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THE SITUATION ROOM

President Obama Challenges Republicans Over Taxes; Shark Scare; Woman Accused of Adultery Executed; Going After Romney's Wealth; Romney Outpaces Obama; Boeing Chief: We've Learned Our Lesson; Close Encounter With Great White Sharks; Is The Internet Making Us Crazy?; $14 Billion Overpaid In 2011; Jordanian M.P. Pulls Gun In TV Debate; Georgia Banker Missing; Killer Floods, No Warning

Aired July 9, 2012 - 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: President Obama draws a line in the sand, launching an election-year battle over taxes.

Also, a woman accused of adultery is executed in public. Now there's a manhunt for the Taliban members suspected of killing her.

And close encounters with great whites take the shark scare out on Cape Cod to a new level.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

They bear the name of his predecessor. President Obama is seizing the so-called Bush tax cuts and calling for them to be extended, but not for everyone. The president wants to let them expire for the wealthiest Americans. That puts him at odds with congressional Republicans, as well as his rival, Mitt Romney, and sets the stage for a very heated battle with less than four months to go before the election.

Our White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is covering this for us.

Brianna, first of all, why is the president doing this today?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is certainly part of his narrative that he's trying to put out there as he runs for reelection. This is very much happening through that political prism.

He has tried to portray himself as really the one fighting for the middle class. And now he's trying to portray his opponent, Mitt Romney, and congressional Republicans as being defenders of the wealthy. So what he's calling for is for an extension of the Bush era tax cuts only for American families making up to $250,000.

And people, families who are making more than that under his plan would see their taxes increase at the end of the year. Here's how he explained why he wants to pursue this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is a stalemate in this town, in Washington, between two very different views about which direction we should go in as a country.

And nowhere is that stalemate more pronounced than on the issue of taxes. Many members of the other party believe that prosperity comes for the top down, so that if we spend trillions on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, that that will somehow unleash jobs and economic growth. I disagree.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Now, Wolf, President Obama said the wealthy can afford to pay more. And this is an idea that, historically, including in CNN/ORC polls, has polled pretty well among Americans to have wealthier Americans pay more money.

But it also something that has trouble getting through Congress. President Obama backed this same idea in 2010. He tried but ultimately ended up signing a two-year extension for all across-the- board tax cuts from the Bush era tax cuts.

And, Wolf, I will say Republicans now seizing on this, like House Speaker John Boehner saying this is just President Obama trying to distract from the poor job numbers that we saw out on Friday.

BLITZER: What would happen -- I know you have been checking with your sources over there, Brianna -- if the House of Representatives, which has a lopsided Republican majority, and the Senate, which has a narrow Democratic majority, but they're about half-a-dozen Democrats who may vote with Republicans on this one.

Let's say they pass legislation to extend the Bush tax cuts for another year for everyone, middle class, as well as wealthy. Would the president of the United States veto that legislation?

KEILAR: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today he would veto that, Wolf.

And it is a very good question since it's something that President Obama passed in 2010, or signed into law in 2010, I should say. What's interesting, though -- and we pressed Jay Carney on this during the briefing.

He said that the president would veto an across-the-board extension. I asked him, what about if the threshold were $1 million? What if it for Americans making $1 million and less instead of $250,000 or less? It appears the door at least is left open there. He said he wouldn't negotiate the particulars on that one.

BLITZER: That's in part because Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, Chuck Schumer, the senior Democratic senator from New York, they want that threshold to be $1 million, not the $250,000 threshold that the president has been pushing for.

Brianna Keilar is over at the White House. Thank you. Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, and our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

Why is the president trying to frame this debate right now?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Because it works for him.

And they also understand that summer is sort of the time, when you're heading into a presidential election, when people's notions about who the candidates are really crystallizes. And they believe that if they resurrect this fairness argument, which has worked for them in the past, for Democrats in particular, and they can portray themselves as on the side of the middle class, on the side of the little guy, in concert with, of course, health care reform, which they're going and try to use in the same way, then they can try and portray Mitt Romney and his Republican Party as people who care about the wealthy, and believe in what the president called today top-down economics.

Now, back in the Reagan days, they called it trickle-down economics, but it's the same thing.

(CROSSTALK)

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Or voodoo economics.

BORGER: Or voodoo -- right.

But whatever it is, it's people who believe that if the wealthy do well, it trickles down to the middle class. What the president said today I believe it comes for the bottom up.

BLITZER: Yes. It's interesting, because I think the polls show that the Americans are with the president on raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, not necessarily obviously on the middle class.

But Republicans -- and you're talking to a lot of them -- they believe this is a winning issue for them right now.

BASH: No question.

The minute we found out about this I was getting e-mails from Republicans who are very much engaged in getting Republicans elected not just on the national level from Mitt Romney, but on the Senate level. And they said that they not only welcome this, Wolf, but they were telling Republican candidates out there to hit the president, hit Democrats the minute this speech was out there because their point is that they believe that any tax increase will hurt small businesses.

And throughout the day you saw Republicans try to put some meat on that bone. For example, Jon Kyl, who is the number two Republican in the Senate, said that it would hurt 940,000 small businesses. So they're trying to make this not just a theoretical argument, but a real tangible argument of how they believe this -- any kind of tax increase, even for wealthy people, will hurt people who are not so wealthy.

BLITZER: But on the hill, you're talking to Democrats as well. They insist this is not a losing issue for them.

BASH: That's right. They do.

We were talking earlier today around the president's speech about the fact that there are a number of Democrats who are in danger in the Senate who don't necessarily want to vote on the tax issue because they don't want to be portrayed as raising taxes on anybody.

A Democrat e-mailed me an example of how they say they're not running from this, but actually running towards it. Claire McCaskill is one of those endangered Democrats. Watch one of her ads.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

NARRATOR: They want more tax breaks for multimillionaires and oil companies. Claire cuts taxes for the middle class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now I just before coming on got an e-mail from a Democrat who was briefed by the White House on why they did this today and what their point is.

And I think the most interesting thing I saw from this e-mail, Wolf, from the source, is that they believe that this opens up what they call a second front in the war on taxes. They were already getting hammered and will continue to be hammered by Republicans for the health care law, which the Supreme Court said is a tax. And now this allows them to hit back on .

BORGER: The lines are neon here between these two parties on all kinds of issues.

And, you know, the Democrats clearly believe they have a winning issue here on fairness, but the Republicans are saying, you know what, people just don't want taxes raised, and they don't care who it's on.

BLITZER: Tax reform, though, is something the Democrats say they want. The Republicans say they want. We have been hearing it for decades.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: There's got to be -- this IRS code is way too complicated, way too unfair. These benefits and whatever they get -- some big corporations get, for example, the tax shelters, you have to have major tax reform. And they're talking about it, but you know what? It never happens.

BORGER: For years, for years and years. Look, the president had a tax reform plan presented to him by the Simpson-Bowles commission. He decided to punt and not take it.

He has got the bare-bones outline of a tax reform plan, and Mitt Romney has the same thing. But the devil is in details of tax reform, because if you're going to lower the top rate, where are you going to get the money from? Well, you're going to have to get rid of some of those cherished deductions, like say home mortgage interest.

So this is where it becomes a huge problem. I mean, I believe, and Dana knows much more about this than I do, at some point when they look over the fiscal cliff and they're faced with $98 billion in budget cuts, which is going to come after the election, and expiration of tax cuts and all the rest, they're going to look at it, and they're going to say, we have to do something, but after the election.

BASH: But that's the key. That all is not going to happen. The expiration date is the end of the year, which is almost two months after the election. And that is the key. The House is going to vote on this. The Republicans are going to vote on this.

They're going to say that we want a year extension on all the tax cuts because they want tax reform. But to end it where you started it, just to be clear, this is political posturing, election-year posturing. And, unfortunately, when it comes to the real legislating, it's not going to happen.

BORGER: I'm shocked.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: It's going to happen after November 6, before December 31. If you guys thought you would be resting and relaxing during that lame duck after the election, forget about it. All right, thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Deeply disturbing video of a public execution. A woman is killed before a cheering crowd. It's a story that is shocking Afghanistan. Indeed, it's shocking the world.

Also, luxury vacations, foreign bank accounts, companies overseas, the Obama campaign trying to shine a spotlight on Mitt Romney's wealth. What is going on?

And the unknown illness killing dozens of children. Our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the latest on the race to solve this medical mystery.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Good news for all of our viewers. Jack Cafferty is back from vacation. He's here with "The Cafferty File."

Jack, we missed you.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you're very kind. Good to be back. Wolf, thank you. Put down the iPhone or BlackBerry. Look up from your computer screen or video game. Stop texting, e-mailing, chatting online. It turns out that the Internet could be driving us crazy. "Newsweek" magazine has a fascinating report on a growing body of worldwide research that shows just how much the technology may be damaging us.

Researchers find that the Internet may be making us more depressed, anxious, stressed, suicidal and prone to sicknesses, like obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention deficit disorder.

The brains of Internet addicts even look like those of drug and alcohol addicts. The statistics are staggering. Americans spend eight hours a day, on average, staring at a screen. That's more time than we spend doing anything else, including sleeping.

Teenagers put seven hours of screen time into the average school day, 11 if you include the time they're multitasking on several devices at once, and more than a third of smartphone users get online before they get out of bed.

Meanwhile, the average person sends or gets about 400 text messages a month. Teenagers, the number jumps to 3,700. Time online often replaces sleep, exercise, and face-to-face contact with real live people. These are just some of the reasons that countries like China, Taiwan and Korea have begun treating problematic Web use like a national health crisis.

It's no wonder the experts are alarmed as they describe the computer as electronic cocaine that fuels cycles of mania followed by depression. And they say the Internet -- quote -- "encourages and even promotes insanity." unquote.

So, here's the question. Is the Internet making us crazy? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and post a comment on my blog. Or go to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I read a story the other day or an article the other day, Jack, that says if you keep your iPad, for example, or other smartphone device too close to your bed while you're sleeping, it might keep you up at night. Not because of any noises, but because of blue light coming out of it or whatever. You may get insomnia in the process.

Some people are wondering why they're not getting a deep sleep. Maybe fast a factor. I don't know if that affects you, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Well, I don't have those things. I have none of that. I have a desk top computer and a room at my house away from the master bedroom. And the computer here at the office. And that's it. I don't have the --

BLITZER: That's it. All right. So, you're getting a good night's sleep every single night. And your brain is not cluttered with a lot of --

CAFFERTY: My brain is not in a very good shape, but it's not because of the Internet.

BLITZER: Cluttered with other stuff. All right, Jack. Thank you.

A very serious story we're following right now. A woman today accused of adultery publicly executed, apparently by Taliban. We have disturbing new details that are coming out of Afghanistan. We want to warn our viewers: this story contains graphic video.

CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom is following developments from Abu Dhabi.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, shock and outrage have mounted since a chilling amateur video surfaced showing an Afghan woman being publicly executed. It was horrific. And we must remind viewers this report includes graphic and disturbing content.

(voice-over): A burqa clad woman sitting on the ground, awaiting her execution. The man with a rifle is just a few feet away. A scene so disturbing we stopped it here.

He begins shooting, firing again and again. She slumps over after the third shot, but the executioner isn't finished. In all, he fires nine times.

Around him, dozens of men on a hillside cheer. "God is great," they chant.

This amateur video was taken in Afghanistan, in village just north of the capital. Afghan government officials are blaming the Taliban. They believe the woman was killed because of f a dispute between two Taliban commanders who had some kind of a relationship with her. That in order to save face, they accused her of adultery and then swiftly executed her.

For villagers in the area, they're outraged.

"What do they want to prove by this action," says this man. "It just shows their brutality and injustice. We want rule of law."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If our mother and sister watch this video, they will be shocked and will be scared. This is against the law.

JAMJOOM: While this public execution may be the latest and among the most shocking examples of violence suffered by women in Afghanistan, it's not an isolated case. A 2012 Human Rights Watch report found that nearly nine out of 10 Afghan women suffer physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage at least once in their lifetimes.

Afghan lawmaker and women's rights activist Fawzia Koofi wept as she watched the video of the execution.

FAWZIA KOOFI, AFGHAN M.P. AND WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I think there is little tolerance about such things and about the silence of government. This happened a few kilometers away from Kabul. I think we will have to do seriously something about this.

JAMJOOM: Afghan government officials are vowing to hunt down those responsible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are going to investigate thoroughly into this video and we will find those culprits and those Taliban who are behind this act of violence.

JAMJOOM: Despite the reassurances, many women are still fearful. There are renewed concerned about what the 2014 withdrawal of NATO troops will mean for women, who regain basic rights and voting after the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We have had very bad experience with Taliban in the past several years. Everyone is in shock and scared that, God forbid, if the Taliban return, what will happen.

JAMJOOM: But analysts warn the Taliban don't have a monopoly on violence towards women, that in this deeply conservative culture, women are constantly at risk and the specter of draconian justice is sadly part of the reality many live with every day.

(on camera): Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered security officials to arrest and punished this involved in this brutal killing. But for many in Afghanistan, this execution is just a reminder of what life was like between 1996 and 2001, when the Taliban ruled that country, and when public executions were commonplace -- Wolf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Mohammed Jamjoom, thanks very much for that report.

A soccer star goes on trial. Did England's John Terry hurl racial slurs at an opponent? Cover your ears. A lip reader was called in to testify.

And a meltdown at a little league game. It was the parents who were acting like children.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Scientists are scrambling for clues to find a child killer. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Lisa, what's going on?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, doctors are baffled by a mysterious illness that has killed dozens of children in Cambodia. Since April, at least 64 children have fallen ill and died within a day or two of being admitted to the hospital.

CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta went to find out what's going on. And he will join us live at 6:00 p.m., right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And a lip reader had eyebrow raising testimony at today's trial of an English soccer star John Terry. John Terry is charged with racist abuse for hurling obscenities at an opponent during a match last October. The lip reader translated what was captured on video for a magistrate court in London, including two extremely vulgar words.

Terry does not deny foul language but denies racist about. If convicted, he could be fined $4,000.

And either some really good driving or just plain luck, averting what could have been a disaster. In Akron, Ohio, late last week. Take a look here, wow, watch as that tractor trailer rig is captured by a gas station surveillance camera barreling down a freeway exit ramp and trying to turn left.

The driver told police his brakes failed and his car go caused the rig to roll on its side and slide to the gas pump. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt. Those are amazing pictures.

And take a look a this -- a Little League official says a brawl that broke out after a game in Columbus, Georgia, over the weekend is an embarrassment for the city. The fight wasn't between the kids, but between adults watching the game. It's all caught on video.

A verbal battle over music played between innings came to blows after the last play of the game. In the end, two men were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. They are to appear in court in August.

What is really, really sad about that, Wolf, is those kids were watching the parents go at it, and that's not what you want in a role model, Wolf.

BLITZER: Not a good example for those young kids.

All right. Thanks, Lisa. Thanks very much.

Mitt Romney has a huge personal fortune, President Obama wants to make sure you don't forget about it. Details of the Democrat's emerging campaign strategy.

And new sightings of great white sharks off Cape Cod. Some of them are getting way too close for comfort.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Here's the stories we're working on for the next hour:

A war of words and some chest beating. Syria fires up war games while its president charges the United States with supporting terrorists on his overthrow.

So much for relief from the heat. A cold front breaks the heat wave, but sets a punishing round of storms that near the nation's capitol.

And Congress is looking at closing the no sales tax loophole on Internet shopping.

Standby. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(MUSIC)

BLITZER: Protector of middle class. It's a title both president and Mitt Romney are trying to claim in this race for the White House. But the Obama campaign feels it has an advantage because of Romney's wealth. So it keeps putting a spotlight on the personal fortune.

CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta is joining us now.

Jim, what's going on right now with the Romney campaign?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the latest attacks on Mitt Romney's wealth, recent fund-raisers, even the president's call to raise taxes on the wealthy are a reminder the Democrats want to portray the GOP contender as a Mr. 1 Percent.

But in an audio recording that's exclusive to CNN, Romney tells one group of donors he's really looking out for the middle class. And we should note: the audio is kind of low.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): While liberal activists hounded Mitt Romney as out of touch in one of his weekend fundraisers in the Hamptons, the GOP contender was inside telling a group of wealthy donors his campaign is focused on less fortunate Americans. The audio caught on tape by CNN.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you're here, by and large you're doing just fine -- but I spend a lot of time worrying about those that are poor and those in the middle class.

ACOSTA: Romney's comments follow a week of Democratic swipes at his personal wealth. The jet skiing and boating on a family vacation in New Hampshire to an article in "Vanity Fair," which reported the GOP contender has only recently disclosed an offshore holding in Bermuda. That resurrected the tax on Romney's money and foreign bank accounts.

ROBERT GIBBS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: Nobody knows why he has a corporation in Bermuda. Why he failed to disclose that on seven different financial disclosures?

ACOSTA: Romney's aides have said little about the issue releasing a lone statement to Fox News saying, he hasn't paid a penny less in taxes by virtue of where these funds are domicile.

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: All of this nastiness and division about investments and money and rich versus poor. This comes down to how people feel in November. How do people feel about this president?

ACOSTA: An Obama campaign official tells CNN even the president's call to end the Bush tax cuts for wealthier Americans fits into a larger narrative of who is really looking out for the middle class.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: That's why I believe. It's time to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, folks like myself to expire.

ACOSTA: The Romney campaign did react to his remarks, saying his response to an even more bad economic news is a massive tax increase.

But for Democrats, a strategy has emerged, to do to Romney what the GOP did to a wealthy and wind surfing John Kerry in 2004. That's despite the fact the president is also well off, and woos campaign donors with the likes of George Clooney.

But he's no fund raising match for Romney, who raked in more than $106 million in June, $35 million more than the president, which may also explain Romney's message at his fundraisers and to voters who were never in attendance.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: There's a sense dread setting in over at the Obama campaign over its fundraising losses to Team Romney. One Obama campaign official sums it up this way by saying in an e-mail this afternoon to reporters and supporters alike, saying, quote, "We could lose if this continues" -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And they're suggesting that the "Super PAC" money is going to go heavily in favor of the Republicans as well. Beyond the campaign money, beyond the political party, the "Super PAC" money is really piling up for the Republicans right now as opposed to the Democrats.

ACOSTA: That's right. All along before this general election campaign battleground started between Mitt Romney and President Obama, the conventional wisdom in Washington was that President Obama would have the clear advantage in fundraising.

They were talking about raising in the neighborhood of a billion dollars. Now it appears that edge is clearly with Mitt Romney, and he is showing it now month after month. He knows how to raise money -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta, thanks very much. Let's talk about this and more in our "Strategy Session." Joining us now, two CNN political contributors, the Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and the former Bush White House speech writer, David Frum. He is also a contributor to cnn.com.

You know, the Democratic campaign, Donna, came out with an e- mail right after these numbers for the second month in a row, the Republicans did a lot better, Romney campaign than the Obama campaign.

Here's from the Obama campaign e-mail, "Good news first, June was our best fundraising month yet. Bad news, we still got beat, handily. Romney and the RNC pulled in a whopping $106 million so to recap.

We had the best fund raising month yet, and we still fell about $35 million short. We can win while being outspent, but we need to keep it close."

You ran the Gore campaign in 2000. If the Republicans dramatically outspend Obama and the Democrats, is it over?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely not. George Bush outspent us and we were able to keep it competitive by using our funds in a very targeted way.

Look, there's no question that the Democratic "Super PAC" needs to raise more money. They're out there raising money. One of my good friends, my colleague, Paul Begala, early today, he's out raising money.

I know the campaign is. But the truth of the matter is the Republicans will always have a financial advantage. I think the weakness is on the platform, on the policy.

That's where I think the president can make a lot of progress in convincing the American people he has the right policies for the country. If he can do that, we can beat --

BLITZER: But money talks in politics. You know that. Donna knows that. I know that. We all know money talks.

DAVID FRUM, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: And Donna is wrong to say that Republicans always have a financial advantage. In 2004, the Democrats had a small financial advantage. In 2008, they had a big financial advantage.

And the question I think about when I look back in 2008, is the Obama campaign is run by people who learned their trade, or who mastered their trade with a huge financial advantage. They know how to go comparatively lean and run a more frugal campaign than they ran last time.

BLITZER: Was it a blunder with hindsight for Obama in 2008 to forego public financing of the campaign? Go for all the money he could raise and give up what earlier presidential candidates had done?

BRAZILE: Well, you know, George Bush, George W. Bush, many other candidates, you know, opted out of the public finances. Personally, I would have stayed in. But that's because I'm a different kind of Democrat.

But, look, I understand the president had a lot of supporters, a lot of money on the table in 2008. In my judgment, it was spent very well. He won the race.

This time it's a lot different. He will have to continue to raise money. Maybe a lot smaller amount than he did before.

BLITZER: Is there a difference optically, and people look at this. Average folks for Romney to go to a fund-raiser -- political fundraiser in the Hamptons and the Koch estate, who is a billionaire, as we all know.

As opposed to the president going to Beverly Hills, to Jeffery Capsonberg's house or George Clooney's house and going for fundraisers there. What's the difference, if anything?

FRUM: I can't see it. That is true that reporters are able to get some more unfortunate quotes from the people attending one fundraiser than the other, but that's not got nothing to do with the candidate.

That is for people attending the fundraiser. Here I think is the other thing to take in mind about this weekend's news and Jim's report pointed to it. The Obama campaign is in real danger of misunderstanding what happened with the Bush campaign in 2004.

The lesson they've taken is when you have a so-so economy, which the president had in 2004. They have a terrible economy. You can still win by going relentlessly negative on your opponent's character.

That's not why George Bush won in 2004. They did do a negative campaign on John Kerry. They also had an affirmative message about homeland security, keeping the country safe.

What is President Obama's affirmative message? It's got to be something bigger than I'm going to raise some taxes on people some of my supporters may not like.

BLITZER: Remember, the swift vote veterans who came out against John Kerry. That was pretty brutal the stuff. There were arguing against a legitimate Vietnam war hero.

FRUM: I'm not saying there wasn't a negative component, but there was a positive message as well. He kept us safe. This time, what's the positive message?

BRAZILE: He's kept us safe. He's managed to stabilize this economy after the worst financial recession since the great depression and there's a lot in this record for him to talk about.

Look, Mitt Romney has contributed to this character of himself as being out of touch by not releasing his tax return, by not being forthcoming about all these exotic accounts that he has.

No one is saying he's broken the law. At least I haven't heard that, but he's not forthcoming.

BLITZER: He should he release his tax returns for all those years, don't you think?

FRUM: It probably would help. You know, there's a point that is sometimes made that I think is a little naive. Paul Krugman made in column today, saying, George Romney, the candidate's father in 1967, released 12 years of tax returns.

And Mitt Romney, the son, has released fewer, but remember, George Romney in 1967 was running against Lyndon Johnson, one of the most secretive and disturbing personal finances.

He wasn't doing it to make some good government point. George Romney had an edge. First, he thought he was running against Lyndon Johnson, who didn't in fact run.

The York finances are tangled. Your wealth is mysterious. There are a lot of conflicts of interest. I'm going to prove that I'm queen, as compared to you.

BRAZILE: Perhaps it's time for the son to come clean and show us exactly what most presidential candidates have always shown, that is their tax records.

BLITZER: I'll suspect he'll do that at some point. From this perspective, he should do it earlier rather than later, but we'll see. If you want to run for the president of the United States, no more secrets, everything will come out there.

BRAZILE: Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

BLITZER: Thanks, guys. Thanks very much.

More close encounters of the frightening kind of Cape Cod. The great white shark scare gets worse. Brian Todd has an update.

And still ahead, a major air show, where you see the latest and greatest in airplane technology. CNN's Richard Quest is there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: People probably have never heard of Farmboro, but the small English town and right now it's at the center of the aviation universe.

Its annual air show draws airlines and airplane manufacturers from around the world. American giant Boeing is certainly there, taking orders, but also vowing it's learned from past mistakes that saw long delivery delays.

CNN's Richard Quest is on the scene for us and he's joining us.

RICHARD QUEST, HOST, CNNI'S "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": At the Farmboro Air Show, there are planes of all ages and sizes and from all countries. This is from Brazil. The SSJ 100 from Russia. New models of existing planes, the Boeing 737-900.

And of course, the Dreamliner from Boeing, the 787. Boeing took the orders on the first day, 75 orders for the 737 plane. Across the range of aircrafting made by Boeing, the challenge now is how to ramp up production, increase the number of flames being produced.

I heard from the president, Shep Hill, of Boeing International that that was the challenge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHEP HILL, PRESIDENT, BOEING INTERNATIONAL: The same history of fears that you talked about is the history that we lived and understand. We're not going to make that mistake.

We're being prudent in the manner in which we're ramping up and not telling our supply chain what they have to do, asking them what they can do.

QUEST: And if you look at the development of the aircraft that you've got, are you confident that it will be on schedule? That it will make the target?

HILL: Yes, we are.

QUEST: Why?

HILL: Lessons learned of the past. The manner in which we've done it, the prudent thoughtful manner in which we said out the design and the commitment we make in terms of the 2017 delivery, all of which we believe we can do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: Shep Hill from Boeing with the lessons learned from ramp up. There's one thing in which we can be certain, as they start to build more planes, we'll find out if they got it right this time.

BLITZER: Richard Quest reporting. Thank you.

Great white sharks coming within feet of people in the water off Cape Cod. It sends the shark scare to a new level.

And a heated TV debate gets very, very scary. We have details of what one lawmaker did that sparked an investigation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The very real shark scare on Cape Cod is rising to a new level today after frightening close calls between the great whites and people in the water.

CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us. He's over at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Brian, more sightings, is that what we're seeing?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Authorities on Cape Cod are really keeping on their toes right now, monitoring exactly where the great whites are versus where the swimmers are.

That's after a scare this past weekend when a kayaker had to paddle for his life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): This was Walter Szulc's first time kayaking. Take a look at the size of the dorsal fin lurking just a few feet behind him. He says he didn't hear people screaming at him from the shore, but made it back to the beach safely.

WALTER SZULC JR., KAYAKER TAILED BY SHARK: I figured this is it. This is it or I'm going to make it. I don't know. It was out of my hands.

TODD: That close call on Saturday led authorities to close the Nauset beach on Cape Cod. On Sunday, the group Cape Cod shark hunters spotted three great whites in the area near Nauset Beach and Chatam.

The largest they say estimated at about 18 feet. Watch from the air as they move a fast moving boat to try to catch up to great whites and tag them along with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.

GREG SKOMAL, MASSACHUSETTS DIVISION OF MARINE FISHERIES: We have a tagger, placed a tag at the base of the dorsal fin using a harpoon method. So it's a very effective method for tagging this fish and it doesn't necessary handle them or stress them to any great degree.

TODD: Then they monitor the migration patterns of these apex predators with other devices. We were with John Chism of the Marine Fisheries group when he deployed them.

(on camera): It may look like harpoons, but actually they're listening stations. These are buoys that have acoustic receivers in them to receive the transmissions from tagged sharks.

But, John says there are a lot of great whites in this area that have not been tagged.

(voice-over): Among the 20 odd great whites they have tagged here, Chism says they've tracked them as far away as Florida. It's not much of a mystery what draws them back to Cape Cod.

SKOMAL: As we've allowed the seal populations to rebound over the course of the last four decades, I believe they've now hit threshold levels that are drawing the sharks close to shore. In essence, they've become a viable food source for them.

TODD: Greg Skomal says they're observing more great whites each year off Cape Cod. But as menacing as they seem, great white sharks have had to be placed on the protective species list.

I asked Andy Dehart an expert at the National Aquarium about the recent encounters.

(on camera): What can experts do to keep humans and sharks apart from each other?

ANDY DEHART, NATIONAL AQUARIUM: What they're doing up in Massachusetts right now is a great strategy. A lot of folks are pointing to maybe we need nets at the beaches. That's a strategy that's been used in Australia, and what scientists have found is the nets are doing a lot of environmental damage. They're killing sea turtles. They're killing whales.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Dehart says the strategy in Massachusetts of monitoring the sharks and then pulling swimmers out of the water when the sharks get too close. He says that should be done pretty much everywhere.

He says there is no question, which of the two species is the dominant killer. Dehart says about 73 million sharks are killed by humans every year. That's compared to about six fatalities among humans every year from shark bites -- Wolf.

BLITZER: When you were on Cape Cod last week including Friday, Brian, folks were just reluctant to even go in the water. I assume that's continuing to be the case right now.

TODD: That's right. I mean, they're going to the edge of the water. They may be wading in at most to the waist then they get out. And of course, the authorities there are keeping very close touch on what's going on.

Keeping a sharp eye out, you know, the Cape Cod shark hunters are up in the air with monitoring planes to see where they are. They're in the water with these boats.

So they're keeping a very close eye on them. But as long as they're close to the seals and the seals are close to humans, that's a problem. There are a lot of seals in the area.

BLITZER: We have some great white sharks right behind you over there at the aquarium in Baltimore. Brian, thanks very much.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty right now. He's got the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: People could also swim in the pool. The question is, is the internet making us crazy? And of course, you're asked to post your responses online, which many of you pointed out.

Gary in California writes, "Yes, because people just don't know how to turn it off. I'm still amazed when I go hunting and fishing with my sons and they give us a Wi-Fi access code when we check into the campgrounds. I miss the simple days when my mother would turn off the TV and kick us out of the house to play."

Jennifer in Winnipeg writes, "I was crazy long before the internet. In fact, in my retiring years I find the internet acts like a soother to me."

Brad in Oregon says, "I think the internet just lets crazy people find one another and lets them reinforce each other's dysfunctions. I don't think it turns previously sane people insane."

G.G. in Oregon says, "I do find after reading today's topic that I have OCD. I can't wait to get my house work, shopping, et cetera done before rushing to see what strange topic Jack will tickle my brain with today. I don't know if I'm crazy yet, but I do a lot of research and reading that has replaced my love of old movie."

Michael writes, "Do guns kill people? Does drinking cause accidents? The internet isn't driving people crazy. People are driving themselves crazy. There are good ways to use technology and dumb ways. It all comes down to the people, always has, always will."

Lewis in Toronto says, "Social media sites are a breeding ground for a multitude of personality disorders. Spend a few minutes on Facebook and you'll be hard pressed not to notice the picture of budding narcissist, borderlines and sociopaths. Scared to think what society will look like a few years down the road."

D.C. writes, "It's not causing insanity, it's just exposing it." And Ed in Maryland says, "Yes, it is, and I can hear Al Gore laughing in my brain as his plan comes to fruition."

If you want to read more on this, go to my blog at cnn.com/caffertyfile or through our post in THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Jack. Thanks very much.

Some recipients of unemployment checks may have to give some of the money back. We're going to explain what's going on.

And raised voices, insults, but that's not the half of it. You won't believe what this talk show is all about and what happened.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, the U.S. Labor Department says about $14 billion was overpaid in federal jobless benefits last year.

It says the funds generally go to people who stop looking for work. Those who have been fired or quit or those who have found work and are still filing for benefits. The Labor Department says it's working to try to recoup the losses.

A Jordanian lawmaker is under investigation for pulling out a gun, yes, a gun, during a heated talk show debate late last week. Check it out. OK, well, prosecutors say they are now considering charges.

And federal agents are looking for Georgia banker who disappeared last month. The 46-year-old Aubrey Lee Price is suspected of embezzling at least $17 million.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in New York says Price is expected of defrauding more than 100 investors over two years. He was last seen in Key West, Florida.

And thousands of lives shattered almost in an instant. It is a national day of mourning in Russia for more than a 170 people killed by devastating floods that struck without warning over the weekend.

Here's CNN's Fionnuala Sweeney.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You're fast asleep in the middle of the night, rushed awake by the sound of rushing water. There's no time to think. Just react.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): That's how high the water level was. At first the stream threw me in the garden. Luckily, I managed to grab a rope tied there and crawled up over the railing and got inside the house.

SWEENEY: Local residents tell the Russian broadcaster the terrifying tale of what happened here in the pitch of night, early Saturday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Then I climbed up this ladder to the second floor. Otherwise, I would have drowned here.

SWEENEY: Raging floodwaters sent this man clambering into his attic. The view from above shows the extent of the devastation. The country's president, Vladimir Putin, toured the region of Southern Russia, surveying the damage from the air.

Back on the ground, the power of the water. The sheer impact was evident along the roads. Pump trucks rumbled in the streets of the district where most of the fatalities occurred, making it easier for rescue workers to use canine partners to help locate victims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There still may be oxygen under the debris, so there's hope that there could be survivors trapped underneath.

SWEENEY: Residents raked the muck from their homes, trying to salvage what they could, with many asking the painful question, why weren't we warned?

Russian authorities have launched and official investigation. State media reports more than 5,000 homes were overrun, disrupting the lives of 12,000 people. Fionnuala Sweeney, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: The government is promising about $300 to the victims -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lisa, thank you.