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THE SITUATION ROOM
Rick Perry's Tax Plan; Gadhafi's Burial; Herman Cain Releases New Campaign Ad; Rescue Operations Continue in Turkey; Charges After U.S. Parts Found in IEDs; Dow, S&P and Nasdaq End Day Down; Boeing's Game Changer Finally Set to Fly; Democrats Ducking President Obama; Torture Alleged at Syrian Hospitals
Aired October 25, 2011 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now: Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry tries to boost a slumping campaign, gambling on an unusual tax plan. We're crunching the numbers to see what it would really do.
Also, a secret burial for Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, his body removed from public display and taken to an undisclosed location.
And Herman Cain's new campaign ad, it's like few we have ever seen before. What it says about him and his competition.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
He's plunging in the polls and in desperate need of a campaign boost. Will a controversial new tax plan help presidential candidate Rick Perry climb back to the top tier of the Republican race? His rival Herman Cain is leading the pack according to a brand-new CBS/"New York Times" poll and Perry is a distant fifth.
With Cain apparently benefiting from his 999 tax plan, Perry today unveiled his own new tax plan in which 20 is the magic number. He proposes a flat tax of 20 percent for individuals and corporations, but in a controversial twist, Perry would let people choose to pay his flat tax rate or file under the current system, which he derides.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The size of the current code is more than 72,000 pages. That's represented by this pallet right over here and the reams of paper. That's what the current tax code looks like.
The best representation of my plan is this postcard. This is the size of what we're talking about right here. Taxpayers will be able to fill this out and file their taxes on that.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PERRY: And each individual taxpayer will have a choice. You can continue to pay your taxes, as well as the accountants and the lawyers under the current tax system that we got or you can file your taxes on this postcard, with the deductions on there for interest on your mortgage, your charitable giving, your state and local taxes. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: CNN's Tom Foreman is working this story for us. He's checking the facts behind Perry's tax plan.
Tom, what are you finding?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What I think we're finding, Wolf, is that as controversial as it may be now, it will be probably be more controversial in a few days as people chop up these numbers.
Look, the fundamental claim of this plan today is that this will be better for everyone, that everyone is going to benefit from a tax standpoint if the Perry plan is adopted. He's saying there are advantages for all. But what's wrong with that, Wolf? Part of it has to do with the sheer numbers here. We talked to folks at the Tax Policy Center. They're chopping up these numbers right now, just like they did with Herman Cain's.
They're hoping, hoping to have a full analysis by the end of the week, but the bottom line is let's look at what this might mean. He's talking about a standard exemption for everyone of $12,500. All right, so that's attractive to a lot of people.
Right now, if you make about $9,500 a year, you have enough exceptions and things like that so that you don't pay any income tax. So this actually makes it better, doesn't it? Here's the difference. If you go over that amount now, over $9,500, you start paying a 10 percent tax rate. If you go over this amount, you immediately start paying a 20 percent tax rate.
That's one of the details in here that people have to sort through now -- 51 percent of the people in this country right now are paying no income taxes. There are still payroll taxes, but in 2009, so that's a lot of people potentially affected by this, Wolf. Beyond that, there is the question of what's happening on the higher end of the scale.
He wants to lower corporate tax rates, no capital gains or dividends tax, no inheritance tax. Here's a way to read between the lines. This is largely about people in the country who are doing better. Now, I'm not attaching any values to whether it should be targeting them or anybody else, but the simple truth is when you talk about this, these are people doing who are better off.
A simple way of looking at it, if you're making $20,000 or $25,000 a year, there's no inheritance to worry about because nobody's going to get anything when you pass on because that's basically hand-to-mouth living at this point.
So, the simple truth, Wolf, is right now it looks like when you add up the numbers that he has here, the idea that this will not somehow represent a significant decrease in revenue to the federal government seems a real stretch. The only way he gets to a balanced budget with this plan as far as we can tell right now is by really substantial cuts to all sorts of programs in the country. You can decide if you like that or not, but the bottom line is, we're going to have to say that right now this appears to be true, but incomplete. Huge emphasis on the incomplete. I think we will be filling in a lot of holes through the rest of the week and it will tell us a lot more of what this tax plan will really do as opposed to just giving advantages to all -- Wolf.
BLITZER: The only way it would really deal with shrinking that federal deficit, the national debt, is if it were to so spur the economy, the economy would grow and then tax revenues would come in because of enormous growth.
FOREMAN: Massive, runaway growth.
FOREMAN: If you had that, then, yes, that could work.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by, Tom. We're checking this.
I want to bring in our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. She's working this story for us as well.
I don't think there's any doubt that Herman Cain's 999 tax plan helped spur that dramatic boost. He's number one right now if you believe this "New York Times"/CBS poll. And I assume what Rick Perry is trying to do is emulate that.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Lower taxes is always sort of the Holy Grail of the Republican Party and clearly, Rick Perry is trying to get back up in that top tier by proposing a flat tax.
A flat tax has a lot of resonance out there, particularly with Republican primary voters -- 20 percent sounds great. If it can get the economy moving again, that's terrific. I spoke with somebody who's a senior Mitt Romney adviser. Actually, we were e-mailing and here's what he said to me, Wolf.
He said, it's a gimmick, the flat tax, responding to a gimmick, 999. So, they say you need a more complete plan such as Mitt Romney has offered and Rick Perry's plan will in fact help the wealthy. And when you take a second look at it, Wolf, they're also saying, you know what? You might have to do your taxes twice to try and figure out which plan would work best for you.
BLITZER: If you're going to be able to save money, because the old way might save you more than the new way.
BORGER: Right. And there's another point which you were making earlier with Tom, which is there is no claim here that this is revenue neutral. It might spur the economy, as you say, but actually, it's probably a revenue loser for the economy because wealthy people would be paying much less in taxes. BLITZER: Because he's saying himself, Rick Perry, that he wouldn't be able to balance the budget until 2020. It would take eight years under this new tax plan and spending plan that he unveiled today.
BORGER: He does. He calls for $100 billion in non-defense discretionary spending right away, getting to a balanced budget by 2020. And when he talks about entitlement reform, which is kind of vague, actually, he does sound an awful lot like the House Budget Committee chairman, Paul Ryan.
Here are his guidelines, for example, on Social Security. He says let's gradually raise the retirement age, private accounts for younger workers, very, very controversial. Allow state and local governments to opt out of Social Security. And on Medicare, the same thing, gradually raise the eligibility age. Have a voucher program and means test benefits, which means that the wealthy might have to pay more for their benefits.
So, again, this is quite controversial. It was controversial in Congress. You can be sure that Barack Obama is going to pick up on this and run with it, because again, they have an opportunity here to get senior voters back, which they lost in the 2010 midterm, so I think this gives the president another opportunity. And, again, balancing the budget by 2020 may be very optimistic.
Even the deficit commission, which proposed sweeping tax reform, said that it could only balance the budget by 2035.
BLITZER: That's a long time.
BORGER: That's a long time, right.
BLITZER: Gloria, thanks very much.
Let's dig a little bit deeper right now, look at the big picture with CNN's Erin Burnett. She's the host of "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT."
Erin, this is different than Steve Forbes' flat tax proposals we heard so much about when he was running for the Republican presidential nomination. He had a, what, 17 percent flat tax. But there was no option that if you wanted to go back to the current way of paying your federal income tax, that was not part of Steve Forbes' plan.
ERIN BURNETT, HOST, CNN'S "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT": No, that's right.
And it's funny. Talking to some people who have spent their career -- as you know, there are people out there who love the flat tax, flat tax purists, they call themselves. They were telling me today this just isn't a pure flat tax. Never mind the fact that you can stick with the current system or go to the new one, which, frankly, Wolf, is practical and pragmatic.
To expect the country to throw out what has become, as Rick Perry said, 70 million pages or something like that is just not possible, right? But it's not really a pure tax because you have got all of these deductions. I'm looking here at the postcard right now. Mortgage interest, charitable contributions, state and local taxes, capital gains and dividends. A pure flat tax would not allow for any of those deductions.
So it's a lumpy flat tax.
BLITZER: And it's even a little bit more complicated, Erin, because he says, Rick Perry, that if you make more than $500,000 a year, forget about all those deductions for home mortgages or charitable contributions, you're not going to be eligible.
When I saw that, when I heard that, read his article in the op-ed of "The Wall Street Journal" today, I said to myself, isn't that a little bit of what the Republicans deride the Democrats and President Obama for, class warfare, when you have got different tiers for rich as opposed to not so rich?
BURNETT: Yes, it's actually -- that's a really interesting point you raise, because, yes, in a sense, that's trying to say -- to nod towards progressivity, right, and to not have people at the high end be able to get so many deductions.
And then also to hit that issue, Wolf, if you look in within this plan, there are lots of areas where we need a lot more detail, as Tom pointed out. But if you look at Social Security benefits, for example, Perry would take us back to where we were before 1983, so people would not be taxed on their benefits for Social Security, which also would disproportionately -- would adjust for some regressivity that a lot of people would point at the so-called flat tax.
So, there is a lot of nods here to try to make this not regressive, which is maybe part of the reason it's a lot more complicated that -- quote, unquote -- "flat."
BLITZER: Yes. And on my blog today, on our SIT ROOM blog, I pointed out Herman Cain's got his 999 plan. We know a lot about, especially now that he's atop the Republican field.
I called Rick Perry's plan 20-20-0, 20 percent income tax, 20 percent corporate tax, zero national sales tax.
What do you think about that, 20-20-0, as opposed to 999?
BURNETT: I think that's a great way of putting it and it really hits on the political point that Perry's trying to make, which is obviously don't go the direction of a sales tax. That's regressive. It will go to a value added tax. And once you start at 9, it only goes higher.
There are very few countries in the world that have started out with a national sales tax that have not seen it rise over time. But, wolf, One other thing, and Gloria pointed at this issue, which is that because people can choose and most people will choose the rate that's lowest, some people will just go ahead with whatever they have got, but most people will go ahead and pick the rate that's lowest.
So you're going to get less revenue under this new plan, but if you're going to cap spending at 8 percent of GDP, as Rick Perry says he will do by 2020, I just looked at our numbers for the most recent year we had a budget, which unfortunately was last year, right?
That would mean we would have had to cut $882 billion out of our budget in that year. So to hit that cap is going to require substantial cuts. And to your point, you can make some of that up if you get great economic growth and you don't have to pay out those unemployment benefits and food stamps and the economy improves.
But no matter how you look at it, it's going to require significant budget cuts to hit that cap.
BLITZER: Yes. We're going to be studying this a lot in the coming days and weeks.
BLITZER: Erin, thanks very much.
And please be sure to join Erin tonight late tonight, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT," 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 4:00 Pacific, only here on CNN.
We will be watching, Erin. Thanks very much.
Jack Cafferty is back. He will join us on the other side of this break.
Plus, more on Rick Perry. Why is he trying to reignite the debunked controversy over whether or not President Obama was born in the United States?
And Herman Cain's bizarre new campaign ad, what is it all about? We're going to show the spot that is generating so much buzz.
And right now, there are new details emerging about the secret burial of Moammar Gadhafi. We now know he wasn't buried alone.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is back with "The Cafferty File."
Welcome back, Jack
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Wolf.
It's a time-honored political tradition, you know, ducking a presidential candidate who has lousy poll numbers. And a year out from next year's election, it looks like some Democrats cannot get far enough away from President Obama.
A lot of Democratic lawmakers including Nancy Pelosi insist that President Obama is not a political liability. But as political reports, there are growing signs he may be just that. Take for example recent trips the president made to Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. All states he won in 2008.
In North Carolina, six Democratic house members did not join the president. Only two lawmakers showed up. One is a senator, who isn't up for re-election till 2014, the other, a veteran congressman who represents a majority Black district.
When the president went to Pittsburgh, zero members attended any of his public events, nada. Although a few did meet him at the airport probably as he was leaving.
In Michigan, none of the 15 members of the state's congressional delegation showed up with Mr. Obama in Detroit. None. This is a city the president won with 74 percent of the vote in 2008.
Part of the issue in Michigan might be the president's push for free trade in a state-you see you take a few days off, it's not easy to get back in the groove. A state with strong unions. Some think that these Democrats efforts to dodge the president will only backfire. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell says it's political idiocy and calls these members of congress who duck the president complete wusses.
Maybe, maybe not. But if President Obama's approval ratings continue to hover in the low to mid 40s and unemployment stays stuck about 9 percent, don't be surprised if the Democrats keep covering their political backsides and simply disappearing when the president comes to town.
Here's the question: What message does it send when some Democrats are ducking President Obama?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile, post a comment on my blog, or, and you need to do this, because it makes me look good if you do this, go to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page and write your little wisdoms there.
BLITZER: And we want to do that, we want to make you look good. Jack.
CAFFERTY: Need all the help I can get.
BLITZER: Very important stuff. Thank you. Jack Cafferty is back.
Meanwhile, other news, he was captured and killed in a global spotlight, but Moammar Gadhafi was buried in secret. Libya's national transitional counsel says the former dictator's body was interred along with his son and an adviser in an undisclosed location.
CNN's senior international correspondent Dan Rivers is joining us from Libya with details.
Dan, Gadhafi got buried. Now, questions about human rights abuses by his rebel captors. What is the new government in Tripoli saying about all of this?
DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, giving all of the kind of rights at lip service to this. They're talking about the need for investigation. Their desire to uphold human rights. The problem is, implementing any of that on the ground here. For example, the problem with Gadhafi's capture, killing, the way his body was treated. It seemed pretty clear that the NTC had very little control over what those militia were doing on the ground right away through to yesterday when they had ordered that the public should not be allowed in to see the body, yet the public carried on (INAUDIBLE) up and were admitted the late evening in Misrata.
I think it underlines just what a difficult job the NTC has got, how weak it is at the moment, and how little control it has over those militia who basically are running the country on the ground.
BLITZER: Yesterday at this time Dan when we were speaking, the NTC, at least an official said that Gadhafi's other son, Saiful Islam was trying to escape Libya using a fake passport. Any updates on Saiful Islam's whereabouts?
RIVERS: Well, today, they are saying that they don't know where he is. That they think he's still on the run. We have no suggestion at all that he is near the border. We have no confirmation about this fake passport, no proof. It's -- it is increasingly difficult, Wolf, to take what some of these sources are saying seriously, frankly, without the benefit of conclusive proof and at the moment, they have produced nothing to back up their assertion that he is heading for the border Niger, as was floating around a couple of days ago. Frankly, I don't think they have a clue where he is.
BLITZER: Dan Rivers on the scene for us in Libya. We'll stay in close touch, thank you.
Meanwhile, President Obama is sidestepping what he calls a dysfunctional congress. With the economy lagging, why did he wait until now? President Obama's press secretary, Jay Carney standing by to join us live this hour.
Also, at first, some people didn't think it was legitimate. Now an unusual web video released by the Herman Cain campaign is going viral.
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer. Here are some of the stories we're working on for our next hour of THE SITUATION ROOM.
Libya's new prime minister says Sharia law should form the basis of the Libyan law system. Are Islamic extremists taking over the Arab Spring? We're taking a much closer look.
Also, an American student behind bars in Egypt accused of spying for Israel. We'll have details of the deal to release him.
And the Vatican proposes reforms for the world's economy. Does the Pope side with protesters on wall street? Stand by.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Rick Perry isn't backing away from questioning the legitimacy of President Obama's birth certificate. He had a chance to do that in an interview today, but guess what? He didn't.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: It's a good issue to keep alive. Just you know, Donald's got to have some fun. So, and the issue is -
JOHN HARWOOD, CBS CORRESPONDENT: Sounds like you really do have some doubt about it.
PERRY: Look, I haven't seen his -- I've seen his grades. My grades ended up on the front page of the newspaper. So if we're going to show stuff, let's show stuff. But look, that's all a distraction. I mean, I get it. I'm really not worried about the President's birth certificate. It's fun to poke at him a little bit and say, let's see your grades and your birth certificate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's discuss what's going on in our "Strategy Session". Joining us our CNN political contributor, the Democratic strategist, Donna Brazile, and David Frum, the CNN contributor, and former Bush speechwriter.
David, why can't he just end, and say I believe the president was born in Hawaii. Over with let's move on.
DAVID FRUM, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Two hypotheses. The first is, the guy's just not very quick on his feet. Or even now as we see, quick while sitting down. So he stumbled, he's flustered. He's not very mentally nimble and he doesn't see a clear way out, once he's made a mistake.
But the second hypothesis is a little more disturbing, which is combined today with the announcement of this new tax plan that doesn't really add up, but that is going to excite a lot of the Republican base. Rick Perry wants to get back to being the non Romney.
The preferred place where people find Mitt Romney not conservative enough, disappointing one way or another, and the combination of the flat tax and this dog whistle on the president, on the president and his place of origin, which is a way of suggesting I don't think that this person with this name and this skin color can be a real American. That's an ugly way to play politics and it may be a plan and not just a glitch.
BLITZER: Because he's had several opportunities now Donna to just say, you know what, we got really important issues we got to deal with. We don't have to deal with his long form birth certificate anymore. I know he had dinner with Donald Trump and they discussed it. But he is sort of sticking by that and I'm not exactly sure why. You have any explanation why he wants to leave this hanging out there?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Because he's not really running for the presidency of the United States. He's running to be president of the Tea Party caucus. And we already know there's a President of the Tea Party caucus and that's Michele Bachmann. BLITZER: But most Tea Party members don't want this to be an issue Donna.
BLITZER: I agree. And I also believe that Karl Rove gave him some really good advice yesterday and he said stay away from these nutty issues and don't marginalize the stuff. But look the truth of the matter is, is that Rick Perry has one problem. And that is, he really doesn't know why he's running for the presidency of the United States. On a day when he's announcing another aspect of his so called economic plan. He stepped on his own story. He's not a serious candidate. He needs to re-group. He has some new advisers who are now coming in to the fold to help him out. I suggest they take him off the road for a couple of days and really get him focused.
BLITZER: Look at these poll numbers. This is the CBS/New York Times Poll David. And I'll put them up, we got two numbers. Back on September 16th, Rick Perry was number one among Republican Voters, he had 23 percent. Now, he's number five with only 6 percent. He's gone from 23 percent to 6 percent and a little bit more than a month. What do you attribute that to?
FRUM: Well, he has not performed well in the debates. He's made a lot of stumbles. And is--he's got these views on immigration that are way softer than probably most of the people he was talking to, would want to see.
But look, this race will continue to shrink. Michele Bachmann, if the trouble's in New Hampshire, with her operation are indication, she may not go the distance. She may drop out. Then where will the people who liked her go? Will they go to Mitt Romney or will they go somewhere else? If Herman Cain has a bad couple of weeks. And he had a bad week last week on abortion, what happens?
I think Perry, he is the governor of the second biggest state in the country. I think Donna is not -- I disagree with Donna a little bit on this. He is a serious candidate just ex officio, whatever his personal weaknesses are.
The people who don't want Mitt Romney have to go somewhere. And he is hoping by this tax plan to maybe get them to go to him. And it's just a reminder for Republicans that they rally around Romney, who's waged a clean campaign and is the kind of person who could be president of all the country.
BLITZER: If you take a look at Herman Cain, he's gone from what five percent in mid-September. He's now atop the pack in this new CBS/"New York Times" poll with 25 percent.
Having said that, Donna, look at this new, this is an official Herman Cain campaign ad. I see a lot of weird campaign ads over the years. You remember "I am not a witch" and all sorts of other campaign ads. This one ranks up there. I'll play it and we'll discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK BLOCK, HERMAN CAIN'S CAMPAIGN CHIEF OF STAFF: Mark Block here. Since January, I've had the privilege of being the chief of staff to Herman Cain and the chief operating officer for Herman Cain. Tomorrow is one day closer to the White House. I really believe that Herman Cain will put "united" back in the United States of America, and if I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be here. We've run a campaign like nobody's ever seen, but then America's never seen a candidate like Herman Cain. We need you to get involved, because together we can do this. We can take this country back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I don't know if Herman Cain smiling because it was funny the way his chief of staff lit up that cigarette at the end. Donna, you ran Al Gore's campaign in 2000. You've been involved in a lot of campaigns, put together a lot of commercials.
What do you make of that ending where he lights up a cigarette?
BRAZILE: I wonder if it's a cigarette. It is so unconventional to see a campaign person star in a candidate's ad at a time when most Americans don't know Herman Cain. They don't know his record. They don't understand nine-nine-nine or apples and oranges or whatever he was trying to explain the other night. But they know Mark Block.
This is going to hurt Herman Cain because voters are looking for serious alternatives to the economic policies that President Obama has proposed, and I don't think that the voters are going to get it with Republican candidates out there running ridiculous ads like this and Rick Perry talking about being a birther again.
BLITZER: Mark Block is the chief of staff. David, have you ever seen an ad like this? It would have been fine without the cigarettes, but go ahead.
FRUM: The whole point of making these ads, how do we get Wolf Blitzer to show our ad in its entirety? And there are a lot of ways you might try to do that. One answer is, what if we make the worst ad ever made. Blitzer will have to show that. And indeed, you just did. And so, in a funny way, it worked. It is so awful. It's so bizarre. It's so funny that we all watched it and we're talking about it. And it has an impact. And it is a little -- it is seen by a few more people than have heard of Herman Cain 24 hours ago.
BLITZER: And also reminds us when he was a lobbyist for the National Restaurant Association, Herman Cain, he fought any ban on smoking in restaurants. That was his job as a lobbyist for that National Restaurant Association. And now, it looks like he's promoting through his chief of staff a little bit of smoking.
It's also a little weird, I must say, that this is a man who survived, not this man, but Herman Cain, he survived stage four colon cancer. Anyone promoting smoking, stage four colon cancer or lung cancer or any kind of cancer, not necessarily a good idea.
Guys, we'll continue this discussion down the road. Thanks very much. (CROSSTALK)
BLITZER: Dramatic rescues in an earthquake disaster zone including a two-week old baby pulled alive from the rubble. CNN is there on the scene.
Plus, the White House press secretary Jay Carney is standing by live to join us. I'll ask him about unemployment in the United States, mortgage relief, the president's Republican challengers, and more. Jay Carney standing by in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Born just 14 days ago, she spent the last two of those days trapped in a tiny crevice surrounded by tons and tons of concrete and rubble. Now, that newborn baby girl is free two days after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey.
CNN's Diana Magnay is on the scene for us. She's joining us. It's been a dramatic day full of rescues.
Give us the latest. What's going on?
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, you're right. Not only was that little 14 day old baby girl pulled out from the rubble behind me, but her mother and grandmother all of whom have been hiding in that crevice with her. So an amazing success story here for the rescue workers, and you can really get a sense of their elation and their joy.
But that was quickly followed as they work continued by the fact they then pulled four bodies out of the rubble. And of course, that is the story in all of these various structures where search and rescue workers are continuing to pour over the rubble, Wolf.
BLITZER: How are the newborn and her mom doing?
MAGNAY: Well, we've just spoken to the uncle. The newborn and her mother were taken straight to Ankara hospital, and the grandmother was then taken to another hospital. Apparently they're all doing fine. The mother ran off, her own mother says we're good. I mean, bear in mind, Wolf, this baby was three weeks premature, so theoretically she should still be in the womb. As it is she survived an earthquake and now seems to be doing very well in the hospital. So we'll keep monitoring it. But for now their conditions all seem to be stable and they're able to speak and say that they're doing well, Wolf.
BLITZER: Is aid reaching the victims, Diana?
MAGNAY: Well, that is something that you hear quite a lot of complaints about. You know, I had one man come up to me and say, look, all you TV crews standing and watching this search and rescue and you're not going out to see whether we're OK in the bitter cold of night, whether the food and the support we need is getting to us.
The search and rescue response is being very efficient. There are 3,500 search and rescue personnel, a lot of medical personnel here. And the Red Crescent has been shipping 11,000 tents to the region to try and provide shelter for people.
But you do still see scenes where people are fighting over tents, where people say we don't have any shelter for the night. And a lot of the villages where people lived in mud brick houses, all of those mud brick houses were destroyed. And there is a big question mark over whether really the tents are getting to the people who need them.
We do know that Israel is going to be sending in a flight tomorrow, Wolf, loaded with portable housing structures, that it's trying to get involved in terms of sort of building more permanent structures for people to move into once the tents have really served their purpose. And that is something the Turkish disaster coordination committee is really focusing on, what are the next steps once the tent cities have done their bit, Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll stay in close touch with you, Diana. Thanks very much. Diana Magnay on the scene for us at this horrible earthquake in turkey.
By the way, this is important. To find out how you can help those devastated by the earthquake in turkey, visit our "Impact your World" page. That's at CNN.com/Impact. You can make a difference.
Promises made on the campaign trail. President Obama says he's accomplished 60 percent of his. Is that enough? I'll ask the White House press secretary Jay Carney. He's standing by live. He joins me next.
And Rick Perry won't stop questioning the president's birth certificate. Is that the best way to rally Republican voters? Next hour, an answer from Perry supporter, the newly reelected Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. He'll be joining us live in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: IEDs in Iraq leading to charges of conspiracy and fraud right here in the United States. Lisa Sylvester has that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What's the latest?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Wolf.
Well, U.S. authority are accusing five people of illegally exporting goods to Iran three years after U.S. troops in Iraq began finding improvised explosive devices built with components from a Minnesota company.
Four citizens of Singapore and an Iranian faced charges. Officials say the individuals lied when they said radio modules would be used in Singapore and that they shipped them to Iran instead. Knowingly exporting U.S. goods there is illegal.
And U.S. stocks dropped sharply lower with the Dow closing 207 points in the red. Disappointing earnings contributed to a selloff at the end of the trading day.
Shares of Netflix dropped almost 35 percent after the company announced more than 800,000 subscribers left and Amazon was hit hard in after hours trading after its third quarter earnings fell short -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Lisa, thanks very, very much.
Promises made on the campaign trail. President Obama says he's accomplished about 60 percent of his campaign promises. We'll talk about that and much more. The White House Press Secretary Jay Carney traveling with the president out west, he's standing by to join us.
BLITZER: Check this out. Our own CNN correspondent, Andrew Stevens in Japan right now has this amazing story of the brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Watch this.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you very much, bye-bye. I'm on my way to Tokyo to be part of a slice of aviation history. I'm on the first ever commercial flight of the Boeing 787, the Dreamliner.
And Japan's ANA has a distinction of being the launch customer and their first passenger flight is going to be from Tokyo down to Hong Kong. And while I'm heading up to meet it, our Tokyo team have been getting a look at the last minute checks.
(voice-over): The 787 actually arrived in Japan late last month, but apart from some familiarization flights across the country, it's being tucked away inside a hangar at the city airport away from prying eyes. On Tuesday, it flew to Tokyo's main international airport at Narita and is now standing at the departure gate.
Final checks are underway while the media have been allowed one last look before the maiden passenger flight. A huge amount is riding on Wednesday's flight.
For Boeing, it's the realization of a strategy to create a whole new generation of aircraft made not from aluminum, but composites, a sort of high-tech plastic, which the plane maker says will make flying more pleasant for the passenger and more profitable for the airline.
But it's a project that is also three years over deadline and way over budget, but it's now finally here. And the 250 passengers including me who file on board on Wednesday will be the first to get a chance to see whether this really is what the future of flying looks like. Andrew Stevens, CNN.
BLITZER: And he's going to share more of that. That's coming up later this week. Let's go to Jack right now. He's got the "Cafferty File" -- Jack. CAFFERTY: Question this hour is what message does it send when some Democrats are ducking President Obama? He's traveled around to states in the Midwest that he won in 2008, Democratic Congress people nowhere to be found.
Here's some of what you wrote. Gary writes, "The Democrats are showing their true colors. They are gutless and afraid of losing a cushy job and big paycheck or have no scruples about standing up for their own party. If you are a Democrat, then you should be backing the president.
Your constituents expected you to vote for the people at home, those who wanted president Obama to be their leader. When Democrats vote otherwise, they let down those voters who trusted them.
S. writes from Florida, "It really doesn't mean much politically. The man's done a superb job on anything and everything that hasn't involved Republican participation.
Most of his low approval actually comes from his apparent lack of local judgment and/or optimism with regards to the fairness rationality and civil responsibility of the other party. As soon as he starts aiming at the right target again, we'll all be back no doubt."
Alex in Wisconsin writes, "It tells me that we've known since the health care debate. The Democrats don't stick up for their own. The president has faced the immovable wall of Republicans and been stabbed in the back by members of his party. Say what you will about the Republicans, one they do very well is stick together.
They will follow their president off a cliff and then explain for years why it wasn't his fault. Democrats will throw Obama under a bus the very next day if he loses in 2012."
Jeff writes from Georgia, "Mr. Cafferty, it's painfully obvious that the Democrats don't want to be associated with the administration's failed policies. The shellacking the Democrats experienced in 2010 was just an appetizer. Intelligent people are enthusiastic, motivated and eager to (inaudible) the remaining socialists and progressives that up for re-election in 2012.
Sandy writes on Facebook, "It means the Democrats are big sissies. And James in North Carolina, "The message is the Democrats who are ducking President Obama want to get re-elected. But it's not all that unusual.
We all have friends we don't want to be seen with in public. They'll flock to Obama if his ratings increase and run away from him when the poll numbers look bad. Heck, I wouldn't want to be seen in public with some of the girls I used to date either."
That's a terribly sexist e-mail. If you want to read more on this, go to my blog, cnn.com/caffertyfile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.
You won't have to wait until late tonight to hear what the president of the United States told Jay Leno. Earlier in the day, we got the tape. You'll hear it the next hour and Rick Perry plunging in a new national poll. What the Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal thinks voters are missing. That's coming up as well.
BLITZER: Serious crackdown on antigovernment demonstrators has become especially deadly and brutal over the past several days. Now we're getting another very disturbing window into the tactics of the embattled Bashar Al-Assad regime.
CNN's Arwa Damon has this new report on the new findings by Amnesty International. Viewers should be warned. It does have graphic video.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are videos that CNN obtained showing how clandestine networks of doctors in Syria try to save lives, operating secret underground clinics. Wounded demonstrators are often too afraid to go to government hospitals, which Amnesty International says the Syrian government has turned into tools of repression.
By Skype, we reached a doctor who says he used to work in a government hospital. He tells us some of his own colleagues collaborated with security forces, abusing the wounded.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beat them, don't give them water, don't give them antibiotics, sometimes no operation even if he will die. They just want him to be alive to survive for one or two days to know something, some information from them.
DAMON: In recent weeks, violence has intensified. The doctor set up his own secret clinic, treating he said on average, four to ten patients a day, but many die.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I save some patients here from gun bullet and some from RPG, rocket propelled grenade, but I can't do anything here. Just small emergency hearing because I haven't operating room. I haven't anesthesia. So just what can I do, nothing.
DAMON (on camera): You set up a field hospital.
(voice-over): Over the summer on a brief trip to Syria, we broke away from our government minders and saw one of these clinics in Damascus, nothing more than a tiny room with barely the basics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw a lot of blood, shouting, pain.
DAMON: The doctor we met later took me to see this 17-year-old boy, partially paralyzed the doctor said because of a lack of proper equipment to detect a blood clot next to his spinal cord. (on camera): This is the doctor's Facebook page. His network is called the Damascus doctors. They have listed on it the names of medical professionals who they say have gone missing. Activists claim that dozens of them have been detained.
PHILIP LUTHER, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: We believe still that the international community, the Security Council, the most senior body must refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. The abuses there have been so serious that we believe them to be crimes against humanity.
DAMON (voice-over): The Syrian government continues to deny all allegations of abuse at government hospitals and says it treats everyone equally.
DAMON: And the activists that we are talking to say that the Syrian government hospitals most certainly do not treat everyone equally and those who are running these secret underground clinics, Wolf, are really struggling just because they don't have the proper equipment, but also because they do not have enough blood and the challenge there is that the blood bank is centrally controlled. It's controlled by the government so even if they want to go get blood they then have to disclose the identity of the person they are treating and that is jeopardizing their security as well.
BLITZER: Our heart goes out to the people. Thank you, Arwa, for that report.