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tv   CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley  CBS  September 3, 2012 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT

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>> tonight on the eve of the convention democrats stumble. >> can you honestly say that people are better off today than they were four years ago? >> no, but that's not the question of this election. >> that sent the republicans on the offensive. >> the president can say a lot of things-- and he will. but he can't tell you that you're better off. >> reports from nancy cordes and bob schieffer. on the gulf coast, homeowners see the devastation left by isaac. man well bojorquez is there. bill whitaker is in california where new wildfires are burning out of control. and on this labor day, sharyl attkisson meets some people trying to survive as the jobs vanish. >> yeah, i'm going to try to work. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley.
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>> axelrod: good evening, scott's off tonight, i'm jim axelrod. it's a question a president is asked every time he runs for reelection: are you better off now than you were four years ago, a question president obama's team should have seen coming but didn't. today as democrats gathered in sharr lot for their convention, the campaign faces the distraction of trying to set the record straight. nancy cordes is traveling with the president tonight as he surveys the damage from hurricane i sock. good evening, nancy. >> reporter: jim, this is a quick trip for the president, less than three hours. he is touring a damaged neighborhood, meeting with state officials, then it's back to the campaign where the two sides are locked in this vicious debate over whether the economy is on the monday. speaking in toledo, the president told a crowd of autoworkers they were better off thanks to his auto bailout. >> i stood with american workers i stood with american manufacturers, i believed in you
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i bet on you, i'll make that bet any day of the week. and because of that bet, three years later that bet is paying off for america! >> reporter: his campaign is doindamage control today after the way some of his top aides and supporters answered a crucial question this weekend: are americans better off than they were four years ago. this answer from maryland's democratic governor martin o'malley on cbs' "face the nation" got the most attention >> can you honestly say people are better off today than they were four years somethat that >> no, but that's not the question of this election. >> reporter: the romney campaign pounced, calling o'malley's comments "proof that president obama's policies aren't working." by today, democrats were reading from a different script. here was los angeles mayor antonio villaraigosa on cbs "this morning". >> the answer is we are better off. >> but the romney campaign hit democrats for that, too, saying they weren't facing reality. vice presidential nominee paul ryan was in north carolina.
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>> the president can say a lot of things-- and he will-- but he can't tell you that you're better off. simply put: the jimmy carter years look like the gold old days compared to where we are right now. (laughter) >> reporter: vice president biden arrived in detroit armed with this answer. >> you want to know whether we're better off? i've got a little bumper sticker for you. "osama bin laden is dead and general motors is alive!" >> reporter: by some measures, americans are better off today. home prices are up and jobs are being created. however, median income, jim, is down since the president took office and unemployment is higher than when he came to office. it's now 8.3%. >> axelrod: thank you, nancy, bob schieffer is our chief washington correspondent and the anchor of "face the nation." he joins us from the time warner cable arena in charlotte. bob, what do you think we'll hear from the democrats starting tomorrow night? >> you know, jim, in 1996 bob dole, who was a world war ii
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hero, said that he wanted to be a link to the greatest generation, the people of that era and return america to their values. bill clinton came along and said "well, that's really nice but what i want to do is be a bridge to the future." that's what you're going to hear a lot of at this convention, the word "forward." the president is going to argue that he's the foreign take the country forward. the other guys will take it backward. now, the job he's going to have here is defending this economy. he will say "our policies will finally get us back on track. the other guy's policies will make it worse." >> axelrod: let me ask you about a gallup poll out today that asked americans the likelihood of voting for governor romney since the g.o.p. convention. 40% are more likely to vote for him but 38% are less likely, which doesn't seem like much of a bump. are you surprised? >> it's not much of a bump and i'll tell you something, i was a little surprised at that. but it looks like when you look
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at that poll that the whole thing was simply a wash. >> axelrod: bob schieffer in charlotte, north carolina, thank you. along with the president, inspectors from the federal emergency management agent i have on the gulf coast tonight. they're assessing the damage from hurricane isaac, which could top $2 b. more than 125,000 homes and businesses are still without power. this picture caught our attention. it's from iron ton, louisiana, an injured horse struggled to get out of the mud before help arrived. man manwell bojorquez is there to see its devastating impact. >> reporter: six days after making landfall, isaac is the uninvited guest who won't leave. in plaquemines parish the flood devastated lives and livestock. 62-year-old carolyn sylve and her daughter had to take a canoe to see what they could salvage. >> this is our land, you know? we want to be home but we can't.
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we can't. >> reporter: while the reinforced $14 billion levee system kept new orleans dry, the complaint here is it pushed more water into the smaller, poorer towns. >> people here are poor, we're not rich. things need to change. >> we're getting ready to get washed away here. >> reporter: isaac walloped plaquemines parish. this video captures a torrent unleashed by the storm. ten feet of water submerged entire neighborhoods. in st. john's parish 30 miles west of new orleans calvin and constance woods saw their home had taken in five feet of water. it may not look like much damage but the floors are soaked. even the doors are swollen shut.
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the woods lost their previous home to katrina. they waited to see their home for a reason. you decided to go to your sunday service? >> yes, it was more important. i needed that; they needed that. >> reporter: calvin woods is pastor of liberty baptist church in the ninth ward where sunday's service went on without electricity. constance woods needed this, too. >> people were saying oh, we're praying for you and stuff like that. so i had been weeping the whole service. >> reporter: the woods say this time they will rebuild. >> we can rebuild, we can redo it and make a difference. >> reporter: jim, the army corps of engineers says it will look into whether the levee system-- which protected new orleans-- pushed water into outlying communities. >> axelrod: manuel bojorquez in louisiana, thank you. in the west, a fire is eating up
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part of the angeles national forest in california. it's burned through six square miles so far. bill whitaker shows us why this fire is so hard to fight. >> reporter: the fire keeps extending its grip, long fingers of flames stretched up mountain sides, blazing paths deep into the angeles national forest. the pushback by firefighters was just as aggressive. >> we haven't got a lot of rain this last winter and everything's really dry out here. >> reporter: 500 firefighters are battling the blaze, the heat and the steep terrain, trying to contain the fire and you have? it out. they're encircling it on the ground and hitting it hard from the air. this big d.c.-10 dropped 10,000 gallons of retardant each pass. >> access is our biggest challenge right now. >> the steep, rugged terrain we have out here is hard for our firefighters to get into. you have a slow bend of anywhere to 40 to 90 degrees in angle.
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folks standing on the side of the hill, it's here is dropdown, it's pretty hard. >> reporter: firefighters don't yet know what ignited the fire but once it started sunday afternoon it spread rapidly, captured in this time lapse video. it forced the evacuation of a trailer park and resorts. >> we woke up and saw the fire on the ridge, we had to leave. >> reporter: the conditions are perfect for this fire to spread. the vegetation is bone dry, providing plenty of fuel and the wind is expected to pick up again this evening. jim, right now this fire is moving away from residential areas, but three years ago the station fire in this very same forest burned 250 square miles and 89 homes so no one will rest easy until this fire is out. >> axelrod: bill whitaker, thank you. turning overseas now, there's been a huge spike in the violence in syria's civil war. human rights groups say at least 5,000 people were killed in august, the most in any one
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month. september is also off to a violent start. there's new fighting in the biggest cities, damascus and aleppo. today syria's government said there will be no talks with the opposition until there is more stability throughout the country. the assad regime rarely allows foreign journalists into syria. clarissa ward is just over the border in turkey. good evening, clarissa. the fight in and around aleppo continued today. government forces with more air strikes. what can you tell us about that? >> that's right, jim. activists are saying that as many as 25 people were killed, including women and children, during an air strike that took place in the city of al bab in aleppo province. al-bab has been under rebel control for the last couple months but in recent weeks the government has really been hammering that city with artillery and air strikes and we're seeing now more and more of the regime destroying its air assets, using helicopter gunships and fighter jets. the rebels have been telling us
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as far back as february that this was their greatest fear: that the regime would use air assets and they wouldn't be able to defend themselves. >> axelrod: a little later this week the new u.n. special envoy set to make his first trip to syria. his predecessor, kofi annan, could not broke err peace agreement. what can mr. brahimi do that kofi annan couldn't? >> well, it's interesting, obviously his expectations are fairly measured. he went so far as to call his new role "mission nearly impossible." he compared it to standing in front of a brick wall and essentially looking for some cracks in the wall. he will be flying to damascus on saturday and meeting with president assad. he has said that it is way too early at this stage to discuss what role, if any, president assad may have in the future of syria, but he has said quite adamantly that he opposes any foreign military intervention in syria. >> axelrod: clarissa ward just over the syrian border in turkey for us tonight. thank you.
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in northwestern pakistan there was a brazen attack today aimed at americans. a suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into an s.u.v. carrying u.s. government workers. at least two pakistanis were killed, 19 people were hurt, including two americans. their injuries are not life threatening. an army of volunteers could swing the presidential election. sharks scared away the swimmers on labor day weekend. flames shot sky high and a hotel was wiped out when the "cbs evening news" continues. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ there's y to help erase litter box odor. purina tidy cats. only tidy cats has odor erasers. making it easy to keep things at home... just the way you want them. tidy cats with odor erasers.
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>> axelrod: >> axelrod: it's no coincidence that democrats are holding their convention this week in charlotte, north carolina is among a handful of battleground states expected to decide the election. both campaigns are relying heavily on their ground game. an army of volunteers deployed to get out the vote. byron pitts spent time with some of the foot soldiers. >> all right, ready? >> reporter: 39-year-old mary parry is a stay at home mom in chapel hill with a husband, three kids, and a growing passion for politics. >> this is mary parry with the obama campaign. >> reporter: she volunteers 30 hours a week. her goal: reelect president obama. you have a full life outside of volunteering for president obama. so why do it? >> i feel like we've come along way since 2008 when president obama took office and it's just important for my future, for my kids' future for me to say, well i'm too busy. >> reporter: in 2008, obama's slim victory in north carolina
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was built on an army of volunteers. >> thank you guys for coming out. >> reporter: parry was one of 17,000 volunteers and paid staff across the state who knocked on doors and made phone calls. compare 2008 to 2012. is it easier or r to sell president obama. >> i would say asking for volunteers is even easier. >> reporter: easier? >> i would say. my experience. >> reporter: because? >> i think we had a lot of new people in 2008, like myself, who had never been involved with a campaign before. >> reporter: since then you have infrastructure? >> now we know what we're doing. >> reporter: the obama campaign strategy in north carolina will rely on turning out the youth vote, registering more african american voters and energizing women. >> when women go to the voting booth they're thinking about their rights and wanting... women would want ownership of their own bodies and health care decisions so we don't want men making those decisions for us in washington. >> i'm a volunteer for the mitt romney campaign. >> reporter: 46-year-old chuck painter is a registered
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independent serving as a romney volunteer in cornelius, north carolina. in 2009, painter lost his job as a salesman for a plastics company, a job he had for 20 years. >> i had my ohm repossessed through foreclosure, i couldn't afford to make the payments and i wasomeless, actually, during my birthday in may because i was in between, did not have a place to stay, couldn't afford anything. >> reporter: four years ago, candidate obama won 54% of north carolina voters who said they were concerned about the economy. on election day, unemployment was inching toward 8%. now in the state of north carolina it's 9.6%. i am struck by how difficult these few years have been for you. i can tell that still gets to you. >> yes, it's very hard to talk about because it's... i really haven't shashd shared it with a lot of people because it's embarrassing. i never thought i would be in
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this situation as an american. >> reporter: a key part of the romney campaign strategy in north carolina, tapping into voter dissatisfaction with the economic recovery, reenergizing the conservative base and winning a majority of independents like chuck. so you hold president obama responsible far? >> yes, i do hold him responsible. i don't feel like i would have lost my career and so many others would be strug flg they would have made different decisions and if my country was in a better state. >> reporter: president clinton will speak directly to independent voters like chuck when he address it is convention here on wednesday. byron pitts, cbs news, sharr lot >> axelrod: well, it was no day at the beach. why many cape cod swimmers at the beach. why many cape cod swimmers stayed on shore this holiday weekend. and i honestly didn't think i would ever quit. [ male announcer ] along with support, chantix is proven to help people quit smoking. it reduces the urge to smoke. it put me at ease that you could smoke on the first week. [ male announcer ] some people had changes in behavior,
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>> axelrod: a >> axelrod: a shark scare kept swimmers out of the waters off cape cod this weekend. two sharks estimated at 14 and 16 feet long were spotted thursday. one got within 30 feet of the beach. there have been a series of shark sightings off cape cod in recent weeks. this great white was found washed ashore near the rhode island border on saturday. in portland, oregon, investigators spent today trying to determine what caused a vacant hotel to go up in flames. the fire spread quickly through the building along the columbia river. the owners were using it for storage. the fire caused more than $5 million in damage but no one was
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hurt. margaret thatcher made an impact on world politics and, would you believe, the world of fashion? we saw a proof of that in london today as seven suits worn by the former british prime minister sold at auction. one of them sold for more than $39,000-- more than ten times the expected price. the actor michael clarke duncan was hard to miss. his big size and booming voice earned him roles on the big screen including that of a gifted convict in "the green mile." he earned an oscar nomination for that role in 2000. sung can suffered a heart attack in july and died in los angeles today. he was 54. a family of steel workers wonders if it will be the last generation to work at the mill. wonders if it will be the last generation to work at the mill. that's next. ove they give you predictable overnight relief to help get you feeling like yourself again in the morning. dulcolax laxative tablets. keep you moving. ♪ feeling free. ♪
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hobby, the violin. but after 36 years here, there's steel in his blood. you have a long standing family history. >> my great grandfather started down there in the 1900s. my granddad after that. my father, myself and then my daughter was after me. she would be the fifth generation. >> reporter: built 125 years ago, the mill was once the world's largest, producing steel for the golden gate bridge and both world wars. in its heyday, america's steel industry boasted 600,000 workers. today it's down to 87,000, and this company has come to exemplify the industry's struggles, a chain of owners, layoffs. there was once 31,000 employees here, now there there's 2,000. two months ago they got the news the plant was closing. >> i'm speechless, i don't know what to say. all these young people with kids and homes, cars. what are they going to do?
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where are we going to go? 2,000 of us all at once. where are we going to go? >> reporter: there's been a ripple effect in the community. just down the road, richard mckee's family business started in the 1930s and, thanks to the steel workers became a bustling car wash, convenience store, and bar. now it's one of 70 area businesses with an uncertain future. >> the plant closing down has meant what to your business? >> a dramatic decrease in our business. definitely making us rethink the way we do things. >> reporter: there's a saying in the business: the finest steel has to go through the hottest fire. heart necessary is determined to make a new life, hunting for a job the first time in 36 years. >> i'm going to try to work. not going to lay down and die-- i hope. >> reporter: a redevelopment firm recently bought it will company. they're not saying what to do with the property. >> reporter: my fore fathers
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would be rolling over in their graves. how many times will he tell me "that place will be there forever." >> reporter: the end of an era for a plant, a community, and a family. sharyl attkisson, cbs news, dundalk, maryland. >> axelrod: that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight. scott pelley begins our coverage of the democratic national convention tomorrow right here on the evening news and in prime time at 10:00 in the east and 7:00 in the west. for now, i'm jim axelrod in new york. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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this is 9 news now. >> a night of heavy downpours leaves as much as 4 inches of rain in d.c. some residents in north west are bracing for even more damage. tonight they're still cleaning up from last night's flood in the bloomingdale neighborhood, an area notorious for flooding as it is. residents there are overwhelm and frustrated after their homes, mostly the basements, filled with water again last night. michael thomas says this is the third time his condo flooded in the last several weeks. last night he had 3 1/2 feet of sewage water filling his basement. it ruined his appliances, furniture and drywall. >> it scared me when i saw the water force that door open. i couldn't believe it and i was sitting here praying that it doesn't push the door open entirely because there was that

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