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THE SITUATION ROOM

Romney's Fight Back to Top; Dan Quayle to Endorse Romney; Gingrich Meets With Donald Trump; Iran Claims It Shot Down U.S. Drone; Obama Pushes To Extend Tax Cuts; Is '9-9-9' Dead?

Aired December 5, 2011 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, Newt Gingrich Trumps Mitt Romney with the presidential campaign photo opportunity of the day. This hour, the Republicans' final sprint to Iowa, with Gingrich up, Romney down, Herman Cain out.

Plus, is one of America's most secret and effective weapons now in the hands of Iran?

We're taking a closer look into Iran's claim that it shot down a U.S. drone like this one.

And if you can crack this code within the next week, you may be a high tech spy.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Breaking news, political headlines and Jeanne Moos all straight ahead.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The red hot spotlight on Newt Gingrich is even bigger today because he shared it with a publicity magnet. We're talking about Donald Trump. The latest presidential frontrunner is openly appealing for the support of the would-be campaign kingmaker. Their meeting coming just a few weeks before Trump moderates a debate in Iowa that's being boycotted by some of Newt Newt Gingrich's rivals.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course I want his endorsement. I want...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ask for his endorsement?

GINGRICH: Not yet. He's got to do this debate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: There's also speculation today that Herman Cain may eventually Newt Gingrich now that he suspended his own presidential campaign. It's all putting a lot of pressure on Romney to go find his way back to the top of the pack.

Let's bring in CNN's Joe Johns.

He's looking into challenges for Mitt Romney -- and, Joe, as you and I know, there are many.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's for sure, Wolf. This is a rough patch for the Romney campaign. It's the point where a candidate for president would really like to start surging and not slumping. And now, with the Iowa caucuses closing in, time is just about to become a real factor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): This is the crossroad. When you're in a position like Mitt Romney, coming off a week with a drop in the polls like this, a lot of people are going to give you advice. But perhaps none speaks louder than the advice Romney recently gave to Newt Gingrich.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY FOX NEWS)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Have you to win the election. And to win the election, you've got to earn it.

JOHNS: That was before two new polls put Gingrich in the top spot with Romney and Congressman Ron Paul battling for second. But the support is soft. Both polls said a lot of those voters could be persuaded otherwise.

So the question now really is, how does Romney earn it?

What should he do?

Generic campaign advice for a Republican in Romney's position is to step up his attacks on Gingrich.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't know if there's time for Mitt Romney to play that strategy that Newt will eliminate himself. He might, meaning he, meaning Mitt Romney, might now have to aid the process. He might have to help voters see all the flaws in Newt Gingrich.

JOHNS: Now, by the way, there are those who say Romney's problem is Romney -- his record, mostly, his seemingly shifting positions on issues make influential social conservatives and Tea Partiers think twice.

Richard Viguerie, known as one of the funding fathers of the conservative movement wrote on his Web site, ConservativeHQ.com, that "Romney has failed to convince conservatives he will govern as a conservative," "that rather than reaching out to conservatives, Romney has surrounded himself with," quote, "Bush advisers and Wall Street types," "...and tried to defend flip-flops as being consistent, though it's also possible to make the case that Romney has been just as inconsistent as Newt Gingrich.

CAIN: Newt Gingrich has no more claim to conservative hierarchy, conservative purism, than Mitt Romney does. Newt Gingrich has stood on both sides of many issues. He sat on a couch with Nancy Pelosi and proclaimed the ills of manmade global warming and that we must do something about it. He championed the health care mandate that Mitt Romney is now crucified for.

JOHNS: If Gingrich and Romney are both guilty of big shifts and changes in direction, then why is Gingrich ahead?

Some say it's his combative style, his tough way of talking, that conservatives like the most and why Romney needs to show he can fight.

CAIN: But what does Newt Gingrich offer that Mitt Romney doesn't?

Well, he offers a combative personality. He offers passion. He offers somebody who will take it to President Obama. While Mitt Romney is kind of bland. And that gets voters' attention. That's what they're looking for right now.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

JOHNS: We reached out to the Romney campaign today. They did not exactly respond point by point to any of this. But what a source did say generally is that Romney is going to keep moving forward with his own message and will draw contrasts -- their word -- with Newt Gingrich where they exist -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Joe.

Thanks very, very much.

And Mitt Romney is certainly getting ready to get a new endorsement tomorrow. A campaign official confirming to CNN that the former vice president, Dan Quayle, will back Romney at an event in Arizona tomorrow.

Let's talk about what's going on right now, Gingrich versus Romney, the state of the Republican race for the White House.

Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is here -- are we seeing, Gloria -- and you and I have covered Newt Gingrich for a long time...

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

BLITZER: -- a different Newt emerge now in these days of this campaign?

BORGER: Well, I think what we're seeing is a Newt Gingrich, Wolf, who is trying to portray himself as more positive, more optimistic, kind of a la Ronald Reagan.

Take a look at this ad that he's now running in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM NEWT GINGRICH CAMPAIGN AD) GINGRICH: Some people say the America we know and love is a thing of the past. I don't believe that, because working together, I know we can rebuild America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BORGER: He is clearly trying to reintroduce himself. I would say he's trying to reinvent himself to the American people. That's kind of Grandfather Newt over there. I was at a focus group with Republican voters the other night and they described him as a grandfather. There he is.

BLITZER: How is he responding to Mitt Romney's suggestion that Newt Gingrich is nothing more than a real Washington insider?

BORGER: Well, he has as good answer for that. He actually makes the case that Mitt Romney has been seeking elective office most of his life, if he hasn't won those elections.

Take a listen to what he said today in this press conference with Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: I don't know that you ought to count -- count running for Senate in 1994, running for governor, then running for president for six years. I mean, I don't know if that makes him a career politician or not. I'll let you decide. I -- it's fair to say I've been a successful candidate a number of times. It's also fair to say that as a citizen, I've been very clear and very proud of the fact that I started working as a citizen at 15 years of age, because I think that citizenship is very important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BORGER: I don't -- I don't think the career politician charge is really the most effective one that Mitt Romney could be using against Newt Gingrich. I think, actually, it would be much more lucrative for Romney to look into how Newt Gingrich used his power and whether the people who worked with him at that time would actually trust him to become an effective leader again, because the people I talked to who were in Congress with him, who are Republicans, privately are saying absolutely not.

BLITZER: Yes, a lot of Republicans have said to me -- and I'm sure to you...

BORGER: Um-hmm.

BLITZER: -- and a lot of other folks, you know, that none of these candidates is really perfect.

BORGER: No.

BLITZER: They've got a problem with Newt Gingrich, with Mitt Romney, with Michele Bachmann, with Rick Santorum or Huntsman or any of these Republican candidates, Ron Paul. But their most important priority is to beat President Obama and not let him become a two-term president.

BORGER: Right. And...

BLITZER: So they're going to -- they're going to support whoever is the Republican nominee.

BORGER: Right. But a lot of them believe with their hearts that Newt Gingrich is the guy who represents their anger, who can take it to President Obama. Their heads say Mitt Romney, because they know that he's -- that he's electable. The people I talk to, Wolf, are worried that this Republican race has essentially descended into some kind of chaos right now and that if Newt Gingrich gets the nomination, what they worry about is that for Independent voters, his resume of shutting down the government and taking on Bill Clinton, who is one of the most popular politicians in America right now, is not going to sit well with the people they would need to convince to get off the fence and vote Republican in 2012.

BLITZER: There's lots to dissect and digest. Appreciate it, Gloria.

BORGER: Sure.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

Let's get back to the Trump factor in the 2012 campaign. The host of the TV show, "The Apprentice," clearly is trying to be a mentor to some of these Republican candidates. But a couple of them don't want anything to do with him, at least not now.

We asked CNN's Mary Snow, who's in New York, to take a closer look at this part of the story -- Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, two very different opinions of Donald Trump coming from two GOP White House hopefuls in New York today. And the big question is, though, what kind of a difference could Trump's support make for a candidate?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): With a crush of cameras awaiting him, Newt Gingrich became the latest presidential hopeful to pay a visit to Donald Trump.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

SNOW: Gingrich defended plans for an upcoming Republican presidential debate to be moderated by the real estate developer and reality TV host, set to be sponsored by the conservative Web site, Newsmax.

GINGRICH: This is a country which elected a peanut farmer to the presidency. They have elected an actor who made two moves with a chimpanzee to the presidency.

SNOW: Definitely not participating in the Trump debate, Republican presidential hopeful, Jon Huntsman.

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I'm not going could kiss his ring and I'm not going to kiss any other part of his anatomy. This is not about ratings for Donald Trump. This is about jobs for the American people.

(CROSSTALK)

SNOW: Also count Ron Paul as a definite no.

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: I don't understand the marching to his office. I mean I -- I -- I didn't know that he had an ability to lay on hands, you know and -- and anoint people.

SNOW: Firing back, Trump, who's also promoting a new book, dismissed the criticisms in an interview on NBC.

DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR: I think that they are joke candidates. I think they're doing very poorly. And certainly Mr. Huntsman is doing extremely poorly in the polls, at 1 percent. And, frankly, it gives more air time to people that really have a chance of getting elected.

SNOW: While some conservatives and candidates have stinging words for Trump, who flirted with running for president, it hasn't stopped several GOP White House hopefuls from seeking him out.

Michelle Bachmann has met with Trump four times. Also, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and, while he was a candidate, Herman Cain, each met up with Trump.

GINGRICH: Donald Trump is a great showman. He's also a great businessman. If we're trying to figure out how to create jobs, I think one of the differences between my party and the other party is we actually go to people who know how to create jobs to figure out how to create jobs.

SNOW: A new NBC and Marist Poll measured what an endorsement from Donald Trump could mean. Of likely Republican voters in New Hampshire, 37 percent would be less likely to vote for a Trump-endorsed candidate. Nineteen percent would be more likely to support those who Trump green lights. In Iowa, the numbers are not that all different, either.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

SNOW: And, Wolf, there is an entirely different number that Donald Trump is talking about. He came out with his new book, we mentioned. He claims he's worth $7 billion. Now, you might remember when he was considering running for the White House, that's a number that he would not disclose. And that number, just to put it in perspective, is much higher -- "Forbes," for instance, had put his worth or estimated him to be worth $250 million and $3 billion.

BLITZER: I -- I know that there's going to be a big argument over how much Donald Trump is worth.

SNOW: Um-hmm.

BLITZER: But what he is saying today about his own presidential ambition?

SNOW: You know, he's not entirely shutting the door. He is saying that he intends to endorse a candidate after this debate. But he says if he's not entirely happy, that, you know, he's hinting that that's still a possibility and that he would, perhaps, run.

BLITZER: Yes, he's going to wait, though, he says, until after the season, the next season of "The Apprentice" is over with. That would be at the end of May of next year. And if he doesn't like any of the Republican candidates, he might run. It's unlikely, but he says he might run because his number one goal is to make sure that President Obama doesn't get reelected.

Mary, thanks very much for that.

Also, check out my blog, by the way, at CNN.com/situationroom. I write about Herman Cain's departure from this race. 999 is now dead, dead, dead. Well, check it out. See what you think. CNN.com/situationroom.

Iran says it responded to aggression by the United States by shooting down a drone like this one. We're investigating the possible threat to America's top secret spy technology.

And this is how Britain is looking to find new some high tech versions of James Bond.

Can you crack the code?

President Obama is pressuring Republicans to accept the new Democratic compromise to extend the payroll tax.

Lots of news coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, here's something that to be keeping President Obama up nights. No president since FDR has won re- election with unemployment higher than 7.2percent. The unemployment rate may have declined to 8.6 percent in November, but the picture is not nearly as rosy as the White House would like us to believe.

Yes, it's been -- the it's the lowest it's been since March of 2009, and yes it's getting closer to 7.8 percent rate where it stood when President Obama took office, but that's where the good news ends. The job market has a very long way to go to recover from the financial crisis. Long, long way. 8.8 million jobs have been lost since the recession began and less than a third of those have been recovered.

More than 13 million people remain unemployed in this country and 43 percent of those have been out of work for more than six months. Plus, the current unemployment rate of 8.6 percent isn't even as good as it seems at first glance because a big part of the rate decreased is due to the fact that more than 300,000 discouraged workers simply gave up on looking for a job and dropped out of the work force. It's not due to job creation. Speaking of job creation, employers only added 120,000 jobs in October, which is well below what economists agree is needed just to keep up with population growth. So, the numbers aside, the job outlook remains bleak. And in the disastrous housing market, the European debt crisis, it could pull our economy down even further. President Obama has a lot of work still ahead of him to do.

A recent CNN Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows only 15 percent say economic conditions are good, six out of seven say they are poor, and the majority say conditions are very poor.

So, here's the question, no president since FDR has won re-election with unemployment higher than 7.2 percent. Is President Obama doomed? Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile, post a comment on my blog or go to our post on the SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page.

They massage (ph) the numbers a little bit, which gave us that declined 8.6 percent, but it's mostly because 300,000 people have just given up looking for a job, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. In the last few months, though, they did revise the jobless number a little bit to raise it, but you're correct. A lot of people drop out. They just simply give up. And you don't even mention the fact that there are so many people who are underemployed, working part-time.

CAFFERTY: Yes.

BLITZER: They've got a job. So, they're not listed as unemployed, but they may be making only a fraction of what they used to be making. It's pretty sad situation. I want to know who those 15 percent are that think the economy is good right now. Who are they?

CAFFERTY: Those have to be the one percenters, right?

BLITZER: Maybe.

(LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: Yes. I don't know.

BLITZER: I don't know. Fifteen percent think the economy is good. We still got a long way to go, and the White House, itself, acknowledges there's a long, long way to go.

CAFFERTY: Well, in fairness to Obama, I mean, this was a horrible thing he was confronted with, and we went into a recession, the likes we haven't seen since the great depression. In fact, we got closed to going into a depression. So, I mean, it's not like he had a day at the beach and he just, you know, kick sand in everybody's face. He add tough row to hoe.

BLITZER: Yes. He, then, inherited a mess. I think that's a fair assessment.

CAFFERTY: Yes.

BLITZER: Jack, thanks very, very much.

The Obama administration is investigating Iran's claim that it shot down a U.S. drone like this one that it says invaded its airspace. A U.S. official says it's not clear if the unmanned aircraft was actually downed, but if Iran has its hands on the technology, the implications could be huge and could be rather dangerous. Here's our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this potentially goes way beyond just one drone, because if it's relatively intact, this could be an intelligence windfall not only for Iran but for Russia, China, and who knows what else.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (voice-over): Aviation experts say commonly used drones like the reaper and predator can't even come close to what the RQ-107 can do.

PETER SINGER, SENIOR ANALYST, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: This is a plane that not only goes faster than those systems, that's not only stealthier than the previous generation, that it cannot only gather much better intelligence information about what's going on on the ground. There is also a system that's extensively smarter than the previous generation.

LAWRENCE: Analyst, Peter Singer, says, the Sentinel's radar is the same sophisticated stealth technology that allows America's newest fighter jets to outperform their Russian and Chinese equivalents.

SINGER: It's something really that takes radar to, you know, 21st century capabilities.

LAWRENCE: But how much of it, if any, is now in Iranian hands? Reports from state-run TV claim Iran brought down the plane. They have not broadcast any pictures of the actual crash but claim the drone is relatively intact.

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: I'm very skeptical of the Iranian claim of having shot it down. It is entirely possible that with the technology by which this drone is operating, that as the U.S. government has suggested, they just lost control of it, and so, it landed inside Iran's boarder.

LAWRENCE: A U.S. official says it was flying along Afghanistan's western border with Iran, and the flight crew control lost control of the aircraft just before it went down. Experts say they're not worried about Iran starting a production line of knock off drones, but Iran could provide parts to its allies who can then reverse engineer the technology.

SINGER: The best way for the Iranians to ensure that it ends up in their hands -- counter ends up in their hands is not to try and build the counter on its own but provided to Russia or China to build it and then sell it back to them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (on-camera): Believe it or not, it's happened before. When an American spy plane was shot down by Serbia in the late 1990s, the Russians and Chinese exploited that technology and are still using it in some of their weapons systems today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We got confirmation right to Lisa Sylvester. Significant developments, S&P downgrading the Europeans right now, specifically. Lisa, what's going on?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What they are actually doing is that they announced 15 countries are on review for a possible downgrade, but the significance here is that it applies across the board to the country's or part of the Euro Zone and that includes France and Germany, even though these are two countries that have AAA rating, which really speaks to the significance of all of this.

The main concern is that these European countries, particularly, countries like Portugal, Ireland, Greece, that they are just drowning in debt here. Greece, for example, has already been downgraded. In fact, those these three countries, Wolf, have already been downgraded to junk (ph) status.

But can you see that the concern is that there's a potential for the spreading. One of the reasons, among the reasons, the S&P gave for putting these countries on review for a possible downgrade is, of course, their mounting debt. Also, there are signs that credit is tightening. This is really significant. And it all points to one thing, the increased possibility that Europe will go into a recession.

Of course, what does that mean for the people sitting here in the United States? It's not a good thing. If Europe dips (ph) into a recession, Europe is the United States' largest customer that can affect our exports to Europe. It could also affect jobs here in the United States. There's been a push to try to get that unemployment number down from 8.6 percent.

And so this is -- it's going to make it a little harder to dig out of the country, but it really speaks to the fact that Europe has to do something. The European Central Bank is expected to meet this week, and it is the -- at least the consensus is that they will likely cut interest rates, but there's a real problem there in Europe -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. This is going to put enormous pressure on them to do, as you say, the right thing. Lisa, thanks very much.

President Obama argues you can see, if you live here in the United States and you're a middle class family, you can see a thousand dollar tax hike if Congress doesn't act before it's too late, but are both sides any closer to a deal on a so-called payroll tax cut?

Also, with Herman Cain now out of the Republican presidential contest, is 9-9-9 dead-dead-dead? Just ahead, we'll assess what is legacy might turn out to be. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A very determined President Obama now insisting the fate of working Americans is in the hands of Congress as the clock ticks, ticks, ticks, toward a deadline to extend a tax cut benefiting tens of millions of Americans. The president took to the White House briefing room today to urge Republicans to get behind the plan Democrats unveiled earlier in the day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A year ago at this time, both parties came together to cut payroll taxes for the typical American family by about a $1,000. But, as soon as this year ends, so does that tax cut. If Congress fails to renew this tax cut before then, that same family will see a tax hike of about a $1,000 a year.

There aren't many folks either in the middle class or those trying to get into the middle class who can afford to give up a thousand dollars. Not right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. Let's go to Capitol Hill where our Congressional correspondent, Kate Bolduan, is standing by with more. Where does this stand because they only have a few days between now and the end of the year, otherwise, this tax is going to go up for millions and millions of Americans?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. Yet again, we're facing another pending deadline. Well, Senate Democrats, they called this a compromise offer.

They're proposing a smaller package to extend the employee payroll tax cut with a different mix of measures to cover the cost, but I should first say that it's not likely to go far as Republicans were already coming out to criticize this latest proposal even before the full details had been released. Listen here first to Senate majority leader, Harry Reid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID, (D) MAJORITY LEADER: We're offering a serious proposal with meaningful concessions including spending cuts to which Republicans have already agreed. And the scale back temporary tax on the richest Americans. A group with an average income of $3 million a year is also a sincere attempt to get Republicans on board to pass what they say they want to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Now like the Senate Democrats original offer, a bill that failed in the Senate last week, this latest offer from Senate Democrats, it would extend and expand the payroll tax cut for employees. Cutting the tax from 4.2 percent to 3.1 percent, but here is where Democrats say they are compromising in order to win over more Republican votes.

This offer would not include a payroll tax cut for employers. That's an order to bring the overall cost down. It would also be paid for with a smaller surtax on millionaires. This would go from a little under. A three percent tax would now go down to a little -- just little -- over a three percent tax now to just under a two percent tax on income over $1 million. They say that is also a concession to Senate Republicans.

And there are another -- Senate Democrats say they are adopting part of the Republican proposal that failed in the Senate last week. That is a provision to prevent millionaires from being able to receive unemployment benefits and also receive food stamps.

But as I said earlier Wolf, it's not -- Republicans are already coming out really to slam this proposal. Senator Orrin Hatch, he called this a political showboat that isn't going anywhere. And then, of course, there is this from Senator Jon Kyl. Listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: This is what pays for Social Security benefits. It's bad economic policy, it's bad tax policy, and certainly the surtax that would fund this is something that would very much hurt small business and job creation. Those are reasons to be very skeptical about continuing this payroll tax holiday, this supposedly temporary tax holiday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: This seems to be the latest move in what is likely to be more back and forth right up to the deadline that we could potentially see, Wolf, on this payroll tax extension. An important issue to members up here, a very important political messaging opportunity for both sides. We're told that we could see a first vote on this latest offer from Senate Democrats as early as Friday -- Wolf.

BLITZER: This notion of millionaires being eligible for food stamps, Kate, I don't know if you looked into this story, but I'm sure it's making a lot of folks who even hear those words crazy right now. How is it possible that millionaires could be eligible for taxpayer food stamps?

BOLDUAN: There have been some press reports about situations where this allegedly occurred. Both Republicans and Democrats admit that it does not necessarily bring in a ton of money in order to help pay for this measure. But you can understand that there is potentially a circumstance where someone who is making over $1 million would find themselves unemployed and could then turn around and try to file for receiving unemployment assistance, as well as try to receive food stamps and receive benefits from both of those programs.

Both Republicans and Democrats see this as an opportunity to try to prevent that, but also, both sides acknowledge that it doesn't bring in -- it wouldn't pay for the entire proposal, Wolf. It's more of a nod to one side or the other. BLITZER: Yes. If somebody has got a million dollars in the bank, or a million dollars, and they are getting food stamps, here's something wrong with this story.

All right. Thanks very much, Kate. Good reporting as usual.

Let's get back to the campaign trail right now, talk a little bit more about the candidate no longer in the race. We're talking about Herman Cain, of course.

Joining us, our CNN political contributors Roland Martin and Will Cain. Will is also a columnist for theblaze.com.

I wrote a piece today -- and let me start with you, Will -- on our CNN.com/situationroom Web site in which I said Herman Cain's legacy might be-9-9-9, now dead-dead-dead. Can we simply forget about 9-9-9 right now?

CAIN: No. I agree with much of what you had to say. Substantively, Herman Cain's legacy will be, however flawed it was, 9-9-9, because it showed a real appetite in the American public for radical tax reform centered around the concept of simplifying the tax code. But there is another legacy, Wolf, that I really hope doesn't take hold.

You'll have pundits, you'll have political strategists and politicians come on TV and say the problems with Herman Cain were characteristics of an inexperienced politician, that if he had held prior office and been vetted as something like mayor of Atlanta, well, we would have known these problems. Well, of course these people are going to say this they themselves are lifetime politicos. Herman Cain's problems were that he didn't know his stuff. And my hope is that other businessman out there, other people who have worked in the private sector and been successful, will look at Herman Cain, see the potential for success, but just have their own knowledge, their own ducks in a row, know what they are talking about.

BLITZER: You and I know, Roland, there have been plenty of guys who have run for the Democratic presidential nomination -- just think fours years ago, eight years ago -- with limited qualifications as well. They didn't get very far, but sometimes they just throw their hat in the ring for a variety of reasons.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, I need to remind Will of a couple of things, that Herman Cain had a very short-lived run for the presidency in 2000, Herman Cain also ran for the United States Senate. So it's not like this is some guy who was a businessman all of these years who decided to run for president.

We know Steve Forbes, he ran for president before, and he put out a radical tax plan that fired up a small element of the Republican Party. But the reality is, when you look at the whole notion of being a conservatives, you have fiscal conservatives, national security conservatives, you have social conservatives. Gary Bauer, he appealed to social conservatives. He couldn't do anything when it comes to the rest of the GOP. And so, fine, Herman Cain, he's out of the race. His endorsement, frankly, will be irrelevant, just like Donald Trump's will be irrelevant.

And so, at the end of the day, he was a terrible candidate who did not even know a thing about foreign policy. And so the Republicans are probably happy he's not in the race.

BLITZER: I don't know why you think, Roland, Herman Cain's endorsement is going to be irrelevant. He generated a lot of excitement within a certain branch of that Republican conservative movement.

MARTIN: Right. So tell me right now, if you are sitting here running for president, and if you are sitting here -- so let's say Santorum drops out. Who is running around right now looking for Tim Pawlenty's endorsement? Mitt Romney has it. Great.

At the end of the day, you can have the most wonderful endorsements in the world, but can you convince the voters? And the poll we just showed a few minutes ago, 32 percent of the people in Iowa are less likely to vote for a candidate if they get Trump's endorsement versus those who say they will vote for him. That's why I'm saying, it's the candidate, not who endorses him.

BLITZER: Will, what do you think about Donald Trump becoming a moderator and moderating a Republican presidential debate at the end of the month in Iowa?

CAIN: I think very little of it. I think the party whose ideas are centered around those of Edmund Burke and Frederich Hayek and Milton Friedman and Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan should not be affiliated with the likes of Donald Trump. I think it's pretty clear. I can't think of a single serious person who could possibly disagree with that.

MARTIN: Let me say this here, Wolf.

BLITZER: Hold on a second.

Newt Gingrich has already said he'll be there. He'll be participating in the debate.

CAIN: Good for Newt Gingrich.

MARTIN: This will be a two-person debate. Wolf, let me say right now, I predict this debate will not even take place.

He is a carnival barker. At the end of the day, Donald Trump has no credibility hosting a debate.

Look at the coverage. It hasn't been about the candidates. It's been about him. That's what this is all about.

He has a new book coming out. At the end of the day, we have to own up to it as well. We in the media have fed this monster, fed this beast. We fed his ego, and we pretend that Donald Trump is a credible person when it comes to politics, and he is not. It would be a joke for any Republican to show up.

And so I think, at the end of the day, I doubt Romney shows up, Perry shows up. Huntsman is not coming. Paul is not coming.

So who's left? A couple of people? That's not a debate.

BLITZER: All right. I don't think Roland is going to be invited to Donald Trump's country club anytime soon.

MARTIN: Trust me, and I would not seek an invite to anything where he is at.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks, guys. Thanks very much.

A lot more politics coming up.

Also, other news we're following, including a breach of security at a nuclear power plant and a new government admission about what went wrong.

And would-be spies test your code-cracking skills. If you're up to the task, you could get a job.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Do you have what it takes to become a spy? Britain's intelligence agency wants to know, and the answer may ultimately come down to a unique new online puzzle.

Let's bring in Brian Todd. He's got the details.

A challenge to a lot of folks out there --

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is.

BLITZER: -- who might want to spy.

TODD: That's right, Wolf.

You know, British officials have said their computer systems are constantly under attack from hackers, and they're now using some real creativity to recruit top talent to fight back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Here's your challenge: 160 combinations of numbers and letters, and a countdown clock. You've got just a few days to your deadline. If you crack this code, could you be the next real-life James Bond?

SEAN CONNERY, ACTOR, "DR. NO": Bond. James Bond. TODD: Maybe not. But if you're a British citizen and you solve this cryptograhpic puzzle, you could be recruited for Britain's next generation of high-tech spies.

Posted online, publicized on Facebook and Twitter, it's put out by the government's communications headquarters, Britain's version of America's National Security Agency, a kind of whiz-bang eavesdropping post whose mission is to help catch terrorists. This agency once posted job ads inside video games. An official there tells us this puzzle's gotten thousands of hits and at least 50 people have solved it. If you do that, you are congratulated, offered a chance to apply.

(on camera): What do you think of this as a recruiting tool?

MARK STOUT, INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM: I think it's a great idea. One of the things that it does is it brings sort of awareness of the need for cryptanalysts, cryptographers.

TODD (voice-over): Former CIA analyst Mark Stout is an expert on code- cracking at the International Spy Museum in Washington. He says for people with reasonable training in math and computer science, this code probably isn't too hard.

(on camera): What kind of crucial intelligence can you gather by code- breaking?

STOUT: Well, code-breaking signals intelligence, as we call it, can be tremendously valuable, because it's one of the rare forms of intelligence that, if done properly, if you can get access to the right things, will give you the enemy's intention. What are they really thinking?

TODD (voice-over): Stout and other experts say governments like Britain's, need cyber warriors more than ever. Officials at the government communications headquarters say they want people with an interest in so-called ethical hacking. Illegal hackers need not apply.

How will that play? Marc Maiffret is a former hacker who co-founded a firm called EI Digital Security. He says sophisticated hackers might find this puzzle gimmicky.

MARC MAIFFRET, EI DIGITAL SECURITY: The thing that I would have found funny or interesting as a teenage hacker would have been to actually hack the server that's hosting the challenge and actually change the challenge to have some funny message or some other thing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Other cyber experts say the code is just too easy. An official at that British government communications headquarters say it's not designed to be overly difficult, more to promote awareness of what that agency does. Maiffret and others says if that's the goal, then it's worth it to get teenagers and other young people excited about careers in legitimate cyber espionage.

Wolf, there is a desperate need for it. BLITZER: Yes. Code-cracking has also played roles in taking down some high-profile terrorists.

TODD: That's right. Mark Stout says governments will never reveal this, they'll never tell you exactly what happened, but he points to the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. He said that raid initially depended on signals intercepts, the courier's cell phone. He said that, in turn, may have depended on some kind of material collected from the Internet that involved code-breaking, but he said the NSA is never going to admit that to you. But they do this all the time.

BLITZER: Yes. If you go out to the NSA, the National Security Agency, they used to call it "No Such Agency" because it's so secret.

TODD: That's right. Incredibly secret.

BLITZER: If you go out there, they are working around the clock on code-breaking.

TODD: They are.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Brian.

No president since FDR has won reelection with unemployment over 7.2 percent. So here's the question: Is President Obama and his chances for reelection doomed? That's Jack's question.

"The Cafferty File" and your e-mail and more news, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's get back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: No president since FDR has won reelection with unemployment higher than 7.2 percent. Is President Obama doomed?

M.C. in Texas, "It seems a strange question. No one succeeded under these conditions since the last guy who faced these conditions and succeeded. That would seem to demonstrate that it's doable."

"Obama definitely has the potential to win, but it's going to be a severely divisive election. I think the country would be better off if we tossed a coin."

C. writes, "This may be a first. Republicans seem determined to see that Obama gets reelected. We have Herman Pokemon, Donald the Apprentice, Newt the Grinch, Mitt and Jon the Mormon-bots, Michele the ditz and Perry the joker. Obama may not be doomed no matter what the unemployment number."

Mark writes, "Obama is a one-term president. He was voted in due to the hatred of Bush and he has made things infinitely worse."

Gail writes, "He's not doomed. No president since FDR ever inherited a near-depression, two wars, and 10 years of tax cuts for the rich all at the same time." B. writes, "Of course he's doomed, and it's not just because of his failure to get the job market going. We were laughing out loud over the weekend watching the news and seeing Obama trying to counsel the Europeans on how to fix their economy. With what he's done to our economy, he ought to be looking for advice instead of giving it."

And Gerard writes, "Perhaps it's been said before, but in a country where laws declare pizza a vegetable, everything and everybody is doomed."

If you want to read more on this, you go to the blog, CNN.com/caffertyfile, or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM'S Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, don't forget, there's still a long time between now and November of next year. Not much time until the Iowa caucuses, four weeks from tomorrow, but a long time until November, 2012. Right?

CAFFERTY: Yes, that's right, Blitz. A long time.

BLITZER: Anything could happen.

CAFFERTY: Anybody besides Cain call you "Blitz"?

BLITZER: Sure. A lot of people call me a lot worse than that.

(LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: Not here.

BLITZER: Thank you, Cafferty.

CAFFERTY: OK.

BLITZER: A group of protesters turn occupying their tents into a fashion statement.

Jeanne Moos is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: As the mass Occupy movement gains momentum around the world, some protesters now aren't just occupying tents, they're wearing them.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Remember when tents used to be something you used to camp out in the wilderness?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Occupy the police car.

MOOS: Well, now they're being pitched on police cars. They've become a symbol of the Occupy movement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Floating tents.

MOOS: But instead of floating, these days they're being dismantled by police. That's what everyone thought was going to happen.

In Melbourne, Australia, police marched forward. But then what seemed like an oddly random verbal signal rang out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Space monkeys!

MOOS: Protesters, it turned out, were wearing their tents.

(LAUGHTER)

MOOS: They were dubbed "The Tent Monsters." Occupy Melbourne put their antics to music and uploaded them to YouTube.

Police seemed befuddled. One tent even dropped its pants. One of the officers asked, "How did they do it?" To which a protester replied --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gapper (ph) tape.

MOOS: "Gapper (ph) tape."

Then, lo and behold, the police turned around and left the tents in hot pursuit. One Web site labeled it "Mock and Awe."

(on camera): Arguments between police and protesters over tents have at times been intense.

(voice-over): For instance, at Occupy Toronto.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to touch my stuff, sir? Do you have a warrant, sir? Excuse me, Officer! I want a warrant!

MOOS: But the only warrant at Occupy Melbourne should have been from the fashion police.

True, tents may not make the most flattering outfits. As one person posted, "Honey, does this tent make my butt look big?"

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Very creative Occupy movement types. Very creative indeed.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching.

I'm Wolf Blitzer, in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The news continues next on CNN.