Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Mitt Romney Responded to the Sharpest Attacks on his Record with Bain Capital; Secretary Hillary Clinton's Epic Trip; Who is the Woman Besides Kim Jong-Un? U.S. Olympic Uniforms Made in China?
Aired July 14, 2012 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
Mitt Romney responds to the sharpest attacks yet on his record with Bain Capital and accuses the Obama campaign of putting out information, which he says is false, deceptive, and dishonest.
Plus, the pride of the U.S.A., dressed in uniforms made in China. Some are calling it an Olympic outrage.
And a mystery woman appears with North Korea's mysterious leader, and rumors fly.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
The race for president of the United States is getting more brutal by the day. We begin this hour with Mitt Romney responding to a firestorm of controversy, surrounding his taxes and his time at Bain Capital. And he's accusing the Obama campaign of stooping to a new low.
Our national political correspondent Jim Acosta had a chance on Friday to interview Romney. It was an excellent interview.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.
BLITZER: And there were some real nuggets that we got out of it.
ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. I mean, the main issue that we wanted to get to was his role at Bain Capital and when he left that private investment firm. We asked Mitt Romney why his name still appears on government documents as the CEO of Bain Capital after 1999, the year he has said he left the company.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- is that I left any role at Bain Capital in February of '99. And that's known and said by the people at the firm. It's said by the documents, offering documents that the firm made subsequently about people investing in the firm. And I think anybody who knows that I was out full time running the Olympics would understand that's where I was. I spent three years running the Olympic Games. And after that was over, we worked out our retirement program, our departure official program for Bain Capital and handed over the shares I had.
But there's a difference between being a shareholder, an owner, if you will, and being a person who's running an entity. And I had no role whatsoever in managing Bain Capital after February of 1999. And by the way, this is all an effort on the part of the president's campaign to divert attention from the fact that the president has been a failure when it comes to reigniting America's economy. We have had now 41 straight months with unemployment above eight percent. And so, he continues to try to find some way to attack me, other than to talk about policy. And it's time to talk about what it will take to get America working again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And Romney also made it clear in that interview, he will not be releasing more than the 2010 tax return and the 2011 return that he plans to file and issue before the American people before the election. That is fewer than the number of returns he gave to the McCain campaign when he was being vetted for vice president in 2008. It's also fewer than what his father, George Romney, released when he ran for president in 1968.
BLITZER: He was also very tough on the president's campaign.
ACOSTA: That's right.
BLITZER: And the accusations that have been hurled against him. This is getting nasty.
ACOSTA: You can tell that it's getting personal and that the campaign and Mitt Romney feels that it's getting personal. When I asked him about Stephanie Cutter, the Obama campaign strategist who said on that conference call on Thursday that she said that Mitt Romney could be guilty of a felony because of these SEC filings, he said that that was beneath the dignity of the presidency.
Now, we should note, Mitt Romney did this round-robin of interviews, not just with us, but with other networks. Wolf, it's interesting to note, he essentially said the same thing, gave the same answers to all of us in the course of all of these interviews.
BLITZER: He said he would be a zone man as far as picking a vice presidential candidate. He didn't tell you who it would be.
ACOSTA: No, he didn't. And that's been his position so far in this campaign. That he's not going to talk about the vetting process, the vice presidential selection process. But I did ask him, because Condoleezza Rice's name did come up, whether or not he was concerned about being associated too much with the Bush administration. As you know, earlier this week, he had that fund-raiser with Dick Cheney out in Wyoming.
It was interesting to note that Mitt Romney said in that interview that his administration would not be a carbon copy of anything in the past. A note there that he would like to get out that he would not be George W. Bush, part II.
BLITZER: And he was strong -- very strong on that specific point. Good work, as usual. Thanks so much, Jim Acosta, reporting.
President Obama also is talking about Romney's involvement with Bain Capital. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is not that he is disqualified because of what he's done. It is if that's your main claim, seasons he doesn't talk about the fact that he was governor of Massachusetts for four years very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Or ran the Olympics.
OBAMA: Then I want us to make sure that we know what your theory is about how to grow the economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The president is on the road, obviously, once again. He's pouring attention on critical battleground states at the same time.
Let's go to our correspondent Dan Lothian. He's joining us right now.
On this specific issue of Romney, Bain Capital outsourcing, I take it the Obama campaign thinks they have a winning issue?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They certainly do, Wolf. They're looking at polling out there and they get the sense that the American people are buying this message and certainly keeping Romney guessing. And on the offensive, having to respond to these attacks from the Obama campaign, but their focus also has been on hitting these key battleground states.
And you see the president now for the second day in the commonwealth of Virginia. It's a crucial state for the president. He won it bay slight margin in 2008, the first time that a democrat had done that decades. And what you've seen from the Obama campaign, over the last several months, is this push to boo military veterans. Why is that important? Well, Virginia is a region that obviously has a lot of military personnel, so, the president hoping to tap into that group to help lift his fortunes in that commonwealth for the second time.
But not only in Virginia you see, the president also hitting other battleground states, like Ohio. He was there last week on that bus tour. He heads back there on Monday. It's the eighth time that the president is visiting the battleground state of Ohio.
What's interesting Wolf, is that in all of these battleground states, the economy is doing much better than the national average. When you look at unemployment, for example, in the state of Virginia, it's at 5.6 percent, the national average for unemployment, 8.2 percent, so much higher nationally. So the president, according to the campaign, has a story to tell. That his economic policies are working, but when you look at the polls, the race is neck and neck in these battleground states. So you see the president focusing now on tax fairness. Really pushing for the middle class and those trying to get into the middle class and the president will continue to put pressure on Congress to extend those Bush tax cuts for those making up to $250,000, Wolf.
BLITZER: He's also, Dan, talking about what he would do differently if he were re-elected for a second term.
LOTHIAN: That's right. And the president said that this week in an interview with CBS, that he hopes to go out there, spend more time sitting down, talking to the American people, listening to them, spending more time outside of Washington.
But, the president also talking about some of his challenges. We heard him say something similar back in 2010, during a backyard event in Seattle, where the president said he was so busy, essentially putting out fires, that he never really had a chance to focus on sort of the advertising, the marketing of what his administration was doing. And the president saying, yes, now, in this campaign season, admitting that he's had some challenges in communicating his message and that he needs to do a better job of not only explaining, but also inspiring. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The mistake of my first couple of years was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. And that's important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LOTHIAN: Now, any time a politician, a president opens up and says that he or she has made a mistake, you also open yourself up to attacks from the opposition, and Republicans was wasted no time.
After transcripts of the president's interview were released, we heard from the RNC saying that with 23 million people out there struggling in a tough economy, people and voters want to know not what the president can do in terms of telling a good story, but what he can do to create jobs. So they're using these remarks from the president to push this narrative, at the president's economic policies are failing -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. Mitt Romney issued a similar statement as well, immediately after that interview.
Thanks so much, Dan Lothian over at the White House.
Let's bring in our senior political editor, Ron Brownstein, the editorial director of 'the National Journal."
Your take on whether or not this whole Obama campaign, going after Romney on Bain Capital, whether that's a smart strategy, not so smart, a diversion, because of the bad economic situation here. What's going on?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It is a critical battle front in this campaign. I think probably along with the question of whether voters feel that the economy is moving forward or not, it is probably right up there as one of the two critical battle fronts. And I don't think we'll know the ultimate investigator on this today, tomorrow, or next week. It's probably not going to be until the debates this fall.
I think this is a central argument for President Obama, trying to hold voters who are dissatisfied with the economy, to argue that Mitt Romney is more the embodiment of the problem than the solution. And Bain, I think, is, you know, the central battering ram they're using to making their argument. And Romney is struggling.
I mean, they are struggling. They seem to be behind the story. There seem to be new developments all the time. And the explanations they are offering, I think, you know, are very complex for people to kind of process. They may not process them today, it may not matter more than the economy in the end, but it is definitely a challenge for him.
BLITZER: In a related area, the Obama campaign also hammering away on Romney's refusal to release more than one, maybe two, years of his income tax returns. They're saying if he has nothing to hide, why doesn't he release it? Listen to the former president, bill Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's the first time in, I don't know, more than 30 years that anybody running for president has only done that. You know, it's typical. I think that we ought to release 10 or 11 years. I think senator McCain released over 20 years of tax returns. That, I think, has been -- that struck me as a little odd.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Give us some perspective on this. Because he did release his 2010 returns, under pressure from Republican presidential rivals at the time, during the primaries and caucuses. He's got an estimate of his 2011, because he filed an extension. But what's going on here?
BROWNSTEIN: Mitt Romney has extraordinarily, from even the little that we've seen, has an extraordinarily complex financial reality, financial life. And we know very little about it. Maybe the most relevant comparison, of course, is his father, who famously released 12 years of his tax returns, when he considered running for president.
The politics of this is seamless. What he's talking about, what Democrats are talking about, with the taxes. They are talking about with Bain. The argument is that Romney in his private life embodies an economy that enriches the few at the expense of the many. And ultimately, the second shoe that will drop at some point and we're going to see in these latest ads is the argument is what they maintain has been his private career would be reflected in his public agenda. The Obama campaign is dealing with a reality when most Americans are dissatisfied with what the economy has produced over the past four years. They want to make this as much as possible a forward-looking choice. And they want it to be centered on the issue of who is on your side, and that's what all of this is fundamentally about.
BLITZER: So, are these on Bain Capital and the income tax returns, there's vulnerability there on the part of Romney.
BROWNSTEIN: Romney's favorable, unfavorable ratings are weak and there is vulnerability there. I mean, again, it may not in the end outweigh judgments about the economy for swaying voters, but this is something that is allowing Obama to talk to voters that he has very little else to talk about. Particularly these working class white voters that have been the toughest audience for him since the beginning, who he is seeing further erosion with today, who are ideologically alienated, culturally conservative, and economically strained, portraying Romney as kind of the embodiment of a cutthroat capitalism that has, in fact, diminished both their security and their opportunity, is probably the best weapon Obama has, or at least the best message he has to talk to those voters at this point.
BLITZER: You've got a column in the national journal. You were out in Colorado talking to voters. A critical battleground state that President Obama carried compared to McCain with 54 percent to 45 percent.
But you wrote this line that jumped out at me. "Ironically, if the candidate of hope from 2008 survives, it may be partly because many Americans, after a grueling decade, view both the presidency and the economy with lowered expectations."
BROWNSTEIN: The big conclusion that came to me from this conversation was that Ronald Reagan's famous question, are you better off than you were four years ago?, is probably not as relevant as we think, precisely because fewer voters expect to be. Voters have been living through a full decade of declining incomes and meager job growth.
The new normal in many ways is just trying to keep ahead of that. And I think that what was clear to me, from these conversations is that at least from Obama's '08 voters; many of them are not asking that question. They're asking, has he made as much progress as reasonably could be expected, given the mess that he inherited? And I think many of them are holding with him on that ground.
But the big threat that comes through these conversations is that people didn't expect it to be morning in America by 2012, but, Wolf, they want signs of progress. And that's what is wavering. That's the bolt that is loosening for the president at this point. The sense that at least if it's not right now, we're moving in the right direction. And even among some of his former supporters, that is clearly beginning to waver, and that is the obviously biggest threat to him in November.
BLITZER: Yes. Colorado, like so many other battleground states, whether they're Ohio or Virginia, clearly, clearly could go either way. This battle is intense.
BLITZER: Ron, thanks very much. Good new issue with "the National Journal," the top 25 influential women in Washington, D.C., and the hurdles they had to overcome. Good stuff.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Hillary Clinton has been on a marathon diplomatic mission with an itinerary you have to see to believe. Is she starting to feel the strain?
Plus, incredible details about assassinations inside Iran, and a secret war being waged by Israel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The top Senate Democrat fuels outrage over the U.S. Olympic team's uniforms that were made in China.
BLITZER: Right now the secretary of state Hillary Clinton is on another marathon trip, spanning the globe with an itinerary that would leave even the most, hardy travel exhausted. And there are signs she may be starting to feel that strain.
Our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, is over at the state department. She's got some details.
Jill, give us some perspective on what is going on.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Wolf.
Well, you and I have been on plenty of trips with Secretary Clinton, so you know that the golden rule is you never quite know when you're going to end up. But this trip that you're talking about really is extraordinary, even for a secretary who always has her bags packed.
DOUGHERTY (voice-over): Secretary of state Hillary Clinton packs a lot into a day on the road. In Hanoi, Vietnam, Tuesday, she visited the foreign ministry, the foreign trade university, the prime minister, the secretary of the ruling communist party, and then made remarks to the U.S. chamber of commerce. HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: And I've been talking all day, so excuse me. (COUGHS)
DOUGHERTY: That's when the trip caught up with her.
HILLARY CLINTON: So we've come a long way in a short period of time. (COUGH) and that is -- (COUGH) -- excuse me -- what economic state is all about. (COUGH) so we want to hear from all of you about what more we can do together. And at the risk of coughing any longer, I just want to say, thank you, and let's get to work. (COUGH)
HILLARY CLINTON: A coughing fit forced her to cut short her speech. The state department said she's in excellent health and doing just fine. But the journey struck fear in the hearts of seasoned journalists, who have to keep up with her.
Clinton's almost two-week trip is a mile-busting marathon and it's taking its toll, flying from Washington, D.C., to Paris for a conference on Syria, then to Afghanistan and Tokyo, for a conference on afghan reconstruction. Next stop, Mongolia, then three countries in Southeast Asia, then Egypt after its election, Israel, and finally back home to Washington.
No wonder Clinton had this to say in June when students in Latvia asked her what are the biggest challenges of her job?
HILLARY CLINTON: The personal stamina that is required in today's world in a job like this is quite an experience.
DOUGHERTY: Two weeks ago on yet another trip, Clinton made diplomatic history, racking up the 100th country she's visited as secretary of state, more than any other secretary in history according to the state department. But the end is in sight. Clinton at age 64 says, even if President Barack Obama is re-elected, she won't stick around for another term as secretary of state.
HILLARY CLINTON: I think after 20 years, and it will be 20 years, of being on the high-wire of American politics and all of the challenges that come with that, it would be a -- probably a good idea to just find out how tired I am.
DOUGHERTY: Yes, how tired she is. And you know, we did a rough calculation of the mileage on this trip. This trip alone, she's going to add almost 27,000 more miles to her total, Wolf.
BLITZER: Good luck to her, the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.
Thanks so much, Jill Dougherty.
James Carville says it's no longer about the economy. It's about the middle class. We'll talk to him about his new book.
And, handy notes, Jeanne Moos takes a closer look at Sarah Palin, and others, all caught red-handed. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: There's a new take on one of the most iconic slogans in politics, the original was made famous by the man who helped Bill Clinton win the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the economy, stupid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now that slogan has been updated.
And James Carville, our political contributor, the Democratic strategist, is joining us right now. The co-author of the new book, "Stan Greenberg," he was the lead pollster for the Clinton campaign back in '92. He's joining us as well.
Congratulations to both of you on the new book. It's got a lot of really good things inside.
But let me start, James, with you and the title "it's the middle class, stupid." You used to say, you brain the phrase, "it's the economy, stupid" back in '92. What's changed?
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think what's changed is we've had a deterioration of the middle class over a long period of time, and people are falling out of the middle class, having trouble hanging on to the middle class, and very much aware of what's happening in their lives. And that Stan and I noticed this over a period of time. He wrote an earlier book called "middle class dreams." And so, we really wanted to bring this attention to the forefront, and that was the rationale and reason behind the book.
BLITZER: Is it your sense, Stan, that, the Obama campaign is not focusing in enough on the middle class?
STAN GREENBERG, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: I think they're focusing like a laser right now. And that's, you know, we're -- I think that both of us are impressed where they have come out, both in policy terms and on focusing on the middle class and looking at the proposals they've done on the tax cuts.
So we're, you know, we're pleased because we think this is the center of the election? You know, we came together around Bill Clinton, forgot the middle class. And that was a particular moment in time. And Bill Clinton kind of represented the kind of identification with and he would fight his heart out for those people.
But what we found, were now people now recognize that this is like a three-decade period of income decline, jobs going overseas, personal debt and public debt. And it's a, you know, people know there's a big, long-term problem. And they're looking for the elites to pay attention. And I think they're paying attention. I think they, you know, when Mitt Romney says, you know, now it's a kick in the gut when he looks at the job reports to the middle class, and the president now is speaking to the middle class, I think we have an election that's about them.
BLITZER: Here's what you write in the book, James. You write, "Maybe Obama needs to go to the convention in charlotte and say of his opponent, you know, let's concede, he will not raise taxes on the wealthy and I will. He has not taken any position yet. In fact, he's promised to cut taxes on the wealthy. I will raise taxes on the wealthy."
Is it ever smart to tell the American people you're going to raise taxes? Because all of us remember Walter Mondale in the 1984, when he said, Reagan says he won't raise taxes, I say I will. That didn't work out so well for Mondale.
CARVILLE: Well, he didn't have to wait for charlotte. He said two days ago that he wanted to end the taxes on the wealthy. So it's already at that point. By the way, that has been a consistent position of President Obama. It was his position in 2008. And now he's saying it's something different, that if they don't let this -- they don't raise taxes on top earners, that he's going to veto the whole bill, which is taking it to a new realm, if you will. But certainly he should say that in charlotte. He said it two days ago very clear and very (INAUDIBLE).
BLITZER: But, Stan, you know the Republicans will use this --
BLITZER: -- Obama only wants to raise taxes, raise taxes, raise taxes they seem to be pretty happy with those statements.
GREENBERG: Look. I think it's an old song, and I think, you know - look, right now this is a consensus position. There's something like 75 percent of the country that thinks we need to raise taxes, particularly on the wealthy. It runs across all parties. This is like one of the few non-polarizing consensus issues in the country.
The country is desperate for it. They want to see that everyone is contributing. They know we have big problems to address, you know, and raising taxes on the wealthy is a precondition for doing the deficits in the right way, addressing health care, addressing the needs of the middle class. And so, I think it's the right starting point and it's the right choice.
GREENBERG: Because the argument that the Democrats are simply tax- and-spend, you'll hear that. But you write this in the book, James. Let me read another line from the book. You write, "my biggest complaint with this president is that there's a narrative in front of him and he refuses to drive it," explain.
CARVILLE: Well, first of all, I have been very impressed with their campaign in the last three to four weeks. And I think they're starting to develop one. What Stan and I have been concerned about for some time is, is that they needed to focus on the next four years as opposed to the previous four, and need to put the middle class front and center.
I think the president and his team, have done a real good job of late. I think both tactically and strategically, they're moving in the right direction. And I think they're starting to develop this narrative. And I think it can be -- I think it has a good chance to be successful also.
BLITZER: James, I said six months or so ago, so panic. That was the recommendation he made, Stan, and you probably remember that as well.
But that's one of the best pollsters out there. You're a great political strategist, Stan, so give us one piece of advice. The most important thing you think that President Obama and his campaign need to do right now over the next four months in order to get re-elected?
GREENBERG: I think he needs to drive the story that this election is about the fate of the middle class and it's about the future. You know, when we listen to people, it is tough out there. They made enormous adjustments to survive this financial crisis and also the long-term economic decline. And they are looking to leaders. And I think they're look for frank ideas, boldness. They want leaders who are going to tell them where they're going to take the country. So they want to focus on the future. He needs to focus on the middle class, focus on the future, and pose the choice with Mitt Romney.
BLITZER: The poll numbers basically haven't changed much over these past few months. Take a look at this. This is a new "Washington Post"/ABC poll, back in May, 46/49, Romney -- 46 for Romney, 49 for Obama, 47/47 right now. There's not a whole lot of movement among registered voters nationally.
Wrap this up for us, James, with the most important thing you think the president needs to do.
CARVILLE: I think he's moving on and what we are stressing. I think his second term has to be about putting the middle class front and center, he needs to go to work on a strategy to help rebuild the middle class, frame everything within that issue, and I think that's the winning strategy here, you know. And I have not been reluctant to criticize the president's re-election campaign when I thought it was in the wrong direction. I think it's in the right direction right now. I'm very happy to say I like the way this campaign is going in, I like the aggression as coming out in Chicago. A lot I like here.
BLITZER: One final question because we are run out of time, James. So when the Republicans say that you're only proposing class warfare, what say you?
CARVILLE: Warren Buffett says there's been a class warfare going on in this country for a long time and his class is winning. The middle class has been under siege in this country for over 30 years. And that's the silliest argument in the world.
GREENBERG: And they are looking for leader who is will speak up for them. If that's class warfare, I think that's the best strategy winning in November. Stan Greenberg and James Carville, the new book is called "it's the middle class, stupid!" (INAUDIBLE) after the word stupid.
Hey, guys. Thanks very much. Congratulations on the book.
CARVILLE: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: A top scientist assassinated bay car bomb. Is it part of the secret war against Israel by Iran?
Also, the mystery woman beside North Korea's new leader, now there are clues about who she might be.
Plus, a national anthem for former caught red, white, and blue-handed.
BLITZER: Assassins speeding through the streets on motorcycles, carrying bombs to blow up valuable targets. Cyber attacks causing nuclear centrifuges to simply spin out of control. This is no fictional thriller. Its details included in a brand-new book, entitled "Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel's Secret Wars." Dan Raviv is one of the book's co-authors. He is also a CBS news correspondent. He's joining me in the SITUATION ROOM.
Dan, you have done an excellent job writing this book. But let's go through the some of the specifics because in terms of Iran's nuclear program, a lot of focus on the economic, diplomatic political sanctions, whether that will work. If not, a full-scale military operation to blow up Iran's nuclear facilities. But there's another option that you detail, covert operations, going on by the Israelis right now.
Give us a little detail of what they're doing to trying to stop Iran from building a bomb?
DAN RAVIV, AUTHOR, SPIES AGAINST ARMAGEDDON: You know, Wolf, taking up your point, it's almost like a middle ground. Not all-out war, not just sanctions and negotiation. Covert action actually means assassinations in Tehran. It's known that at least four nuclear scientists in Tehran have been murdered, some by gunfire, mostly by bombs who have been placed on their cars by men on motorcycles who just got away. We're reporting in this book that those are Israelis and that's an intentional campaign to try to slow down Iran's nuclear program.
BLITZER: So Israel sends in operatives and look for these nuclear scientists and then they whack them, if you will?
RAVIV: A lot of people will be surprised that it's Israelis doing it, because some experts had assumed that Israel hires other people to do it. We found with the methodology of the Mossad, Israel's foreign operations agency, they don't trust other people to do it. And the Mossad has done it elsewhere, in Beirut, Damascus, and other places.
So it's Israelis who have ways of getting in and out of Iran. They must have safe houses, they must have transportation routes, and we find that for more than 30 years, Israel has had all of that.
GREENBERG: And the reaction from Washington to these assassinations, if you will, because you detail that in the book as well.
RAVIV: Yes. It depends on the timing. There have been a few occasions in which Israel has carried out an assassination, a killing of a nuclear scientist in Tehran, just when it seems like talks may have been getting underway and the U.S. was angry at that and didn't really hide that fact.
But in general, the U.S. and Israeli intelligence are working together to slow down Iran, working together more than they ever have in the past. That includes computer viruses like stuxnet, but it also includes field operations. And that's something quite --
BLITZER: What does that mean field operations?
RAVIV: It means planning how to get in and out of Iran, debriefing defector defectors, Iranian scientists and of others who have been in the Iranian military who lead that country. The U.S. and Israel are sharing their Intel, but here's why.
The extra element that I think we're revealing, Wolf, is that Israel wanted the U.S. involved. Get the CIA and other U.S. agencies involved, you'll get President Obama's attention. America has been too caught up in the Israeli view with Afghanistan and Iraq, and they probably succeed in getting the U.S. interested in Iran again. It's a very big issue.
BLITZER: The cyber warfare against Iran's nuclear program. It's been detailed in some other books, lots of stuff that's coming up. But you've got some new information there as well, on the level of cooperation between the U.S. and Israel.
RAVIV: Well, there's an Israeli unit. It's part of the military intelligence. That agency is called Aman, unit 8200. They're geniuses that everything high-tech. So they've worked with the American NSA, the National Security Agency, and together created computer viruses.
Now, you've had reports here on CNN that that's something new, offensive cyber war. It raises a lot of issues, but again bottom line, it's something short of all-out war. Even the Israelis don't want to bomb Iran. They have a lot of covert action that they're still attempting.
BLITZER: How far would the Israelis go in terms of assassination in Iran? How high up the chain of command?
RAVIV: Again, looking at the Mossad playbook for decades, which is what we do in this history, they're reluctant to kill a national leader. They don't think that killing the president of Iran or the supreme leader would accomplish much. Who would replace them, et cetera? They prefer to be tactical.
When they've been fighting terrorists, they try to look for the people who actually do the planning, take them out, scare off others from joining that organization, that's the kind of thinking that they're doing, in the nuclear program too, scare off scientists from joining the nuclear program.
BLITZER: Now, we know there's been some tension on a personal level between the president of the United States, President Obama, and the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. But you've done some close investigation into the military-to-military cooperation, intelligence agency-to-intelligence agency cooperation over the past three, four years. What is your bottom line?
RAVIV: We find that that's very strong. I won't say unprecedented, because at times the U.S. and Israel have had fantastic military cooperation, but in the past few years with Iran as the target, it is really the golden age.
But Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu disagree about the future of the West Bank. How to try to renew talks with the Palestinians, Jewish housing in east Jerusalem? They have friction, personal friction, too.
But on the Iran issue, they're pretty much on the same page, maybe some differences of timing, but I want to underline again, the Israelis would like the U.S. to take care of this problem, so they keep saying, it's not Israel's problem, but we find that Israel's covert agencies --
BLITZER: How likely is that if the sanctions fail, if the covert operations fail, that there will be either a U.S. or an Israeli military operation?
RAVIV: It's a real possibility. Both governments, U.S. and Israeli, are determined that Iran not get a nuclear weapon, really determined that it would change the entire Middle East. As I see this level of determination and I see it as a possibility. If there's no choice, if sanctions and negotiations don't work, if Iran doesn't shut down, stop, freeze the program, I think there could be military action.
BLITZER: Dan Raviv is the co-author of "spies against Armageddon: inside Israel's secret wars." Thanks very much for coming in. Good luck with the book.
RAVIV: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: The world wants to know, who is that mystery woman standing next to North Korea's Kim Jung-Un? Coming up, we are digging for details.
And U.S. Olympic outfits all made in China. Outrage is growing on Capitol Hill, and one lawmaker says burn them.
BLITZER: When I reported from North Korea back in December 2010, I saw firsthand how secretive its leaders can be. Now one of Kim Jong- Un's secrets may be out in the open, at least if you believe the rumors swirling about the mystery woman who's been showing up at his side.
Our own Brian Todd has been taking a closer look into all of the theories and there are a lot of them out there. What are you learning, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, there's very little that western analysts or even intelligence agencies know about this woman. It is mostly speculation. In fact, the reporting goes back and forth on whether she is romantically involved with Kim Jong-Un or whether she's his sister.
TODD (voice-over): The face that launched a thousand rumors. North Korea watchers are abuzz over this young woman, seen twice in recent days next to the country's new leader, Kim Jong-Un. She was spotted once at a high-profile musical performance, seen on state TV, which happened to include Disney characters that Disney didn't authorize. Then she was seen at an event paying tribute to Kim's late grandfather.
Who do we think this mystery woman is?
VICTOR CHA, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, the short answer is that we don't know for certain.
TODD: The speculation is rampant, and centered on two possibilities. One South Korean newspaper said the woman seemed to be Kim Jong-Un's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong.
Victor Cha, former national Security Council official who dealt with North Korea, thinks that would be unparalleled.
CHA: There's only one leader in North Korea. There's no leadership by tandem. There's only one leader and this fellow has been the anointed person. So for them to suddenly put a younger sister right next to him, to make her look at least almost like a co-leader would be highly unusual and would give you the sense that they're not doing the things that they've been doing them in the past.
TODD: Another possibility, a prominent South Korean newspaper, citing South Korean intelligence officials, identifies the woman as Hyon Song-Wol, former singer for a group called the Poch'o'nbo Electronic Music band.
That band was hugely popular in North Korea, had hit songs with titles like "I love Pyongyang" and "excellent horse-like lady." We're not making this up. How could we?
That newspaper reports that Hyon Song-Wol and Kim Jong-Un became romantic involved about a decade ago, but that his father objected. She then married someone else, according to the paper. As if you need another twist, there's a family pattern.
CHA: When the father, Kim Jong-Il, was around a similar age as the current leader, you know, he became interested in a young female performer who was also married to someone else and that person no longer was relevant anymore, and, you know, in North Korea if the Kim family wants you, then, they have you.
TODD: Victor Cha and other analysts say the North Koreans have an interest in projecting this woman as a possible wife for Kim Jong-Un, not only to make him seem more human, but also to show that there's going to be another generation of the Kim family after this one, that the dynasty will continue. It is crucial, analysts say, for the regime to protect that kind of strength and continuity -- Wolf.
BLITZER: But based on history, even if she does emerge as his wife, we probably won't know too much about her.
TODD: That's right. The wives of Kim's father and grandfather were almost never mentioned in the North Korean media when they were around and their existence was barely hinted at. If this woman is ever projected as a wife of Kim Jong-Un's, it's not going to be like Michelle Obama going to schools and reading to schoolchildren and being out there. That's not going to happen.
BLITZER: Unless there's a new North Korea.
TODD: That's true. That's probably not going to happen soon either.
BLITZER: Thanks so much.
Team U.S.A. uniforms being made in China, critics calling it disturbing, even shameful. We have details of an Olympic-sized controversy.
BLITZER: A bipartisan outrage up on Capitol Hill over the uniforms that the U.S. Olympic team will be wearing. There is something with those uniforms.
Lisa Sylvester has been looking at this story that's causing a lot of heartburn out there.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think, Wolf, a lot of people were surprised to find this out. Well, the special outfitter for team U.S.A. is Ralph Lauren. But instead of using a U.S. manufacturer, the company has gone overseas.
SYLVESTER (voice0over): They are the pride of America, the U.S. Olympic team. But their 2012 uniforms strictly made in China.
Ralph Lauren touts on its Web site that's it's the proud outfitter of team U.S.A. But not everybody is happy with the company's sourcing.
SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: I am so upset that I think the Olympic committee should be ashamed of themselves. I think they should be embarrassed. I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a pile and burn them and start all over again.
SYLVESTER: That was senate majority leader Harry Reid going off on the Olympic committee.
Reid isn't the only one with strong opinions about it.
U.S. fashion designer, Nanette Lepore, said this was an opportunity to help support U.S. jobs.
NANETTE LEPORE, U.S. FASHION DESIGNER: It's very disturbing, because it completely could have been manufactured here in the United States, in New York City or in any other city where there's factories that still exist. And it's frustrating for us, because it's a cause we've been fighting for and trying to raise awareness and trying to convince designers to move work back to our shores and stop offshoring and start on shoring. This would have been the perfect opportunity.
SYLVESTER: The U.S. Olympic committee responded with this statement.
Quote, "Unlike most Olympic teams around the world, the U.S. Olympic team is privately funded and we're grateful for the support of our sponsors. We're proud of our partnership with Ralph Lauren an iconic American company and excited to watch America's finest athletes compete at the games in London."
But free-market advocates like the CATO Institute say none of this is surprising. Globalization means manufacturing companies will be drawn to countries where the costs are lowest.
DAN IKENSON, CATO INSTITUTE: When companies are able to outsource, they're able to produce most competitively. They're able to attend to their costs. And when they can do that and they can deliver better quality, greater variety at lower prices for U.S. consumers.
SYLVESTER: But in the case of the U.S. official Olympic gear anyone can buy, the items are not cheap. The team U.S.A. ceremony beret is $55. The classic fit shirt, $89.50. The tie, $125. Men's double breast blazer, $795. Belt, $85. The flat front men's trousers, $295. And the shoes, $165.
SYLVESTER: OK, and that one men's outfit, $1,609.50. Well, we've reached out to Ralph Lauren and the company is saying it has no comment at this time, Wolf.
BLITZER: Lisa, thanks very much. The story, as I said, causing some heartburn out there.
Sometimes when singers perform the national anthem, they need a little help. We have a story of the country singer who got caught red- handed.
BLITZER: The star spangled banner can certainly be a tough song to sing. People often get tripped up by the dawn's early light and the twilight's last gleaming. So, is it OK to use crib notes?
Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So far, so good. Country star, Luke Brian, was singing the anthem at the all-star game when right before he got to the ramparts part, he oh, so suddenly glanced at his hand.
LUKE BRIAN, COUNTRY STAR: Through the perilous fight --
MOOS: Some of Brian's fans suggested he was just looking at his watch so he would be on time for the stealth bomber fly-by. But others suspected a star spangled cheat sheet, as one sports commentator tweeted, Luke Brian sings the national anthem the way I used to take Geometry tests.
Oh, say can you see, the lyrics written on me.
Brian definitely didn't want to end up like Christina Aguilera, the super bowl getting the words wrong. We've written the right words on the screen.
By the dawn's early light, what was so gallantly streaming over twitter was Luke Brian's heartfelt and charming confession. "I had a few key words written down to ensure myself that I wouldn't mess up. I just wanted to do my best. I promise it was from the heart."
The last key words we remember written on someone's hand were energy, tax cuts and lift American spirits on Sarah Palin's palm.
SARAH PALIN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT CANDIDATE: We've got to start raining in the spending, we've got to jump-start these energy projects.
MOOS: Luke Brian had plenty of energy. And at least he didn't come to a full stop like Michael Bolton.
On the bright side, by looking at his hand, Michael Bolton got an extra 1.6 million views on you tube.
Watching stars sing the star spangled banner is a little like watching a tight rope walker cross Niagara Falls. We wait for a stumble. Whatever you do, don't look down.
BRIAN: Through the perilous fight --
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN. New York.
BLITZER: That does it for me. Thank you very much for watching.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in the SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.