent says lochte has been offered several reality show ideas. lochte has said he's not counting out appearing on "dancing with the stars." and he is said that he wants to move to l.a. to create his own fashion line. we'll have to keep an eye on what happens there. and just a few minutes ago we asked you to go to our facebook cnn politics page and vote for
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your favorite pick for romney's viceresident. so let's take a look at the results. so far, and your top choice is senator marco rubio, florida with 27%. other gets 41%. and new jersey governor chris christie comes in third. wolf. >> lisa, thanks very much. and you're in "the situation room." happening now, an alarming warning from the state department about terror attacks it says are actively being planned in europe and elsewhere around the world potentially in their words with little or no warning. plus, an enormous bubbling sink hole. we're going live to the scene on efforts to try to determine what's causing it. and a paralyzed war hero says he was forced to drag his own body down three flights of hotel stairs after being laughed at by the front desk agent he called for help.
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we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." new information just in from the state department about active potentially imminent terror attacks likely being planned in europe and elsewhere around the world by a group the united states government considers to be a major terrorist organization. let's go straight to our intelligence correspondent susan kelly. she's got all the latest information for us. pretty alarming stuff. what's going on? >> it is alarming. the lebanese-based shiite group hezbollah actively planning attacks in europe. that's according to to daniel benjamin, the counterterrorism coordinator at the state department. not only benjamin says the group is continuing a heightened level of terrorist activity, he added
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those attacks could happen with little or no warning. remember, this is a terrorist organization that was responsible for the deaths of more americans than any other terrorist organization before 9/11 when of course al qaeda claimed that title. what's the connection to iran? well, hezbollah's leader acknowledged for the first time this past february that his organization does in fact receive financial and material support from iran. the group denies however that it takes instructions from iran. now, this news counts as the u.s. treasury department today announced sanctions against hezbollah for its operational and logistical support of the assad regime in syria. that was largely to draw attention to the hezbollah-syria connection, wolf. >> what about the warning coming from the state department counterterrorism chief over there? they say imminent attacks potentially in europe. but what about the united states? >> great question. they know that hezbollah is active in the united states. however, not operationally.
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they have cells across the country in major cities, but they're mostly for fund raising. and daniel benjamin addressed that today and wanted to reiterate there are no operational plans that have them on heightened level. they've known they're here, they've continued to watch them. right now they're just raising money for the group. >> ominous warning for europe. thanks very much for that. let's dig a little deeper right now. joining us is bob bear. he's a cnn contributor, former cia operative. bob, what do you make of this warning that the state department is now putting out about a potentially imminent hezbollah-related terror attack in europe? >> wolf, i take this very seriously. i take them more serious than al qaeda. they've got good detonators, sleeper cells all over europe. they can strike once they decide to. and they will do a lot more damage than a small al qaeda cell would. >> some have suggested that hezbollah in effect is a
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holy-owned subsidiary, if you will, of iran. what do you make of that? >> it is. wolf, the intelligence is so good on this. all the attacks hezbollah's undertaken from blowing up the marines to cobarbarics that go on and on, the orders came from the iranian leadership. there's no disputing this. the intelligence is just black and white. >> and this -- when i asked suzanne kelly about any plots here in the united states, she said not right now, but there are cells here, she says, that engage in fund raising for hezbollah. what do you know? >> well, i'm going to take a contrarian view on that. last couple years i've been working for the united nations tracking hezbollah terror cells. all this information is based on a traffic analysis, telephone calls. it's very clear that hezbollah has people that very well could
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be operational in new york city, los angeles, san francisco and in particular detroit. these are not fundraisers. these are people with connections to people with weapons. these are the security groups there that are so dangerous. so i don't think we can rule that out. now, they obviously haven't picked up a specific threat. but that doesn't mean one of these sleeper cells couldn't hit here in some extraordinary act of war. >> when i was in israel last week, i interviewed the israeli defense minister ahud barack. he said there's absolutely no doubt that hezbollah was responsible for the killing of the israeli tourists in bulgaria a few days earlier. do you believe that? >> wolf, i do believe it. i don't always take what they say on face value. but apparently they've had a lot of telephone intercepts coming out of the same centers i'm talking about that communicate with the united states. bulgaria, i tracked hezbollah in bulgaria for many years.
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i was actually there in sofia. i don't have an inside scoop on this, but i believe them, yes. >> on this particular issue. so what do you do about this? what should the international community, the europeans who may be on the front lines right now, the u.s., what do you do about this potential threat out there? >> well, i think a lot of these people they can probably get to. you just have to start rolling them up and see who's dangerous and who's not. frankly, i don't care about the fund raising. it's not important if people are sending money, that's not where they get most of their money from. it's irrelevant in this country. what is is the people that have explosives and the know-how to use them. and you simply have to start filtering through these people and stop going after the money and go after the dangerous ones. >> one final question, bob, the civil war that's brutal in syria right now. how does that impact all of this? >> precisely, wolf, if syria goes badly, it's going to be a
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threat to iran and hezbollah. it could cut off supplies from hezbollah from iran. and it's unpredictable what the iranians will do. the iranians have talked about sanctions beg tandem out to war. are they going to react against this to the united states? that's certainly a concern in washington right now. >> bob baer formerly of the cia. now a cnn contributor. bob, thanks for helping us appreciate what's going on. turning now to afghanistan where for the third time this week american troops have come under attack by those wearing the uniform of the very country the united states is trying to defend. just today three u.s. troops were killed when a man dressed in an afghan military uniform opened fire in helmand providence. chris lawrence is at the pentagon with more on what's going on. this is ominous, ominous stuff, chris. what is the latest? >> exactly, wolf. there is still some mystery surrounding exactly who this
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shooter was. but by now it seems clear that this was someone that these american troops trusted. were three u.s. marines lured to an early morning meal by someone they thought was a friend? the taliban claims that once they met with an afghan police commander, he shot and killed all three then ran off and joined the insurgency. u.s. sources would only say the marines were on a special operations mission to stabilize a village and had gone to meet a local afghan contact. >> nonetheless these incidents do concern us. >> reporter: they should. it was the third time this week that afghan troops attacked their american partners. >> it is too early to say that this latest incident is part of a stepped up effort -- >> reporter: of all the nato troops killed this year, one out of three have been killed by someone in an afghan uniform. >> tragically it has huge implications for our forces and
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for the afghan government. >> reporter: afghan intelligence officials have sent undercover agents to police recruiting centers to sniff out whether recruits have extremist views. and u.s. commanders hav assigned so-called guardian angels to some squads whose only job is to look out for american troops while they're working with afghan partners. >> but they're smart. and they know how to go after us with minimal numbers of killings but maximum strategic effect. >> reporter: just a few days ago two suicide bombers detonated their vests in eastern afghanistan. the blast killed command sergeant major kevin griffith, a bronze medal recipient on his sixth deployment overseas. also killed army major tom kennedy, who hadn't even been in country a month as well as air force major walter gray and a u.s. a.i.d. officer. now, that suicide boer was obviously killed in the blast as well. as for the shooter in helmand
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province, although the taliban claims he escaped, u.s. forces say they quickly apprehended him. that brings though the number of attacks this year, the so-called green on blue attacks, to 25. that's more than they had all last year. and, wolf, we're only halfway through the summer so far. >> based on everything i'm hearing, they suspect it's only going to get worse for these u.s. and nato forces inside afghanistan right now. remember, the u.s. has what nearly 90,000 troops on the ground in afghanistan. so what's the impact based on what you're hearing, chris, on m morale. >> commanders say there's no change to operations going on. that the u.s. is still going to be out there partnering with their afghan partners. but even senior u.s. commanders have admitted earlier this year that even though these incidents only occur very infrequently overall given that there are tens of thousands of americans
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and afghans interacting every day, even though there are very few of these incidents, they have a disproportionate effect on morale. they hit the morale of the american troops who are supposed to be working ever more closely with their afghan counterparts to try to turn the country over to the afghan security forces. >> chris lawrence at the pentagon, thank you. we're going to have much more on what's going on in afghanistan in our next hour including my own take on the number of american troops dying there, what the united states should be doing about it. standby for that. plus, a handcuffed man, yes, a handcuffed man, dies in the backseat of a police car. was it suicide or murder? and venezuela's president claims to have captured an american citizen supposedly with suspicious intentions. not everyone is buying that story. standby. the first trade route to the west, the greatest empires. then, some said, we lost our edge. well today, there's a new new york state. one that's working to attract businesses and create jobs.
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still looking for answers including his mother. they want to know how chavis carter could have shot himself while handcuffed in the back of a pole cruiser. the fbi is investigating. so is cnn's randi kaye. >> reporter: no one is disputing that chavis carter died from a gunshot to the head while in the backseat of a police car in jonesboro, arkansas. the question is, who pulled the trigger? police say he committed suicide. >> quite frankly i've seen some of our people in custody do some amazing things. >> reporter: but carter's mother doesn't buy it. she believes jonesboro police killed her son. >> i think they killed him. i mean, my son wasn't suicidal. >> reporter: at this point it's still debatable and still under question. here's why. 21-year-old chavis carter was handcuffed at the time the fatal shot was fired, double locked behind his back. is it even possible physically to be handcuffed behind your back and somehow pull the trigger on a gun that you
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weren't holding when you were handcuffed? >> to the average person that's never been in handcuffs, that's never been around inmates and people in custody, would react exactly the same way that you just did about how can that be possible. well, the fact of it is, it's very possible. and it's quite easy. chavis carter and two others were pulled over july 29th just before 10:00 p.m. for driving suicus thfit officer called for backup. then thewo ofhem questioned and searchedhe three m in the truck. when officers first searched carter, they say they found a small amount of marijuana and some small plastic bags. they did not find a gun. accordg to t office, rter was then placed in the backse of one of the vehicles. no handcuffed.ey say he was it wasn't until later when the office searched the suspect's vehicle and found drug paraphernalia like electronic scales and a large b of ite powder that they patted down
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carter again. they placed him once again they say in the same police vehicle's backseat. only this time he was handcuffed. how carter managed to shoot himself while handcuffed using a concealed weapon police missed during not one but two searches is a mystery to many including the fbi who is looking into it. in their searching that find a small bag, $10 worth of marijuana, but they miss a gun? >> apparently. >> reporter: is that disappointing to you? >> yes. >> reporter: the chief says the two men with carter who were white were released. but carter was held back after the officers who are also white discovered he'd given them a fake name. and there was a warrant for his arrest in mississippi where he'd skipped out on a drug diversion program. the chief says his officers don't know exactly when the fatal shot was fired even though they were just feet away. according to this incident report, one of the officers heard "a loud thump with a
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metallic sound" but thought it came from a vehicle that ran over a piece of metal on the roadway. don't your officers know the sound of a gun being fired? >> one would think. but when they're confined in a space like the rear of a police car, it could be very different. >> reporter: it wasn't until the officers were about to leave when police say one of them smelled something burning in his vehicle. the chief says it was likely gun smoke. that's when police say the officer found chavis carter bloodied and slumped over in the backseat. the officers say they called an ambulance and tried to revive carter. he died at the hospital. >> i can't see how. >> reporter: carter's mother says it just doesn't add up. she told reporters her son was shot in the right side of the head. but she points out shot in the head. >> they searched him twice. i mean, i just want to know what really happened. >> reporter: teresa carter says her son lled his girlfriend from the scene to tell her he'd
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phone her from jail, which to her raises the question, does that sound like someone planning to commit suicide? in jonesboro, supporters have held vigils. like many, they wonder what motive carter had to kill himself. a $10 bag of marijuana? white powder that hasn't tested positive for drugs and is likely sugar? an outstanding warrant? we asked the chief about thresa carter's allegations, that one of his officers pulled the trigger. can you safely say you've ruled that out? >> not at this stage in the investigation. it's certainly a remote possibility. like i say, we haven't excluded everything. but i feel confident that that's not what it is. but i certainly understand how she might feel that way. >> reporter: there is dashcam video from that night. but the trouble is the chief says it doesn't show the moment the gun was fired. that's because the two police cars were parked trunk-to-trunk.
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so the dash cam didn't capture carter sitting in the backseat. police have not released the video but have already reconstructed what happened using a duplicate vehicle. they're waiting for the autopsy to be finished to see if what they visualize happened is consistent with the autopsy results. randi kaye, cnn, jonesboro, arkansas. a disabled veteran loses the use of his legs saving a fellow soldier's life. but he says his sacrifice meant nothing when he asked for help in a texas hotel. we'll have that story coming up. in two minutes, he's arguably the nation's best college cornerback, but lsu brass say he broke the rules. and the consequences are anything but sweet for honey badger. becoming a fulltime indoor cat wasn't easy for atti. but he had purina cat chow indoor. he absolutely loved it. and i knew he was getting everything he needed to stay healthy indoors. and after a couple of weeks, i knew we were finally home!
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a dramatic shift in a super high profile trial in china. lisa sylvester has that and some of the other top stories in "the situation room" right now. what's the latest, lisa? >> hi, wolf. she's been on trial in china all week. now the wife of a former top chinese official reportedly has admitted to poisoning british businessman neil haywood. according to the state-run news agency, gu blamed a total breakdown for her actions. gu was accused of poisoning him in a hotel room last november. until the scandal broke, her husband was on the short list to become a top leader in china's ruling party. and team usa is no doubt looking for a replacement for montao mitchell tonight in london. during the semifinal mitchell remarkably finished his opening leg of the race despite breaking his fibula. mitchell said later that he
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heard the bone snap, but apparently he just kept on running through the pain. and honey badger has been cut. louisiana state university officials announce that star player tyrann mathieu, nicknamed "honey badger" was removed from the roster for violating team policy. lsu head coach did not say what the violation was, but the 20-year-old mathieu was suspended from a game last season after apparently testing positive for synthetic marijuana. but he was still a finalist for the heisman trophy. wolf, i want to go back to that olympic story. everybody's been talking about this runner. amazing stuff. running with a broken leg but didn't want to let his teammates down. that is just unbelievable. that's the stuff people talk about when they talk about what the olympics, what it's all about, what it means for these athletes. major kudos to him for that. >> yeah. give the courage, the ability to overcome that, the adrenaline pumping. that's why he's a world class
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athlete to be sure. but good for him. we of course wish him a speedy, speedy recovery. thank you, lisa. >> yeah. rain is at a premium, food prices are rising. we'll get an up close and personal look at the historic u.s. drought that's even shrinking the mighty mississippi. and a big chunk of the bayou is sinking. officials fear the slurried mess could be toxic. are you okay, babe? i'm fine. ♪
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it's the worst drought to hit this country in six decades. the u.s. agriculture department now projecting a huge surge in coin prices due to the harvest slump. but farmland isn't all that's suffering. one of the country's most critical waterways, the mississippi river, is rapidly shrinking in all the heat. cnn's martin savidge has an in depthisis. >> reporter: wolf, you might have thought i brought you to a desert. i haven't. this is the exposed bottom of the mississippi river here in memphis. it stretches for a long way behind me here. it's all the impact of the drought. and it's hard to believe that just a year ago we were talking about record flooding. now they're talking about the possibility of a new record, a record low. the mississippi river here a year ago was three miles wide. now it is 3/10 of a mile wide. the river has dropped 55 feet in the last year. and those who work the river and have been on the water say they
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have never seen the waterfall so far in so short a time. now, there are some benefits. look at this. new beaches. in fact, some have quipped that the mississippi river now has more beaches than the state of florida, which would be funny if it wasn't for the devastating impact that it's having on the commercial trade on the river. this river is used to move a lot of stuff that we all use ourselves, things like coal, oil and grain. the problem is the barges now have had to be lightened quite a bit just to make it up and down the river. and there are some concerns that even with that they're running aground. the fear is that perhaps they might have to close the river like they did in '88. but take a look at this. so i brought you out here to show you something pretty cool. this is a rock dike. the army corps of engineers has built thousands of them along the mississippi river. and this is what they do. the water comes downstream. and during the drought it's redirected, deflected into the center of the river.
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it makes the channel deeper and it scours out the silt. but no matter what the army corps of engineers or even the barge companies do, it still comes down to needing a lot of rain up river to try and raise the water level here. that's simply not in the forecast. which is why the long range prediction here in memphis at least they will break the record low water mark. whether the river can keep operating, right now that's anybody's guess. wolf. >> martin savidge, what a story that is. thanks very much. another story we're following. it's as long as a football field and swallowing entire trees. there's a giant sinkhole threatening homes and a well containing 1.5 million barrels of liquid butane. ed lavandera's in louisiana's assumption parish about 30 miles south of baton rouge. ed, what are you seeing? what's going on over there? >> reporter: well, wolf, this is a situation that has several hundred residents in the nearby
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area where this sinkhole has dropped very much on edge as well as several thousand people who live in this town. but it all started -- let me first of all describe the sinkhole area which is about 320 feet wide. in some places reaches as deep as 420 feet we're told by local officials here. that area that you see is very murky. it is swallowed up massive cypress trees. some of them which are about 100 feet tall. earlier today we went out by boat to the edge of where that sinkhole is to kind of see the area where it all kind of first started when people around here were out on the boats and the bayou here and noticed bubbles emerging from the bayou water. it wasn't a fish or pipelines in the water. it hasn't been able to be explained exactly where all of this started. and this was about two months ago. and then about a week ago the sinkhole started dropping. people around here have been told to evacuate. and we spoke with a man by the
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name of john oshay, jr., he's from the neighborhood trying to get answers from state regulators as well as a company called texas brine, which is the company that has been mining this area. that sinkhole sits over a salt dome. it's believed that there's a cavern in there that has collapsed. many people around here are struggling and wanting answers quickly. how frustrating has everything been that you guys are dealing with? >> it's been very frustrating to all of the residents here. it's been going on for, you know, since may 30th. answers have been very hard to come by. people have been, you know, evacuated from their homes. just extremely frustrated. >> reporter: and, wolf, all of this made even potentially more dangerous because right next to where the sinkhole is there's a well that has more than a million gallons of butane gas, which could be explosive, very
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dangerous if those vapors get out in the air. that's what many residents here are concerned about. to add even more pain to this entire situation, we've now been told by state officials here this afternoon that they have ordered this company, texas brine, to drill a well into that sinkhole to determine whether or not it was this cavern that collapsed. that will take 40 days, we're told. and until then that evacuation order will stand here in this area. wolf. >> some people are not expected to be allowed to go back to their homes as you point out any time soon? >> reporter: yeah. it's not a forced evacuation. they're not telling or dragging people out. basically they've been told to evacuate. some people have chosen to stay behind. it's a huge inconvenience. many of these people don't have the ability to pay for another home or have anywhere else to go. so everyone here kind of scrambling to figure out what to do and stayed in the safest possible conditions because no one around here really knows what might happe next. >> that water that we see behind you, is it safe? is it toxic?
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what's going on? >> reporter: there have been tests that have been done. so far there haven't been any tests to come back to show there are levels of toxicity anywhere near. we're about probably about -- little under a mile, if you just follow the bayou water back this way, you get toward the area on the edge of the sinkhole. so all of that testing has begun in earnest as they try to figure out what the dangers are and what the long-term dangers are here for the residents near the sinkhole. >> are they saying what caused the sinkhole to happen? >> reporter: well, the suspicion right now is that there's this salt dome that is underneath that sinkhole and that there's a cavern in there that was mined. and they believe according to what we've been able to figure out about a year ago there was a breech of that cavern. perhaps that's when all of this started. if it happened then, it's taken quite some time for this sinkhole to emerge. but that's what they're in the early stages of beginning the
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testing of to try to figure that out. right now all the attention is on the cavern underneath the ground there. you can't see it, but this cavern that perhaps collapsed and brought the ground down with it and swallowing everything else with it. >> that's a huge, huge sinkhole. thanks very much, ed lavandera on the scene for us. appreciate it. it's issue number one with amican voters. when it comes to the economy, why isn't mitt romney doing better in the polls? and a disabled iraq war veteran says he was forced to crawl down three flights of hotel stairs after the front desk laughed in his face. in your car. now count the number of buttons on your tablet. isn't it time the automobile advanced? introducing cue in the all-new cadillac xts. the simplicity of a tablet has come to your car. ♪ the all-new cadillac xts has arrived. and it's bringing the future forward.
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accusations, attack ads, side trips from a central
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message. if recent polls are any indication, summer distractions could be costing mitt romney some of his standing in the race to unseat president obama. let's bring in our senior political correspondent candy crowley, the anchor of cnn's "state of the union" to assess what's going on. i assume there are still opportunities for mitt romney to turn things around despite the polls. >> there are. first of all because the nature of campaigns. a very long time still until november. but also look at the polls. i think this is the best way to show the opportunity. this was the question august 7th and 8th, the cnn/orc poll, how are things going in the country today? it is down seven points those who feel things are going well. this is a key indicator. how do you think the future's going to be is generally what this question means. and what it shows is people after sort of that whole i have confidence in the economy number was going up and now it's taking a dive again. so that's really what the romney campaign all along thought was its best argument. the question is how to get back to it.
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>> because if the country's moving in the wrong direction, that would be good news presumably for mitt romney in terms of polls. but the polls don't show that he's taking advantage of that for some reason. >> they don't. because the polls show something else. and that is the question of mitt romney's strength. and his strength he always said was his business credentials. look at this, will the economy get better if obama wins? 47% say yeah. 45% say if romney wins the economy will get better. that's dead even. so if you are tied, basically, on the question of who's better for the economy going forward, what do voters then vote on? who they're most comfortable with. that's where romney's falling down. >> look at the numbers it was 50% thought the economy would get better if romney wins back in may. now it's down to 45%. so it hasn't been moving -- >> going in the wrong way. >> -- moving in the right direction for mitt romney. what does he need to do? >> he needs to look at the likability figures. president obama has always had
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the edge on that. he still does. 56% of americans have a favorable opinion of president obama. look at romney's under 50%. that's not good. and his unfavorables are up showing it's been a long, tough summer for mitt romney. but if you have basically a wash on who would be better for the economy, what do voters then vote on? it's their feel for a candidate. it's like who do you like. voters are not going to elect someone they don't have a favorable opinion on. it doesn't happen. so that's what mitt romney needs to do going forward is to find himself rather than what appears to happen over the summer which is letting president obama and his election team define him. >> yes, when john mccain was looking for a vice presidential running mate, the polls showed he was in some trouble so he went for a game-changer. we know what happened with sarah palin. what does romney do now? >> romney, i think we can talk all we want about the vice presidential pick, and it's important, but it's not the be all and end all. because in the end this is about
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the top of the ticket. he needs to go into the convention off of that kind of adrenaline of the vp pick, make a great convention speech where i think he needs to define himself. he needs to find the likable mitt and put it out there for folks. and then he has to have good debates. so those are all opportunities for him to turn this around. because as we said, the economy still isn't viewed well by the american people. and generally you'd think, well, that's kind of curtains for president obama. but mitt romney hasn't been able to get past the likability part. >> so who's on state of the union sunday morning? >> david axelrod, senior advisor to the obama campaign and one of his counterparts at the romney campaign, ed gillespie. >> 9:00 a.m. sunday morning.
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we will be watching. >> thanks, wolf. intrigue in south america. the venezuela president hugo chavis claims to have nabbed an operative bent on bringing down his country. how is he reacting? we'll find out. and we're going inside the mission control room for the mars rover curiosity. that's coming up in our next hour. ( whirring and crackling sounds ) man: assembly lines that fix themselves. the most innovative companies are doing things they never could before, by building on the cisco intelligent network.
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venezuela's president is claiming his forces have captured a united states citizen holding up the so-called arrest as an example to his people. but not everyone is buying the dramatic story behind it. let's bring in brian todd. he's been looking into the details. what are you finding out? >> wolf, as you know hugo chavez not a friend of the united states. and he's got some alliances with
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some of the america's enemies like iran. so when he claims to have an american in custody and throws out serious accusations against that person, u.s. officials take notice even if it could be pure bluster. from a u.s. antagonist known for paranoia, his security forces have captured an american citizens illegally crossing into his country he says from colombia. and that's not all. >> translator: his passport which he tried to detroy when he was caught and other things he carried had evidence of entries and departures in the last few years from iraq, afghanistan and libya. also this individual has the appearance of a mercenary. and we're interrogating him. >> reporter: chavez says his captain also tried to destroy a notebook full of coordinates. describing an american person of hispanic origin. we pressed the venezuela embassy
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in washington for a name, any other information on the person or what they believe he was doing. we got no response. a u.s. government source tells us u.s. officials are operating on the assumption that chavez's forces have someone in custody. the source says u.s. officials assumption, they reached out to the venezuela government,s a source tells us they are operating, reaching out to the venezuela government, they don't have a name, the source says, and view with suspicion to change they have the appearance of a mercenary. >> know if you go on google, you will get 5 million hits, he is a serial accuser. >> the analyst conducted
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operations in latin america, saying they go could be making it up, robinson says it is possible, the person, if he exists, could have been working for an oil company or contractor, legitimately searching the situation in venezuela, but says that spy operations are not out of the questions. >> you live in columbia, those same individuals have become terrorists. >> but robinson says if the person is a spy or a mercenary, he is probably a bad one, a good spy wouldn't be carrying an american passport with iraq and libyan and afghan stamps on it. >> but there is a spy game going on between the two countries. >> thais right, ken robinson says it is probably a bigger spy
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game than we were led to believe. the venezuela people have people here with the embassy, reporting back to their people, there are more spies in this town than any other city in the world. >> thanks very much, we'll get to the bottom of this, appreciate it. and a hotel chain apologizes for a disabled veteran of the iraq conflict, not enough. cnn has more on the story of a wounded warrior who says he wanted nothing more than an elevator ride, and he was upset instead. >> when a friend of a disabled veteran posted a report, then the story got picked up by a local tv station, the i-reporter says the main goal is to raise awareness about the undefended people and vets who serve our
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country. >> reporter: the war veteran paralyzed while serving his country, his spine hit by a bullet in baghdad. his dad told the odessa american he used his own body the shield another soldier. now he said he was forced to drag his body downstairs. >> i went down the stairs, including chucking my bag, wheelchair downstairs, going down on my butt, i was going to do that anyway. but i didn't want to chuck my stuff around. >> reporter: staff sergeant staples told the newspaper he was making his way across country. he stopped at the best western in monahans, texas, a small town along i 20. after getting a few hours sleep's it was time to get back on the road. he realized the elevator was not working, and called for help. but he says the woman on the other end mocked him and laughed
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at him. >> then i blew up, slammed the phone, went down the stairs. >> reporter: staff sergeant staples says he didn't want to be carried, just needed help with his bags and his wheelchair. the manager didn't have much to say to a local reporter. >> you're closing the door, sir. >> what i'm saying, as soon as i -- >> reporter: but staff sergeant staples has plenty to say and is demanding changes. >> my ultimate goal, and i have to admit, i do want her fired. nobody should ever be -- in service who acts like that. but yaunbeyond that, they need change their entire policy on handicapped rooms, where they're located and who they give them to. >> reporter: best western says in part we are trouble sorry for the incident that took place. a power problem impacted the local area, including the elevator. we spoke directly to mr. staples and offered a full and sincere apology and reimbursed his
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expenses. we respect his status as a disabled veteran and the sacrifices he made for his country. we can only hope that mr. staples will stay at a best western hotel as a future guest. >> as for that employee, best western says today she is on administrative leave and has not worked since this all happened. >> wolf? >> sandra endo on tape. a fisherman pulled from shark infested waters after treading water for almost a day. >> we're trying to keep sharks away. and the gulf is open for business - the beaches are beautiful, the seafood is delicious. last year, many areas even reported record tourism seasons. the progress continues... but that doesn't mean our job is done. we're still committed to seeing this through.
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this is the first leg of our world challenge with the cadillac s. this is actually starting to feel real now. [ ross ] this is the perfect place to test the ats's advanced aerodynamics. [ derek ] we've got crosswinds, tailwinds, headwinds. aerodynamics is all about keeping the car planted on the road. you are going to get hit by stuff, so don't freak out. [ screaming with excitement ] and move out now. ♪ [ male announcer ] the all-new cadillac ats. ♪ [ male announcer ] you work hard. stretch every penny. but chances are you pay a higher tax rate than him... mitt romney made twenty million dollars in two thousand ten but paid only fourteen percent in taxes... probably less than you now he has a plan that would give millionaires another tax break... and raises taxes on middle class families by up to two thousand dollars a year. mitt rney's middle class tax increase. he pays less. you pay more.
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-- captions by vitac -- a dramatic rescue caught on tape, a naked fisherman fighting for his life in shark of
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infested waters, gets help, thanks to a tv news station. here is cnn's michael holmes. >> reporter: a tiny speck in the ocean off australia, the man is struggling to keep his head above water. this 40-year-old fisherman was forced to keep his head above water, finally spotted by a tv news helicopter. >> i'm looking at it right now, waving to him, saw the relief on his face as h swam on his back, naked in the water. >> reporter: when the camera zooms in, you can see the man putting his hands together, praying for help. search planes and boats have moved closer, but they must hurry. the dark shapes in the water are sharks circling nearby. >> we're trying to keep the sharks away from him. we just spotted a massive hammerhead shark that is just circling around him. they have just dropped a parachute. >> reporter: a search and rescue plane drops a parachute with a
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life raft, but the man is too tired to swim to it. finally, a search and rescue boat pulls up alongside the exhausted man, tosses him a lifeline and brings him on the board. >> he is safe, finally after all of this, he is actually safe. >> reporter: after being taken to the sea, the man was taken to the hospital in perth, where he was treated for hypothermia and exposure. there were two other men on the boat, one did not survive, the other is still missing. michael holmes, cnn, atlanta. and happening now, three american troops on a special for forces mission killed by a gunman in an afghan military uniform. the wall street journal wants this man to be mitt romney's running mate, what would paul ryan bring to the ticket? and a disturbing strain of swine flu, now in several states and spreading.
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i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room.r" when i heard this morning that at least three more american special forces soldiers had been killed by an afghan police officer in southern afghanistan, my heart sank. i immediately focused in on the men who died. i know that each is somebody's father, son or brother. and i immediately recalled what senator john kerr told congress when he returned from the vietnam war four decades ago. >> each day to move the process by which the united states washes her hands of vietnam, somebody has to give up his life so that the united states doesn't have to admit something that the entire world already knows. so that we cannot say that we
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have made a mistake. somebody has to die so that president nixon won't be, and these are his words, the first president to lose a war. and we are asking americans to think about that. because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in vietnam? how do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? >> there are still have 90,000 american troops serving in afghanistan, president obama says they will be withdrawn in the next two and a half years, says they will all be out by the end of 2014. but here is the question, why do they have to remain there so long? will it really make any difference in the long run when american forces leave? afghan police and military personnel are supposed allies, are now routinely killing american forces. so what is the point? keeping all the u.s. troops in afghanistan still cost u.s.
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taxpayers about two billion dollars a week, more than 100 billion a year. my gut tells me it is time to push that withdrawal. too many american sons and daughters have already been killed in afghanistan. i want to talk with this about the retired u.s. army general george jalwan who served two tours in vietnam. you remember that history? it sounds like we're repeating a bit of that history right now, to me, give me your perspective. >> absolutely, and i was there when kerry spoke, i was there. nobody wanted to be the last soldier killed. but the mission continued. and the issue came down to being, we valcalled it vietnamization, now we're calling it afghanistanation, do we need that many police to
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train that many, to provide for the security. what is the impact of these green on blue killings that we're seeing? >> these are afghan police or military killing americans, and we're training them, in effect to kill americans, we're making them better soldiers so they can go after our troops. >> but we saw some of that in vietnam. the soviets saw itn afghanistan, the british saw it in afghanistan as they were drawing down. we should have been anticipating this, it is psychological on the part of the taliban to kill coalition forces, and they're doing that. the question is how do we shift or adapt our strategy to recognize these circumstances? >> listen to the general, john allen, i assume you know him. the top military commander in afghanistan. this is what he said back in march. >> well, green on blue? well, we also call the insider threat, we're going to continue closely to partner with the
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afghan people, we have done that significantly in the last several months. the afghans themselves, who also suffer from what is called "green on green." they have taken a lot of steps themselves with the eight-step vetting process. so i think what they're doing for themselves, what we're doing ourselves to partner, and reduce this tragedy to the maximum extent possible. >> go ahead, and respond to the fellow general. >> well, he is making a lot of good points. the issue is that this -- the casualties that are being caused, there are less casualties than there were a year ago, both coalition forces and civilian casualties. >> but the irony is, they're not by the taliban or al qaeda, but by the u.s. allies, the afghan military and police. >> which are influenced by the taliban. you have to understand the culture you're dealing with in
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afghanistan. and there is a lot of pressure on police, on their families, where they live. and we ought to expect that and anticipate that. how do we reduce or shrink the force to do only what is barely -- necessary, in the next year? >> general, if you were advising the commander-in-chief, the president of the united states right now, would you say stay there for another two and a half year, or push up the withdrawal? >> i would say change the strategy to one where you have special forces, you have the cia operatives, you work that where you're targeting key -- we know how to do that. we have been very successful at doing that. why you need soft skin targets, why nato, 50 nations are involved. >> in addition to the 90,000 americans, there are an additional 40,000 nato troops there, and i'm sure they're just as frustrated as the american troops. >> and we forget the french have
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been losing blue on green, since january, they have been losing a couple every month. so this is taking a toll psychologically on the coalition, which is exactly what the taliban wants. how we respond to that is going to be extremely important. i think we need a shift in the strategy, and be able to then understand shrinking the force, what the goal is at the end of all of that. >> yes, i agree, get them out there, a lot more quickly than two and a half years. >> but you still need a force there. >> you can do a limited force, special operations, as you say, some cia personnel, but the bulk of these -- tens of thousands of troops, they're not going to do any good. and in the end, afghanistan is going to be afghanistan whether we stay there or not. >> and let me just also say, contractors are being killed. >> aid workers. >> and ngo, et cetera, so anything that is providing a sort of help and support to women in particular, to -- to the poor, shelter, any of that,
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they're targeting. >> general, thank you very much for coming in. good discussion, important stuff. kate has or important news. other news we're watching, a memorial service was held for the victims at the shooting rampage in the sikh temple in oak creek, last sunday. hundreds filling the high school gym to honor the six people who were killed. members of the police department that responded to the shootings were also there, some of them hugging the survivors and the families of the victims, very moving video. and attorney general eric holder among the people at the ceremony, denouncing the terror as a hate crime. >> what we can do to stop this from occurring in the future. we should sensibly discuss if there is a need to change our laws. and we could certainly discuss how we might change the hearts
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of those so filled with hate that the terrible act that happened today could ever occur. the fbi is investigating the gunman, wade page, the alleged white supremacist, who killed himself at the scene of the massacre. and sentenced to life in prison for plotting to attack a restaurant near fort hood texas, when it was filled with families. naser abdo was planning to put a bomb in there, he said the war in afghanistan violated his muslim fah. and a top american counter-terrorism official warned that a terroristic event could happen with little or no warning. daniel benjamin says that hezbollah and its sponsor, iran, are planning attackings. but he says there are no warnings of possible attacks in the united states. and finally, the wife of a former top politician called the jackie o of china, has been
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called. she called it a total break down. a prominent lawyer who had business dealings with the victim, neil haywood. prosecutors say she poisoned him and tried to make it look like an overdose, really an amazing story of an absolute down fall of a prominent, political family in china, huge headlines. >> thanks, don't go too far away. and meanwhile, a mitt romney, ryan ticket? who do they want to see as the possible vp nominee? coming up, almost 2 thirds of the country saying the economy is doing poorly. what it means for mitt romney and president obama. nnouncer ] . is the at&t network. a living, breathing intelligence teaching data how to do more for business. [ beeping ] in here, data knows what to do. because the network finds it and tailors it across all the right points, automating all the right actions,
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mitt romney is expected to announce his running mate any day now. but one newspaper has already
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made its choice known. we're talking about the wall street journal page. they wanted the house committee paul ryan to be the republican vp nominee. our chief correspondent has been looking at all the top contenders. john, what would congressman ryan bring to the ticket? >> well, a great ticket, you know, he is back home in wisconsin, the supporters outside his house saying what about all the vice presidential speculation. ryan said he didn't want to get into it. he may not want the talk about it, wolf, but a lot of his friends are. >> reporter: for paul ryan, debating joe biden may feel like a demotion. >> so the question is, why not freeze spending, and would you support a line item vote and let us get it in the house? >> let me respond to the two questions, but i just want to push back on the underlying premise, about us increasing the spending by 48%.
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>> the discretionary spending, the bill you signed, increased by 48%. >> we'll have a longer debate on the budget numbers there, all right? ryan is the gop numbers guy, the person who is not afraid to say in his view, the only way back to fiscal insanity is to change medicare. >> if you don't address the issues now, they will steam roll us as a country. and the issue is, the more you delay fixing these problems, the much uglier the solutions will have to be. >> reporter: in short, he is a lightning rod. and if mitt romney taps him to share the running mate choice, it could tap the office. >> making that type of gamble? there are upsides, it would give energy to the gop base, sometimes suspicious of mitt romney ryan would add youth and
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vigor to the ticket. his close friends say that ryan would help mitt romney in wisconsin and across the midwest. >> i think he does get wisconsin, but i think more importantly, he gets the sort of blue collar conservativism that i think is the heart of the republican party. >> reporter: but tapping ryan is a big gamble because of the budget that bears his name. up until now, mitt romney has done everything to make this campaign a referendum on the incumbent. >> the president's policies are not creating jobs. >> reporter: add ryan to the ticket, and there is no escaping this. >> ryan planned to end medicare as we know it must be taken off the table. >> reporter: other potential downsides, ryan has never run statewe and has no foreign policy experience. and some will question whether or not a 42-year-old house member is ready to be commander-in-chief. >> one of the stars of the republican future over the next ten-20 years, whether he is ready at this moment, only the campaign trail could tell. and he is going to get, i will tell you he will take a real
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beating. >> reporter: ryan says family history makes him a fitness fanatic, leading colleagues in tough workouts. >> my dad and grandfather died early, so i have always had this incentive to stay health. >> reporter: and an avid hunter, when he once sent a post from tanzania. >> he said once, i'm sitting in a deer stand, it is hunting season, leave me alone. >> reporter: he is a self-described nerd, but don't under estimate ryan's ambitious or his competitive streak. it is clear he would like to debate the president. >> i love the idea of barack obama, i love the fact we elected an african-american man as a president. i just don't like the idea it is coming from barack obama. >> reporter: but it is mitt romney who would share the debate stage. >> governor mitt romney, hopefully the next president of the united states.
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>> reporter: and mitt romney decides whether to place a risky bet on paul ryan. >> and you might ask is congressman ryan sitting by the phone waiting for the governor to call? well, he says he is taking his family on a vacation, i'm sure he has a phone, though. >> i am sure he does, it won't be hard to find him. the big question is when do we expect the big announcement to happen? >> that is the question, as you know your reporting is consistent with mine. most senior people on the mitt romney campaign say next week. he is on the campaign trail. but i will tell you i talked to people saying maybe we'll wait until the week after next, the monday of the 20th. so a little bit of playfulness from the mt romney campaign. they have not gotten word from the governor himself, but because of the hype, us trying to figure out who the choice will be, maybe they will get more attention on this trip stringing it out. >> yes, and you and i and others will be on stand by waiting for it to come forward.
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of course we'll look forward to that. john, thank you, very much, it is exciting, kate, that is why why we went into the business, because of the story. >> it is very interesting, contenders, i think john has done a great job on this. and coming up, beams coming up from the rover, we'll show you the control center that takes it all in. at 50 past the hour. plus, a roller coaster back yard toy? everyone has goals. take the steps to reach yours, with us with real advice, for real goals. the us bank wealth magement advisor can help you. every step of the way. from big steps, to little steps. since 1863 we've helped guide our clients, so they can take the steps to help grow, preserve, and pass along their wealth. so their footsteps can help the next generation find their own path.
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here is a quick look at some of thetories trending right now on first off, take a look at this sinkhole that opened up this month, in this louisiana bayou, about 80 miles west of north carolina, roughly the size of a football field, more than 100 yards deep and growing. the authority issued a voluntary evacuation order. >> so the depth, it wasn't coming knocking at your house, forcing you to leave. it was a little bit alarming, upsetting. >> they worried about their belongings, their houses, and i mean, nobody really knows what is happening. and -- i mean, it stays on your mind, you don't rest. >> one guess is the sinkhole was caused by the collapse of an under ground salt cavern. and real estate doing better, as they say location,
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location, location, this ten-bedroom mansion on the water just sold for 40 million. a record for the most expensive home sale ever in miami dade county. looks like a pretty beautiful home. also, don't you wish your parents had the time, energy and no know-how to do this? they built this out of plastic, pipes, lumber and concrete. including a 12-feet drop that somebody is actually enjoying very much. actually a lot of people are enjoying it. the video has absolutely gone viral on line. the husband and wife told the australian tv that they built this in three weekends. >> i am nervous, seeing this type of stuff, putting a little kid in there. >> what? you didn't build this -- >> i'm just nervous. >> you're just a nervous nelly, but that is okay. and they're not necessarily the numbers the obama campaign wants to see, but they're not helping mitt romney the way they
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would hope. the brand-new polling on the economy. plus, swine flu spreading in the united states. why this outbreak is different than anything health officials have seen before. he priceline n. >>what? >>sorry. he wants you to know about priceline's new express deals. it's a faster way to get a great hotel deal without bidding. pick one with a pool, a gym, a great guest rating. >>and save big. >>thanks negotiator. wherever you are. ya, no. he's over here. >>in the refrigerator?
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for a cookout with world champion grill master brett gallaway. he's serving his guests walmart choice premium steak. but they don't know it yet. they will. it's a steakover! the steak is excellent. very tender... melts in your mouth... so delicious... tonight you're eating walmart steak. what? it's good steak. two thumbs up. look, i ate all of mine. it matches any good steak house if not better. walmart choice premium steak in the black package... it's 100% money back guaranteed. try it for your next backyard barbeque. i've been fortunate to win on golf's biggest stages. but when joint pain and stiffness from psoriatic arthritis hit, even the smallest things became difficult. i finally understood what serious joint pain is like. i talked to my rheumatologist and he prescribed enbrel. enbrel can help relieve pain, stiffness, and stop joint damage. because enbrel, etanercept, suppresses your immune system, it may lower your ability to fight infections.
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mars's mission control. i'm wolf blitzer, and you're in "the situation room". american's economic fears are plain to see in cnn's latest poll results. some grim numbers on the issue that is certainly number one for so many voters. so what do they mean for barack obama and mitt romney? and joining us now, joining us, the former white house chief economist, obviously supporting president obama, and also the budget director working for senator john mccain, obviously supporting mitt romney right now. gentlemen, thank you very much for coming in. and austin, i want to get right to you, the 63% numbers,
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supporting mitt romney, they say the economy is doing poorly. is it a result of the high unemployment? what is going on, from your perspective? >> well, i think you saw the gdp growth, how fast the economy is growing, slowed down. we have a wide downturn, the u.s. has had modest growth, at best, and that is the fastest in the world. so i don't think that people are discouraged by people in the u.s. and around the world is surprising. i mean it has been a tough year. >> and it looks like the numbers are going from the president's perspective, doug, in the wrong direction on the economic issues, which raises a serious question, why isn't mitt romney doing better right now, since the economy is, after all, issue number one? >> well, i think the biggest reason is that the president has devoted an enormous amount of his campaign budget to an ad
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splurge that really is negative, and trying to harm the image of mitt romney, so the real fact is he is doing better than expected. even though the president has spent two months attacking him. >> and also a look at the poll, it shows that less people think that the economy is starting to recover. it shows more people think that the economy is actually getting worse. and pretty much the same amount of people think the economy is stabilizing. these right track-wrong numbers are going the wrong direction for president obama. that is not good. >> well, i agree it is not good. but as i said, it is because -- you know, as we've gone through the year 2012, you have the rest of the world basically dragging us under like a giant anchor. i mean, europe is hanging on the edge of financial collapse. and china has slowed substantially. so if we were looking to get even a little boost from elsewhere, it has gone the opposite way. i mean i think the economy, the growth rate did slow. so i'm not surprised you did see
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it in the polling. >> here is another reason, doug, why mitt romney is probably not doing as well, given the state of the economy right now, as he should be doing. and i'll play a clip from what the president said yesterday in colorado. listen to the president. >> the centerpiece of mr. romney's entire economic plan is a new five trillion dollar tax cut, a lot of it is going to the richest americans. but last week we found out he expects the middle class to pick up the tab to pay for it. >> now, that line of attack seems to be resonating out there. how does romney respond to this notion that he is primarily only interested in the richest americans? that is the accusation? >> well, certainly, the middle class is hurting, it is the fault of wall street, and look at the campaign. first of all, romney debating
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the facts, that is mischaracterizing his position, and all the economic success doesn't begin and end with the tax cut. it actually has something to do with the economy growing, having a better plan for jobs and income growth. because without that, no amount of discussion of tax fairness and policies will make much difference. and let austin respond, the brookings institute, that is the one the president is referring to. you just heard him say it is false. you say? >> well, i don't think it is false, but rather than get into the details of that study, i would simply point out that a plan that echoes what george w bush did, big tax cuts for high income people and big tax cuts for corporations, and counts on trickle down to be a growth strategy, is patently wrong, false, proven many times. it doesn't work. and it didn't give us quick
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growth years past, and wouldn't work, i think that is why romney is not doing well in the polls. >> i just want to point out, the bowl simpson commission, which the president ignored. not surprising the president didn't like it. this is not something that hatched out of the bush era, this is the best biptisan policy that we have you seen. >> it is not -- bowl simpson says let's have three in cuts for one dollar of revenue. mitt romney has said he wouldn't have any new revenues, that he wants to cut revenue and make up for it by having bigger cuts on entitlement. so it is not patterned on bowl simpson in the slightest way. >> do you want to respond, douglas? >> well, i don't think that is right. what he says is he wants to have a static revenue tax growth, putting more revenue on the table, the same strategy they offered, a democrats are simply uning to accept venue cause the don'tant to touch entlement
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at the talemate. >> and stickin o the campaign trail, listen to what happened in des moines, iowa earlier this week, take a listen. >> the president also said when he was running that he would reduce the cost of health insurance by 2,500 a family. instead it has gone up by 2,5 headline a family. that is a $5,000 difference, this has really hit middle income family. gas prices doubling, food prices up. >> and gas price and food prices are way up. how much is a president, one president to blame for gas prices, food prices? i'll get to health care in one second, because these two issues are always issues on the campaign trail, no matter who we're talking about. >> well, i mean, i think it is fair to say the same thing driving the economy is not the president or washington, d.c. it is what the market conditions are in the u.s. and around the
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world, the demand for gasoline, the demand for food. on health care, i mean, i think that is a pretty deliberate mischaracterization of the facts. everybody knows that health care has been rising dramatically for the last 35 years. the president said we would slow the rate of health care cost and ination. and in fact, the last few years has been the slowest rate of health care cost increase in the last decade, so to say look, the prices for health care are higher than they were in the past few years. of course they are, they have been growing in the last three years more than they have in the last 30 years. >> i think it is well understood that the structure of the plan, the mandated benefits, the taxes levied on medical insurers, all of these will raise the cost of health insurance, no way around it. that is the result of the law.
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and it is the fact that you're mandating more expensive coverage. there is no way around it. it is nice that health care slowed down in the last few years, proving that if you have a bad economy, it grows faster, that is not really news. >> we'll continue it, this discussion down the road, thank you for -- you both for joining us. and a new warning you need to hear about. you will find out about a no strain of swine flu that has u.s. doctors very concerned. later, we'll take you inside mission control for the new inside, rover. stay with us. you're in "the situation room." but one dark stormy evening... she needed a good meal and a good family. so we gave her purina cat chow complete. it's the best because it has something for all of our cats! and after a couple of weeks she was part of the family. we're so lucky that lucy picked us. [ female announcer ] purina cat chow complete.
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there are new medical problems, in dallas county because of an outbreak because of the west nile virus, now reporting in 42 states, making it the biggest outbreak since 2004. symptoms include fever, headaches, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. and it could kill you, potentionally. meanwhile, a new strain of swine flu also has doctors very concerned. the cdc now says at least 145 cases of the h3n2v virus have been reported across 42 states, and the numbers are only expected to go up. elizabeth cohen has more. how widespread is all of this? well, thankfully it is not as widespread as it could be, and i'll tell you why.
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it could spread easily from a pig to a person, but not that easily person to person. so let's take a look at the number of cases and people hospitalized. in the states you mentioned, 145 cases, only two hospitalized. thank goodness, there have been no deaths. now, most of the cases are children 16 years and younger. >> why are most of the cases children? well, you know we asked the cdc that, and they say it issime. most cases spread at the county fair, where the kids come up and touch the pigs, a kid activity kind of. >> key word, don't touch the pigs. how similar is this to the flu? >> it is certainly like a seasonal flu, many can feel ill, very few being hospitalized, but similar to what they get in the wintertime. >> so what is the message for parents watching right now? >> the message for parents, as you said, if you are concerned about this you can just tell your child not to touch a pig.
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you also want to be careful, because you could get it, even if you don't touch the pig. for example, if you're just nearby, and the pig sneezes, so even if you're near pigs, you may want to keep your distance. it is not officially being recognized, but certainly it is common sense. >> common sense would be good, especially with a disease like this. thank you very much, elizabeth cohen. and erin burnett coming up at top of hour, with a preview. >> reporter: wolf, tonight out front, we got an announcement from the u.s. treasury today saying they will sanction a syrian oil company for doing business with iran. that makes sense, you said. well, when i read the press release, one sentence stood out. saying any business that continues to support this to evade u.s. sanctions will face consequences. that also makes sense, we looked into it. turns out a whole lot of american allies are doing just
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that, and americans are looking the other way. an out-front investigation, plus a special report. plus, a man taken hostage by al qaeda, lives to tell the scary story, top of hour, back to you wolf. all right, thank you very much, we'll see you at the top of the hour. all week, we watched the pictures of nasa's rover. we'll take you inside mission control. and you will meet some of the people involved. all right, stick around for the super blimp. there it is, stay with us. you're in "the situation room." volatility. ttd#: 1-800-345-2550 in times like these, it can be tough to know which ttd#: 1-800-345-2550 way the wind is blowing. ttd#: 1-800-345-2550 at charles schwab, we're ready with objective insights out ttd#: 1-800-345-2550 the present market and economic conditions. ttd#: 1-800-345-2550 and can help turn those insights into ttd#: 1-800-345-2550 a plan of action that's right for you. ttd#: 1-800-345-2550 so don't let the current situation take you off course. ttd#: 1-800-345-2550 talk to chuck. ttd#: 1-800-345-2550
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it is the worst drought to hit this country in six decades. the agriculture department now
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projecting a huge surge in corn prices, due to the harvest slump. but farmlands are not all that is suffering, the waterways, the mighty mississippi river is quickly shrinking because of the heat. more on the crisis. >> reporter: well, if you may have thought i brought you out to a desert, i haven't. this is actually the exposed bottom of the mississippi river here in memphis, stretching a long way behind me here. it is all the impact of the drought, and hard to believe that just a year ago we were talking about record flooding. now they're talking about the possibility of a new record, a record low. the mississippi river here, a year ago was three miles wide. now, it is three tenth of a mile wide. the river has dropped 55 feet in the last year. and those who work the river and have been on the water say they have never seen the water fall so far in so short a time. now, there are some benefits, look at this. new beaches, and in fact, some
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have said that the mississippi river now has more beaches than the state of florida, which would be funny if it was not for the devastating impact that it is having on the commercial trade on the river. this river is used to move a lot of stuff that we all use ourselves. things like coal, oil, and grain. the problem is, the barges have to be lightened quite a bit just to make it up and down the river. and there are concerns even with that, they're running aground. the fear is that they may have to close the river like they did in '88. but take a look, so i brought you out here to look at something cool. this is a rock dyke, they built them. the water comes do is stream, and during the drought it is re-directed, deflected into the center of the river, making the channel deeper, and it scours out the silt. but no matter what the oil companies or barge companies do, it still comes down to needing a
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lot of rain up river, to try to raise the water levels here. and that simply is not in the forecast, which is why the long range prediction is here in memphis, at least, they will break the low water mark. whether the river can river can operating, that's anybody's guess. >> martin savidge reporting for us. mighty mississippi river, look at that. >> the drought is a huge story. i mean, food prices are going up. we've been talking about it. corn prices are surging. that's important to all of us. >> it's not just for people who like corn. >> not just for me because i come from indiana. it affects everything. food prices are surging. that's a great report. i guess we should get a check of what's going on at the white house as well. across washington, president obama is hosting a dinner at the white house tonight. the ifdar dinner celebrates the mussily holy month of ramadan.
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over at the state department, they're watching the case of a captured american citizen in venezuela. president chavez claims the man appears to be a mercenary working to destabilize his government. so take a look up in the sky. maybe when you go outside. it's a blimp. not just any blimp. this is the army's long endurance multiintelligence vehicle or lemv to make it a little shorter. longer than a football field and about seven stories high. it's a supered up blimp designed to fly around the clock for up to 21 days. it's made its 90-minute maiden flight in new jersey. >> it's a nice blimp. it's got military value. >> can fly very quietly i bet.
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right now, the rover curiosity is collecting enormous amounts of data from mars and all of it is being beamed back to one room where nasa combs through every bit of it. cnn's john zarrella takes us inside. >> reporter: i'm in the surface mission support area. this is where all the data comes down from the spacecraft and is initially gathered. it's quiet in here now. mike watkins, mission manager, is joining us. your shift is about over. i know you want to get some sleep. >> i've been up here for quite a few hours. >> take us through. what happens here? >> okay, so this room here, normally it's packed with engineers here. we're kind of staffed 24/7 for the first couple of weeks of the mission. normally is packed with engineers. we're about to start our transition we talked about earlier today. data comes down via mars
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odyssey. a little bit comes by the big antennas of the deep space network. that downlink comes first through this room. each of the engineers take a look at what that data's telling them. if you look at each of these stations, we've got power, thermal. the payload health, flight software. the engineers look at that. they make sure the rover's healthy. they get a first look at new pictures, at first payload telemetry, is everything healthy. >> reporter: then it goes to the science team from here. they look at -- >> that's exactly right. so the engineers are making sure everything looks good. a lot is science data so the engineers look at that. the scientists look at it and say, this is an interesting rock. i should take more pictures of of this rock.
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we do this over in a science area where the scientists can take a close look at high definition television and other stuff. >> how often are you getting data? is it once a day, twice a day? >> so the orbiters fly over us about twice a day. each orbiter flies over in the afternoon and around 3:00 in the morning mars time. because mars rotation is different by 40 minutes each day, the time of those downlinks kind of move throughout the earth day. it can be any time of day our time but always the same time on the planet mars. >> tell us real quick everything looks real good, right -- >> everything looks fantastic. >> hard to believe, right -- >> it is exceeding our expectations, going as well as we could have hoped. >> wolf, we're here at the surface support operations center. as you can see, it's quiet now, but this place will be packed with engineers within just an
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hour or so. >> john zarrella, thanks very much. kate, i still have this little dream one of those cameras is going to see some little thing crawling. can you imagine? that would be breaking news. >> to say the least, that would be breaking news. >> not necessarily green but little tiny thing. waving. >> it could be any color. a little hello. >> that would be cool. >> hello, wolf blitzer. yeah, realistically, it's pretty impressive how flawlessly this thing has gone so far. coming up, equal opportunity makings a giant leap forward in the nfl. we'll meet the referee who's making history. how can we save these young people's lives? as a police chief, i have an opportunity to affect what happens in a major city. if you want to make a difference, you have to have the right education. university of phoenix opened the door. my name is james craig, i am committed to making a difference, and i am a phoenix. visit to find the program that's right for you.
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[ cheers and applause ]
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swimmer ryan lochte made a
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huge splash at the london games. the 28-year-old may be about to make a big splash on reality tv as well. his agent says lochte has been offered several reality show ideas. lochte has said he's not counting out appearing on "dancing with the stars" and he said he wants to move to l.a. to create his own fashion line. i think he's got a lot of options before him. also, we gave you a head's up about this earlier in the week. take a look at football history in the making. shannon easton became the first woman ever to referee an nfl game last night. yeah, the big guys noticed. >> i got my picture taken with her before the game because it's, you know, it's history. >> she held her own. she did a phenomenal job. i think as professionals you just respect people who understands their craft and do the best they can at what they do. >> it isn't like easton's never done this