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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Presidential Candidate Jon Huntsman; Virus Infects U.S. Military Drones
Aired October 10, 2011 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: A computer virus now infecting the U.S. military's drone program, it's raising new concerns about cyber attacks, experts warning this virus may be just the beginning.
Also, another troubled government investment comes to light. Details of what happened to another green company after it received millions of stimulus dollars.
And the Mormon controversy rocking the Republican race for the White House. I will talk about that and much more with the other Mormon candidate, Jon Huntsman. He joins us live this hour.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
It's one of the U.S. military's most important weapons systems playing a critical role in the fight against terror. And now there's new growing concern over the computers that control drone aircraft. They're infected with a persistent virus, but it is only part of a much, much bigger threat.
Our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is investigating all of this for us.
Chris, what are you picking up?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, right now, officials don't know if this virus is benign or is truly doing harm.
It has not stopped the pilots from actually flying the drones over their missions in places like Afghanistan. But right now, they are in the midst of an investigation to find out if any secret data is being transmitted outside because of this virus.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): They have become one of the linchpins of U.S. military power in war zones around the world. But a defense official confirms these drones are now flying while infected with a computer virus.
NOAH SHACHTMAN, "WIRED": Military officials are more confused than panicked by this virus.
"The Danger Room" editor Noah Shachtman first reported this story for "Wired" magazine and says officials don't know if this was an accident or deliberate. They're trying to figure out if any classified information is getting out while struggling to wipe the virus.
SHACHTMAN: They have tried over and over again to get rid of this thing, using some fairly conventional antivirus methods and they haven't worked. And so it seems like the only way it get rid of this virus is to basically wipe the hard drives of these computers entirely and sort of rebuild the computers scratch.
LAWRENCE: One hundred and fifty drones can be flying over Afghanistan at any moment. But the Reapers and Predators are controlled from U.S. soil. CNN got access to Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, where pilots steer the drones remotely. This is where the virus infected the U.S. military's secure computer system.
WILLIAM LYNN, FORMER UNITED STATES DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: In the 21st century, bits and bytes can be as threatening as bullets and bombs.
LAWRENCE: This incident is just part of a bigger problem. Cyber thieves have stolen specifications for parts of tanks and submarines. It took 24,000 military files in a single intrusion this year. Pentagon officials admit there have been multiple intrusions over the past few years and more destructive tools are being developed every day.
LYNN: And the most malicious actors have not yet obtained the most harmful capabilities. But this is situation will not hold forever. There will eventually be a marriage of capability and intent where those who mean us harm will gain the ability to launch damaging cyber attacks.
LAWRENCE: Yes, the former deputy secretary of the defense says the Pentagon has a limited window to secure its systems. In fact the Pentagon has already launched a pilot program to try and secure some of the defense contractors. They are the ones who lost those 24,000 files I mentioned.
And whatever happens with this particular virus, almost everyone is convinced that it will not be the last one to hit the drone program -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Chris, what's the most damage this current virus potentially could do?
LAWRENCE: In one word from officials I spoke with, trust, Wolf. It's not like this virus will bring down a drone, it will fall out of the sky. But if there is a gap in trust, if officials start to not trust that the information that they're getting has not been compromised, that could start to affect missions in the long run.
BLITZER: Chris Lawrence, watching this story with enormous ramifications, thank you. Let's go to the Middle East right now, where Syria's crackdown on anti-government protesters is ratcheting up to deadly new levels. It is no surprise that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, is getting moral, political and financial support from Iran.
But in a very, very troubling development for Washington, he's also now enjoying some serious backing from Iraq.
BLITZER: And Arwa Damon is joining us now from Beirut.
Arwa, you have spent a lot of time in Syria over the years, spent a lot of time Iraq. Why would the prime minister of Iraq Nouri al- Maliki, now be siding with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as he continues his brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrators?
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it most certainly seems, Wolf, as if Maliki is adopting Iran's stance when it comes to Syria, that not entirely surprising given how just close the two countries are and given just how indebted Maliki is to a certain degree to the Iranians for his current position in Iraq.
At the same time, though, what many are saying is quite hypocritical about all of this is that Maliki is the very same man who has come out in the past and directly accused the Syrians of being the ones who were fueling the insurgency inside Iraq. One especially notable occasion was in 200 after there were a series of attacks against Iraq government institutions, the Iraq government, al-Maliki came out and pointed the finger of blame directly at the Syrians.
There is not much love lost between Damascus and Baghdad but this most certainly appears to be a case where the regional dynamics are more at play.
BLITZER: The U.S. has spent hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq, lost thousands of lives. Does Nouri al-Maliki really believe his relationship with Iran and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is more important than his relationship with the United States?
DAMON: Well, a lot of critics of the Maliki government have said that yes, that is in fact the case, that Maliki views the U.S. as being a country that eventually is going to be leaving Iraq, that he has to maintain close ties with a neighbor at the end of the day.
But at the same time, there is growing concern because of just how cozy the two countries are becoming and their relationship appears to only be strengthening by the day. And most certainly when it comes to the U.S. it is not going to want to see Baghdad and Tehran enjoying that close of a relationship. This would not serve the U.S.' interest in the region.
And it's one where the U.S. officials have come out and reluctantly admitted that perhaps -- some of them have reluctantly admitted that perhaps the end result of America's entire invasion of Iraq will result in effectively having handed the country over to the Iranians. BLITZER: And over the past few days, we have seen some more brutal crackdowns, some brutal violence, against these demonstrators in Syria by the Bashar al-Assad regime. What is the very latest that you are picking up?
DAMON: Well, there have actually been a number of clashes that were reported over the weekend that left at least 31 people dead according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights -- 17 of those deaths though, Wolf, were of Syrian security forces.
The Observatory reporting that they had occurred at the hands of individuals believed to have defected from the Syrian military. Well, we have been seeing in recent weeks the growing number of defections taking place. And we have also been seeing violence concentrated in specific areas where those defectors are concentrated.
This, of course, is a very chilling development in what is happening in Syria because many people fear that this could potentially propel the country towards a civil war. And yet the defectors will tell you that the Syrian government left them no choice but to take up weapons because they say after seven months of peaceful demonstrations the Syrian government has made it clear that it intends on slaughtering every single individual who has dared stand against them.
And at the same time, there has been a growing, albeit reluctant conversation among the activists as to whether or not they should all be taking up arms to try to defend themselves.
BLITZER: Arwa Damon on the scene for us in Beirut, Arwa, thanks very much.
BLITZER: And check out my blog at CNN.com/situationroom. I write about this very subject today.
The terrorist group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is now promising to retaliate soon for deaths of the American born cleric Anwar al- Awlaki and three others. Releasing a statement today, the group finally confirmed al-Awlaki's death to his followers 10 days after he was killed by a U.S. drone strike.
The Obama administration under fire for killing al-Awlaki, who was an American citizen. Tonight, we are also learning more about a secret Justice Department memo that laid out the case for killing him.
Our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, is here in THE SITUATION ROOM watching this story for us.
What is the legal argument that the Obama administration had, Jill, for going head and authorizing the killing an American citizen?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we talked with a senior U.S. official who basically ran us through some of the rationale for why you would be able to kill an American citizen. So maybe we ought to go through it point by point. Maybe we start with the fact that he was an American citizen, right?
BLITZER: Let's talk about that. Go ahead.
DOUGHERTY: OK. So he is an American citizen. However, as the administration looks at it, he is an American citizen who is also part of al Qaeda.
He is a leader, in fact, they have started to use this word, the leader of external operations for al Qaeda. That means, according to the administration, that they have the right to go after him. So that's part one.
BLITZER: What's part two?
DOUGHERTY: Part two, hot battlefield. Now, this is a phrase that you will hear a lot.
In international -- let's say that the war, how you conduct war, it is sometimes said that if somebody isn't in a hot battlefield, in other words, if they're not shooting at you right now, then it's not fair game to go after him. But the administration would make the case that a hot battlefield essentially could be a computer that a terrorist is on that is telling someone to carry out a terrorist act.
Let's listen to John Brennan, the president's national security adviser.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, U.S. DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Al Qaeda does not follow a traditional command structure, wear uniforms, carry its arms openly or mass its troops at the borders of the nations it attacks. Nonetheless, it possesses the demonstrated capability to strike with little notice and cause significant civilian and/or military casualties.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The other factor is he was not in Afghanistan and he was not in Iraq. He was in Yemen.
DOUGHERTY: Right. And that is really an important point, because the administration would say, Yemen either was unwilling or incapable, and in this case, it's probably more incapable, of actually getting al- Awlaki.
Therefore, according to the administration, it is fair game to do it, the U.S. has the right to take it out. And, Wolf, I have to tell you, it is very important that they are not making the case against every American who is abroad. They are making the case against al-Awlaki.
So there is no broader, at this point, point. And then the other thing is the administration is saying right now, at least our understanding is, there is a debate in the administration over whether they actually should release more of this rationale, whether they should explain it better, because a lot the U.S. allies do not agree on some of these points and would like to know more.
BALDWIN: Yes. Even Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont, I interviewed him the other day. He was queasy about this rationale.
BLITZER: And I know there's pressure from members of Congress on the Obama administration to go ahead and release the legal document justifying the killing of an American citizen in this war on terror.
Thanks very much, Jill, for that.
Massive government loans to this so-called green company sparked outrage after it went bankrupt. Now we are learning about another green company that got millions from Washington and it's on the brink.
Plus, Rick Perry's new video attacking Mitt Romney, is it effective or just desperate, as the Romney campaign insists?
BLITZER: Only moments ago, the markets closed on wall street stocks. Made a very, very strong showing. Let's go straight to Karina Huber, she's watching all of this up on Wall Street.
What happened Karina?
KARINA HUBER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, nothing happened stateside to drive the markets higher, because we had that holiday. So no corporate earning, no econ data. The focus really was on Europe. And the news coming out of that region was pretty good. We heard from France and Germany over the weekend. That they were committed to re-capitalizing the banks, and fighting the Eurozone debt crisis. So we saw really the financials take off today, even though it was a broad-based rally with all 30 Dow components ending in positive territory. It was the banks that really shone. We saw that Bank of America close up more than 6%. Citigroup up more than 7% But keep in mind, the devil is in the details. And at this point, we don't know exactly what Europe plans on doing when it comes to Eurozone debt crisis. Those details are expected to come in about three weeks from now. So we will have a lot of uncertainty in weeks to follow. We have seen the wild swings throughout the past two months. Which is signs of an unhealthy market. So do expect volatility in the days ahead.
BLIZTER: Yes, any day it goes up 330 points, that's good news for a lot of investors. Karina, thanks very much.
First, there was Solyndra a California solar panel maker that received huge loans from the energy department only to go bankrupt. Now we are learning new details of another troubled investment by the Obama administration in the so called green energy company. Lisa Sylvester has been following this for us .All right, Lisa, what's the latest here? What's going on now.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. The Obama administration has been really betting big on Green. The stimulus program, it provided hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and grants to companies that make advanced batteries for electrical vehicles. The department of energy is hoping that this brand new industry will help bring back the manufacturing sector, particularly in states like Michigan hit hard with job losses. But fiscal conservatives are calling this a waste of taxpayer money and they are predicting that there will be more failed companies in this industry, like we saw with the solar panel company, Solyndra.
SYLVESTER (voice over): 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015. It was a goal laid out in President Obama's State of the Union address January of this year. The very next day, Vice President Joe Biden visited Enerone an Indiana manufacturer that makes the advanced batteries that powers those cars.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not just going to have to create new jobs, which we've seen evidence of right here. We have to create whole new industries for the 21st century.
SYLVESTER: Enerone, was awarded a $118 million in federal stimulus money in 2010, part of $2.5 billion taxpayer dollars out the door to advance battery related companies. The energy department says these are the new jobs of the future. And if the U.S. wants to compete, It has to help these start-up companies.>
DAVID SANDALLOW, ENERGY DEPARTMENT: The U.S. government needs to be in the game working with our companies, with our workers, to be sure that we have a big piece of this growing global market.
SYLVESTER: But the promise as Enerone as an engine for new jobs, has grown dim since Vice President Biden's January visit, the company's stock has plummeted 95%. A shareholder class action lawsuit has been filed alleging violation of federal securities laws. We contacted Enerone for a comment but they did not return our calls. The story of Enerone might sound a little like Solyndra. The California solar panel company that received half a billion dollar loan guarantee from the federal government only to file for bankruptcy. Representative Cliff Stern says these troubled investments point to why the federal government shouldn't play the role of venture capitalist.
REP. CLIFF STERN, (R) FLORIDA: I think the overall concern I have, is the administration wants to industrialize using the government to control and make decisions on who is a winner and loser in the market. You cannot do that in a free market. If you start to predict who is winner and losers are, then you are socializing this country.
SYLVESTER: Industry analysts say the problem for the lithium ion battery industry is competition from overseas. China, and other countries. The lack of customers, there just aren't that many electric cars on the road. And the push by the Obama administration to use stimulus money to fund multiple advanced battery companies at the same time.
MENAHEM ADERMAN, ADVANCED BATTERY CONSULTANT: I think it was misguided. In the sense that rushing into building five plants at the same time with a given production capacity for a market that did not need it yet, was a mistake. So the whole project was misguided.
SYLVESTER: The Obama administration acknowledges some clean tech companies are going to succeed, and some like Solyndra are going to fail.
SYLVESTER (on-camera): Should the government be placing bets, essentially, that saying maybe some of them will succeed, maybe some of them won't.
SANDALLOW: Well this isn't an issue of whether governments are going to be in the marketplace or not. Governments are in the marketplace. The Chinese government is in the marketplace, the Japanese government, European governments are all here. The question is whether the U.S. government and the people of the United States are going to stand behind our companies and workers here. I hope so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVESTER: The Obama administration says it wasn't just Democratic lawmakers though supporting Enerone. There were key Republicans including Senator Lugar, Representative Dan Burton and Governor Mitch Daniels who also on Enerone's behalf. And by the way, Enerone's stock closed about 32 cents today.
BLIZTER: That's it.
SYLVESTER : 32 cents, I mean it's trading now literally for pennies, far cry from where it was in January when Vice President Biden visited the company.
BLIZTER: What I don't under why they let the president of the United States, or the vice president of the United States, go out there and underline their support for these companies that may be so risky, maybe in such political danger for these administration officials.
SYLVESTER: You know, that is an excellent question, Wolf .If you look at some of the timing on this, for instance with Enerone it was the day after the president's State of the Union address. So they wanted their officials out there, they wanted to fan them out of the country and talk about some of the initiatives. In this case he was talking about the battery industry, about electrical vehicles. Same thing that we saw with Solyndra, It was time to-- there was release of the jobs report. So oftentimes there is a political connection. You have to see what is going on, on the day of these events, when they are actually out there visiting their companies. Because often then there is a political timetable as well.
BLITZER: And the money that went for Enerone was the same pocket of money that went to Solyndra as well? SYLVESTER: It was a different program within the energy department but again it's the department of energy program. They've got these various clean tech programs, depending on this advanced battery.
BLIZTER: Basically American taxpayers lost $500 million in Solyndra, could lose another hundred million in Enerone.
SYLVESTER: It's a lot of money, and they believe there are Republicans who believe there are even more Solyndras out there. So we are keeping an eye on all of that.
BLIZTER: I know you are. We're working on some other stuff for later in the week. Thanks very much. An evangelical leader is calling Mormonism a false religion. So what does Republican presidential candidate and Mormon Jon Hunstman have to say about all of this? He's joining us live, right here "The Situation Room". That's coming up next.
And could giving companies a tax break on some profits create jobs right here in the United States? The idea is creating momentum. But could it work? You'll decide for yourself. Stay with us. You're in "The Situation Room".
BLIZTER: I'm Wolf Blizter in Washington. Here are some of the stories we're working on for our next hour. Deadly clashes in the streets of Egypt., We'll go live to Cario to check the progress toward Democracy is there any? Also, they can bring down an airliner, and they might be missing from Libya's stockpiles. What U.S. officials are now doing about all those missing shoulder fired missiles.
And strip searched twice over a parking ticket. Now one man is taking his case to the United States Supreme court. Stand by, you're in "The Situation Room"
Let's get some more now on the controversy that's erupted in the Republican race for the White House, centering on the Mormon faith of Mitt Romney.
But Romney is not the only Mormon running for the Republican presidential nomination.
Jon Huntsman is also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints.
He's also a former Utah governor, a former United States ambassador to China.
Governor, thanks very much for coming in
JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hey, Wolf, good to be with you.
BLITZER: All right, lots to discuss, but I want to get through this Mormon issue first and foremost.
Listen to Pastor Robert Jeffress, the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas yesterday in the pulpit.
Listen to what he said about your faith.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PASTOR ROBERT JEFFRESS, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, DALLAS: Part of a pastor's job is to warn his people and others about false religions. Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Mormonism are all false religions. And I stand by those statements.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: On Friday, he told the Values Voters Summit here in Washington that Mormonism is a cult.
What do you want to say to this pastor?
HUNTSMAN: Well, it's unfortunate that one person is driving the narrative during a time when we have 15 million unemployed. We have two wars abroad. We have an uncertain position in the world. We have failing schools. We have the most important election of my lifetime in the 2012 election cycle.
The fact that, you know, some moron can stand up and make a comment like that, you know, first of all, it's outrageous. Second of all, the fact that we are spending so much time discussing it makes it even worse. I mean you give a major foreign policy speech today, as I did, and the questions that come after the foreign policy speech are more focused on religion as opposed to our place in the world.
This does not help the American people come to terms with the choices that they're -- that they have in the 2012 election cycle.
And as far as I'm concerned, let's stick to the big issues that really matter and leave religion off the table. Last I looked, that wasn't a prerequisite or a requirement for the presidency.
BLITZER: Which is a fair point. And I want to get to your foreign policy, your domestic policy, in a moment.
But what do you say to some of your fellow Republican presidential candidates who don't even acknowledge that you are, in fact, a Christian?
HUNTSMAN: Well, I don't have any time to discuss this kind of issue. I say let's respect religious beliefs. Let's show a little more tolerance in terms of what people's belief systems are.
Thomas Jefferson got it right when he spoke about tolerance for religions and the fact that they wouldn't play a role in American politics. And here we sit, over 200 years later, spending more time than it's worth on this very subject. Let's stick to the core issues that affect this nation and our position in the world and regaining our competitive core in the 21st century and leave the rest of this to the side.
BLITZER: I -- I suspect -- and I know you, Governor, that if one of your supporters, someone who introduced you at a major policy conference, were to say awful things about another Republican presidential candidate, you would distance yourself very, very quickly from that -- from that pastor or someone else and you would run away as quickly as you can.
Are you concerned that Rick Perry, who was introduced by this pastor at the Values Voters Summit, is -- is really not distancing himself, challenging, going after this pastor in a way that you probably would like him to?
HUNTSMAN: Make an immediate and decisive break, period. This kind of talk, I think, has no home in American politics these days. And, you know, anyone who is associated with somebody willing to make those comments ought to stand up and distance themselves in very bold language. And that hasn't been done. And -- and Rick ought to stand up and do that.
BLITZER: Because even yesterday, here on CNN, on Candy Crowley's "STATE OF THE UNION," Herman Cain refused to get into this, refused to condemn or distance himself, really, from this pastor.
Michele Bachmann didn't want to talk about it.
You would suspect, I think, that you would suspect that some of these candidates would be more than ready to go ahead and take that step.
But let's move on and talk about this campaign, talk about some of the other substantive issues right now.
Herman Cain, in this new Harvard University poll that just came out, together with St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney is at 38 percent, Herman Cain is at 20 percent, Ron Paul, 13, Newt Gingrich, 5. You're at 4. Rick Perry is only at 4.
Why is Herman Cain doing so well in all of these most recent polls?
HUNTSMAN: Well, everyone has had an opportunity to be the flavor of the week. You know, we've been in this race a little over three months and we've had probably five frontrunners, four frontrunners in about five or six months. They go up and they go down.
I think Herman has captured the imagination of some of the activists in the party. He has made good presentations. He's had a good debate performance. And he's a compelling speaker.
What I hope these people begin to look at is beyond just the periphery.
What has a candidate done in terms of leadership, in terms of leading a state, in terms of leading large, complicated entities? What do candidates know about America's role in the world in the 21st century?
What are they putting forward in terms of real proposals that are not just proposals for the sake of putting forward ideas, but that are realistic in terms of what can get done?
Now, I put forward an economic proposal that "The Wall Street Journal" has come out and endorsed as the best of the bunch. Today, we had a foreign policy speech in where -- where we talk about creating a vision that is 21st century focused, as opposed to based more on the George Tenet, post-World War II model.
These are the kinds of things that ultimately are going to sink in with the voters, first here in New Hampshire. And I like the fact that we're beginning to get traction in this state. I like the fact that as we had today and yesterday, packed town hall meetings, people coming out, Republicans and Independents coming out who are looking for vision. They're looking for solutions. They're looking for a practical and visionary pathway forward. And that's what we're providing.
BLITZER: And you've been certainly distinguishing yourself and moving away from some of the other candidates on some of these issues.
But a lot of folks are wondering, do you regret, in that first Republican debate, raising your hand when you were asked if you would support 10 -- 10 to 1 -- $10 in spending cuts for $1 in tax increases?
You went along with all the other Republican candidates.
Was that a mistake?
HUNTSMAN: I don't like tax increases, but when you raise your hand, I mean, you don't have enough time to say, well, my tax policy actually calls for the phasing out of all the loopholes and deductions. I would take that revenue and reinvest it back in the tax code.
You know, it -- it shows how we have dumbed down the whole debate process, where we talk more about vaccinations, talk more about books and what they have to say about Social Security nonsense and we focus much less on the truly important issues, like tax reform, like regulatory reform, like energy independence and like our position abroad.
But when you were asked just to raise a hand, you don't have any chance beyond that to explain it. It does put people in an awkward position. And, of course, your knee-jerk reaction, Wolf, is to say I don't like tax increases, I'm not going to allow tax increases, just like when I was governor.
But there's more to it than meets the eye. You've got to get the work of the country done. That's what is not happening today. There is no leadership. There is no ability to get the work of the people done.
We're at extreme ends politically. We're finger-pointing. We're taking cheap shots at each other. We're becoming more partisan with each passing months. All the while, the American people want action. They just want the work of their country done.
BLITZER: You really went after the president of the United States today in your foreign policy speech, saying basically that his national security agenda was a failure.
Here is the question. He asked you to be the United States ambassador to China. You worked for him. You worked with him.
If you were so upset about his national security policy, why didn't you quit in protest?
HUNTSMAN: I served for two years when my president asked me to serve during a time of war, during a time of economic hardship. I've always believed in putting your country before party. And I believe when it comes to the U.S.-China relationship, Wolf, it's always been, now for 40 years, a non-partisan relationship. Republicans and Democrats, we've had -- we have shared interests in the U.S.-China relationship. I always believed that serves America better, when you have a U.S.- China relationship that is non-partisan.
So when I'm asked to serve, I will embrace that and help my country in any way that it can.
Now I'm a candidate for president of the United States and I've got to say, first and foremost, our core in this nation, which is our economy and our values system, is weak. And we're, therefore, not able to project the goodness and radiate the values that make this country great -- liberty and democracy and human rights and free markets.
This world is a better place when we have a strong core and are able to radiate those values, which we're just not doing today, because our core is weak. and as my first step in terms of our national security and foreign policy priorities, Wolf, it would be to strengthen our core right here at home, to nation-build right here at home, not in Afghanistan. That's not our nation's future. Not in Iraq. That is not our nation's future.
Our nation's future is in how well we can pull together as people and somehow ameliorate this divide that has settled into this country.
BLITZER: It sounds like a major split between you and Mitt Romney, who delivered his own national security foreign policy speech on Friday.
What's the biggest difference between you and Romney when it comes to national security?
HUNTSMAN: Well, I'm offering solutions and real ideas. He's offering sound bites, bumper sticker solutions. That doesn't work. You can throw platitudes out there, but at the end of the day, you've actually got to manage U.S. affairs in the world.
So far as I can tell, you know, he's -- he's -- he's taking an approach to China and Russia that plays on a fear factor.
We need more opportunities in this country. And we need more opportunities to trade. I'm calling for more free trade agreements. I'm calling for more international economic engagement, making the argument that we have two compelling foreign policy interests that will serve us in the 21st century.
One is international economic affairs, because strong economic engagement will play back to our own core, strengthen it and create jobs. And, second, we have counter-terrorism we've got to worry about. As far as the eye can see into the 21st century, Wolf, we have a -- we have a counter-terrorism threat. And we need to begin aligning our friends and allies around those two necessities and realities that will drive our foreign policy, our defense spending and the way we deploy in -- well into the 21st century, a much different vision than what -- than what Mitt Romney has put on the table.
BLITZER: Jon Huntsman, good luck out there on the campaign trail.
We'll talk to you soon.
HUNTSMAN: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
CNN's next debate, by the way, only a little more than a week away. Join CNN for the Western Republican Debate. It's out in Las Vegas. It airs live, Tuesday night, October 18th, 8:00 p.m., only here on CNN.
The worst violence in Egypt since the Arab spring uprising. Dozens of people are dead, hundreds are injured. So, what's behind the bloodshed? We are going to Cairo.
BLITZER: Netflix does an about face.
Lisa Sylvester is back. She's monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
What do you have, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf.
Well, Netflix is announcing it will not divide its DVD by mail and streaming video services. After all, just last month, the company told customers they would need two separate accounts on two different Web sites to continue renting movies via the mail and online. An estimated 1 million customers left Netflix after that decision to split.
And a stray cat may have been what brought down fugitive mobster James "Whitey" Bulger and his girlfriend. "The Boston Globe" is reporting the FBI paid former Miss Iceland $2 million for the tip that led to the pair's arrest. She got to know Bulger's girlfriend after they both took interest in a stray cat near the couple's California hideout. Bulger and his girlfriend have pleaded not guilty to all the charges that they are facing.
And actress Zsa Zsa Gabor is in the hospital after surgery to replace a feeding tube. She was rushed to UCLA Medical Center late Saturday. A spokesman for the actress says the surgery was a success and she should return home today or tomorrow. Gabor has suffered major health problems, though, in the last year, including having a hip replaced and a leg amputated.
So, hopefully, she'll make a speedy recovery.
BLITZER: We hope. And let's hope for the best. Thanks very much.
Should authorities be allowed to strip search you over unpaid parking tickets? Strip search. That happens to one man not once, but twice. And now, he is taking his fight to the United States Supreme Court.
BLITZER: It's day 24 of the "Occupy Wall Street" protest, the movement against corporate greed. But you could say it's falling on deaf ears right here in Washington, on Capitol Hill, where some lawmakers want to give corporate America yet another tax break, one that would encourage companies to bring their overseas profits back to the United States.
CNN's Mary Snow is working the story for us.
Mary, what's this one all about?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's estimated that U.S. companies have more than $1 trillion in profits overseas. And if that money comes to the U.S., companies face a tax rate of 35 percent.
. There's a new push on Capitol Hill to give companies a tax holiday in hopes that money would stimulate the U.S. economy.
SNOW (voice-over): As the perception of corporate greed sparks protest around the country, in Washington, an idea on corporate taxes has struck bipartisanship.
Democratic Senator Kay Hagan and Republican Senator John McCain introduced a bill last week that would give companies a temporary tax break for overseas profits they send back to the U.S., which is estimated to top $1 trillion. The goal is to create jobs.
SENATOR KAY HAGAN (D), NORTH CAROLINA: I want that money brought back to America and I want it brought back to North Carolina.
SNOW: Fellow Democrat Charles Schumer of New York isn't completely sold. He wants to see some of those overseas profits go into a bank to create infrastructure jobs. SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: I think that people could swallow it, not love it if they were guaranteed job creation. That's number one.
SNOW: Here is how it would work. Instead of paying a 35 percent tax rate on profits brought into the U.S., companies would temporarily pay 8.75 percent. That rate would go lower under the bill if companies add jobs.
The push for this temporary tax holiday is part of a campaign supported by companies like Apple, Google, Pfizer and Kodak. GE's CEO, Jeff Immelt, also supports the idea.
JEFFREY IMMELT, CEO, GE: I think people sit and say, look, we've got a trillion dollars of cash overseas. What possible good can that do us?
SNOW: One voice in corporate America not behind it is billionaire businessman Warren Buffet. He told CNN's Poppy Harlow this.
WARREN BUFFET, CEO, BERSHIRE HATHAWAY: There's a certain irony involved here because if you let them repatriate money at a very low rate, what's their incentive? Their incentive is to keep making money over there at very low rates thinking they'll get back here without pay much tax.
SNOW: The idea is one that's been tried before.
ROBERTON WILLIAMS, TAX POLICY CENTER: We tried the same kind of repatriation holiday in 2004. (Inaudible) a lot of money, but they didn't do much additional investment instead they paid larger dividends to their stockholders. They bought back stock to boost their stock price, but they didn't do much new investment.
SNOW: And Wolf, both the conservative think tank and progressive one have come out in recent days agreeing on one thing and that is that they don't support this idea. Basically, they say it didn't produce hope for domestic investment six years ago.
But lobbyists behind the tax break are encouraged they are getting support from both Democrats and Republicans and that a similar bill is being considered in the House -- Wolf.
BLITZER: But if you keep all that money, trillion dollars overseas and not bring it back to the United States, that certainly is not going to create any jobs either.
SNOW: Correct. And the big question is, is that money, if it is brought to the U.S., will that be invested here to create jobs? And some skeptics are saying, companies have a lot of U.S. -- have cash here in the U.S. already, that they are not investing.
So why would they be investing that money coming overseas. But you know, supporters say, yes, it'll be invested and the country needs this more than ever right now.
BLITZER: I should correct what I say, if you keep a trillion dollar overseas, it will create jobs, a lot of jobs, but overseas not in the United States. That's the argument you repeatedly hear. Mary, thanks very much.
Rick Perry launches a fresh attack on Mitt Romney, but the Romney camp says it makes Perry look desperate. We're going to show you the video and let you weigh the pros and cons.
Plus, Donald Trump weighs in on a Baptist minister calling the Mormon faith a cult.
BLITZER: Rick Perry is launching a fresh attack against Mitt Romney targeting his position on healthcare reform. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conservative businessman. Time and again, the White House pleads to Massachusetts law as the model for its Obamacare.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I agree with Mitt Romney. He's right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jimmy Carter throwing his weight behind Romney.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You get the gist. Let's discuss in our strategy session. Joining us our CNN political contributor, the Democratic strategist, Donna Brazile and CNN contributor and conservative columnist, Will Cain.
Guys, thanks very much for coming in. Is that an effective strategy, Will? You see Rick Perry really slamming Mitt Romney in this web ad?
WILL CAIN, COLUMNIST FOR "THEBLAZE.COM": Yes. I definitely -- it would definitely be effective, Wolf. One, look the one thing, major thing that Mitt Romney is susceptible to, that he can be attacked for, is for seeming to be unprincipled.
He has been on both sides of the abortion debate. He's been on both sides of the carbon tax debate and nothing illustrates the seeming lack of principle than Mitt Romney's position on the health care mandate. I think an ad like Rick Perry just put together can be very effective.
BLITZER: Here's what the Romney campaigns communications director said, Donna, in response. I will put it up on the screen. Rick Perry is a desperate candidate who will say and do anything to prop up his sinking campaign. What do you think?
DONNA BRAZILE, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED COLUMNIST AND AUTHOR: Look I think it is effective as well in large part because there are a lot of conservatives out there that are still worried about whether or not Mitt Romney is a true believer. They are worried that if he wins the nomination or perhaps win the presidency he might flip-flop again.
So I think it is effective strategy for Rick Perry who is down in the polls trying to rebuild momentum and, of course, trying to stick to the message that he is the conservative that can deliver on the economy.
BLITZER: He has another debate coming up tomorrow. All of the Republican candidates and then our CNN debate in Las Vegas the following week. How critical, Will, will this be for Rick Perry to try to regroup and get his campaign back on track?
CAIN: It'll be really critical, Wolf. One of two things Rick Perry needs to get tightened up here in his campaign. One, he needs to show he is a man of substance and who can actually articulate that substance on a debate stage.
Second, he has got to pull together all of these loose ends, all of these horrible little bumps on the road that he has from the name of his ranch to this pastor in Dallas.
Those two things simultaneously are killing Rick Perry's campaign what is going on outside the campaign and his lack of performance.
BLITZER: Donna, who lost more by this pastor on Friday at the Values Voter Summit here in Washington, bringing up the whole Mormon controversy among Evangelical Christians, calling Mormonism a cult, if you will.
Who did that hurt more? Rick Perry, the pastor was introducing and supporting Rick Perry, or that it hurt Mitt Romney in this race for the Republican presidential nomination?
BRAZILE: Well, I just want to add to Will's point that immigration is also an issue that Rick Perry will have to answer and of course, Social Security, but Wolf, I think to have this conversation once again, about the Mormon faith, I think it has no place in American political debate.
Mitt Romney addressed this issue several years ago when he was running for the presidency. I don't believe he should address it again perhaps in the general election if he wants to. But it is time that people put aside the distractions and really focus on the substance of the economy and other issues that the American people are clearly concerned about.
BLITZER: Will, did you hear my interview with Jon Huntsman who is also a Mormon, just a few moments ago live here on CNN. He called this pastor a moron. That's a pretty strong word.
CAIN: That is a strong statement. I differ with Donna slightly here, Wolf. I'm agnostic, Wolf. I don't have a dog in this fight. But I have to say, I think a question of a candidate's religion is not one without merit. Look, religion is at the core of who we are. It guides the decisions we make, our philosophical bearings. And I think to ask what a candidate believes is not outside the realm of debate and shouldn't be.
This pastor does not reflect a substantive intelligent debate over religion, but I don't want over step into political correctness and pretend that religion should never come up.
BLITZER: Will Cain, thanks very much. Donna, thanks to you as well.
Donald Trump on the Republican's chances in 2012 that's coming up. And some of Libya's 20,000, yes 20,000, anti-aircraft missiles have simply vanished. What are U.S. officials now trying to do to secure those weapons.