Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Campaign Heats Up; Crime-Fighting Robots?; FDA OKs Medicine to Reduce AIDS Risk; Obama Camp Responds to Apology Demand; Romney and Bain Capital; Reports: Weiner Thinking of a Comeback; Sources: Three Allege Early Abuse by Sandusky; Fiat Offers In-Car Espresso Maker
Aired July 16, 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: bruising back-and-forth between the Obama and Romney campaigns. We're fact-checking the Romney team's new accusations of presidential cronyism.
We also ask one of the Obama campaign's top strategists if she's going to apologize for suggesting, suggesting that Mitt Romney may have committed a felony. She will be joining us live this hour.
Also, real crime-fighting robots. You will want to see this amazing technology turning science fiction into potentially lifesaving fact.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But first to today's new round of attack in the presidential race. Campaigning in the must-win battleground state of Ohio this afternoon, President Obama slammed Mitt Romney's tax proposals, warning they will send thousands of U.S. jobs overseas. But the Romney campaign's already accusing the president of -- quote -- "another dishonest attack."
Our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian, is joining us now.
Dan, why did the president level this new corporate tax attack on Romney in Ohio?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the president is trying to draw sharp contrast between his campaign and Romney's campaign, trying to stress that Romney is looking out for the people at the very top, not for those in the middle or below, and specifically in Ohio support making the argument that Romney's support for eliminating the taxes on foreign income of American companies will lead to job creation overseas. And that will come at the expense of jobs in Ohio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have not found any serious economic study that says Governor Romney's economic plan would actually create jobs until today.
I have got to be honest. Today, we found out there's a new study out by nonpartisan economists that says Governor Romney's economic plan would in fact create 800,000 jobs. There's only one problem. The jobs wouldn't be in America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOTHIAN: Now, Wolf, if you listened carefully to what the president just said, he said that this report this economist came from a nonpartisan economists.
But, in fact, records show that that economist, Kimberly Clausing, has donated almost $500 to the president's campaign so far this campaign cycle and going back over the years has given thousands of dollars to Democrats and Democratic causes.
So that calls into question what the president referred to as a nonpartisan report. And one other point, the same thing that the president is pointing attacking Mitt Romney, some of his own economic advisers, including some who are part of the Export Council, agree with -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Looks like some sloppy staff work on the part of the Obama campaign for the president.
It doesn't appear the Bain attack is going away at all. Does the Obama campaign think that that line of attack is sticking?
LOTHIAN: They certainly do.
And the Obama campaign not apologizing at all for coming down very hard on Romney on Bain Capital. In fact, they believe it is sticking in places Ohio and other battleground states they go. When you go state by state, some of the polling shows that voters are starting to place very close attention to Romney's business experience. They're asking questions in light of the Bain attacks.
And so they believe it is working, it is a legitimate issue to bring up and to ask questions about. And they will continue doing it -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Dan, thank you.
Romney is drawing a line in the sand and refusing calls to reveal more of his tax records. He's dead set against releasing more than two years worth of returns, insisting today he won't give Democrats more material to -- quote -- "make a mountain out of and distort."
Our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, who spent some time on Friday interviewing Romney, has got more on this part of story.
What are you picking up?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Mitt Romney is standing by what he said last Friday to CNN. He's sticking to his guns on his tax returns, despite growing pressure from high-level Republicans to release more of his records.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've indicated that -- well, first of all, we've complied with the law.
ACOSTA (voice-over): What Mitt Romney made clear to CNN last Friday, that he will only make public his 2011 tax return, along with the 2010 return that has already been released...
ROMNEY: Those are the two years that people are going to have.
ACOSTA: ... did not sit well with conservatives on the Sunday talk shows.
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": He should release the tax returns tomorrow. It's crazy. You have got to release six, eight, 10 years of back returns. Take the hit for a day or two.
GEORGE WILL, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: The costs of not releasing the returns are clear. Therefore, he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.
ACOSTA: Standing firm, Romney told FOX there's some precedent on his side.
ROMNEY: John McCain ran for president and released two years of tax returns. John Kerry ran for president. His wife, who has hundreds of millions of dollars, she never released her tax returns. Somehow, this wasn't an issue.
ACOSTA: But the Republican complaints are music to the ears of the Obama campaign, which fired off this TV ad featuring Romney singing "America the Beautiful" to some of his foreign investments.
The Romney campaign cued up its own music video of the president belting out a love song to companies that Republicans say got energy loans in exchange for campaign contributions. Both campaigns are still tangling over when Romney left his private investment firm, Bain capital. The Romney camp maintains it was February of 1999, despite federal documents showing he was still CEO in the years that followed, when the Obama campaign says Bain was outsourcing jobs.
ED GILLESPIE, FORMER REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: He took a leave of absence and in fact he ended up not going back at all and retired retroactively to February of 1999 as a result.
ACOSTA: Romney could change the narrative by announcing his vice presidential running mate this week. His campaign tweeted out a picture of Romney with veep prospect Bobby Jindal, while another potential V.P., South Dakota Senator John Thune, told the news site The Hill he has met with Romney's vetting team.
Then there's Ohio's Rob Portman, attacking the president just before Mr. Obama's event in the same state.
SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R), OHIO: He's making a big election about small things. He's attacking Mitt Romney on a personal basis. Why? Because he doesn't want to talk about his record.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ACOSTA: But a top Romney spokesman says no decision has been made yet on a running mate.
Let's put this up on screen. "No decision," according to senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom. He does say, though, Wolf, it could happen any time between now and the convention, but it will only happen after a decision has been made and no decision has been made.
There's a lot of speculation right now out there on Twitter being reported at various sources that Mitt Romney could name that vice presidential running mate this week. That would obviously change the narrative from all this talk about Bain and his tax records.
And interesting to note. His campaign schedule over the next couple of days takes him into Pennsylvania and Ohio. He's running out of time before this overseas trip next week to make the decision if he's going to make it in the coming days.
BLITZER: If he's going to do it before the Olympic Games, he's got to do it this week, basically, because he's going to be gone next week and then he's not going to do anything during the Olympic Games, because that's going to dominate a lot of the news coverage.
ACOSTA: That's right. Yes, he could change the narrative by naming the vice presidential running mate this week and get everything off of Bain.
But then again the Olympics could change the narrative also. It may be in his best interest to wait.
BLITZER: If he wants to name Senator Rob Portman Wednesday, he will be in Toledo. That would be a good place, Toledo, Ohio. Remember, four years ago, McCain in Dayton named Sarah Palin. Ohio, Ohio, Ohio.
ACOSTA: Would be perfect timing.
BLITZER: We will see if it happens on Wednesday. Thank you.
Let's dig a little bit deeper into the Romney campaign's accusations of political cronyism against the president.
Our own Tom Foreman is joining us now with some fact-checking.
Some specific examples of the Romney campaign and what it's highlighting.
What are you finding out, Tom?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as this outsourcing battle rages, the Romney campaign has tossed a new grenade onto the grill.
That Web ad that Jim showed you just a minute ago featuring President Obama singing while those ominous words appear, the implication is that Obama donors are getting government contracts as an award here. Well, while Democrats and Republican alike often reward top campaign backers with access and with jobs, the sharpest accusation here is that people who give Barack Obama a lot of money get government business. What's worse? The Romney campaign in explaining that ad claims one of those companies then used your tax dollars to ship jobs overseas.
And let's take a look at what they cite as evidence for all of this. Well, first of all, they point to this fellow, John Doerr,, who is a big Democratic fund-raiser. There he is right there sitting right next to the president.
Let's follow the trail, according to the Romney people. They say that Doerr, a big donor there, is appointed to a White House council on jobs. Doerr's private company invest in this electric car company called Fisker Automotive.
Fisker is approved for a half billion dollar loan from the Department of Energy. And they have received about $190 million so far. And Fisker ends up having its first cars made in Finland.
There you go, Wolf. Case closed, according to the Romney people.
BLITZER: Pretty damning on the surface, but what else have you found out when you dig for more details?
FOREMAN: Well, what we find, Wolf, is a totally different story.
Fisker tells us that, yes, they got involved in this government loan program, but it was back during the Bush administration. Fisker also raised about a billion dollars from investors. They say Doerr's company is just one of them. Yes, he's a wealthy guy. But he's just one of the guys out there.
Furthermore, Fisker, we asked them, we said, has your company ever solicited, accepted or been aware of any political favors? Their answer, absolutely not.
And as for these fabulous looking cars that they're making and the jobs in Finland, well, both Fisker and the Department of Energy confirmed that the contract network was struck well before the loan was granted. And an audit found no tax money went overseas, but instead it went to Fisker's operation right there in California, which employs about 500 people.
So, in the end, although there is evidence with every president that, in fact, they do have time where they spend rewarding the donors with jobs and positions and ambassadorships and all that sort of thing, that happens on both sides. As for this idea that there was funny business with Fisker, where they were given a financial reward for backing him, that is flat-out false, even though the Romney folks claim that it is true -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Good fact-checking, Tom. Thanks very much. Continue this kind of work for us. There's important medical news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. We will tell you more about that first government-approved medication to reduce the risk of the infection with the virus that causes AIDS.
Also, a possible comeback for a former U.S. congressman who quit last year over a lewd photo scandal. Anthony Weiner, you see him there.
Plus, who pulled the plug on Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen? The world wants to know, and we will find out.
BLITZER: Let's get right to Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File." -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, Mitt Romney might, might have a shot at a game changer that would actually works in his favor.
Speculation has been rampant for several days now that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice might be on Romney's short list for vice president.
Unlike Sarah Palin, who all but destroyed John McCain's chances, Rice might be just what the doctor ordered for Romney.
She's smart. She has got foreign policy credentials that are unquestioned, and she would certainly make the race a lot more interesting than it is now.
Romney is getting his nose bloodied by the president who insists on pounding on Bain Capital and Romney's tax returns. Romney has been unable to seize the initiative and make the race about the economy, which by any measure should make President Obama unelectable.
Romney needs a spark. Rice would immediately tap into African- Americans and women, two areas where President Obama all has substantial leads. Whether or not she'd agree to been on the ticket remains a question. She said in the past she's not uninterested. But hey, if your country comes along, you know?
Anyway, barring putting Chris Christie on the ticket, you got to love the idea of Condoleezza Rice. She would erase the memory of the legacy of Sarah Palin and immediately energized the whole deal. With the start of the Summer Olympics fast approaching, the president and Mitt Romney are going to be hard pressed to get media coverage. Condoleezza Rice would help in that department, too.
Here's the question: how much would Condoleezza Rice as V.P. help the Romney campaign?
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.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Jack. Thank you. Meanwhile, an important medical breakthrough today in the fight against AIDS. The U.S. government has just approved the first medication to reduce people's risk of become infected with a virus that causes AIDS.
CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us now with details.
Elizabeth, this drug, is it already on the market? What's going on here?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's already on the market. But it's just on the market now to treat people who already have HIV. And the big news here is now people who don't have HIV, who are healthy right now, can take it to prevent getting infected.
So it's really meant for high risk groups like gay men.
BLITZER: Some groups lobbied against this new drug. Why is that?
COHEN: You know, it's because the drug does have some serious side effects. Most people are fine. But some people do have bone thinning. Some people develop kidney problems while they're on this drug.
And so, the concern for some is, why would you tell a healthy person to take a drug that can hurt them, when, for example, in the case of gay men, you can just tell them to wear condoms and that would also decrease their risk of getting HIV.
BLITZER: How much does this the drug cost, Elizabeth?
COHEN: You know, Wolf. It is expensive. It's like $1,200 a month. It will be interesting to see if insurance companies are going to pay that much for is not 100 percent. It decreases risk by 62 percent. And also you're giving it to healthy people to make sure they don't get protected (ph).
BLITZER: We're going to have lot more on this story in our new 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour. Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Health, the real authority on HIV/AIDS. He's going to be joining us live in our 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.
The Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took some time out during her stop in Israel today to talk with CNN. During our 5:00 p.m. Eastern hour, we're going to ask her about the reception she received in Egypt. There was a crowd there in Alexandria throwing tomatoes and shoes at her motorcade and other questions as well.
The interview with Hillary Clinton is coming up at the top of the next hour.
But next, the U.S. Navy opens fire on a boat in the Persian Gulf.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: The U.S. Navy opens fire in the Persian Gulf. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that development and also some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
What's the latest, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf.
Well, U.S. officials say it appears one person was killed and three others were badly wounded when a U.S. fuel resupply ship fired on a small boat that came too close in the Persian Gulf. Officials tell CNN the USS Rappahannock shot at the smaller boat 10 miles from the port of Dubai. They say the smaller boat failed to respond to repeated warnings from the Navy ship before it fired several .50 caliber rounds. That incident is under investigation.
And four days of searching, almost 1,000 volunteers, countless man hours and still no sign of two young cousins in Evansville, Iowa. Officials are still looking, but they have suspended the volunteer effort to find 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins and 10-year-old Lyric Cook. The girls were last seen on Friday righting their bicycles. The chief deputy of Black Hawk County says it's like they vanished.
And no more MSNBC.com. After almost two decades, Microsoft and MSNBC have partied company in their joint venture. NBC's parent company Comcast bought out Microsoft's 50 percent stake on the outline news site. It's rebranding itself as NBCNews.com. The deal wrapped up late Friday, but it was announced today.
And I know it's all a little confusing especially when you consider the cable channel MSNBC retains the name, even though Microsoft broke ranks there long ago.
And how do you make 65,000 fans angry at a dream rock festival pairing Bruce Springsteen with Paul McCartney. They were playing together for the finale of Springsteen's three-hour show on London's Hyde Park. Springsteen, he was in the zone, playing Beatles classic with McCartney. It was all great.
And then in the middle of twist and shout, oh, no. The power was cut. Yes. The power was cut. London's local council said it was past curfew and they were sticking to it.
Oh, the sacrilege of it all. I'm sure, Wolf, those fans must have been pretty unhappy of that.
BLITZER: They were just beginning to rock 'n' roll. That's sick when you think about it. You know, a little rule like that -- occasionally, you got to break those rules a little bit especially if Sir Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen are performing together. You don't want to do something like that. All right.
SYLVESTER: That's a concert I'm sure you would love to have gone to see, right?
BLITZER: I'd love to. Maybe we could cue up some of the music for our viewers and pay a little bit of that if we have time.
SYLVESTER: It's one of those great moments. Look at that, two classics.
BLITZER: All right. Good for them. At least they got three hours of the concert. Better than nothing, of course. But it could have gone on to a fourth. That would have been great.
BLITZER: Thanks, Lisa.
Mitt Romney wants an apology from the Obama campaign after comments suggesting potentially he could have committed a felony in connection with his partnership from Bain Capital. Is he likely to get an apology? I'll ask the deputy campaign manager for the Obama campaign, Stephanie Cutter. She's standing by live.
And later, technology may soon be taking much of the early risk out of potentially dangerous situations for soldiers and SWAT teams. We're going to show you the latest.
BLITZER: Mitt Romney's waiting for an apology from the Obama campaign. He's upset with their accusation he potentially could have committed a felony because documents listen him as CEO Bain Capital after he says he actually left the firm.
Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter started raising some of those questions last Thursday. She's joining us now from Chicago.
Stephanie, thanks so much for coming.
STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Hey, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Let me play what generated all the commotion, and then I'm going to play the Mitt Romney response. What he said today on FOX. First you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
CUTTER: Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony, or he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think when people accuse you of crime, you have every reason to go after them pretty hard. And I'm going to continue going after him. I'm very proud of the record I had in my business career, helping turn around the Olympics as the governor of the state of Massachusetts. What does it say about a president whose record is so poor that all he can do in his campaign is attack me?
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BLITZER: All right. Go ahead and explain, Stephanie, why did you bring up the whole issue of a felony.
CUTTER: Well, Wolf, I'll just repeat what I said the other day that either Mitt Romney was attesting to something that is true to the SEC, that he was the CEO, chairman, president and sole owner of Bain Capital or he's misrepresenting his time at Bain Capital to the American people.
Because both of those things that can't be true. If you're signing federal documents that aren't actually true, it's a felony. But that doesn't -- we're not saying Mitt Romney of committing a crime here.
We're actually saying that he's misrepresenting his time at Bain to the American people. Look at all the news that has come out over the weekend, not from us, but from independent news sources. That he was appearing in press releases after the time he said he left Bain Capital.
That he was getting a salary at a time he was supposed to have a leave of absence. I mean, I don't know about you, Wolf, but when I take a leave of absence from an organization, my paycheck gets cut off and I certainly don't share in the profits.
And then over the weekend, you know, all of a sudden this word retroactive comes up. That he retroactively retired from Bain after he signed his retirement agreement in 2002.
So it took three years to figure out that he actually retired and they want to make it retroactive back in 1999. That's just not how the real world works.
You know, he's used Bain Capital as his calling card in this presidential election, as his sole qualification to be in the oval office and to fix the economy.
It's amazing how quickly he's running away from it. You should stand up and say, I take responsibility.
BLITZER: But you're not suggesting that he potentially may have committed a crime.
CUTTER: No, absolutely not. I'm just saying that his explanation doesn't add up that either you were the chairman, CEO, president, sole owner of a company.
As you're signing your own John Hancock to the SEC, which makes you responsible for that company and everything that that company does or you had nothing to do with it.
Both of those things can't be true. And I think that, you know, day by day, there's more evidence he was actually involved in Bain Capital. I mean, if you're getting a salary, sharing in the profits, and your name is at the top of the letterhead, it seems like you're pretty involved. BLITZER: Because he says he was working full time trying to get the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City off the ground. For all practical purposes, he gave up day-to-day responsibilities he had at Bain Capital even though his name may have appeared on letterheads or press releases or whatever. He really had no direct role in any of those decisions after he left in February of 1999.
CUTTER: Yes, I'm familiar with his talking points. But in what world, Wolf, that if you're the chairman, CEO, president, sole owner of a company are you not responsible, even if you're not involved to the day-to-day management.
And he was chairman of the board. He didn't resign as chairman of board so did he ever attend any board meetings, by conference call, call-in.
You know, he said he did go to Massachusetts during that time to participate in board meetings and go to business meetings. Was it ever -- did it include Bain?
Because that answer hasn't come from the campaign yet, we're waiting for that. But whether he was doing the day-to-day management of not, he was the head of that firm. He was the chairman, CEO, president.
And as such, if you're legally responsible then you should just stand up and take responsibility for the decisions that are being made.
BLITZER: I just want to be surprise on this, the use of the word felony in that initial statement, no regret?
CUTTER: No, absolutely not. It's a fact. If you're signing federal documents knowing them to be false, it's a felony. Anybody who works in the federal government knows that. Anybody who's been involved in the business world knows that.
But what we're actually suggesting is that he was the head of the firm when he was telling the SEC was true and he's misrepresenting his record with Bain to the American people. That's what we're saying here.
BLITZER: Stephanie Cutter joining us from Chicago, appreciate it very much.
CUTTER: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: The Republican National Convention is coming up in about six weeks. Here's a question. Will Sarah Palin be there? If she's there, will she deliver a major speech? What about her star power? Will it help energize Romney's final push toward the White House? We'll assess.
And drive your car, brew a cup of coffee, it's Fiat's latest convenience innovation and it's catching a lot of flak.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Let's get right to our "Strategy Session." Joining us our CNN political contributor, the Democratic strategist, Donna Brazile and the Republican strategist, Alice Stewart. She served as spokeswoman for former GOP president candidate, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann. Guys, thanks very much for coming in.
You heard my interview with Stephanie Cutter, the deputy campaign manager for the Obama campaign. Not backing away from the use of that word felony in the conference call from last Thursday. No need to apologize. It's Mitt Romney who's got to do some explaining.
ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It's unnecessary. It's wrong, it's untruthful. The Bain attacks in the first place, but to go cross over the line. We have Democrat after Democrat who says she's crossed the line.
It's gone away too far and to use such a word like that it's just unnecessary. But this just goes to show that the Obama campaign is desperate. They're trying to distract from the record on economy and the fact he hasn't been able to create jobs. But to go to that length is unnecessary --
BLITZER: The use of that word is pretty explosive. You have to admit, felony, that's a tough word. To make a suggestion even indirectly the way she did it. It was artful the way she phrased it, but to even use that word felony talking about Mitt Romney. That's pretty damning.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You know, Wolf, I'm not going to cry for Mitt Romney. I saw him destroy Republican after Republican after Republican during the primary process and no one cried.
Like Newt Gingrich and some of the vicious ads he ran. The ads he ran against Rick Santorum. And of course, when Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum, Mr. Perry and others criticized his time at Bain, he took the same kind of offense that he's taking at President Obama.
Look, the point is that when you falsify any federal document, I'm a former federal employee, yes, the penalty is a felony. Most of the time people plea bargain and this is washed away.
I'm not taking it down. I don't think it should go there. Here's what I think this should go. I think Mitt Romney should ask Bain to release minutes from 1999 to 2009 when he got his severance package. Put it all on the table. I mean, what's there to hide? Let's talk about it.
STEWART: That's the thing, Donna. I mean, there have been several Bain executives, even Democrats, Obama supporters who have said that he left -- Romney left in 1999. He went onto run the Olympics. He had no more managerial day-to-day decision making authority at Bain at the time, but the Obama campaign continues to throw these out there.
BLITZER: There are Bain executives, claims from Democrats, supporters of President Obama, who agree with Mitt Romney that for all practical purposes, he was at the Olympic Games. He was gone.
BRAZILE: And there are some other Bain executives that say he still maintained some ties, especially to work out the severance bill. Look, in 2002, in June when he had to prove residency in Massachusetts.
He had to basically claim time at Bain in order to say, well, I was still here. That's why I'm qualified to run as governor when he went before the Ballot Commission. It was a bipartisan panel and they concluded that he had --
BLITZER: Here's the success of the Obama campaign and the Democrats' strategy. They have so put Mitt Romney on the defense right now. He's got to answer questions about Bain and about his tax returns. They have succeeded in this area so far, haven't they?
STEWART: No, not if you look at the polls. The polling data is actually still neck in neck. And the fact is we've had multiple fact checkers come out and say that all these Bain attacks are false and inaccurate and unfair. And this is more just piling on false information. This is a true example of an Obama shovel ready --
BRAZILE: "The Boston Globe" hasn't retracted their story. Why should President Obama or for that matter, the Republicans who raised Bain retract their story.
Mitt Romney has had over seven years to clean it up. And a respected conservative said yesterday, put it out there. What is there to hide? Disinfect the whole thing so we can talk about something else.
STEWART: The point is whether we're talking about Bain or the income tax returns, this is all just a distraction from the failed policies of this administration has not made things better. And this is going to be a referendum on the president's record.
BRAZILE: But would you like to see the manufacturing jobs, would you like to see us go back --
BLITZER: We're not going to debate this right now, but let me move on. A quick question, Sarah Palin, what role do you think at the Republican Convention, Alice, in Tampa at the end of August, she should play prime time, major speaking role, sort of in the background, what do you think?
STEWART: We're still a long away from that. We're a long way from making the final decision. I think she should have a primary speaking spot. She's very engaging. She energizes the base. She will certainly rally folks together just like she did in '08.
BLITZER: Would you agree?
BRAZILE: You see me nodding my head. Wolf, she brings passion. Mitt Romney lacks passion. She's inspiring to Tea Party people.
BLITZER: You sound like, Donna, you want her to be his running mate. BRAZILE: I would love that, Wolf. I think she should get another opportunity to show America everything she has. Look, I think she is someone who energizes a certain segment of the population.
There's no reason why she should not get a prime time slot, but look, it's still early. I agree with Alice, 42 days. They have plenty of time to choose from a host of talented people on the Republican side.
BLITZER: I suspect she'll have a prime time slot, but that's just my guess.
STEWART: It would be smart.
BRAZILE: Wolf, it would make my day if she got a prime time slot.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for coming in.
The Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Israel right now. It's the last stop of her latest overseas tour. And the next hour here in THE SITUATION ROOM, we're going to talk to her.
Our own Elise Labott is on the scene. We talk to her about the travels, what's going on, the less than welcoming reception that she received in Egypt.
Also Elise asked her about Hillary Clinton being used by the Romney campaign in some attack ads against the president. Good stuff coming up. You're going to want to stick around. The top of the hour, the interview with Hillary Clinton from Jerusalem coming up including some political stuff in that interview as well.
And just ahead, he left office after an embarrassing sex scandal. Now the former New York congressman, the Democrat Anthony Weiner may be thinking about restarting his political career in a very big way.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is back with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the question this hour is how much would Condoleezza Rice as vice president help the Romney campaign?
Carl writes from Michigan, "It's a mixed bag. First, it would be a rerun of the GOP ticket in 2008, except this time Rice is the credible one and Romney is the ding bat.
Second, there's the consternation of the white racist, sexist Republicans especially in the south having to choose which black person they'll vote for, one being a woman, no less.
And third, is her pro choice and other social views. Though she is the smartest and best suited for the position, she has negatives that far outweigh the positives. The GOP is still too sexist and racist to even consider a black woman as vice president."
John in California says, "She would open the door for Democrats to vigorously attack the policies of the Bush administration, which she was an important part of further distracting Romney from being able to get his own agenda outfront."
E writes, "It's hard for me to imagine that Mitt would select a running mate that outshines him. Between the two of them, Condoleezza is much more qualified to be president."
Cal writes, "I think it would hurt instead of help because of her being in George W. Bush's cabinet. It wouldn't be as horrific as when John McCain choose Sarah Palin, but not good either. I think McCain lost that election because Palin was on the ticket."
And Gary writes from California, "Condoleezza Rice would be a huge boost for the Romney ticket. The woman is smart, experienced and likable on top of the obvious demographic advantages. That being said, she knows better than to accept the job."
If you want to read more on this subject, go to the blog cnn.com/caffertyfile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM'S Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you.
Everybody remembers former Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner. He resigned in disgrace because of a sex scandal. But guess what, he may now be thinking seriously of trying for a political comeback. CNN's Mary Snow has the details.
REPRESENTATIVE ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: Today, I'm announcing my resignation from Congress.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That is the last public image of Anthony Weiner as a congressman as he stepped down in disgrace last summer.
Now he's making headlines again reportedly considering a run for mayor in New York. Before his downfall, he was thought to be a shoe in for that office. That was before he sent lode photos to several women online.
Then he went out of his way to deny it in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
WEINER: And obviously someone got access to my account. That's bad. They sent a picture that makes fun of the name Weiner.
SNOW: Weiner later admitted he lied, apologized to his pregnant wife and resigned. There's a big question mark whether Weiner can make a comeback like other disgraced politicians.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.
SNOW: Bill Clinton recovered from his White House sex scandal, but never sought elected office again. Neither did former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer who resigned because of a prostitution scandal.
His comeback came as a TV host on CNN, now on Current TV. Eric Dezenhall heads a crisis management firm and says there's no exact playbook for making a comeback. But he knows Weiner's case is different from others.
ERIC DEZENHALL, CEO, DEZENHALL RESOURCES: When you have the variables with Weiner such as taking the photos himself. Second, it being kind of a fourth grade move, and third, having the poor judgment to put them on the internet. This is a very difficult bell to unring.
SNOW: Former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry did regain office after a crack scandal where he spent time in prison. Louisiana Senator David Bitter was re-elected after dealing with a prostitution scandal.
For Weiner, the strongest sympathy in New York may come from his old congressional district. Reaction there is mixed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I personally that with the baggage he's bringing into it, I think his career in politics is about over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was creepy what he did, we all understand that. But that's his personal choice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Too much damage done I think for him.
SNOW: At least one expert isn't completely ruling out a political comeback.
DEZEHALL: I don't think it's impossible for him to comeback. But I think that as Napoleon once said, engage the enemy and see what happens.
SNOW: Now Anthony Weiner isn't commenting, but Wolf, you know, whether or not he decides that he's going to test the political waters, he does have a war chest. Before he resigned from Congress he raised about $4.5 million for the 2013 mayoral race here in New York City -- Wolf.
BLITZER: You have to use it or effectively lose it. So there's a clock ticking on that. I take it he's been speaking. He's been more visible in public lately in New York.
SNOW: You know, right after the Supreme Court decision on health care, he did do one interview with WNYC, the public radio station here in New York. He was asked whether or not he was kind of putting his toes back in the waters and he said at that time he was not.
BLITZER: Mary Snow in New York for us watching the story. Let us know if it changes. Appreciate it.
Coming up in our 5:00 p.m. Eastern hour, when pigs fly, yes. There's a reason why airlines will let pot belly pigs and other animals ride along with human passengers.
Also, during our brand new third hour, the 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour of THE SITUATION ROOM, new worries that the security team in London is simply not ready for the Olympic games.
And next, real crime fighting robots. They don't look like the kind we see in movies and comic books, but they're certainly designed to stop a terrorist.
BLITZER: Lisa is back. She's monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Among the new charges of sexual abuse emerging against Jerry Sandusky. Lisa, what's the latest?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. Three more men have reportedly come forward saying they were abused by former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Reporting on her web site, CNN contributor Sara Ganim quotes police sources as saying the men told them they were abused by the now convicted pedophile in the 1970s or 1980s. They are the first to alleged sexual abuse by Sandusky before the '90s. Sara Ganim reports for the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, "Patriot News."
Debate is brewing over a new convenience that Fiat offers at its new crossover model that could curtail those trips to the coffee shop. The Fiat 500L has lots of bells and whistles including, get this, a built-in espresso machine.
It's due out in Italy in October. The critics are mainly in the U.S. saying drivers don't need another distraction. By the way, this espresso machine only works when the car is stopped.
Sad news to report, author, Stephen Covey died today. He wrote the bestselling self-help book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Cover was 79 and his family blames the death on the residual effects of a bicycle accident he had last April.
I know that book is hugely popular, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." I don't know if you've read it or not -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I haven't, but I probably should. Thank you. Thanks for that, Lisa. There may come a day when it's common that one of the first responders in a potentially dangerous situation won't be a person at all.
Here's CNN's intelligence correspondent, Suzanne Kelly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Suspect was seen fleeing to the second level apartment.
SUZANNE KELLY, CNN INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Montgomery County SWAT team pulls into a Bethesda neighborhood. This is a training session. A man has barricaded himself inside a house, but police have something you didn't anticipate.
(on camera): Here's the scenario. The suspect is inside. They try to establish contact. No luck. They try to use gas to smoke him out. That didn't work either. This robot is next.
(voice-over): The SWAT team calls it the "Recon Scout."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We could see you! Put the gun on the ground!
SGT. JEFF NYCE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY SWAT: Not being certain the suspect is inside. We're going to clear it. We're going to use a robot to clear the space in front of us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands up. Walk to the door. It allows it to clear the areas that we would have been exposed to.
KELLLY: This robot's ability to go upstairs, downstairs and around corners makes it a potentially live saving tool for first responders.
(on camera): And you're looking for ID's and stuff too, it's not just people.
NYCE: We can run the recon scout very quickly ahead of us as we utilize our tactics to move down that hallway. It makes it a lot safer. Making sure we're not coming across trip wires, whatever it may be.
KELLY (voice-over): This time it's just a training exercise. That wasn't the case in September of 2010 when a gunman walked into the Discovery Channel building with canisters strapped to his body.
SWAT Commander Jeff Nyce responded that day, but his team didn't have this robot. The French police used it this past March when an Islamic extremist who said he'd been trained Al Qaeda barricaded himself inside the apartment building.
This robot helped police navigate the scene. The gunman eventually shot and killed.
AIMEE BARMORE, RECONROBOTICS: You have hundreds of departments using it. We have thousands deployed with the U.S. military.
BARMORE: Thousands. We have hundreds in different federal agencies, FBI, U.S. Marshalls, ATF and then we've got hundreds internationally.
KELLY: And with audio transmission capability, infrared sensors and increased maneuverability, law enforcement officials say the $14,000 price tag makes it an easy addition to the team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he's in that back corner.
KELLY: Suzanne Kelly, CNN, Bethesda, Maryland. (END VIDEO TAPE)