tv John King USA CNN November 22, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm EST
jeanne moos, cnn. new york. >> i'm wolf blitzer. i'll be back in two hours for the republican presidential debate. meanwhile, the news continues meanwhile, the news continues next on cnn. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com s from >> good evening. tonlt we're broadcasting from constitution hall. and tonight of the big republican debate. this one dedicated to critical national security debate. tonight's debate comes exactly six weeks before iowans caucus and cast the first official votes of the 2012 cycle. there will be one issue that trumps all other, trust. picking a president is a gamble. and part of your decision-making comes down to a gut-level judgment about trust. tonight, one of the leading republican candidates, if not
the leading republican candidate, is failing the trust test. sure, all politicians shade the truth and spin the facts, but what we're about to show you, the first paid television ad for romney for president television campaign crosses the line. reprehensible in any campaign. but more so for this one because of the profound challenges facing the country. watch and listen. >> we need a rescue plan. it's going to take a new direction. if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose. lose. lose. >> reporter: one more time. just that last snip it from the president. >> if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose, lose, lose. >> reporter: powerful stuff, right? especially with high unemployment and sluggish economic growth. yes, powerful stuff if it were honest, fair, context chul. listen here to senator obama
late in the 2008 campaign. >> senator mccain's campaign actually said and i quote "if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose". >> reporter: one more time. >> senator mccain's campaign actually said and i quote "if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose". >> reporter: candidate obama is quoting from a news story about the mccain campaign. but the windup, the context, is chopped off in the romney ad. >> more spending and borrowing. >> reporter: we'll explain that one a little bit later. now team romney says all is fair in life in politics. we disagree. i disagree. truth is, you deserve better. but, just for kicks, let's play by governor romney's rules. here is the governor's economic plan.
[ technical difficulties ] >> reporter: and again using romney rules the governor's health care vision for the elderly. >> care of denial of care for seniors on medicare. >> reporter: and if romney rules apply, how about immigration? >> place a magnet to draw illegals. >> reporter: well, you get the picture. now to be fair, the romney campaign is hardly the first to run a misleading tv ad. and they are right when they say team obama's track record on this issue is far from perfect. but to say everyone does it, isn't good enough or at least shouldn't be good enough. our debate tonight will remind us of the challenges facing the
next president from the anemic recovery to the challenges from china and iran. you deserve a real and spirited debate. not one tainted by bogus ads. this is airing in new hampshire. president obama was there today. he doesn't have a primary challenge, so consider this a 2012 general election test drive. >> the next time you hear one of these folks from the other side coming and talking about raising your taxes, you just remind them that ever since i've gotten office, i've lowered your taxes. haven't raised them. that's worth reminding. >> reporter: governor romney has a big lead among republicans in new hampshire. and this week he picked up a coveted endorsement. that of senator with us from manchester tonight. i want to talk about that advertisement. i want to begin with that advertisement. the romney campaign is grossly taking out of context something then senator obama said in 2008. would you pick up the phone to
the campaign and say let's have a debate about unemployment, let's have a debate about health care. let's have a debate about challenges, let's not distort things. >> with all respect, john, i think that this campaign is going to be about the president's record. and the discussion about this campaign ad has been somewhat overblown. clearly the campaign has addressed it. the bottom line is we're going to be talking about the president's record. and it's been fewer jobs for this country and fewer opportunities for americans. and what mitt romney will do to get americans back to work and his experience as a successful businessman in doing that. >> reporter: but senator, the way the campaign has addressed it is saying we're glad the obama team is upset. we're glad that we're doing something that they've done in the past campaign. what they're doing is dishonest. if governor romney is to be trusted to be the next economic leader of the united states, the next commander in chief of the united states, why? the president is vulnerable. we all know he's vulnerable.
we all know you can run a campaign on the issues. why do you have to take something he said four years ago and grossly put it out of context? >> well, john, they are having a campaign about the issues. today in new hampshire the president came and things are worse in this country. and he had promised that he would fix the economy. and unfortunately his years in office it's gotten worse for americans. and particularly less opportunities for the future in this country. and that's what mitt romney will do. and he's put forward a solid economic plan. i know that this presidential campaign will be about our economy and getting people back to work. and mitt romney has the experience to do that. >> in some ways these questions aren't fair of you. you don't make decisions for the romney campaign. but you did sign on as endorsing him this week. you're listed on his letterhead as a big national figure in the campaign. but senator, you just proved my point. if things are worse in new hampshire, if the president is vulnerable and romney has in your view such a great economic
plan, why isn't that what's in the ad? you were once the state attorney general. that's when i first met you. i'm sure you put a lot of people behind bars. what if you had a news conference where you said we have to get this off the streets because he's running around thinking it's okay to prey on young children and somebody chopped off the last part and quoted it's okay to prey on young children. that would be grossly wrong, correct? >> well, john, i think that's a very different situation in the context of a criminal case. >> why is it a different situation? >> we're in the middle of a campaign. i will say this that clearly this discussion is being prompted here. we need to talk about the president's economic record. and that's what this ad focuses on. this is an economic record where we've lost nearly two million jobs since the president's been in office. and our debt has reached $15 trillion. that's why i signed up to support governor romney because i know that he'll get our fiscal house in order. and when you think about what
just happened with that super committee, i think that was a chronic failure of leadership there from the president. >> well, let's talk about that. i'm not going to badger you about this ad because you didn't write it and you're not spending the money to air it. but i know your state pretty well having grown up next door and i think the people of new hampshire and the people of the country deserve better than what they're getting in this ad. let's talk about the president's trip. it's a state that's a purple state. it could go either way come november even though it's small, it will be a key battleground. one of the points the president wanted to make was he was talking about the jobs bill, the economic debate in the country. listen to the president here challenge the republicans essentially saying if we're going to deal with the deficit, deal with the debt, he thinks you have to raise some taxes on wealthy americans. listen to the president. >> are they really willing to break their own to never raise taxes and raise taxes on the middle class just to play politics? i sure hope not. you know, this isn't about who
wins or loses in washington. this is about delivering a win for the american people. >> the president's point there, senator, is if nothing is done, if the stalemate continues, next year the bush tax cuts will expire. and so taxes for everybody including the middle class would go up if nothing is done. is that what's going to happen? we're going to have to have a campaign and start in 2013? >> well, i actually -- >> another conversation about the deficit of taxes. >> well, i actually think, again, a failure of leadership from the president on this issue. lest bring this in perspective of where we are. his party had a super majority in the house and the senate. and the president didn't do anything to address the debt. he ignored his own fiscal commission and then in the united states senate his budget got zero votes. it went down 97 to 0. not one party member of his own would vote for it. we need presidential leadership. he will be held accountable for that. mitt romney will provide that
type of leadership in getting our fiscal house in order. putting together a responsible budget for our country. if the president had done that alone, we wouldn't even be where we are right now on this super committee. those are the basic steps that a president in a time like this putting aside the political campaigning and being a statesman about it and that's what our country needs right now. >> republican of new hampshire also member of the armed service committee keep an eye on her as this debate continues about the spending cuts. senator, we'll visit on that issue another day. >> thanks, john. >> republican debate here in washington, d.c., the voters of new hampshire will be watching. egypt's military leader tries to appease the protesters in cairo's tahrir square. are his promises believable? next, economy is issue one. but there's new proof on this debate night that the commander in chief test, well, it matters too.
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the gop presidential race. atop the field, the back to the future candidate. former house speaker newt gringrich given up as a lost cause and broke just a few months ago. new poll out to be the has gringrich at 26% followed by former massachusetts governor mitt romney at 22% and here's something that ought to give team romney shudders. they asked this question. if the race came down to two candidates, gringrich and romney, well, the former speaker and that match-up has a ten-point lead. which tells you two things, gring rich is for real and at least at the moment. all they really want is a one-on-one shot at governor romney. so will tonight's debate shake up this race tonight again? david here with me at the debate hall. to that point. to the conservative to the group first, this has been a bouncing ball, the anybody but romney or alternative to romney in the field, when you talk to activists around the country, do they view gringrich as that candidate now or is this still
going to bounce around? >> i think it's still going to bounce around. we've come quite a long way from the newt gringrich of the late '90s. to now here he's the number two guy. frankly, i don't think a lot of us saw this coming. he's a formidable debater to be sure. but he has a little bit of baggage with some of the cap and trade stuff. his relationships with nancy pelosi. so on and so forth. i think it's still going to bounce around. i just don't see everyone koelessing behind newt gringrich just yet. >> as the guy who worked in the clinton white house when newt gringrich was nemesis number one on most issues, but also a guy after a whole lot of fighting did some work with the president to balance the budget, did work with president clinton on welfare, when you see him back from the dead, what goes through your mind? do you take him as a serious challenge or another temporary holding place for the anybody but romney vote? >> the honest answer is i don't really know. it seems implausible at one level. be less worried about the
baggage than about this guy's endless capacity for self-destruction. we don't know what he'll say tomorrow, but we're pretty sure it's going to be crazy. every newt story ends with newt and a can of gasoline and a bic lighter. the other day he said child labor laws are stupid. he said that the congressional budget office was a reactionary socialist institution. that's self-defeating to say the least. as a democrat i think it would be great. if i were a romney supporter, i would think it was great. >> but if you're a romney supporter, i think it would be great. but a polling firm asked the question if it's romney-gringrich, how do you view it? we'll see what happens to iowa and new hampshire if we get to a two-man race, but today newt gringrich has a ten-point lead over governor romney. >> the romney campaign has to take this very seriously because this is the first time there's been a challenger a non-romney
or anti-romney who is a more credible figure within the eyes of the republican party. i think it is worth also noting, john, that if you look at the national polls against obama, romney does much better against obama than does gringrich. and that is a very strong argument that romney has to take to the polls. and even in these recent polls people are saying there's a lot of internals on a cnn poll that are interesting. gringrich is seen as a stronger leader. i had a chance to talk with newt for a while last week. yeah, he realizes in these debates than he will emerge as a very strong, you know, contender. >> and as we wait for the debate tonight, some people say, oh, another debate. but we've learned a lot about these candidates in the course of these debates. one thing we've learned in every debate, michele bachmann has turned fire on the person perceived to be the front
runner. i would guess if she continues her so far very predictable strategy, gringrich will be under fire tonight. people want to have the i agree with newt. i agree with newt. now that he's leading in the national polls, does he have a kick me sign? >> i think a little bit. i fully expect some candidates to come after him tonight and bachmann just in keeping in that trend. he usually makes mincemeat of his opponents. he's got fantastic rhetorical skills. he's the best debater in this primary. he's better than romney. so they do so at great cost. and i think it would have to be very well-prepared for any and all type comebacks. otherwise they could sing handedly destroy their perception if for the lack of a more nuance term, owned, on national television debate. >> how do you feel as a democrat in these debates? what have you learned about the candidates when you're a words guy, you're a fight guy. when you watch these people and you're thinking, all right, who's got it?
who can react well and make their case verbally. and in the sparring that is a bedate, who do you look at? >> in each debate mitt romney has gotten better. he started out pretty good. on helping a pact that supports president obama. most debates in 2008 joe biden won a lot of them, hillary clinton won a bunch of them. mitt romney's pretty much won every debate a lot because other people made mistakes like rick perry but he's becoming increasingly confident and comfortable. he doesn't know national security the way newt gringrich or rick santorum or michele bachmann on the house intelligence committee. it will be interesting if he has the same sense of mastery tonight. if he does, i'll be very impressed. >> all right. we see congresswoman bachmann just arrived on camera. there's her staff coming behind her. we're steps from the white house, david. as we get six weeks from tonight, iowa cast their first votes. seven weeks from tonight, new hampshire then follows up.
iowa usually knocks some candidates out of the race. they don't necessarily pick the nominee. but then new hampshire in the sense of the debates have mattered a lot, do they matter more as you get closer to the voting or less? >> i think they matter an awful lot until about two or three weeks out because organizational on the ground in iowa traditionally has meant a lot. that's where the romney financial advantage over gringrich may come out to play. toipt go back to paul's point. i think this is the central point. newt in the '90s was seen as a bomb-thrower. really bright but erratic. just like a richard nixon. can there be a new newt? can he convince people he's more mature now, more settled down? then he becomes a different kind of candidate, don't you think? >> absolutely. your britney spears microphone has slipped off. we can fix that during a quick break. you were agreeing. but we see that sometimes. you're a guy bill clinton was given up for dead many times. john mccain in the last
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of just how many republican debates we've had in the 2012 presidential cycle. the number is 11. they started back in may and each debate shook up the race in one way or another. case and point, texas governor rick perry, this will be his eighth debate of the 12. they haven't helped him. on the other hand they've been very good for newt gringrich. he was in the middle of the pack in the poll we did before the first debate. our latest poll has the speaker on top. about 90 minutes away from the debate tonight. often when the questions are about security, they end up being hypothetical and ominous. what if iran gets a nuclear weapon? what if the choice in syria is asad or islamist? in this campaign, not so hypothetical. what you hear matters. one of the interesting things is the candidate who you would argue has the most foreign policy experience on this stage is john huntsman, ambassador to
singapore, ambassador to china. has taken not the ron paul approach but said the united states should not get involved in libya. he did not see libya as in our national security interest. listen to this, i had a conversation with him yesterday asking him about syria with the asad government and he said there's a key difference. >> we have to see syria differently than libya. i wasn't in favor in libya. syria, arguably, is closer to our core national security interest because israel is of course. >> closer, david, to a core national security interest. he went onto say first covert action support the opposition, but he said you cannot, as he insisted we should have done in libya, take a military option, a nato option, off the table. that's different. >> it is different. he has not gained traction. if you go back and look at his answers in the first debate on national security, he just didn't get his arguments across. and on the issues that matter to
him the most. on this syrian thing, i think what we're all going to be listening for tonight is how bellicose these candidates will be about the use of military force and especially about covert action. there's been much more emphasis about the u.s. acting covertly in iran and in syria among these republican candidates than we everheard from the obama administration. as soon as you get in there, everybody all around the world's going to claim the u.s. is doing this. this is the cia. you open yourself up to that. i don't understand that. >> but as you well know, i covered your campaign back in 1992 and then governor clinton talked about -- i was 12. i wish. i won't do business with the butchers in beijing and the dictators in damascus. went on to have productive relationships with the chinese. >> i wrote that line. >> and did some business. i don't expect any u.s. president to do any business with iran, but listen to governor rick perry here. this is a serious question for
the current president of the united states, for whoever has the office come january 2013, whether his name is obama or his or her name is one of these candidates up here tonight. rick perry says he would do anything, anything, to keep iran from getting a nuclear weapon. listen. >> we will support israel in every way that we can whether it's diplomatic, economic sanctions, whether it's overt or covert up to and including military action. we cannot afford to allow that madman in iran to get his hands on a nuclear weapon, period. >> even if it started a war in the region? >> we cannot allow that madman to get his hands on a nuclear weapon. because we know what he would do with it. >> very tough talk there. very supportive of israel. here's the question first to dana and then to paul. this may not be a fair question, but as voters consider this, do we want to give the republicans back the white house? in the democrats days are we getting a tax and spending liberal. bill clinton had to say i'm a
different kind of democrat. do independent voters who maybe don't like the iraq decision, maybe thought we should have been coming out of afghanistan years ago. do they hold it against republicans who talk tough saying they doept want to go back to the bush days? >> i know there's a danger of that. i happen to like the tough talking, but i'm not a neo con. i don't think we should have been involved in egypt. i think there's a fine line one can walk. whether or not rick perry has been walking that line saying he believes in a very strong defense. we need to make sure that people who have made it absolutely clear wipe our only ally in the middle east and to come after us, to make sure they don't get nuclear capabilities, that's different from saying i'm going to get involved in libya and uganda. he does have to walk a fine line. independents definitely are going to be listening to that. but grass roots also now i think have been trending a little bit more for the lack of a better term here a little bit more
independent in terms of looking to see where we spend money on foreign policy. >> governors always face this credibility test. they tend to win the presidency more often and not. ronald reagan, george w. bush just in recent times. but they tend to face this is that just a talking point. >> they often try too hard. that's why i winced when you referred to that line. the butchers of beijing. we were all very upset about what happened three years before that campaign. that's not the tone a president should write and i was wrong to write that. i was listening to governor perry. i don't support him but i wish i could script him. what you're saying actually is less. less is more. i'm not going to rule anything out. the united states has vast resources, economic, moral, diplomatic and yes, military. i won't rule anything out. it sounds like clint eastwood. the scariest guy in the movie is not pea wee herman running around screaming. it's clint eastward clinching his teeth saying make my day. >> i think that voters pay a
little less attention to the particulars on foreign policy conversations about what you're planning to do and look much more for essential judgment. are you -- can they see you as a sound, wise commander in chief? are you going to be tough but also restrained in the use of power? i think they're looking for qualities in a person rather than a position. >> in that regard, how do you feel about herman cain. we had an editorial moment he just froze up. he wasn't being asked about some obscure country. he was being asked about libya and he couldn't come up with an answer. i'm on live television. i understand. he has a chance in this debate, i suspect he has an urgency to clean that up and prove i can be the commander in chief. right now if you asked 100 people you picked randomly on the street, i think 99 of them would say woo. >> he needs to give that answer, but quicker. he ended up having the correct answer and it was something that all the conservatives agreed with, but he said it in a very
slow and you could tell he was gathering his thoughts. which is fine. i don't begrudge anyone of that. but at the same time he needs to in a debate it's sound bite versus sound bite and he needs to be quicker off the cuff. >> i used to tease candidates unprepared on foreign policy. can't learn about 200 countries, just memorize the i countries. seriously. iran, iraq, ireland, italy, indonesia. >> not iceland. >> iceland's fine. but seriously like for mr. cain he doesn't know enough about libya or syria but he should know something about iran. >> yeah. take the fifth. >> it should be about europe. we want to hear something about the economic situation in europe. >> yeah. what's that? >> i hope we hear a lot about that. >> see if the germans want to bailout, i'll say 9-9-9. >> important advice to all candidates out there, we call it a pivot. dana, paul, david, thanks for
coming in. next we're going live to cairo. and, next, tonight's new allegations in the sex scandal served on the former penn state football coach, jerry sandusky. [ male announcer ] if you're giving an amazing gift, shouldn't it be given in an amazing way? ♪ [ laughs ] [ male announcer ] the lexus december to remember sales event is here, but only for a limited time. see your lexus dealer for exclusive lease offers like a complimentary first month's payment on the 2012 es 350. mary? what are you doing here? it's megan. i'm getting new insurance.
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saying it violates the constitution by trying to establish a state-specific immigration policy. the obama immigration sued to block in arizona, alabama. two cases of child abuse against the former penn state football coach, jerry sandusky. those opened by children and youth service agency according to sources close to the investigation. cnn reporting the cases were opened less than 60 days ago. they are the first to involve current children rather than adults coming forward to allege abuse from years ago. the former new jersey governor and u.s. senator korz ion now called to testify on the house committee on the collapse of his brokerage firm, mf global. a judge sentenced one-time obama campaign contributor to ten and a half years in prison that for his part in a kickback scandal involving rob blagojevich. and pushed stocks lower. business is at a solace. today's drop smaller.
erin burnt at the top of the hour. >> i was wandering through the debate. everyone taking their seats. we're going to be doing counting down to the debate. talking about big foreign policies but also defense cuts and two schools of thoughts, right? one is this is no problem. h.w. bush, reagan, they cut defense and another school of thought that comes to a very different conclusion. we also have john huntsman's daughters all three going to join us on the show. >> getting more attention than their dad which i guess is not so good if your dad's on the ballot. >> that's right. we're going to give them a chance to talk about who their dad really is. and also general wesley clark going to talk about iran and other threats that will get a lot of talk in that room back there. >> a lot of talk. the economic questions are also national security questions. iran, china challenge. interesting night. >> china has all of it in one big ball. >> one big ball. work on that for the next
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president, potentially most likely for the next president too, is egypt. four straight days of bloody violence now. confrontations between security forces and demonstrators demanding a quicker transition to democracy. well, tonight egypt's military leader announced some important concessions. our senior international correspondent live in cairo. when he took to state television, did his concessions -- did what he promised wasn't enough to satisfy those tens of thousands who are back in tahrir square. >> reporter: basically the major concession that he made was to move the planned presidential elections from december of 2012 to some time in june. so that's really it. and it really was not enough to calm the anger here in tahrir square. most of the people here were looking, a, for an apology, for this sort of police brutality
that resulted in the death of at least 30 protesters and the injury of as many as 2,000. and they were looking for some sort of indication precisely when the military council would completely hand over powers to some sort of civilian president or parliament. and so what we have going on now and it's almost 2:00 in the morning, people still coming to tahrir square. they called for a million-man march. i don't know if they've reached that number, but it seems to have been pretty close to it. and they say they're going to stay here until the military council resigns. john. >> and, ben, help us understand the sense of tension, if you will. when mubarak fell, many of the protesters were grateful for the military. they viewed the military as the force in the society, the respected institution in society to manage this transition. now you hear from those protesters, a lot of mistrust. you mentioned the violence. a lot of them don't think the
military is going to yield power and view the elections maybe as a sham. how do they have this transition moving forward if there's such distrusts? >> reporter: well, it's important to point out that it's not that they distrust the army. what the people they don't distrust or rather they don't trust are members of the military council. all of them senior officers in the military who rose through the ranks during the years of hosni mubarak. in fact, field marshal was mubarak's defense minister. so they want them to leave. now, how is this going to happen is not at all clear. and it's important to keep in mind that there are many egyptians who are not in tahrir square who still support the military council who are worried that all this political upheaval will fundamentally destabilize this country. after all on monday, the monday next, there's supposed to be
elections, parliamentary elections that the worry is with all of this going on in the middle of cairo that those elections are either not going to go ahead despite the pledges by the military council, or those elections could be very violent. john. >> reporting from our ben wedeman. with us to discuss what the united states can do and how this might impact our debate tonight. of course president george w. bush's advisor and the heritage foundation which is the co-sponsor of tonight's debate on cnn. fran, when you watch this play out, we see again by the tens of thousands, the protesters back in the streets, they don't trust the military transition. the transitional military government. we'll see what happens in the elections. does the united states here just have to watch and hope this plays out in a relatively peaceful way? or is there something any
president that the united states can and should be doing right now? >> well, john, this was always going to be a difficult transition. when president obama came out and supported the protesters against the mubarak regime, it was clear that this was going to be a process over a period of time to get to free and fair elections in egypt. that said, you know, the protesters and the opposition had a right to expect more than rhetoric. and more than simply sort of the u.s. throwing up its hands and saying over to you now once mubarak was overthrown. and i don't think that the protesters, the opposition, feel as though there's been a whole lot of engagement and support from the united states. look, this was -- we have institutions here, the international republican institute, the national democratic institute, that help build political parties that help parties in emerging democracies actually get to a point where they can have and conduct free and fair elections. i think that there is more that the united states can do. and it's got to be more than mere rhetoric.
they really need the sort of support and institution-building that is required to get to these elections. >> the tensions are inevitable, jim, in the sense that you have a military government, you have these protesters who knocked off a long-standing regime who feel they have power and of course they want it all now. should the united states be trying to pull leverage? or should the united states be watching and keeping quietly open the military-to-military relationships which goes back decades? >> this has been one of the problems from the administration from the start is they focused on whatever's on the front page instead of focusing on where they can have the biggest impact and advance our interests. that's simple. the three is. israel is a strong ally reaffirming our alliance. iran, the biggest troublemaker, doing everything to push them back. and iraq, a country key and pivotal working for transition which actually i think we've been doing a poor job on all three. so we're a bystander on one
sense. we're not acting aggressively where we can make a difference. >> but if you're making the case that the united states when it comes to looking at the egypt question and what's happening right now at this moment should put israel first. some would argue do whatever field marshal wants because he has a pretty good relationship with the israeli military. they might not be friends, but this relationship of trust and cooperation along the border there. if you do that, then you might be defying the will of those kids, the protesters. >> i think the number one thing the united states can do is make the case that israel is a strong ally to the united states and we will back them letting nobody know that you can take a day's march on the israelis. that's the most important thing. and let the israelis figure out relationships with their neighbors. >> fran, he mentions how important israel was in the region. that was in context to the egypt question. i want you to listen to a conversation i had with governor john huntsman from utah. he's one of the republican candidates tonight. he said couple months ago the united states in his view had no national interest at all in libya. governor huntsman said that he told me and we don't have the sound unfortunately but he told
me this is very different because syria is so connected to the israeli question. hezbollah gets support from syria. so he said in this case he would try to work covertly, try to support the operation. unlike did not take the military option. a nato-like option off the table when it comes to syria. is that a reasonable option? >> i think the most interesting thing as we've seen in the last week, the arab league has stepped up, just as they did in the case of libya, to try and exert pressure on the assad regime. that's really significant. i mean, after all in libya where they stepped up it was not against another arab nation. gadhafi had been sort of a sore in terms of his relationship. assad, that is not true. jair has historically had strong relations. and the arab league now is trying to assert pressure tells you how seriously other arab regimes, existing regimes in the region take the syria problem.
and the brutality that assad is visiting upon his own people. and so i think we're on a path that will permit coalition action, whether that's nato, whether that is increased sanctions from around the world. i mean, i do think you're going to see, john, increasing irritation and impatience with assad holding on to power and continuing to abuse his own people. >> increasing irritation to the point where you could have a libya-like operation in syria? that's a whole different ball game. >> i don't think so. first of all, the chinese and russians would never authorize it from the u.n. security council. it would have to be unilateral. look at syria is surrounded by. turkey, iran, iraq and israel who have immense interest in that country and aren't about to see the outside world jump in. this will be iraq 2005 in a very small place and i think mainly the united states will be a bystander. fran, in a sentence or two, if you could ask one question of these candidates, what would you
ask them? >> how your going to stop iran from getting a nuclear weapon. the president says he will prevent iran. we want to know from these candidates what they're going to do to prevent iran from getting a nuclear weapon. i think it's the greatest single threat. >> fran has the iran question. yours would be? >> the world is a fast-moving place. it's going to look a lot different when someone puts their hand on the bible 18 months from now. is this going to be a president of character? what kind of commander in chief they are going to be. it's all about character and leadership. >> james, fran, thanks. appreciate it. tonight an important debate coming up. a little more than an hour away. just moments ago, mitt romney arrived near the debate hall. you saw newt gingrich arriving, too. high stakes for them tonight. a national security debate coming up at the top of the next hour on cnn. still a little more programming to come here. up next here, the truth about what you are going to hear and maybe hear and not like in political ads. ♪
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the value of debates like tonight's is you get to hear the candidates in their own words. yes, sometimes we need to nudge them on the time, but their answers are their answers. no editing. we're learning again tonight we can't count on that on fairness and context when it comes to political ads. listen here. this was candidate obama in 2008. senator mccain's campaign actually said, and i quote if we
keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose. >> now here it is edited out of context for a new mitt romney for president ad. >> if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose. >> as i said at the top of the program, you deserve better. especially with the country facing such profound challenges. and my business, including this program, needs to do a better job policing the candidates when they twist the truth and distort things like this. it's no surprise now that team obama is howling in protest about the romney ad. they've clogged my inbox today with all the press releases quoting all the fact checks, calling romney on the carpet. here's tonight's truth. yes, the romney ad is reprehensible. but team obama should stop complaining and look in the mirror. the last time around, they were guilty of the very same deceptive tactic. listen. >> i don't believe we're headed into a recession. >> i think we're absolutely in a recession. >> i sometimes struggle just to get the essentials.
the milk, the bread, the eggs. >> now that ad made it seem senator mccain was blind to the economic pain in the country. but it took this out of context. >> i don't believe we're headed into a recession. i believe the fundamentals of this economy are strong and i believe they will remain strong. this is a rough patch, but i think america's greatness lies ahead of us. here's more from that very same obama 2008 ad. >> there's been great progress xh economically. >> the economy is in a rut. >> again, that's a creative edit. senator mccain did say there's been great promise economically but he went on in the same interview in the same sentence to say, but that's no comfort. that's no comfort to families now facing these tremendous economic challenges. once more, same ad. >> we have had a pretty good, prosperous time with low unemployment. >> the way the economy is is the
bleakest of times. >> again, that made senator mccain look oblivious, right? but again, a not so far edit. >> we have had a pretty good, prosperous time with low unemployment and low inflation, and a lot of good things have happened. a lot of jobs have been created. but let's have some straight talk. things are tough right now. americans are uncertain, mainly about this housing crisis. americans are uncertain about the economy as we see the stock market bounce up and down. >> so as we rightly point out tonight's new romney ad is unfair. a gross distortion. it's important we also point out team obama hardly, hardly has clean hands when it comes to mean-spirited hocus-pocus in their campaign ads. this is presidential campaign number seven for me. the willie horton ad played a starring role in my first campaign and, well, it gets worse and worse every cycle sadly. so i'm
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